Shirley's Soliloquies #335

12/26/2010

God's Amazing Love!

I can not seem to get God's amazing Love out of my mind lately. I do suppose that might be because, along with all the Christmas lights and decorations that I am seeing, there are also some large scenes on lawns around our area. These scenes have a man, a woman, and a baby lying in a manger filled with straw. Sometimes there are also a few sheep and a donkey standing nearby. Floodlights are illuminating the scene. Occasionally instead of life-sized figures, there are live people and animals who are depicting the event.


It brings to my mind the haunting melody and striking words of the song written by Mark Lowry,


Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?

.This child that you've delivered would soon deliver you?


Yes, it is true! The Bible tells of this amazing event that happened so long ago:

Though he was God,

He did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up His divine privileges,

He took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When He appeared in human form,

He humbled Himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal's death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor

and gave Him the name above all other names.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:6-11


How amazing! How could such a thing be possible? God, the creator of the world being born as a human baby! And for what purpose? So that people could get to know Him, and so that He could bring salvation to all people! (John 5:39; 1 John 5:10-11).

May I always keep God's amazing Love uppermost in my mind. My heart leaps with joy because someday everyone will know who He is and will bow and confess that He is Lord!


Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:15





Shirley's Soliloquies #334

12/19/2010

The Love of God

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade;

to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

O, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—the saints' and angels' song.”

The third verse of this song has been one of my favorites since the first time I heard Bev Shea singing it many years ago. It touched my heart then, and it still does even today.

How can I possibly comprehend the tremendous love that God had for mankind when He sent His “only begotten Son” to this earth as a baby those many years ago? Not only that, but He allowed Him to suffer the indignities of human flesh, and even to die taking the sins of the whole world on Himself?

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,

that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

Recently a missionary friend from Italy sent me the following story. It touched my heart and I knew that I needed to share some of it:

A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to the shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright and the
three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.

Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which boy would he throw the other end of the lifeline? He had only seconds to make the decision.

The father knew that his son was a believer, and he also knew that his son's friend was not. The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of the waves. As the father yelled out, 'I love you, Son!' he threw out the life line to his son's friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night.
 His body was never recovered.

The father knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus but he could not bear the thought of his son's friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son to save the son's friend.”

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16




Shirley's Soliloquies #333

12/12/2010

Shining Lights!

Oh, how I enjoy seeing all the Christmas lights and decorations as we ride through the main streets! It never fails to put a smile on my face. The stores are now having Christmas songs filling the air. The radio also has some stations that feature mostly Christmas songs. One such song that I enjoy hearing is the one made popular many years ago by Andy Williams,

It's a most wonderful time of the year,

With the kids jingle belling

And everyone telling you, “Be of good cheer!”

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It's the hap-happiest season of all

With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings,

When friends come to call,

It's the hap-happiest season of all.”

Yes, I enjoy all those things mentioned in that song, but what I like best are the cheery Christmas lights shining all around! Maybe that is because light means so much to me. I love to see the sun shining during the day, and I love to feel its warmth. But I especially enjoy the Christmas lights because they remind me that Jesus is the Light of the world, and that “He is the Reason for the Season.” He said,

I am the light of the world.

He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,

but have the light of life.”

John 8:12

The Apostle Paul later picked up on this theme when he challenged the believers,

For you were once darkness,

but now you are light in the Lord.

Walk as children of light.

Ephesians 5:8

May I heed these words from the Holy Scriptures. And as I enjoy all the lights, may I let the light that comes from the True Light, that is the Lord Jesus CHRIST shine in my life. Perhaps others might give glory to God, for as Jesus challenged His followers,

Let your light so shine before men,

that they may see your good works,

and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

May I “so shine!” May I be, as Paul admonished, “a light in the world.” (Philippians 2:15).



Shirley's Soliloquies #332

12/05/2010

A Prayer Answering God!

My heart warms within me every time I think of the ways in which the Lord has been answering my prayers lately. Amazingly, one after another, they have been almost immediate answers. It brings a smile to my face and a warmness in my heart.

I say, 'amazingly,' simply because it isn't always like that! Many times it seems as if the heavens are silent. I know He hears my prayers, but for reasons known only to Him, the answers don't seem to come as quickly as I think they should. I don't mind admitting that at those times, I feel a sense of frustration.

Yet I rest in the knowledge of the truths recorded in God's Word. For example,


Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall tribulation, or distress,or persecution,

or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?

...For I am persuaded that neither death nor life,

nor angels nor principalities nor powers,

nor things present nor things to come,

nor height nor depth,

nor any other created thing,

shall be able to separate us

from the love of God

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:35, 38-39


In that same passage I am reminded that since God was willing to give up His only begotten Son for us, He will also be willing to give us all things (vs. 32).

And so again, when those wonderful words of Philippians 4:6-8 come to the forefront of my mind, I do thank the Lord for all His goodness to me. And I bask in His precious peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding! And I do thank Him for being “A Prayer Answering God!”


Be anxious for nothing,

but in everything

by prayer and supplication,

with thanksgiving,

let your requests be made known to God;

and the peace of God,

which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and minds

through Christ Jesus.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #331

11/28/2010

Turkey Day?

Hey! What is this all about? Turkey Day? What happened to Thanksgiving? Are we not to be thankful anymore? How sad to allow Thanksgiving Day to become Turkey Day!

This week we celebrated Thanksgiving Day. Yet, it seemed that the advertisers were pushing “Turkey Day.” What happened to the emphasis upon being thankful? To me, it seems to be so contrary to one of our country's great traditions, and more importantly to the Bible. It is full of the theme of being thankful. In fact, during a time of much suffering, the Apostle Paul exhorted the believers to be thankful in everything!

Giving thanks always for all things

to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:20

Interestingly in almost every epistle, he urged believers to be thankful. One of my favorite verses, but admittedly among the hardest to obey, is found in Philippians 4:6:

Be anxious for nothing,

but in everything by prayer and supplication,

with thanksgiving,

let your requests be made known to God;”

Yes, I remember at certain times how very hard it was for me to do this. Yet without it, I could not have the peace of God that is promised in the next verse.

...and the peace of God,

which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”


But especially during the time of my mother's death, I just could not be thankful. I remember crying out to God, “But I miss her! How can I be thankful for her death?”

Finally, with the passing of time, I was able to realize that I was indeed thankful that she did not have to suffer any longer. I was also able to visualize her being in the presence of the Lord, being completely without pain and able to breathe freely. As I came to this point, I realized that the heartache was giving way to a deep-seated peace. Oh, I still missed her terribly, but I was happy to know
 that she was in the Lord's loving arms.

Yes, I can see how important it is to be thankful in everything. So why is it that some would turn Thanksgiving Day into “Turkey Day?” Are they turning it into nothing more than a day of celebrating food, feasting, and satisfying the lusts of the flesh?

May I always be thankful in everything.




Shirley's Soliloquies #330

11/21/2010

Day by Day

Day by day, O dear Lord,

three things I pray,

May I know Thee more clearly,

love thee more dearly,

follow thee more nearly,

day by day.”


This prayer has been running through my mind lately. It was made popular in the Broadway production, “Godspell.” The original prayer can be found in the words of St. Richard of Chichester,
England, who lived from 1197-1243. They read:


Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ

For all the benefits Thou has given me,

For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,

May I know Thee more clearly,

Love thee more dearly,

Follow thee more nearly.”


Beautiful and emotional sentiments! Yes, but how can I know Him more clearly?

The Bible states in Romans 1:19-20 that there are things that everyone can know about God. His creation has revealed both His eternal nature and His power. To know these basic facts, people simply need to look at His creation. The very least they can know is that He exists and that He is powerful!

The Psalmist exclaimed,


The heavens declare the glory of God;

and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

(Psalm 19:1)


Yes! They certainly do! Many times I take time to stop and look. I am thrilled as I marvel over the wonders and glories of His creation! So I can know something about God from His creation.

God further revealed Himself through His prophets over and over again.

But the most wonderful thing is that He revealed Himself through His Son Whom He sent into the world over 2000 years ago (Hebrews 1:1). The Gospels tell about that amazing time.

And now today, we have His written Word, the Bible! He has revealed Himself throughout that Word. Through that Word, I can also get to know the Lord Jesus Christ more clearly and the great salvation He has made possible (2 Timothy 3:15). Also, when I know Him more clearly, I will learn to love Him more dearly, and then I can follow Him more nearly. Thank you Lord, for your great plan!



Shirley's Soliloquies #329

11/14/2010

Soldiers, Veterans, & Warfare

This week we celebrated Veteran's Day. All former military personnel were honored. There were parades, flags, wreaths, and speeches. At many mid-week church services, pastors honored the veterans. Interestingly, in addition to this, our pastor also shared a message from Ephesians 6:12:


Put on the whole armor of God,

that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,

but against principalities, against powers,

against the rulers of the darkness of this age,

against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”


At first, it might seem a strange topic for Veteran's Day. But he pointed out that Christians are soldiers also. However, the Christian's fight is not with an enemy that can be seen, but it is a spiritual battle that seems to becoming more intense. Scripture declares that it will worsen in the last days.


Pastor made note of the fact that we are living in an age when more people are suffering from various challenges: severe sicknesses and diseases, financial troubles, disobedient children, broken homes and marriages. Christians are being persecuted all over the world. Many are straying from biblical truth, preferring rather to have their 'ears tickled.'


Our enemy is powerful, and he knows our weaknesses. That is where he focuses most of his attacks. However, we have the advantage of having been warned through God's written Word. Most importantly, we know that greater is He that is in us, than He that is in the world. In Ephesians 6:13-18, the apostle Paul went on to explain the need to put on the armor of God.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God,

that you may be able to withstand in the evil day,

and having done all to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,

having put on the breastplate of righteousness.

And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

above all, taking the shield of faith

with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And take the helmet of salvation,

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,

being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”


O Lord, may I take the apostle Paul at his word and stand fast, and be fully dressed in the armor of God. May I always be aware of the attacks of the evil one so that I will not be defeated by his wiles.





Shirley's Soliloquies #328

11/07/2010

Help When Needed

What a difference it makes to have a solid foundation rooted in the Scriptures!

This statement became a reality to me recently when several of my heart medications were being changed. The chemical balance in my body seemed to be affected which caused me to have disturbing feelings. However no matter how the medication affected me, I still had the Lord and His Word to support me.

The phrase, “Fact, Faith, then Feelings” came to mind. I'm thankful that when I learned to talk, my parents taught me the Scriptures. They encouraged me to memorize them. I learned that:


Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried,

and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).


I memorized Romans 3:23, 6:23, and 1 Corinthians 5:21 and came to know the Savior,


All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

For the wages of sin is death,

but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,

that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Since I came to know the truth of these Scriptures, I was also led to Hebrews 5:16:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,

that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

My Faith in Him and His Word helped me get my perspective straight again.
 Then I thought of the song by Cleavant Derricks,

I may have doubts and fears, my eyes be filled with tears

But Jesus is a friend who watches day and night

I go to Him in prayer, He knows my every care

and just a little talk with Jesus makes it right


Now let us have a little talk with Jesus,

Let us tell Him all about our troubles,

He will hear our faintest cry and He will answer by and by.

Now when you feel a little prayer wheel turning,

then you'll know a little fire is burning,

you will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right!”

Yes, I can rest my Faith in the Lord and in His Word. Then Feelings really don't matter, because I'll have confidence that I will be receiving the help of the Lord whenever it is needed!




Shirley's Soliloquies #327

10/31/2010

Why Discouraged?

