Archive | July 2013

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I was in the car yesterday when the old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness” came on the radio.  Tears came to my eyes as I listened.  Just a few days before, our friend Mark had come over for a “Sing-Along-with-Robbie.”  Mark has a special love for Robbie (and the feeling is returned in abundance by Rob!) and has made it his ministry to bring his guitar over every week or two to sing and play for Robbie.  We all enjoy this special time—Robbie, because he loves music and he understands Mark is doing this just for him, and Bob and I, because we love seeing our boy so happy and enjoy watching him as we all sing together.

Mark, bless his heart, had been eagerly looking forward for weeks to bringing a notebook of Scripture songs over to sing for Robbie, but it was in southern Indiana.  He finally was able to get ahold of it and could hardly wait to dig into it and sing these special songs for Rob.  He sang a few and then we noticed a change come over Robbie’s face.  We can read it like a book.  He was definitely letting us know, “Enough!  I don’t know these songs!  Where is that hymn book?  Let’s get on with my favorite hymns!”  Little pickle!  Bless his little pea-pickin’ heart!

I felt bad for Mark, but he just laughed and switched over to the hymn book.  We sang some of Robbie’s favorites and finally came to “How Great Thou Art”…”Great is Thy Faithfulness”…”Blessed Assurance.”  The mood changed somehow with those beautiful old hymns and it wasn’t about Robbie anymore.  It was all about Him—our Lord and Savior.  My eyes were filled with tears as we worshipped and praised our God.  Even Robbie sensed it as he tried to sing with us.

Yesterday as I listened to “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on the radio, I wept as I remembered our sing-along—the preciousness of the words of those hymns; Robbie’s joy at those particular songs; the blessed time of fellowship we had.  I had no idea that as I tearfully listened and thought about these things, Mark’s mother was passing into Glory.

She had been slipping away for years from Alzheimer’s.  The family knew the end was very near as they watched over her in hospice, and yet they were comforted in the fact that right up to the end she was peaceful and happy.  Her favorite hymn was “Blessed Assurance.”  Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!  Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!  What a comfort those words must be now!

When I received Mark’s e-mail last night telling of his mother’s passing away I thought of that time in the car earlier in the day.  The words of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” came back to me.

 

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

(Refrain)

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

(Refrain)

 

The lyrics refer to Lamentations 3:22-23, ““It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”  The author of the hymn was Thomas O. Chisholm.  He wrote the poem in 1923 after seeing God’s faithfulness in his own life.  Born in a log cabin in Kentucky in 1866, he suffered ill health throughout most of his lifetime—although he lived well into his 90’s!  He never made much money, either, but despite his lack of health or wealth, he was overcome with gratitude at God’s faithfulness to him.   In his own words, “…I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.”  Thomas Chisholm wrote almost 1200 poems in his lifetime, including several that were published as hymns.

I know Mark and his family have felt the presence and faithfulness of God throughout this time of watching their mother decline.  It is such a blessing to know, though, that it is not only during the most difficult times of our lives that we feel God’s watchcare over us, but through each ordinary day we see and feel His faithfulness, as well.  The Scripture says, “…His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning…”  Each day when I wake up, I know the Lord is with me, walking beside me, providing, protecting, guiding…  God is faithful to His children day in and day out.  Think of it—His mercies and compassion have been new with every single dawn throughout history!  Great is His faithfulness!

Where’s the Volume Switch?

joshuafishToday is Joshua’s thirteenth birthday!  Joshua is our second grandson; fourth out of eleven grandchildren (so far!  Two more are on the way!)  What a really special kid he is!  He has a sweet, sensitive heart for others, and especially for the Lord.  He’s been reading the Bible faithfully from the time he was just a little tyke, when other kids his age were still into “See Dick and Jane run!”  He loves to memorize Scripture and often learns long passages by heart just because he wants to.  He is thoughtful of others, helpful, generous and kind.  Like his parents, Joshua has already developed a servant’s heart.

Joshua is an excellent student in every area and has many interests.  He loves to garden with his father.  He is learning to play piano and trumpet, and hopes to learn to play the guitar someday, as well.  He loves dogs—especially his own, Pumpkin and Pebbles.  He loves babies and little ones and is so excited about their upcoming adoption.  He loves to play games.  He loves to read.  And like his grandpa (or Boppa, as he calls him) Joshua is an outdoorsman, loving to fish and dying to try his hand at hunting when he gets old enough.

Joshua is so much like Bob, in fact, that we call him “Mini-Boppa.”  He loves to rough-house and play wild and crazy.  He is enthusiastic and loves to laugh!  And most of all like Boppa, he is LOUD!  Not just loud—LOUD!!!  And there is no volume switch.  When he is having fun, he is just always set at LOUD!

