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Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians 15:58’

 

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We’ve all heard the story of Joseph (or seen the musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat). You’ll remember he’s the one who endured years of slavery and prison before his dreams (of bowing wheat sheaves and stars paying homage) came true.

We also know about Moses, an adopted prince in Pharaoh’s household who ended up in the wilderness herding sheep.  Forty years later God called him to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt.

And we’re familiar with Paul who spent years traveling from place to place and, yes, suffering all kinds of trials—beatings, imprisonment, dangers, shipwrecks—all for the privilege of serving God, introducing people to Jesus and establishing churches.

These Biblical stories and others teach us to never give up, because we never know when God will show up to turn a prisoner into a prime minister, a shepherd into a great leader, or a Pharisee tentmaker into a world evangelist.

Then there’s Jeremiah. His is a different kind of story altogether. He was called by God to warn the inhabitants of Judah that destruction would come if they did not return to God and follow his ways. It was not a one-time message. Over a period of forty years Jeremiah spoke many times of coming doom.

 

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Almost no one listened. (A brief revival took place under King Josiah, but when he died, the people returned to their complacency and evil ways.)

We love the stories of Joseph, Moses, Paul, and others, whose perseverance was rewarded with success. But what about Jeremiah?

He, too, persevered through trials–poverty and deprivation, imprisonment and ill-treatment, rejection and ridicule. For what? According to the evidence (minimal results for his efforts), Jeremiah was a wretched failure. Yet he had obeyed God faithfully, endured patiently, and preached courageously.

Perhaps visible evidence is not the best way to quantify success.

Instead, the true measure of success involves our characters, not our acquisitions (Joshua 1:8).

 

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The true measure of success may include the tenacity to get up every day and face the same tasks as yesterday, to persistently make choices that further God’s objectives for each of us, and to remain steadfast even when discouraged (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Last, a true measure of success is how our choices honor God (1 Kings 2:3). Jeremiah may not have turned thousands back to Yahweh, but that was not due to his lack of effort or disobedience to God. Jeremiah doggedly preached to the people of Judah—month after month, year after year.

So the true measure of success includes: 1) pursuing godly character, 2) persevering toward God-given purpose, and 3) making choices that honor him.

 

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Today, such successful people might look like:

  • The parent who has put his career on hold to invest time in his young children.
  • the business owner who drives a twelve-year old car so he can give generously to ministries.
  • The college student slowly working her way through school, anxious to return to her inner city neighborhood and teach school

For those of us looking for that kind of success, Jeremiah is our hero.

He lived out these precepts :

  • Do our prayerful best and leave the results with God.
  • Press on–day by day, month by month, year by year if necessary. Allow such perseverance to build our trust in God and strengthen our character.
  • Persist until God tells us to stop. (How do we know we’ve reached that moment? Peace, not uncertainty, will fill our spirits.)

We may not understand what God is doing, but we know him. And he is holy love and perfect wisdom.*

 

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*Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, p. 129.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.christianquotes.info; http://www.pilgrimsrock.com.)

 

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Back in the early 60s when I was a young teen, Dad took me to an Artur Rubenstein concert. For those of you too young to recognize that name, Mr. Rubenstein was a well-known pianist of the last century.

You’d think a thirteen-year old would be bored at a classical performance. Far from it. Mr. Rubenstein’s flying fingers held me spellbound. Sometimes he’d even come up off the bench, putting body and soul into the piece.

One selection in particular Dad and I will never forget. While performing “Ritual Fire Dance” by DeFalla, Mr. Rubenstein’s arms beat up and down like hummingbird wings, from head level to keyboard, in rapid succession. How could he possibly bring his fingers down to the right keys from such a height and at such speed? It was a marvel of power and precision—from a man who was seventy-five at the time.

(You can access a video of Mr. Rubinstein playing “Ritual Fire Dance” here:  https://youtu.be/3SDeN9ZrRRI.  To view just the DeFalla piece, skip ahead to minute #11; to see just the portion described above, skip to 11 minutes, 30 seconds.)

Yes, older folks can still fly—maybe not physically like Mr. Rubenstein’s fingers, but certainly attitudinally and spiritually.

 

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Our youth can be renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:5).

The eagle enjoys a long life compared to many other animals–up to thirty years in the wild and fifty years in captivity. Each year its feathers are renewed, providing new strength for flight.