It is unusual that this week I've had contact with several people who have been feeling discouraged. Things didn't seem quite right with them. It seemed to be the common theme that I was hearing.

Strangely, on Monday, I felt quite low myself both physically and emotionally. I was seriously missing the condo where we had stayed for over ten years. I didn't like the feeling. It was like nothing that I had remembered experiencing before. It definitely wasn't pleasant, and it wasn't easy to shake. Now I can understand what it is like for some people who experience depression.

I began to reflect. It was in the month of October, 1986, that my husband had his first heart attack. In 1989, in October, he had open heart surgery. It was in October of 1998 that I had emergency Open Heart Surgery. Yes, October has been an unusual month for us.

I wondered what might contribute to making October such a month? It is true that there are changes in the weather and in the air pressure during this time of year. The days are becoming shorter, therefore there is less sunshine. That always seems to have an effect on the well-being of people.

I decided I had to have a serious talk with myself. I had to consciously call to mind the many Scriptures that talked about the Joy of the Lord. I looked up the word 'Joy' in the concordance and typed out the references. Then I had to have a serious talk with the Lord.

Since these things began to occupy my mind, the hymn that is a favorite of mine encouraged me.
Civilla Martin wrote in 1905,


Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He...,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free,

For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


Ah, that phrase, “I draw the closer to Him” - I pondered, yes, He will never leave me” and “From care He sets me free,” – I thought about how when my eyes are fixed upon Him, the cares of the world do grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace! Hebrews 13:5 reminds me,


He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

So that we may boldly say:

The Lord is my helper;

I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6




Shirley's Soliloquies #326

10/24/2010

The Lord is My Strength!

I'm so tired! I feel utterly exhausted!” she confided to me.

I responded, “Oh, so do I! And I feel sick, my head feels lightheaded, and . . . .”

She quickly responded, “Oh, so does mine! In fact, I feel dizzy! Right now, I feel really dizzy!”

We verbally sympathized with each other for a while, amazed that we shared many of the same symptoms. Then we paused and a smile crept over our faces. It would seem that we both thought of the words of the apostle Paul. When we felt weak and unable to do what we were supposed to do, the Lord always upheld us, and gave us the strength we needed!

'Yes,' I thought, 'How often has it been that I've felt it was impossible to play an instrument, or speak, or even just to be among people. But especially at those times I've been very conscious of the Lord strengthening me, enabling me to fulfill my responsibilities!'

So this morning while I was in God's Word, I thought of many of His precious promises. My mind went first of all to the Psalms that David wrote. He suffered unthinkable evils, sometimes from those whom he had considered to be his friends. His Psalms are full of his references to the strength that the Lord gives. Probably my favorite throughout the years has been Psalm 28:7:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusted in him, and I am helped:

therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth;

and with my song will I praise Him.”

However, in recent years, Psalm 73:26 has also become very real to me.

My flesh and my heart faileth:

but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion for ever.”

The Psalmist knew many testings and trails throughout his life, both from within and from without. But he trusted in the Lord his God. Others might have failed him, but God was his constant. And these Psalms of his have proven to be a source of encouragement and strength to others.

Then I thought of that wonderful promise God gave to the apostle Paul when he was suffering trials and testings: While at this low point, God said,

My grace is sufficient for thee,

for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9



Shirley's Soliloquies #325

10/17/2010

How Can I Glorify God?

How can I glorify God? He is the personification of all things glorious and praiseworthy! I feel immensely insignificant when I acknowledge this fact. So how is it possible that I could glorify Him?

As I was resting on the beach the other day, my mind pondered these things. I thought of all the millions of creatures beneath the surface of the water. To think that our Creator-God thought of their needs, such as the food-chain from the smallest creatures to the mammoth whales living in the same ocean! Countless times the Holy Scriptures talk about the God Who created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all creatures in it. Yes, He is a mighty God. He is all-powerful! So again the question plagues me,
 how can I possibly glorify Him?

There was only one way for me to find out. I began to search through the Scriptures. I remembered the many times in the book of Isaiah that God spoke through the prophet to tell His children about that day in the future when He would be glorified (cf 60:21; 61:3; 62:2; and 63:14). 'But,' I thought, 'these passages are talking about that time yet to come when He will definitely be glorified! But what about now?
 How can I glorify Him in my life now?'


So I continued my search and found when Jesus was on earth, He said,

Let your light so shine before men,

that they may see your good works

and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

Jesus told His disciples that the hour had come that “the Son of Man should be glorified.” He was speaking of his death, for in John 12:28, He said “Father, glorify Your name.” John 17:1, He said, “Glorify Your Son, that

Your Son also may glorify You.” So by His obedience to the death of the cross, He glorified God.


Interestingly, the apostle Paul prayed for the believers to be “likeminded toward one another so that they would with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He also wrote,

For you were bought at a price;

therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit,

which are God's.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Peter continues the exhortation for he wrote to his people who were dispersed everywhere that they should have their conduct honorable to all people, so they might,

By your good works which they observe,

glorify God ...” 1 Peter 2:11-12

So could it be by my obedience to God that I can glorify Him? May this be so in my daily life.



Shirley's Soliloquies #324

10/10/2010

What Would Happen?

What would happen if Jesus came into our Church tonight?”

The congregation became very quiet. It was the Pastor's opening question. What a loaded question! It made my mind jump into action. He paused, and then asked the question again, 'What would happen?'

I questioned myself. I wondered why the Lord hadn't seemed to lay any soliloquy on my heart thus far this week, now I think I know why. I needed to think seriously about this question.

The pastor continued with many instances when crowds gathered around Jesus. He asked, 'What was the reaction of the crowds?' I guess I hadn't really thought much about that. What would happen?

He began to give examples, such as Mark 10:46-48 when there was a “great multitude” around Jesus. All of a sudden a blind man heard that Jesus of Nazareth was there, so he cried out saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” But many people around him warned him to be quiet!

Yes, I can imagine that! If I were in church and someone yelled loudly while someone else was speaking, I can imagine many people saying, 'Shhh! Be quiet!' The offender might be escorted away.

But the Bible continues the story. That made the blind man cry out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” He wasn't going to be quiet! He needed Jesus! He needed Him right then! What did Jesus do? He stopped and told them to bring the blind man to Him. In loving kindness, He helped him.

Then there was the time when there were multitudes gathered around Jesus. He was answering their questions. However, someone brought little children to Him so He could touch them. What did the disciples do? 'Send them away! Can't you see that He's busy?' But what did Jesus do? He rebuked the disciples! He told them “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them!” (Mark 10:14).

Luke 4:33-35 records Jesus teaching in the synagogue. The crowds were astonished because He taught with such authority. However, a man with a spirit of an unclean demon was there. He screamed at Jesus, “Let us alone!” They didn't want Jesus in church! The demons were there, but not Jesus. How did He handle that situation? He rebuked them and cast them out. He had time for those in need.

Luke also records the instance of a little man named Zaccheus climbing a tree so he could see Jesus. There were huge crowds around Jesus as usual! But He looked up the tree at Zaccheus and told him to come down because He was going to his house that day! Again, that angered the crowds, and they grumbled! Jesus was going to be a guest with a man who was a sinner! (Luke 19:1-10).

In every instance, when sinners came to Jesus, He responded with love, helping them. He said,

The Son of Man has come to seek and to save those that are lost.” Luke 19:10

May I follow the example of Jesus. I need to be more aware of all the people around me who
 are in need of the salvation that He offers.



Shirley's Soliloquies #323

10/03/2010

Faithful Friends

(Proverbs 18:24)

What a blessing friends are! This past week has been an extremely heart-warming one for me!

On our way south, we stopped to visit with my cousin and her husband near Atlanta, GA. The sweet time spent with them warmed my heart! We heard of their friends and loved ones. Their son and his wife and puppy also came over to see us. Watching the new addition of their puppy
 reminded me of the little dog I used to have. It felt good!

The following morning we left early for Florida where we met the Military Men who served in Trieste, Italy with my husband. Many of their wives were Italian, so it was fun being with them. My husband especially appreciated using his Italian! Several of them have seemed to have stamped their influence on my heart, so I will remember them in my prayers. I do wish I had asked for their email addresses.

After we said goodbye to them, we headed to a nearby church where friends from our Bible training days in Milwaukee met us. What a delightful time we had with them! The years that have flown by seemed to have been erased as we enjoyed simply being with each other again. They had been missionaries in Central and South America, and so they were using their Spanish with a large number of Spanish-speaking people that were now attending their church. How our hearts were warmed as we heard
 about the various ministries with which they were involved!

But at the same church, our hearts were burdened as we were with their former pastor and his wife. They both now have serious physical problems. I knew this former pastor when we were growing up in Michigan. Our parents all attended the same church. So our fellowship, though sweet, was also
heart-rending because of their present trials. We keep them in our prayers.

We left Clearwater, and moved down to Venice, where my husband had been Interim Pastor for six months one winter several years ago. Oh the blessedness of the sweet time we had first with another pastor's wife! She and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves as we both played her two organs together! From time to time, we'd hear my husband across the room, singing! I also played her tiny accordion,
 and of course, my little “baby blue harp!”

Our dear friends from North Port drove up and visited with us in the evening! She particularly has seemed to be intertwined in my heart ever since the winter when we ministered there. It was wonderful seeing them again! The following morning we had breakfast with the church's pastor and his wife and many of the dear saints from the church! What blessed fellowship we enjoyed while there.

We drove down south of Ft Myers where we met dear friends from our former church, Calvary Chapel! It is always wonderful renewing our friendship with them! Our grandson, Matthew, had his lunch break and seemed to brighten our day! He is an amazing young man, a “Genius” at Apple Inc.
 He has a special place in my heart!

Soon we will be arriving in Southern Alabama where we will see many more of our precious Christian friends! Thank you Lord, for all these blessed friends who are an integral part of my life!




Shirley's Soliloquies #322

09/26/2010

Little Children

A field full of butterflies! Imagine that! It gives me a great deal of pleasure thinking of all of God's little creatures. And this field full of butterflies started my imagination going!

I thought back to the day that my daughter told me about a field full of butterflies she saw on the way home from work a few weeks ago. She said there must have been millions of them flitting and fluttering around. She stopped her car and took pictures with her cell phone to try to capture the unusual scene. Her description brought the little song written by Bill Gaither to mind,

If I were a butterfly, I'd thank you Lord for giving me wings

If I were a robin in a tree, Id thank you Lord that I could sing

If I were a fish in the sea, I'd wiggle my tail and I'd giggle with glee

But I just thank you Father for making me, me.


If I were an elephant, I'd thank you Lord by raising my trunk

If I were a kangaroo, You know I'd hop right up to you

If I were an octopus, I'd thank you Lord for making me, me


If I were a wiggle worm, I'd thank you Lord that I could squirm

If I were a fuzzy wuzzy bear, I'd thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair

If I were a crocodile, I'd thank you Lord for my great smile

But I just thank you Father for making me, me.


For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile

You gave me Jesus and you made me your child

And I just thank you Father for making me, me.

Then the second, 'Would you believe it!' happened! We had traveled 25 hours to attend my husband's Military Reunion in Florida. This morning as I was sitting on the balcony of our room, 4 tiny sparrows flew right to me, hopping around not two feet away! I couldn't help but thank the Lord again for His tender loving care of all of His little creatures, including me. I thought to myself, 'How can I thank and praise Him enough for His little reminders of His love, care, and protection of me?' But then it occurred to me that I can not only thank and praise Him, but maybe He'd rather have me seek to live my life in such a way that it would bring praise to Him.