But that is okay!  In fact, that is what I love about Joshua—he has a happy, enthusiastic, joyful heart!  The scripture verse that comes to mind when I think of Joshua is Psalm 98:4, Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.”  He has a no-holds barred approach to whatever he tackles, whether it is something serious or just for fun.  Shouldn’t we all?  “…Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  (I Corinthians 10:31b)  And if we can do it with a cheerful heart, praising God loudly, so much the better!

We have a lot for which to raise our voices in praise!  Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”  Shout for joy!   “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”  (Psalm 32:11)  Shout unto God!  “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.”  (Psalm 47:1)

So turn that volume up and, like Joshua, make a joyful noise!

Happy 13th Birthday, Joshua Caleb!  I love you!

Sticker Shock

It’s been an expensive week or two around here.  We don’t often “need” many high ticket items all at once, but that has been the case in the last ten days.  The driveway had to be patched and sealed.  The chimney is ready to fall down, so that will be repaired this week.  The air conditioning in the car went out and it was an expensive fix.  Bob suddenly needed a new computer for his business.  We had to replace the recliner we bought for Robbie just six weeks ago with something more comfortable (the “throne” I wrote about last month just is not working out for him.  Anyone want an almost brand-new recliner for half price?)  And then there were the quarterly estimated income taxes we mailed out yesterday.  Big OUCH!  As I added up the total and wrote the final check I muttered, “You’d think we were rich around here!”

Well, we certainly aren’t rich, but our Father is!  I reflected this week on the many times in the past He provided miraculously for us when only He knew we had a need.  The time our cupboards were literally bare and we prayed with our daughters during our morning devotions that somehow the Lord would help us get some groceries.  Three hours later a man knocked at our door and told us that the Lord had told him to leave his job on his lunch break and bring us $50.  The time I had a bad sinus infection and no money for a doctor or medicine.  I was miserable and asked God somehow to help me.  Two hours later there was a free sample of sinus medicine in the mail.  The time winter was coming and I prayed for a warm jacket for Robbie.  All he had was a little windbreaker and we had no money.  A day or two later someone gave us a heavy parka—the nicest he’d ever had—not knowing we had that need.  It had a little rip that I mended—and the next day it turned cold and snowed.  The time we had no insurance and the Lord provided it the same week I had a heart attack and had to have quintuple bypass surgery.  I could go on and on with stories of times God met special needs when only He knew we had the need.  There were times when He met a need before we even knew we had the need!

My mother and I were just talking about this yesterday.  She said, “You could have asked us for help, you know.  Your dad and I would have been glad to help.”

“I know, Mom.  But think of the lessons our girls learned when they saw how God provided.  And to this day, I look back and remember those times when I am tempted to worry.  He provided in the past.  Why should we doubt He will provide in the future?”

Jehovah Jireh.  One of the many names of God, it means “The Lord will provide.”  Genesis 22 tells us the story of Abraham and Isaac.  “And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.  And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.  And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.  Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.   And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.  And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.  And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son.  And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?  And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.  And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.   And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.   And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.   And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.  And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.  And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.  (Genesis 22:1-14)

Because of Abraham’s great faith in Him, God provided a sacrificial ram to take the place of Isaac.  Abraham memorialized that event by calling the name of the place on Mt. Moriah “Jehovahjireh” whereupon God immediately reconfirmed His covenant with Abraham.  “And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:15-18)

We are thrilled when God provides for our physical and material needs.  You can imagine the relief on both Abraham and Isaac’s parts when the Lord provided a ram!  This story represents so much more, though.  It is an illustration of the grace of God and His provision for our eternal salvation.  Mt. Moriah, the mountain of the Lord as found in verse 14, foreshadows Calvary’s hill.  When Abraham in faith declared to Isaac that “God will provide himself a lamb” it was a prophetic picture of John the Baptist’s declaration “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.  (John 1:29)  Jehovah-Jireh provided a sacrifice to save Isaac—a foreshadowing of the gift of His Son for our salvation.  

The name Jehovah Jireh does not mean “The LORD did provide,” but “The LORD will provide.” We can trust that it does not apply to only past events, but also to future ones!  His salvation is not simply a one-time event, but a continual, eternal one.  The tender loving care and provision our Father has for His children is always there for us.  Sometimes we “have not because we ask not.” (James 4:2)  Sometimes we don’t have to ask at all—He surprises us with His provision, abundantly overflowing!

 I came across this poem a month or two ago and have been saving it to share with you.  I am so thankful for God’s provision—His salvation and all the spiritual blessings with which we are blessed, and yes—the material gifts He gives us, as well!  My cup overflows!

