Pause and think about it!

I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84:10).

It was another beautiful morning in Ghana, when about 6:30 AM I looked out the window and saw Stephen cutting the grass with a small sickle—an implement consisting of a curved metal blade with a short handle. Where, I queried, was the lawn mower? Of course, there was none. This was quite a large courtyard full of lovely bushes, flowers, and nice green grass. The young man was diligently manicuring the lawn with his body bent in a 90 degree angle as he moved along as if he were a machine. I was intrigued by his thoroughness and the beauty of the well-maintained courtyard. Who was this young man who always had a big smile on his face? He was obviously full of joy and had no bitterness or resentment toward his job.

Stephen’s main function at the compound was Gate Keeper. He arrived promptly at 6 AM, six days a week, and left at 6 PM, or whenever his alternate arrived. During those twelve hours on duty it was his primary responsibility to unlock the big gate when official residents arrived and departed and to make sure no unauthorized person gained access to the area. He watched over my friend and me when we walked across the alley to purchase a bag of cheese balls. He monitored the levels in the outdoor water tanks so if the city didn’t pump enough water that week, he could warn the residents and they could order a tank-truck of water to get them through until the next pumping time. He fed and watered the dog and cat. He did the ironing for the residents (I discovered that ironing is a man’s job in Ghana), and any other job delegated to him. In addition to all this, he maintained the mango trees and all the flowering bushes and beautiful shrubs, flowers, and grass in fresh and vibrant condition reaching heavenward for the daily sunshine. In the middle of the afternoon, at rest time, he could be seen sitting on the bench with a dictionary and a Christian book—the ones I saw were dealing with theology and the Christian life.

Who was this young man, really? I had to get to know him. One morning I prepared to leave the house well ahead of my driver’s arrival. This would give me time to linger a while outside and talk with Stephen rather than just exchanging greetings as I came and went.

NAME CHANGE

“Stephen,” I said, “I’m curious. Where did you get your name?”  Ah, the joy on his face and the thrill of being able to share his testimony with me.

His father, who had been on active military duty when he was born, gave him the name Michael after one of his close comrades. He was taken to church regularly and was taught the Bible. As he grew up he continued to participate in church services and activities and called himself a Christian. One day he landed a good job as gatekeeper for a missionary. In the compound where he worked, there was a “boys house” where those on duty could rest and eat; and he brought his girlfriend there one day when the missionary was away. However, on that particular day, the head missionary came to check on the property of the staff member on furlough. When he saw the girl there, he asked Stephen, “Are you a Christian?” to which he replied, “Yes.” Then the missionary asked, “Are you sleeping with her?” to which Stephen also replied, “Yes.” At that point the head missionary looked right into Stephen’s eyes and said: “Then you are NOT a Christian. Christians don’t do that.”

Stephen told me that the Holy Spirit spoke to him so clearly through the missionary that he broke up with the girlfriend immediately explaining to her that he wants to be a true Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Then he changed his name from Michael to Stephen after the biblical Stephen who was a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ until it his death.

That happened several years ago. Since that time, Stephen has set himself apart as a servant of Jesus Christ. He expressed his belief that the Lord has given him this opportunity to serve the missionaries as their “gatekeeper.” This is his ministry, and he is making good use of free time to study and prepare himself for whatever else the Lord may have for him in the future. Meanwhile he is joyful, content, and witnessing to all those around with his life of servanthood.

SINCERE VS PHONY SERVING

Speaking of serving, there was another story that came to me about Stephen. A couple of years ago when the flood of the century came to Accra, Stephen had already gone home from his job. However, he knew that the missionary’s house was likely in danger of being flooded and went there to check on the property. He arrived in time to save some valuable things although it was impossible to control the water and mud which eventually permeated every part of the compound. He did what he could and realized later he himself had probably lost everything from his own modest little home. To his surprise, his neighbors had seen him leave and went to his home, pulled out everything valuable, and put it on higher ground. “In giving we will receive.”

It’s the difference between the sincere and the phony. Jim Fletcher writes, “I once accompanied a well-known author to an interview. As we were walking toward the escalators, he asked if I would refill his cup of ice, yet he was much closer to a juice cart than I was. His ego demanded that he be waited on. For me, his ministry message of love for his fellow man rang hollow.

“Another time I saw the positive attitude. Over lunch, I visited with an author who has a different agenda. Curious about his goals as a writer, I asked the usual questions: ‘Do you think publicity is the key to fame [in publishing]? How would you like to package your books in order to really put your name out there?’ He glanced at several celebrity authors and their entourages, then looked at me. ‘Jim,’ he began gently, ‘do you remember the story in the Bible of Moses on the mountain?’ I nodded, not sure of his point. ‘Well, he found himself in that place in the rock, near God. That’s all I want, to be near God.’ This was a private conversation, and the author was never going to speak of it publicly, but his attitude made a profound impact on me. (He gets his own ice too.)”[1]

The Psalmist expressed this principle of contentment, servanthood, and fulfillment when he said: A  day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents (palaces) of (the wicked) wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

SERVING GOD BY SERVING OTHERS

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand spent elsewhere. To feel God’s love, to rejoice in the person of the anointed Savior, to survey the promises and feel the power of the Holy Ghost in applying precious truth to the soul, is a joy that thrills true believers. Even a glimpse at the love of God is better than ages spent in the pleasures of sin.

“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

To bear burdens and open doors for the Lord is more honor than to be “somebody” in this world. Note how the psalmist calls the tabernacle the house of my God; if Jehovah is our God, His house, His altars, His doorstep, all become precious to us. We know by experience that where Jesus is within, the outside of the house is better than any place where the Son of God is not to be found.[2] Some of the Levites had the assignment to keep the doors of the Lord’s house, (see 1 Chron. 26:1). Or think of the beggars that lay at the gates of the temple for alms (see Acts 3:1). And remember the servant that was desirous of continuing in his master’s house, and serving him for ever; who was brought to the door post, and had his ears bored through with an awl (see Ex. 21:5).

Like the psalmist, God’s courts were Stephen’s choice. He had chosen to be a Gate Keeper and loyal servant to the missionary; he was caring for the property as unto the Lord.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

The Pharisees loved synagogues well enough, provided they might have the uppermost seats there (Mt. 23:6) so they could be noticed and acknowledged. Not the Psalmist. Not Stephen. God Himself was their hope, and joy, and all. Therefore they loved the house of their God, because their expectation was from their God[3] and not from people. It is easy to imagine what pride the Pharisees took in having the preeminence, (3 Jn. 9). It is not possessing the uppermost rooms, nor sitting in the chief seats, that is condemned (somebody must sit uppermost), but loving to sit there.

Along with desiring pre-eminence comes the demand to be addressed with titles of honor and respect. The Pharisees loved greetings in the markets, loved to have people put off their hats to them, and show them respect when they met them in the streets. O how it pleased them, and fed their vain humor…to have way made for them in the crowd of market people, and to be complimented with the high and pompous title of Rabbi, Rabbi! The greetings would not have done them half so much good, if they had not been in the markets, where everybody might see how much they were respected, and how high they stood in the opinion of the people.

To give respect to them that teach and preach is commendable; but for the teachers and preachers to love and demand that respect, to be puffed up with it, and to be displeased if it be omitted, is sinful and abominable.

TRADING A TITLE FOR  TOWEL

In our early morning conversation, Stephen told me about an incident involving his pastor and dear friend. Some time earlier, the pastor had a burden for his people to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and in his attempts to challenge them, he began to recite the litany of his own successes, educational accomplishments, and titles earned. As Stephen was hearing this, the Holy Spirit within him was grieved. After the service, he spoke to the pastor and told him how as Christians we should be laying down our titles and picking up the towel to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. That’s what Jesus did. He has called us to humble ourselves and be servants as well. It may have been helpful for the pastor to share his past with the congregation, as the Apostle Paul often did; but he needed to go a step further so they would know he was not demanding obeisance. At first when Stephen talked to him, the pastor was caught off guard and took offense, but soon he came to Stephen in all humility and thanked him. Today they are good friends. That’s the mark of a humble man—a meek man, one who is teachable.