And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God

because of all He has done for you.

Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable.

This is truly the way to worship him.

Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world,

but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Then you will learn to know God's will for you,

which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)




Shirley's Soliloquies #321

09/19/2010

Little Children

Our granddaughter and her husband stopped for a visit on their way south. Their three darling children captured my heart once again! They are remarkable, but then I suppose all grandparents and great-grandparents think the same of their own.

Seeing them in person made me remember what captivating bundles of potentiality they are! The boys are now 4 and 7 years old, and Sophie is two. As I was reminiscing about their visit,
 the popular little song came to mind:

I am a promise, I am a possibility

I am a promise with a capital “P”

I am a great big bundle of potentiality

And I am learnin' to hear God's voice

And I am tryin' to make the right choice

I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be.


I can go anywhere that He wants me to go

I can be anything that He wants me to be

I can climb the high mountains

I can cross the wide sea

I'm a great big promise you see!

(repeat first verse)

So after we spent time with our great-grandchildren, my mind drifted back to when our own children were so young. It's been quite a while, but some of the memories are still fresh! I remember one day when I was explaining the way of salvation, my four year old son worriedly asked me, “But Mommy, How can I ask Jesus to come into my heart? Must I be cut open so He can get in?”

Years earlier, even though my husband had been having heart problems, he still enjoyed being with our four year old granddaughter. One day he was taking care of her while her mommy was in college. He mentioned to the little one that he wasn't feeling well, in fact he might soon go to be with Jesus. He said she was quiet for a long time, and then suddenly exclaimed as she began clapping her hands, “Oh goody, goody! That means you'll be in my heart!”

I thought how much Jesus loved the little children. He said,


Let the little children to come to me, and do not forbid them:

for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14.


Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children,

you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3




Shirley's Soliloquies #320

09/12/2010

Evidences of the Wind

The sound of the wind rustling through the trees brings back memories. It seems to be a soothing sound saying that all is well in my little world.

However, now that I am older, I have seen the damage that the wind can do. Recently in our area, it blew roof tops off houses. It even uprooted huge trees and made others break with its force. In the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico we have also seen the damage that the hurricanes have done.

Yes, I can definitely see the effects of the wind! So, do I doubt that the wind exists just because I can't see it? No, I believe it exists because I have seen its effects.

Some people say, I don't believe in God because I can't see Him. Therefore He must not exist. Yet, these same people do believe in the wind. They have seen what the wind can do. Jesus said,

The wind blows wherever it wants.

Just as you can hear the wind

but can't tell where it comes from or where it is going,

so you can't explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8

Just because you don't see the wind, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Just because you don't see God
 doesn't mean He doesn't exist.


I hear the wind blow

High in the tree tops.

Where it seems to go,

Without evidence,

No one can ever know.

I hear someone came to Christ

Over at the local church

She went out to her workplace

the same as before.

How will the world ever know?


I saw a child come to Christ

weeping and calling to Him

Jesus touched and healed her heart.

The very next day

His great love came shining through!


Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

Acts 16:31




Shirley's Soliloquies #319

09/5/2010

I Have No Soliloquy....

I have no soliloquy this week....Nothing comes to me. The two that crossed my mind just didn't seem to flow. It reminded me of a song I heard many years long ago, “I have No Song.” It starts out in the minor key and then goes into the major as it joyfully tells how the Lord gives a song.
It was a haunting melody and probing words.

The blockage reminded me of the passage that I read recently in Psalm 137 about the children of Israel, despondent, feeling really low. They hung their harps in the willow trees because they had no song that they could sing in a foreign land. The Bible says,

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down,

yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.

We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.

For there those who carried us away captive

asked of us a song.

And those who plundered us requested mirth, saying,

Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?”

Psalm 137:1-4 (NLT)

Ah yes, how difficult it is to sing and play joyful music when the heart is heavy. I've realized this lately since it occurred to me how difficult it is to play my harp. It rests in its case since I've had some side effects from new heart medications. My mind refuses to get in gear. And my spirit seems low.

So, no soliloquy..., nothing came to my mind. It was like a blank slate. Even those things that entered my consciousness were fleeting. So when I read these verses about the children of Israel being reluctant to play on their harps among the heathen when their spirits were low, I completely understood.

So, what must I do? I need to get out my harp and play it. I need to realize that I have the joy of the Lord within me, and I need to cling to His precious promises!

A merry heart does good like a medicine.”

Proverbs 17:22

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.

Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”

James 5:13


What good advice! I will take this advice and I will follow the doctor's orders. Then I will trust the Lord to put His healing hand on me, being confident in His competent Almighty power. “I will” as my husband often says, “trust in the Lord and keep my powder dry.” I will trust when to simply trust is the hardest of all. Yes! I will have a soliloquy! And, Yes! I will have a song!




Shirley's Soliloquies #318

08/29/2010

O Lord, My God!

As I was resting this afternoon, my eyes went to the beautiful picture on the wall. It always seems to arrest my attention. It is of a stormy ocean scene. However, today I particularly noticed the sky. It has a brilliant light radiating outwards from its center. It reminded me of what the coming of Christ might look like as He comes for His saints. My heart welled up within me in praise and thanks, particularly as I thought of the last few weeks of pain and suffering that has seemed to surround me.

As I was doing that, my mind went to the 71st Psalm that I had recently read. It caught my attention as I thought of what the Psalmist had penned,

You are my rock and my fortress... (vs. 3)

You are my hope, O Lord God...(vs 5)

You are my trust from my youth...(vs 5)

You are He who took me out of my mother's womb...(vs 6)

Yes, it was from my mother's womb and her gentle words to me that I learned of the love of Jesus. These words and His love surrounded me through my family and Sunday School teachers. As I continued to grow older, God's Word became very real to me. I thought again of the Psalmist as he continued,

You are my strong refuge...(vs 7)

You are the God who does wonders...(77:14)

Oh yes, “the God who does wonders.” I am constantly amazed over the wonders of His creation! Even this morning as I was walking, I heard the chirping of the birds. They caught my attention, so I had to praise the Lord for all His little creatures. The tiny humming bird hovering above the flowers came to mind. Then the sparrows, not a one of which doesn't fall to the earth without the Lord knowing about it (Matthew 10:29). Then I thought of the great eagles, flying majestically in the sky! Ah, the Lord is a great and mighty God, a wonderful Creator! He is also a wonderful Redeemer, for as the Psalmist continued, “You have with your own arm redeemed your people” (77:15). Yes, and He also redeemed me!


Then I read further, and my heart joined in,

You are my God...You will answer me... (86:2, 7)

How wonderful this privilege of prayer is to me! Sometimes even before I call, He will answer (Isaiah 65:24). He knows and is able to supply my every need (Philippians 4:19). My heart is full of
praise and worship to the Lord My God!




Shirley's Soliloquies #317

08/22/2010

Present with the Lord!

For to be absent from the body,

is to be present with the Lord!”

2 Corinthians 5:8

What a blessed thought that is! That means that my dear friend, Marion, is now in the Lord's presence! I'm told she slipped away peacefully on Saturday night.

Interestingly, the Bible also says,

Precious in the sight of the Lord

is the death of His saints.”

Psalm 116:15

How strange that statement seems to be! It could even be interpreted as being insensitive!

But then I thought of the analogy of a Parent who had a daughter who had been far from home. How wonderful it would be for the Parent to be able to receive that child back after a long absence! What a reunion that would be! Especially because so many times the daughter had confided in the Parent, and the Parent was aware of the trials that had been endured.

The daughter had lost her husband and many times had felt lonely. She had spoken to her Parent often during those times of deep grief. Also, the daughter had felt the infirmities of the flesh, and sometimes felt all alone in those sufferings, even the doctors had not been able to help her. Again, she had shared them with her Parent, but her Parent was so far away. He tried to give His grace in her time of need, and it had been sufficient, but the sufferings were still there.

But then imagine being that Parent on the day of her return home! Oh the unspeakable joy it would be to be able to hold her in His loving arms! All around His throne would be many of her friends and even her earthly husband, all welcoming her Home! Yes, it would be a very precious thing in the sight of her Heavenly Father to see His child come Home, to wipe away all her tears, to completely heal her of all her sufferings, and to have her with Him forever.

The Bible says,

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time

are not worthy to be compared

with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Romans 8:18

But the Lord also knows how much we who remain on this earth will miss her. Tears will be shed in those times. Even Jesus wept when his good friend Lazarus had died (John 11:35). Yes indeed! He does know, and He does care (1 Peter 5:7)!




Shirley's Soliloquies #316

08/15/2010

God is There!

Ah, the shock when I went to get into the car! The sky overhead was dark. I knew a storm was approaching over the lake, but I thought I could get groceries and get back again before it arrived. As I got on the road, in the distance I could see a bright sky above the trees, but there was a huge dark cloud above it. The separation of light and darkness was dramatic!

A prayer quickly escaped my lips, 'Thank you Lord, for speaking through the storm. Even in the midst of the dark sky, in the midst of the thunder, I know You are there! Sometimes I need to look in the distance to see Your bright light, but I know that You are there!'

The Scripture I had read recently came to mind. Probably I was reminded of it because good friends of ours were visiting, and they gave us a DVD of their son who was speaking at a church in California. He told this touching story about Elijah.

The Lord said to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'

Elijah replied, 'I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty.

But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you,

torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets.

I am the only one left,

and now they are trying to kill me, too.'

'Go out and stand before me on the mountain,' the Lord told him.

And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by,

and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain.

It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose,

but the Lord was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake,

but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

And after the earthquake there was a fire,

but the Lord was not in the fire.

And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.”

1 Kings 19:9-12 (NLT)

Yet God hadn't finished His object lesson with Elijah, there is much more before and after this story. But the wonderful thing to me is how at Elijah's lowest point, when he was thinking that he had been forsaken by his people, God assured him that even though this was true, He was nevertheless there!

Yes, I mused, God doesn't have to be seen in some dramatic way. He can be present in the most gentle whisper. I remind myself, God is everywhere! He is All-powerful! And He is the Creator. He is the beginning and the end of all things! He is the Eternal God! Amazingly, He is also my Savior, a very present help in time of trouble whether the skies are bright and blue, or dark and bleak. (Psalm 46:1). He is always there, just when I need Him most.





Shirley's Soliloquies #315

08/08/2010

Comfort While Suffering

My dear friend, Marion, has been constantly on my heart and in my prayers. She has had Congenital Heart Failure for quite a long time, but in spite of it she has been persevering in her faith. We have many precious memories: having lunch together, going to various concerts put on by a local Symphony Orchestra, and have had blessed fellowship in a number of Bible studies through the years.


Through this past year and a half since her husband died, I have greatly admired her spirit and her love and trust in the Lord. During the summers when we have been apart from each other, it has been good to have talked together on the phone. However, now she is no longer able to talk, and this saddens my heart. But I can not leave her in any more capable hands than those of our loving Lord. This morning as I was reading Psalms 9:10, I was praying that she would be aware of her Lord's comforting presence
during these difficult days.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;

for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”

Then my mind drifted to the thought of my cousin who has been suffering from difficult physical infections and problems. After she went through an unsuccessful eight hour surgery, she is now no longer able to eat any food through her mouth. I also thought of so many other good friends who are going through severe physical trials and testings. My heart aches and cries out to the Lord to wrap them in His ever-loving arms and hold them close during these difficult days.

Yes, He knows and He cares! The eighth chapter of Romans is very precious to me,

The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.

For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought,

but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered.

Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,

because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,

to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

And the chapter goes on to assure me of even more wonderful promises of God,

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,

or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life,

nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present

nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,

shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:26-28; 38-39




Shirley's Soliloquies #314

08/01/2010

Total Desolation?
 Yet Hope?

What desolation of spirit! He had lost everything, even his health. He felt as though He had been forsaken by everyone. It even came to the point where he despaired of life itself, wishing that he had never been born and seen the light of day (Job 3:11).

As I was reading the book of Job, I realized that there are some people today who feel the same as Job did. They despair even of life itself because of the circumstances in which they find themselves.

But then I remembered that this is the oldest book in the Bible, thought to have been written even before Genesis. So Job did not have the advantage of having the Scriptures. He anguished before God. Job felt that if God were a man, he could answer Him. He said (Job 16:21),

Oh, that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleads for his neighbor!”

Job's heart's desire was that there would be some way for a man to have direct access to God. He cried,

For He (God) is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him,

And that we should go to court together.

Nor is there any mediator between us,

who may lay his hand on us both.”

Job 9:32-33

Since Job didn't have the whole counsel of God as we do today, he didn't know that God would solve this problem. Now we do have God's complete message to mankind! Now we realize that we do have a mediator between God and mankind. God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1). And best of all, He (Jesus) is One who was tested in all points as we are, yet without sin. When He was on earth, He entered into the sufferings of all the people around Him, He listened, He had compassion on them, and He healed them. He is the perfect mediator!

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men,

the Man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

However, even with Job's incomplete knowledge, he exclaimed,

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him...

He also shall be my salvation.” 13:15-16

How much more, with my confidence in God's Holy Word, should I be able to exclaim in whatever circumstance I should find myself, I will be content (Philippians 4:11). I will be able to say,

'He is my God, He is my salvation. I put my trust and confidence in Him. His way is best!'





Shirley's Soliloquies #313

07/25/2010

Saved or Not?


But I don't feel like I am saved!”

From time to time I have heard this statement. Naturally it can be deeply troubling! Usually it signifies that a person is plagued with doubts about his/her salvation from the penalty of sin.

Years ago some teachers and I came across a computer program that told of a person's “bio-rhythms.” We found it to be interesting. In fact, some people used the information that they knew about their bio-rhythms in their dealings with other people. Could this be part of this phenomenon about feelings? I don't know. But I do know as Peter said in 2 Peter 1:19 that there is something much more “sure.”

We have also a more sure word of prophecy;
 whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.”

In his sermons, my husband often mentions the three F's: Fact, Faith, and Feelings. It is important to find all the Facts. When one knows the Facts, one can place total Faith in those facts. Then it follows that the Feelings can come. Faith that is based securely on Facts is like a solid Rock that stands firm.

Therefore, in order to “Feel saved,” it is important to know the Facts. 1 Corinthians 15:1-3 states:

...I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you,

which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved,

if you hold fast that word which I preached to you....”

So they heard the word. They also received it and stood upon it! Therefore they were saved. What was that word that they had received and believed?

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received,

that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried,

and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

These are historical Facts.   Another apostle stated it clearly and definitely so I can be sure.

...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

He who has the Son has life;

he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,

that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.”

1 John 5:11-13

I have Faith in those Facts. I know God does not lie. Since I know those Facts are true, my Faith stands firm. Even on those days when the skies are gray and cloudy and my Feelings don't keep up, I remind myself of the Facts and tell my Feelings to shape up!



Shirley's Soliloquies #312

07/18/2010

What are God's Thoughts?

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

In recent days, these verses have constantly been on my mind. They are simple and yet they are profound. They are also timely, since several people have been on my heart and in my prayers. I always pray that the Lord's will would be done, for He always knows what is best. However, sometimes I feel like I know how the Lord will lead, but this time things did not go as I had expected.

Since I rest in the fact that the Lord does not make any mistakes, I was therefore convinced that whatever the outcome He was still in charge. All I needed was to bow in submission to Him. Thus it was that these Words kept going through my mind, 'His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.' I had peace as I fell back on what the Lord was telling me.

Then I began to ponder the question: “What are God's thoughts?” Eagerly I began to search the Scriptures in order to find answers to this question. Beside answers, I found rich blessings!

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done;

And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order;

If I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”

Psalm 40:5

O Lord, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep.”

Psalm 92:5

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

Psalm 139:17

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,

thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

And so, during the challenges of what was happening around me, I found great comfort in the preceding words. Not only did I experience peace, but there was blessed assurance in the hope that was mine because I am a child of His. And my heart had to exclaim in joyful adoration, “Thank you Lord, for Your great promises and your precious thoughts toward me.”





Shirley's Soliloquies #311

07/11/2010

Ah, Yes, Moderation

Oh, my poor husband! The tops of his legs got a severe sunburn. They are horribly red. I hurt every time I look at them!

It happened at the beach where we went for a family reunion. I checked to make sure he was sitting in the shade of a big tree, but somehow the tops of his legs picked up the sun anyway. He doesn't usually wear shorts, but since the temperatures have been in the high 80's and 90's, he was wearing a pair.

In addition to that, I'm told that the reflection of the white sand can increase the likelihood of sunburn. So his legs were not used to such over exposure.

Since then our daughter and granddaughter who have been visiting have been hovering over him, making sure he keeps a good lotion on the burn.

I pondered over how much we do need the sun. It not only gives the plants what they need, but it gives people Vitamin D. Also its rays seem to contribute to an overall sense of well-being. However, as with my husband, too much of the sun can also be quite harmful.

Then I started thinking about other things that we need in moderation. Just recently I read how beneficial it is to drink a cup or two of coffee a day. The article listed all the benefits. I was pleased to see that, for I do enjoy a cappuccino first thing in the morning! But then the article also continued with a cautionary note about how too much caffeine can be harmful to the body.

I mused more about how even something as wonderful as salt can be good and can be bad! For example, it is a preservative. It also can enhance the flavor of foods. But too much salt is harmful. It can be damaging to the body. The Bible uses salt as a metaphor illustrating its delightful benefits. But it also warns about the necessity to keep it fresh so that it can be useful. It says,

You are the salt of the earth;

But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?

It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Matthew 5:13

Another comparison is our 'food.' Oh yes, we do definitely need it! BUT not in the amounts that are consumed sometimes – especially at picnics or pot-lucks!

Another thing that I need to watch carefully is the kinds of foods that I eat. I should eat more fruits and veggies. At least, that is what I'm told! Ah, moderation! That's probably the key!

Philippians 4:5 reads: “Let your moderation be known to all men.”

Lord, help me to do just that! Amen.




Shirley's Soliloquies #310

07/04/2010

Anticipated Celebrations

Ah, the celebrations that will be around us this weekend! Excitement in the air! Reunions! Picnics! Barbecues! Parades! Pot-lucks! Fireworks! Re-enactments! You name it, we'll probably see it!

It is one of the most important holidays of our calendar year! All government offices will be closed on the Monday after the 4th. Many people will ask for extended vacation time so they can spend a longer time with their families. But how did these traditions begin?

It actually goes back to July 2, 1776, when the 2nd Continental Congress voted to approve a Resolution of Independence that had been approved in June. After they voted, the Declaration of Independence was written which explained the decision of the colonies to separate from Great Britain. They approved it on the 4th of July. It is a day that is considered to be the birth of our country, the USA. Thus all the celebrations!

When I stop to think about it, it will be a great time for our family! My sister, sister-in-law, and their families live nearby, so we plan to have a pot-luck together. It will be a time when we can get together and catch up with everyone's activities, as well as share precious memories and enjoy good food!

Our daughter and granddaughter are taking vacation time from their work-places in Ohio in order to be with us. How I look forward to seeing them!

Our granddaughter who lives on the other side of the state has asked our son, who is her father, to walk with her and her family in their parade. Of course, he naturally enjoys being with them! However he does intend to be back for Monday afternoon's activities on the beach so that he will be able to be with the family here also.

I enjoy the anticipation of looking forward to these special times. It is always good when we can get together and do a lot of reminiscing as well as looking to the future.

It was no different in the Biblical times. God had instructed the children of Israel to come together at various times when their leaders would remind the people of all that God had done for them. At special times they would set up tents to live in as reminders. They would offer sacrifices and praise the Lord for His goodness to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt, in order to form a new nation more numerous than the stars in the sky or the sand on the shore. They were to remember their beginnings.

So it is with us. We also remember our beginnings. We thank the Lord for His goodness in allowing us to live in this great country with its freedoms to worship Him in spirit and in truth. We look to Him for guidance in the days that are yet ahead of us.

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...” Hebrews 12:2

Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” Jude 21

Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God....” 2 Peter 3:12

Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing our our great God...” Titus 2:13





Shirley's Soliloquies #309

06/27/2010

Thunder and Lightning


As I walked this morning, the intense blue of the sky and the fluffy white clouds took my breath away. I marveled and my heart broke out in thanks and praise to the Lord for His merciful goodness. I thought of Job who long ago exclaimed (36:22),

Behold, God is exalted by His power.”

That verse meant more to me this morning because of the violent thunderstorms we had experienced during the night. They woke me with the power of the thunderclaps and the intensity of the lightning. They simply did not stop. There didn't seem to be a breath between them as they kept up the cacophony of sound and spectacular flashes of lightning. In fact, I didn't need to turn on a light in order to guide me to close the window. It was amazing! I thought of Job again (36:32-33),

He covers His hands with lightning

and commands it to strike.

His thunder declares it...

At this also my heart trembles

and leaps from its place.”

Ah, I understood what Job was talking about, for I think that my heart nearly leaped from its place also.

I was spellbound with Job's thoughts after our storm last night. He continued in 37:2-3,

Hear attentively the thunder of His voice,

and the rumbling that comes from His mouth.

He sends it forth under the whole heaven.

His lightning to the ends of the earth.

Sometimes these violent 'acts of nature,' as some call them, do make me stop and listen. Increasingly I realize that it is important for me to acknowledge that my Creator is a mighty God and I must not take Him for granted and talk about Him glibly. I must respect His greatness, His power, and His majesty.

I continued walking thinking these thoughts, yet marveling at the extraordinary beauty of the sky. It became a time of reflection and awe. I thanked Him for His assurance of never leaving me or forsaking me (Hebrews 13:5). My mind mused over Job's words as I contrasted the terrors of the night with the beauties of the day (26:14),

Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways.

And how small a whisper we hear of Him!

But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

Sometimes it does seem like a small whisper nudging me. Yet at other times there are strong thunderbolts that feel as if they were striking me. I need to hear the whisper and feel the thunder.




Shirley's Soliloquies #308

06/20/2010

"Is There Any Peace?"

These days seem to be bringing anything but peace. The newspaper, radio, and TV bring the problems of the world right into my living room. Is it any wonder that I'm hearing discouragement and distress in people's voices lately.

Is there peace anywhere? I had to go to my concordance where I searched God's Word. It always brings encouragement and stability into my life.

And yes, I found it! I rejoiced in the following verses!

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you:

not as the world gives do I give to you,

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.

In the world you will have tribulation;

but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Now the God of peace be with you all.” Romans 15:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace....” Galatians 5:22

...and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.

The Lord be with you all.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

I will print these words, and stick them on my bathroom mirror! I will read them every day and be thankful for the peace I have in the Lord Jesus Christ! May I constantly apply His peace into my life. W. George Cooper wrote the words to the old hymn,

Peace, Peace, Wonderful peace coming down from the Father above.

Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray, in fathomless billows of love.”

Thank you Lord, for your wonderful peace!




