Wednesday, November 7, 2018

THE VALUR OF KNOWING OUR ANCESTORS


Whether we have ancestors who were good or bad, we can learn from them. Here’s to looking into the past to help us discern our future—with God’s help and wisdom.

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Ancestors

Years ago my mother decided to search her parents’ genealogy  ancestries. Without internet help such as Ancestry.com  provides, she had to do it the hard way. She wrote letters, visited cemeteries, searched library records and read historical accounts. It took her years. She hand-printed three huge charts filled with her ancestors’ names.

She also shared family stories with the three of us daughters—about her dad’s ancestors fleeing England for the United States in the 1600s to avoid persecution for their Christian faith. She spoke about her mother’s parents hiding slaves during the Civil War as part of the famed Underground Railroad.

We all have interesting heritages that tell us who we are. Through genealogy study, we learn that we are much more than a son or daughter.

God has a family tree, too, recorded in the Bible. It is important to His chosen people, the Jews, as well as to us “grafted in” Christians. We can read how God blessed His people and loved them and forgave them over and over for their sins. God multiplied them until Egypt enslaved them. Then He sent Moses to lead them across the Red Sea to freedom. 

After they began their forty-year trek to the Promised Land of Canaan, God told the people to remember His commandments and teach them to future generations so they would not forget how He delivered them from slavery.

“These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children … talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up … bind them as a sign on your hand … and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

We Christians also need to remember our spiritual heritage. Through God’s Word we can be reminded every day of His continual blessings. Like the Jewish people, we can teach them to our children, talk about them and keep them in our hearts.

For those of us who believe in Christ’s salvation, our greatest heritage is that of being His children.

Lord, thank You for the wonderful heritage we have as Your children. Make us ever aware of its importance as we worship and serve You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

THERE'S VALUE IN LOOKING BOTH BACKWARD AND FORWARD


God would have us keep our eyes on Him, but we also can look back at His wonderful mercies. Hindsight can be valuable in showing us how to live more productive lives for Him.

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Double vision

The sea horse is an amazing creature, one we don’t see in our fresh water lakes but may have observed in someone’s aquarium. Unlike most other fish, they swim in an upright position. Another difference is their ability to look both ahead and behind at the same time.

Unlike sea horses, human mothers are sometimes accused of “seeing” their disobedient children with eyes in the back of their heads. We probably have often wished we could. Perhaps it’s enough that we can look back with our emotions and memories. Sometimes that can be beneficial and pleasant, sometimes not.

Looking back on our lives or our history can teach us about our mistakes and show us how to avoid them in the future. As a journal writer for many years and a teacher of memoir writing, I see much value in looking back. Such hindsight can greatly impact our life ahead. Students have shared the new perspectives they’ve received from writing about the people, places and events of their past.

Unlike the sea horse with its double vision, we can use our mental capacities to look at our past in order to see what’s ahead. God’s Word speaks often about remembering the past blessings He has bestowed on us. Such memories help keep us focused on life ahead.

We’re told not to dwell on our past, however. “… forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul’s words tell us he had much to be ashamed of in persecuting Jesus’ followers, and much to be proud of. His heritage and lofty position in the Jewish faith gave him bragging rights. For the sake of his newly-found faith in Christ, however, he chose to forsake his past. God would have us follow his example. Our eyes, like Paul’s, should be focused on our Savior and Lord so we can serve Him as He leads. Such vision will bring us peace and joy, emotional and spiritual health, and wisdom in using our past to make good decisions in the future.

Lord, thank You for the ability to look both backward and forward. Keep us from using the past as ways to become angry, fearful or proud. Help us instead to focus on You so we can see the future as a blessing for ourselves and for others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

           

Thursday, October 25, 2018

LET'S NOT GIVE GOD THE CRUMBS OF OUR TIME


It’s one thing to write on our daily schedule the hour(s) we plan to spend with the Lord. It’s another thing to automatically include Him in every activity of the day. Which will it be for you?

