Shirley's Soliloquies #387

12/25/2011

Birthdays!

Birthdays are such fun for me! Probably that goes back to my childhood when my parents invited all the girls in my class to come over to our house for a birthday party. They did this every year during my elementary school days.
As a result they bring happy memories for me, and I enjoy celebrating with others..

And this year will be no different. I realized that there are three significant birthdays coming up in the next few weeks.

The second one will be this coming week when our good friend is having his 80th birthday. He and his family have secured an old castle's banquet room for the celebration. There will be 80 some people consisting of his family and close acquaintances who will complete that party. Unbelievably and gratefully some good friends have ensured that we will be
 able to accept their invitation to join them in these special celebrations!

The third significant birthday celebration will be just two weeks later when my husband will observe his 80th birthday also! Our daughter and granddaughter from Ohio; plus our son and another two granddaughters and their families from Texas; and lastly our daughter who lives next door to us, and I will complete the group who are all looking forward to helping to make that birthday extra special for him!

And last, but not least is the first and foremost birthday celebration that will be in our minds this weekend! This celebration has been in people's minds for quite a few weeks. Stores especially have made great preparation in the hopes of record-breaking sales. And many churches are planning special programs in honor of the One Whose birthday we celebrate at this time of year. All around the world, there are some people whose hearts are filled with joy when they think of that time a couple thousand years ago when God gave His only Son to come to earth as a baby. All through the Bible there are references to that long expected One Who would come. And then He did come! The gospel of Luke records the momentous occasion when the angels announced that great event:


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,

keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold,

I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you:

Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:8-14



Shirley's Soliloquies #386

12/18/2011

The Gift of God

Mary, did you know...

This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you....

Mary, did you know....

that your baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?

The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.”


How incredible it is to think of GOD becoming flesh and living and dwelling among common ordinary people! The haunting melody and remarkable words of this song continues to stay with me.

But then I think of the time long ago when Job was under so much distress and suffering. His wife and friends advised him to curse God and die. However Job didn't want to hear about that. No, he said, Naked I came into the world and naked I shall return. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). But nevertheless during all his anguish, he cried from the bottom of his soul,


I need someone to mediate between God and me,

as a person mediates between friends.”

Job 16:21


I wonder how many times people have wished for someone who could intercede before God for them?
 Must have been countless times! And then. . . ,

And then God sent His Son to be “heaven's perfect Lamb!” He took the sins of mankind upon Himself, He paid the price of sin – which is death. All through the Old Testament, people had to offer animal sacrifices to pay for their sins. For “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). Yes, sinning meant death, until Jesus came and offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice, “once for all.” He shed His blood so that no more sacrifices needed to be made! He was the perfect Lamb Who could pay for the sins of the whole world. When talking about Jesus, Paul wrote,


Unlike those other high priests, he (Jesus) did not need to offer sacrifices every day.

They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people.

But Jesus did this once for all

when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people's sins....

With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves--

he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time

and secured our redemption forever....

For God's will was for us to be made holy

by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”

Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; & 10:10


This sacrifice made possible: “the gift of God (which) is eternal life.”

Romans 6:23




Shirley's Soliloquies #385

12/11/2011

I Want His Light to Shine

Last night the pastor spoke on the subject of Darkness. He shared dozens of Scriptures showing how Christians should be as lights shining forth in the darkness of the world. It was a real challenge to everyone who had an ear to hear. It stayed on my mind throughout the night, even into the morning. I prayed earnestly that the Lord would help me to be a light to others.

However, this morning when I looked outside, I noticed that it was gray and drizzly. I felt so tired and even had aches and pains, probably because of the weather. I didn't feel like being a light at all! I just didn't feel like doing or being much of anything!

As I think about it now, I am just a bit amused at the way the Lord works. He certainly does answer prayer! He's proven that to me countless times. Yes, He is answering my prayer again. He's showing me that I cannot try to be a light in this world all by myself! No, I think he wants me to allow Him to be a light shining through me, for I certainly can't do it on my own,
especially during days like this one.

I prayed, 'O Lord, please don't let me get in Your way, especially during such dark, dismal days!'

Well, after my prayer, I decided I needed to get some of these Scriptures into my mind.


For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,

hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge

of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 4:6


But ye were sometimes darkness,

but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”

Ephesians 5:8


“”That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God,

without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,

among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Philippians 2:15


If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,

we have fellowship one with another,

and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7


That's the key – I need to let His light shine through me by being in constant communion with Him. Then His light will shine as a light in the world through me! May this always be true, regardless of whether the sun might be shining,
or if it might be a gray and a dismally dreary day!




Shirley's Soliloquies #384

12/02/2011

I Read; I Thought...

Our son's cat woke us at 3:30 this morning. Naturally it was very dark out, and I was still very tired. I certainly didn't feel like getting up yet! I have gotten up at 4 for him, but I thought 3:30 is just too early! So we listened to him meowing for quite a while, and finally after an hour or so he was quiet. However I woke again around 5:30. That was better.
 I did get up even though I was still very tired.

Then later, when I mentioned to my husband that I would like to go start looking for another version of the Bible in a giant print to read for next year, he agreed. He probably knew that would make me feel renewed in spirit! And it was a glorious morning! Even though it was much cooler, only in the 60's, the sun was shining. I seemed compelled to drive down to the beach. I looked at the sunshine sparkling on the waters of the Gulf and thought of passages in Colossians that I had recently read.


Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He existed before anything was created

and is supreme over all creation,

for through him God created everything

in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see and the things we can't see--

such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers,

and authorities in the unseen world.

Everything was created through him and for him.

Colossians 1:15-16


He existed before anything else,

and he holds all creation together.”

Colossians 1:17


I thought of the verse before these, that it is in Christ that “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14). How amazing! What a Savior!




Shirley's Soliloquies #383

11/27/2011


"Black Friday"?

Humm, it is really a strange name! It always brings to my mind the mourning associated with Jesus dying on the cross on the Friday before His resurrection The Bible records that there was darkness for three hours! It must have been a dismal time.
 That to me sounds like a black Friday.

However, today, I believe it is called black Friday because the merchants are hoping for so many sales that they will be able to get their books out of the red and into the
 black before the end of the year!

They figure that Thanksgiving is over. So they want people to start shopping right away for Christmas presents! They offer such unbelievable deals that people will stand in line outside during the night, sometimes in the rain or snow, waiting for them to open their doors. They want to be sure to be able to buy whatever they want before it is sold out! I understand that some stores opened at 10:00 PM on Thanksgiving night! I feel sorry for their poor employees!

Meanwhile, my daughter did have to go to work today. Her brakes had given out on her way home from work the night before. So I offered to take her to work this morning. I had never experienced the phenomenon of Black Friday before, and since I realized that I was out of bread, eggs, and milk, I told her I'd stop and pick some up on my way home. She was clearly worried about me, and suggested that it would be better for me to go later after the crowds were less. She suggested that I get the things I needed this evening when I go to pick her up again.

So, I decided I'd just drive past the store and see what the crowds were like. Well, I found a parking place right away, so I parked and went into the store. There were no crowds! The cashiers were standing talking with each other, I didn't even have to wait to check out! I was astonished! For curiosity's sake, I did walk past the electronic section of the store and saw that there were a lot more people there though.

I wondered about all of this. Maybe it is a sign of the times. Clearly there are many people who are either struggling to make ends meet, or they are more frugal as they
 look ahead to an uncertain future.

The Bible has much to say about difficult days ahead. Yet I was thrilled and blessed as I read what the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians, chapters one, two, and three this morning. How I thank God for His many blessings and promises to those who believe in Him.


For a time is coming when people will no longer

listen to sound and wholesome teaching.

They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers

who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.

Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord.

Work at telling others the Good News,

and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5




Shirley's Soliloquies #382

11/20/2011

I am Most Thankful...

On the way home from having routine blood work done, I was still quite agitated. The technician was very friendly and seemed to want to talk. She told me that she was 74 years old and had worked at the clinic before and had decided to come back. I told her that I admired her for that. However, my admiration soon vanished as she had great difficulty in trying to get a blood sample. Eventually she called another Tech to help her. Physicians can tell much from a person's blood, so I'm thankful for skilled people in the medical fields!

At noon we went to a memorial service honoring the Veterans. The names of those who had died were read, and the military who were present were also recognized. A good friend of ours interspersed the program by singing religious and patriotic songs. We appreciated the program for it was a moving ceremony. Later as I watched the news, I saw that many communities had parades honoring the veterans from all wars back to World War II. Those who could were marching and others were riding in cars. I am very thankful for the freedoms we have so that we can honor and publicly express our appreciation for those men and women who shed their blood.

As I was reflecting on those events and all the blood that has been shed on the battlefields for our freedoms, I thought of the Lord Jesus Christ. He willingly shed His blood in order to pay the price for the sins of the whole world,
 even for those who were His enemies!
The Bible states,


For scarcely for a righteous man will one die:

yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

But God commendeth his love toward us,

in that, while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:7-8


How astonishing it is to think of the Lord Jesus Christ Who left the glories of heaven in order to shed His blood, not only for His own people, but also for the sins of the whole world!


He is the propitiation for our sins:

and not for our's only,

but also for the sins of the whole world.”

1 John 2:2


So I am most thankful for God's great lovingkindness! For it was through His love and compassion that I have the promise of eternal life!


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

Romans 6:23




Shirley's Soliloquies #381

11/13/2011

Sunrise and Sunset

It has been the desire of my daughter to see the sunrise on the beach. She has daily posted pictures that a friend of hers took, and admittedly they are beautiful! So one morning, she, our son, and I went before six o'clock. It truly did take my breath away.
I was filled with awe as I looked on God's creation!



I have to marvel each morning as I see the sun rising in the east. It brings life and light to the darkness. It provides light throughout the day. Then like clockwork, each evening it gently and gradually drifts lower,
 manifesting a breath-taking panorama of colors to the western sky!



The heavens declare the glory of God,

and the firmament showeth His handiwork!”

Psalm 19:1


Thank you Lord, for sharing your great power and majesty manifested in your creation! One of these days, Your beloved Son will return to bring the brightness of His glory to those who are ready to welcome Him (Titus 2:13)!




Shirley's Soliloquies #380

11/06/2011

Bumps on the Road

It is always a challenge to try to find the least bumpy way to get over the spiky rocks that were placed in our road. They form man-made speed bumps. My daughter says she thinks she has figured them out, but we are still working on it! The first time we went over one of them, not knowing it was there, it was a big surprise! Needless to say, each time since then, we slow almost to a stop in order to search for the best way to go over them without too much discomfort in the car.

That brought to mind this past weekend when we went to the area where we rented a condo last year. We wanted to drive through, but quickly turned back when we saw the excess of large speed bumps they had installed. That must have stopped the speeding that was prevalent there! Then, on Sunday while we were driving through the affluent neighborhood where my husband was speaking, our heads nearly hit the roof of the car! We had gone over the first speed bump forgetting that it was there!

'Well,' I thought to myself, 'They are certainly serving the purpose in our park! There is no speeding here!' First of all, those speed bumps make the drivers cautious; and secondly, the road is gravel and that makes for a fair amount of dust! So the speed bumps serve to cut down on the dust. Although, I've been ashamed of how dirty our car looked, so today I drove it on the grass and washed it. Then it was nice riding in it, but when we got home, I noticed the dusty film on it once again.
How much worse it would be if it were not for the speed bumps.