Here is a precept of humility and mutual subjection: He that is greatest among you shall be your servant; not only call himself so, but shall be so.  John Wesley’s Rule says: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can and as long as you can.[4]

A writer for a great newspaper visited India. One day he met a missionary nurse who lived among the lepers and helped them. How tender and loving she was to the poor lepers. The porter looked upon her with amazement. He said, “I wouldn’t wash the wounds of these lepers for a million dollars!” “Neither would I,” answered the missionary nurse, “but I gladly do it for Christ. I have no thought of any reward other than His smile of approval upon me!”[5]

Stephen wasn’t interested in a title, the name of his job, or recognition for his labor. He chose to take up the towel—he was a true servant, one who served with joy and purpose in the Name of the Lord and as unto the Lord—not just in church services but equally in his everyday life at home and work. He first humbled himself and repented for his sin, in compliance with his God, and now continues to humble himself in service and submission to his brethren. He shall be exalted to inherit the throne of glory.

May all of us follow in Stephen’s footsteps and give up our demand for titles and pick up the towel of service to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Stephen for giving me permission to share his story.

 [1] Fletcher, Jim, “The Great Secret,” as published in The Christian Communicator, Volume 15, Number 2, p. 6. The Christian Communicator, PO BOX 110390 Nashville, TN 37222-03900.

[2]http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/spurgeon/psalm84.htm

[3] http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/c/1043514619-2131.html

[4] Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations, Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 357.

[5] Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations…

© The Alabaster Box/yvonnekarl  Vol 18 No 03 2007

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

EXACTLY WHAT IS AN “EBENEZER?” Initially, the word appears as the name of a specific place where the Israelites had two battles with the Philistines, in the second of which the ark was captured: Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer (1 Sam. 4:1)… The Philistines brought the ark of God from Ebenezer to Ashdod (1 Sam. 5:1).

After the battles, Samuel ascribed meaning to the word based on what had transpired:  Then Samuel took a stone…and called the name of it Ebenezer, stone of help, saying, Heretofore the Lord has helped us (1 Sam. 7:12).  He set up the “stone” as a memorial of the help received in the defeat of the Philistines. 

This passage started the wheels of my mind turning (and I’m sure the same thing happens to you), remembering the many, many times the Lord has intervened in my life and helped me through one battle after another. I was reminded of Malachi 3:16: Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord, and who thought on His name. One translation says, they rehearsed the things the Lord had done for them. When we begin to identify the victories the Lord has given us, two things happen: we get stronger and are more resolved and determined to push through the next conflict; and we are in awe with hearts full of gratitude for how He helped us overcome. There is no need for us to set up tangible monuments, rather we need to apprehend these victories with our minds, capturing them for immediate recall in times of difficulty.

EXACTLY WHAT DOES “SELAH” MEAN? It occurs 71 times in 39 psalms and in Habbakuk 3:3,9,13. The meaning of the word Selah is unknown, and a great many useless opinions have been given about it. For instance, some think it is a musical term meaning “pause” or “repeat.” Others believe it marks a change of meter or the coming in of the accompaniment. Still others think it was supposed to call attention to a peculiarly important thought, or that it designated the end of a prayer. Any of these theories is as good as the others. The Hebrew scholar, W. A. Wright, ends a long list of these opinions by quietly calling it a “hopeless subject.” Whatever its meaning, its intention is clear: selah divides the past thought from the next one. It seems to me this is exactly what an ebenezer does as well. Whenever we pause to reflect on a past victory it brings us to the threshold of a present conflict that is a mere bridge to a future victory. It gives us time to catch our breath, renew our perspective, and affirm our faith in the one True God.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing—through the experience of your faith—that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope (Romans 15:13, TAB).  My ebenezers are columns of “hope” in my life. Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov.13:12), but when I have something to inspire hope, I can deal with just about anything that’s thrown in my path. This hope is accompanied by joy and peace: I am not tense or stressed out, because I have the faith to believe that Jesus is my salvation. In fact, His track record in my life is such that hope begets hope; it just keeps multiplying. My hope is not for earthly fulfillment alone—it goes far beyond that to eternal life. As Paul said, To live is Christ; to die is gain (Phil.1:21). The power of the Holy Spirit energizes and directs my life through each and every situation. Between each season there is a Selah –sometimes short, sometimes longer—giving me time to reflect on the Ebenezer that came from the trial or battle.

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost (1 Thessalonians 1:6). When others support us through our trials, believe the same truths, and walk according to the Word of the Lord in spite of the difficult circumstances life has imposed on us, it causes our hope to be reinforced and rewarded. We walk through these times with joy in our hearts because of our Comforter, the Holy Spirit who abides there. He keeps reminding us of the words Jesus spoke—words of Life! Again, we are able to identify the Ebenezers and pause for refreshing in the Selah season.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice (leap for joy) with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:7-8). The songwriter understood this unspeakable joy as reflected in the hymn he penned in 1900.

JOY UNSPEAKABLE

Lyrics and music by B. E. Warren

  1. 1.I have found His grace is all complete,
    He supplieth every need;
    While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,
    I am free, yes, free indeed.

    CHORUS:
    It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
    Full of glory, full of glory;
    It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
    Oh, the half has never yet been told.

    2.

    I have found the pleasure I once craved,
    It is joy and peace within;
    What a wondrous blessing I am saved
    From the awful gulf of sin.

    3.

    I have found that hope so bright and clear,
    Living in the realm of grace;
    Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,
    I can see His smiling face.

    4.

    I have found the joy no tongue can tell,
    How its waves of glory roll!
    It is like a great o’er flowing well,
    Springing up within my soul

This joy is best framed with trials for only in the midst of those seemingly endless battles in life does the joy shine most brilliantly. Ah, the contrast is divine! The three Hebrew children understood this “fiery trial”. They were threatened with the fiery furnace and commanded to bow to the earthly king. However, their faith was not in their earthly existence but in the eternal God in whom they believed although they had not seen Him. The threat of fire did not cause them to renounce their faith nor did it scare them into worshipping the king. So it is with us. Our fiery trials generally come in the form of tragedy, persecution or affliction. The joy of knowing Jesus as our Lord and Savior far exceeds the physical or emotional pain inflicted by these earthly circumstances. As children of Almighty God, we must keep the proper perspective. Our spirit lives forever; our body does not.

WHAT ARE YOUR EBENEZERS?  What are the moments in your life when you know for a fact that God gave you a victory—brought you through some fiery trials. When compared to someone else’s trials yours may be trivial—but to you they are major! Or perhaps when compared to someone else’s trials yours may be monumental. Study your situation to find the positive things you have learned through it all. There are some to be sure. Look for them! Make them your Ebenezers, then pinpoint the Selah between struggles. God is a very PRESENT help in time of trouble. Things don’t always turn out the way we want them to, but by God’s grace, we cling to Him and He helps. Rehearse the good times. His grace WILL be sufficient to get you through EVERY situation.

____________

(c) C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, Vol.16. No.11. November 2001.

Help, Lord!

My Life is Like the White of an Egg

JOB 6:6

THE STORY OF JOB has been passed down through the centuries. Even folks who don’t read the Bible know about Job. You know his story, too, but let me repeat it. In Job 1:1 we meet this man whose name was job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and abstained from and shunned evil because it was wrong. He had ten children: seven sons and three daughters. A perfect family! Job was extremely prosperous–the richest man in the East.

AT A MEETING IN HEAVEN, the Lord was bragging on Job. Have you seen my servant Job? There is none like him on the earth! He is blameless, upright, fears God, and stays away from evil (1:8). Satan, who had been going to and fro seeking whom he could devour, also came to listen in on the meeting. When he heard the comments about Job, he immediately began to accuse him to the Lord, Does Job fear God for nothing? Isn’t it because You have blessed him and caused him to prosper abundantly? No! God assured satan that Job was righteous and no matter what he did to him, Job would still serve the Lord. Satan walked away from that meeting with a mission: to maim, kill, and destroy Job. 

Job was a righteous man and prayed fervently for his children. They liked to party. On this particular day, Job either wasn’t invited or didn’t want to be a part of the reveling. While his children partied at the older brother’s house, a messenger came to Job’s house to tell him that the Sabeans had stolen his oxen and donkeys and killed the servants. Another messenger came to say that lightning had struck and burned up all Job’s sheep and the shepherds with them. While he was still speaking there came another with the news that the Chaldeans had stolen Job’s camels and killed their keepers. In the twinkling of an eye, Job had lost his prosperity.

The last messenger was not yet finished speaking when another messenger came to tell Job that a tornado had leveled his eldest son’s house and all of his children were dead. Job was distraught to say the least. He did what everyone in those days did when they were grieving: he tore off his robe, shaved his head, fell down on the ground. Although he didn’t understand what was happening,

JOB WORSHIPPED THE LORD! He said he didn’t have anything when he was born and he couldn’t take anything with him when he died, so he might just as well praise the Lord anyway. Blessed be the Name of the Lord! And Job did not sin by becoming bitter and blaming God (1:22).

