After I wrote yesterday about being thankful for the many gifts God has given, my e-mail fouled up. It took a few minutes to set things right. Just one of many small, and sometimes not so small irritations that come in life. Sometimes it is with gritted teeth, but I think that is part of what we give thanks for as well as all of the obvious blessings. We are in a world of many trials, but it is a world that our Lord has chosen to occupy with us. He has brought His redeeming grace into this world by His Son, Jesus Christ. Paul wrote that because of this grace “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”(Romans 5:3-5) God is present with us, and because He is we can give thanks for all things.(I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The leaves are beginning to change color. We saw one tree yesterday that three different colors in it. My Father made that for me to enjoy. My fingers are moving to type these letters. The mechanics of how our hands function is absolutely amazing. My Father designed them and gave them to me. We can look around at a thousand of other things in everyday life, things we take fore granted, but which are absolutely wonderful gifts from our Heavenly Father. My Father and your Father gave them to us. I will be at the hospital today with a cancer patient’s family. We weep time and again over this terrible disease, and the many other ills that face our world. Yet we can thank our Father that He has given many people the skills and desire to help and to heal. Look around today at the gifts your Father has given you. Rejoice, give thanks, and love Him.
There are two occasions recorded in the Gospels where Jesus wept. In Luke 19 He wept as He looked over at the City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.(vs.41) He had such a love for the people, and a longing that they would hear His words and turn to Him for life. In John 11 Jesus stood outside of Lazarus tomb and wept.(vs.35) Here He was not weeping because of the loss of a friend. He was going to call him back to life. He was weeping because death itself had entered this life because of our rebellion from God causing great pain and anguish to all mankind. In Jesus’ tears we see the greatest love that mankind could possibly know. It was a love that would take all of the sin that separated people from Him, and the death it brought, taking it all to the cross in atonement for all mankind. Jesus’ tears for all of us led Him to a cross that would break the power of sin, death, and the devil for all time. And in those tears we have life.
Jesus always sees the bigger picture. A Jew named Nathaniel came toward Him one day. Jesus didn’t see just an ordinary townsman, but a man whose heart was free of any guile and bitterness. This was one who would be of great service to the Lord. Jesus walked by a tax collecting booth and looked at the hated man who was occupying it. He saw a man who the Jewish leaders considered a sinner, and the towns people reviled. But He also saw a man whose heart would change, and who would be mighty in proclaiming the Gospel to the Jewish people. Even with the storms on the Seas of Galilee, and the trials that the disciples would face, Jesus knew there was more than just the pain of the moment. Jesus is helping us to look beyond the surface, to look to Him to open our eyes, to pray and to trust that He is working to change our hearts for our good and for His good purpose.
Our daughter has a two and a half year old little boy, a joy in our family. There are times, in his two and a half year old silliness, that he does his own thing and won’t pay attention. Our daughter has an expression she uses with him, “Listen to my words”, spoken with the proper emphasis. “Listen to my words.” It may take a minute or two but it usually gets a response. It has struck me that our Lord is saying the same to us. “Listen to My words.” It is when we go off in our silliness, which we have done all too often, that we need to hear this same admonition. “Listen to My words.” He has given us the grace of our redemption in His holy Word. He has given us a way of life that is for our best good. He gives us guidance for our daily life in this world. Our problem, like that of our dear little two and a half year old, is putting aside our self will long enough to yield to a greater and wiser will, and one who loves us beyond measure. He says to each of us, “Listen to My words”.
We say that change is inevitable, and it is. Changes seem to be happening at a faster pace than ever before. This year tech companies come out with a newer and more expensive model to replace last year’s model that is still working well, but is now considered outdated. It happens in many areas of life, but is it all really for the good? Does this change really enhance our lives? And more importantly, does this change help us to grow more into the purpose for which God created us? The problem with change is that we tend to forget the foundations of wisdom and experience that were laid down in the past. Truth, God’s truth, is swept aside in order to build something present imagination assumes is better. Let’s not ignore the foundations for the sake of change. Jesus once remarked, “No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.'”(Luke 5:39)
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ…"
On Oct 12, 2017 3:23 PM, "Irvin Stapf" <istapf> wrote:
In the neighborhood where my grandparents lived was the A&P coffee roasting plant. When they were in operation the good smell of coffee went throughout the area. Some miles from where I grew up was the Calvert Distillery. When the wind was right we could smell the strong odor of the whiskey process. Not as nice as the coffee! There was a stretch of Route 40 in western North Carolina, passing the town of Canton, where a paper mill was in full operation with a very unpleasant smell that blanketed the area. No doubt, you are familial with these and many other odors wafting over an area. Did you know that St. Paul calls Christians an odor in our world? And he doesn’t mean body odor. He tells the Corinthians that God "uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ…"(2C2:14-15) When there is a pleasing aroma in the air, as the coffee roasting was to me as a kid in Baltimore, one’s spirits are lifted and thoughts changed. Your love for the Lord Jesus, and the way it reflects in your life, is a pleasing aroma that touches the lives of others.
In the neighborhood where my grandparents lived was the A&P coffee roasting plant. When they were in operation the good smell of coffee went throughout the area. Some miles from where I grew up was the Calvert Distillery. When the wind was right we could smell the strong odor of the whiskey process. Not as nice as the coffee! There was a stretch of Route 40 in western North Carolina, passing the town of Canton, where a paper mill was in full operation with a very unpleasant smell that blanketed the area. No doubt, you are familial with these and many other odors wafting over an area. Did you know that St. Paul calls Christians an odor in our world? And he doesn’t mean body odor. He tells the Corinthians that God “uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ…”(2C2:14-15) When there is a pleasing aroma in the air, as the coffee roasting was to me as a kid in Baltimore, one’s spirits are lifted and thoughts changed. Your love for the Lord Jesus, and the way it reflects in your life, is a pleasing aroma that touches the lives of others.
Many today deny the existence of absolute values, things that are always right for all time. Rather, each individual decides for themselves what values they follow, and aren’t to impose those values on others. OK, I understand that. Each person does make a choice of the values they follow, and we don’t make laws for each other saying that one must do this or that. However, that does not change the truth that Christians proclaim. We declare that Almighty God created us. That because we are His idea, His creation, He has established a way of life that is for our best good. This way of life is not a law that say you automatically go to hell if you don’t follow it precisely. It is an invitation to find the best life within the plan for which we were created. Even further, God came among us Himself in Jesus Christ to provide the way for our life in Him. Finding God’s good life is not being required to follow some set of laws, but yielding to the One who loves us and gave Himself that we might know the true life for which we were created.
We are a people who cherish freedom. The Bill of Rights in our Constitution grants us freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and more. We have fought wars to preserve freedom. And yet there are more ways to be in slavery than under political domination. One can be bound by addictions of various sorts. One can be bound by politically correct thinking or cultural norms of the day. One can be bound by events that happened many years in the past. One can be bound by peer pressure, or ever legalistic religious practices. St. Paul had to deal with Jewish Christians who demanded that all follow the whole of the Jewish law. So freedom is much more than not being subject to certain governmental dictates. Paul wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”(Galatians 5:1) Our true freedom of heart and mind is in Jesus Christ regardless of our outward condition. It is this freedom that allows Christians to obey the two great commandments, to love God above all else, and to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, regardless of the personal cost or sacrifice.