The gravel on the roads reminded me of this past weekend when we stopped at a Flea Market to try to find a desk lamp for my husband. I spotted a 3 wheeled bike. I was allowed to try it out, so I rode it up and down the aisles! Wow! Did it handle beautifully, and it was so easy to pedal! I suggested to my husband that it would be really nice to ride around our park and get exercise in this nice weather! He reminded me first of all of the cost, then he said, 'You couldn't ride it on those gravel roads.' I did question that, but then knew we couldn't afford it, so I dropped the subject.

Since then, I've been thinking how life is sometimes like the bumpy road with many speed bumps! My mom used to sometimes say, “Tis what! If it's not one thing, it's another!”

'Yes,' I thought today, 'Tis what! It's true – if it's not one thing, it's another! That's life.”

But I believe the important thing is not to concentrate on all the bumps along the road, but on how all these things are learning experiences! Each bump in the road teaches me something! It all comes down to my reaction. I can either be miserable about all the bumps, or I can motivate myself and do whatever has to be done, making the best of every situation, learning how to handle them.

Isaiah 40:5 contains a prophecy that is repeated in Luke 3:5-6. It tells of when the Lord returns to establish His kingdom. Then all the “rough places shall be made smooth” (Isaiah 40:5; Luke 3:5-6). What a wonderful day that will be!


...the rough ways shall be made smooth:

And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #379

10/30/2011

Images in the Clouds

The clouds have been spectacular this week! The sky has been such a perfect blue that the white puffy clouds stand out
like dazzling white images against the brilliant blue.

It brings to mind the many pictures in the sky that I have often imagined throughout my life. Even when I was a young child, I would look up at the clouds and visualize different scenes. Quite often they were pictures where I would see a great walkway leading upward in the sky to where Jesus would suddenly appear! Most likely I was calling to mind the Scriptures where Jesus
would come in the clouds with power and great glory.


So the different images have continued to come and go throughout this past week. In fact, when I stop to think about it, it brings to mind the many times clouds are mentioned in the Bible. The Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt was one amazing reference:


The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way....”

Exodus 13:21


Then I thought of the time when Jesus was on earth. The disciples had been sleeping, and Elijah and Moses came and talked with Jesus. When Peter awoke and saw them, he blurted out that they should make three tabernacles there; one for Elijah, one for Moses, and one for Jesus. However, God soon set the record straight! There was no misunderstanding Who Jesus was. Luke 9:34-36 records the moment:


While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them:

and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying,

This is my beloved son: hear him.

And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone.”


What an experience that must have been! However, the Bible continues that they “kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.” I found that quite interesting. It seems as if the truth of Who Jesus really was had not actually sunk into their thinking, or otherwise they were so much in awe of Him that they were rendered speechless.

Certainly multiple references throughout the Bible tell of the amazing day in the future when Jesus will return in the clouds!
Mark 13:26 is a succinct and clear reference:


And then shall they see the Son of man

coming in the clouds

with great power and glory.”


Oh! What a marvelous day that will be! Yes, many times I have imagined that scene as I looked dreamily into the clouds. But how can any of my imaginative images compare with the “blessed hope of the glorious appearing of the
 great God and our Savior Jesus Christ”? (Titus 2:13).





Shirley's Soliloquies #378

10/23/2011

Fear of the Unknown

Having just finished reading the Old Testament once again for probably the twelfth time, and beginning the New,
 I felt that a burden had been lifted from my mind.

The main thought that seemed to cause the burden was the number of times that the people of God had been afraid. Over and over God had to tell them not to be afraid. As I stopped to think about examples, I realized that it actually began at the beginning. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were afraid. And all through the Old Testament, countless instances are cited where people were afraid because of their disobedience and for other reasons. For example, Hebrews 11:7 tells us that Noah “moved with fear,” but nevertheless he obeyed God and did what God told him to do. He built the ark. More than once, Abraham was afraid for his life, and God delivered him. Even David was fearful as his life was often in jeopardy, but God always proved Himself faithful, and David was able to record his experiences in his Psalms. These experiences have proven a great blessing to the saints of God down through the centuries. Throughout the prophets, there is mention of how the people of
 God suffered and how fear gripped their hearts.

So, moving into the New Testament, I felt a weight removed from my mind. Now I was reading about the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He was the promised One Who would save His people from their sins. However, as I read the first chapter of the gospel of Matthew, I ran again into fear. The angel told Mary not to be afraid. I thought to myself, 'Wouldn't the normal reaction of any young virgin in her condition be fear? After all, she had been promised to Joseph whose genealogy had gone all the way back to David and Abraham. He was “quite a catch!” Yet, they had not been married or had come together physically, so...what would people think? What would Joseph think?'

Fear can be a normal reaction. The angel appeared to her and told her “Do not be afraid, Mary....” And Mary was blessed indeed to be chosen as God's instrument in bringing this long-promised Messiah! In addition, Matthew 1:20 explains that the angel also appeared to Joseph and told him not to be afraid to take Mary to himself, comforting his concerns.

Continuing on throughout the years, I thought of the lives of the apostles and followers of Jesus. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they cried out for fear! But Jesus said, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14:26-27). How many times do the Scriptures quote Jesus saying the words: “Be not Afraid?” Again, many of the experiences could have been normal reactions. Many things can cause fear! Even in the last days, Jesus said that men's hearts
 would be failing them for fear (Luke 21:26).

However, for the sincere believer, there is the comfort of faith. There is the wonderful promise recorded in Hebrews 13:6. It declares that the Lord will never, never, never, never, never leave him. My husband tells me that there are five negatives in the Greek. Paul ended by saying:


So that we may boldly say,

'The Lord is my helper,

and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #377

10/16/2011

Autumn Leaves

Oh, the vibrant multiplicity of colors that I am seeing on the trees around here lately! They take my breath away! My heart overflows with thanks to my God, the creator of such spectacular beauty.

Autumn Leaves! The words bring to mind the great pianist, Roger Williams. I will never forget a concert that I attended in Gulf Shores during which he played his famous rendition of that melody. Beautiful! I can still see him putting his whole soul into it as he tickled those piano keys! Then afterward he started jumping around the stage, proving his continued physical prowess! Ah, the memories! He was 80 years of age then, and he was still playing like no other! But he died this past week, and all we have now are memories of him and his recordings.

The rippling melody in my mind projects the falling leaves in all of their beautiful colors as they float gracefully to the ground. But how do those leaves make such an amazing transformation? I remembered explaining the process to my fourth graders. Evidently the trees take in water through their roots and carbon dioxide from the air. Those two combined with the sunlight turn the water and carbon dioxide into glucose that they need for energy and growth, but they also provide oxygen as a waste product. And would you believe it? That is exactly what we need to breathe! Oh my! It's just another amazing proof of an all-knowing God who would create the plants and trees to provide just what we need to live!

Anyway, the way they do that is called photosynthesis. Evidently there is a chemical called chlorophyll that makes the leaves green. Well, during the Autumn, as the days get shorter and colder, there is less sunlight and even less water. So the trees start shutting down and use the glucose that has been stored up. As a result, the green chlorophyl that makes the green color, disappears from the leaves. So as the green fades away, all the yellow and orange colors
 that have been there all along start appearing!

The combination of all these processes makes the gorgeous colors! I still don't really understand it all,
but I do know that God planned it, and I am very grateful!

So I wondered, what does the Bible say about all of this? I remembered during the apostle Paul's journeys, the people were ready to fall down and worship him. But he assured them that they were men just like themselves. Then he quickly pointed them to the evidence of the true God that is seen all around them in the world, including the seasons,


...the living God which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that

are therein;....Nevertheless he (God) left not himself without witness, in that

he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons,

filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Acts 14:15, 17


Yes, he repeated the fact that the living God made all these beautiful things that we see around us. Truly I am filled with gladness and praise Him for his provision and artistry!




Shirley's Soliloquies #376

10/09/2011

Incredible, Mighty Power!

Our good friend from England was visiting over the weekend. He and my husband were in one of their discussions. I always enjoy their discussions! They were talking about what it means to be “in Christ.” Suddenly our friend quoted a statement by Augustine: “Cognosce te ipsum, In Christo in potentia.” As I understood his words, he was challenging us
to realize our potential regarding our position in Christ.

Then certain verses in Ephesians 1:19-20 streaked into my mind! They record the amazing words:


I also pray that you will understand the

incredible greatness of God's power

for us who believe him.

This is the

SAME MIGHTY POWER

THAT RAISED CHRIST FROM THE DEAD….”


This verse has thrilled me many times, however, I kept wondering how can I possess this power? Can I really 'plumb its depths?' Is it possible to comprehend the extent of it! Yet the apostle prays for believers to understand it!

Then my mind went to my dear friend, Lynne Robinson Pahler, because she is RIGHT NOW in the presence of the Lord Jesus! She was “in” Christ, and now she is “with” Him. It was just a few days ago that she left her earthly body and is now enjoying the reality of the potential!

I thought of her wonderful creativity as she spearheaded all those wonderful “Dud Productions” in which she and other young people of the church performed relevant skits in which her humor always shined! Though leaving us laughing, they always had a message. She also spearheaded a “Family Life Center Sunday School program.” She designed the curriculum in which adults and children were together as families. Often adults were on the floor with their children, or wherever they wished. Then at a time when our hearts were burdened for our young people, she organized our “Camp Berean Way.” Again her humor, together with a message, broke forth among the young people all day in all activities!

She had been faithful in answering the call to many needs in the Church! How wonderful it is to think of her experiencing all of the glories of being with Christ, which as the apostle Paul says, “...is far better.” But oh, how all of her many loved ones and all of the church will miss her! She now knows for a certainty the 'incredible greatness of God's power!' I believe she experienced much of the potential of it during her fruitful and faithful years in this life and maybe even more so in the last few months of her physical suffering. What a blessed testimony she was to everyone who came into contact with her!

But what about those of us who are left here on earth? It must be possible for us, in some measure, to experience this incredible power! I keep thinking, 'What would happen if all Christians would take hold of this truth and use this mighty power to experience more of our potential in Christ? 'Lord, please help us to realize the fulness of our inheritance,
and may it be for Thy glory.'




Shirley's Soliloquies #375

10/02/2011

He Makes Intercession

The prophet Nahum spoke to me through God's Word this morning. I read (1:7):


The Lord is good,

a strong refuge when trouble comes.

He is close to those who trust in him.”


This passage caught my attention, because I had been reading the Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Oh how my heart aches when I think of the people around the world who are suffering because of their stand for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Probably at times they wonder why the heavens seem silent when they cry for help in their time of trouble.


Often throughout the Scriptures, there is the promise that the Lord's eyes are not so blind that He cannot see all the injustices that are going on around the world. Indeed He does care for his own and He is keeping the score! One day, as it is written in Nahum 1:3, He will take revenge on all those who dare to oppose Him.


The Lord is slow to get angry;

but his power is great.

He takes revenge on all who oppose him.”


I thought of the many times that God's people have suffered (Hebrews 11:32-40). So often the Old Testament records the struggles of His people. How they longed for their promised Messiah! Then finally, the silence of the heavens broke,
 and God sent His Son! Isaiah's prophecies came true!


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”

Isaiah 9:6


Their Messiah had arrived and had a wonderful ministry of healing and help to His people!
However, something unexpected happened! Yes, God gave His Son, but,


He was despised and rejected....

He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins

He was beaten so we could be whole. Isaiah 53:3,5


Oh, the sadness! But there was a purpose.  Isaiah 53:4-11 tells about this purpose. Also, because he suffered,
He can feel all our infirmities, and He can make intercession for us!


For there is one God and one mediator between God and man,

the man Christ Jesus who lives to make intercession for us.”

