Saturday, August 26, 2017

RED SEA EXPERIENCES


Do not fear for there is nothing to fear:  Immanuel Lives
By Shirley Wiggins

In Exodus 13:17 – 14:31, we read  an amazing account of how God  saved His people from an enemy in pursuit by means of a sea divided….
 As the children of Israel fled from Egypt, with Moses in front of the people  with God to lead them, and Pharaoh in pursuit behind them with the Egyptian army to recapture them, they reached the waters of the Red Sea.

As they looked around them and assessed their current circumstances, “they became very frightened;” (Exodus 14:10b).
 Moses’ mouth said to the people, as recorded  in Exodus 14:13-14 (NASB),     …”Do not fear!  Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.  The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

I wonder what Moses’ mind was saying as he told the people not to be afraid, since Exodus 14:15-18 records these words from the LORD: 
“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.  As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.  As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.  Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”

I  wonder if Moses’ mind wasn’t calling out loudly, though silently, to the Lord for urgent help since the Lord asked him directly, “Why are you crying out to Me?”
The Lord gave all the directions needed:  He told Moses what to tell the Israelites to do, and what Moses was to do, and even what He Himself would do:

·       Tell the sons of Israel to go forward,

·       You lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it; and you will all go through the midst of the sea on dry land;

·       As for Me, the Lord said, I will send Pharaoh and all his army into the sea and they will perish;  and the result would be that the Egyptians would know who is the LORD, for He would be honored through the death of Pharaoh and his army.

I am astounded at the greatness of God, the LORD!  As I explore Scripture to discover more about God, and life, and me and us ---  people in general,  I learn how specific people interacted with God in the Old Testament and with God through Jesus in the New Testament.    It never fails to bring me to the awe-filled worship of this God that people are invited to know – urged to know by God Himself.  He does not hide His heart to be known by His people.
Example after example from OT through the NT, we see again and again the faithfulness of God to guide, instruct, protect and provide for His people.  He reveals Himself by His ways and His workings that people might know that He is the Lord.

He warns against falling into idolatry and becoming deceived by careless and callous untruths, while revealing truth in its depths through the pages of His carefully preserved Word, the Holy Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 29:29  records the  interesting fact that in all of God’s revealing and showing and telling, people will never be able to fully comprehend God Himself, and that there are yet things not revealed:  “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all of the words of this law.”( Ampified Bible.)

Ours is to know in order to obey.  What remains secret belongs to God.  There is no God like Yahweh God.  He retains secrets, but we are an entirely open book to Him:
““Can anyone hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?” says the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24 AMP

His Word is lavish with its revelations of God’s power, His love and mercy and grace, His promises that His Word is true and He is Whom He reveals Himself to be, and that He can and will do all that He has said He will do – forever.  He is unchangeable and unshakeable and unexplainable and remains incomprehensively majestic and magnificent.
The question is, “Do we believe Him?”

At each and every “Red Sea Place” in our lives, God is already there with the guidance we need and the strength and power to bring us safely through, with abundant comfort and care and provision and protection.
Isaiah 41:9-10  (Amplified Bible): “ You whom I (the Lord) have taken from the ends of the earth and have called you from the corners of it, and said to you, You are my servant—I have chosen you and not cast you off …Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice.”

Oh, that we would believe this great God!  That I would truly believe this great God!
 As you and I stand today at this point in our lives and assess our own circumstances, are there difficulties facing us that frightens us about how our future will unfold?

Let me encourage you to look beyond the river of fear and invite the Lord to make His presence felt by you.  With eyes of faith, choose to believe what you cannot see by believing the words on the pages of God’s Word that you can see.  Invite His Holy Spirit to make His presence fully known to you, bringing to you the comfort and provision He has ready for you.
In a poem that I read today by Annie Johnson Flint, she asked this question  in the first line:  “Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life, where in spite of all you can do,”  that you know there is no way out or back, but the only way is ‘through’ this particular situation. 

