Friday, June 30, 2017

Changes and Choices

"You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But You remain the same, and
Your years will never end."
Hebrews 1:12

Sunrise at the New Jersey shore

Recently my life has been filled with changes and choices.
I guess that can be said of all our lives. Would it not be good
if we could choose a period of our lives that was enjoyable
and let time stand still?  But we cannot.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 and 14 tell us, 

"He has made everything beautiful in its time" and
"everything God does will endure forever."

If our childhood was a happy time, we did not want it to end.
Everything was new, fresh, and meaningful.
We wanted our teen years to be over soon so we could be adults.
In young adulthood, there were many changes and choices:
college, marriage, the birth of children, or the choice of a job.
In middle age and even in our "golden years"
there are still changes and choices.

My parents are in their golden years. Both of them have had
severe physical problems. Because of this, I have had to make
many choices and to endure a lot of changes. 
But Christ was and is precious, and His Word 
has been very real.

When it became necessary to consider retirement housing
for my mother and father, it was a difficult adjustment for all of us.
But each day, as I went to God's Word, 
he had something just for me.
For example,

 "Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of,
and My angel will go before you."
Exodus 32:34

Yes, life is filled with changes and choices,
 but the right choice is Jesus Christ. 

He will take you through all the changes.

A devotional written
 by Janet C. Jones

Thursday, June 29, 2017

On This Last Thursday In June

There was a time 
when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and very common sight,
To me did seem

Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and freshness of a dream.

It is not now as it hath been of yore;-
Turn whereso'er I may,

By night or day.
The things which I have seen
I can see no more.
The Rainbow come and goes,
And lovely is the Rose,
The Moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare,
Waters on a starry night
As beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go
That there hath past away
a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief;
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong;
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the Echoes through the mountain throng,
The Winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up jollity,
And win the heart of May.
Doth every Beast keep holiday;-
Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts,
thou happy Shepherd-boy.

Ye blessed creatures I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
the heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival
My head hath is coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel-I feel it all.
Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother's arm:-
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
-But there's a Tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

 Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere is setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, Who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still a Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.
 Earth fills her lap with pleasures her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a Mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely Nurse doth all she can
To make her Foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.

Behold the Child among his newborn blisses
And six years Darling of a pigmy size!
See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself a newly learned art
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song;
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, and strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new pride and joy
The little Actor cons another part;
Filing from time to time his "humorous stage"
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
And his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy Soul's immensity;
Thou best Philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou Eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted forever by the eternal mind,-
Mighty Prophet! Seer blest!
Of whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave,
Thou, over whom Thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a Master o'er a Slave,
A Presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy Soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest;
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of Childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast-
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings,
Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realised,
High instincts before which our mortal nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truth that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence in a season of calm weather
Though inland far we be,
Our Souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the Children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young Lambs abound
As to the tabor's sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find,
Strength in what remains behind;
In primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be
In the soothing thoughts of spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.
And O, ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your habitual sway.
I love the Brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The Clouds gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

Rydell Mount 
The home and gardens of poet William Wordsworth
is located in England's beautiful Lake District.

"Ode: Intimations of Immortality
from Recollections of Early Childhood"
By William Wordsworth

A Few (Hundred) Chosen

'Everyone who laps at the water with his tongue
as a dog laps, you are to set him apart.'

"And Adonai said to Gid'on, 
'Too many are the people who are with you 
for My giving Mid'yan into their hands,
lest Yis'rael glorify itself against Me, saying,
"By my own hand has salvation been
given to me..."

And Adonai said to Gid'on, 'Everyone
who laps the water with his tongue as a
dog laps, you are to set him apart'...
And the number of those lapping...
was three hundred...

And Adonai said to Gid'on, 
'By the three hundred men who
are lapping, I will save you and will
give Mid'yan into your hand."
Shof'tiym (Judges) 7:2, 5-7

Too often we give in to our doubts and fears,
believing that Adonai cannot or will not
continue to save us.
These fears are not only rooted in
lack of faith in Him, but, they also spring
from our own arrogance.

True faith requires zero self-reliance.

We need to understand that total
deliverance is birthed from complete
dependence on Adonai.
Indeed, our participation in
our own salvation is minimal-
all we have to do is
accept and submit.

When Gid'on set out to fight Mid'yan,
he had over 30,000 men...
but then Adonai began to send them home.
Of the ten thousand who were unafraid
to face Mid'yan, Adonai chose a mere 300
to complete the task-
just 1% of the original fighting force.

Why did God do this?

So that Yis'rael would not be able
to boast against Adonai saying,
"By my own hand has salvation
been given to me."

Adonai's process of elimination
speaks to His sovereign ability to save:
not only did He not need thousands,
but a few hundred that remained were
chosen because of their remarkable
dog-like qualities.

Our natural inclination is to enter a
difficult situation decked out for war.
We don our strongest armor and take
tens of thousands of our best warriors
with us.

We bring tons of artillery and great
weapons of destruction to pulverize
the enemy with sheer might.
We strategize and make provision
for all contingencies, and we psych
ourselves up for the battle.
Now imagine standing before 
an enemy horde, naked and alone,
holding only a box of rubber bands
and some paper clips.
This was Gid'on.

We will not win the battles before us
because we possess the strength to do it.
On the contrary, victory in Messiah
is at best 1% us-but in reality,
it's all Him.

The Lord will use us as we are,
dog-like and all.
He will work in our lives
in ways we don't expect or even
think are possible.
What we bring to the table in
our relationship with God is of
no consequence where our salvation is
concerned. He does not ask us to
take control of or manage 
our deliverance.
He wants us to let Him
complete us, save us...
and then deliver our enemies
into our hands.

Adonai, forgive my arrogance.
Teach me, God, to rely solely on You-
to put no stock in my ability to provide
for or protect myself.
Abba, only You can build a
winning army of three hundred
from thirty thousand.
Show me how to present myself
before You,
the dog that I am, and know
that I am clean and worthy
of being used by
Your mighty hand.
I bless Your Name, Adonai,
for only by Your strength
am I saved...

"1% You"
Taken from the
"Messianic Mo'adiym Devotional
Messianic Jewish Devotionals
For Israel's Annual Feasts, Fasts,
And Appointed Times"
By Kevin Geoffrey
Perfect Word Ministries