1 Timothy 2:5-6




Shirley's Soliloquies #374

09/25/2011

A Reluctant Prophet

As I was reading the book of Jonah this morning, my heart went out to Jonah. He was in quite a predicament!

The Lord had told him to go to Nineveh and announce His judgment against it! But Jonah really didn't want to do that because he knew how sinful the city was. So he went to a port to catch a ship going in the opposite direction. He did not want them to repent, because if they did, he knew the Lord would forgive them and spare the city. That he did not want!
 They didn't deserve to be spared!

Interestingly, while he was on the ship, a huge storm arose, and the pagan sailors thought the ship would be broken apart. They knew the 'gods were angry,' so they were praying to them so they would spare them. They threw things overboard in order to lighten the ship, but nothing helped. They then cast lots to see who had offended the gods, and the lots identified Jonah.

Meanwhile, Jonah was below deck sleeping. They were amazed that he could sleep in such a storm! They told him to get up and pray to his god so that maybe he would spare their lives. They asked Jonah who he was.
They wanted to know why that storm had come on them.

Jonah told them that he was a Hebrew and that he worshiped the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land. He even told them that he was running away from the Lord. That made the sailors terrified! So Jonah told them to throw him into the sea, and the storm would stop. And sure enough! They threw Jonah into the sea, and the storm did subside.

But meanwhile, the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. So Jonah prayed to the Lord, and He heard him and caused the fish to vomit him onto dry land!


The interesting part to me was when Jonah saw that the people of Nineveh repented of their sins, he knew that the Lord would change his mind about destroying the city. Jonah prayed to the Lord,


'Didn't I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord?

That is why I ran away to Tarshish!

I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God,

slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.

You are eager to turn back from destroying people.'

Jonah 4:2


I thought, 'Oh, how true this is!' As I am reading through the Old Testament, I marvel over how many times the prophets warned the people to turn from their wicked ways and seek the Lord. The prophets warned of the consequences of their disobedience to the Lord their God. They were warned time and time again how God would use evil nations to shock His people into turning back to Him. And time after time, this is what happened. Yes, God used ungodly people to fulfill His purposes especially in turning His people back to Him. It is wise to be aware and to heed such warnings!




Shirley's Soliloquies #373

09/18/2011

Prayer & Praise to My God

This morning my heart seems to be entwined with that of the Psalmist,

for when I read Psalm 143, my mind echoed his thoughts,

I remember the days of old.

I ponder all your great works

and think about what you have done.”

Psalm 143:5


'Yes,' I thought, 'You, Lord, have led and guided over these past three weeks, just as You have over the last 60 plus years. You have had Your hand on our lives. You have given us traveling mercies all through these hundreds of miles, through Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and back again to Michigan. There was the majesty of the mountains, and the variegated colors of the valleys all along the way. You kept Your hand not only on us, but also on our car. We are thankful that You have continued to use us, and we are also thankful for the sweet fellowship with the saints in every place we stopped. But there was sadness seeing friends who were ill, and also knowing that the military reunion would be our last, but we know that all things, with the exception of our salvation, must come to an end. Therefore my heart is overwhelmed with gratitude
 for what You have done! I continue to pray,


Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,

for I am trusting you.

Show me where to walk,

for I give myself to you.”

Psalm 143: 8


'I am in Your hands, O Lord,


Teach me to do Your will,

for You are my God.

May your gracious spirit lead me forward

on a firm footing.”

Psalm 143:10


'Yes, I am Yours, O Lord. You are my God. Therefore,


I will sing a new song to you, O God!

I will sing Your praises with a ten-stringed harp.”

Psalm 144:9


My heart rejoices in praise to my God, for He alone is worthy to receive praise, and honor, and glory forever! Amen.'




Shirley's Soliloquies #372

09/11/2011

Special Fruits

As we were riding through Pennsylvania on our way home from Washington D.C., we saw a Farmer's Market with Peaches, Plums, and Apples. Our daughter stopped the car and got some for us. Even the smell made our mouths begin to water! After our journey of close to 380 miles, we couldn't resist having a peach when we arrived home. It was very refreshing!

For the past several days, we had been in Washington D.C. enjoying a good time with many friends at a Military Reunion. They had been members of a branch of military service that was stationed in Trieste, Italy. My husband had also been stationed there about 60 years ago. Each year, it had been nice to have been able to meet with them and share memories of their time in that city. However, this year, it was somewhat sad, for while it was good to be with them, they knew in the back of their minds that this was to be the last reunion. Many were not in good health anymore and others had already died, leaving fewer and fewer of them left. So it was with a touch of sadness that we left them. To make the departing not quite so final,
 many insisted that they would keep in touch.

Yet, as we left them, we were looking forward to renewing fellowship with the dear saints in a church in Bedford, Pennsylvania where my husband was to be speaking. We were pleased to see the growth in their church, and I was especially pleased to see their pastor's wife who had been quite ill the last time we stopped. She now was her usual bubbly self and rejoicing in the Lord. We enjoyed wonderful fellowship together!

Upon leaving them, we headed on to Ohio. We were looking forward to arriving back to our granddaughter's home once again. But on the way, it was extra special to have stopped at the fruit stand where our daughter bought our special treats!

Later as we enjoyed our fruit, I thought of the Scriptures that talk about some Special Fruits. One such reference is found in Galatians 5:22-23:


But the fruit of the Spirit is

love, joy, peace,

long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,

faith, meekness, and temperance:

Against such there is no law.”


These verses are a challenge, because the Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples:


By their fruits, ye shall know them!” (Matthew 7:16)


So that makes me stop to think: 'What kind of fruit am I producing?' Is my life filled with "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance?"


Certainly these are very 'Special Fruits,' so I must challenge myself to walk in the Spirit and to never 'quench the Holy Spirit' (1 Thessalonians 5:19) for He will help me
 to produce these kinds of produce!'




Shirley's Soliloquies #371

09/04/2011

Open My Eyes, Lord

Eyes are the windows to the soul!” There seems to be quite a bit of discussion over this popular phrase. Some claim it came from Kant, or the 1st book of Clements in the Codex Sinaiticus. Some claim it was an old proverb, while some say the Bible talks about it in Matthew 6 and Luke 11.

Ah, well, to me it really makes no difference where the phrase originated, because when I looked at the pictures that my granddaughter sent me, it became a striking reality! They had a photographer take some family pictures. They even had one picture of our son with the children! But the little blue eyes of Sophie, my 3 year old great-granddaughter spoke louder than words! They were full of expression!


Then I thought of the words of Jesus who said that the eyes are the windows to the soul (Matthew 6:22-23; Luke 11:33-36). I remembered how when Jesus came to earth, he said,


Let the children come to me,

Don't stop them!

for the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”

He loved the little children and had great warnings about mistreating them:


If anyone should cause one of these little ones to stumble,

it would be better for him if a millstone were tied around his neck

and he were cast into the sea.”

Matthew 18:6 (KJV)


As my mind wandered to the rest of our great grandchildren (there are nine of them now), I thought of how beautiful and trusting they all are. Each one is uniquely special and precious, not only in my sight, but also in the sight of the Lord. In fact, Jesus also said that a person is to come to Him in childlike faith, simply trusting. I thought, “Yes, a child is so very trusting!


At another time, Isaiah prophesied saying that the lion will lay down with the lamb and a little child shall lead them! What a wonder! What a time that will be!

As I again thought of the eyes of the children, I realized anew that oftentimes it is possible to read so very much in the eyes of a person. And I realized that I must to the best of my ability be alert and ready to help whenever and wherever possible. Oh, dear Lord, please open my eyes to see what it is that You want me to see; to help where You would have me to help; and most of all, to Be what You would have me to be.




Shirley's Soliloquies #370

08/28/2011

How Can I Praise You Enough?

As we were traveling to Ohio yesterday, I leaned back in the seat and saw the beautiful blue sky and white clouds. Then from time to time I saw the green foliage of the trees, shrubs, and grasses. I marveled over the different shades, hues, and intensities of all of the greens!
 It seemed amazing and quite overwhelming!

As the miles multiplied, I closed my eyes and thought of the number of the Old Testament prophets who marveled over the greatness of the creation of God!
 And my soul seemed to echo their praise,


Stand up and praise the Lord your God,

for he lives from everlasting to everlasting!....

May your glorious name be praised!

May it be exalted above all blessing and praise!

You alone are the Lord.

You made the skies and the heavens and all the stars.

You made the earth and the seas and everything in them.

You preserve them all.”

Nehemiah 9:5-6


Then I thought of the apostle Paul to whom God had chosen to reveal an amazing secret. This secret concerned how Gentiles could become equal heirs with believing Jews in God's great plan of salvation. At the center of this plan was the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:6). Like the prophets, Paul was also filled with praise for the Creator God. And this Creator God is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul stated:


Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.

He existed before anything was created

and is supreme over all creation,

for through him God created everything

in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see and the things we can't see –

...Everything was created through him and for him.

He existed before anything else,

and he holds all creation together.”

Colossians 1:15-17


So as I continued to watch the miles upon miles fly past, I had to praise God myself and think about the role of my Savior in this wonderful plan of salvation and His role as creator of this beautiful world. I marveled over the assurance of His presence in all that I see around me here and now, and then I paused in wonderment when I thought of seeing Him,
enjoying Him, and praising Him face to face!



Shirley's Soliloquies #369

08/21/2011

The Faithfulness of the Lord

My niece stopped in today to say 'good-bye' since she'll be leaving this weekend for college.

After she left, I felt kinda' sad, because I realized that I probably wouldn't see her again until next summer when she comes back home! Then I stopped to think of the busy life she has had during her high school years.

She played her clarinet in Band and Orchestra. She was on the school Golf Team. She was in the area Dutch Dance for Tulip Time, and she held down a part-time job. Besides this all, she graduated with high honors. It all did keep her on the go! Now, with mixed feelings, she is looking forward to leaving for the university. I know it will be difficult for her to leave her school friends and family behind. But she is excited about the new life before her.

After she and her grandmother (my sister) left, I reflected over my High School graduation. I remember the stirring music of Pomp and Circumstance reverberating throughout the building as we marched down the isle. Tears formed in my eyes as I realized the probability of not seeing many of my high school friends again. I too would be leaving for college in a couple of months. As I remembered these things that happened 58 years ago, I empathized with my niece.

I thought of each of these events as stepping stones in life. Each new happening opens doors to new possibilities, new people to meet, new goals to attain, and quite possibly a new life-partner.

I thought of the Psalmist who wrote,


The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord:

and he delighteth in his way.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:

for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.”

Psalm 37:23-24


Oh, how wonderful to embark on a new course of action knowing that the Lord is holding my hand as He will be holding her hand! And indeed He has held mine. All through life, I can bear grateful testimony to His faithfulness.

Then as I looked at the next couple of verses, it gave me a little thrill, for I read those words
 that have often been in my mind and on my lips:


I have been young and now am old:

yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken.”

Psalm 37:25


Yes, there have been 'ups and downs,' but the Lord has been my constant faithful companion.



Shirley's Soliloquies #368

08/14/2011

Importance of the Head

Oooh! The importance of the head! This was brought home to me in a sudden and dramatic way over the past few weeks! I had fallen and hit my head resulting in a concussion, broken front teeth, and bruised chin.
Now I have learned that when the head is injured, nothing seems to go right!

Oddly enough, thinking about my head brought to mind how I have been hearing of more and more couples who are separating, sometimes after years of being together. Yes, the Bible does say that the husband is the head of the wife in Ephesians chapter 5:21-33. However, some husbands take this to mean that they can do whatever they want, they can please themselves, and the wife has to go along with whatever they say. This quickly wears thin if he has no thought for his wife, but only for himself.

