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Posts Tagged ‘Lamentations 3:22-23’

 

 

“His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning:

Great is thy faithfulness.”

–Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV

 

Thomas read the familiar words from his worn Bible.

Oh Father, he prayed. You have been generously compassionate to me all fifty-seven years of my life– through trial and disappointment, joys and sorrows.

Thomas allowed his thoughts to take him back in time, first to his boyhood home, a log cabin on a small farm in Franklin, Kentucky, where he and his older brother helped their father in the fields and attended a small country school. Neither boy received an education beyond the elementary level.

 

(Typical log cabin school,

this one in the Hensley Settlement of Kentucky)

 

Yet, in 1882 when Thomas was only sixteen, the school board hired him as the new teacher.

Imagine me—just a kid myself—a school teacher, thought Thomas.

He smiled, remembering his favorite part of the school day: reading stories and poems to his students, enriching all of their lives, his included. Thomas puttered at writing poetry himself—an avocation he would enjoy the rest of his life.

Six years later, Thomas’ proficiency with language led to the position of associate editor of his hometown newspaper.

 

(Thomas Obadiah Chisholm)

 

I enjoyed that work and being a contributing member of the community. But you and I both know, Lord, 1893 was when I really began living.

That was the year, at age twenty-seven, Thomas accepted Jesus into his life, through the ministry of Henry Clay Morrison, the founder of Asbury College and Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.

 

(Henry Clay Morrison)

 

Again, Thomas smiled, remembering the day when Dr. Morrison came to him with a surprising proposition: become the editor for his publication, The Pentecostal Herald. Thomas’ mind reeled at the idea of leaving his country community and living in the noise and crowds of Louisville, but in his heart Thomas felt led by God to accept Morrison’s offer.

I thought for sure I would spend the rest of my life in Louisville, but you, Lord, had other plans.

 

(Louisville, KY, ca 1900)

 

As Thomas worked at The Pentecostal Herald, he felt drawn to the pastorate. In 1903, at age thirty-seven, he was appointed to a small church in Scottsville, Kentucky. Thomas not only transitioned into parish life but married life as well, taking Catherine Vandervere as his wife.

 

 

I remember thinking, Well, God, you’ve finally planted me in the work you’ve prepared me to do.

But one year later ill-health demanded Thomas give up the ministry.

Catherine and I were heartbroken, weren’t we, Lord. No sooner had we settled into the Scottsville ministry, than it was over. But you, O God, provided that little farm in Winona Lake, Indiana, and employment with an insurance agency. And just as the scripture says here in Lamentations, your compassions failed not. The Christian community of Winona Lake warmly welcomed us, and you blessed us with the births of our girls, Ruth and Dorothy.

 

 

Then, twelve years later in 1916, God once again led the family to move—this time to New Jersey, where another position with an insurance agency awaited. Very quickly seven more years passed, and now Thomas was fifty-seven years old.

From Kentucky to Indiana to New Jersey you have cared for us, Lord.

Thank you for your great faithfulness, O God, my Father. Never have you forsaken or failed us. Day after day by your hand, everything we have needed you have provided.

And Thomas began to write:

 

Great is thy faithfulness, O God, my Father!

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not:

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

 

Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness,

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 

________________________________

 

In his later years, Thomas sometimes described himself as an old shoe. But look what God did:

Shortly after Thomas wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” (in 1923), he sent a collection of his poems to his good friend, William Runyan, who worked for a Christian music publisher. William was also associated with Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. This poem in particular caught his attention and William prayerfully sought to compose a worthy melody.

 

(William H. Runyan)

 

The resulting hymn became a favorite of Dr. Houghton, president of Moody Bible Institute. When he asked a young soloist, George Beverly Shea, to sing a selection of hymns on the Moody radio station. George included Dr. Houghton’s favorite, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Some years later, the great evangelist, Billy Graham, invited George to join his ministry. In city after city, Billy preached and George Beverly Shea sang, frequently choosing Thomas Chisholm’s hymn.

It quickly grew in popularity. To this day, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is a favorite hymn of many.  (Hear Chris Rice sing it by clicking here.)

 

 

All told, Thomas wrote over 1200 poems over his lifetime, 800 of which were published—poems written by a man with only an elementary education. Among them were more beloved hymns such as “I Want to Be Like Jesus,” “O to Be like Thee!” and “Living for Jesus.”

 

(Thomas Obadiah Chisholm, 1866-1960)

 

His story proves: God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)—even with an old shoe.

 

(Sources: www.sharefaith.com; www.umcdiscipleship.org; www.lifeway.com; www.sermonwriter.com; www.worshipmatters.com; www.zianet.com.)

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.flickr.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.hymnary.org; http://www.hymtime.com; http://www.oldlouisville.com; http://www.digging-history.com; http://www.hippostcard.com; http://www.cyberhymnal.org; Nancy Ruegg; hymntime.com.)

 

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(Remember Susan Boyle?)