Satan didn’t like that response at all! He smote job with ugly, painful, oozing sores from top of his head to the soles of his feet. They hurt so badly that Job sat on an ash heap to try to get some relief. He took pieces of broken pottery and scratched the infection out of the sores. Job’s wife had reached her breaking point and finally spoke out: Job, she said, You didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, you did everything right and look at you now! You had better just forget this God of yours and go ahead and die! She couldn’t imagine that any miracle would be big enough to take care of this situation. Soon the word of Job’s tragic circumstances reached his good friends, and they decided to come to console him. But when they saw Job, they were speechless. They sat for a whole week unable to talk. When they finally did say something, it was the same thing you and I usually say: “Why?”

Job ‘s name means hated, persecuted. By whom? By satan! He’s the accuser of all the brethren. Sure, Job is discouraged. Who wouldn’t be! Material possessions are gone. Family is gone. Wife and friends have turned against him. Then he says, 

MY LIFE IS LIKE THE WHITE OF AN EGG ….

Is there any flavor in the white of an egg?(6.6) Did you ever try to eat just the white of an egg? When boiled, it’s flabby and rubbery. You start chewing it and if you don’t swallow it, you’ll still be chewing it hours later. You can take raw egg white and beat it full of air, but if you don’t add sugar to it, it’s not edible; and if you want it to retain any shape you have to add a pinch of cream of tartar. Is your life like that? Tasteless? Hard to swallow’? Bitter? Do you need some yellow nourishment? Some SonShine in your life? Job surely did. Job had the strength to make it through this difficult time in his life because he made a commitment:

THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I SERVE HIM (13:15).

Yes, we know it was satan who was inflicting the tragedies on Job, but Job didn’t know that. We know the plans that God has for us are for good and not for evil (Jer. 29:11), yet, when problems come, all too often we waste precious time asking, Why? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo faced the fiery furnace saying We know our God is able to deliver us, but even if He doesn’t we won’t bow down… They were committed to God because He is God–not because of temporal blessings, powerful positions, wealth, and happiness. They believed there was something better waiting for them beyond this life. Job put it this way:

I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES and in the end He will come back. And after my skin, even this body, has been destroyed, then from my flesh, or without it I shall see God, Whom I, even I, shall see for myself.. And my eyes shall behold Him, and not as a stranger” (19:15-17). I KNOW! I know that no matter what it looks like, my Redeemer lives! I know that no matter what my situation is all around, my Redeemer lives! I KNOW! I KNOW! I.KNOW! 

Paul says it this way: I KNOW in Whom I have believed and that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him…(2 Tim. 1:12). If you KNOW He is able to keep, then you’ll commit it to Him. Cast ALL your cares on Him for He cares for you! When there’s no way you can do it, it’s time to KNOW Whom you believe. .

The reason your life is like the white of an egg and is tasteless, blah, and/or you are unable to swallow what’s happening, may be simply that God is messing up YOUR plans in order to accomplish HIS purpose. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (Prov. 19.21). Maybe satan just knew human nature when he accused Job before God that day. As long as everything goes their way, most people will sing and praise the Lord. But let things go wrong and hardship come, they hang their harps on the willow tree and recite: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…” Not Job! He knew God is able!  

GOD IS ABLE!

He is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7.25). 

He is able to keep me from stumbling (Jude 24). 

He is able to build me up and give me an inheritance (Acts 20.32). 

He is able to make me stand; to hold me up (Rom. 14:4). 

He is able to help them that are tempted (Heb. 2:18). 

He is able to make all grace abound toward me (2 Cor. 9:8). 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask (Eph. 3:20). 

He is able to perform what He has promised (Rom. 4:21). 

He is able to scramble my egg and give it some flavor! The white of the egg is only the outside–our body and external circumstances. It will decay and return to dust anyway. What you do with the yellow–the inside-will last eternally! That’s where the nourishment is. Are you saying today, ‘Help, Lord! My Life is like the white of an egg? Blah. Tasteless. Difficult to swallow?” Let this be the moment that you determine in your heart to serve Him and KNOW He is able to bring you through–but even if He doesn’t, let it be said of you that you died in faith believing… (Heb. 11:-39-40) so He can present you faultless before the Throne (Jude 24). I KNOW He is able!

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, V10N9

yvonnekarl@gmail.com  

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20)

Jesus is ALWAYS there. He will never leave you or forsake you: The problem is that sometimes we don’t “feel” His presence. A fake wall attempts to block us from realizing He is there even if we don’t “feel” Him. It is none other than the enemy of our soul who is on the prow to separate us from the one and only Savior.

How do we overcome that psychological fake wall? How do we draw near to Jesus with our mind and emotions?  James tells us:

SUBMIT yourselves, then, to God. RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you. COME near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:7-8a).

How can you can submit yourself—your mind, will and emotions, and overcome the distance you “feel” between you and Jesus? How can you resist the devil from bombarding you with his pessimism and discouragement?

#1- Speak!

The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” -that is, the word of faith which we preach (Romans 10:8). Post verses here and there. Look at them as you pass by and read them out loud. There is something about “hearing” the words going into our ears from our own mouth that goes deeper than if we just just read them. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). Yes, reading scripture is good. Yes, listening to scripture might be better. But reading or quoting scripture out loud is best. It strengthens us. It causes our faith to increase. It is strengthening us to resist the enemy’s temptations. And it helps us “feel” that Jesus is there listening!

COME near to God by speaking His Word aloud, and you will find He is there with you.

#2 – Remember, and Tell it!

I’m sure you’ve heard testimonies from others that you will never forget. They stirred your heart. Just thinking about your own stories of times Jesus intervened or spoke something specific in your life reminds you that Jesus is present—wherever you are, whatever the circumstances may be.

Don’t just remember. Also, TELL your stories. Whenever Jesus is exalted, the enemy flees. You encourage yourself just by telling your stories. If there’s no one to listen, tell them out loud to yourself! Listen to them over and over again. Eventually they will crowd out whatever negative circumstances you might be in.

The Old Testament tells us of a time when the Israelites pursued the Philistines and won. Afterwards, Samuel took a stone, placed it as a memorial, and called its name Ebenezer; he said, “The LORD has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:12). What are the Ebenezers in your life? How many times has the Lord helped you? Think back. Remember them. Tell them to others again and again. It helps you to keep them vividly “set in stone” in your mind and remind yourself that if Jesus did that once, He will also help in your current situation. He is still THERE, wherever you are.

In Malachi we read: Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name (Malachi 3:16-18).

COME near to God by remembering what He has done before, and you will find He is there with you.

 

#3 – Sing!

When you can’t “feel” Jesus near, don’t go out and get drunk …  Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:18-20).

Speak to one another in songs! But also sing to yourself. Sing songs you’ve heard, Sing words that come to you seemingly out of nowhere. But sing! Whether you can carry a tune or not, Sing! Whether someone is listening or not, Sing! Sing scripture. Sing your prayers. Sing your feelings.

Listening to uplifting music can activate the presence of Jesus and give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (See Isiah

I grew up in church from birth and words of hymns I learned before I reached ten years of age are still engraved in my mind and heart. They have strengthened my faith time and time again. When I feel discouraged, a song will pull me out of the pit. As I sing, I’m drawing near to the Lord in my “feelings” and the devil has to flee because he doesn’t like to hear me praising my Savior. I wasn’t given a beautiful voice, but I sing when I shower. I sing when I clean. I sing when I drive.  The songs make me forget I even have a problem.

Charles Naylor was 36 years old, and had been a minister in the Church of God for 13 years when a tent pole fell on his back during an evangelism campaign in Florida, injuring his spine and kidney. A year later he was in a bus accident that made him an invalid for the next four decades. In spite of his physical impairment, he went on to write 150 hymns and publish 8 books and numerous articles. Music helped him draw near to Jesus and silence the enemy’s accusations.

COME near to God by singing hymns and spiritual songs, and you will find He is there with you

 

#4 – Pray!

Always give thanks to God the Father in everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). One kind of prayer is prayer of thanksgiving. When you start giving thanks, one thing leads to another and you keep pulling out reasons to be thankful. Tell the Lord one of those reasons, and another will follow.

Apostle Paul says: Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18). Paul likes the word ALL—leaving out nothing and no one.

There’s not just one way to pray. There has been a plethora of books written on prayer. They talk about how to pray and how to get your prayers answered. The truth is, we don’t need to read any of them. Most people who read them are sincere in wanting to know “how” to pray and reading these books sometimes intimidates them ever further. Do not judge another person’s prayers. Just talk to Jesus from your heart. He already knows how you feel so talk to Him about it.