This often is the result of the husband reading part of this passage and reading it out of context. The Bible explains what is involved in the wife submitting and respecting her husband. If the husband would love his wife as he loves and cares for his own body; if he would be like Christ, who is the head of the church and Who gave Himself for the church; it follows that she would gladly submit to him and respect him. Yes, Christ's example of His love for the church is a hard one to follow!

Then I thought of Christ being the head of the Church! At the same time I thought of the breakdown in many churches which seems to be increasing in an alarming rate! But once again, it is clear to see that oftentimes people and pastors take their eyes off the Lord, Who is their Head, and instead focus upon insignificant trivialities. Understandably it follows that chaos reigns.


Yes, the head is important! The resulting pain of this injury is not pleasant, just as it has not been pleasant for me. But then, in order for my head to heal, I must rest. This has been a great time for me to spend more time with the Lord, since my husband and son have taken over most of my duties. It has also been a time when I can remember an increasing number of my friends who are undergoing serious physical challenges. My heart goes out to them as I lift them up before the Throne of Grace. The Lord is the Great Physician, and He loves and cares for His own! He hears and answers prayers! This time has been another learning experience for me. It has brought to mind the following hymns:


Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed, For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;

I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

When thro' the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;

For I will be with thee thy trials to bless, And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

George Keith, 1787

All the way my Saviour leads me; What have I to ask beside?

Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my guide?

Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell;

For I know, what e'er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.”

--Frances J. Crosby, 1875


...Nothing in all creation (not even a concussion) will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is
 revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:39



Shirley's Soliloquies #367

08/07/2011

Ornamental Jalapeno

I bought an ornamental jalapeno pepper plant for my son this Spring. We enjoyed watching the tiny peppers change colors from yellowish white to purple then to the red. I can see why they call it an ornamental plant.
They told us that the tiny peppers were edible also.

So yesterday, my son decided to try one. He picked it, and popped it in his mouth. He said, 'Oh, that has a nice flavor!' But as he continued chewing, he remarked, 'Oh! It's hot!' Then after another few seconds,
he was exclaiming how extremely hot it got, more than the regular jalapenos!

I suggested that he get a piece of bread, thinking that might help to neutralize it, perhaps putting some peanut butter on it? I guess that sounded reasonable to him, for he got a spoonful of peanut butter. He continued drinking water, trying to cool his mouth. I felt sorry for him, but I'm ashamed to say that I was also a bit amused over the surprise it held for him. Normally he enjoys eating jalapenos. So I decided to check this plant out on the Internet, and found that these smaller ones are more potent. Strange how such a small tiny vegetable could 'pack such a punch!'

But as I thought afterward, is it really so strange? Sometimes something innocent might prove to be the most deadly.

What about the seemingly innocent King Amaziah? The Bible says that he did what was right in the sight of the Lord....'Wonderful,' I thought! But then the verse continued, 'but not with a loyal heart.”


And he (King Amaziah) did what was right in the sight of the Lord,

but not with a loyal heart.”

2 Chronicles 25:2


'So...,' I wondered. 'What could this mean?'

As I continued reading, I realized, for one thing, that after he went to war, he brought the gods of the people of Seir and set them up to be his gods (verse 14). Probably as the king had gathered his 'spoils' from their siege, he might have thought, 'Oh, these are nice looking trinkets.' However, the Bible continues in verse 25, that he also bowed down before them and burned incense to them. 'Oh, oh!' I thought, 'Hadn't the Lord God told them,“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Deut. 5:7)?'

That does not sound like “a loyal heart” before God!

Just as the ornamental jalapeno had a nice flavor in the beginning, it soon grew in intensity. So it is with little insignificant deeds that seemly are innocent, their influence can spread and contain harmful outcomes. King Amaziah found this out. Verse 27 records that he turned away from following the Lord. In fact, he had to flee for his life, but he was killed anyway.

May I keep alert to insidious things that might creep into my life, and spread into something harmful.


But you be watchful in all things.” (2 Timothy 4:5 NKJV)




Shirley's Soliloquies #366

07/31/2011

God's Unfailing Faithfulness

I had just finished reading the five books in the series of The Chronicles of the Kings by Lynn Austin. At the same time I have been reading the Bible book of Isaiah. He was one of God's prophets who figured prominently in this series.

This morning, as I read chapters 37-40, I was brought nearly to tears as I read these inspired words. Having just finished those “Chronicles,” that historical period of time was in the forefront of my mind.

Oh, the agony involved in so much of the history of the children of Israel! How often they forsook God, and turned to the numerous idols of the pagan nations around them! But yet time after time, God was faithful in hearing their cries to Him, and He healed their hearts and restored fellowship with them. Isaiah reminded the people of the greatness
 of God in comparison with the idols of the nations.

As I kept reading, I came to verses 10-31 of the 40th chapter. My heart thrilled and became overcome with emotion as I felt the prophet's agony. He pleaded with His people to turn away from their worthless idols back to the Lord their God!
 Oh, how he praised and exalted the Lord as he wrote:


Have you never heard?

Have you never understood?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of all the earth,

He never grows weak or weary.

No one can measure the depths of his understanding.

He gives power to the weak and tired,

Even youths will become weak and tired,

and young men will fall in exhaustion.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

They will soar high with wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NLT)


Reading the series by Lynn Austin, that particular period of time became real to me in a way that it never had before. So now I am reading the book of Isaiah with a new appreciation of God's unfailing love.
The extent of His forgiveness never fails to amaze me!

The Bible says that all these things were written for our learning. May I learn from them.


These things happened to them as examples for us.

They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.”

1 Corinthians 10:11





Shirley's Soliloquies #365

07/24/2011

A Beautiful Building


As I was waiting for my husband at the theological library, I happened to glance out the window.

The perfection of the bricks uniformly laid one on top of the other caught my attention. In fact, I seemed to be mesmerized by the layer upon layer of them perfectly arranged. I supposed they would be so until they reached the top of the seven story building.

Then my eyes drifted downwards, and I saw the cornerstone. After musing upon it, I thought of the sturdy foundation a building must have. It all manifests the skill of the architect and builders. What an amazing job they did!

Somehow, those terms: foundation and cornerstone, seemed to be trigger words, for my mind went to the Scriptures. I thought of the analogy made in the Bible of a building. First of all, the Bible recognizes the importance of the foundation:


For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,

which is Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 3:11


Oh, how true that is. Christ has to come first. He is the foundation of my life. He is my cornerstone. Presently I am reading the book of Isaiah. I was thrilled to see the reference about the cornerstone:


Behold I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious,

And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.”

Isaiah 28:16


This prophecy of Isaiah's refers to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my foundation, and He is my cornerstone!

Then my mind drifted back to all those layers of bricks I saw so neatly formed to make the rest of the building. I thought of Isaiah once again when he wrote:


For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept;

line upon line, line upon line;

here a little, and there a little;”

Isaiah 28:10


To me, it almost seemed as if, “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, and there a little,” were, 'brick upon brick, mortar upon mortar!' I mused, 'That is how a good, strong building is formed!' I'm grateful for the amazing object lesson
I had today as I waited for my husband!


May I “Take heed how I build thereon!” 1 Corinthians 3:10.




Shirley's Soliloquies #364

07/17/2011

Inconceivable, Yet Believable!

How amazing that God, the creator of the heavens and earth,

could come to this earth as a tiny baby! (John 1; Colossians 1)


Jesus grew up experiencing everything human.

He was cold, He was hungry and thirsty, He was tired.

He suffered inhumanities and indignities, cruel treatment from religious leaders.


As the time drew near for His crucifixion, He agonized over it. John 12:27 records His words:


Now my soul is deeply troubled, Should I pray,

'Father, save me from this hour'? But this is the very reason I came!

Father, bring glory to Your name.”


In our Ladies Bible Study yesterday, I led the study on Psalm 22. We marveled over the accuracy

of God's written Word, considering the fact that these prophecies were written over a thousand

years before Jesus came to earth as a baby. Some of them are recorded as follows:


It states Christ's dying cry; (Psalm 22:1);

It foretells the Jewish leaders mocking Him (6-8);

It tells of the people who stood watching & insulting Him (12-13);

It records his parched mouth (15);

It foretells his hands and feet being pierced (16);

It tells of the people staring at Him (17);

It foretells His divided garment and the gambling for His robe (18).


These prophecies were fulfilled when Jesus was crucified on the cross. But the story doesn't end

there! He arose from the grave, and is now in heaven, making intercession for us.


He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come to unto God by him,

seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

Hebrews 11:25


Another prophecy yet to be fulfilled is that He will return and reign for ever!


The kingdoms of this world

are become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ:

and He shall reign for ever and ever.”

Revelation 11:15


At the name of Jesus every knee will bow... and every tongue confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Philippians 2:10-11)




Shirley's Soliloquies #363

07/10/2011

What is Faith?

I was sitting among a group of people who were having a discussion about the meaning of “Faith.”

Their answers were many: about as many as there were people in the room.
 Everyone seemed to have his or her own idea as to its meaning.

Hebrews 11:1 was among one of the first ideas or verses mentioned:


Faith is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen.”


I thought of an illustration that my older sister used. It always seemed to help me.


A missionary was trying to explain 'faith' to an old Indian chief.

He pointed to a chair, and asked the chief to sit down on it.


The chief hesitated. He had never seen one before.


So the missionary sat in the chair and said,

Do you believe me when I say that this chair will hold you if you sit on it?”


The Indian replied, “Yes, I believe you.

I have faith in you and your word that this chair will hold me.”


Ok,” the missionary continued. “Please sit down on the chair.”


The Indian chief picked the chair up, studied it carefully,

and then put it down on the ground again.

Remaining standing, he said assuredly,

Yes, I believe this chair will hold me!”

And he thanked the missionary. But he didn't sit on it.”


Did the Indian chief really believe? Did he have 'faith' that the chair would hold him? If he did, he would have sat on it. He would have acted on his belief, demonstrating his 'faith.'

During that intense discussion, I wondered how the New Living Translation would translate the passage which did not seem to be clear to me. So I got that translation and quickly turned to Hebrews 11:1. Somehow it immediately connected with my spirit and shed light on the meaning.


Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.

It gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”


I thought of what my husband frequently declares: “Faith is a positive response to the Word of God.” If a person has faith, he will always respond positively to God, knowing that God cannot lie.




Shirley's Soliloquies #362

07/03/2011

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord all ye His people,

for He has done wonderful things for you!

Praise Him for allowing my loved one excruciating pain

...so much that she called for medical help.

Praise His holy name.

Praise Him for He gave the doctors wisdom

so they could rightly diagnose her problem

and perform the intricate surgery.

Praise Him for His timing,

for two days more, they say, she would have been dead.

Praise Him for saving her for her children

Praise Him that she can continue to be a help to her husband.

Praise Him for His tender mercies,

Praise His Holy name,

Praise ye the Lord!


This is my Psalm of praise to the Lord this morning.

My praise swells up in my heart as I reflect on how He loves and cares for His children. He is deeply interested in our daily lives. And He is pleased to hear His children give Him thanks and praise. Over the last two and a half years, my granddaughter has had attacks of severe pain. She has had great difficulty being able to eat many foods, so much that she seems to be only skin and bones. Now she is looking forward to being able to eat. So I praise the Lord for He is great and greatly to be praised!

I just finished reading the Psalms this week and agonized with the Psalmist through his many troubles and trials. Through his cries of anguish, he never failed to praise the Lord. He ended them with praise:


Praise ye the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary:

Praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts:

Praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the sounds of the trumpet:

praise him with the psaltery and harp.

