Shirley's Soliloquies #490
The Enormity of it
I still cannot begin to fathom the enormity of the fact
that God, the Creator of the universe became human – a baby!
And He grew, lived, played, worked among people, and died for me.
But He rose from the dead and sat at God's right hand.
“Great is the mystery of Godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels,
Preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world,
received up into glory.”
1 Timothy 3:16
How amazing is it that He is now seated at God's right hand
living and making intercession for even me!
“It is Christ that died, yea rather,
that is risen again,
who is even at the right hand of God,
who also maketh intercession for us.”
This warms my heart as nothing else can,
especially since I injured my hand and broke my finger a few weeks ago.
The Orthopedic Surgeon put my hand in a cast nearly up to my elbow,
which has made me feel quite useless.
Sometimes tears seem to be on the verge of breaking through.
especially when I seem to be unable to do even simple things.
It destroys my feeling of independence.
and of being a helper!
But the Scriptures also tell me in Hebrews 4:16...
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
So at those times I cast myself on God, my mediator, my Savior,
and I marvel anew over the enormity of God becoming flesh,
and becoming my Savior, always ready to help in my time of need!
The Word Became
“The Word” has been staying in my mind lately.
What is its significance and why can it not leave my mind?
I happened to read the first chapter of John in a modern translation recently,
and the meaning of 'the Word' caused my soul to be deeply touched,
Its significance grew as I pondered these amazing things!
“In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God,
He always was!
“God created everything through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and His life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it....
He was the Creator!
“He came into the world He created,
but the world didn't recognise Him
He came to His own people,
and even they rejected Him.
He came into the world as that little baby
Who grew up and was rejected, but...
thankfully it doesn't remain there...
“But to all who believed Him and accepted Him,
He gave the right to become the children of God....”
“The Word became human
and made His home among us.”
John 1:1-5, 10-12, 14
'The Word' is none other than Jesus Christ – my Savior and Lord!
Shirley's Soliloquies #488
Come to Worship Him
This time of year some people's thoughts
turn to the account of the birth of Jesus
as recorded in the Holy Scriptures.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea
in the days of Herod the king,
behold magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?
For we have seen His star in the east,
and have come to worship Him.”
These wise men spent their lives studying the stars.
So when this amazing star became visible,
they knew its significance.
and set out to find this King who had been born.
They traveled a great distance to worship Him
because the Scriptures state that when they found Him,
He was a young child (Matthew 2:11).
“And they came into the house
and saw the Child with Mary His mother,
and they fell down and worshipped Him.”
Today true worship is far from the minds of most people
for He is often forgotten in the chaos of gift-giving,
Romans 12:1-2 suggests what is truly the way to worship Him:
“I plead with you to give your bodies to God
because of all He has done for you.
Let them be a living sacrifice--
the kind He will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship Him.
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person
by changing the way you think....”
Wise men still seek Him!
Shirley's Soliloquies #487
How quickly and unexpectedly life can change!
My husband and I were preparing to paint a ramp and handrails.
He was going to roll the paint on the ramp.
He had the long-handled roller and paint ready,
and I was going to paint the handrails while
standing on the ground next to the ramp.
All was going according to plan
when suddenly I turned for something,
tripped over stones and uneven ground,
and couldn't catch my balance.
The next thing I knew,
my face was sliding to a halt in the twigs, grass, and stones.
The two middle fingers of my left hand
were trapped under the weight of my chest.
I remember thinking,
'How is it possible for those fingers
to bend so far backwards?'
I was helped to a sitting position,
while my daughter who was just leaving for work ran to me,
took my glasses off, tried to wipe my face, brushed my clothes,
and then ran to the house to get a frozen bag of veggies.
She put it on my face and hand. I assured her that I was OK,
but she helped me inside so I could lie down.
'Well,' I thought, 'How quickly life can change.'
Several plans that my husband and I had made
now needed to be adjusted.
Circumstances in life can bring surprises,
our best-laid plans can so quickly come to an end.
“You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow..
You are just a vapor that appears for a little while
and then vanishes away.”
Shirley's Soliloquies #486
Thanksgiving has come and gone,
leaving precious memories of family members
and many friends who had joined together
to make these days a special occasion.
However, these times must come to an end,
because normal routines of life must once again resume.
As the Scriptures cite in Philippians 3:13,
“...forgetting what lies behind
and reaching forward to what lies ahead...”
But what does 'lie ahead'?
Sometimes the future looks quite dismal these days.
If it were not for my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
I would certainly be discouraged.
As 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NAS) states:
“If we have hoped in Christ in this life only,
we are of all men most to be pitied.”
But on the contrary,
since God is my source of hope
or confident expectation,
sometimes in the midst of troubles and trials,
I can feel as if I am
overflowing with joy and peace
because of my complete trust in Him!
“I pray that God,
the source of hope,
will fill you completely
with joy and peace
because you trust in him.
Then you will overflow with confident hope
through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 (NLT)
This is my prayer for all my family and friends.
Shirley's Soliloquies #485
Every day my lovely granddaughter has been recording
something for which she has been thankful.