Pray on all occasions:

  • fear
  • mealtimes
  • car rides
  • playtime
  • schoolwork
  • church services
  • sickness
  • disease
  • operations
  • danger
  • prayer meetings
  • birthdays
  • deaths
  • weddings
  • graduations
  • ordinations
  • dedications
  • sports events
  • travel
  • financial deficits
  • emotional situations
  • loneliness
  • vacations
  • and you continue adding to the list           

Pray all kinds of prayers:

  • long prayers
  • short prayers
  • scripture prayers
  • one-word prayers
  • crying prayers
  • moaning prayers (Romans 8:28)
  • thankful prayers
  • grieving prayers
  • sad prayers
  • happy prayers
  • written prayers,
  • asking prayers
  • complaining prayers
  • seeking prayers
  • knocking prayers
  • silent prayers when necessary (He knows what you’re thinking! Psalm 139; Hebrews 4:12),
  • and you continue adding to the list.

COME near to God by praying, and you will find He is there with you.

Be proactive! We need to know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord like David did.  “David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him … but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (I Samuel 30:6).

Did he speak God’s promises aloud?

Did he remember and talk about how God had helped him kill Goliath?

Did he sing some of the songs (Psalms) he had written?

Did he pray?

Did he do all four activities?

What about you? Are you wiling to speak, tell, sing, and pray in order to “feel” that Jesus is there with you?

SUBMIT yourselves, then, to God.

RESIST the devil by using your voice to speak, tell, sing, pray; faith precedes victory, and he will flee from you.

COME near to God–speak, tell, sing, pray; and you will discover He is there — wherever you are. Jesus, the Word, is near you–even in your mouth (Romans 10:8).

(James 4:7-8a).

Heavenly Father, We love you and thank You for giving us ways to be aware of your presence and to evict the devil from our minds, in Jesus’ Name.

 

___________

C. Yvonne Karl – Message given at Taylors Church of God, Sunday Morning, March 15, 2020

The first formal National proclamation of Thanksgiving was given in the United States by President George Washington who declared Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. He proclaimed a second day of Thanksgiving in 1795, following the defeat of the Whiskey Rebellion.

After Washington left office, John Adams, James Madison, and others intermediately declared days of Thanksgiving. Several presidents actually opposed days of national thanksgiving, with Thomas Jefferson openly denouncing such a proclamation. By 1855, 16 states celebrated Thanksgiving (14 on the fourth Thursday of November, and two on the third).

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln established observing specific days of national thanksgiving. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving from the fourth to the third Thursday in November!

In 1941, to end any confusion, President FDR and Congress established Thanksgiving as a United States federal holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, which is how it stands today. (Read the First Proclamation below.)

.

 

The First National Thanksgiving Proclamation

By President George Washington

26 November 1789

 

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

-President George Washington

 

_____________________________

Source: Wikipedia and various sites on the internet.

 

 

On Thanksgiving Day in November 2002, after teaching my three classes at the Bible College from 8am to 3pm, a taxi took me about 45 minutes across the city to join missionaries who were celebrating American Thanksgiving, complete with turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie.

Although not my first time in Africa, it was my first time to celebrate Thanksgiving outside America. I was overwhelmed that day by the sight and smell of familiar food but also by the gratitude those missionaries expressed for blessings. I was thankful the missionaries were able to join together and celebrate the Thanksgiving of their homeland—one of the few days each year they had such a bountiful spread. It was a special privilege for me to be included as a member of their team and family.

That American Thanksgiving dinner at the missionary’s home was perhaps the most significant Thanksgiving I’ve celebrated in my life. We ate at a table of plenty in the midst of a people in the village who had neither a table nor plenty. We sat on chairs whose legs rested on a tiled floor in the midst of a people who lived in huts with dirt for floors. Electricity was intermittent. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Most huts had one bare bulb hanging down in the middle of the room. Temperatures in the tropics were always hot and air conditioning to ease perspiration was virtually non-existent. Termite mounds were as tall as the huts.

There was an obvious contrast to be seen between American prosperity and the lack among nearby residents, many who did not have an indoor toilet or running water. In most areas, a water pump could be found, but there was no choice of hot or cold water. Pumped water was poured into a large tub outside the hut in full view of passers-by, and the children in the family were immersed and washed one after the other. For sure, they had not experienced a table spread with an abundance and variety of foods from which they could eat until there was no room to take another bite.

Many developing countries have struggled to empower their people across all socioeconomic groups. There are those of higher rank who live well and shop freely, yet a large percentage of their citizens live below poverty level. On every trip I’ve made to one of these countries,  I came back to the comfort of my home in America with an overwhelming feeling of God’s mercy and provision. Why us?

I think this question was answered several years ago by a visiting teacher from Nigeria. I asked what made him want to come to the USA, to which he responded: “I read about America and their God and how He was blessing them. The more I read, the more I determined to come to America and meet their God. I thought perhaps I could convince Him to come back to Africa with me and prosper my country.”

Those of us in America would do well to ponder the Nigerian brother’s words. The American holiday of Thanksgiving traces its roots all the way back to 1621, when colonists held a harvest feast with local natives. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln declared an official Thanksgiving Day in late November. In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt consented to make it an official holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of each November. Over the years, due to financial prosperity and advanced technology, specific traditions and customs associated with the holiday have evolved from watching afternoon football games to marking the beginning of the holiday shopping season. The basic components of the holiday, celebrating food and the fall harvest and giving thanks with family, have remained over time.

My research came up nine other countries of the world that celebrate a National Thanksgiving Day: Canada, China, Germany, Grenada, Japan, Norfolk Island, South Korea, Liberia, and Viet Nam.* In all due respect, neither the United States or any other country can lay claim to “thanksgiving.” Verses are scattered throughout the bible reminding us to be thankful, to come to God with thanksgiving in our hearts, to give thanks for all of His wonderful gifts. Whether poor or rich with wealth, whether sick or ill in health, our hearts should be full of thanksgiving to our God for giving His Son with thanksgiving so that we might have life abundantly here and now: A life that carries us into life eternally with no distinctions between us and any other of His children who inherit eternal life.

Reflect on His grace and mercy and express thanksgiving to Him! Here are a few scriptures to fuel your thanksgiving:

With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD. –Ezra 3:11

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. – Psa. 69:30

Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. -Psa. 95:2

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. –Psa.100:4

From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. –Jer. 30:19

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. – 2 Cor. 4:15

You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. -2 Cor. 9:11

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. –Eph.5:4 3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –Phil.4:6

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl, Reprinted 11/14/19 from The Alabaster Box, Vol. 25 No. 11.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

VOICES FOR SPEAKING. Some are low, some are high. Some are deep, some are shrill. Some are loud, some are soft. Some are happy, some are sad. Some sound sweet, some sound sharp. I’ve often complained about the pitch of my voice. Since God called me to teach, why didn’t He give me a deep, commanding, soothing voice—the kind that causes people to want to listen?  I’m not sure, but we all have to overcome our dislike for what He gives us and use what we have to His honor and glory and the blessing of others.

Different voices are appealing to different folks. Some people like quiet teaching and praying. Others don’t feel like they’ve been to church if the sermon isn’t delivered in loud, forceful tones. In fact, some people confuse loud with anointing. But most of us know that volume doesn’t measure the presence of Almighty God for sometimes He chooses to manifest Himself in a “still small voice.”

VOICES FOR SINGING. I am an eclectic when it comes to music. I like all styles. I enjoy the old hymns and the new ones, the old choruses and the contemporary ones. I enjoy opera as well as guitar led praise and worship.  I’ve heard many wonderful singers with all kinds of voices that are a blessing to many in the body of Christ. I used to listen to Billy Graham crusades just to hear Ethel Waters sing “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” And I can still listen for hours to the singing of Luciano Pavarotti.

As to the voice used for singing there are many varieties and preferences. Known and unknown. Whether it is David Phelps or Jessy Dixon or Cece Winans or Vestal Goodman or Bernice Byrd or Frances Dunn, or my niece, Jennifer—all are identified with the sound of their voice.  When they sing, something happens in my mind, in my emotions, and in my Spirit. In fact, I can trace victory over a certain circumstance in my life to a moment some years ago when Cissy was singing “My Anchor Holds…in spite of the storm!”