Death is a Red Sea dividing loved ones by the River of Anguish of grief and loss.
The death of a loved one is painful and difficult, and my dad’s death held its own unique heartbreak and grief because it appeared to have come by his own hand.  Accidental, or intentional?   We never knew the answer to that question. 

My mother held us together with her faith in God which gave her strength even though her own way was a blurred path because of her tears of absolute anguish, for on top of grieving as a widow, she had to grapple with all the unanswered whys that a questionable death leaves in its wake.

My mother’s own death occurred 13 years later, soon after the birth of my last child – just three years after the arrival of the long-awaited granddaughter into the circle of her three grandsons at that time.  (Since then, she has had three more grandsons added to her list of descendants.)
She was a loving and thoroughly involved grandmother  -  a woman who loved to laugh and looked for the enjoyment and fun of life, even though she was already a grieving young widow by the time her first grandchild was born.

Her death was sudden and totally unexpected after a brief illness, hospitalization, and emergency surgery.
Word of her death seemed to knock the very breath from our bodies as my brothers and I fought to maintain balance in the suddenness of being left without a parent on earth.  Our core as siblings was lost when both our parents were gone from us.

A stripping away of that sense of security inherent in a mother’s felt love in her daughter would, throughout that first long night of shock and grief after her death,  sweep over me with such force that I would feel nearly as if I were drowning,  that I could not breathe.
I could not then identify the overwhelming feelings of loss at being left without a parent on this earth as feeling like an “orphan.”  However, much later, I would re-discover the verse recorded at John 14:18 and understand that emotion as the peculiar grief of an orphan. 

Jesus knew that after His death on the cross His disciples would suffer that anguish of having the core of their faith removed from their visible sight,  and so He gave His precious promise to His disciples then:  :  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”    Nestled still today in the greatest Book ever written, you too can find this promise in the Book of St. John, chapter 14, verse 18 (NASB) .
He did come to me – in a way that I could never have imagined on the day of her funeral, 31 years ago today. 

At that time and in spite of the fact that I was an adult, happily married to a loving and supportive husband, and the mother of three young children, I now equate that particular heavy emotional pain as being the grief of an orphan.
The devastating sense of aloneness a child without a mother must feel!

In the death of my mother, one of my Red Sea River of Anguish experiences, the Lord God was already there and would not leave me ever. 
He was constantly by my side, and though I was so aware of my grief and pain that  I was unaware of Him, He was nevertheless with me, and brought beautiful comfort to me in such a way that now even after 31 years have passed, I remember vividly the experience.

On the way to my mother’s funeral, my husband and I were in the front seat of our car with my youngest brother and his wife in the back seat of the car.

All at once,  as another overwhelming wave of sorrow rushed over me, l felt such a strong  anguish in thinking of life without her presence that it seemed it would crush me.  
Then I ‘saw’ with my mind’s eyes words written and I read them, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself;  that where I am, there you may be also.”

At the time, I felt so comforted in knowing that she had been carried to a mansion – a place of her own.
  For at the time of her death, she did not have a home of her own.  She would not tell me why, but she had left her husband at the time because of unbearable circumstances.   She promised to tell me about the situation  later after she was released from the hospital for her plans were to go home with me to my home in another state.

 The plan that never came into being was that she would stay the summer with me while she recuperated from her illness and surgery.   Instead of leaving the hospital, she left the land of the living in the earth.
As we arrived at the church, we were ushered to the appropriate  pews at the front of the building on the right aisle facing the casket placed before the pulpit.

Living out of state, I had never met her pastor.  As the service began,  the prayers and readings and songs went on and on, and again I was overwhelmed by that crushing panic-stricken grief.
Then the pastor read his funeral text:  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself,  that where I am, there you may be also.”