Makeovers. What a remarkable change-of-appearance can be achieved with a becoming hairstyle (and maybe color-enhancement!), deftly applied make-up, and well-fitted clothing.  Add the benefit of plastic surgery and a person hardly resembles her former self.

But the transformation of someone’s face and body doesn’t begin to compare to the transformation of someone’s spirit.

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Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.

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

–2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT) 

Notice: We’re not just improved and beautified. Jesus remakes each of us into a brand new person.

And what might that newness include? Here’s a partial list:

 

  • New purpose

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(“Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

–1 Corinthians 10:31b)

Those who follow this directive discover an interesting phenomenon: honoring God brings satisfaction and fulfillment to us. (By the way, God is not on some ego trip, demanding us to give him all the glory. He desires his splendor and benevolence to be evident everywhere, so others might be drawn to him.)

  • New attitude resulting in new character

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(“Put on your new nature and be renewed

As you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”

–Colossians 3:10)

The more we know of God and appreciate all his benefits, the more we want to please him by following his example. That new attitude impacts every aspect of our lives.

  • New perspective

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(“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.”

–Psalm 23:6)

Just knowing God has our best interest at heart is enough to renew energy and hope.

  • New power to face what comes

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(“[He] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,

according to his power that is at work within us.”

–Ephesians 3:20)

 Think of it: the same power that controls the universe is at work within us. Tell me again why we revert to worrying?!

 

  • New emotions, such as peace and joy

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(“The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,

but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

–Romans 14:17)

We do not need to live at the mercy of our circumstances. With God as our constant companion, we can experience peace and joy in spite of what happens. The Bible is full of examples of people who lived that way: Joseph, Daniel, Peter, and Paul readily come to mind.

  • New confidence

Proverbs 3.26 

(“The Lord will be your confidence.”

–Proverbs 3:26a)

God is not only with us, he is our Protector, Provider, and Guide.  As we become increasingly aware of his faithfulness, our trust grows. Trust = confidence.

  • New opportunities and blessings

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(“The faithful love of the LORD never ends!

His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness;

his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

–Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

Experience tells us that when we say “yes” to Jesus, God does not bestow the full measure of all of these wonderful new things instantaneously. God told Isaiah: “Behold I am doing a new thing” (Isaiah 43:19).  That hints at process. We’re made new, but growing into that newness.

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Think of buying a coat in the fall that’s a little too big for your child. She owns the coat, but it doesn’t quite fit yet.  Within a matter of weeks however, the sleeves hit the wrist not the fingertips, and the shoulder seams sit properly–no sagging down the arms.

Might it be that when we invite Jesus in our lives, our spirits are made new, but we don’t quite fit into them yet? Then, as we cooperate with Holy Spirit and his fruit grows within us (Galatians 5:22-23), we steadily become more Christ-like, day by day.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Father, I don’t want to cling to aspects of the old me—things like worry, perfectionism, selfishness, and pride. I want to embrace everything new that YOU bring to my life, to become my true self—the one you designed me to be.**

 

**Based on idea from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, p. 381.

Photo credits:  www.joblogging.weebly.com; http://www.ilovemybible.tumblr.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.dayofgrace.me; http://www.faithgateway.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.slideshare.net; http://www.plus.google.com; pinterest.com (2).

Share your thoughts in the Comment section below.  I’d love to hear from you!

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“Oh, what a beautiful tree!” my mother-in-law exclaimed with enthusiasm. Her comment referred to a tall bush, planted near the house and visible outside our kitchen window. “What’s the name of it?” she asked.  Being from Ohio, Mom wasn’t familiar with some of the unique foliage of our area in south Florida.

“That’s a sea grape,” I told her. “It’s actually a shrub, but they can grow quite tall.”

“Well, it’s lovely. Such big leaves!”

Now clearly there’s nothing remarkable about this conversation, until you know that Mom had asked the very same question with the very same enthusiasm every morning of her visit. And each morning I supplied the same answer.  Mom was in her late 80s, and her dementia was becoming more and more noticeable.

Mom’s fresh outlook each morning reminded me of Lamentations 3:22-23: 

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!

His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;

his mercies begin afresh each morning (NLT).

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Just as Mom brought new enthusiasm to each morning, so God brings new mercies for each day. Yes, the challenges we faced yesterday required wisdom, strength, and perseverance. But today we’ll need a fresh supply.   Praise God he never runs out of such gifts; he is always able to provide.

In the same way, God’s new mercies for today are not meant to be sufficient for tomorrow. In other words, we shouldn’t expect to feel confident and in charge this morning for the potential challenges of the future—much as we’d like to. (Who hasn’t wished to know now exactly how the next day or week will unfold, and how best to respond?)

Instead, our wise and loving Heavenly Father has chosen to lead us one day at a time. And just what is so wise and loving about keeping us in the dark?  So as to protect us from being overwhelmed, easy prey to depression, and paralyzed by fear.