Last year at a family gathering, my brother, sister, and I got together and sang the night away. Some precious friends had gifted my sister with a beautiful new ivory baby grand digital piano so we all took turns playing to initiate it, then our daughters invited us to sing. Memories were flowing along with the laughter as we tried to recall the lyrics of the songs we had sung so frequently when we were kids. For two or three years when we were young, we went with our dad to sing in a number of country churches. I still have the receipt for the accordion my parents bought for me to accompany our little trio. As we reminisced we realized our brother was only four to six years old during that time. No wonder the people seemed to enjoy our singing—they were obviously taken with that cute little guy singing lead at the top of his lungs. 

As I got older, I sang with friends, church groups, choirs, duets, trios, and quartets, always aware of the fact that I was NOT a good singer—I just loved to sing. It didn’t take much for me to realize that singing was not my gift. In the Bloomington Church I attended, the choir director assigned me a five-word solo part—a bridge—in the cantata, and I botched it. I know that God gives us all a “new song” and I still love to sing—in the congregation, in the choir, or in my private worship time but prefer to leave the “special singing” to others more gifted.

JOYFUL NOISE. One of my favorite scriptures on this matter is Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. In fact, six out of the seven times this command occurs in the Psalms it refers to singing:  Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands (Psa 66:1). Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob (Psa 81:1). O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation (Psa 95:1). Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms (Psa 95:2). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise (Psa 98:4). With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King (Psa 98:6). Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands (Psa 100:1). It must be that God’s heavenly filter of love processes our off key singing so that when our joyful noise rises, He only hears beautiful music.

Before I was married, I lived alone and was accustomed to singing as loudly as I wished in the privacy of my own home. I was making a joyful noise! However, soon after our marriage, my husband asked me one day to please not sing. I was offended and asked how could I release my joy if not in song? He was serious about his request; my singing played on his nerves. Soon I learned why. Before he met me, he had kept company with an opera singer. I knew there was no way I could compete with that voice! I would just have to save my singing for times he was out of the house.

However, after a year or two of married life, we began to get out the old hymnals at home and sing through songs together—in German and in English—but it caught me by utter surprise when my husband started asking me to sing in church. By then he had grown to like my twangy voice and nasal tones—or more likely his love for me produced deafness to them! I was thankful the Lord kept our congregation supplied with many talented and capable musicians so I was simply not needed. He disagreed and began asking me to sing solos.

I suppose he became weary of my excuses so he stopped asking me in advance. Instead, after we arrived at the church for a service, he would come to me and say “I’d like you to sing this song this morning.” In obedience to my pastor-husband, I would sing (mostly not to embarrass myself or him by arguing). However, when we got home, I would say, (occasionally prefaced with “please”), “Don’t do that to me again.” He obviously didn’t hear. Before long, he was asking me to make a loose leaf folder of his favorite songs and keep them at my seat to sing on a moment’s notice. “Lord,” I prayed, “I want to be obedient to my husband, but You and I both know I’m not called to sing!” The Lord ignored my prayer. He did not deliver me from my internal conflict. My husband disregarded all my protests in spite of the many times I explained to him why “I” shouldn’t sing and preference should be given to others. The longer and the better my husband knew me, the more he seemed to like my voice.

Reluctantly I acquiesced to his requests knowing the Lord could not bless the people through a wife who held anger and resentment toward her husband. I realized it was a pride issue and gave it to the Lord. My desire to be in harmony with my husband was stronger than my desire not to sing. Sometime later, we visited another church and the pastor asked if we had a musical selection to share. You guessed it! My husband volunteered me! I nearly slid under the pew. To sing in the comfort of my own congregation who knew and loved me was very different from singing in front of people I’d never met. However, it would do no good nor would it be appropriate for me to protest. The Lord was strengthening me to respond without anger or resentment—to sing, not only as unto the Lord, but also as a gift to my husband. A few times in recent years, I have actually volunteered to sing. That’s victory!

THE VOICE OF THE HEART. Years ago I heard a story about a group of monks who every year at Easter time got together and sang the Gospel story in what was called a cantata. Because they lived in a very remote region, it was most unusual for any visitors to come by. However, one year they invited a specially trained choir to come sing the Gospel story for them. The voices were wonderful and they were thrilled with the rendition. After the visitors left and the monks went back to prayer, they heard the Lord say, “Where was my choir this year?” “Why Lord,” they said, “we brought in the best this year. Their voices were clear. They sang in tune. Their harmonies were exhilarating.” To this the Lord answered, “But I’m not looking for the best voices; I’m looking for pure hearts.” In other words, man hears the voice but God hears the heart.

In three different passages, David said: I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah (Psa.3:4). I cried unto God with my voice, [even] unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me (Psa.77:1). Both times he says, God heard him. And when he was hiding in the cave, David said: I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication (Psa.142.1). Hundreds of years later, the Apostle Paul recounted the story of David and commented that God gave this testimony: I have found David the [son] of Jesse, a man after mine own heart (Acts 13:22). When God heard David’s prayers, he heard them through the condition of his heart, not the tone or quality of his voice.

The Apostle Peter writes, For the eyes of the Lord [are] over the righteous, and His ears [are open] unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord [is] against them that do evil (1 Pe.3:12).  Again, we see that God hears the prayers of those whose hearts are in the right condition. This begins with a prayer of repentance. Many testimonies are given by people who were selfish, did not honor or worship God, yet when a calamity arose and they cried out to Him, a miracle happened. At that moment, their heart so earnestly desired to know God, that He heard their prayer.  It’s not the words we say, nor the tone or volume of the voice that moves God, rather it is the condition of our heart.

THE VOICE OF JESUS. When we sing in the congregation, we are never singing solos. Jesus sings with us! For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare Thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto You [God] (Heb.2:11-12). Furthermore, He says we will recognize His voice! Jesus says, My sheep hear my voice; and I know them and they follow me (John 10:27). The Greek word used here is akouo which means more than just listen; it means to hear with understanding

The Pharisees contended that they were the religious leaders and as such were the ones who “called the shots.” Jesus, however, neither submitted to them nor to their law. This angered the Pharisees who continually opposed Him and demanded that the people align with them and ignore Jesus.  It was in this context that Jesus describes them as false shepherds and pointed out: My sheep hear my voice. They hear their master and understand what He is saying. He calls His own sheep by name, and They know His voice and can distinguish it from that of a stranger and a stranger will they not follow. Anyone who has a pet animal understands the simplicity of this statement. The dog knows the voice of his master—how much more do we as human beings with developed mental faculties discern the various voices in our lives—including the voice of Jesus. Most of us do not hear an audible sound, but deep down inside we KNOW what He’s saying. The times we aren’t sure, it’s usually because we want Him to be saying a certain thing to us and He is not confirming it. 

It’s interesting to me that a friend I haven’t talked with for twenty or thirty years can call me on the phone, and the minute I hear the voice, I recognize it!  Voices are so unique that they are stamped indelibly in our mind. Even when we can’t immediately put a name with the voice, we remember it. Adam and Eve knew God’s voice:  they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden (Gen.3:8).

VOICE OF JOY. In Jeremiah’s day, he prophesied that the voice of praise would cease because of the iniquities and idolatries of God’s people. The voice of God’s prophets was neither heard nor heeded and therefore no longer did they hear the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride, or of the songs that used to grace the weddings. Although these are voices we love to hear, it is threatened here that there will be nothing to rejoice in as a result of disobedience on the part of God’s people. There will be no joy of weddings; no celebrations. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth (joy) and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate (Jer.7:34; 16:9).

Isn’t it still true today that the comforts of life are abandoned and everything that makes us happy and joyful disappears whenever unrighteousness prevails. Just as in Jeremiah’s time, there is no joy of prosperity when sinful acts have swallowed up our profits. As a result, people look around and see no reason to rejoice. This unfolds quickly right before our eyes. Our disobedience, and that of others, mars the joy of even the most cheerful. 

The wonderful thing about our relationship with the Lord is how quickly situations can be reversed. God intervened then, and still intervenes today, on behalf of His people: Thus says the LORD…Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know…I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me…and …Again there shall be heard in this place…the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say:  Praise the LORD of hosts, For the LORD is good, For His mercy endures forever and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD…(Jer.33:1-12).

Our voice interprets our emotions.

VOICES. Whether soft or loud, timid or bold, sweet or brash, soprano or tenor, we identify with voices. Voice inflection varies from language to language but those fluent in the language identify the spoken tones and pitches with various emotions of joy, sorrow, despair, panic, relief. Whether or not we hear God speak to us in an audible voice as He did to Paul or in a still small voice as He did to Elijah, He does speak to us. We recognize His voice—it brings conviction of sin or commendation for faithfulness such as “Enter into the joy of the Lord.” 

