Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shut In or Shut Out?

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25:1

There were ten of them. One half of them were wise and one half foolish. You know about these ten, don't you? If not, I would encourage you to read about them in the first thirteen verses of Matthew 25. I've been thinking about them a lot this week, primarily because they were mentioned quite a bit in the sermon we had on Sunday, and partly because this is a favorite parable of mine.

Soon my granddaughter Selena will be learning about opposites, as young children usually do. She'll learn up/down, over/under, big/little, and so on. I think of this parable as an illustration of two opposites. Only these two opposites are the most important that any of us will ever encounter. You see, these ten virgins all had lamps, but the key factor was the oil that needed to be in the lamps. The five wise had it; the others didn't. The oil represents salvation, or as some refer to it, the Holy Spirit within. So what we have here are five virgins who had true religion burning in their hearts and we have five who had only the outward profession. The latter were hypocrites. Hypocrisy is ever present in the Church at large. That's why this parable should make us look within, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 13:5.

About opposites, think on these from this parable: Besides wisdom/foolishness, we have oil/ no oil; we have grace/no grace; we have forgiven/unforgiven; we have converted/unconverted, we have mercy/judgment. Shall I go on? But more scary than any of the others--we have shut in and shut out (verses 10-12).

Think about it, please. Your soul depends on it: Is your profession real or are you a hypocrite? Do you have oil in your lamp or is it empty? Are you wise or are you foolish? And finally, when the Lord Jesus comes to claim His own, will you be shut into the marriage feast or will you be shut out for all eternity? It all depends on where you stand with Jesus. Are you really His?

Ahh, I must again quote my dear Mr. Ryle:

"True Christians shall alone be found ready at the second advent. Washed in the blood of atonement, clothed in Christ's righteousness, renewed by the Spirit, they shall meet their Lord with boldness, and sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb, to go out no more. Surely this is a blessed prospect.

"They shall be with their Lord: with Him who loved them and gave Himself for them; with Him who bore with them, and carried them through their earthly pilgrimage: with Him whom they loved truly and followed faithfully on earth, though with much weakness and many a tear. Surely this is a blessed prospect.

"The door shall be shut at last: shut on all pain and sorrow; shut on an illnatured and wicked world; shut on a tempting devil; shut on all doubts and fears; shut to be opened again no more. Surely we may again say, this is a blessed prospect."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Divine Artificer

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:14-16

Verse 15. "My substance was not hid from thee, etc. What deeper solitude, what state of concealment more complete, than that of the babe as yet unborn. Yet the Psalmist represents the Almighty as present even there. "My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." The whole image and train of thought is one of striking beauty. We see the wonderful work of the human body, with all its complex tissue of bones, and joints, and nerves, and veins, and arteries growing up, and fashioned, as it had been a piece of rich and curious embroidery under the hand of the manufacturer. But it is not the work itself that we are now called on to admire. The contexture is indeed fearful and wonderful; but how much more when we reflect that the divine Artificer wrought within the dark and narrow confines of the womb. " ~ Charles Wordsworth

How about that, friends? Do you admire the work of this divine artificer for His magnificent handiwork in the womb? I said do you admire Him rather than the work itself? How anyone can say they know this One whose creative work should bring forth our praise, while at the same time support the destruction of that work is beyond me. I must say, I cannot in good conscience support a candidate to lead this country who would snub his nose at this truth from God's Word. I'll just leave it at that for now.

My friend Vicki has written a thoughtful post. Read her August 18 post here.
As I've said before: May the Lord have mercy on us. We need His mercies, but we still have to vote under His watchful eye.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sweet Friends

Isn't it nice to have friends? Sometimes these friends are people whom we've never met personally but our hearts are knit together in the common bond found in Christ. There are two sister bloggers who fit into that category. Cathy of Melodies and Hymnsongs is one of them. We've gotten to know each other through our blogs and through emails and find we're quite like minded in the things we enjoy and love. Her blog is such a pleasant place to visit, music, art, and helpful links among other things. Visit her please. Then there's my newer friend, Lorie of Encouragement from My Heart, who writes lovely poetry and other posts from her heart. Go there, too, and be blessed by this beautiful woman from Hawaii. Both stopped by today to tell me they were passing on these two awards, and I thank them!

I want to pass these on to those of you who frequent this place and help to make blogging more of a pleasure for me. I wish I had time to post more often, because I enjoy it so, but I have to put first things first in my life. Thanks for your friendship--there are some of you who brighten my countenance as soon as I see the email with your name on it, even before I read the comment itself. Thanks, sisters in the Lord, and also the occasional brother who stops by!

Update: I just found out from Cathy that Crystal, at Memoirs of a Mommy created the lovely Sharing the Love award in Honor of the Donor that saved her precious son, Noah's Life. This makes this award even more special.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Sister's Departure

It was just on June 20th, a month and a half ago, that I wrote a post about a dear sister who had begun the last leg of her journey heavenward. Well, the Lord has seen fit to shorten that journey and our sister Colleen has reached her glorious destination. I for one will miss her precious, God-glorifying blog posts, while at the same time being happy for her. She is there; she is home; all is well. Some day when you want to be blessed, read some of her posts at the family Prayer Basket blog.

Now the day drew on, that Christiana must be gone. So the Road was full of people, to see her take her Journey. But behold all the banks beyond the River were full of horses and chariots, which were come down from above, to accompany her to the City Gate. So she came forth, and entered the River, with a beckon of farewell, to those that followed her to the River-side. The last word she was heard to say, here, was I come, Lord, to be with thee, and bless thee.

So her children and friends returned to their place, for that those that waited for Christiana had carried her out of their sight. So she went and called, and entered in at the Gate with all the ceremonies of Joy . . .

At her departure her children wept, but Mr. Great-heart and Mr. Valiant play'd upon the well tuned cymbal and harp for Joy. . .

From The Pilgrim's Progress, The Second Part, by John Bunyan

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sunday Snippet: Zimbabwe

And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day . . . Isaiah 58:10

Have you or your children ever been hungry? I mean really hungry? This child does know what it's like to be hungry--in the true sense of the word. He lives in Zimbabwe, where there is a severe food shortage. We've heard a lot about the political struggles there, but not as much about the severe hunger problems.

This youngster is receiving a life-saving, daily ration of a corn-soybean-blend cereal from World Vision. I would imagine that he's thankful to receive it. Please don't mind my saying this, but I think it would be good for our children in our households to look at pictures like this one from time to time. I wonder would it help to settle some of the issues we have with them over picky habits about what is set before them. Maybe it would be helpful to pray for the starving children of our world at our dinner tables, children who are thankful for a daily ration like the one above and for children who don't even receive that. Maybe it would be helpful to all of us if we changed some of our ways so that we had less to throw out in the garbage, using the money we save to send to organizations like World Vision, who are trying to feed and help hungry people in many places, including Zimbabwe. Believe me, folks, I am preaching to myself as well.

Anyway, I picked Zimbabwe to talk about because it's special to us at our church. We have a special relationship with a church in New York which is supporting ministry work over there. In fact, their pastor and his wife are there now. And not only that, but one of our dear pastors is headed over there tomorrow to help out with that work. Needless to say, even though Pastor A and the others will be trying to do what they can about the physical needs, they will be focusing on another kind of food. The nourishment of God's Word will be their primary emphasis, particularly what it offers the hungry soul: salvation through Christ Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Pray please for the people of Zimbabwe--for their hunger needs, both body and soul. And please pray also for those servants I've just told you about, who are trying to be used of God, as best they can, to help supply provisions for these needs.