Monday, March 28, 2011
What kind of spiritual eating habits do you have? Do you nibble little bites of God’s Word here and there as your time “permits?” Or do you keep nibbling until you’re filled and satisfied? Perhaps you gobble your daily Word in quick bites without savoring the flavor and texture. We probably all should review our spiritual eating habits, making necessary changes in order to feast on God’s rich and nourishing Word—His table banquet.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES By Sally Bair
The deer look healthy this winter. Some days they merely nibble at my meager offerings of food, going instead to the nutritious cedar leaves and wild shrub tips to get their sustenance. I don’t imagine there are many starving deer around our area.
Most of us in America have enough to eat, too. But there are those who do go hungry, and their hunger pains are real. If they don’t receive nourishing food, they end up suffering disease or even death. The problem of hunger across the globe is huge. As concerned Christians, we can give money or food items to help supply a starving world.
Hunger pains come in different forms. There’s the gut-wrenching pain from lack of food; there’s also the pain of disease that comes from poor nourishment.
Spiritual hunger can cause pain, too. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51)
When we partake of His Word, our whole being fills with nourishment that gives us strength, power, and life. Our spiritual meals must be eaten daily just as our food meals are eaten. As a Christian sister from my church explained, we wouldn’t want to eat an unhealthful meal at a fast-food restaurant before going to Grandma’s house for a home-cooked feast. Think about it. We’d be too full of junk food to enjoy the good stuff. We’d disappoint Grandma, hurting ourselves and her, for turning down the food she’d spent hours preparing.
When we don’t eat the right foods, our stomachs hurt. When we don’t eat of God’s nourishing Word, our souls hurt.
Lord, give us a gut-wrenching hunger every day for Your Word and Spirit. Help us to remember that Your food is what will keep us spiritually strong and powerful. May Your life-giving food in us draw others to You. And may we never forget to help the truly hungry—not only with food but with the Bread of Life. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, March 21, 2011
In spite of my illness and pain, I'm looking forward to the spring flowers and sunshine. I'm counting my many blessings.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
I checked the few prescription drugs in my medicine cabinet and discovered some as old as Methuselah. Out they went in the trash, because they’re ineffective and possibly dangerous.
My kitchen also holds outdated stuff—cans and boxes of food stamped with “best used by …” some past date. Yikes! It’s hard to throw out food I’ve paid for but haven’t used or eaten—especially the stale potato chips.
I find the same situation when perusing the clothes in my closet. Some I’m hanging onto in hopes of fitting into them in the future. Others are out of style or I’m just plain tired of them. Still others, like last year’s tennis shoes, are so ratty—but comfortable—that I’m ashamed to keep them in sight next to my newer ones. They clearly should be labeled with “Best used by …”
When I think about today’s mindset about old age—the mindset of some to put an invisible expiration date on senior citizens and handicapped people—I’m appalled. Since when should an old man in a wheelchair, who’s unable to speak, be written off as useless and unable to keep contributing something positive to his family or society?
The value of a person does not—or should not—come from age, ability, or intelligence. There’s a lot to be said about the joy and emotional well-being that a handicapped person brings. We all have something to contribute. There’s a lot to be said, also, about the wisdom and experience that comes from age. It behooves us to respectfully listen to our elders.
The Bible tells us we are all of value. Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered …. you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:31-32)
Psalm 139 speaks of God’s incredible care for us. “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (verses 13-16)
Unlike the food we eat or the medications we take, our bodies are not stamped with an expiration date. Only God knows the day we will expire. And even then, those of us who know Him personally and serve Him will live on in eternity with Him.
Lord, show us how to value every living thing, even as You value us and all of creation. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, March 14, 2011
What do hungry wolves, caterpillars, and stories have in common? They’re all works in progress, they’re all waiting for something satisfying. A small pack of wolves has been patrolling the perimeter of my back yard waiting for a meal of unsuspecting or injured venison. The wooly bear I saw recently is awaiting freedom to fly with butterfly wings. My latest story, “Trouble at Fish Camp,” is awaiting final edit so it can fly into the hands of readers everywhere. Hope abounds for writers and critters alike. Hope abounds for all of us who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. May hope in Christ abound in you.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Praise in the Process
Praise and thanks go hand in hand. It’s in our nature to thank someone for a gift after we receive it, not before. But it’s in the nature of God to cause us to praise and thank Him for things yet to come.
Take the story of the exiled Israelites who returned to Jerusalem from Babylon to restore their broken temple. Imagine the work ahead. They had to clear all the rubble before laying a new foundation. Not until then could the real work begin, that of rebuilding. They decided, however, to hold a praise and worship service after they laid the foundation—before beginning to rebuild.
“They sang praises and gave thanks to the Lord: ‘for He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.’ Then all the people shouted a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” (Ezra 3:11)
Sounds backwards, doesn’t it? But this was an act of faith on their part. In essence, what they said was: “We praise You in the process of building. What You start, Lord, You finish.” Oh, to have the faith to praise and thank Him for hearing our prayers even before He answers them! The Bible says that faith is the evidence of things not seen.
In contrast to this story is that of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. They celebrated once they reached the safety of the other shore. What faith did that show? Some, perhaps, but how much more if they had celebrated before they crossed over?
We are meant to praise and thank God during good times and bad. While enduring sickness, grief, abandonment, or whatever, our praises to God will give us strength to carry us through the misery. Praise brings joy, and “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” according to Nehemiah 8:10. When we lose our joy, we lose our strength. When we lose our strength, we lose our power to defeat whatever enemy we face.
Thousands of Christians have testified that praising God has not only brought them deep, abiding joy, it has changed their outlook on life and the environment around them. They then could better finish any task, face any challenge, or solve any problem.
Lord, we praise and thank You in good times and bad. May our faith in You be strengthened through Your Word and Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Monday, March 7, 2011
I’m off to a Christian writer’s retreat in Green Lake. There’s much preparation involved for my six-day stay: prepare food, pack clothing, laptop, lamp, lots of writing and reading material, and see to dozens of details to tie up loose ends. If I don’t prepare carefully, I may be sorry. I may lose precious time.
The highlight of the retreat will be to seek God’s will in my writing endeavors. If I don’t prepare, I may miss out on what He wants me to write. Tomorrow may be too late. But thanks be to God, it’s never too late NOW to seek the Lord.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Tomorrow May Be Too Late
Death is not a popular subject in our culture. It comes suddenly for many—a heart attack, a road accident, an enemy’s bullet. It’s our human nature to see future days, not the end of days. We reach forward for an education, a mate, children, and business success with all of its earthly benefits. And when we retire, we’re encouraged to live healthy, full lives in our few remaining years. The only plans we make for our demise are in making a will, leaving a financial legacy, and buying a cemetery plot.
It is said that there are no atheists in foxholes. It’s when we face possible death that we’re most likely to call out to God and think about the hereafter.
David, a devout follower of God, had such thoughts when he believed he was facing a mortal illness because of his past sins. “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled …. Return, O Lord, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?” (Psalm 6:2-5)
David’s words are a sobering reminder that once we die, it is too late to call upon God for mercy. That’s why David called on Him while he yet lived. This is a lesson for all of us. God wants us to call upon Him today, not only for help and strength, but for our eternal salvation, because once we die, it will be too late.
God’s Word rings with reminders to be prepared for our last day on earth. “We then, as workers together with Him, also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: ‘In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
Lord, like David, we want to be ready for the day of our death. We believe in and accept Your Son, Jesus, as our only Savior from sin. While we yet live, may we never forget the merciful sacrifice of His life on the cross for our sins. We thank You for Your loving salvation, in Jesus’ name, amen.