Praise him with the timbrel and dance:

praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Praise him upon the loud cymbals:

praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.

Praise ye the Lord.

Psalm 150




Shirley's Soliloquies #361

06/26/2011

Grace!


I have a new great-granddaughter! And her name is Grace!


She was born in the early morning hours of Monday, the 20th.

Her parents are a chiropractic doctor and his wife.

She has two brothers and one sister.

She is dearly loved!


'Yes! New life...it is amazing,' I thought to myself, '...the amazing miracle of new life!'


Then I started thinking of her name...Grace! Whenever that word comes to my mind, I think of my husband's acrostic, “God's Riches At Christ's Expense!” I cannot stop myself from repeating it!


The Bible says in John 1:12 that,


But as many as received Him,

to them He gave the right to become children of God,

to those who believe in His name.”


It is difficult for me to comprehend all that this means. I have believed on Him, and so I am His daughter! I thought of Ephesians 1:5-8 and began to reread it. But sometimes I get hung up on the technical words, so then I turn to my modern translation (NLT) in order to understand the full meaning:


God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family

by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.

This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

So we praise God for the glorious grace

he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.

He is so rich in kindness and grace

that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

He has showered his kindness on us along with all wisdom and understanding.”


This truly is amazing! My thoughts continued to dwell of the amazing “Grace” of God. I thought of all that is mine because of being 'born' into God's family. And I thought of the parallel with that tiny little baby who was born
 to my granddaughter and her husband:


I was 'born again' into God's family the day I gave my life to Christ.

My father's name is Jehovah God, the creator of the universe.

I have many brothers and sisters all over the world.

I am dearly loved by my Heavenly Father!


But then, I started thinking of it! It truly IS amazing to think of God's “grace” to human-kind. God, the creator of the whole universe, gives his gift of love to all people everywhere who will receive it.





Shirley's Soliloquies #360

06/19/2011

"  I Will..."

I will....” As I thought about those two little words, it occurred to me that they could be used in many different ways.

I will go with you tomorrow....” Something planned, something to which I can look forward.

Then there is the two year old, who defiantly puts his hands on his hips and says, “I will Not...!

Or, when offered some treat, I can respond by saying, “I believe I will have one!” In other words, I shouldn't, but I will.

I thought of Satan in the beginning saying, “I will be like God.” And he suffered the consequences.

Those two words are loaded with meaning, but they imply a choice, either I will or I will not.

Yes, human beings have the opportunity to choose – to choose to do wrong, or to do right.

On Sunday, the pastor chose Psalm 145 for his topic. He chose it because it had special meaning for him, and since Father's Day was soon approaching, he wanted all the men to be aware of the passage and use it as their own.

But I thought to myself, 'Well, there is a lot of meaning in that passage for everyone! Me included!'

So I've been meditating on it as verse 5 suggests. The statements of purpose in the first verses stand out for me:

I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever.

I will praise you every day;

yes, I will praise you forever....” vss 1-2


Verses 3-4 are an interlude of praise about the Lord! It begins,


 “Great is the Lord!

He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;

Let them proclaim your power.”


Then verses 5-6 continue:

I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;

I will proclaim your greatness.”


Yes, 'I will' signifies a choice. It involves a decision. It is not possible to sit on the fence. I have meditated on God's majestic, glorious splendor and His awe-inspiring deeds. I have made my choice...I have decided I will exalt,
 praise, and proclaim Him, my God and King forever
!





Shirley's Soliloquies #359

06/12/2011

Cover-Ups


What an object lesson there was for me this morning!

I was going for my morning walk. I was curious to see what was happening, because our streets and driveway were scheduled to be paved. We were instructed to park somewhere else today and tomorrow so we would not be blocked in our garage.

So I started out, early before it became too hot outside. The trucks and equipment were already out. As I walked, I noticed that there was a worker chest-deep in a hole that he had dug along the side of the road. I knew that spot had caved in. Previously, I had seen it and the red cone in the hole warning of danger. As I passed the worker, I remarked,
“It's a hot day to be doing this kind of work!”

He replied, “Yes, that's why we're out here so early, trying to beat the worst of the heat!”

As I continued on my walk I saw another person standing in her driveway, watching the proceedings. She told me that they want to dig down to see what had caused the cave-in and fix that before they resurfaced the road.

After I got home again, it occurred to me how wise it was for the workers to fix the spot properly! It would have been much easier to simply fill the hole and patch it up since it was quite small. The job would have been finished much more quickly.

However, I mused, 'Who knows how long it would have been before there would have been another cave-in,
 maybe a bigger one this time!'

Oh, how easy it is to just patch something up and continue on, trying to cover up the unpleasantness. I realized that this principle can apply in so many areas of life!

In fact, when the Lord Jesus was on earth, he accused the religious leaders of the day of being like unto“whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27) On the outside their religion appeared to be perfect, but He could see the heart.

The apostle Paul warned that in the last days perilous times would come and people would be,


“having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”

2 Timothy 3:5


What a deadly cover-up! How foolish to be concerned only about the outward appearance! The workers on our street were wise, they were going to the root of the problem. 1 Samuel 16:7 states:


“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”

God looks at the whole person. He does not want to see mere patch up jobs or elaborate 'Cover-ups!'




Shirley's Soliloquies #358

06/05/2011

Loving the Unlovable

Why is it that sometimes when I am in a hurry or am tired that my circumstances bring me into contact with someone who seems to challenge my love? Sometimes they are even Christians!

Try as I might, that person appears to be quite obnoxious and insensitive. In fact, it seems that he or she might be completely unaware of anyone else around. In other words, selfishness reigns. They are completely blind to others.

What should my response be at times like this? How do I love the unlovable? I know I have to love that person in spite of his attitudes. My thoughts cause me to search God's Word. I think of John 13:1 and Romans 15:3: (Jesus) “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end....even Christ pleased not himself...” I search further and find:


(Jesus said,) This is my commandment,

That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

John 15:12

These things I command you,

that ye love one another.

John 15:17

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,

if ye have love one to another.

John 13:35

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour:

therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:10

For the love of Christ constrains us;

2 Corinthians 5:14

Owe no man anything, but to love one another:

for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Let brotherly love continue.

Hebrews 13:1

Beloved let us love one another:

for love is of God;

and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not, knoweth not God,

for God is love.

1 John 4:7-8


Obviously, it is clear that I must love all the members of the family of God, even the unlovable ones. I must allow the love of God which is shed abroad in my heart to flow to everyone I meet (Romans 5:5).




Shirley's Soliloquies #357

05/29/2011

Peace in Midst
 of Turmoil

My son's cat is curled up in the chair next to me. His eyes are seemingly staring at something. However they are not really focused, but instead, he seems close to falling asleep. He appears not to have a care in the world. He has food, shelter, and love. As I stop to watch him, I feel some of his relaxation. I sense that my pulse rate seems to slow. I realize that his world is at peace, and it seems as if he transfers some of that to me.

But then my thoughts were interrupted by the pictures on the television another horrible tornado once again ripping through part of our country. The devastating floods along the Mississippi River also continue to occupy the news. The hopelessness that so many people must feel burdens my soul. It seems that all around there is death and destruction.

Thinking of these dire circumstances, my mind went back to the remarkable concert put on by a large local church in our area. It was of Mendelssohn's, Elijah. Since I had recently finished reading about Elijah in my morning Bible readings, the concert was especially meaningful to me. Elijah was a prophet who lived during the Old Testament days. He also faced dire despair. He thought he was all alone, there was no one who would stand with him. But God opened his eyes to see the mighty armies of the Lord who were present. God also sent him to a place where He provided food, drink, and shelter for him until He was restored. God showed him His mighty power, but His presence was in the still small voice. It struck me that in other words, God was everywhere. It gave me a feeling of peace.

The book of Job also came to mind. Job was almost at his 'wit's end!' He trusted in God. He knew his heart was right before God, but he couldn't understand why God was so far from him. Why He was allowing so much evil to happen to him? He yearned for a mediator who could stand before God and argue his case. Every time I read that, I rejoice in God's revealed written Word,


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

the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)


There is now a mediator! But if so, what about all those calamities that are happening around the world? What about all the people who have been made homeless through the recent devastation? How can many of them, in the midst of horrible destruction, still thank the Lord for their lives? The Bible states that it is possible to have peace with God. And because of this peace with God, the peace of God is available:


..in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,

shall keep you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7


So like my son's cat, because of his trust in his master, he manifests a peace around him. Because of my trust in God, my Master, I realize that regardless of my surroundings, I can experience peace!





Shirley's Soliloquies #356

05/22/2011

Who Knows?

...who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14b KJV


What a simple, but yet profound statement! How many times have I contemplated these very words? So often I have heard it said, “Oh, what a coincidence this is!” But really! Is it a coincidence?

Every person has individual backgrounds and experiences. There are no two exactly the same. But this means that each individual has a unique opportunity to be able to help someone else. Who knows what words spoken at just the right time could be what a person needs to hear. Who knows what just one smile can do for some unfortunate being? Or what could one fleeting glance mean to another?

The book of Esther in the Old Testament tells of this phenomenon. Esther was a young, orphaned Jewish girl who was being raised by her uncle. At a critical time in the history of the Jewish people, Esther comes into the picture. There had been a decree that all the Jewish people should be killed. Esther had come into favor with the great King Xerses. In fact, she became his queen. Her ties with the Jewish people were unknown in the court. Her uncle told her of the king's decree and said that she had to go to the King and plead for her people. She became afraid. One simply did not go into the king's presence without being called.
 Because of the urgency of the matter, her uncle said:

“Who knows if perhaps you were made a queen for just such a time as this?” (NLT)

Could it be possible? Could God have worked out all the details years in advance, just so she would be able to save the Jewish race from extinction?

There is certainly no way a person can understand the mind of God. If that were possible, then that person would be God. In fact, the prophet Isaiah in chapter 55:8 of his book, wrote,


For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”


No, we do not know what goes on behind the scenes. In hindsight, it is often possible to see how good can come from impossible situations. Sometimes all it takes is the faithfulness of just one person.

My older sister & her husband came to visit this past week. Many times I have thanked the Lord for her. She made such an impression on me as I was growing up. She urged me to memorize Scriptures from a very young age. She rewarded me each time I learned another new verse. At times of crisis in my life, she had special verses that I should memorize. I must have memorized hundreds of them. Often throughout my life, especially when I was in dire circumstances, God's Word has come back to my mind during those times when it was impossible to lay my hands on my Bible. During her years of formal teaching in various colleges, how many young lives did she influence? Who knows if perhaps, unknowing to her, she was there just to influence some who have gone on and influenced thousands of others elsewhere?

May I be aware of those little coincidences, so that I might be ready and willing
 for the Lord to use me!




Shirley's Soliloquies #355

05/15/2011

Nothing is Impossible

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”

Luke 18:27


As a child I learned the chorus,


Nothing is impossible when you put your trust in God;

Nothing is impossible when you're trusting in His Word.

Harken to the voice of God to thee;

Is there anything too hard for me?”

So put your trust in God alone and rest upon His Word.

For ev'rything, O ev'rything, Yes ev'rything is possible with God.”


