In the Book of Esther, the Jewish queen in the pagan capital of Persia found herself in the position of being the only one who could plead for the lives of her people before the king. Read the book again sometime. It is a great account of courage and God’s providence. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, says to her, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” An interesting thought. God knew us before we were born. Did He choose the time, place, and family of our birth for His purpose, and a task that we are to accomplish? We need to be careful with making general rules out of one or two verses, but it does help us to think about our lives. God does have a purpose for each of us. Our first and over all purpose is to bring glory to His name in all we do. But He has given each of us particular abilities, personalities, and desires that fit us for certain tasks. He has given each of us gifts to use in His service. Who knows but that we are called to use those gifts for such a time as this? Keep the eyes of your heart open to the possibilities our Lord lays before you.
Some people dislike cemeteries. Too much of a reminder of our mortality, perhaps. I like them, and find them interesting. Some years ago I was walking through a cemetery and wrote this prayer. Lord, I look out at these grave markers for many lives. Some are only a few weeks old, others have been here for many years. Some died in infancy, others lived long lives. The duration of life and its time of conclusion is in your hands. These markers contain many memories. Events happy and sad, easy and difficult, but all part of the days you’ve given us. Some have lived them well, others not so well, but in You, Lord, nothing is lost. All of these lives, all of these events, all of these memories still live on, and are a part of the life that You continue to mold and shape in Your Kingdom. You work to redeem the bad, and use the good, but in You all is brought to its just and right conclusion for our good. You are the God who has broken the power of death. You are over all and in all. To be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen.
[ Category Good Morning]
A headline in the financial new this morning reads, “The wisdom of Confucius can lead you to financial success.” I didn’t read the article, but it may well have some excellent points. Confucius lived 500 years before Christ. How could 2500 year old wisdom have relevance in our modern world? Ah! But true wisdom has no expiration date. This is a lesson we need to hear, while trying to set aside a bit of the modern arrogance that deems our age the most advanced of all. The Prophet Jeremiah, also many years ago, counseled, “Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls.”(6:16) The wisdom of God is timeless. The One who created us has given us His wisdom as the best guide for life. We face a myriad of challenges and fears in our “highly advanced” world. Maybe it is past time that we looked again to the ancient paths where the good way is.
Paul writing the the Galatian Church tells them to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”(6:2) This is what makes the fellowship of the Church such a blessing. Paul has said further to the Corinthians, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”(I C.12:26) I know there are times we are reluctant to share personal concerns, but we need to understand that we are not lone Christians. “You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”(vs.27) Those others in the congregation are your brothers and sisters. They are willing the support you with a listening ear, prayer, a word of counsel, even scrub a floor or paint a wall if that is needed. It is what you will do for others, and they will do it for you. It is what the word fellowship means. Far more than sharing a cup of coffee together, it is knowing that, in Christ, our lives interconnected, and what we desire the the strength and health of the whole body. Rejoice that you are one with all who name the name of Christ, and especially those in your local fellowship.
There are times in the Gospels that Jesus seems to give us a blank check concerning our prayers. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”(John 14:13) Whatever you ask? But we know that there are things we ask in Jesus name and don’t receive. Another time Jesus spoke about the power of faith and said, “All things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”(Mt.21:22) Believing faith is a key, but that gives us a real problem. Doubts so easily assault us. When we pray for a healing and nothing happens, are we to blame for our lack of faith? I don’t believe that is a burden of guilt the Lord intends us to bear. That kind of guilt can drive us to despair, and that’s not where our Lord wants us. On another occasion a father came asking Jesus for healing for his son. Jesus asked if he believed He could do this. The father responded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24) That is where our faith must rest – in the One who has the power to help us overcome. He is the One who has given His life to cleanse us from sin. He is the One who knows us to the depth of our hearts. We won’t see all of our prayers answered just the way we ask, but we can trust ourselves into the hand of the One who loves us with an everlasting love.
These morning messages are meant to be helpful, encouraging, and maybe thought provoking. I started them years ago just for my family, and they have spread from there. The focus is always on our Lord who is the source of all encouragement and truth. He is the living presence that motivates us. From Him we are to reflect encouragement and truth to those around us. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians not to “let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”(4:29) Our words can build up, and our words can tear down. Our guide in all we say is that is benefit those who listen. Other translations say “impart grace” to those who listen. Sometimes our words must be harsh according to the needs of a person, but our purpose is always their being built up in the Lord. I don’t always accomplish that with these messages, but we keep reminding ourselves that our task in life is to grow in the nature of Jesus, and let that nature reflect in all we do and say.