We can renew our strength attitudinally by focusing on the benefits of growing older.

Yes, research has uncovered a number of advantages, including:

  • Improved self-esteem, self-control, and selflessness.
  • Decreased sadness, anger, fear, and other negative emotions. Stress and worry also decline.
  • Less concern for the trivial; more focus on what’s important.
  • Increased wisdom, due to a wide base of experience and a broader perspective on life.
  • Less attention on the negative, more focus on the positive.

As a Christian senior, I’d have to add:

  • Increased faith in God as I’ve seen more evidence of God’s faithfulness.
  • Greater appreciation for the simpler things of life—each one a precious gift from my loving Heavenly Father.
  • The glorious hope of heaven as it grows closer to becoming reality.  John Newton said:

 

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(“I am still in the land of the dying;

I shall be in the land of the living soon.”)

I like his perspective.

We can also renew our strength spiritually with the help of God.

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Just as the eagle rides on the wind high above the earth, we too can ride above our infirmities on the wind of the Spirit. He provides renewal of faith, strength, and passion in numerous ways—through scripture, song, other biblical reading, strong teaching, mature Christians, and more. Then we can:

  • flourish and be fruitful (Psalm 92:14).
  • stand firm and immovable (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • always give ourselves fully to God’s work (same verse).
  • run and not be weary (Isaiah 40:31).

 

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Here’s an idea:  Let’s start a list of advantages we observe in growing older, to help keep us uplifted on wings of praise.

What “blessings of aging” have you noticed? Please share in the comments section below. (If you’re still enjoying the first half of life, tell us what you’ve observed in others, or what you’re looking forward to.)

 

“The last chapter in life can be the best!” – Vance Havner

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.youtube.com; http://www.freeimages.com; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.wildlifeworkshops.com; http://www.pinterest.com.

 

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Take a close look at the intricate design above. Did you notice the artist’s medium? Corks!

And look at what some clever soul did with some old tires.

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And how about this stemware rack? Quite the creative use for a discarded garden rake.

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All three of these projects are examples of upcycling—the process of converting useless products and waste materials into new products of higher quality or value than the original.

On a much grander scale, consider:   those of us who know Jesus have also been upcycled.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.

The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”

– 2 Corinthians 5:17

 And what does that new, upcycled life include?

  • The opportunity for intimacy with Almighty God
  • A fresh perspective on life
  • Strength to face whatever might happen
  • A glorious certainty for the future
  • A deep sense of peace and joy that circumstances cannot destroy

And that’s just the beginning of the list.

Just as resourceful people are able to upcycle any number of materials, God can use everything in our lives:

  • Every relationship
  • Every situation
  • Every trial
  • Every hurt
  • Even every failure

No matter what we go through, God can upcycle the experience to create something worthwhile.  Good things like:  1) important life-lessons, 2) steps in his carefully orchestrated plan for our lives, and 3) a positive influence upon others.

Nothing is wasted in God’s economy.

–Bill Wilson

(founder of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Paul expressed the same truth in scripture:

“God is able to orchestrate everything

to work toward something good and beautiful

when we love him and accept his invitation

to live according to his plan.”

–Romans 8:28, The Voice, italics added)

The inconsequential bits of our lives are never wasted in God’s economy either. For example:  He uses every good deed, every exercise of self-discipline, every effort to keep peace, to mold us into better people and to minister to others.

And then there is the trash of our lives—those circumstances and relationships we wish never had happened.  Even the trash is upcycled:

Wailing becomes dancing (Psalm 30:11)

Tears become joy (Psalm 126:5),

Ashes become beauty,

Despair becomes praise (Isaiah 61:3),

The crooked roads become straight (Luke 3:5),

Darkness becomes light (1 Peter 2:9).

Someone very clever expressed it this way:

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Does that mean we sit and wait while God turns our tears of disillusionment to joy? The ashes of disappointment into something beautiful? The crooked road of bad choices into a straight, smooth path?

No, God honors us by allowing us to participate in the upcycling process.

“Always work enthusiastically for the Lord,

for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

— 1 Corinthians 15:58, NLT

Let’s strive to choose the next “best thing” before us, and let God upcycle the results!

(Photo credits:  www.winecorkdesigns.com; http://www.newscentral.exsees.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.mediawebapps.com.)

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