Shirley's Soliloquies #307

06/13/2010

"An Uncertain Future "


'Downhearted and discouraged.
' My son has mentioned how many people enter his office despondent. Many have been at the top of their businesses and professions, but have been 'let go.' Their futures seem uncertain. Naturally, discouragement seems to take over their lives and their whole personalities are affected. My son finds great satisfaction in being able to encourage and help them find their way during such troubled times.

As he was talking about these things, I was thinking about the fishermen and people living along the Gulf coast. They are in a period of great stress. The fishermen can not do any fishing. The tourist industry is hurting, that includes the restaurants and places of business as well as the hotels and condo rentals. The entire future of the Gulf economy seems to be uncertain.

People who are recommended to go to warmer climates for the winter due to physical problems are wondering if they will be able to continue to do so this year. How will this affect their futures?

Many people try to eat fish several times a week, their diets will suffer for lack of, or the inability to cover the cost of the fish. How will that affect their diets and health?

There seems to be more flooding around the country. The damage caused year by year continues to drain the resources of many people.

Earthquakes seem to be on the increase.

Tornadoes seem to be popping up unexpectedly in places that hadn't seen them before.

Hurricane season will be soon approaching. The devastation that such causes can be unimaginable.

But the Oil Spill in the Gulf had the newscasters busy trying to keep up with the magnitude of the disaster. What will be the long-term outcome of this? When will it stop? Will these underwater pockets of oil continue indefinitely to cause damage? Also, what about the long-term consequence on the fish and wild life of the Gulf?

Yes, the Future is uncertain.

But we do know Who holds the Future! Yes, as the saying goes, 'We have read the last chapter (in the Bible), (of world events) and we know how it all turns out!' The Lord Jesus Christ will be the victor in the end. And if I am “in Christ,” need I really allow any disasters to paralyze my life? The Bible points to a wonderful future with a new heaven and a new earth, and I am an heir to all of its glories. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us,

Therefore if anyone is in Christ,
He is a new creation;
old things have passed away;
 behold all things have become new.




Shirley's Soliloquies #306

06/06/2010

"A Needed Prayer"

What an inspiring program!  It was mainly patriotic.  However towards the end, the orchestra, choir, and special singers performed a moving rendition of the following classical hymn,

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
be thou our guide while troubles last, and our eternal home. 

The words brought to mind my reading through the Old Testament.  I continue to marvel over God's constant faithfulness in the face of Israel's faithlessness.  Then my heart swelled with gratitude to God for the assurance that He will indeed remain faithful in the years to come. 

Next, the choir and orchestra went into the songs God Have Mercy, and Pray for America; ending with heartfelt prayers for our country and Christians around the world.  The pastor charged the congregation to remember that we Christians are the salt and light of the world.  I thought of the passage in Matthew chapter 5 that likens the Christians to salt. 

Ye are the salt of the earth;
but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? 
It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

How true, I thought, if the Christian's witness isn't what it should be.  Sadly, if a Christian's profession IS known, yet he or she is living a life that is not pleasing to the Lord, this could be worse.  It could cause other people to stumble.

The words of the Lord Jesus were challenging:

You are the light of the world. 
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 
“Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

As the Pastor continued his prayer pleading with God to have mercy on America and on Christians around the world, I realized that I need to make this my daily prayer also.

Yes, Christians can make a difference!  The need is for everyone to become the light and salt of the world during these present difficult days and in those that lie ahead.



Shirley's Soliloquies #305

05/30/2010

"Cleanse & Replace"

Oooh, my tooth was really hurting   I suspected something must be wrong, but thought, I’ll wait, it’ll probably go away.  Well, it didn’t.  It only got worse.  My upper tooth started hurting too.  And the whole side of my face, neck, and even my shoulder   Finally after several days of it getting worse instead of better, I decided I’d better call the dentist.   The dentist told me that both those teeth had crowns on them, and it was difficult to see what was going on under there.  So he suggested that I go to the Endodontist, because he is better equipped to check it out. 

I went.  He did a lot of checking and discovered the upper tooth was fine, it was, in his words, ‘ just feeling sorry for the lower one’  But I would need a root canal in the lower one.  He told me since I had a crown on there, he would be very careful and try not to break it.  So he started drilling through the top of the tooth.  It didn’t hurt, for he had numbed it.  However he had to clean out all the inflamed and infected parts. Needless to say, all that cleaning was very unpleasant   But it was worth it, for later on I realized the pain was gone  

As I was mulling these things over in my mind, the realization occurred that the Bible has a number of analogies along these lines: The wrong and diseased must be cleaned out completely and replaced with the  good.  For example, the following came to my mind. 

Psalm. 51:7, Purge me with hyssop, an d I shall be clean;
wash me; and I shall be whiter than snow.
Ephesians 4:22-24, that you put off, concerning your former conduct,
the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,
and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
And that you put on the new man which was created according to God,
in true righteousness and holiness.
Colossians 3:8-10, But now you yourselves are to put off all these:
anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds.
And have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge
according to the image of Him who created Him.

And then the Psalmist, ever practical, answers the question in Psalm 119:9,

“How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.”

I don’t want to leave any wrong, ‘diseased’ ways in me that can only continue to fester and grow, so even if it might be unpleasant, I must cry out to God, 

“Cleanse me, O Lord, and see if there be some wicked way in me.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #304

05/23/2010

"Proper Nurturing"

From time to time, I look at the beautiful Betta fish with the large gorgeous fins in the small jars in the store.  I think, ‘Well, that wouldn’t take up too much room, can’t be too much work, and it is a beautiful fish ’  Then another thought crossed my mind, ‘That poor fish   It can hardly move around in that little bowl.  How can it be happy?’  I think that it survives, but probably just barely.  How much fun would it be if I were put in an area that is so small that I couldn’t stretch my legs or arms?  Yes, I’d probably survive, but only just

It reminded me  about some Christians who attend church just on Sunday mornings and when they get home again, all thought of God or the Bible escapes the mind for the rest of the week.  Maybe that is something like those poor Bettas cramped in the tiny jar.  There is no room for growth there.  The apostle Paul graphically illustrates it in 1 Corinthians where he says they are saved, yet so as by fire.  They are saved, but there is no development because they do not exercise their faith.

Anyway, back to the Bettas.  One day when my son was shopping with me, we decided it might be fun to get one and put it into a bigger bowl.  So I picked out a beautiful blue one with huge fins. 
Then Bruce noticed some females and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to get a female too?’  As we looked at the female fish, we saw a brilliant red one   We decided we’d like that.  Maybe we might be able to breed baby fish   That would be interesting.  The saleslady told us a little about them.

So we got them home, put them into a large bowl and they seemed very happy being able to swim around and wiggle and stretch out their fins.  It was fun to watch  

After a day or two, I  noticed there were all kinds of little bubbles on the surface.  Is it possible they are breeding already?  I decided I’d better check what the salesclerk said with the Internet. 

‘Hum, how interesting ’  I found out that the bubbles are there ready for the male to pick up the eggs from the bottom of the tank where the female lays them.  He will put them into the bubbles and then guard them himself   That made me smile, because I love it when I see anyone or anything being protective of another   

I stopped to think about a young Christian who has just come into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  All too often that ‘babe in Christ’ is left to fend for himself because there is no one around who is willing to help him as he begins to develop his new life in Christ.  He needs nurturing.  He needs to feed on the Word of God.  The Bible says, “...as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2).  Then they also need the right food and friends who will be willing to guide them in their new life in Christ.  They need to exercise their senses in order to discern between good and evil.  According to Hebrews 5:14,

“Solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”



Shirley's Soliloquies #303

05/16/2010

"The Amazing Earth"

The earth is spewing oil from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.  As yet, everything that has been done to control it, doesn’t seem to work.  How can it continue to flow at this vast rate?  Surely the supply should run out soon.  Instead it seems that it is inexhaustible.

I thought about the other natural resources that are untapped under the surface of the earth.  We are told that they will run out, however they also seem to be limitless, for people continue to find and mine them.  Diamonds, gold, silver, turquoise, opals, emeralds, and many other precious gems are all apparently waiting under the surface of the earth for us to discover.

As these things were flowing through my mind this morning, I felt a sense of awe of God,  the great Creator!  For it occurred to me how interesting it is that all of these precious stones, minerals, and metals are in our earth.

Sometimes I think God has a wonderful sense of humor, for He has hidden all these things that are so precious to mankind right under the earth and under the seas.  And even more delightful a thought is that He knows the best way to mine them and also how to cap them!

The fascinating thought came to me that when Christ returns and sets up the new heaven and new earth, He has everything right at His fingertips.  Since He created this marvelous earth, He knows exactly where everything is that will be needed for this great new venture.  It will be an amazing achievement.

I remembered how the Bible told about the glory of Solomon’s temple.  People came from distances far away to see it.  But the city described in the book of the Revelation will be much more glorious than the description of Solomon’s temple.  No wonder the Bible states that nations will want to come to it.  The Bible describes the city in great detail.  It records that,

“The wall was made of jasper,
and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass.
The wall of the city was built on foundation stones
inlaid with twelve precious stones,
the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate,
the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian,
the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz,
 the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.
The twelve gates were made of pearls – each gate from a single pearl!
And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.”
Revelation 21:18-21

What an amazing city that will be.  However, the Bible continues to say that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be allowed to enter in to it (verse 27).  How can one’s name be written there?  By believing on Jesus Christ whom God sent to be the Savior of the world (John 4:42).



Shirley's Soliloquies #302

05/9/2010

"The Parade of Life!"

The first parade of Tulip Time will be here in a few hours!  I’ll be sitting on the edge of the curb, watching along with my sister, my niece, and her daughter.  Her other daughter will be marching in the band.

We have looked forward to these parades and festivities for months.  Now they are here.  They affect all of our senses!  They really do!  We see the parade!  We hear the bands, the crowds of people, and also the wooden shoes!  We even taste it, because it wouldn’t be complete without tasting something from the concession stands, usually elephant ears or fat balls, or maybe caramel apples or pop corn.  Of course that opens our sense of smell.  Last but not least, the sense of touch is ever present!  I’m thankful that I can enjoy all of the senses!

With these activities in  my mind, it was startling to read the biblical passage in Luke 23:35-39 this morning.  It tells of the crucifixion of Jesus.  What struck me was how the people stood looking on. 

Were they like the Tulip Time crowds standing and looking on?  Often I am impressed by the emotions on many of the faces.  Most people passively enjoy the parade, but some folks become actively involved as their school band or loved one marches past.  When we see Rachel playing her clarinet in the distance, we immediately get our cameras ready, and start yelling and even screaming her name!  And sure enough!  As she passes we notice her eyes flicker toward us, and we smile back at her.

Then my mind returned back to the Scripture.  The Bible speaks of the crowds who were looking on at the crucifixion of Jesus.  Some people not only watched but they sneered at Him.  Yes, they were involved.   They became vocal and began mocking (vs. 36).  But worst of all, one of the criminals even blasphemed Him.  

The analogy of watching a parade pass by comes to mind.  Many people seem to think that they are simply standing on the sidelines, watching life go by.  But the question that Albert Simpson put into the words of his hymn needs to be answered,

“What will you do with Jesus?  Neutral you cannot be;
Someday your heart will be asking, ‘What will He do with me?’”

He died on the cross, bearing the sins of the whole world on Himself.  Scripture declares that God,

 “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21

If God made Him to be a substitute payment for our sins and one hears this and does nothing, then the decision has already been made.  The point is that it is not possible to stand passively on the sidelines and watch as the parade passes by.  Everyone is in the parade of life.  Everyone must make a decision before it is too late, for the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:2,

“Now is the accepted time.  Now is the day of salvation.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #301

05/2/2010

"Where’s Your Bible?"

