Archive for September, 2023

Feel the Uplifting Power

His name was Mr. Smith. I learned it the hard way. One day I was hanging out the back window of the upstairs of my dad’s store. I saw him in the alley and called out to him, “How are you doing Cid?” No sooner had I done it until I heard my dad’s reprimanding voice saying, “His name is Mr. Smith to you, son.” It was a proper bit of instruction. To dad, his peer, he was Cid. To me, a juvenile, he was Mr. Smith. It was a short course in respect for your elders.

Cid, uh Mr. Smith, held a responsible role in our agrarian society. With all of the farm implements that need sharpening the blacksmith was a vital person.

He had what was to me an intriguing device, simple as it was. Keep in mind this was before the days of popular magnets and Etch-a-Sketch.

Because of the friendship between dad and Mr. Cid I was allowed on occasion to play with his magnet, the only one in town. Beneath his emery wheel there was on the table a pile of iron filings, each smaller than a grain of sand.

I learned that if the magnet was held a few inches above the iron filings the force field of the magnet would cause the filings to move slightly. As the magnet drew closer to the filings the more they moved. When I got the magnet where its force field had its power influential enough the filings would jump up to meet it. Over and over I played the game to see how close the magnet had to be before the filings were caught up in the air.

Even in my childish mind I could see the likeness of the iron filings responding to the magnet by being caught to meet it and the second coming of Jesus. Every evidence is that we who know Jesus as savior will be caught up to meet him in the air. What a day that will be!

With the evidence of His coming ever nearer the more active we should be to His influence on us.

Scholars have identified 1,845 different biblical references to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the Bible. In the Old Testament, no less than seventeen books mention Christ’s return. The New Testament authors speak of it in 23 of the 27 books. Seven out of ten chapters in the New Testament refer to His return.

Bible scholars in considering the signs of His coming say all essential signs that are to precede His coming have been fulfilled. There is just enough time to prepare. Live with that expectation and be motivated by it to be and do your best in all things in order to be ready. 

Belief in the second coming  of Jesus should be a stimulus to joy, and discipline. Jesus has said, “I will come again…” As certainly as He came to Bethlehem He will come again to the Mount of Olives.

As He came to die so He will come to reign.

As He came to be crucified so He will come to be crowned.

You can almost hear the trumpet sound. Yet, He may delay another two thousand years. He may not. Regardless there is no disappointment in being ready.

The Wonderful You

Some stories are better appreciated if understood as occurring in the juvenile life of the storytellers, not his adult self. Remember, adolescence is about digging out the gold in the goal. Before reading further please promise to do so.

I had become obsessed with the role of Tarzan as played by Johnny Weissmuller in movies. I had to try my best to replicate the role, “Me Tarzan.” I put on my belt, pulled a towel between my legs, tucked the ends under my belt in the front and back and let the ends flap over. It was a perfect loin cloth.

On Cemetery Road there were three pine trees growing in a row. The forthcoming action involved “Tarzan” getting in the top of tree number one, starting it to sway enough to project him to tree number two, and then number two propelling him to tree number three. The sway action was even better than imagined as it easily propelled Tarzan 6 or 8 feet to the top of tree number two. Looking good. The problem was Tarzan and the loin cloth were in different trees. The loin cloth was still at the top of tree number one. Oops. It got caught on tree number one.

Jane was nowhere around… fortunately. Unfortunately a funeral procession came by. Tarzan was frozen trying not to be seen. Evidently he was successful in avoiding sight or there would have been laughter even around the grave site.

Tarzan was mortified as he retrieved the towel, wrapped himself in it, and made his way home, resolute on never playing the role again.

The moral of the story: don’t pretend to be who you are not. If you do, you are sure to be exposed.

True joy is found in being the original you, not a pretentious counterfeit. God had something good in mind when he created you. Don’t deny it by pretending to be something or someone else and robbing the world of you.

May this apothegm by Ralph Waldo Emerson remind you of life’s bounty when you are the best you, you were created to be. “This is my wish for you: Comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, rainbows to follow the clouds, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to know the truth, Love to complete your life.” May this postscript enrich it all: May you have the faith in Jesus needed by you to enjoy life here and hereafter.

I hope you are living a life you will be proud of and the Lord pleased with. If not, it is not too late, start today becoming the most accurate person you were created with the capacity to be. If not, I hope you have love strong enough to turn to Jesus and embrace Him as Savior. 

Jesus warned against the eternal consequence of pretending to be what you are not in the faith. “ “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Commitment for Time and Eternity

The Jewish morning begins with the “Modeh Ani” (“I thank”) prayer, which expresses the worshiper’s gratitude for another day of life.

Translation: “I thank Thee, living and eternal King, for Thou hast mercifully restored my soul within me; Great is Thy faithfulness.”

The presumption here is that worshipers entrusted their spirit to the Almighty for safe-keeping the previous evening. Many observant Jews use the phrase, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31:5) at the end of their evening prayers. The entire Psalm reads:

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
Be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

It is interesting that verse 5 is the same verse that Jesus cried out while dying on the cross (Luke 23:46).  It is highly likely that Jesus, in his agony, was reciting this part of the psalm from memory as He faced the greatest challenge of His incarnate life.