It is with our heart that we hear His voice, the voice of love, peace, and joy. It is with our voice that we give Him praise from our heart. And it is with joy that He hears our voice giving Him praise and worship.

Reprinted from (c) The Alabaster Box, Vol 18 No 05 1993, by C. Yvonne Karl.   yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

JOY!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over thee with JOY; He will rest in His love; He will JOY over thee with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).

Do not grieve, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Introduction

Some people think unless something spectacular happens, Jesus didn’t show up for the church service. However, we know when we come together as the people of God, He is in our midst, for Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). In fact, He said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). So lift up your countenance (put a smile on your face!) and rejoice. The King of kings is always with you wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.

Not only is Jesus WITH you, He wants to live IN you. “For it is God which works IN you both to will and to do HIS good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is IN you, which you have of God, and you are not  your own?” (1 Cor. 6:19).

Is He your God? Have you been washed in the blood of Jesus? Have you repented of your sins? Are you putting off the “old man” (your old ways, habits, language, attitudes,  desires)  and  putting on the “new man” (Jesus’ language, attitudes, desires)? (See Eph. 4:20-32). If so, you can confess according to Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord MY God in the midst of ME is mighty! He dwells in the midst of you, and He is mighty! He lives way down deep in your soul (in the midst—the middle—of your heart). He is the mighty God sitting on the throne of your heart.

God is  mighty.

What does it mean for God to be MIGHTY in you?

He is all-powerful

  • He is able to perform supernatural deeds deep inside your heart.
  • He enables you to WAIT and be of good courage while waiting.
  • He enables you to FORGIVE those who falsely accuse you, who betray you, who use you.
  • He enables you to RESIST the devil thus giving no opportunity to him. It’s HIS enabling power—not yours! You would faint in the day of adversity without His power to sustain you. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
  • He is mighty!

He is all-sufficient

  • In Him there is no lack, and if He lives in you, then He brings all His provisions with Him and shares them with you.
  • “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want (lack)…” (Psa. 23:1)
  • “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content” (Phil. 4:11).
  • “My God shall supply all your (and my) need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).
  • He is Jehovah­ Jireh, the I AM.
  • He has provided.
  • He is mighty!

He is all-knowing

  • He knows what you have need of even before you ask (Matt. 6:8).
  • He knows the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7), and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of your heart (Heb. 4:12).
  • He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (if you permit Him to do so) (Jude 24).
  • He is mighty!

He is always present.

  • “Lo, I am with you ALWAY” (Matt. 28:20).
  • He is present in storms of life (like the disciples tossed upon the sea).
  • He is present in the fires of life–when things get hot, like He was as the fourth man in the furnace with Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednigo.
  • He is ever-interceding for you (Heb. 7:25) that you will not bow to idols, not yield to temptation, not allow satan to “sift you like wheat,” and that you will endure hardness like a good soldier and not give up but be faithful!
  • He is mighty!

God will…

If this mighty God lives in your heart, and sits on the throne way down deep in your soul, in the midst of you, then…

He Will Save.

  • This comes from the Hebrew word which means He will ease your burden. Stay yoked to Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He invites you to come to him if you are weary and heavy ladened (Matt. 11:28-29).
  • If you are being crushed by the burdens you carry, you need to learn how to cast care on him (1 5:7).
  • He will save you!

He will rejoice over you with joy.

  • The Hebrew declares: He will enjoy you! He will say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” When He sees your obedient heart and your desire to let Him control your life, you really enter into the JOY of the How He delights in His people! His joy–not yours–is your strength (Neb. 8:10).
  • He will rejoice over you with joy!

He will rest in His love.

  • He has already paid the price for your salvation.
  • The Hebrew word says here that He will hold His peace.
  • He hangs onto the accomplished work of redemption.
  • His love for you was so great that He gave His very life for you.
  • He rests in that love.
  • He is persuaded that He is able to keep whatever you commit unto Him. Commit your very life, your future, your family, your church, your health, everything unto Him. Now you can be persuaded that He is able to keep whatever you commit to Him (2 Tim.1:12). You, too, can rest in His love!

He will joy over you with singing.

  • This is one of my favorite In Hebrew it means, He’s having a party!
  • What is He celebrating?
    • Your spiritual birthday!
    • Your spiritual growth!
    • Your victories!
    • Your perseverance!
    • Your faithfulness in times of stress, poverty, failures, disappointments as well as in times of joy and success!
  • He parties with singing.
  • He loves singing – especially singing over you with joy.
  • In fact, Jesus stands and sings praise to God in the midst of the Church (Heb. 2:12).

Who is the Church?

  • You are! Every individual who is born again is a part of the Church.
  • Jesus sings out through you when you sing praise to God.
  • He sings with the gathered Church when we sing praise to His Father God.
  • He celebrates!
  • He has a party with singing.

Conclusion

That’s why out of your belly (innermost being) shall flow rivers of living water; out from the throne of your heart; out from where THE LORD YOUR GOD  DWELLS;  where He is mighty (John 7:58).

  • Personalize the scripture.
  • Make it relevant to your life.
  • Remember it: The Lord MY God in the midst of ME is mighty. He will save ME; He will rejoice over ME with joy; He will rest in His love for ME; He will joy over ME with singing.
  • Hallelujah!

Amen.

SUMMARY

“The Lord our God in the midst of you is mighty. He will save. He will deliver you”

  • from all the power,
  • from all the guilt,
  • from all the pollution of your sins;

and when thus saved,

  • “He will rejoice over you with JOY.”
  • “He will rest in His love.”
    • He will show the same love to you that He did of old to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • “He will JOY over you with singing.”
  • Your conversion will be a subject of peculiar delight and exultation to God Himself! There will be a more than ordinary joy in heaven when you come to God through Christ Jesus. (Zeph.3:17). [This is] the JOY of the LORD that is your strength (Neh.8:10c). (cf. Adam Clarke Commentary)

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, Volume 08 Number 09 1993

Updated October 2019

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Halloween    Hallow (holy) een  (Evening)

Halloween is undoubtedly more misunderstood than any other holiday event. Is it hocus-pocus superstition or truly Christian focused? It can appear to be nothing more than a pagan event dreamed up by some deviant opportunist and/or candy and costume manufacturer, but All Hallows Eve was actually intended to be a righteous opportunity purposed in history past to commemorate old saints. 

 Halloween, which comes from the word All Hallows Eve is tied directly to All Saints Day celebrated on November 1 of each year to commemorate the old saints who have past on. These “saints” were heroes and martyrs for the Christian Faith.

Christian Halloween – The Pros and Cons. We understand that much of Halloween has manipulated and “tricked” by the secular pagan world and much of what happens on Halloween is far from spiritual. In fact, some of the Halloween traditions have pagan origins.

The Bible doesn’t speak directly about Halloween, but some biblical principles apply. One thing is clear — all pagan practices are to be avoided. Witchcraft, occult practices, sorcery, etc. are strictly forbidding in the Bible (Exodus 22:18; Acts 8:9-24; Acts 16, 19).

It is obvious that a small child dressing up as a princess or a cowboy isn’t involving themselves with witchcraft, so what is a biblical stance on Halloween?

Parents, the decision is up to you. If you decide Halloween is something fun for your children, make sure they are kept far away from the evil aspects of Halloween. When believers participate in anything (even Halloween), their attitudes, dress, and behavior should glorify Christ (Philippians 1:27). That’s why it’s great when churches have special harvest festivals, trunk or treat. and other alternate ways to celebrate Halloween to provide an alternative for the cultural trick or treat with witchcraft and other death and demonic symbols.

Christian Halloween? – Take Advantage!

  • Halloween can be a “hands on” learning opportunity about God’s control over Satan and the fallen angels. God keeps them held powerless according to His will. Christian Halloween and All Saints Day come together in purposeful unity as the one protects and covers the other. It is a time for the Gospel to devour the ghouls.

Like Halloween, other religious holidays have also been secularized. For example, Christmas should be centered around the “Christ Mass” or the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but these days Santa Claus is more worshipped than Jesus. While there’s nothing wrong with Santa Claus—in fact, his history has religious significance—but the main focus of Christmas should be JESUS.

Easter also has been hijacked. Instead of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, more emphasis these days is placed on the Easter Bunny and easter eggs which are not related to either.

So let’s keep our priorities straight, and be sure our children understand the differences between the Christian and cultic customs.