And I have been very impressed!
Then I remembered that the Bible instructs me to be...
“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So I thought to myself, that is what I will do also.
As I started, it was easy; however before I got very far,
I realized that there were some things that didn't cause me to be thankful.
But that shouldn't be the case,
for I know the Scriptures clearly state
that I should be giving thanks for everything!
Actually most of the time it is easy to be thankful,
but sometimes doing it seems to be quite difficult.
Well, I knew that I needed to check the Scriptures again,
and found that without a doubt it should indeed be my aim.
For as if that previous verse were not clear enough,
the theme of giving thanks is repeated all through the Bible:
“In every thing give thanks
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
It wasn't long before I realized that in every difficult situation,
though it might be hard at first,
there is always much for which I can be thankful.
As Romans 8:38-39 came to mind,
everything seemed to diminish into insignificance!
“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord .”
Shirley's Soliloquies #484
Are You OK?
As the images on TV project the horrible devastation that has remained
from the huge typhoon in the Philippine Islands,
my heart keeps crying out, 'Are you OK?'
The cause of my burden is mainly because of our beloved friend
and national pastor who lives and ministers there.
Years ago our church brought him to the USA to share his burden.
During that time he was a great blessing to everyone wherever he ministered.
We could not help but love and admire him.
However, my lovely daughter reminds me,
“Mom, he'll be right there in the middle of it all helping to meet their needs.”
I'm sure she is right, being the way he is, he would be doing all he could to help.
But then the question comes up that so many people repeatedly ask,
“Why does God allow so many bad things to happen?”
My mind drifted to our Sunday evening prayer service.
There were so many people with serious needs:
Some with homelessness looming on the horizon,
some with serious physical, emotional, and spiritual needs,
some with recent deaths of loved ones,
some losing jobs, pastors losing their way,
churches losing their pastors,
and the list goes on and on.
The needs were many, but the Bible reminds me that the world
as it stands right now is not the way that God originally created it,
nor is it the way that it will ultimately be.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.”
But before this happens, there will be perilous times,
there will be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places.
(2 Timothy 3:1; Mat. 24:7)
Such disasters could serve as warnings of the coming day of the LORD,
but there is salvation for those who seek the LORD.
“Seek ye the LORD....it may be ye shall be hid
in the day of the LORD's anger.” (Zeph. 2:3)
Acts of kindness are not always rewarded in this life,
in fact, some people seem to take them for granted,
sometimes causing misunderstanding
and even producing hard feelings.
However, when I think of loving acts of kindness,
I think of my dear younger sister.
Her thoughtful ways make me thank the Lord
for her consistent winsome character.
She is conscious of people in need
and offers her help in various ways:
For example, an elderly couple needed to be transported
back to Tennessee from their summer home up north,
(a trip of over 500 miles one way).
So my sister and her husband offered to drive them.
The journey meant loss of work and extra costs for them,
plus the fact that they drove back the next day
making it a physically and emotionally tiring experience.
I was overwhelmed with their kindness.
Another example: one older single lady calls her on Sunday mornings
and tells her that she “can pick me up for church.”
Every time it involves signing her out of her Nursing Home,
then helping her into the car and putting her wheel-chair in the back.
Every Wednesday, she and some other friends go to her Nursing home for “coffee.”
Sometimes they decide to go to a restaurant so she will be able to “get out.”
So my sister picks the handicapped lady up, wheel-chair and all, and joins the others.
Thirdly, whenever someone has had surgery or has some other need,
my sister makes a dinner for them, complete with dessert.
Then she and her husband deliver it
to the shut-in's home.
As I was thinking of her many acts of kindness,
which often go on without any thanks,
I thought of the following Scripture:
“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love,
which ye have shewed toward his name,
in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
The striking contrast between
the white cumulus clouds
and the cerulean blue sky
makes my heart speed up
rejoicing in the beauty
and artistic wonder
of God's creation!
As a child,
often I would imagine various pictures
that seemed to appear in the formation of the clouds!
At times, I saw various animals.
At other times a pathway would appear
leading up to the throne of God!
This was always exciting for me
as I placed myself into the picture.
Now as I contemplate the oft-repeated mention of clouds in the Holy Scriptures,
my soul seems to overwhelm my consciousness with longing
as I place myself once again in the clouds
rising to meet the Lord in the air!
The following passage has probably given the most intense feeling
and well-timed and thankful comfort:
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord:
that we which are alive and remain
shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven
with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel,
and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
Shirley's Soliloquies #481
I recently heard a speaker whose topic was Anxiety.
He had many good thoughts
and cited numerous Scriptures.
However, all of a sudden,
he realized that the time allotted
for his message was gone.
Yet he felt compelled to share
a myriad of Scriptures that he had studied..
So he simply read the list of references that he had
and said they could be found on his web page.
Later in the week, the topic of Anxiety came back to my mind,
and with it came a chorus I had long forgotten....
“All your anxiety, all your care,
take to the mercy seat
leave it there.
Never a burden He cannot bear
Never a friend like Jesus.”
As the little chorus stayed with me,
it caused me to realize the truth of those words.