 All of a sudden, it was as if the roof over my seat had been pulled back and the brightest, warmest,  largest  ray of sun and light shone down from heaven on my head.  It felt as if I had been lifted from a cold drenching rain and placed securely on the lap of God Himself,  with the sensation  that a warm, soft blanket had been wrapped snugly around me and I was hugged to Him. 
 I was flooded with the sensation of being filled with the most lavish and luxurious sense of well-being:  a joy and a peace that I cannot describe in words poured over me and I could only smile from ear-to-ear in the most amazing sense of truly trouble-free happiness.  It seemed like I was a little child being comforted in her parent’s embrace.

Though I have been comforted by the Lord’s  Holy Spirit on many occasions since that time, I have never felt that same sense of His presence again. 
He has proven Himself real to me  in His invisible presence  in many ways  over the years and God continues to show me the reality of the truth in and of His Words.

I never tire of the reading and studying of His word.  He is my home away from home.  But, one day, I will be carried to my real home, into that very special place He has prepared for me, and for all who are His children, blood-bought by His Son, and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“…Surely I am coming quickly.”  Amen.  Even so, come Lord Jesus!”  Revelation 22:20 (NKJV.)

I wrote these words five years ago.  My testimony is the same today  – only more fervent. 
God’s presence in the life of His people is pure joy!  His blessings make all of life a purpose-filled journey into eternity.   Each day is a God-filled adventure with daily opportunities to have our faith in Him proven genuine,  as our trust in Him removes all fear.

May you be encouraged to know that God has no favorites and He is faithful to all people who will allow Him a place to work His miracles in each life.   No matter the situation you find yourself in today, He is the God of grace and glory.  His power and love is boundless and borderless.  He works through every circumstance to give us a future of good and a hope for the very best!
  May you be blessed with the presence of Jesus Christ in His Holy Spirit as you read and study His Word, The Holy Bible.

 Exodus 13:17-14:31      New American Standard Bible (NASB)
God Leads the People

17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “ The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the [a]Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely [b]take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21  The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might [c]travel by day and by night. 22 [d]He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Pharaoh in Pursuit

14 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ Thus I will [e]harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, [f]Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord [g]hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out [h] boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel [i]looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, [j]bringing us out of Egypt? 12  Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘[k]Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
The Sea Is Divided

13 But Moses said to the people, “ Do not fear! [l]Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14  The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall [m]go through the midst of the sea on dry land. 17 As for Me, behold, I will [n]harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18  Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
19  The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud [o]along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.

21  Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord [p]swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22  The sons of Israel [q]went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the [r]army of the Egyptians [s]through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the [t]army of the Egyptians into confusion. 25 He [u]caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let [v]us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “ Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing [w]right into it; then the Lord [x] overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, [y]even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

30  Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 When Israel saw the great [z]power which the Lord had [aa]used against the Egyptians, the people [ab]feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.
 2; Num 14:1-4; Deut 17:16
            1. Exodus 13:18 : Josh 1:14; 4:Exodus 14:11 : Ex 5:21; 15:24; 16:2; Ps 106:7, 8Exodus 14:12 : Ex 6:9Exodus 14:13 : Gen 15:1; 46:3; Ex 20:20; 2 Chr 20:15, 17; Is 41:10, 13, 14Exodus 14:13 : Ex 14:30; 15:2Exodus 14:14 : Ex 14:25; 15:3; Deut 1:30; 3:22; Josh 23:3; 2 Chr 20:29; Neh 4:20Exodus    :

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life,

Where, in spite of all you can do,

There is no way out, there is no way back,

There is no other way but through?

Then wait on the Lord with a trust serene

Till the night of your fear is gone;

He will send the wind, he will heap the floods,

When He says to your soul, “Go on.”

And His hand will lead you through – clear through –

Ere the watery walls roll down,

No foe can reach you, no wave can touch,

No mightiest sea can drown;

The tossing billows may rear their crests,

Their foam at your feet may break,

But over their bed you shall walk dry shod

In the path that your Lord will make.

In the morning watch, ‘neath the lifted cloud,

You shall see but the Lord alone,

When He leads you on from the place of the sea

To a land that you have not known;

And your fears shall pass as your foes have passed,

You shall be no more afraid;

You shall sing His praise in a better place,

A place that His hand has made.