Since nothing is impossible with God, then He is able to meet my every need. Humbly, Paul prayed,


...I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named

that He would grant you, according to the riches of his glory,

to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;”


This passage reminds me of a little story called, “My Heart, Christ's Home.” I believe it was written by Robert Munger. It tells how he invites Jesus into his house. He allowed him to go everywhere in his home, except into a small closet. That closet was a mess, smelled bad, and he didn't want to let Him in there. He was welcome in every other room, but not in that closet. He applied the analogy to the Christian's life. God wants every part of my life. If I give Him every part, then Christ will be at home in every room. In this same passage of Scripture, the apostle Paul then changed the metaphor,


That ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

may be able to comprehend with all saints

what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge,”


Ah yes, “rooted and grounded in love.” But what about sickness and sadness? Unfortunately since sin was introduced into the human race in the garden of Eden, sickness and sadness are a part of life here on earth. But then, I remember that “nothing is impossible with God.” He is the One Who can can do the impossible! He can heal the sick and brokenhearted! Ephesians 3 concludes:


..Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly

above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

Ephesians 3:14-19 (KJV)




Shirley's Soliloquies #354

05/08/2011

Comfort from Romans 8


My heart sank as I read the email about my good friend. The cancers in her body have been spreading like wildfire. Besides the cancer in her bones and some organs, now what they thought might be pneumonia turns out to be the cancer spreading into her air passages. It sounds horrible!

But does it get her down? No, instead she said in her inimitable way, “This could seriously stunt my modeling career!” Her faith continues, and her creativity remains even in the midst of dire difficulties!

Her upbeat manner in spite of her suffering reminded me of Romans 8. My heart was blessed as I read,


Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin,

the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.


The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead,

he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Romans 8:10-11


For we know that all creation has been groaning

as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.


And we believers also groan,

even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory,

for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.

We, too, wait with eager hope for the day

when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,

including the new bodies he has promised us.

Romans 8:22-23


And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.


For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for.

But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the spirit is saying,

for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will.


And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good

of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)





Shirley's Soliloquies #353

05/01/2011

Am I a Princess?

It might be because I have married a person who was born and raised in England.  But I don't think so.

It might be because I have traveled to England many times, and have even lived there, but I don't think so.

For long before these events were even thought about, I remember as a little child having the Fairy Tale of “The Princess and the Pea” read to me. One night after that, I found a pea and secretly put it under my mattress before I got into bed. I really thought that I might be a princess.

I wonder if other little girls think secretly that they are princesses? Probably so, because there seems to be an unusual amount of interest in the wedding of a prince with a “commoner.” In fact, I do admit that last week I told my husband and my son that I hoped they didn't mind if I watched a lot of TV this week, because I really want to see all I can about the Royal Wedding! They smiled at me, quite amused, I believe. I do enjoy every bit of it that I can see!

Suddenly, as I was watching all the various programs, it occurred to me that, “Yes, indeed, Shirley! You are a princess! For you are a child of a King!” And He is indeed a King! Not only a King, but a King of kings! And I am His child because I have been born again into the family of God, thereby making me a princess!


The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” Romans 8:16-17


Nicodemus asked Jesus how a person could be born when he was old? Could he enter his mother's womb a second time to be born? Jesus told him that a person has to be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God. This whole conversation is recorded in John's Gospel, chapter 3. Later in his epistle John wrote,

Beloved what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us,

that we should be called the children of God!” 1 John 3:1


All right, so I am a child of God when I have trusted in Jesus Christ. But how does that make me a child of a king? The Bible also says:


For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations.” Psalm 22:28

For God is my King from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

Psalm 74:12

But the Lord is the ... living God and the everlasting King.” Jeremiah 10:10

And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.” Zechariah 14:9


That settles it! I am a child of God, who is King over all the earth. So...I am a princess!




Shirley's Soliloquies #352

04/24/2011

Expect the Unexpected!

You just go on to Hope's house, because we are held up here. It will be a little while longer
 before we can get away.”

It was quite a normal statement, but there was something in my husband's voice when he called that caught my attention. When I asked about it, he said that he and Pastor Greg had been in a little accident. So they'd be a while, and he'd come when they were done. I should go on home.

Well, that made me even more alert, and I asked him if they were both all right. He assured me that they were, but the police were holding up the traffic from both directions, so it would be a while.

That did it. I felt strongly that I needed to go to him. I told him that I wanted to come, I'd be there as soon as I could. He didn't argue with me, so I was on my way.

After what seemed like an awfully long time, I finally got there. But my heart sank! There were two police cars in addition to two police vans all with their lights flashing. Two Tow Trucks were getting ready to tow the cars away. Thankfully the police let me through, and my husband came quickly in the car with me.

It turns out that they had been driving happily along on their way home from a pastor's luncheon that was held in a restaurant about an hour away. They had been having great fellowship when from behind them, a car, going probably 50-55 mph, had crashed into the rear end of Pastor Greg's car. They were going only about 25 mph, so it was quite an impact – enough to total both vehicles.

Thankfully, both of them were somehow miraculously protected during the sudden unexpected impact. They should have suffered some injuries, not only from the horrible jolt it must have been, but also from the broken glass from the windows. The rear window was completely gone, and the back end of the car was crushed in! Oh! How the Lord must have intervened and protected them miraculously!

As I thought about writing a soliloquy today, I thought about what I had written last week! How quickly things can go wrong! Life seems to have all kinds of surprises! How eloquently James wrote:


Come now, you who say,

Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city,

spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;

whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.

For what is your life?

It is even a vapor that appears for a little time

and then vanishes away.

Instead you ought to say,

If the Lord wills,

we shall live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15





Shirley's Soliloquies #351

04/17/2011

How Much Longer

How much longer will you waver,

hobbling between two opinions?

If the Lord is God, follow Him!

But if Baal is god, then follow him!”

1 Kings 18:21


The really sad thing about this scene recorded in 1 Kings 18, are the next few words. For they state:


But the people were completely silent.”


What does it take for some people to make a decision? Why does it sometimes seem so hard? All the facts are laid out before them, yet...”the people were completely silent.”

I thought about the moving service at church yesterday. It seemed that the Holy Spirit was working in hearts, yet even there, how many people were there who simply “remained silent.” Seemingly they were sitting on the fence...perhaps wanting to believe, yet not willing to make the commitment.
 Why does it seem so difficult?

The words of the songwriter capture the essence of what could become of this scene:


What will you do with Jesus?

Neutral you cannot be.

Someday your heart will be asking,

'What will He do with me?'”


Perhaps someone might reason, 'Well, someday when I am older, I will settle that question, but not now.'

But how wise is that reasoning? Who knows when a car driven by a drunken driver might swerve head-on into their car? This happened to my sister and her husband. He died, but miraculously, she lived. That kind of accident happens more often than one cares to hear.

Or who knows when a person's heart will simply quit beating? A person does not have to be old for that to happen. For I am thinking of a lovely young lady who with her husband planned to go to the mission field, yet all of the sudden, her heart simply stopped beating. It happened to one young lady also on the day of her wedding. Something like this could happen to anyone. Age makes no difference.

An earthquake could occur, causing much damage and many deaths. It could be a tsunami or a tornado. No one has any sure guarantee that life will continue on as always! So the question remains:


How much longer will you waver?...What will you do with Jesus?”





Shirley's Soliloquies #350

04/10/2011

Sadness, Yet Comfort

Only about an hour after we arrived back home in Michigan, one of my neighbor ladies came over. She welcomed us home, but then immediately told us about nine people who had died in our condo association during the winter! This seemed to be unusual to her, as it did to me!

Just before hearing that news, we had heard about our next door neighbor. She had been in a nursing home recuperating, however she too had died a couple of days before our return. She was a gem of a lady who always had a smile on her face. I was looking forward to visiting with her after we got home. However now I won't get to see her until I see her in heaven.

Then yesterday, the Prayer Chain email that I regularly receive from my home church told me of another friend who had died. And only a week before, I had heard of one other friend who had died. My earliest recollections of him had been associated with the church since he and his family
 had also attended there since childhood.

I thought to myself, this must have been quite a severe winter. Or otherwise, perhaps it is because many of my friends are getting older. However that doesn't seem possible! But then I suppose
 that I am getting older too. I simply don't realize it yet.

Well, as these thoughts were uppermost in my mind, I looked over at my son's cat, an Egyptian Mao. He was lying on the floor in a most regal manner. I thought of yesterday afternoon when he jumped up on the chair where I was working. Soon he was lying on my lap. I thought to myself, “How unusual!” Bruce had been telling me how he would probably go and hide somewhere when we got back home since he was said to be quite unsocial. But on the contrary, he seems to be quite good company. After hearing about all of these deaths, I did appreciate the comfort of his warm body being next to me.

In spite of all of these sorrowful deaths, it was good to be back home and to be able to visit with our son. But I must admit that it was difficult leaving our youngest daughter in the South.
 I must place her in the hands of the Lord.

Yet, even though I sense sadness in my heart, I am eagerly anticipating our trip to Ohio to be with our other daughter and her family. While we are there, Henry will be preaching in two different churches. And we will have the joy of being with our beloved church family and friends, some of whom have been in our hearts for close to fifty years now. How the time does fly!

Ah, these ramblings! Yet there is a thread that flows through them all. And that thread is connected with none other than Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord! He is the One Who ties all of these thoughts together. For down through the years, since I was a child, He is the One Who has proven to be a Friend like no other. He is the One who never changes. I can depend on Him, no matter where I might find myself. He provides strength, courage, and comfort, regardless of the circumstances.


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

Hebrews 13:8



Shirley's Soliloquies #349

04/03/2011

Amazingly Powerful Prayers

It is amazing to think of the power that is available to those who are the children of God!

Last night the pastor reminded his congregation of several instances when God overruled in an incredible way. He spoke first of Hezekiah who was deathly ill and was told by the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die. After the prophet left, Hezekiah cried out to the Lord, reminding Him that he had always faithfully served Him and did what pleased Him. He pleaded with God to let him live!

So God told Isaiah to go back to Hezekiah in order to tell him that God had heard his prayers and seen his tears. He would give Hezekiah 15 more years. But the prophet instructed the servants to make an ointment from figs and spread it over Hezekiah's boils. So fascinatingly,
 the Lord also used the medicine of the day to heal Hezekiah.

One would think that Hezekiah would be rejoicing with relief and gratitude! However he didn't seem to be satisfied. Instead, he asked the prophet for a sign from the Lord to prove that He would heal him. Astonishingly, Isaiah asked him if he would like the Lord to cause the shadow on the sundial
 to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?

Hezekiah reasoned that it would be easier for the sundial to go forward rather than backward, so he requested that it should go backward. And Isaiah asked the Lord to do that....AND HE DID! Amazing! God listened to Hezekiah's prayer. He saw his tears. And He answered! (1 Kings 20:1-11).

There are countless instances in the Bible when God listened to people's prayers and answered them. Even nations were involved. In Jeremiah 18:7-8, God told the prophet Jeremiah that if an evil nation renounced their ways, He would not destroy that nation as He had planned. Other amazing instances are recorded in James 5 that speak of the prayer of faith. It brought not only healing, but in the case of Elijah, it actually produced a drought. Then three and a half years later, Elijah prayed again for the drought to end, and it did! James 5:16 summarizes what is available through prayer:


The earnest prayer of a righteous person

has great power and produces wonderful results.”


As I reflect over my lifetime, I realize that there have been many times when the Lord answered specific prayers. Prayers for food supplies, for physical healing, for accommodations, and for guidance as to which direction that He would desire us to go.

And now as we look forward to three weeks traveling and to being “on the road,” I realize how we need to depend on the Lord and His protection and intervention in our lives. So once again with earnest prayer, we commit our lives into His care and keeping, praying that along the way, He might use us as His willing vessels for His glory. Truly Ephesians 3:20, in no uncertain terms,
 contains an amazing statement about God's power:


All glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us,

to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”





Shirley's Soliloquies #348

03/27/2011

The Final Word: Obedience

Oh my! The Bible doesn't beat around the bush!

