Tuesday, November 21, 2017

GOD IS HAPPY WHEN WE BOND WITH HIM



Who can resist a puppy, especially an obedient one? We make our Lord happy, too, when we obey Him and cling to Him alone.

Eternal Perspectives     by Sally Bair

Puppy Bond

With leash in hand, I walked my nine-week-old puppy down the driveway and then along a nearby trail. Lyddie bonded to me in no time, following me so closely I had to watch my step. She learned quickly where to go for food and water and attention.

Lyddie frightened easily, clinging to me, trying to climb up my leg or crying. I picked her up and soothed her, holding her securely in my arms.

Like a child, however, Lyddie sometimes became independent and disobedient. She pulled at the leash or, when untethered, ran away to sniff out something “tasty” in the compost pile. She objected to me holding her down for her naughtiness but soon learned that misbehavior brought consequences.

Lyddie taught me lessons about bonding with my own Master, the eternal God. Like Lyddie, I feel dependent upon my Father in heaven when it suits me, yet turn away to pursue my own independent activities rather than becoming God-dependent. Like Lyddie, I too, misbehave, disobey or ignore God.

He has plenty to say about bonding. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
If we decide to cling to God, like a branch to its vine, we will be assured all our needs will be fulfilled and we will enjoy peace with Him and with others. But if we choose to pursue our own desires, we will pay the consequences—if  not here on earth then in eternity.

Puppies learn quickly who’s responsible for their sustenance, care and protection. Sometimes we humans aren’t as quick to learn. We act irresponsibly, forgetting we need to be under God’s protective care. We pull away from Him to do our own thing, but forget that He loves us enough to encourage us into faith and obedience to Him.

A well-trained pup who is loved by its master will do anything to please. As humans we can follow suit, knowing our Master loved us enough to die for us and offer us eternal life with Him. When we choose to bond with Christ, we can be assured that nothing will sever that bond.

Lord, thank You for giving us the freedom to love You, to believe Your Word and to serve You. Help us remember moment by moment to remain firmly bonded to You. In Jesus’ name, amen.  




Thursday, November 16, 2017

EVERY DAY IS A THANKSGIVING DAY



We thank and praise You, Lord, each day for all You’ve given and done for us. May we never forget Your bountiful love and mercies.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES       by Sally Bair

Grateful hearts

With Thanksgiving Day looming, many of us think about the big football game on TV or hunting for that big buck in the woods. Either way, we usually follow our fun with a sumptuous meal with family. We must not forget, however, that the day has been set aside to remember our country's spiritual roots. The first European emigrants, pilgrims who had fled persecution for their Christian faith, suffered much during their first winter at Plymouth Colony. Most of them died of starvation or disease and those who survived suffered from the extreme cold and from hunger. By the next fall they had recovered somewhat, but not fully. They still faced many dangers, hunger, disease and the uncertainty of the coming winter's provisions. Yet they set aside a time to give thanks to God for the little they had.

The story about the pilgrims reminds me of the people in Mexico I encountered while on a mission trip. Ministering to the poorest of the poor, our group offered the people small gifts, such as socks, pencils, coloring books, toothpaste and shampoo. To the children we gave small toys. Many had never received a gift before.

These people lived in shacks made of dismantled wooden pallets or cardboard, and patched pieces of tin. They pulled hand carts to get their daily water supply. They had no indoor plumbing, no medical care or insurance, no schools nearby. Most of the children could neither read nor write.

When we gave them their small gifts, you'd have thought they'd been handed a million dollars. Their whole bodies exploded with joy and gratitude.

That's what God wants of us, too—to explode with thanksgiving and gratitude for all He's given us, no matter what our life circumstances are. We have a loving, merciful God. We live in a country free of the restraints that many other countries face, rich in the bounty that makes our lives comfortable, and beautiful to behold. How can we not be thankful?

As the pilgrims sat outside around their crude tables laden with simple fare, they might have recited Colossians 3:16. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." While we sit around our own tables in our warm houses and view the abundant food before us, may we too express heartfelt gratitude to God, our provider.