No, our best course of action is to avail ourselves of God’s mercies for this one day. As for tomorrow, we can trust God to supply new mercies, more than sufficient for whatever we might face when the time comes (Matthew 6:34).

I’m remembering Corrie ten Boom. (Maybe this post brought her to your mind, too.)

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Corrie and her family suffered cruel hardships in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, as a result of helping Jews escape the Holocaust.

After the war, people would often say to Corrie, “I wish I had such great faith as yours. I could never live through the experiences you survived.”

Corrie would tell a story to explain.

When she was a child, Corrie happened to see a dead baby. A terrible fear gripped her that one of her family might also die. When Papa ten Boom came to tuck her in that night, she burst into tears.

“I need you!” she sobbed. “You can’t die!”

Her sister, Betsy, explained why Corrie was so afraid.

Papa asked, “When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”

“Just before we get on the train,” she responded.

“Exactly,” Papa replied. “And God knows when you’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.”

Papa ten Boom was proven right. When Corrie needed supernatural strength, God did provide. We can rest assured that his mercies will be new and fresh each morning for each of us, as needed.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I praise you, Lord God, that we can face each day with fresh enthusiasm, because for each trial, you have prepared for us great mercies like endurance, strength, and wisdom. I thank you that in the midst of trouble, you also provide blessings: a more acute awareness of your presence, peace that defies explanation, family and friends to come alongside, miraculous provision, and delightful surprises to make us smile. You are not just a sufficient God; you are an abundantly gracious God!

(Photo credits:  www.mgonline.com; http://www.coffee4thesoul.com; http://www.myhero.com.)

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(No, the title is not a typo!  Please read on!)

One time only the verb wrestle is used in scripture.  You probably remember the story of Jacob wrestling with a man through the dark hours of one night. Chances are, Jacob would have been sleepless anyway.  The next day he was to reunite with his estranged brother, Esau (Genesis 32:22-32).  Echoing in Jacob’s mind was his brother’s vow to kill him (27:41).

At the end of the wrestling match, when the man left Jacob, he realized his opponent had been God (32:30)!  (Some say God took the form of an angel.  Some say this was an appearance of Jesus, a pre-incarnate visitation, before he was born as a baby in Bethlehem.)  

Jacob’s heart must have been pounding madly at that moment, but not just from the exertion.  Imagine his shock to realize he had engaged with the all-powerful King of the universe in hand-to-hand combat!

The chronicler to record this event (and all the other events in Genesis) is generally accepted to be Moses.  As he wrote this particular story, Moses must have smiled to himself at the word play that flowed from his pen (Did they use pens of some sort in those days?)

First of all,  Jacob’s name in ancient Hebrew is ya’ aqob.  The word, wrestled, is ye’ abeq.  Even the location of the event is included in the word play.  Verse 22 indicates Jacob was camped along the stream called Jabbok, or yabbok in Hebrew.  Perhaps it was named later, as a memoriam to Jacob’s once-in-history experience.  By Moses’ time, the name would have been well-established.

But that’s just an interesting aside.   Showcasing his sense of humor was not God’s main objective for including this story in scripture.  What might he want us to learn from Jacob’s experience?

Perhaps it is a lesson in humility, as it certainly was for Jacob.  At the end of that wrestling match, God wrenched Jacob’s hip.  He limped for the rest of his life–a constant reminder that God was his Shepherd-caretaker, responsible for Jacob’s successes.  God was also his Angel-deliverer.  Jacob could not guarantee his own escape from Esau’s harm. or any other danger (Genesis 48:15-16).

God proved himself as Jacob’s Mighty One (49:24) the next day.  Shortly after the man left Jacob, Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him–with four hundred men.  Quickly Jacob took precautions to protect his family.  But it was unnecessary.  Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him.  The two brothers, who had been alienated from one another for years, now wept in each others’ arms (33:1-4).

At the end of his life, Jacob reaffirmed that it was God Almighty who had provided all the blessings he’d enjoyed (Genesis 49:25).  The patriarch was as powerless to bless himself as he was to overpower God in a wrestling match.  And he prayed that the Strong God would give his blessings–tumbling out of the skies, bursting up from the Earth–to rest on the head of Joseph (vs. 25-26, The Message).

Jacob did not pray that Joseph, too, might  wrestle with God, but that God’s blessing would rest upon him.

Yes, wrestling with God has its place.  At times we may spar with God using words, much as David openly and honestly expressed his disappointments, depression, and even anger to God.  (See Psalms 22, 55, and 77 for examples.)  God is big enough to handle it.

But then comes the morning when we can affirm that his compassions, his blessings, never fail.  Great is the faithfulness of our God (Lamentations 3:22-23)!

So an additional bit of word play brings the two concepts together, thanks to my preacher-son, Jeremy:  wrestling + resting = wresting.

Wrestling allows load-shifting; resting results in peace.  Together they make us strong, steadfast, and firm in our faith.

(art credit:  http://www.bishopmarcelopires.org )

 

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