It does make a difference when I heed its advice,
because of what the Scriptures advise:
“Casting all your care upon Him:
for He careth for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Regardless of when any care might arise,
the peace that He promises
flows over my anxiety,
flooding my mind,
leaving in its wake
His perfect peace
leaving me contented
Shirley's Soliloquies #480
What a difference it makes when I “put on a happy face!”
My mind can do amazing things...
even when I am hurting.
If I put on a happy face,
it seems to brighten not only myself,
but everyone around me seems happier also!
In fact, I smile thinking of the song, “Put on a happy face.”
Gray skies are gonna clear up
Put on a happy face
Brush off the clouds and cheer up
Put on a happy face....
Wipe off the “full of doubt” look,
Slap on a happy grin!
And spread sunshine all over the place
Just put on a happy face.
The Scriptures go even further.
They go so far as to infer that my mental outlook
impacts my physical well-being.
A wise man gave insightful thoughts:
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person's strength.
A glad heart makes a happy face;
a broken heart crushes the spirit.
It is possible to “put on a happy face,”
especially when I experience the truth found in the Holy Scriptures, such as:
“Now may the Lord of peace himself
give you his peace at all times and in every situation.
The Lord be with you all.”
2 Thessalonians 3:16
The Faithfulness of
After the stormy winds blew and the rains stopped,
I opened the window and smelled the wonderful fresh air.
The cheerful sound of the birds singing brought peace and joy to my soul.
It was impossible not to pause and thank the Lord for His faithfulness!
The words of the hymn writer, Thomas Chisholm, captured my thoughts:
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
Recently I heard a pastor speaking about the faithfulness of God,
so this attribute of God was at the forefront of my mind.
As I searched the Scriptures about this matter,
a paraphrase of 2 Timothy 2:11-13 came to mind:
If we die with Him,
we will also live with Him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny who He is!
Yes! God Is Faithful!
Therefore my source of strength is in Him!
Somehow the calming sound of the little birds
reminded me of the blessed assurances of God's great faithfulness
and I said a little prayer of thanks to Him.
Shirley's Soliloquies #478
The future is full of uncertainty these days...
Our president stated this morning that he is unwilling to negotiate.
The congress has been at their 'wit's end' to present other solutions.
A government shutdown is on the horizon.
(Maybe that would be a good idea so our local officials
could begin to solve our own problems.)
there is a hurricane brewing in the Gulf of Mexico;
it is heading straight for us.
Our mobile home park's caretaker is walking around warning people
to have an evacuation plan in place.
Our daughter, who lives next door to us, takes it lightly --
she told me that she'd like to go to the Gulf to watch it!
It is definitely a time of uncertainty!
So what about my future?
That is secure, because...
I am positively persuaded that
it is as bright as the promises of God!
And what are they?
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,
and lean not on thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him,
and He shall direct thy paths!”
“My God shall supply all your needs
according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
“We know that all things work together for good,
to them that love God,
to them who are called according to His purpose.”
On these matters, there is no uncertainty, because
my trust and hope lie in God Who cannot lie!
Shirley's Soliloquies #477
How interesting that at several times during the past week,
references to God's handiwork came to my attention.
in the book of Isaiah, the prophet declared:
“God, the LORD, created the heavens
and stretched them out.
He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone,
life to everyone who walks the earth...”
And lest anyone missed God's message, Isaiah repeated,
“This is what the LORD says--
your Redeemer and creator.
I am the LORD who made all things.
I alone stretched out the heavens.”
The second coincidence occurred while I was with a friend.
She had a CD recording of waves washing upon the shore.
I felt totally relaxed, almost mesmerized, while listening.
Then what clinched the experiences
was when my daughter and I visited the beach.
The repetitive sound of the waves nearly put us to sleep,
It all made a profound impression.
'Yes,' I thought,
' The Lord is the One Who spoke, not only through the prophet,
but also He spoke through the vastness of His creation.'
It seems to create a cocoon-like wrap around my mind.
Whenever I think, feel, and hear it,
it gives me an incredible sense of peace.
“O LORD, my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder.
Thy power throughout the universe displayed....”
Then sings my soul...How Great Thou art!
Shirley's Soliloquies #476
My Mom used to tell me,
“Every family has its own cross to bear.”
Her statement has come to mind recently,
for it seems that there are so many friends
who are experiencing problems,
many of which are very serious.
But are they unsolvable problems?
I don't think so.
A close friend of ours has often exclaimed:
“There are no problems, only opportunities!”
But what about the person who thinks
that the present problem is really
more than he can handle?
Once again, as I turn to Holy Scripture,
I realize that God's Word can advise,
and there is a solution.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart
and lean not on thine own understanding.
In all thy ways, acknowledge Him
and He shall direct thy path.”
It brings great comfort to know that the LORD can direct my path,
However, there is a condition that must be met.
It is that in everything I must acknowledge and trust the LORD.
The words of Jesus can be applied also when He said:
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness
and all these things shall be added unto you.”