Eternal Perspectives              by Sally Bair

Crumbs

I recently spent a long, hectic day signing my books at a craft fair. After the fair I needed to stop at my daughter’s house before beginning my 90-minute drive home. Her daughter and three grandchildren were visiting and I couldn’t wait to see them. But did I have enough energy to prolong my day? Was I getting too old to do all that I wanted to do?

During my drive home after such a short visit with my family, I visualized crumbs and leftovers. As much as I had wanted to visit longer, I ended up settling for the crumbs of their company. My thoughts changed to my prayer-and-Bible-study times with God. How often have I given Him the crumbs and leftovers of my time?

As beneficial and rewarding it is to be busy, busy-ness can go too far. It’s always been hard for me to sit still, but that’s a poor excuse when it comes to spending time with the Lord. After all, He’s my savior and friend, my confidante and provider. He’s the one I should be looking to automatically. But my human nature sometimes rebels against sitting still.

I especially feel guilty when I know that God wants a close relationship with me. I should be practicing the habit that Daniel, of the Old Testament, developed—that of praying three times a day, praising God and thanking Him. Daniel’s routine helped him develop a strong faith that didn’t waiver when he faced the persecution of a lion’s den and more.

Oh, that we all could be Daniels! We too should invite God into our day each morning and then praise Him and speak with Him throughout the day. We can learn to treasure our time alone with Him, meditating on His faithfulness through our Bible study and prayer.

“Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You … I will meditate on Your precepts and contemplate Your ways.” (Psalm 119:11, 15)

New habits take time to develop. And the habit of spending certain times of day with God is invaluable in building our faith, learning where to go and what to do for Him, and bringing us peace and joy in all our circumstances. God knows the struggles we face in our efforts to please Him. May we daily strive to keep our relationship with Him strong and steadfast.

Lord, thank You for Your love and patience despite our failures. Cause us to give You our regular attention rather than the crumbs and leftovers of our time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

GOD WOULD HAVE US ALL PRODUCE SPIRITUAL FRUIT IN ABUNDANCE


Apples, pumpkins, and a host of other autumn fruit are tempting and delicious. Let’s make our spiritual fruit of the Holy Spirit tempting and delicious to everyone we meet.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES             By Sally Bair

Fruit in Abundance

Since moving close to Lake Superior some years ago, I’ve learned a lot about the flora unique to the area.  One thing I’ve learned is that apples and other fruit grow in superabundance up here. The local orchards are located in a sort of mini-climate that offers the perfect conditions for growing apples.

Summers and fall are busy times of picking berries and cherries, vegetables and apples. Hundreds of people pay to pick their own or they buy the luscious produce outright. Festivals entice customers from all over, the famous, annual apple festival drawing over 50,000 people. Orchards offer apples to pick and buy, and they sell tasty apple treats along with a host of other apple-related products. This year, like so many other years, the orchards have produced a superabundance of  their fruit.

God wants us to have a superabundance of spiritual fruit, too.  Like apples, we need to grow in conditions that will cause us to bear much fruit for Him. When we live by faith in and through His Spirit, we will not want to gratify the desires of our sinful nature.  Instead, we will want to be led by the Spirit and, consequently, produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  (See Galatians 5:22-23.)

“Every good tree bears good fruit.”  (Matthew 7:16)  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we will be like a good tree bearing good fruit for God’s kingdom. 

Notice that the first fruit mentioned  is love.  All the others are founded in love.  “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love,” a song tells us. 

God’s love dwelling in our hearts brings about the perfect conditions for producing fruit for Him. Then we will produce the joy of the Lord.  We will live a peaceful life that spreads to others.  We will become patient with those around us even in the midst of stress and strain.  We will show kindness to all people.  We will show God’s goodness through our own.  We will be gentle with our words, rather than harsh.  We will remain faithful to our Christian faith and others can depend on our word.  And we will learn self-control in all things.

Such a list sounds downright unattainable, doesn’t it?  But we can remember that with the Spirit of God, all things are possible. 

Lord, we ask You to give us a superabundance of the fruit of Your Holy Spirit.  Above all, help us demonstrate Your love to every person we meet.  In Jesus’ name, amen.