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

The Alabaster Box 1990

 

 

 

Pastoring can be very lonely. Especially in small congregations, some pastors have more critics than cheerleaders and every little morsel of encouragement brightens their day. Ask the Lord to show you a way to bless your pastors. Remember, we don’t always reap WHERE we sow, but we do reap WHAT we sow (Gal.6:7-9). Next time you’re tempted to complain and criticize, double a blessing for your pastors instead. Show them your love in a way that does not impose on their time. Do something for them and expect nothing in return. After all, “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.”

 “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thess.5:12-13. And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you! (1 Thess.5:27-28, Msg).

It is rare to hear a parishioner say, “My pastor is starving.” On the flip side of the coin, how many times have we church-going folks say: “I’m starving.” “I’m not being fed.”

These comments are not new. Thousands of years ago God chose Moses to lead His people. Even though they were headed for a land of freedom and prosperity, they balked and complained that they weren’t been fed properly. 

WHY CAN’T WE HAVE MEAT?

“Now the mixed multitude…yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat?’” (Num.11:4, NKJV).

Another version says, “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain. ‘Oh, for some meat!’ they exclaimed” (NLT). The Message paraphrases this same verse: “The riff-raff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining.”

The mixed multitude was literally a great rabble, or riff-raff, who had come along with the Israelites as they escaped Egypt. Obviously they conjectured that if they hid themselves in the huge throng of God’s people they would also inherit His promises. After all, they had been in the crowd of more than a million Israelites when the Red Sea parted and they crossed over on dry land. They saw Pharaoh’s army swallowed up as the waters came back together.

The Red Sea miracle wet their appetite. They had seen other miracles, yet they became disgruntled and bitter because of days of mundane meals in a dry place. They gave no credit to God for supernaturally supplying them with an adequate source of food in a desert where no animals roamed and no plants grew. Nevertheless, their discontent was infectious and soon even the most devout among the Israelites were agreeing with them. “Nothing tastes good out here,” they said. “All we get is manna, manna, manna” (Num.11:6). “We want meat!”

They were not grumbling about their announced destination but rather about not getting their favorite meals along the way. The manna God sent them daily contained the necessary nutrients for them to eat and stay healthy. They didn’t have to work for it—neither to plant it nor harvest it. All they had to do was gather it each morning.

Isn’t this the way it is with us today? We lose sight of our destination—heaven—and complain about the spiritual food. It reminds me of one Christmas when my daughter was a toddler. She dreamed of getting a bride doll and talked about it incessantly for weeks before the holidays. I purchased lace and satin, cut and sewed, and turned a doll into a gorgeous bride. After she went to bed on Christmas Eve, my husband and I placed the new toy table and chairs from her grandmother under the tree and positioned the bride doll at the table. There! We thought. Our little girl will be so thrilled when she sees her dream has come true.

How wrong we were! Caroline came bouncing down the stairs on Christmas morning, but before reaching the bottom step she glanced into the room and saw the table and the bride doll. Immediately she began to cry and ran back upstairs to her room. Totally confused by her actions, I went to her room to hear her repeating over and over through her sobs: “My gifts are supposed to be wrapped up!” 

God’s manna did not come wrapped up. It was readily available, but it no longer held any mystique. The daily provision had become routine—they were not content to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In fact, they already had daily bread. What was readily available did not fulfill their wants. They were selfishly expecting Moses to provide them meat. When He didn’t, “they all whined in front of their tents” (Num.11:10).

Lord, help us, but the same is often true of us believers. We spend more time complaining and whining about not being “fed” than we do in consuming the “Bread of Life” in whatever way it comes to us. A spiritual meal may come from routine teaching of the pastor in one service after another, or a Bible class, or a small group meeting. It may come from the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, or the teacher. More often it comes directly from God Himself, as we sit quietly before Him meditating upon His Word. However it comes, we must gather it and feed it to ourselves.

Nevertheless, in our humanness, we are more excited about the spiritual food desserts: the great miracles or passionate encounters with others who are “cheerleaders” in the Kingdom. It’s not really meat of the Word that we desire, but Paul says, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Are we selfish like children—demanding the food we want. Few children would choose vegetables and fruit; rather they beg for ice cream and cake. I wonder if this is not equivalent to the demand the Israelites made for “meat” and Paul’s contemporaries who chased after empty emotional experiences rather than spiritual ones.

WHY MEAT?

God told Moses to call the people together and “Tell the people…You’ve been whining to God, ‘We want meat; give us meat.’ God has heard your whining and he’s going to give you meat. You’re going to eat meat. And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until its coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it. And here’s why: Because you have rejected God who is right here among you…”(Vs.18-20).

God was present with them—the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God. He would withhold nothing good from them—yet they were craving something outside the realm of “good.”  They demanded “flesh.” He was giving them “daily bread.” Using the flesh to satisfy our hunger will always result in death—death of a dream, death of a marriage, death of our spiritual life, or death—plain and simple! Who among us can grasp that God knows what is best for us? That man will be satisfied with God!

When we have God’s presence in our lives, we have everything we need—for He is our ALL in ALL. Only His Presence can satisfy our craving; not even God’s gifts can fulfill that hunger. That’s why even though we see miracles, participate in awesome worship services, live in prosperity and good health, we still have a craving, a yearning, a demand for more. We think we need MEAT; however, our appetite for meat is a mere substitute for allowing Christ—the Bread of Heaven to consume us.

Truly as mature Christians we hunger for more of Christ in us, thus we relinquish control to Him over each area of our heart, our mind, our will, our emotions. But this comes about by our one-on-one relationship with Him—not as a result of being fed by the pastor at church services.

HOW  DID PASTOR MOSES FEEL?

Did anyone ever ask how Moses must have felt with these complaining people nagging him all day every day? God had entrusted to him leadership in the largest congregation ever assembled, and he was totally frustrated—as are many pastors today. 

“Moses said to God, ‘What did I ever do to you to deserve this? Did I conceive these people? Was I their mother? So why dump the responsibility of this people on me? Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people who are whining to me…If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here’” (vs.10-15).

This prayer is being prayed all across the United States and around the world by pastors of congregations large and small. Some are leaving the ministry—ill-equipped to handle all the whining and complaining. Many take this as rejection of them personally and throw in the towel. Some change jobs—never to realize their fulfillment in being faithful to the call of God on their lives. Others fall into tragic moral failure; sadly, some even commit suicide.

Who is to blame for these heartbreaking turns in the lives of some pastors? The people who grumble and complain? No—but perhaps they could have helped encourage the pastors rather than tear them down. Perhaps they could have spent more time on their knees praying for the pastors rather than spreading their discontent among other congregants.

But pastors, like Moses, need to go to the Lord in prayer and to the Holy counseling book and receive His counsel—remembering Who gave them their assignment in the first place. Nevertheless, as members of various congregations, we could do much to encourage, build up, and feed our pastors. 

Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep?” Yes—and God told Moses, “Lead my people.” However, the people didn’t like the food or the direction the pastors were taking. Peter says: Clean house! Get rid of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God” (1 Pet.2:1-3). Every church will have followers of Christ who are in all stages of spiritual growth—from infancy to maturity. As mature ones, we are patient with the young ones who need to feed on milk; we do not demand that we be fed instead of them. As a matter of fact, we know how to feed ourselves and no longer require being fed on demand—though we appreciate the help when we’re in distress.

FEED YOUR PASTOR

Pastors rarely make a public announcement about their needs—probably because they feel they are there to help the people not to put a burden on them. But how many of us recognize the pastors’ need for food in the form of affirmation and encouragement? The Lord told Moses, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” We see this promise carried out through Moses’ lifetime (Study the book of Exodus) and I believe it is still a prophetic promise for us today.

Yes, our pastors will fail if they don’t have a vital relationship with the Lord, but so will we. They cannot depend on the people in the congregation to fill that need, nor can we. Indeed the Apostle Paul faced a court hearing with not even one person there to support him, but listen to his testimony: “At my preliminary hearing no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn’t matter—the Master stood by me and helped me spread the Message loud and clear to those who had never heard it. I was snatched from the jaws of the lion! God’s looking after me, keeping me safe in the kingdom of heaven. All praise to him, praise forever! Oh, yes!” (From 2 Tim.4).

In spite of Paul’s spiritual strength and determination, he lets us know that he longed for companionship and helpers—to affirm and assist him. He says to Timothy: Get here as fast as you can…Bring Mark with you; he’ll be my right-hand man…Bring the winter coat I left in Troas with Carpus; also the books and parchment notebooks. Watch out for Alexander the coppersmith. Fiercely opposed to our Message, he caused no end of trouble. God will give him what he’s got coming” (From 2 Tim. 4). Is this not what God told Moses? “I will curse them who curse you!”