C.S. Lewis, in a nutshell, commented on this verse:
“Put first things first and we get second things thrown in:
Put second things first and we lose both first and
Shirley's Soliloquies #475
of our Creator
I am still glowing in the reminders of the music of the earth,
for everywhere I look and in every place I go,
I smile as I think of the presence of the LORD in His creation!
A friend reminded me of an instance where the LORD God
actually used His creation to guide His people!
It is recorded in 2 Samuel 5.
The Philistines seemed to be constantly going against David and his people.
But when they did, David sought the LORD's guidance.
The LORD sometimes used His creation to tell him what he should do,
“David inquired of the LORD, and He said,
“You shall not go up;
circle around behind them,
and come upon them
in front of the mulberry trees.
And it shall be,
when you hear the sound of marching
in the tops of the mulberry trees,
then you shall advance quickly.
for then the LORD will go out before you
to strike the camp of the Philistines.”
2 Samuel 5:23-24
And that's exactly what happened.
Each time they sought the LORD, the battle was won!
So as the little birds sing their songs, and other birds screech, quack, and honk;
As the wind whistles through the trees, and rustles through the bushes;
As the ocean roars, crashes, or laps gently on the shore;
I hear the sounds of the LORD my God.
“The heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.”
If creation is so great...how much greater is our Creator!
Shirley's Soliloquies #474
The Music of the
How fascinating it is to think of the music that our earth holds!
I understand that scientists have found that the earth is “humming”
For example, they say that the sun makes sounds.
I can hear the sounds that the churning ocean makes,
and even the trees seem to whisper and make music in the breezes.
The pictures on the weather maps show the rolling atmosphere,
that also must make some sounds.
Evidently, the stones and rocks could make some sounds,
for when Jesus was on earth, He was riding on a colt towards Jerusalem.
People spread their clothes on the road praising God with a loud voice
for all the mighty works they had seen.
However, the religious leaders of the day called to Jesus
and told Him to rebuke the people.
But He answered them:
“I tell you that if these should keep silent,
the stones would immediately cry out.”
The Psalmist exclaimed,
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy”
While I was thinking of all these things, it occurred to me that it is not so unusual
to imagine a scene in the future of a great symphony of all of God's creation
joining in with all mankind praising the LORD God!
For the Bible predicts:
“God has highly exalted Him
and given Him the name which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,...
and that every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Christ Jesus: My
Someone told me about a little gal
who was quite apprehensive
about going into Boot Camp.
Evidently, she had tried to get a job, but couldn't.
So her father wanted her to go into Boot Camp.
The person who told me about the girl asked for Scriptures that might help her.
She said that the young girl was visibly upset and quite nervous about it.
One of the verses that has come to mean a lot for me in many difficult situations,
and has given me great assurance is Philippians 4:19,
“My God shall supply all your needs
according to his riches in glory
in Christ Jesus.”
Then as that verse gives me the assurance that I need,
my mind quickly tells me that,
“I can do all things through Christ
Who strengthens me!”
How thankful I am for God's Word,
for it is a firm foundation upon which I can stand!
I know that, “Thy Word is truth.” (John 17:7)
and I have experienced,
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.”
Definitely, God's Word has been my light
pointing the way to my Savior, Jesus Christ
Who strengthens me and gives me assurance!
Shirley's Soliloquies #472
Similes About my
As I was reading Psalm 36:5-7 again,
my meditations flowed along like a river
with the Psalmist as he penned the following satisfying similes,
“Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens;”
Oh, how true this is to me –
I look at the vastness of the heavens
deeper than the eye or even the telescope can see
and I marvel over the unfailing love of my LORD!
“Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.”
His faithfulness is beyond measure...
How true this has proven to be, time after time!
“Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice is like the ocean depths.”
How wonderful to rest assured in the fact that
the Lord's righteousness and justice knows no end!
“You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
How amazing is God's unfailing love,
it is definitely a precious thought indeed!
“All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.”
I appreciate the metaphor of the hen shielding her chicks under her wings
because it makes me feel completely safe and content with the LORD!
William O Cushing penned the words to a well-loved song,
“Under His wings, I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.”
As I was doing my exercises this morning,
the Bible verse from 1 Timothy 4:7 came into my mind:
“Exercise thyself unto godliness...”
Probably exercising is not a favorite thing for most people to do,
but there is usually a reason or a goal they have in mind that keeps them striving.
In order to reduce back pain, I exercise my back in order to strengthen it.
My niece and nephew are in California coaching their swim team this week.
Before those young people even thought of going to the 'Nationals'
they had to practice and do exercises to strengthen their bodies.
It took many hours of consistent effort on their parts
and finally all of their perseverance paid off.
They became local, then regional champions,
finally making the goal of going to the nationals.
The Scriptures graphically illustrate the principle
that there needs to be a consistent development.
The Apostle Paul said he was striving like an athlete toward his goal;
God also knew mankind needed an example to follow.
So He sent His beloved Son, Jesus, Who though He was God,
took on human flesh and lived among mankind
so that people would know what it was like to be more 'God-like'.
“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,
the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Might I exercise myself with this goal, not only with this life in view,
but also toward the next, keeping in mind, 1 Timothy 4:8,
“...godliness is profitable unto all things,
having promise of the life that now is,
and of that which is to come.”
