The Comfort of the Psalms.

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I have written before about how my mother was diagnosed with 90% chance of colon cancer. There is something there, but they didn’t want to do a biopsy because she is 90 and it is painful. Even if they did find out for sure, the operation to remove it is too much for her.

So, last week a palliative nurse came by to interview Mom and myself. She was very kind and helpful. My mom keeps forgetting her diagnosis and had to be reminded. As soon as my mother has any pain, I am supposed to call these nurses and they come right over to give my mother drugs and help out with anything else. It is good to know they will be here.

We saw Mom’s regular doctor and she has set Mom up with a hospice home, just in case she gets too much pain. Mom will then go to live there until the end. I do love how our government takes care of all this. The hospice care will only be $37 a day. The nurse visits are free. The doctor said they will not let Mother die in pain.

Mom hasn’t had any blockage or pain since the first time when she went to emergency. I’m very happy about that. At first she slept most of the day and night, and I just let her. The hospital never let her sleep a lot and neither did the rehab center. After a few weeks of only being awake 4 or 5 hours, she now gets up more often and stays awake for hours. She is doing very well and is happy. I’m so glad God gave us this nice time together.

The last few weeks, I’ve had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. I’m sure you all know how frustrating that can be, not to mention I was getting more tired. I took half a sleeping pill for two nights this week. It was nice to sleep, but they do make me feel groggy and just yucky. Last night, I didn’t take any and didn’t get to sleep until 6am.

I don’t feel I am worrying about Mom, I think it is just having it in my mind that I do not know when or what is going to happen. Then there are the other members of my family that I think about. Also, I have nightmares, not about my father anymore, but about my family suffering. This means I’m kind of scared to fall asleep because of the dreams.

I used to worry about my family so much I would cry and feel terrified. I am no longer that way. I do trust God completely when it comes to them. I know he loves them even more than I do. I know he is working for them because I have asked him to.

This morning, well 1pm when I woke up, I talked with God about it some more and opened my Bible. I always am encouraged by the Psalms, so I went there. God encouraged me through his words, and I’m so thankful. Later on, I saw an ad about older people who have Parkinson’s Disease. I thought that it would be awful if Mom had that. I thought about what other people have to deal with. I felt comforted by God that dying is just a part of this life and he is here with me through it all.

These are the verses I read this morning:

Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;

in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.

Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.

(When the Psalms speak of an enemy, I think of Satan as the enemy who tries to discourage me.)

The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground;

he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead.

So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.

I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.

(Often I think of what God has done for me and what he has done in the Bible.)

I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails.

Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

Rescue me from my enemies, Lord, for I hide myself in you.

Teach me to do your will for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.

In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Psalm 143

Why was Jesus’ Death Necessary?

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I was reading, “A Year with C.S. Lewis,” this morning and he addressed the subject of Jesus taking our place and dying for us so we could be saved. I thought I would share it with you:

“If God was prepared to let us off, why on earth did He not do so? And what possible point could there be in punishing an innocent person instead? None at all that I can see, if you are thinking of punishment in the police-court sense. On the other hand, if you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not. Or if you take ‘paying the penalty’, not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of ‘standing the racket’ or ‘footing the bill’, then, of course, it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend. 

Now what was the sort of ‘hole’ man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of our ‘hole’. This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance. 

Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it.”

Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/3342Gbw

Right and Wrong Doesn’t Matter — Faultless Inside

This is a post by Colin Pickering. I think he says some things here that are important for Christians of the United States and Canada.

Right and Wrong Doesn’t Matter.

Without God, morality is just an arbitrary rule destined to change on whim and convenience. This doesn’t mean that Christians and other religious individuals don’t make the same moral concessions, but there are some among us who hold to doing what God has instructed us to do. Some probably thought that we could hold each other to a high moral standard. Considering the current state of our country’s political system, our ability to hold such a standard is incredibly limited. Morality does not overrule our fears and instincts to survive without a respect for a higher power and belief of consequences worse than what we expect through our actions or inactions. Humans naturally want control over their own future, so we make decisions to concede defeat on morale grounds if it improves our prospective futures. True Christianity is about giving up control. It is about trusting completely in God and not being afraid. The world, the United States, and the greater Christian community is full

via Right and Wrong Doesn’t Matter — Faultless Inside

The Pride of Satan. The Humility of God.

Many Bible scholars believe Isaiah 14 is written about Satan and his fall from heaven. Some don’t. Personally, I do think it is about him.

I was listening to a sermon last night and the preacher said we should notice how Lucifer keeps saying, “I Will,” and wants to rise higher and higher.

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“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! (Lucifer)

You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!

You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens;

I will raise my throne above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.

Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate:

“Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble,

the man who made the world a wilderness, who overthrew its cities

and would not let his captives go home?”    Isaiah 14:12-17

 In Ezekiel 28, there is more written about Satan. There is no one else who is like the person in these verses:

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“ ‘You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

You were in Eden, the garden of God;

every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,

topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.

Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.

You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.

You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.

Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned.

So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub,from among the fiery stones.

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty,

and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.

So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries.”

This part speaks of his death:

“So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you,

and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching.

All the nations who knew you are appalled at you;

you have come to a horrible end and will be no more. ”

If we contrast the words of Jesus with the words of Satan, we can see how Satan wanted his own will. He wanted to rise higher, be in God’s place and rule the universe. Whereas Jesus came down from heaven, became a man and did his Father’s will.   Ezekiel 28:11-19

Jesus came down.

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Painting by Uber User: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Uber_painter&action=edit&redlink=1

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”   John 6:38

“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

“Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.” 