I was reading about King Saul this morning in the book of First Samuel. There were a few things that caught my attention. One was that when he was talking with the prophet Samuel, Saul referred to the Lord as “Your God.” It seemed obvious that he, himself, was not claiming a relationship with the Lord.

Secondly, King Saul usurped his position by thinking that he could present a sacrifice to God just as well as Samuel had. After all, he was the king, chosen by God. It was time that he and his army went to war. Samuel was late in coming, so he reasoned it would be fine for him to do it.

However, the Lord appeared to Samuel and said that He regretted that He had made Saul their King, for Saul had not been loyal to Him. He had not obeyed His commands (1 Samuel 15:11).

Samuel was deeply moved and cried out to the Lord all night. Then early the next morning, he went to find Saul. Someone said that he had gone to a certain place to set up a monument to himself! 'Oh!' I thought, 'How often the Bible warns about pride!' Whew! That was a dangerous thing for Saul to do!

Anyway, when Samuel finally found Saul, Saul cheerfully said the words that he knew Samuel would want to hear. But was his heart in those words? He said “I have carried out the Lord's command” (vs 13). Was he really desirous of doing what the Lord commanded? He knew the right words to say to Samuel.
 But alas! The Lord knew his heart!

Samuel then said (1 Samuel 15:22),


What is more pleasing to the Lord:

your burnt offerings and sacrifices

or your obedience to his voice?

Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice.”


Consequently, Saul frankly confessed that he had disobeyed the instructions and commands of the Lord. But he continued in the next breath to blame his disobedience on the people! He said
 “I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded” (vs. 24).

Oh, how human is this! All the way back to the garden of Eden when God first made Adam and Eve. They had disobeyed God. And God went to Adam. But what was his response? 'The woman that You gave me made me do it!' And when the Lord went to Eve, she said, 'The serpent made me do it!'


'It's not my fault!' It is always easier to cast the blame on someone else. However, there comes a time when I must admit my guilt. Then I must say, 'I will obey! I will do what is right!'


He that knoweth to do good and doeth it not,

to him it is sin.” James 4:17




Shirley's Soliloquies #347

03/20/2011

Sinners Or Saints?

Many people are wearing green around here today. There are celebrations, parades, and even green breads and green drinks available. In fact, My son told me that the Internet says that wearing green on St. Patrick's Day makes you invisible to Leprechauns so you won't get pinched! He laughingly said,
 “I don't want to get pinched, so I'm wearing green!”

It wasn't long after I was musing over these things that I thought about the Roman Catholic Church's tradition of making people saints. What does the Scriptures say about being a “saint?” Verses such as: “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). In fact early in the history of man, God saw that man's thoughts were evil continually (Genesis 6:5). Jesus said that thinking something is the same as doing it! (Matthew 5:28). As far as God is concerned,
there is no one who can come up to His standard of perfection. The Bible says,
 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

'Well, of course,” someone might say, “No one can be perfect!
Even very good people have made some mistakes.” So, who can be a saint?

The fact that all are judged by God to be sinners is the reason that Jesus came to this earth.
Amazingly, the Bible tells us that,


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

that WHOSOEVER believeth in Him,

should not perish but have everlasting life.”

(John 3:16)


...God commendeth his love toward us,

in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8


So Jesus came and lived in this world. He was the only one without sin. The Apostle John said that He did no sin, the Apostle Peter said He had no sin, and the Apostle Paul said that He knew no sin! Yet He was made sin for us. He was the perfect sacrifice that was offered in the place of each one of us.


He (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin;

that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

2 Corinthians 5:21


So we are righteous in Christ. Those who believe in Him are actually called saints! We do not have to wait for any ecclesiastical body to research our lives to see if we are to be considered a saint. No, instead Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; and elsewhere throughout the epistles, the Bible teaches that all those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their sin-bearing Savior are now “saints.”

Amazing! Even though we were sinners, God now considers us His saints!





Shirley's Soliloquies #346

03/13/2011

It is a Challenging Life!

Excitedly, I finished reading the book of Joshua this morning. What an amazing life Joshua led!

I was challenged as I read how he warned the Israelites to follow all of the instructions which Moses had received from God Himself. He warned them not to deviate from His law. He told them that God would fight for them just as he had promised, if they would continue to follow Him.

Joshua continued his challenges, urging them to be careful to love and fear the Lord their God. They needed to serve Him, and Him alone. If they deviated from God's law and followed the other gods of the land, he warned them of the dire consequences that would come upon them. It seemed almost as if he could foresee their fickleness and how soon they would turn away from the Lord.

But he declared:


As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15


And the people responded:


We, too, will serve the Lord, for He alone is our God.”

Joshua 24:18


And I thought: 'Ah, good intentions! How often they have been broken!'

My musings drifted to the New Year's Resolutions that people often make. What would be the percentage that are broken? It would probably be high.

However, there are some who do keep their commitments! My daughter, for one, has stopped smoking. It has been over two months now. Her cough has left her, her complexion glows, and she is contented as her new life unfolds. This warms my heart every time I think of it.

Whenever there is something that I feel I need to change, I remind myself of the words in Galatians 2:20 that can hardly be misunderstood,


My old self has been crucified with Christ.

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.

So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God,

who loved me and gave himself for me.”


Yes, it is true, I can thus triumphantly proclaim the words of Philippians 4:13,


I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #345

03/06/2011

God's Presence and Peace

I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord,

No tender voice like thine can peace afford.

I need thee, O I need thee; Every hour I need thee;

O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee. - Annie S. Hawks

As this song flowed through my mind, I thought of when the children of Israel came to the Red Sea, they were afraid. But the Lord told Moses, “Don't be afraid!” I will go ahead of you.

As they were in the wilderness, east of the Jordan River ready into enter the promised land flowing with milk and honey, Moses told the children of Israel, “God has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it...Don't be afraid! Don't be discouraged!” Deuteronomy 1:21.

The Psalmist said, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
 I will
not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”


The words remind me of my daughter's little Yorkie. Whenever we rise from our chairs, she thinks we are going somewhere, and she is like a shadow! Often, I look all around for her, but my daughter laughs and says, she's right beside you! She is so close that often I don't even know she is there!

Probably so it is with God -- Sometimes I look all around for Him, but all the time
He is right beside me, so close I don't realize He's there!

Then I thought of God's promise to His people in Isaiah 41:10. He encouraged Israel, telling them,


Don't be afraid, for I am with you,

Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”


When Jesus was giving the illustration of the insignificance of the sparrows, He assured the people that not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without their Father knowing it. And He told them even the hairs on their heads were all numbered! Then He said again, “So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:31.

Then there is the wonderful gift that Jesus gave to his disciples -- peace of mind! He said (John 14:27),


I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.

And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.

So don't be troubled or afraid.


Oh, how wonderful it is to be assured of the Lord's presence. When the way seems uncertain, the certainty of Him being near comforts me. The knowledge that He knows the way, and goes ahead leading me produces a grand assurance that flows over my whole being and fills me with His peace.



Shirley's Soliloquies #344

02/27/2011

My Lord Knows
 the Way


My daughter had a day off work, so we decided to spend an hour on the beach at the Gulf. As we were driving there, we were remarking about the blue skies and several white clouds. Then she said, “I wish there were two less clouds in the sky!” We laughed together!

As we got to the Gulf, we realized that there were no clouds at all over the waters! The clouds were to the north of us where we had rented a condo. I thought to myself, 'There must be a soliloquy here!' As I relaxed in the sunshine on the sand, the thought came to mind of Moses leading the Israelites through the wilderness for forty years before they entered the Promised Land. My imagination was fascinated. The Lord was leading with a cloud by day, and with fire by night!

How interesting that the clouds were to the north where we lived!
Was that a sign that we were in the right place?

So now we are anticipating our departure while our daughter has decided to stay. We want to see her settled. She has good jobs, but she needs a place to live. Recently she put a deposit on an apartment. I should have known better! It was premature because she didn't need the place yet. The Lord's timing isn't always our timing. He was teaching us patience – again! Time after time I've known that He doesn't open doors until we need to go through them. So now that the time is getting closer for our departure, He has opened up four possibilities! And besides this, what has opened up will be more affordable. Isn't that just like Him! He has promised to meet our every need and He does!

It brought to mind the little chorus we used to sing years ago. It was written by Sidney E. Cox,


My Lord knows the way through the wilderness.

All I have to do is follow,

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness

All I have to do is follow

Strength for today is mine always

And all that I need for tomorrow.

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness

All I have to do is follow.


And Solomon, who was the wisest man who had ever lived, wrote,


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)


We might not be the children of Israel, but He has proven these verses to be true in our lives. We do trust Him. We do acknowledge Him. And He does direct our paths, time after time!





Shirley's Soliloquies #343

02/20/2011

The Joy of the Lord
is My Strength


The joy of the Lord is my strength,

The joy of the Lord is my strength,

The joy of the Lord is my strength,

The joy of the Lord is my strength!”

The chorus writer really did want to get his message across, for he repeated it through the whole song. It is a catchy tune and has been running through my mind a lot lately. So it seemed quite possible
 that the Lord meant for me to dwell on it.

For some reason it reminded me of a book I received when I was young. It was entitled, Polyanna. As I remember, in whatever situation Polyanna found herself, she would always try to find at least one thing that was good about it, even if it was unpleasant.

At the time that sounded as if it would be a good idea, so I tried it. I was amazed that it was possible to remember one good thing in almost every situation!

I began to realize that I didn't have to be totally upset about anything or anyone. Even if it were an insignificant thing, it was possible to see something positive in it.


I realized that it ended up being my choice.

I could change the way I thought about the situation.

Then that would also change the way I acted outwardly.

And eventually, I also would feel better about the whole situation!


And it brought great relief! It eliminated most of the stress.

I also realized that such situations, if not dealt with, could have negative results on my life. I could feel my strength being zapped. That was not a good feeling, for it made me extremely tired. Even the level of pain in my body seemed to increase!

Then I discovered that this little chorus was actually a scriptural principle. The secret of my strength was “in the joy of the Lord.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT) states,


Don't be dejected and sad,

for the joy of the Lord is my strength.”


How fascinating! Yes, the Scriptures actually tell me that my strength is in the joy of the Lord!

The joy of the Lord....that is the secret. Does that mean that I have to always have a smile on my face? Inevitably, while we are in this world, sad and troublesome events abound and smiles are difficult. At those times I need to remember the joy I have of being in the Lord and that becomes my strength. His joy fills my inner being resulting in His strengthening power being active in my life.




Shirley's Soliloquies #342

02/13/2011

What Love Is This?

This is a common theme all year long, but it is especially on people's minds now because of
Valentine's Day being just around the corner.

Many stores have displays of beautiful boxes of chocolates. They also have hundreds of different Valentine cards. The jewelers are especially eager because they are looking forward to having a larger volume of sales. Some young ladies are wondering if this is the year that they will “get their diamond.”

As I was thinking about the amount of commercialism around, my mind went back to my husband's sermon on Sunday. He mentioned how the Greek language was more exact than our English for they had four different words for our one word 'love.' One word is phileo, a word for brotherly love; another is storge, the love for a car or a pet. One is eros, passionate sexual love; and the last is agape, a love that is motivated by what it can give instead of what it can get.

But, oh! It almost blows my mind when I think of the incredible love that God has for the world. How can it be possible for Him to allow His only begotten Son to come to this world knowing all that He would have to endure and suffer? He was despised and rejected by His own people.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11 (KJV).