Drinking from My Saucer

by John Paul Moore

 

I’ve never made a fortune and it’s probably too late now,

But I don’t worry about that much ’cause I’m happy anyhow.

And as I go along life’s way I’m reaping better than I sow,

I’m drinking from my saucer ’cause my cup has overflowed.

 

Haven’t got a lot of riches and sometimes the going’s tough,

But I’ve got loving ones around me and that makes me rich enough.

I thank God for his blessings and the mercies He’s bestowed,

I’m drinking from my saucer ’cause my cup has overflowed.

 

I remember times when things went wrong my faith wore somewhat thin,

But all at once the dark clouds broke and sun peeped through again.

So Lord, help me not to gripe about the tough rows that I’ve hoed,

I’m drinking from my saucer ‘cause my cup has overflowed.

 

If God gives me strength and courage when the way grows steep and rough,

I’ll not ask for other blessings ’cause I’m already blessed enough.

And may I never be too busy to help others bear their loads,

Then I’ll keep drinking from my saucer ’cause my cup has overflowed.

The Great Escape

I’ve been trying to write this blog all morning but I keep falling asleep!  There is good reason for my sleep deprivation—Robbie.  I sleep next to him at night in case he has seizures.  The other night I woke up to him waving my hand in the air.  “No, no, Robbie!  Go to sleep!” I murmured.    I glanced at the clock as I tried to reclaim my arm.  It was 3:30 AM.  The next thing I knew he had both hands and was clapping them together.  Go to sleep, Robbie!  At least let Mommy sleep!

The next night I woke up just in time to see him slide off the bed head first, going after a pillow he had dropped on the floor.  I groaned as I got out of bed to check on him.  His feet were still on the bed but his head was up against the couch a few feet away.  He was clutching his pillow triumphantly and grinning at me.  “Oh, Robbie!” I sighed.  “Now I have to get you back on the bed!”  I looked at the clock.  Five o’clock in the morning.  Bob would be up in half an hour.  Suddenly I drew the line.  “No!” I scolded Robbie.  “You’re going to wait for Daddy now!  You’re fine; you can’t get hurt and Daddy can move you a lot easier than I can!”  Feeling like a mean mom, but without a single guilty feeling, I went back to bed, leaving my handicapped child to play on the floor with his pillow.

The next time I opened my eyes, there was Robbie, scooting across the floor on his bottom lickety-split right past the foot of the bed with his pillow in his lap!  Robbie hadn’t moved like that in years!  He was through the living room, half-way through the dining room and headed for the kitchen by the time I overcame my shock, jumped out of bed and went after him.  I grabbed the phone and called Bob on the intercom.  “Come see what your son has done now!” I said.

The look of determination on Robbie’s face was priceless.  In his mind he was “blowing this pop stand”—making the great escape!  When Daddy suddenly appeared, blocking his path, his getaway was nipped in the bud, but that was okay—his best buddy was there to play with him!

I’ve written in these last few months of small triumphs Robbie has achieved since beginning a new anti-seizure drug.  Each one brings such joy to not only our little champion, but to Bob and me, as well.  For years we have watched his physical strength deteriorate and his world shrink around him.  Now there is hope that he will regain some of what he had lost.

When I think of a “Great Escape” in the Bible, my mind automatically comes to the escape from Egypt by the Hebrew slaves.  For 400 years they had been in bondage to the Egyptians, building their pyramids under the blazing desert sun.  God raised up a leader for them—Moses—and unlocked their chains through His miraculous assault of plagues upon the Egyptians.  He provided an escape route, clearly marked with a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He overcame one obstacle after another for them.  The Red Sea blocking their path.  The lack of food in the wilderness.  The lack of water.  He provided protection from enemies.  (Read Exodus 3- 17 for the full story.)  Despite all that God did for them in their Great Escape, the Israelites murmured and complained and eventually rebelled against the Lord.  Because of their sin, a whole generation wandered in the wilderness until they died off and a new generation finally entered the Promised Land.

I Corinthians 10:1-11 reminds us to avoid the mistakes of the Israelites.  “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea…And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.  But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.  Neither be ye idolaters…Neither let us commit fornication…Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents…Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured…Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

They were examples to us of what NOT to do.  God will lead, provide, protect, overcome and do miracles for us—and all He wants from us is our obedience and our worship.  Actually, obedience is a very important part of worship.  I Samuel 15:22 says, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”  Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

When we accept Jesus as our Savior we receive the Great Escape from Hell.   “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)  Throughout our life here on earth He provides Escape from the temptations we face on a daily basis.  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  (I Corinthians 10:13)  We can be free from the bondage of sin now and for all eternity.