Nature Speaks

Soft and low a voice is calling,

Bids me leave my toil and care,

On my ear the accents falling

Glad and free I hasten there.

‘Tis the voice of nature pleading

Sweet, like music in the air;

And ’tis God’s great hand that’s leading

Me to seek and find Him there.

Little birds to me are singing

Of a God who’s over all;

Merrily their flight are winging,

Knowing He’ll not let them fall.

Little flowers to me are speaking

Of a God who’s always true;

Nature, as a whole, is seeking

To impart me life anew.

Oh! that I might heed her teaching,

Be more trustful every day ;

List the sermons she is preaching

Pointing to the heavenward way.

Day by day from her I’m learning,

Walking paths that Jesus trod,

Till at last my heart is turning

Upward, to sweet nature’s God.

                       —Esther Fiedler.

Not by Power…

The bible tells the story of Caleb, Joshua’s brother, after they had traveled for 40 years in the wilderness and arrived again at the edge of the promise land. Caleb had these words to say, “And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming – Joshua 14:10,11. Caleb could not attribute his strength, health and longevity to genes or healthy eating, or great doctors, but because he was willing to be about God’s work.  In fact, right after he said these words he asked for the toughest land to conquer knowing that God would give him the victory.  In your life are you moving forward by faith and in the power of the Lord?

A Closer Look

As we come to the end of another year I hope that you take the time to reflect on what has taken place in your life over these past 12 months.  Socrates put it this way “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Paul in 2 Corinthians 13: 5 shared this instruction to the church, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” The prophet Jeremiah was a little more passionate in Lamentations 3:40 when he said, “Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!

Each one of these writers inspired or otherwise, identifies the need for all of us to take a look at the life we each lead. The words of Jesus help me to put my life into perspective – “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”- Luke 10:27.  Following that vein here are some questions you might ask yourself as this year draws to a close:

  • Am I closer or farther away from God today than I was December 2011?
  • What have I chosen to remove from on my life because of my relationship with Christ? If nothing what should I have?
  • What have I chosen to add to my life because of my relationship with Christ?  If nothing what should I have?
  • What have I spent the greater part of my time on, and does it have long term, or even better, eternal consequence?
  • Outside of my circle of friends and family how many lives have I touched in a meaningful way?
  • What have I done to better myself this year in each of these categories: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually?

Not Welcome Here!

Luke 9: 51-56

The people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.

The Samaritans of the town had been passed over, treated unfairly, discriminated against time and time again.  On a normal day this would occur, but more so when the special times of the year came around and people who traveled to Jerusalem were seeking to “keep themselves pure”.  No one could blame them for being fed up, not wanting to take it anymore. And so when another traveler comes to town looking for a place to stay the night on their journey to Jerusalem they decide to put their communal foot down and turn him out of their city.  We are not going to help you in reaching your destination, you are not welcome!

Little did they know that this was Jesus; the Son of God, God with us, and the Promised One.  To them they only saw his disciple with a hand out and a request.  They could not know that this was to be the Lamb of God who would take away their sins as well as Israel’s.  They could only see another Jew on his way to Jerusalem. And as a result of their prejudice they turn away He who would be the most important visitor that would every grace the gate of their city.

There have been times in my life when, with good reason, I have been less than welcoming to another person.  The sum total of my experience with “their kind” has taught me to be wary of “them”, is what I tell myself. But what if in my passion to protect SELF, to express my displeasure, to do right by ME I have turned my Savior away?

Prayer: Lord, you are welcome in my soul today, and every day.  And may it be that when you enter that your first order of business will be to place a sign in the doorway of my heart that says, “Prejudice, Not Welcome Here!”

At the table

Mark 14: 18-19

I can’t imagine being asked that question by Jesus, but I try, and I will tell you why.  Because without the realization of how wretched I can be, I can’t appreciate just how necessary Christ’s sacrifice was and is.

You see its not just the original disciples that find themselves sitting at the table with Jesus.  No,each time I come to communion I face him. The question is, this time around, which disciple am I? At this place in my spiritual journey which one of them do I most relate to?

– Peter, just about to loose it in the face of pressure to acknowledge his relationship with Jesus.

– Thomas, holding off any commitment, for right now, at least till all the facts are in.

– Judas, more interested in getting Jesus to do what he wants then he is interested in doing what Jesus wants.

– John, so close to Jesus that it is uncomfortable for others of lesser connection to watch the two of them.

Before I conduct a Communion Service, or take the body and blood of Christ,  I take a good hard look at myself and identify where I am sitting at the table this time around, but not only that but also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, where I want to be the next time I find myself AT THE TABLE.

I pray that you find some time to do the same.

1 Corinthians 11:28-29