He had no place to lay His head. When someone came to Jesus and wanted to follow Him wherever He went, He replied, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;
 but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Luke 9:58.

It is true, there was no thought of pleasing Himself. Even when He was a child of 12 years of age (Luke 2:41-49), when His parents were searching for Him, He said, “How is it that ye sought me?
Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?”

What greater love could there be than that a man lay down his life for his friend. Yet, Jesus died for His enemies (Colossians 1:21-22). Yes, He gave His life for His enemies, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).

So how can we show Him our love? Jesus said:


As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you:

continue ye in my love... (John 15:9)


A new commandment I give unto you:

That ye love one another as I have loved you,

that ye also love one another.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,

if ye have love one to another.”

John 13:34-35



Shirley's Soliloquies #341

02/06/2011

The Presence of the Lord

As I was in that state between being asleep and being awake this morning, I felt my feet in the waters of the Gulf. The waves were gently splashing on my feet and ankles. I was looking out over the water at the blue sky and the white fluffy clouds. I sensed the presence of the Lord,
and I found it easy to commune with Him....

Then I awoke, and I realized that it was just a dream. But it was a memory-type dream that I had experienced any number of times during the past years.

However, in spite of these memories, I have learned to be content in our condo this year - even though it is about 10 miles away from the Gulf. And I am learning that there are many advantages of being in this present location. But when my husband suggested that we go to a restaurant on the Gulf this noon because he had errands to run over there, I was delighted!

'Oh my,' I thought! 'The Lord does have a sense of humor!' The temperature was about 65 which is really nice when the sun is shining. But it was an overcast sky. The wind was quite strong! So consequently, I felt cold! I rushed to get into the restaurant!

However, when we were seated at a table so that we could look at the Gulf, I noticed that even though it was nice, the water looked cold. The memory of how strong the winds could be on such days came back to me. Sometimes it felt as though I were in a wind tunnel!

When I remembered these things, I was then increasingly grateful for our present location even though it was several miles away from the Gulf. I earnestly thanked the Lord for His continued guidance in our lives. Indeed, time and time again, He has proven that He does know best!

So now we are looking for some place for our daughter to live when we leave, someplace where we can also live with her next winter when we return. We were pleased because we felt that we had found the perfect place. However, something came up that we couldn't have that house. So once again, we were being tested. Do we really believe that the Lord is going before us? It is so easy to become anxious and overly concerned.

I had often thought that the Lord's presence was especially around the waters of the Gulf. But no, He is just as much here, wherever I might be! I remembered the time that Elijah thought that he was totally alone. He desperately wanted to see the Lord! He looked in the strong winds. But he thought that the Lord wasn't there. He looked in the mighty mountains, but again it seemed that the Lord wasn't there. He kept looking for Him, until finally he realized that the Lord was speaking in a still small voice.
He was there with Him all the time (1Kings 19).


Hebrews 13:5-6 instructs me,

Be content with such things as you have.

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

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper....”




Shirley's Soliloquies #340

01/30/2011

How Should I Do What I Do?

It does seem strange to see people working hard on the construction of roads while other workers stand nearby, leaning on shovels or picks. Then sometimes, still others are seen relaxing along the side of the road, just watching those who are working. I often wonder about such scenes.

But then in restaurants, occasionally I'll see some waitresses standing around enjoying themselves talking together while others are rushing around trying to take care of the people waiting to be served.

When I stop to think about it, it was the same when I was teaching. Some teachers, administrators, and staff would be diligent in their work, while others tried to slide by with as little effort as possible.

Oh! And then there were those students who would work their little hearts out, trying to do their very best. Others, quite often with plenty of ability, would get by with just the minimum amount of work in order to get good enough grades to please their parents.

Well, I guess the list could go on and on. It really doesn't matter what type of work or effort is involved, some people would rather simply slide along instead of working to the best of their abilities.

My husband said it made all the difference in the world when he became a Christian at the age of 17. Before, he would do as little as possible, and would only want to do those things in which he had interest. However, after he became a Christian, he took every educational course that he could in order to
 better himself and be more productive.

I thought of the Scriptures that instruct believers in Jesus Christ to do that very thing.


But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer,

he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;

for he observes himself, goes away,

and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

James 1:22-25


“And whatever you do in word or deed,

do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Colossians 3:17, 23-24


So what I must always keep in my mind – even when I am doing insignificant things, like practicing my little harp, which I really need to do more often – is to be sure that no matter what I do,
I do it “heartily as to the Lord.” (Col. 3:23).



Shirley's Soliloquies #339

01/23/2011

Faith or Works


Faith or Works? That seems to be the question. How much good do
I need to do in order to be saved?

On Sunday, my husband was touching on those thoughts in his sermon. Then today, my younger sister told me that their pastor had a really good sermon about it on Sunday. This question is one
 that is often on people's minds.


So, I reasoned with myself. I'd better search the Scriptures, and see what I can find. And the first Scriptures that came to my mind were the ones that I learned as a child: Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5.


For by grace you have been saved through faith,

and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

Not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9


Not by works of righteousness which we have done,

but according to His mercy He saved us.”

Titus 3:5


That sounds very clear. There are no works that I can do to earn eternal life. I need to accept it as I would accept a gift. So what is all the confusion about then if those Scriptures are that clear?

James seemed to put great emphasis on works (James 2:17-18, 22). He had very practical advice for everyday living all through his book! He said, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (2:18). Jesus told the believers that they are known by their fruit (or works), Matthew 7:20. Hebrews 11, the great chapter on Faith, lists the example of total obedience of many of the great men of faith. When God told them to do something, they obeyed. The refrain is constant! By faith....by faith = Obedience!

Faith without obedience, then, is not real faith at all. When God says that I am saved by faith and not of works, if I truly believe God, I will obey His instructions in His Word.

The apostle Paul stated in Colossians 1:10 that he was praying for the believers since the day he heard of their faith in Christ Jesus,
exhorting them:


...that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him,

being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God....”


Faith and works go hand in hand. They really are not separate. Because if a person has Faith, it is natural that the Works will follow! Or as my sister's pastor put it, “They go arm in arm, walking side by side!” It sounds a bit like the words of the songwriter who penned, “Love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage!”



Shirley's Soliloquies #338

01/16/2011

Happiness and Help

Last Sunday, my husband was preaching in a city about an hour away from us. I accompanied the pianist on their organ for the congregational singing, and I played my little harp. I also accompanied a soloist on the piano. It was a blessed Sunday service!

But we found out that the Gospel Team from the Bible College that we had attended close to 60 years ago were going to be putting on a concert in the evening! We were excited,
 and decided to stay so we could meet and hear them!

After a full afternoon of being with other people, we went back to the church for the special service. We were happy to see that the daughter of our pastor back in MI was singing with the group. But the biggest surprise for me was when the group introduced themselves. I heard the name of a young lady that was very familiar to me. Every morning I had been praying for her since she began her training there a year and a half ago. She was my prayer daughter!

When the service ended, I found her and introduced myself. She might have been taken aback a bit with my familiarity in giving her a hug! But she seemed very special to me. I felt close to her since I had brought her before the Throne of Grace every morning since I had received her name from the
wife of the president of the college.

Then I thought of the other dear saints who are in that location. They all mean such a lot to me, they are my family away from my other family members. The pastor's wife had recently said goodbye to her husband of 60 some years who had just gone to be with the Lord. My heart especially goes out to her. She also is in my prayers, sometimes several times a day. Then there are others who, even though they are happy that he is with the Lord, are nonetheless missing him. It was good that the Gospel Team could be at their church.

As I was pondering the close ties with all these people, I thought what a comfort it is to be able to have the Lord close beside me. How I appreciate the privilege of being able to go to Him in prayer at any time of the day or night. I thought of the little boy that my daughter told me about. He had recently written a note to God on Facebook asking Him, “Why are there so many problems in school?” God replied:
 “Don't know, son, I'm not allowed in school.”

What a horrible thought that would be for a child to think that God was not there when he needed Him. But the Bible says that God is never far away. At any time the little boy can go into His presence and ask for help, if not audibly, he can silently be there. We have a blessed invitation:


Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of Grace,

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

Hebrews 4:16


With all of the concerns and problems that are increasing around the world, I am very thankful for all my dear friends who bring me such happiness. I'm thankful also to know that God is merciful
 and is ready to give grace to help in time of need.



Shirley's Soliloquies #337

01/09/2011

Contentment!


Contentment! What a wonderful thing!

My daughter arrived safely! Her car made the trip – which from its mechanical condition is quite a miracle in itself! She has settled in nicely. And another miracle – she has quit smoking! That has been her dream and desire for a long time. We continue to pray for the Lord's grace on her (Heb. 4:16).

My son will be arriving in just over a week for a visit! We have missed having him around! He and my husband will be playing at least one game of golf while he is here.

Then a few weeks after that, our good friends from England will be here for a visit. He will be speaking a number of times in different churches, and also at the Christian Businessmen's luncheon. His wife and I enjoy visiting the shops around the area. To us, this is enjoyable whether we buy anything or not.
 It's nice just being together.

A few days after that, our other daughter and granddaughter will be coming for a visit! They are very special and dear to us! They enjoy playing golf also, so this will be really nice for my husband,
 otherwise he doesn't play at all.

Yes, for me all of these events are causes for great contentment! However, I realize that even in adversities and trials, it is possible to be contented. I am thankful to have experienced these at times. The apostle Paul had been experiencing many trials and tribulations, much more severe than anything I have ever experienced. But even in all these, he said,


I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound.

Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry,

both to abound and to suffer need.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:11-13

Hebrews 13:5-6 exhorts believers,

Let your conduct be without covetousness:

be content with such things as you have.

For 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?”


Lord, may I always be content, for with godliness, it is definitely great gain (1Timothy 6:6).





Shirley's Soliloquies #336

01/02/2011

Another New Year

Another New Year has arrived! What does it hold for my husband and me? What does it hold for our family, our friends, and the Lord's Church all over the world?

Often this is a time of reflection and introspection. Many people take time to look back at what their lives have been over the past year. As a result, they resolve to look forward in order to make changes wherever it might be necessary. These 'prospections' are often called “New Year's Resolutions!”

Our dear friend, Norman, sent me an email recently which touched my heart. He likened our lives to a tapestry. Since this is something in which I am interested, I asked him if I could share it:


The life of a believer is a tapestry that the Lord is sewing and stitching all the time.

It isn't until we are in our mature years that we can look back

and see the fine texture and the glorious colors

of the handiwork in the tapestry

in which He has fashioned our lives.

So many lives have impacted on ours, and by grace, we have impacted others.

As we look back at the experience that we have both enjoyed and suffered,

they have all drawn us closer to the Lord.


The love He has shown us existed before the beginning

and will continue after the end.

He pursued us to the utter desolation of Calvary,

and for reasons known only to Himself, even in our advanced years,

He continues to pursue us towards the next exciting stage in our lives.

This knowledge is enough to lower the head of the greatest man on earth

and raise the head of the lowest beggar.

As the world heads relentlessly toward destruction, dragging its population with it,

if there is better news for mankind than the Gospel of Jesus Christ,

I have never heard it.


Yes! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to all the world's problems! It is true that our lives are like a tapestry being stitched. What will it look like? I often think of the illustration that my husband has used from the Psalmist who said, “We spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Psalm 90:9, KJV)

The question is: What kind of a tale is my life telling? What is the tapestry of my life looking like? May it be the kind that might possibly make a positive difference in someone else's life. May it, “Do good to all men, especially those of the household of God.” Galatians 6:10.


Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct,

in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12