As I exercise myself toward being more 'God-like', I pray as did Eliza Hewitt,
“More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show
More of His saving fullness see
More of His love who died for me.”
Shirley's Soliloquies #469
Is This God's Will?
“There have been so many bad things happening,” someone exclaimed.
“How can such things be God's will?”
Isaiah 55:8-9 records God's words:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,” saith the Lord
But does this mean that He takes pleasure in sending me 'bad things?'
My innermost being exclaims, 'No! That can never be the case!'
How can I be so sure about that?
First of all, I believe that the Bible is God's Word.
Psalm 139 graphically illustrates how much interest He has in me.
Secondly, the Bible is full of examples illustrating how God overruled in people's lives,
showing how He turned bad things into what turned out for good (Romans 8:28).
For example, Joseph was beloved of his father, yet his brothers hated him
and sold him to passing merchants who took him and sold him as a slave.
He endured all kinds of injustices,
but eventually, he became the 'right hand man' to the Pharaoh.
Genesis 50 records Joseph telling his brothers,
'You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good!'
The book of Job reveals Satan wanting to attack Job to show
that the reason for his righteousness was because of God's blessing.
God responded by consenting to 'lower the hedge' around Job.
So Satan did his dirty work, yet Job continued to praise God.
In the end, God blessed Job and gave him more than he had in the beginning.
The Bible gives many examples of people who loved God,
yet they endured all kinds of trials and testings (Hebrews 11:32-40).
They were confident of God's presence and blessing in the end.
Thirdly, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is especially good for me to remember
whenever I encounter trials and testings; it has proven so true:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble,
by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
Shirley's Soliloquies #468
The Squirrel in the Tree
Last night as I was sitting in my comfy chair reading,
I glanced out the window to rest my eyes.
A grayish squirrel dashed up a tree,
stopped, and furtively scanned all directions.
He seemed satisfied that there was no danger nearby,
so he continued scampering up the tree
until he stopped on a narrow branch.
He slithered on it, stretching himself out,
seeming to become one with the branch.
I could hardly tell where the squirrel ended and the branch began!
As he rested, I went back to my Kindle to continue reading.
But instead, my eyes drifted back out the window to see
if my friend 'Squirrel' was still there.
Strangely, I could not see him anywhere.
I scanned all the branches in that area
but he was no where to be found.
When I concentrated on the branch where he had been,
I thought that it did seem a little thicker than I remembered,
but there was absolutely no definite shape or movement there.
So I surmised that he had gone somewhere else.
I looked around for him, puzzled how he had gone that quickly.
Suddenly, that branch seemed to peel away as I watched. It was my Squirrel!
He had effectively camouflaged himself to become one with the branch.
The amazing ability that God has given to all his little creatures
to hide from their enemies continues to amaze me.
What a gracious and wise Creator we worship!
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?
And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Do not fear therefore;
you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29 (NKJV)
As God cares for the tiny sparrows and all His little creatures,
how much more will He care for His children!
Shirley's Soliloquies #467
As I was reading through the historical books in the Old Testament,
I began to feel weary over the endless battles the children of Israel had
as they defended their homes and families.
But after many years of battles while they were under the reign of King David,
they finally were able to have rest.
Then David challenged them to build a sanctuary for the LORD God. He told them:
“Is not the LORD your God with you and hath he not given you rest on every side?
For he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand;
and the land is subdued before the LORD, and before his people.”
1 Chronicles 22:18
David collected the materials, and his son, Solomon, had the magnificent sanctuary built.
However, their rest did not last, for after a while they rebelled against the Lord their God.
And once again they had battles to fight.
Then God told them:
“Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths,
where is the good way, and walk therein,
and ye shall find rest for your souls.
But they said, We will not walk therein.”
When Jesus was on earth, He had a similar message.
And thankfully, it still rings true even today,
“Come unto me,
all ye that labour
and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29 (KJV)
It is a choice that people have to make in order to receive his rest.
Shirley's Soliloquies #466
It was a bit shocking the first time
that I went over a road that was being patched.
A couple of feet to my right, there was a hole, about 7 or 8 feet deep,
with a pipe running near the bottom of it.
A workman was in the hole working on the pipe.
It did startle me for a minute, for it brought to mind
a TV image that I had seen of a car down in a 'sink hole'.
Evidently the road had suddenly collapsed
trapping the car down in the hole.
Later, as I was thinking of the reality of everything
that must be going on under the ground where we move and live,
the whole complex of the underground rail system in England came to my mind.
It is beyond belief that all of that whole system
could be taking place right under the ground where people are living!
Well, I thought to myself, in a microscopic way,
isn't it amazing to think of everything
that is going on in my body, right under my skin?
It covers a multitude of very important systems...
and I simply take it all for granted, never giving it a second thought.
When I do stop to think especially about every part
of my circulatory and respiratory systems,
I marvel over the thought that it is all involuntary,
constantly working in spite of what I might be doing or thinking.
The Psalmist wrote:
“I will praise thee:
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
marvellous are thy works;
and that my soul knoweth right well.”