The Hebrew word translated “commit” in verse 5 has a meaning that is much closer to “I deposit” – which necessarily signifies a future “reclaiming” of the thing deposited. In Hebrew the unequivocal meaning of this verse is the temporary submission of one’s spirit into the hands of God – giving it into “His custody,” with the definite intention of receiving it back. 

It makes perfect sense that Jesus would quote this particular psalm while hanging on a Roman cross.

The original verse from Psalm 31: 5 Jesus was reciting from Hebrew, gives a simple, but significant insight into the words of Jesus on the cross. The words Jesus uttered were nothing less than a declaration of His great Israelite faith.  He was confident that as He deposited His soul into the hands of His Heavenly Father, He would surely get it back at his resurrection. What happened three days after His death proved that Jesus did not hope in vain.

Learning the Language of Love – Part Two

Little children, let’s not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. I John 3: 18

The language of love is a sign language.

Jesus, “the Word,” was full of “grace and truth.” Every grace act and every truthful utterance is spoken in the language of love.

Grace is God’s kindness and favor shown to people who don’t deserve it.  Are you willing to do kind deeds and bestow favor on persons you know don’t deserve it?

Kind words are the music of the soul. They have a power which seems to be beyond nature, as if they were some angel’s song that found its way to earth. No person has ever been helped or corrected by sarcasm — crushed yes, if the sarcasm is clever enough, but never drawn nearer God.

One of the greatest things you can do for your Heavenly Father is be kind to some of His other children.

I John 3: 17 precedes our text with this explanation of showing kindness and favor: “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

The active language of love demands we share our substance.

Visual grace needs to be complimented by verbal grace. Do you know how to speak the language of love with grace? So many people don’t know how to pay a compliment without including in it a barb. Others don’t know how to comment without having a cut in it. I speak to many hundreds of people a week and find few know how to be gracious.

Jesus was the “Word … full of grace and truth.”  The Bible tells us to “speak the truth in love.” Sometimes this mandates silence. Love prompts us to remain silent at times. 

Linus asks Lucy: “Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?”

Lucy: “I just think I have a knack for seeing other people’s faults.”

Linus: “What about your own faults?”

Lucy: “I have a knack for overlooking them…”

We speak the language of love when we reverse that and overlook the faults of others while working on our own.

Often the spoken word is intended to deceive while contrary action is planned. Jeremiah 9: 8 describes this: “Their tongue is an arrow shot out: It speaks deceit; One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, But in his heart he sets his ambush.” Speak the truth in love.

“I love you,” can be one of the most encouraging and motivating expressions uttered.

“I love you,” can be one of the most deceptive and damnable lies spoken. As a lie it is a plea and ploy to lower the drawbridge of our heart to allow a traitor entrance.

“A flattering mouth works ruin” (Proverbs 26: 28).

Most problems in life are caused by the tongue. There is no easier way to sin than with speech. The tongue is in a moist place where you can slip easily.

Learning the Language of Love – Part One

Little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. I John 3: 18

Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13: 35).  This was His litmus test for love.

The Bible or New Testament has been translated into all of the world’s major languages. The entire Bible is translated into a total of 293 languages spoken by 90% of the world’s population. The New Testament is available in another 618 languages. However, there are still 300,000,000 million people with no portion of Scripture in their language. Currently 3,000 Bible translators are working on 1,400 translation projects hopefully to be completed by 2033.

However, there is a strategic translation that needs to be made by you which only your friends will read. It is the language of love.

Therefore, “…let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3: 18).

Let that reverberate in the echo chamber of your heart.

“A light that doesn’t glow,
A spring that doesn’t flow,
A seed that doesn’t grow,
All are analogies of a faith that doesn’t SHOW. 

The Bible says, “God is love.” That might have been doubted until “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us””(John 1: 14). That was show and tell time. Jesus told us of the love of God and then went to Calvary and showed us the love of God. Like Jesus we must combine words and deeds.

“In this is the love of God manifested toward us, that God sent His Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” (I John 4: 9)

With reference to Jesus the Scripture says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (I John 1: 14)

The Greek term translated Word is “Logos.” Logos was a term used at the time by Philo which meant “all that is known or knowable about God.” That is Who Jesus is. He is “all that is known or knowable about God.”  He made it known by grace and truth. Grace was His style and truth His speech.

His very actions were the expression of the heart of God the Father. In essence, our actions are a language. What we do is what people hear. What people see is what they hear.

Love is a language which the blind can read and the deaf can understand.

You speak the language of love without opening your mouth when you write a note of encouragement, help someone perform a difficult task, bake a cake or cookies, take in the neighbor’s paper when they are away, open a door, give a cool drink on a hot day or a warm drink on a cold day, share a mutual sorrow, or give a love offering to meet a spiritual need.

A kind look, a thoughtful act, or a warm smile can be ammunition for a friend fighting his unseen battle. Observers of speech estimate that approximately 75% or more of our message is communicated nonverbally or in the tone of our voice. 

Walk the walk and talk the talk.