                       -- Annie Johnson Flint.

 

 

 

From “Streams in the Desert”, pages 189-190;  Compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman; Zondervan Publishing House, A Division of the Zondervan Corporation; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Sixty-eighth printing April 1973.

 
 

 

Monday, July 17, 2017

IN OUR DAILY DOINGS: MATTERS THAT MATTER


By Shirley Wiggins
Most things in life “matter,” some more than others.

A few things, perhaps, matter not at all.
The key is knowing which things are which: 

Major Matters,      Minor Matters,   Life-or-Death Matters.
Some things mattered yesterday, but not today, unless you are reliving that thing today.

Regret is an example of reliving experiences that you still wish today you’d made a better choice of  yesterday.
Choices.  Life is made up of a matter of choices.

Consequences are those things that happen as a result of specific choices. 
How do we learn to live intentionally by considering the end from the beginning; rather than just mindlessly living from our beginning – without thought or plan or goal, until we reach the end?

Is it possible to live “in retrospect” :  to live today “in considering the past, or a past event”, with a forward looking eye toward eliminating as many of the regrets of tomorrow as we can by the choices we make today?
Reflective living… are there any benefits to be gained from our consideration of the future by reflecting upon the past?

Surveying the past can result in making better choices in the present which just might ensure some of our tomorrows might not be lived out in the shadows of regret.
Most of us have the luxury of review  but preview  is another matter altogether.

Planning surely matters.  A plan provides a path forward, and an opportunity to chart a course for a desired destiny.
Destiny matters.  A pre-determined action plan has a far better possibility of bringing us to an unregrettable end.

How few of us consider our destiny when we are in our earliest starting-out place in our invigorating youth, and how few of us had mentors or parents who pressed the matter with us until we could grasp it!
All endings had a beginning, and all beginnings advance toward their conclusion.  Final endings matter, more, perhaps, than their beginnings.

Alpha – and Omega.
In reality, all life things probably matter much more than we have stopped to think about.

 Therefore, it seems absolutely imperative that the sooner people learn how to consider life in the context of its future and think about the matters which matter, the better.
Life matters – therefore, death matters and surely should be considered at the first stages of apprehensive awareness, in other words as soon as we learn to think.

Life is a beautiful gift.  Some lives may reach their end before they were fully lived.  What a tragic waste!  Like having a million dollars at your disposal and yet living in poverty!
Life lived with purpose matters so much.  Purpose-filled lives are satisfying and profitable.  All lives have purpose, but not all people pursue the point of life seriously.

Just for starters, some of us fervently believe that life is a never-ending thing – in its spiritual state.  Physical life comes with a date of birth and a date of death, and then spiritual life begins.
If spiritual life has no ending, it just goes on and on and on – forever – in one of only two destinations:  Heaven – or hell.

The grave is not the final destination of humans. No matter what you believe, would you pause to consider the full implications to your life, if the grave is only a temporary state, as many have now come to realize?
 If that is true, then destiny matters and truth matters most of all!

Who can know the Truth?  Those who will search for it as though it is all that truly matters may know for sure what is the truth.
Be encouraged to discover THE TRUTH THAT MATTERS MOST OF ALL!

Pursue, along with many millions of people, the Knowledge of the Living God of the Holy Bible. 
In the end, He is all that truly matters for all of life hinges on the Truth of Who He is, and how He may be approached in One Way only – through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 “Jesus answered,  I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”  John 14: 6  (NIV.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

'J'

by Hallie Gipson

As I was preparing for the latest installment of “The Names and Attributes of God”, one ‘J’ word that helps define the character of God came to mind --- ‘Judge’.

This word is not one I am prone to dwell on when using God’s names and attributes in praise of Him. I prefer the ones that sound loftier to my ears --- Excellent, Great, Alpha, Creator, Prince of Peace, etc. But what about God as ‘Judge’? Well, there’s nothing like a dose of experiential reality to bring a word into sharp focus and give that word depth of meaning! And in my case, that’s just what happened.