“Talk about clutter, look at your sofa!” My son exclaimed to me the other day. 

He reminded me that I complain about the clutter around my husband’s desk, near his chair, and  wherever he is working.  I looked at the sofa, and then felt guilty, but nevertheless immediately said, “But this is where I work!”  And they both acknowledged that this was true.  My husband reminded me that I had a corner desk (squashed in the bedroom with hardly any elbow room).  Needless to say, I’m not comfortable using it in that corner.

Later I looked more carefully at the sofa.  My son was right!  I had the Tulip Time Brochure that my sister and I were perusing to see what we wanted to attend this year.  There was a small box that an external computer drive had come in.  There were a couple of copies of soliloquies that I was correcting and revising.  Hum, there was also a newspaper, and of course my Bible and notebook.  Sometimes, there might be a concordance there too. 

So I realized that he did have a point, and I began to put things away that I didn’t need at that moment.  My Bible and notebook have to stay there though, because I might need them at any time, especially every morning.  I like to leave them in the same place where they will be next to me.

Recently I attended a ladies conference where the speaker asked the women to think about where they kept their Bibles.  She said sometimes people put it on the bottom shelf, or perhaps on the floor, or sometimes they can’t even remember where they put it.  She challenged the ladies to think about how this shows the importance of the Bible in their lives.   

Then as I was waking this morning, thoughts about some church services I had attended in the past invaded my mind.  Sometimes I walk out feeling quite deprived, because though they were nice services, I didn’t get to hear the Word of God expounded.  I leave feeling disappointed.

But then I thought, isn’t that a sign of the times?  The apostle Paul in his last letter to Timothy urges him to,
“Preach the word!  Be ready in season and out of season. 
Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine,
but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears,
they will heap up for themselves teachers;
and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
2 Timothy 4:2-4 

It seems like this is h
appening in some places today.  How different are the words of the Psalmist:

“You magnified Your word above all Your name.”
Psalm 138:2



Shirley's Soliloquies #300

04/25/2010

"The Fading Flowers"

Springtime is a wondrous time of year!  My heart wells within me as I see the lovely hues and intensities of color all around.  The budding blossoms of the plants, the bushes, and the trees seem to be bursting in anticipation of the season. 

Many of the millions of tulips lining the streets of our fair city are even now bobbing their heads.  Tulip Time is just around the corner.  There will be tens of thousands of visitors coming, and they will be expecting to see the  tulips  in full bloom. 

Lately, however, the temperatures have been very warm and sunny causing the early varieties to open their beautiful blossoms for all to see even now.  It sounds strange, but many of our residents are hoping for cooler temperatures until Tulip Time actually arrives.  I shuddered as I thought about the possibility of some of those gorgeous petals beginning to fall to the ground before the Festival even arrives.  For it is a spectacular sight whenever we can see the glorious colors of that little flower lining many streets, homes, and parks.  Thankfully the weather has turned cooler, so most of them will probably make it for the festivities! 

As I enjoyed the beauty of these flowers, I thought that alas, all too soon, the trees will start dropping their beautiful blossoms also.  And the flowers, even these lovely tulips, will start to wilt, to turn brown and drop to the ground.  In a way, it does seem a little sad.

Then God’s Word invaded my mind.  I imagined the Apostle Peter must have seen much of the same things in creation, for he wrote about how the flowers wilt and fall away. 

That passage is particularly striking to me since this time of year there are these evidences of the fragile, temporary aspects of the flowers assailing my eyes and thoughts.  But the Apostle Peter continued on with a marvelous contrast.  He wrote that God’s Word will never pass away!  The Bible says that,

“The grass withers,
and its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord
endures forever.”
1 Peter 1:24

It is a dramatic contrast to the temporary nature of the flowers that are all around me.  God’s Word remains secure.  It is something on which I can firmly stand and know it will remain.  It will not pass away.

And so, as these thoughts lingered in my mind, my prayer is that my reader will receive my meditations and in childlike faith bask in the security of God’s never-changing, never-fading Word .  Psalm 138:2 states that,

“You have magnified Your word
above all Your name.”



Shirley's Soliloquies #299

04/18/2010

"Always Wanting Something More"

Our son got our carpet cleaned before we came back to our small condo.  When we got home, it felt good to  see everything looking so fresh and clean! 

But when I got up the next day, I realized that there was a layer of dust on the table tops.  So I dusted everything, feeling better about it.  But alas, the next day there was a layer of dust over everything again!  ‘Oh no!’ I thought, ‘That’s going to make the carpet dirty!’

Then I imagined that I could smell the dust and that it got into my throat and lungs.  So I discussed the possibility of having our vents cleaned since we hadn’t had that done for around ten years.  Maybe that was the problem.   We realized that finances were tight, but I called around to see what would be involved and who would have the best price. 

The next day the cleaners came and gave us an estimate that was quite a bit more than we had anticipated.  I told them they were the first ones I had called, so I really would need to call around to see other prices.  However, they were willing to see what they could do to adjust the price.  After some bartering, they were able to do it for a price agreeable to us all.  It was quite a huge job!  As they removed the vents, I quickly took them and washed and dried them, giving them back to the men. 

After they left, I happily dusted again, and felt very happy, relieved, and contented.

My son and husband had been bouncing around the possibility of some improvements downstairs which Bruce was willing to do.  Henry readily agreed.  So now they are planning and looking forward to the day when that will be accomplished.

Then I thought, ‘Oh dear, my hair!  It is desperately needing a cut.’  So I have an appointment for that.

Now I have stopped myself, and thought, ‘Hum, am I always wanting something more?  Is there no end?’

I thought of the Apostle Paul writing to the Philippians,

“...for I have learned in whatever state I am,
therewith to be content.”
Philippians 4:11

Yes, I had always thought that I had learned that lesson.  I have been content wherever I was, with whatever I had.  However, what are all these things that are coming into my mind now?  I want to continue to be thankful and grateful with whatever I have. 

Then I thought, if it were not possible for me to have these things, I would happily learn to live without them.  But if it be possible, then it’s like the ‘icing on the cake!’  Thank you, Lord, for the icing!


Shirley's Soliloquies #298

04/11/2010

"What Level of Love?"
How often do I use the word ‘love’ during the day? 

‘I love the sunshine!’
   ‘I love to hear the birds singing!’
‘I love my husband!’
         ‘I love my kids, my grandkids, & my great-grandkids!’
‘I love my friends!’
‘I love that dress!’
  ‘I love this weather!’
‘I love the beach!’
‘I love that music!’
‘I love a cappuccino!’


And the list goes on and on. 

I remember congregations singing the song, “My Jesus, I Love Thee, I Know Thou Art Mine.”  I wonder how many people have actually sung it from their hearts?  At times I sing songs without thinking of the words.

This past Sunday, our Sunday School teacher mentioned that he had 1 Corinthians 13 assigned to him, but he confessed that it seemed to be a difficult topic for him.  He found as he got into it, that there was much more there than he had previously thought.   As he shared, I realized that even though I had read this chapter and glowed in it many times, I hadn’t delved into its deeper depths. 

Since then I haven’t been able to get it off my mind.  As I pondered the many ways the word ‘love’ is used, I wondered if it has lost all meaning in our society today?  How glibly people use the word, ‘love,’ and even quote the familiar Bible verse in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  But only as I stop and really think of how Jesus had manifested that love when He gave up all of the glories of heaven to sacrifice Himself, does my heart begin to break in love, in awe, and in gratitude to Him.

My mind drifted to Philippians 2:6-8,

“Though He was God,
He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.
Instead, He gave up his divine privileges;
He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When He appeared in human form,
He humbled Himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

What amazing love!  That puts the word, ‘love” on an altogether different level!  My heart swells with gratitude and love for Him!



Shirley's Soliloquies #297

04/04/2010

"His Death and His Resurrection"
“Thank you Lord, for this wonderful creation of yours!  The sunshine on the waters of the Gulf are actually making it sparkle like diamonds!   Every time I see it, I marvel over the ever-changing display of Your amazing artistry in those waters!”    

Then my eyes glanced down at the people walking along the shore.  Since I was on the third floor they seemed very small in contrast to the vast Gulf behind them.  I couldn’t help but think of the words of the Psalmist,

“What is man that You are mindful of him...?”
Psalm 8:4

I ask myself, ‘How is it possible that such a powerful God Who created all that I see, could  pay any attention to people on this earth?’  Yet, the Bible makes it very plain.  Ephesians 2:4-7 says,

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...
And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace
in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

It is because of Christ Jesus.  He is the key!  And this weekend testifies to this conclusion.  The God Who created the heavens and the earth (John 1), was willing to humble Himself to the extent that He came to this earth as a human being.  He was willing to suffer, to bear the sins of all mankind upon Himself, and to die the death of the cross.  He did this to show His love and in order to pay the penalty of sin.  Romans 5:8 and 6:23,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us,
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
“For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

However, the amazing thing is that Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb.  He arose from the grave never to die again!  When He was on earth, He raised people from the dead.  They had to die again at the end of their lives.  His resurrection was completely different, because not only did He rise from the dead, but He was taken up into heaven before their eyes.  And He is there now, making intercession for all His children.

“Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him,
since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

What a wonderful Savior!  What a wonderful plan God had so many years ago when Jesus came to this earth to bridge the gap between God and man!  Now as I am contemplating the greatness of His power displayed  all around me here on earth, I thank Him most of all for His great salvation making it possible for me to someday share in His glory!



Shirley's Soliloquies #296

03/28/2010

"Fickleness – Faithfulness"

How is it possible for people to be singing the praises of someone one day, and just a few days later to be yelling hateful things and demanding that the same person be put to death?  How is that possible?  My heart trembles within me every time I think about it!  

I thought of  the incident of Jesus getting on that colt a short time before He was crucified.  He had told his disciples where to go to get the animal.  They were to tell the owner, “The Lord has need of the colt.”   How interesting that is!  It must have been that the man had heard of the fame of Jesus since he allowed his colt to be taken.  The disciples had untied the colt and then had brought it to Jesus.  They proceeded to throw their own clothes on its back and set Jesus on it.  And how fascinating is that?  The animal didn’t seem to mind at all, instead it was content to be of service to the Master.  It didn’t have to be broken in, it knew what it was supposed to do and immediately obeyed.

So as Jesus proceeded to ride on the colt, many people spread their clothes on the road ahead of Him.  Others spread palm branches on the path, crying out “Hosanna!”  And as they neared the Mount of Olives, the “whole multitude” of disciples began to “rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen!”  They were saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
Matthew 21:9

The Pharisees wanted Jesus to tell the crowds to be quiet!  But amazingly He answered,

“I tell you that if these should keep silent,
the stones would immediately cry out.” (Luke 19 :40)

No, this was spontaneous!  There was no way the crowds could be quieted.  They were excited.  They were hoping that He was God’s Messiah!  


Then just a few chapters later in the Bible, the religious leaders bribed one of His disciples to betray Him.  And the crowds joined in the cruel trial, hurling insults and worse at Him.  His own disciples turned away from Him and even denied knowing Him.  Yes, the crowds then crucified Him, thinking that would be the end of Him.  But little did they know what was in store.  He didn’t stay in the grave, but rose again and now lives making intercession for us.  Better still, one day He will return triumphantly as King of kings, and Lord of lords.  Then everyone - even the fickle crowds will bow their knees to Him (Philippians 2:10-11)!