It is indeed amazing to think of everything
that goes on in my body and in my world
without any thought of mine.
How marvelous are the works of the LORD!
Shirley's Soliloquies #465
A Blessed Relationship
I feel very blessed because this past week
many members of my family
have driven hundreds of miles to be with me.
What a wonderful mystical relationship
there exists between a mother and child,
no matter how old they might become
or how far away they they might be!
When I think of my relationship with my parents or with my children,
it helps me understand more fully
the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father.
The Bible has no lack of references regarding this special relationship.
“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
What a special privileged feeling it is to be a child of God!
The Bible spells out what my behavior patterns as a child of God should be,
just as parents would instruct their children.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do,
because you are his dear children.”
However, it is possible to wander away from God and not obey Him,
just as some children wander away from the instructions of their parents.
But how ashamed they usually become when they are reconciled once again!
The Bible warns about this too:
'And now dear children, remain in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns,
you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame.”
1 John 2:28
How deeply it thrills my heart when I can say:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.”
3 John 4
Shirley's Soliloquies #464
Celebrating our Liberty
Our nation's pledge of allegiance
is something that I have cherished from my childhood days
when, as a student, I recited it from memory.
It has never left me without deep emotional vibrations.
The section that comes to mind today is as follows:
“One nation under God,
and justice for all.”
As our country will be celebrating the day of our
independence with picnics, potlucks, parties, and fireworks,
I was prompted to think of the liberty that I have in the Lord Jesus Christ!
What makes this so significant is that it was not always so. Our position as Gentiles was not a privileged one, nor did we always have this liberty in Christ. The Jewish nation had been God's chosen people, the privileged ones. Gentiles were secondary citizens.
But God in His mercy called a man by the name of Saul of Tarsus (later called Paul), and told him that he would be His chosen vessel “to take His message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
What an amazing transformation that would have been
in his day! As a result of obeying God's calling, the apostle
Paul suffered unimaginably. But he obeyed God's call. As a
result, today, even as a Gentile,
I am privileged to be considered one of God's children. For Ephesians 3:6 states:
“And this is God's plan:
Both Gentiles and Jews
who believe the Good News
share equally in the riches inherited by God's children.
Both are part of the same body,
and both enjoy the promise of blessings
because they belong to Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6-7 (NLT)
This gives me unbelievable liberty, freedom, and a blessed hope.
Secondly, because of our country's declaration of
independence that we will be celebrating this week, I have
complete freedom and liberty to worship God. Previously the
organized church dictated the worship. Even today, some
countries still dictate the forms of religion. I'm very
thankful that I have the freedom and liberty to worship God
according to the dictates of my heart.
The Sun is Shining!
I was sitting on my sofa and happened to glance outside...
saw the sun shining,
and heard the birds singing!
My heart and mind began to echo
the following thoughts....
sun is shining,
The birds are singing,
All seems just right in my world.
world was perfect,
His love was reaching
To all who would receive it.
man came and sinned
God's love was still there,
He sent His beloved Son.
came and lived,
He loved and served them,
Until they crucified Him.
God's love's still there,
Reaching all who come,
Offering them salvation.
gift is for all
Who accept His Son,
Promising Life Eternal!
God's SON is always shining!
Shirley's Soliloquies #462
An Amazing Prayer
“We...do not cease to pray for you,”
Oh, how good that would have felt for the Colossian believers to hear these words!
It always meant so much to me to be assured of my Mom's prayers.
The apostle Paul continued by telling them specifically about his prayer for them:
“and to desire that ye might be filled
with the knowledge of his will”
How important it is to have knowledge of God's will...
“in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;”
How often I pray for wisdom for myself and for others...
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord
unto all pleasing,”
Oh yes! This is my most earnest desire!
“being fruitful in every good work,”
How wonderful to be fruitful always in my work for the Lord!
“and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
This will come from my daily meditations in God's Word.
“Strengthened with all might,
according to his glorious power,”
His incredible, experiential power is also available to strengthen me!
unto all patience and longsuffering
Patience and Longsuffering with Joyfulness.
Might I experience this prayer. It's evident it is possible.
There are times
when God's Word lays heavy on my heart.
Today was such a day.
Someone was upset over grievances she had held against someone for years.
Now those distorted memories seemed to smolder inside of her
causing her great anguish and pain, even bringing tears.
How much better it would have been for her to give those grievances to the Lord.
He is the One Who is the Righteous Judge.
He will set all things right some day.
He keeps accurate records.
Meanwhile for peace of mind, the Bible has the answer.
“Whatsoever things are true,
Whatsoever things are honest, (honorable)
Whatsoever things are just, (right)
Whatsoever things are pure,
Whatsoever things are lovely,
Whatsoever things are of good report; (good repute)
“if there be any virtue, (excellence)
and if there be any praise, (things worthy of praise)
“think on these things.”
Sometime later in the day, another instance brought this same verse to mind.
There was a text message on my cell phone:
“Please pray for God to watch over me.”
This deeply touched my heart since it felt as if the request held deep pain.
So for the next hour, that person was in my prayers.