Lord, we give You thanks, not just today but every day, for Your goodness and love. Give us the will and desire and remembrance to always be thankful. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NOTHING IS AS AGELESS AS GOD'S WORD



The oldest trees can’t compare to the agelessness of the Bible. Neither can the books written by those of other religions than Christian. We have an enduring treasure and should treat it as such by consistent, persistent reading of it. Praise God for His Word!

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES        by Sally Bair

Ageless

One day I watched a 100-foot tree taken down for safety purposes. Like many old trees, it had become riddled with disease.

I hate to see any trees fall, whether by nature or man, but realize that sometimes they must. Trees are valuable to our environment. They add oxygen, shade, habitat and beauty for both man and animal.  

The Sequoia, redwood and oak trees live many years Before the Great Flood, men used to live even longer than most trees. Methuselah lived 969 years.

But nothing compares to the age and indestructibility of the Bible. As far back as the Old Testament, evil men have tried to destroy the Scriptures. The prophet Jeremiah was instructed by God to write on a scroll all the words God had told him about the sins of Israel. He had to write it twice because the evil king, Jehoiakim, burned it.

Early Christian believers hid copies of the Old Testament books and Paul’s writings. Since then, the Bible has survived severe persecution against Christians throughout the ages.

Even today the Bible is reviled and disallowed in some countries. But it is unique in its survival. Originally written on perishable material, it had to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the printing press came into existence. The Jewish people preserved it as no other manuscript before. It has survived burning, banning and outlawing from the days of the Roman Empire to today’s atheistic and humanistic societies. It has survived the most venomous criticism by atheists and skeptics.

The Bible is unique in its survival, its continuity, its teachings and its influence on other literature. It is “living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword…”  (Hebrews 4:12) Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) 

Lord, we in America are blessed to have an array of Bibles at our disposal. Forgive us when we’ve treated your Word as merely something to have on hand in case we need it. Give us the desire to hunger and thirst for it every day so we can live it. In Jesus’ name, amen.                  

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

BLIZZARDS OF BLESSING CAN COME ANY TIME OF YEAR



God in His love and mercy sends blizzards of blessing our way every day. We need only look for them. Can you see them? Let’s not anything cloud our vision of His blessings.

Eternal Perspectives   by Sally Bair

Blizzards of blessing

Outside my window are two aspen trees that recently turned bright yellow. The wind brought about a blizzard of their golden leaves. The ground beneath was piled high with sunshine gold.

As we northerners know, winter blizzards are also accompanied by high winds. Beauty is present in them, and they bring blessings by insulating the land, killing warm-air germs, covering seeds and replenishing moisture for future growth.

Whether God covers the earth with snow or with autumn leaves, His blizzards of blessing are meant to show us His favor and approval. The Word of God contains dozens of examples of His blessing. When God had Moses teach the Israelites His law, He included a long list of blessings on obedience, such as future children, good weather and good crops, and safety from enemies.

The list of blessings is followed by a list of curses for disobedience from which they suffered repeatedly. They forgot to be grateful for God’s blessings and turned away from Him. But God in His merciful patience kept wooing them back, blessing them whenever they repented.

The New Testament also tells of people who received God’s favor, starting with Jesus. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9) His followers shouted those words as Jesus rode into town on a humble donkey. Mary, Jesus’ mother, also was called blessed, as were those who believed in Him after His ascension. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

 The Bible’s famous Beatitudes in Matthew, chapter 5, list several ways we receive God’s blizzards of blessing. We’re favored when we have a humble spirit and are meek, when we hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness and are merciful to others, when we cause peace rather than discord and when we are willing to be persecuted for His sake.

God’s blessings come in many forms. He favors us with incredible peace of mind and joy, His wisdom and strength when needed and the gift of salvation. A popular discipline is to keep a gratitude list. As we form the daily habit of meditating on His gifts and thanking Him for them, we find our lives becoming richer and freer from negative thoughts. Gratitude brings us good physical, emotional and spiritual health, which is a blessing indeed.

Thank You, Lord, for your unending blessings that fall on us like a blizzard of golden leaves. Cause us to always remember to thank You and to pass on Your blessings to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.