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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Like A Little Child Part 2

I feel led by the Holy Spirit to continue this blog about becoming like a little child. Last week I spoke about children being passionate, exuberant and excited. This week I want to touch on two other characteristics that make children perfect candidates for heaven.

I work with children in schools who are developmentally delayed, and there is this one little boy who always slips his hand in mine whenever I go to get him. One day I thought, he trusts me. He really does. Most children, if they have not been abused or mistreated, are trusting. They trust their parents or other adults in their lives to keep their promises.

What about us? Are we trusting of our heavenly Father to keep His promises? I know I have doubted Him a few times. I am still working on being as trusting as a little child. In 2 Samuel 22:3 David says, "The God of my rock: in him will I trust: he is my sheild, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour ..."

For many Christians, like myself, trusting God means the difference between walking in victory or walking in defeat. For when we do not trust God, we make decisions that may jeopardize God's plans for our lives. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).

Children are sincere. They do not hesitate to show you how they feel about you. If they like you, you will know it, and if they don't like you, well, it can be a painful experience. One of my granddaughters makes me feel guilty at times. Whenever she sees me, she runs to me, hugs me and will not let go. It matters little whether I'm busy or not. Sometimes I push her away with, "Not now, sweetie," or "Granny is busy." And yet the next time she sees me, she repeats the same action. She shows me love whether I'm willing to receive it or not.

Are we sincere in the way we treat others-our family members, friends, co-workers- and God. Do we say we love them, but attach conditions to that love? Do we only love God when things are going our way, but turn our backs on Him when things get rough? Job said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15). Job had every reason to turn his back on God. Even his wife urged him to do just that. But he said unto her, "Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?(Job 2:10).

This childlike faith does not come about by mere wishful thinking, but is developed through a life of prayer, Bible study and fellowship with other believers. That's the only we can grow in faith. Many times I have had to beg God's forgiveness for not trusting Him. I looked on my circumstances instead of looking to Him. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am learning to trust in God's promises even when things don't look very promising. And you can, too.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you that you loved us while we were yet sinners, and that You continue to love us even when we don't deserve it. Help us by your Holy Spirit to love and trust You with that childlike faith, for we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Like A Little Child

Whenever I look at my grandchildren I am reminded of how different we adults are. These children are full of exuberance, passion and purpose in everything they do. They have a healthy curiousity that leads them to touch, examine- did I say touch? and probe each new object they come across. They greet me in the morning with bright smiles, hugs and cheery good-mornings, while I'm thinking, What's so good about this morning?

But what did Jesus say? "...Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Little children have the passion and excitement for life that many of us adults have lost. We have allowed the challenges of life to wear us down, to erase our smiles, to silence our song. Many of us don't even have the energy to fulfill our activities of daily living, making us one of the many depression and anxiety sufferers in the United States today.

What can we do to recapture this joie de vivre, this passion for life? Psalm 118: 24 says, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." What is there to rejoice about, you might say? We live in a world of turmoil and uncertainty that seems to be getting more turbulent daily. However the apostle Paul said, " Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). In 1 Thessalonians 5:16 he says, "Rejoice evermore."

The apostle Paul was not a man who enjoyed the good things of life. After he became converted, he spent most of his life being flogged, stoned, left for dead and thrown into prison. In fact, he wrote the book of Philippians from his prison cell, and later, just before his martyrdom, he wrote to his spiritual son, Timothy, "Persecutions, afflictions, which come unto me at Antioch at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me" (11 Timothy 3:11).

Can we have the attitude of this beloved servant of God? Can we endure all things for the sake of Christ, who endured so much for us? Can we praise Him even when our world is collapsing around us? Can we rejoice when we don't see anything to rejoice about? As difficult as it may seem, it is what God expects of us. Listen to what Jesus said: "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Joy is the believer's heritage. When we come to Christ we enter into a new dimension of peace and joy, notwithstanding our present circumstances. If we had been sour, disagreeable and hard to get along with, we should become just the opposite, because we now walk in love and Jesus is love. If we used to worry when our dog caught fleas, we should become lighthearted because Jesus "is our glory and the lifter up of our heads". If we couldn't find peace in our homes, we should have peace because He is our peace.

So if you are a believer and find yourself tormented by depression or worry, turn it over to Jesus and watch Him take it all away. If you are not a believer, why not give your life to Jesus and be amazed at the transformation He will work in you? God bless.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Grace and Mercy

It’s amazing how we can read the scriptures many times over and then one day something jumps out at us that we never noticed before. This happened to me one night as I was reading Psalm 90. This Psalm was written by Moses, appealing to God on behalf of the children of Israel.

For those of you who may not know it, God had sent Moses to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt where they had been in bondage for four hundred years. After many trials, Pharoah, the ruler, finally agreed to let the people leave Egypt. However, no sooner had they been freed, they began to rebel and complain. Their journey into the promised land which should have lasted a few days took forty years to complete. During that time God became so angry at their rebellion, he threatened to wipe them out, and would have had not Moses interceded for them. They were bitten by snakes, and many other troubles overcame them.

The children of Israel suffered the wrath of God. Hence the reason Moses wrote this Psalm. In verse 7 he writes, “For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.” Again in verse 9 he says, “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.”

I read these verses over and over, then I thought, we are no longer under wrath, but under grace. When Jesus gave His life for us on the cross, He got rid of the curse that we had been under since Adam fell. When Jesus died, He restored us to a right relationship with God, the Father. When Jesus shed His precious blood for us on the cross, we obtained “grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Timothy 1:2).

“But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6). “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). Had Moses lived in Jesus’ day he would never have written that Psalm the way he did, for he would have realized that God hath dispensed with His wrath and bestowed grace and mercy on His people.

And there’s the operative word- His. Those of us who belong to Him through Jesus Christ are assured of His grace, but those outside of Christ are still exposed to His wrath. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). So that’s the key to escaping God’s wrath-accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will not perish. God bless.