“…and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”   Philippians 2:6-11

Living with Cranky People.

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Photo by:  https://www.flickr.com/people/78428166@N00

I’m reading, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A. Kempis (1380-1471). It is a book famous for its depth of spirituality. I just wanted to share parts of this book. The edition I am reading was published in old-fashioned English, so I am going to paraphrase.

It is not hard to associate with kind and gentle people. This is pleasing to all, and everyone enjoys peace and loves those who agree with them. 

But to be able to live peacefully with hard-hearted, irritable persons, disorderly persons, or those who argue with us, is a great grace, and a most commendable and brave thing.

Our whole peace in this world consists in this kind of humble suffering, not so much in experiencing troubles. He that knows how to suffer (being with these kind of people) in peace, is conqueror of himself, lord of the world, the friend of Christ and heir of heaven.

Kempis goes on to describe these two kinds of people, one of peace the other of passions.

A peaceful man does good and turns all things into good. A passionate man turns even good into evil, and easily believes evil. He who is discontented and troubled, is tossed with many suspicions; he is neither at rest himself nor will let others be at rest.

He often says what he should not say and does not say what he should. He judges what others do without judging himself. He will excuse his own deeds, but will not accept the excuses of others.

If you want to be forgiven and understood, learn to forgive and understand others.

Since there are quite a few cranky people in my family, I have realized a few things:

1. Don’t take what they say personally. If they are mad at the world, that is their problem. If you can in any way ignore politely what is said or have a “soft answer” that turns away wrath –  do it. If you need to talk with them about their treatment of you, wait for a calm time, sit down with them and say, “Do not speak until I am finished saying what I want to say.” Explain how you feel. Probably nothing will change, but at least you tried.  (However, after 40 years of this they just might!)

2. Don’t have expectations of people. They don’t know what you expect, for one thing, and even when you tell them, they usually won’t change.

3. This is the most important thing to do. Ask God to help you to accept and love this person just as they are. Ask God when you get angry, ask him in the morning, noon and night. God will do this for you. You will be at peace.

4. This may take 20 – 45 years to learn and even then you will goof up.

Words from the Cross.

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photo by: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AntanO

I’ve been reading, “The Forgotten Jesus,” by Robby Gallaty. It is a very good book that explains the Jewish customs of Jesus’ time. He explains why Jesus spoke in parables and what these parables would mean to first century Jews. His last chapter deals with the death of Jesus and the meaning of why he recited the first line of Psalm 22,  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is what he writes:

“Jesus encourages his listeners to develop a deeper understanding of what is happening to him as he hangs dying on the cross. Although the passage begins with agony and despair, it ultimately ends with triumph and victory. Listen to the final verses:

‘All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will bow down before you, for kingship belongs to the Lord; he rules over the nations. All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down; all those who go down to the dust will kneel before him – even the one who cannot preserve his life. Their descendants will serve him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. They will come and declare his righteousness to a people yet to be born. They will declare what he has done.’

With Psalm 22 in mind, Jesus is exclaiming from the cross, ‘We will win in the end. I know it looks bleak now, but God is going to use this for victory.'” 

The last verse of Psalm 22 says, in the Christian Standard Bible, “They will declare what he has done.” In other translations this sentence could read, “He has done it!”  “He has accomplished it!” “He has performed it!”  and  “He has finished it.”

I was amazed to see this verse, as if it was the first time, because I realized this was another thing Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” 

Yes and Amen! It is finished. Our salvation is made sure. His great sacrifice was accepted! Hallelujah!

 

 

Know Thyself.

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Many times I have not known myself. When I was in my twenties and divorced, my ex-husband had a girlfriend and lived with her. My daughters would go visit and I hated the fact my ex wasn’t married and living like that. I thought, “I would never have someone come sleep with me with  my daughters in the house!”  Two years later, I did just that.

After a few incidents like that, I was finally humbled to realize I was capable of any sin, no matter what I thought. One day at church we were singing, “I Will Not be Shaken,” and I turned to my mother and said, “On the other hand, who knows WHAT I will do?”

Jesus told Peter, “You will deny me.”  Peter was horrified and said he would never do that. He said he was willing to die with him. The other disciples said the same. We know how that turned out. 

I wondered if God sometimes lets us fall flat on our face so we can see how weak and sinful we are. It humbles us and we realize how we must have Jesus do everything for us. He can keep us from falling, if we acknowledge we have no strength to do it ourselves.

I came across the story of Hezkekiah the other day. It says that God left Hezekiah to show him what was truly in his heart. Verse 26 says his heart was full of pride. The commentaries I read were good and I’m including them.

“And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.”   2 Chronicles 32:31

Matthew Poole’s Commentary

God left him, to wit, to himself, and his own impotency and corruption. God withdrew from him those supplies and assistance of his Spirit which would certainly and effectually have kept him from that sin, and suffered Satan to tempt him, and him to fall into the sin of pride and ostentation. 

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary.

 God left Hezekiah to himself, that, by this trial and his weakness in it, what was in his heart might be known; that he was not so perfect in grace as he thought he was. It is good for us to know ourselves, and our own weakness and sinfulness, that we may not be conceited, or self-confident, but may always live in dependence upon Divine grace. We know not the corruption of our own hearts, nor what we shall do if God leaves us to ourselves. His sin was, that his heart was lifted up. What need have great men, and good men, and useful men, to study their own infirmities and follies, and their obligations to free grace, that they may never think highly of themselves; but beg earnestly of God, that he will always keep them humble! Hezekiah made a bad return to God for his favors, by making even those favors the food and fuel of his pride.