Philippians 4:8, “...Whatever things...!”
I thanked the Lord for this Word.
Shirley's Soliloquies #460
The crash of thunder startled me!
The winds were causing the trees to bend violently under their force.
My mind went back to the images that I had seen on the television the day before.
The devastation of the tornado in the Midwest was unimaginable.
People roamed around the rubbish helplessly searching
for any object that might look familiar to them.
It was heartbreaking to watch.
I thought of Job in the Old Testament. He said,
“O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good.”
He must have felt completely helpless, unable to do anything about the tragedies around him.
Yet, he knew his Creator God, and he still blessed His name. He said,
“Naked came I out of my mother's womb,
and naked shall I return thither:
the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Another wise man mused, (Proverbs 30:4),
“Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended?
Who hath gathered the wind in his fists?
Who hath bound the waters in a garment?
Who hath established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?
But verse 5 continues:
“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”
As I read those verses, I thought again of the destitute people in the Midwest. One man said He prayed to the LORD, and was able to take shelter under an object that had fallen. He had to be dug out, but he was grateful to be alive.
In another instance, a teacher said that when the tornado was hitting her school, as she was sheltering the children around her, she did what she was not allowed to do. She prayed! And she and her students were saved amidst all of the rubble around them!
One never knows when winds might blow with devastating force. Life is short, but eternity is forever!
Shirley's Soliloquies #459
I was intrigued on Sunday as I listened to the Word
of God being expounded. The teacher was beginning a series on
the book of First Thessalonians. However, in order to get a
better understanding, it was important to see
the background of the Apostle Paul's ministry. He turned to Acts, chapter 17.
“Paul and Silas then traveled...and came to Thessalonica,
where there was a Jewish synagogue.
As was Paul's custom,
he went to the synagogue service,
and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures....(vss. 1-2)
The apostle Paul was well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures, for he had sat under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), being taught the law of the Fathers. So when he was converted, he was able to do an extensive amount of searching in the Old Testament Scriptures in order to explain what was happening at that time. Thus, with his background, he was able to
“...reason with the people.
He explained the prophecies
and proved that the Messiah must suffer
and rise from the dead. He said,
“This Jesus I'm telling you about is the Messiah.” (vss. 2-3)
However, though some of the Jews and Greeks, as
well as prominent women, listened carefully and believed,
there were troublemakers who turned against Paul & Silas
and their message, causing riots. So the believers helped them
They then went to Berea where they found that the people
“...were more open-minded
than those in Thessalonica,
and they listened eagerly to Paul's message.
They searched the Scriptures day after day
to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
As a result, many Jews believed,
as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” (vss.11-12)
What was intriguing to me were the techniques that Paul used in his ministry. He was taught by a “master-teacher (Gamaliel), and had learned well. So he reasoned, explained, and proved from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah. I thought,
'I must keep meditating daily on the Scriptures, for they are God's Word.
Then I will be better equipped to follow the example of the Apostle Paul
in order to reason, explain, and prove that Jesus is Who He claimed to be.'
Shirley's Soliloquies #458
The memories of the past week-end are still fresh in my mind.
How wonderful it is to be remembered by one's children!
However, I realize that not all people are so
blessed. There are people who probably were having feelings of
or even loss amidst all the “hoop-la” concerning Mother's Day.
There was a time during the days that Jesus Christ was on earth when He specifically stated that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Yet the Bible records an instance when He left Galilee, heading north. A Gentile woman who lived there came to Him and pleaded for mercy and help for her daughter.
Jesus responded telling her that He was sent only to help the people of Israel. He also told her that it wasn't right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs, likening her to a dog (Matt. 15:26).
However she continued to plead, saying that what He
said was true, but even dogs got to eat scraps that fell from
their master's table. So as usual, Jesus was moved by her
faith. He responded by granting her request.
The Bible records that her daughter was instantly healed (Matthew 15:21-28).
Perhaps at first the Gentile woman did have
feelings of rejection. However, Jesus, true to His nature,
understood her plight and granted her need, thereby lessening her feelings of rejection.
The Bible actually declares that Jesus came first to the children of Israel. However, in no unmistakable words, it also declares:
“He came unto His own,
and His own receiveth Him not.
But as many as received Him
to them gave He power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on His name!”
Jesus was ready to help those who were in need. He
not only helped them, but He gave His life
to atone for the sins of the whole world. The apostle John wrote (1 John 2:2):
“He is the propitiation for our sins:
and not for ours only,
but for the sins of the whole world.”
There is no need for feelings of rejection from our Heavenly Father. Romans 10:13 states,
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Shirley's Soliloquies #457
One Step at
After a person completes one step successfully, it is possible to go on to the next.
So it was at my local church this past Sunday.
My pastor presided over the final phase of a building program that was begun ten years ago.
Phase one, or the first step, began with the expansion of the worship sanctuary and additional space.
Some time after that, Phase two was started, and the congregation cooperated again by approving that phase of the expansions.
Finally Phase three was presented and received congregational approval. With anticipation, this week, the “ground-breaking” occurred for the completion of the long-term building program. At one time it all seemed to be so far in the distant future. What a joyous occasion it was to finally see this dream!