I had occasion to accompany someone to court as a ‘substitute’ family member. My role was to be one of support -- both emotional and physical. Having no previous experience in a court room, not even jury duty, I had never given much thought to what court would be like in reality. Several things immediately came to my attention as we sat and waited for her case to be called: the starkness and discomfort of the furnishings; the sternness of the environment; the harshness of the bailiff as he gave the rules of court behavior; the faces and demeanor of not only those facing charges, but also of those accompanying the offenders; the hushed atmosphere; the attorneys as they conferred with clients or other attorneys; the judge; and the bench.

My stomach was in knots and I wasn’t even guilty of a punishable offense or crime! No one in that court room could point a finger at me and accuse me of breaking any law, and yet the angst was there. Isn’t it amazing what feelings an environment can evoke?

As I sat there trying to process my surroundings, I was overcome with gratitude that on Judgment Day, I will not have to fear the outcome. Yes, I will have to stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account of myself, but I will not be condemned to eternal punishment and separation from God.
  • Matthew 12:36 –-- “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”
  • Romans 14:12 --- “So then every one of us will give an account of himself to God.” 
  • Corinthians 5:10 --- “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
  •  Hebrews 4:13 --- “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
Why won’t I be condemned to eternal punishment and separation from God? Because Christ paid my sin-debt when He died on the cross for the sin of the world, rose again, and now lives to intercede for me before the Father. Hebrews 7:25 --- “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

The person I accompanied received a ‘continuance/delay’ of her case that day because all decision-making parties involved were not present. But there will be no continuance or delay when the unsaved of this world stand before God on Judgment Day! By then, every knee will have bowed and every tongue will have confessed that Jesus is The Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Eternal punishment will be meted out and no second chances allowed. Everyone who has not already professed Christ as their Savior will be condemned and sentenced to an eternity in hell – forever separated from God! And who will be the Judge? God!
  • Psalm 50:6 -- And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge.  
  • Psalm 96:12b-13 -- Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.    

God will judge through Christ.
  • Acts 17:30b-31 -- God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.   
  • 2 Timothy 4:8 -- In the future there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.   
  • James 4:12 -- There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and destroy . . .
So my question for you is --- Do you know my Savior? Do you have a personal relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ? Has there ever been a time in your life that you can say for certain that you received Christ as Lord of your life? Do you believe in His finished work on the cross for your sin and His resurrection which assures us of eternal life? Do you know without a doubt that you would spend eternity with Christ if you died tonight?

John 3:16 tell us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

When we confess our sin and turn away from our sin in repentance, we have the peace of God because we have peace with God. The only way we can have peace with God is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that cleanses us and opens the door for us to fellowship with God the Father and to claim His promise of eternal life.

If you cannot answer ‘yes’ to those questions, then I urge you to decide for Christ! Don’t wait! God will accept you just as you are --- He doesn’t expect us to clean up or live a perfect life before we come to Him. He does the cleaning up in our lives through the blood of Jesus Christ!

So come just as you are, dear reader! Jesus Christ is waiting with open arms!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Jesus Came to My Mother's Funeral


By Shirley Wiggins

“I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless];                I will come [back] to you.”  John 14:18 Amplified Bible.

God’s Word – The Holy Bible – holds many promises, many of them sound almost too good to be true.  But,  that is the Gospel --- the Good News of Jesus Christ; this is truth.
He came to earth to bring God visibly into focus for all who choose to believe Him.  God is wonderfully patient and will work an entire lifetime to allow people to come to the knowledge of Who He is in the reality of life on earth.

In the early pre-dawn hours this morning, I went on a mind-trip with my Lord.
He took me back in memory to many of the times and places where He ‘showed’ me, in many ways, His intervening work and presence in my life.