One of the lessons Jesus taught in the parable of the talents was affirmation: To those who were faithful, He commended them with words we all desire to hear: “Good work! You did your job well” (Matt.25:21). Jesus didn’t comment on the little details and find ways to point out their faults or how He disagreed with some things they might have done—He commended them. It’s a two-way street: the pastors need to affirm their people and the people need to encourage their pastors.

Throughout three decades of ministry, like most pastors, my husband and I experienced both the ire and the love of God’s people. Some were faithful to the end and are still lovingly and prayerfully bonded, but the love of others was short-lived. People came into the church fellowship, gave both public and written commitments to be by our side forever, then in a flash they were gone. Some stayed a few weeks; others a few months; some worshipped and worked with us for years before moving on. 

Of those who moved, some were geographically transferred, some bowed out gracefully, some created a mountain out of a molehill, and some attempted to invoke a major takeover. In my opinion, all were there for a season, for a purpose. Only God knows whether or not that purpose was fulfilled. We were not in the ministry to be affirmed by people but to be approved by God, yet the accolades of our brothers and sisters played a huge roll in encouraging us—often in times of near despair. 

There were always people in our lives who cared deeply about us and our family. There were several dear ones who seemed to be listening for me to say, “I really like that!” so they could run out and get it for me. During my husband’s illness, some dear sisters came and cleaned our house and even washed the curtains. There were those who dropped off my husband’s favorite food dishes—just at the time they were needed. Some brought groceries and home canned goods from time to time. Some volunteered to work at the church to do many and varied tasks throughout the week. Some precious saints worked in our house—painting, building, remodeling. And the list goes on. The Apostle Paul calls all of these “labors of love” (1 Thess.1:3).

In one church, a family brought to the pastor’s office a fresh rose every Sunday morning. Some people are especially eloquent with words and write poems, prayers, and thank you notes to the pastor on days other than birthdays, holidays, and pastor appreciation days.

There are many ways to feed your pastors with love, encouragement, and affirmation so that when they’re being bombarded by whiners and complainers and their own sense of inadequacy, the Lord will use your good deeds to remind them of His love.

Pastoring can be very lonely. Most pastors have more critics than cheerleaders and every little morsel of encouragement brightens their day. Ask the Lord to show you a way to bless your pastors. Remember, we don’t always reap WHERE we sow, but we do reap WHAT we sow. Next time you’re tempted to complain and criticize, double that blessing for your pastors instead. Show them your love in a way that does not impose on their time. Do something for them and expect nothing in return. After all, “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.”

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thess.5:12-13).

And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you! (1 Thess.5:27-28).

Reprinted from The Alabaster Box, C. Yvonne Karl © Volume18 Number10 2003.

Yvonnekarl@gmail.com

If the Shoe Fits

A Word from Yvonne:

Isn’t it exciting that the Prince of Peace has chosen YOU!  All you have to do is accept His Peace. Believe me, it WILL fit!

A few months after my husband and I were married we attended a church convention where I was reunited with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. I was eager to “show off” my handsome husband. My hair was no longer red, but blond–in response to my husband’s request. (Doesn’t the Bible say the wife should seek to please her husband? See Eph 5:22: Wives, be submissive and adapt yourselves to your own husbands as a service to the Lord.)  Although I had not seen him for four or five years, a pastor, whom I had known most of my life and was very dear to me, was standing in the distance. I took my husband’s arm and rushed toward him expecting the pastor to throw out his arms and receive me with joy. Instead, I was stopped cold. He saw me. He stared at me. He asked whether I was me or my sister and when I gave him MY name, he spit on the ground in front of me and turned away from me.  He asked me no questions. He gave me no opportunity to introduce my husband. I was too stunned to pursue him and attempt conversation. That was the last time I ever saw him. His problem? He had judged me to be an outcast from the church because I had changed my hair color. It was more than he could handle. Did it hurt me? Of course. Did I forgive him? Yes and yes again!   Scriptural truths must of necessity be followed; however, man’s opinions often separate even good friends. I realized the problem and knew that my loyalty relative to man’s opinions had to be to my husband and not to another man. Peace came….and stayed in my MIND and my heart!

Many, many people have written songs, stories, poems, and books about being chosen by our Lord Jesus. What a special privilege to have the Prince of Peace invite you to wear His shoes!  It’s THE Kingdom of Peace–and it’s within you!

ON COURAGE

“So you think I’m courageous?” she asked

“Yes, I do.

Perhaps I am. But that’s because I’ve had some inspiring teachers. I’ll tell you about one of them. Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at Stanford Hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liza who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save Liza.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?” Being young, the boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give her all his blood.

  “Yes, I’ve learned courage,” she added, “because I’ve had good teachers.”

( -By Dan Millman from Chicken Soup for the Soul  Copyright 1993 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen)

CONSIDER THE PREPARATION OF PEACE IN THE WORDS AND STORY BEHIND THE FOLLOWING HYMN:

“I BELONG TO THE KING”

1) I belong to the King, I’m a child of His love,
I shall dwell in His palace so fair;
For He tells of its bliss in yon heaven above,
And His children in splendor shall share.

Chorus:
I belong to the King, I’m a child of His love,
And he never forsaketh His own;
He will call me some day to His palace above,
I shall dwell by His glorified throne.

2) I belong to the King, and He loves me I know,
For His mercy and kindness, so free,
Are unceasingly mine wheresoever I go,
And my refuge unfailing is He. (Chorus)

3) I belong to the King, and His promise is sure,
That we all shall be gathered at last
In His kingdom above, by life’s waters so pure,
When this life with its trials is past. (Chorus)

(Words by Ida L. Reed. Music by Maurice A Clifton)  

THE STORY BEHIND THE HYMN

“I Belong to the King” was literally beaten out of a humble life by the flail of burdensome trials and afflictions. Ida L. Reed, author of the hymn, rightly deserved to sing “I belong to the King.” She was born and reared in the mountains of West Virginia. Her life was one long, continuous burden-bearing journey. For many years she was compelled to do heavy and arduous work [common] to farm life. This she did in support of an invalid and widowed mother. 

Broken at last by the strenuous toil and privations, she was sorely afflicted and bed-ridden for years. Even then, in her hours of pain, she wrote poems for publishers to eke out a meager living. She was removed to a hospital in Washington, D. C., as a last resort, in the hope of prolonging her pain-wracked, yet beautiful life. From her hospital bed of pain, she wrote the words of this poem which came to be a hymn of the church.

“I Belong to the King” is a golden nugget from the mine of character of one of God’s most humble children. For, as often the most beautiful flowers grow in inconspicuous places, so from the inner garden of one of the least of the children of the Lord there comes this flower of thought… 

(Taken from Forty Gospel Hymn Stories by George W. Sanville, 1943, p. 56.)

“She hath done what she could…” [Mark 14:8]

HE CHOSE ME

There were so many others that He might have chosen To follow Him;
Others with learning and greater distinction To follow Him;
Men with authority and forceful ability
Who know how to speak and be heard.
I don’t know exactly why I’m here at all,
But today I follow my Lord.

It was bus’ness as usual for me ‘til I heard Him say, “Follow me.”
I left all behind me that day when Jesus said, “Follow Me.”
I emptied myself of my old life completely
With no thought that this could be wrong
And as long as I follow the steps of the Master,
I know I’m where I belong.

For He chose me.
He chose me;
I could not say no when He said,
“Follow me and you’ll be a fisher of men.”
And from now on … From now on
I will not look back on the things left behind;
He chose me to follow Him.

No, I will not look back on the things left behind;
He chose me to follow Him.

(-Author and composer unknown. If any reader knows the author and composer please contact The Alabaster Box so we can give proper credit Thank you.)

______________________________

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000. 

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

IF THE SHOE FITS – MFC CONFERENCE – 2000

(c) C. Yvonne Karl. The Alabaster Box. Vol 14 No 05 & 06. 2000.

The article above and all three parts below are from the Maranatha Fellowship Women’s Conference in 2000. All are on this website: http://yvonnekarl.com or you can click on the link following each part:

Part 1 – There is a Shoe that Fits (c) Yvonne Karl – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/there-is-a-shoe-that-fits/

Part 2 – Does the Shoe fit? (c) Virginia Wright; UBP – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/does-the-shoe-fit/

Part 3 – If the Shoe Fits – (c) Yvonne Karl – https://yvonnekarl.com/2019/06/28/if-the-shoe-fits/

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