Even though the crowds were fickle, He remained faithful, even to be willing to die the horrible death on the cross, taking my sins upon Himself, and not mine only, but the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2).  

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21



Shirley's Soliloquies #295

03/21/2010

"Visitors Galore"

What an interesting week this has been!  Visitors from California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, and of course Alabama!  We were with people gathered for a Bible conference on the Gulf coast of southern Alabama.  The purpose of the conference was for Christian leaders to search the Scriptures regarding several issues.  There were various viewpoints presented and many questions were asked.  But all that was said and done was “decently and in order.”  There were differences of opinion, but there was wonderful unity.  

Pastor Ivan Burgener came from Illinois to visit us in our rented condo and to attend the conference.  He, along with my husband, were among the presenters.  The conference meant that I got to meet people from different parts of the country.  What impressed me the most was that at the beginning of the conference when each person was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, they began with when and how they became Christians.

That reminded me of the previous Wednesday evening when I had the opportunity to meet Bob Harrington, “The Pastor of Bourbon Street” who has a wonderful reputation for leading people to Christ.  He said that sometimes he will ask a person to tell him how he could become a Christian, because that would tell him if that person really were a Christian or not.  

So these were very interesting and exciting days in which I had the privilege of meeting many new people.  But my heart quickens even more when I think of another visitor who will soon be arriving.  That person is my daughter!  I’ve been looking forward to her visit, along with these others, for weeks, but somehow her visit seems quite different.  It seems our hearts have a special union, for not only does  she love the Lord Jesus Christ and has a deep desire to please Him as I do, but she is also my daughter.  And now it is only days before I will see her again!  

So as I am eagerly anticipating and preparing for the next few days, I am planning things that we will want to do together.  I know one of the things she wants to do is to walk the beach and absorb some of this Vitamin D from the sunshine.  Oh, how wonderful this sunshine can be!  I imagine it is especially so for those who don’t often have a chance to enjoy it.  It seems to brighten the day and encourage people in their daily activities.  

All those visitors made me think of one other visitor that I will see some day.  His name is Jesus.  Talk about sunshine, this visitor is the light of the world!  Then I will not simply be visiting with friends and loved ones, but I will be “at home with them and with Him!”  As the hymn writer wrote, “What a wonderful day that will be when Jesus my Savior I see!”  So now I live day by day,
 
“Looking for that blessed hope
and the glorious appearing
of the great God and our Savior,
Jesus Christ.”
Titus 2:13



Shirley's Soliloquies #294

03/14/2010

"Heartaches, Take Them to Jesus"

Oh, so many heartaches!  In fact, I can’t think of anyone who isn’t concerned about some friend or relative.  In my immediate circle, there are those who have Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Congestive Heart Failure, and Disabling Arthritis.  Then I thought of those who, even though innocent, are in prison, and some fellow Christians who are being persecuted.  My prayer list seems to grow every day.  As I thought about these concerns, the song, Heartaches, Take Them All to Jesus, flowed through my mind.  

Yes, He is the One Who knows all about every heartache and He cares!  He proved that when He was on earth.  Reading about His compassion continues to amaze me.  In the first few chapters of Mark’s gospel,

A man in the synagogue had an unclean spirit - Jesus cast it out.
Many with unclean spirits came to him - He cast them all out.
Simon’s wife’s mother was sick with a fever - Jesus healed her.
The crowds brought all who were sick with various diseases - He healed them all.
They brought those possessed with demons - He cast out the demons.
A leper came to him - Jesus was moved with compassion and healed him.
They brought a paralytic to Him - He healed him.
There was a man with a withered hand - He restored it.
The rulers daughter was sick and died - Jesus raised her from the dead.
A woman with an issue of blood touched His garment - He healed her.
A horrible storm came up - He calmed the storm.  He walked on the water!

After Jesus had sent His disciples out to minister, they came back to Him telling Him all they had said and done.  They were so busy doing His work that sometimes they didn’t have time to eat.  He was filled with compassion and told them “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”   But the crowds saw them going and ran ahead on foot to where they would be.  Again, Jesus was “moved with compassion  for the crowds because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.”  So He began to teach them.

When it got late, the disciples came to Him and urged Him to send the crowds away so they’d have time to get something to eat.  Instead compassionate Jesus multiplied some fish and bread and fed them all.  

He was God incarnate, and yet He lived to help people.  He always had deep compassion for His disciples, the crowds, and the many infirmities of people!   And just as He did then, He still does today!  He knows all about our problems, our challenges, our infirmities, our injustices, and our weaknesses.  Hebrews 4:15 states,   
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,
but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

What a comfort to know that He knows, not only our heartaches and weaknesses, but also our desires.  In His compassion He has promised to help us in our time of need, as it is written in verse 16:

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #293

03/7/2010

"Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis"

My senses picked up on this because I taught my fourth grade classes about the Earth rotating on its axis.  Since the turning and rotating causes our days and seasons, I was immediately interested.  But then as I read further, I found that the article was not talking about the north/south axis, but something about its mass.  Well, it was getting a bit more complicated than my mind could absorb.  However I read enough to see that it would cause the day to be shorter by 1.26 microseconds.  A Microsecond!  That’s one millionth of a second!  I guess I won’t be too concerned about that!

Then I thought about the song that Stuart Hamblen had written and popularized when I was a teenager, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands!”

He’s got the sun and the rain in His hands,
He’s got the moon and the stars in His hands,
He’s got the wind and the clouds in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got the rivers and the mountains in His hands,
He’s got the oceans and the seas in His hands,
He’s got you and He’s got me in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got everybody here in His hand,
He’s got everybody there in His hands,
He’s got everybody everywhere in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

Oh, as a teenager, how I loved that song!  Hamblen’s singing gave me great confidence!  I know I don’t need to be concerned about any of these cataclysmic changes, because I know He’s got the whole world in His hands!  He is totally in control, for did He not create the heavens and the earth?

The Bible also tells me that our earth is held in place by His great power!  Colossians 1:16-17 tells me that,

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.
All things were created through Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

One of my favorite versions translates verse 17:

He existed before anything else,
and He holds all creation together.

Yes, He holds all creation together.  I will not fear these microseconds, for HE is in control!



Shirley's Soliloquies #292

02/28/2010

"How do I love thee?

Let me count the ways....”  But how can I respond to a love that is greater than tongue can tell?  

As I walked along the beach, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord for all the countless blessings He has given me.  I seemed totally at a loss for words to adequately express my feelings of love for Him!  I could only sing out, “I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship You, O my soul, rejoice.”

Sonnet 43 of the poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning flitted through my mind,

“How do I love thee, let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.”

Then I stopped, as I thought of something that Jesus asked Peter.  He said,

“Lovest Thou me more than these?”
John 21:15-17

Jesus seemed to jar Peter’s mind when He asked him this question.  For Peter seemed to be at a loss to assure the Lord that he loved Him.  But Jesus knew all things and seemed to go deeper than Peter was thinking.  As I pondered His words to Peter, I thought of His words to the scribe who came to Him,

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.
Mark 12:30

So I stopped to take stock of myself.  Am I really capable of doing this?  Do I really love Him more than everything and everyone?  It is possible to fool most people, but there is no way I can fool Him.  For He knows what is in my heart.   Psalm 44:21 states that He knows the secrets of the heart.

So my heart cries out with Peter,

Thou knowest all things;
Thou knowest that I love Thee.
John 21:17

As I stopped to think again of His words, my heart responded by repeatedly uttering the words, “My Jesus, I love Thee...If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ‘tis now!”

I want to love Him with  all my heart, soul, mind, and strength!  But only He knows to what extent I am able to do that.  I think I do, but so did Peter.  So I ask for His help to love and worship Him more, and to seek to the best of my ability to serve Him.



Shirley's Soliloquies #291

02/21/2010

"Lost Identity?"

Mardi Gras fever seems to be all around here the past few weeks.  People on floats and at balls seem to be hiding behind their masks.  Their identity is lost, they can pretend to be someone else for a short time.

It reminded me of my recent trip to the grocery store.  I didn’t have enough cash, so I had to use a credit card.  But it was denied!  ‘Oh dear,’ I thought, ‘It is as if I don’t have an identity now.’  I recalled that my husband thought he had lost his wallet last week.  We looked high and low, but couldn’t find it.  Then he remembered that he was leaning over to clean the car, perhaps it had fallen out of his pocket.  But no one had seen it.  So he has had to follow the proper procedures for cancelling everything and requesting new.  I didn’t think it would affect my card, but evidently it did.  It gives me an uneasy feeling.

Then I thought, ‘Well, my identity on earth might be gone, but I have a heavenly identity!’  The song we sang as children ran through my mind, “My Father is rich in houses and lands, He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands, of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full, he has riches untold.  I’m the child of a King, the child of a King, with Jesus, my Saviour, I’m the child of a King.”

Then I started thinking about all I do have because I am “in Christ!”

Not only am I a child of a King,
but that King is the King of kings and
He is the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).
I also have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3)
God loves me and sees me as holy and without blame before Him (Ephesians 1:4)
I am also His adopted child (Ephesians 1:5)
I am accepted in the Beloved One (Ephesians 1:6)
I have the forgiveness of my sins (Ephesians 1:7
I have the abundance of His riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8)
I have an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11)
I have the peace of God that guards my heart and mind (Philippians 4:7)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
I have assurance that God will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19)
Nothing is able to separate me from God’s love (Romans 8:39)

So, I will not worry about a lost identity.  My identity is in Christ, and He knows all about it.  He has it all under control!  In fact, the Bible tells me not to be anxious over anything.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7



Shirley's Soliloquies #290

02/14/2010

"Gray, Dreary Days"

What is it about gray, dreary days?  They seem to push me down as if I had a heavy burden on top of my shoulders.  And as a result, it seems difficult for me to feel my natural cheerful self.  I don’t like that.

I thought of our friends from England who are flying in for a visit.  The husband will be speaking in a number of places, and the fellows are hoping to play golf also.  His wife and I enjoy looking around the shops, even if we don’t buy anything.  So I have an additional interest in the weather today.  It is always so much nicer when the sun is shining for their visit.
  
But as I was thinking about this gray dreary day, suddenly a Psalm of David’s filled my mind.  I thought, ‘Oh Shirley, perk up!  Be like David!’   He had enormous problems - least of which was the weather!  He wrote,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God,
for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember you....”
Psalm 42:5-6

Oh yes, that’s the answer.  God is good to me.  I will remember Him!  All too often I fail to thank Him for His loving-kindness and graciousness that surrounds me.  My mind went back to David’s Psalm.  He proceeded to record not only the difficulties, but also God’s goodness and blessings,

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me–A prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42:7-8

My mind then drifted to the Gulf that is right in front of me!  It’s waves can billow something fierce.  But then other times it can become almost as smooth as glass.  I enjoy watching it and praising the Lord for His control of all that goes on around me.  I know nothing passes without Him knowing about it.  And so David concludes his wonderful Psalm,

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?  and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

Yes, He is my help and the health of my countenance.  As I continue to trust Him, the sun breaks forth!  I will trust Him, not only when the sun is shining, but also when the skies are dark and dreary.   My hope is in the Lord, I will not be downhearted..



Shirley's Soliloquies #289

02/07/2010

"Accepted in the Beloved"

There can be anxiety while waiting to be called.  How well I remember it!