In the Summer of 1962 – about this time of year, late June, early July – in the middle of yet another most disappointing experience, He brought my  husband-to-be to my door, and so began my future’s unfolding.
I would not graduate from high school as I had dreamed of doing, but I would become the almost-child-bride of the love of my life.  Our first date was on July 15, 1962.

Our wedding date would be June 28, 1963.
That particular Saturday 55 years ago, I had locked myself in the little room behind my parents’ carport and cried and cried and cried, having been told that I would not be enrolling at the local high school that fall as I had dreamed of doing and had planned and worked to make it happen.

MHS administrators had ordered my school records from Fulton County High School in Atlanta, Georgia where I had willingly dropped out of my 10th grade year to keep my youngest brother while my mother and daddy worked at their jobs.
After we had moved back to our hometown in the late Spring of 1962, my mother had made arrangements for an aunt to keep my baby brother so I could go back to high school.  My daddy said no, financially impossible.

And I cried, and cried and cried.
Years passed and many more tears I would cry privately into my pillow at night.  “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.  You have recorded each one in Your book.”  Psalm 56:8 (NLT).

Always, and usually without my conscious awareness,  my Lord intervened for me.  Much happiness, sprinkled intermittently with more tears, came into my life.
My young husband was drafted and shipped out to Viet Nam.  My daddy continued to struggle with substance abuse and deteriorated into an alcoholic.

I responded by   cycling back and forth between anger, fear for my husband’s safety, crushing, heartbreaking loneliness, and more anger toward my daddy, who died in early January 1968.
My husband was sent home from the war some weeks (months?) later.  We would have three wonderful children over the next 10 years.

My mother died rather suddenly,  and completely unexpectedly,  in 1981, while we were living in South Carolina and she in Alabama.
On June 25, 1981,  as we were driving to my childhood church for her funeral soon after she had turned age 54, the Angel of the Lord opened before my eyes this Scripture I later found to be in John 14:1-3 (NKJV):

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me (Jesus).
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you. 
And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come again and receive you to Myself;  that where I am, there you may be also.”
In that moment I thought His sole message to me was that He had prepared my mother’s place and had returned for her.

During her funeral as I sat on the front right pew facing the altar where her opened casket stood, I cried and cried and cried.

Then the sense of His presence came to me, picked me up, sat me on His lap as a child would be, and He held me encircled in His warm embrace.
I have no words to describe adequately, or even perhaps accurately, the peace, comfort and pure joy that filled me up – completely.

When the sense of His presence was gone, my smile of perfect contentedness remained on my face, absent any tears.
The tears and the fearful emotions of my feelings would return again and again,  for the next 10 years;  gradually subsiding, becoming less and less frequent and fervent.  My heartache healed and my mourning for my mother ended.

What did not leave me was my growing awareness of His having proven to me the reality of His Being and the truth of His Words, especially this one: 
“I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you.”  John 14:18 Amp. Bible.

I began to recognize  in the John 14:1-3 Scripture, that Jesus had issued to me my invitation to know Him personally, and that just as I had known since I was a little girl that God was real, I could know Jesus personally.
Ongoing manifestations of His unseen presence, and His power and comfort and care for me continue to bless me,  always at the times that I most need Him.  (John 14:21.)

And so I continue to learn to embrace the reality of the truth of His presence and provision and protection as the years pass.
I treasure His Word, I praise His wonderful Name, and I learn daily to trust His truth as I learn more and more about the process of walking through this life by faith, and not by sight.  His comforts calm me:  body, soul and spirit.                 Psalm 131:2.

I find that I lean more and more heavily dependent upon Him as my  birthdays bring me closer and closer to that day when my physical sight will  become my spiritual reality as He prepares me to look fully into His precious Face.
Oh, the peace that passes understanding and the love that surpasses knowledge!

 “If you really love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever – The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him.  But you know and recognize Him,  for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you.
I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless];   I will come [back] to you.”      John 14:15-18,  Amplified Bible.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

 

 

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