It occurred to me how this is like a person's development. A babe's early months can only handle milk. As the baby grows, gradually the mother adds some solid foods, making sure the baby's system can handle it. As each step in this process is successful, the child is introduced to other foods, eventually becoming a healthy, mature individual, able to eat anything.
So it is with the Christian life. When a person accepts the
Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior,
that person is a “babe in Christ,” and must be fed and treated as a babe.
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word,
that ye may grow thereby.”
1 Peter 2:2
As one grows and develops gradually, more “foods” and “life experiences” are presented. As each step is completed successfully, a further experience is received, so that eventually the babe-in-Christ becomes a fully matured person in Christ.
God's Word does give a word of caution about stunted growth,
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers,
ye have need that one teach you again
which be the first principles of the oracles of God;
and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness:
for he is a babe.”
How important it is to be able to complete each step faithfully,
in order to become productive in one's Christian life and service.
The words of Psalm 103 grabbed my heart this morning,
and I had to praise and pray along with the Psalmist:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul:
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits:
And there have been so many – too numerous to count;
so I continued to repeat the words of the Psalmist:
“For as the heaven is high above the earth,
so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children,
so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame;
he remembereth that we are dust.
As for man, his days are as grass;
as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone;
and the place thereof shall know it no more.
What a contrast are human frailties with the love and mercy of the LORD!
“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
upon them that fear him,
and his righteousness unto children's children;
To such as keep his covenant
and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
“Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion:
bless the LORD, O my soul.”
Psalm 103:1-2; 11-18; 22 (KJV)
Shirley's Soliloquies #455
Photograph taken by my grandson, Matthew Lower, at Bellengrath Gardens, Mobile Alabama
“He leadeth me beside the still waters....”
As soon as my eye beheld this scene,
my whole being seemed to relax.
God's love and faithfulness surrounded me
as I absorbed the beauties of His creation.
Then I thought of His unfailing love and leading!
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim
your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening.”
Psalm 92:1-2 (NLT)
The Power of
Last Sunday, my husband was mentioning the church in Ephesus.
They had lost their first love. They didn't love God or others the way they did at first.
According to Revelation, chapter 2, God was going to remove their witness.
Later, as I was meditating on these things, I thought how sometimes this does actually happen. If a group doesn't show genuine concern and love for others, soon people will leave. Most people do not want to stay where they feel that they are not wanted. And as people leave, the witness dies.
This should never happen in a church family! It is important to show love for one another. Jesus said,
“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
in that ye have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 (KJV)
However, the Bible carries it a step further.
According to 2 Corinthians 5:14, “The love of Christ constrains us.”
I wonder if this could mean that even though 'love' isn't first received, it should still be given?
I remember reading the little quip:
“First I learned to love my teacher.
Then I learned to love my teacher's Bible.
Finally I learned to love my teacher's God!
What was it about my teacher that I learned to love?
Could it be that I felt that she was genuinely concerned and cared for me?
Since that's how I felt,
it naturally followed that I listened to her
and learned to love what she loved.
She became my example.
I saw her showing great interest in her Bible, and she told me what it said.
Then when I realized that the Bible was telling about God and His great love for me,
I wanted to love Him also.
1 John 4 19 does state: “We love Him, because He first loved us.”
He set a great example for me to follow!
Shirley's Soliloquies #453
Oh yes! It felt wonderful to be soaking it all up!
My daughter flew in from Ohio so she could drive us back north. But she planned several days off work so we would have time to go to the beach and soak up some of the sun's rays before she drove us back to the cold north.
Oh, how relaxing it was to spread out a sheet on that beautiful beach and relax, listening to the waves gently rolling up on the shore. After a bit, she couldn't resist a walk along the beach with her feet in the water. But the best of all to me was feeling the soothing sun on our sun-deprived skin. It seemed to melt all the cares of the winter away. I felt as though I had spent the whole winter inside taking my husband to hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, physical therapy, and doctor's offices.
As I think back over the past week that she was with us, I did feel guilty. Her generous character sees various things that need to be done, and she sets out doing them. The porch and ramp did need to be sealed and stained. It was a job that my husband and I could not have handled by ourselves. So she encouraged me to go with her to the store to pick out a stain. Then she got the things we needed and we began! My husband came out and was able to stand so he could paint some of the outside spindles, while she and I worked on the inside of them. Finally she finished the floor by herself. Later in the day, we stood back, a bit stain-speckled, but feeling very pleased with the finished product!
As I looked at the deck, I remembered how that dry wood seemed to soak up the stain. It seemed to be anticipating the application. It literally ate it up, absorbing it very quickly! In fact, we had to go back and get another gallon.
Then I thought of the expressions of some people's
faces when my husband preaches. They appear to be starved for
Word of God, and so they eagerly seem to soak in every word.
In fact, the Bible says,
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void.”
God's Word is not just pretty platitudes, it actually answers the questions to man's needs.
“Blessed are they which do
hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be filled.”
My whole being anticipates the quiet meditation that I can spend soaking up God's Word.