Strangely my mind went back to when I was in elementary school.  At recess time, the teacher would call on two people to be team captains.  Then each of those captains would have to choose whoever he wanted to be on his team.  I remember the “butterflies in my stomach” while I was waiting for my name to be called.  I always felt sorry for those who were not called.  I wanted to be accepted.  Everyone wanted to be accepted.
 
As I was reflecting on those days, it occurred to me that when people get older, perhaps that might be one reason why some of them turn to alcohol or drugs.  It might seem like a way to lessen the loneliness.  Feeling accepted and needed is quite normal among most people.

In contrast to some of these “low, dismal days” of living in this imperfect world, the first chapter of Ephesians came to my mind.  What a stark contrast to see the huge difference between what is written there, and what some of these anxiety-filled days seem to bring.

When I trust in Christ Jesus, I have feelings of acceptance.  For example the Bible says that,   

God loved me even before he made the world.

He doesn’t see any fault in me because He sees me through Christ.

He adopted me into His own family, so I definitely “belong” because of Christ.

And I have spiritual blessings in the heavenly realms because of Christ.

Yes, I am accepted in His beloved One!

Even though it might not feel as though I have all of this right now, the Bible says God sees me in Christ.  It might seem hard to understand, but I like to think that God sees me through a filter that filters out all my imperfections.  And that glorious filter is Jesus Christ.  How is that possible?  It is because God sent His Son from heaven for the purpose of paying for all my wrong-doings.  He did this by taking my sin upon Himself.  The Bible says,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

What an amazing thing this is!  What a Great Exchange!  The Bible says that He took my sin and He gave me His righteousness.  Whew!  That really is mind boggling.

So now, God sees me “in Christ” already having all those wonderful blessings – because of Christ.  What a wonderful transaction!  How can I ever thank Him enough for 'accepting me in the Beloved?'  (Eph.1:6).



Shirley's Soliloquies #288

01/31/2010

"A Good Night’s Sleep"

What a blessing it is to have a good night’s sleep!  It seems to make a world of difference the next day. 

As I was thinking about this, a verse in the Psalms came into my mind. 

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 4:8 (NKJV)

It is amazing how David, the author, could write a Psalm like this!  For often he had to run and hide from King Saul who wanted to kill him.  Even though his life was full of adventure and excitement, it was not the kind an ordinary person would wish to have.  For he was often in danger and distress.  Yet in the midst of his intense pain, he found his hope in his loving and forgiving God.  The Bible says that he was “a man after God’s own heart.”  He could both lie down in peace and sleep, knowing God would keep him in safety.

David had a son named Solomon.  Solomon was reported to be the wisest man who ever lived.  He seemed to have a life of comfort and security.  He associated the lack of sleep with being afraid.  He wrote the following wise words associating good sleep with not being fearful.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
Proverbs 3:24

When Jesus was on earth, He gave His disciples many comforting words.  The following I appreciate:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
John 14:27

The question is, ‘Can we have that peace today?’  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:1 that we can have peace with God when our lives are right with God.  Then later, he wrote the wonderful words in Philippians 4:6-7 that have meant so much to me through the years.  My favorite modern translation reads,

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

I realize that in our world today, there are medications that help to improve and even save lives.  However, many of these medication have side effects which prevent good sleep.   Yet, in spite of these meds, I can claim His perfect peace, because He said that He will guard my heart and mind and give me His perfect peace.



Shirley's Soliloquies #287

01/24/2010

"Keeping God First"

It is emotionally disturbing to see the devastation in Haiti right now.  My heart aches for those poor people.  It must be a terrifying experience for them every time they feel new tremors.  News programs on TV show the people crying out to God, some for thankfulness, others for forgiveness.

I thought of 9/11 in our own country.  It was unusual how so many people turned to the Lord as a result of that attack.  For a while our churches were full.  People were earnestly crying out to God and seeking His forgiveness and favor.  Somehow when in dire circumstances, God becomes very real. 
 
In a way, it is really not much different in my life.  Whenever I go through some terrible trial or am in desperate circumstances, my cry to God is usually much more intense and earnest.  But when that has passed, my prayers seem to lessen in intensity too.

My own experiences in prayer are sometimes like breathing.  I need to breathe in order to live, and I need to pray in order to  live spiritually.  But whenever I exercise, I seem to breathe more heavily.  So when I face some terrible trial, I need to lean more heavily on God, and my prayers intensify. 

However, it certainly would be not be right if that would be the only time I would seek the Lord.  How would I feel if the only time my children wanted to talk to me was when they wanted to ask me for something?  I think I would quickly tire of that!

There have been a few Bible verses rumbling around in my mind this past week, so I feel that I need to share them.  The one passage that has been foremost in my mind is Psalm 37:4-5.  My husband had them inscribed in my engagement ring almost 57 years ago, so they seem to be stamped on my mind as well as in my ring.

Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.

Yes, there is a condition there.  But it is also in the words of Jesus that are found in Matthew 6:33,

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be provided for you.

I remember the words of C. S. Lewis, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in:  put second things first and we lose both first and second things.”

Maybe these disasters are a wake up call?  Maybe they are God’s megaphone to get everyone’s attention.  I need to ask myself:  Am I putting God First in my life?  Am I ready at any second to meet Him?  Or does it take some tragedy or trial to shake me up? 

In sunny skies, as well as in stormy weather, I must keep doing these three things: (1) Keep my delight in the Lord, (2) Keep my way committed to Him, and (3) Keep trusting Him when to simply trust Him seems the hardest thing of all.

 


Shirley's Soliloquies #286

01/17/2010

"A Little Lonely Bird"

The tiny little bird  looked so lonely, standing there all by itself.  It had suddenly appeared on our third floor balcony.  It stood there, looking first one way, then another.  Quickly it hopped a step, and once again looked one way and then another.  It flitted around, and finally flew away.  A minute later, I saw a few more birds flying around.  I wondered if my little visitor might have caught up with them or if it were still alone.

As that little bird, probably a sparrow, stood there all alone, I wondered about it.  It looked especially tiny against the backdrop of the vast Gulf behind it!  And that brought my mind to the words of Jesus when He was on earth.  Matthew recorded them in the 10th chapter, verse 29,

Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? 
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.

Jesus was speaking to his disciples.  He had given them wonderful power to do all kinds of miracles because He was sending them out into the world.  He gave them all kinds of instructions and warnings.   He knew what was ahead of them as He wanted to reassure them,

But even the hairs on your head have all been counted. 
Don’t be afraid therefore,
you are worth more than many sparrows.
Matthew 10:30–31 

He spoke some words that I believe it would be good for all Christians to read and remember,

Therefore, don’t be afraid of them...
Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul,
rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 10:26, 28

How many times Jesus said, “Fear not!”  How many times He told them not to be afraid!  Then I thought of the words of the Apostle Paul recorded in 2 Timothy 1:7, where he said,

For God has not given us the spirit of fearfulness,
but one of power, and love, and sound judgment!

The disciples of Jesus were going out and would be facing all kinds of persecutions and hardships.  Down through the centuries God’s children have faced such challenges.  Even today there are many in some countries who are suffering great persecution for their faith.  I realize that most of our lives are easy compared to theirs, however, it could be that Christians here might also have to face suffering.  May I  remember that tiny little bird, and realize that I need not fear, for my Father in heaven knows exactly what is going on, and He cares!  (1 Peter 5:7).



Shirley's Soliloquies #285

01/10/2010

"I Can Only Imagine!"

I was resting on the sofa when I saw a spectacular sight! 

As I happened to glance out the window, I saw an overcast sky that caused a gray gloom on the Gulf of Mexico.  I noticed that it had stopped drizzling, when suddenly there appeared a large oval-shaped display of brilliant sunshine cutting its way through those thick clouds!  It sent bright glittering rays of light down to the gloom of the Gulf making it seem to come alive.  The rays of the sun breaking through the dark clouds caused the waters to sparkle like thousands of diamonds!

I was basking in the unusual beauty of the scene when all of a sudden an image I had formed from the passage I had recently read in Revelation chapter 21 invaded my mind.  It was stunning!  It described the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven arrayed in God’s glory.  My imagination ‘kicked into high gear!’ 

I saw the city with its twelve gates each made of a single pearl.  The foundation of the city wall was made of every kind of precious stone.  The passage named all of them.  That seemed to intensify the beauty of it.  It told of the streets that were made of pure gold, like transparent glass.  I imagined being able to see right through all that clear gold and all the precious stones that were glittering before my eyes.  The Bible described it in such graphic picturesque language. 

As I reflected on that passage in the book of the Revelation, I marveled again over the magnificent display outside my window.  The sun was cutting through the clouds, throwing sparkling rays down on the glittering waters!  Somehow in my mind, there seemed to be a similarity with the description of the new city with what I was seeing.   I had to stay there and bask in the magnificence of it all!  Then I thought of the next few verses (22-26) telling about what is to come in the future. 

The Bible says that the kings of the earth will bring the glory and honor of their nations into it and that they will walk in the light of that glorious city.  Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there.  The glory of the Lord will be its light!  I was enthralled, I could hardly sit still!

Then I began to think of all of the filth coming across television screens and written publications.  And I thought of the news that daily comes via newspapers , radio, and TV.  So by contrast, it was a blessing to read the next verses.  They made my heart leap for joy!  For they announced:

Nothing profane will ever enter it:
no one who does what is vile or false,
but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 21:27

I can only begin to imagine how wonderful it will be.  There will be no room in that heavenly city for anything profane, vile or false.  I remember the biblical exhortation that I need to fill my mind with all good  things (Philippians 4:8).  So it thrills me when I read of the perfectness, purity, and beauty there will be in that glorious place!  No wonder the nations will be flocking to it.  What a place that will be!  I can only begin to imagine!  Someday it will be a reality!



Shirley's Soliloquies #284

01/03/2010

"What Can I See & Do?"

The door of the New Year is just opening....I wonder, if I could peek further into it, what would I see? 

What will this new year be holding for me?  What will it be holding for my family, my church, my friends and my nation?  So far, it looks like a big white-out.  It is completely unknown.  So how can I prepare for it?  How can I be sure that I will be ready for whatever will be in store for me and for my loved ones?

I was reading the prophet Haggai last week, and it has stayed with me throughout this week.  I was remembering how the Lord came to His people, the children of Israel, and said through the prophet,

Is it a time for you yourselves to live in your paneled houses,
while this house lies in ruins? (1:3)

He told them to think carefully about their ways.  I can imagine that they were eating and drinking, trying to take care of their own lives, but it seems as though they never really had enough.  The Lord told them that He was withholding His blessings from them because they were thinking only of themselves while His house was laying in ruins.

It struck me, how true this is even today.  It seems that oftentimes I am so preoccupied with my own life and the lives of my loved ones, that I completely forget about what is going on around me.  I know this ought not to be.  I need to be concerned for the Lord’s work and for His purposes.  I need to live thinking, ‘How can I bring honor to the Lord and glorify Him?’ 

I know He doesn’t want me to build a temple in the same way He had told the children of Israel, but it occurred to me that He does expect me to take care of another temple.  I remembered what Paul said about my body being the temple of the Holy Spirit!

Or do you not know
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God,
and that you are not your own?
For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glory God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This is amazing to me!  I CAN glorify God in my body.  I can take care of every part of it.  I can be careful about what I allow into my body, what I allow into my mind, and very importantly,  how I use my tongue.  I must remember at all times that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Then all that is seen and heard from me will bring honor to the Lord and it will glorify Him.

My prayer: “Help me this year, O my dear Lord, to be wise enough to see what I need to do in taking care of my body, and then may I do it.  I want to be obedient to You and I desire to honor and glorify You.”