…It is finished!
I am the Alpha and the Omega—
the Beginning and the End.
To all who are thirsty
I will give freely
from the springs
of the water of life.
Abruptly transitioning from 33 years of happy marriage to widowhood was indescribably hard and bleak; I felt so very vulnerable in the months after Dan was killed.
I submerged myself in Bible study and scripture reading. Learning about real people who had faced real problems and found real answers from God soothed my soul and stiffened my spine.
One of my favorites, and someone I definitely plan to meet some day, is King Hezekiah of Judah. He was a good ruler sandwiched in between two evil horrors: his own father and son murdered some of their own sons by burning them to death as idol sacrifices.
Hezekiah’s turning out to be decent is in direct proportion to his trust in the LORD, the living God of Israel.
When I was hurting so badly, I loved to read how he, and others, desperately called on God for help; and how God miraculously answered their cries.
Assyria (modern day Iraq) had Jerusalem under siege and the situation was extremely dire for Hezekiah’s kingdom of Judah. But the Assyrian’s attitude, exhibited in their letter of threat, was one of the final straws because…
After Hezekiah received the letter
from the messengers and read it,
he went up to the Lord’s Temple
and spread it out before the Lord.
And Hezekiah prayed this prayer
before the Lord:
“O Lord, God of Israel,
you are enthroned
between the mighty cherubim!
You alone are God
of all the kingdoms of the earth.
You alone created the heavens
and the earth.
Bend down, O Lord, and listen!
Open your eyes, O Lord, and see!
Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance
against the living God.
“It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria
have destroyed all these nations.
And they have thrown the gods
of these nations into the fire
and burned them.
But of course the Assyrians could destroy them!
They were not gods at all—
only idols of wood and stone
shaped by human hands.
Now, O Lord our God,
rescue us from his power;
then all the kingdoms of the earth will know
that you alone, O Lord, are God.”
2 Kings 19:14-19
I love Hezekiah’s prayer and I especially love God’s response…
“For my own honor
and for the sake of my servant David,
I will defend this city and protect it.”
That night the angel of the LORD
went out to the Assyrian camp
and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers.
2 Kings 19:34-35
Prayer releases God’s power.
My sister-in-law was packing to move from her new house back to her old house; and had just finished moving from her old job to her new job. Smack in the middle of all that packing and moving, eight of us descended upon her for a mini-family reunion. She’s a great sport and we all enjoyed some wonderfully silly, laughter-filled days together.
I love traveling, but don’t like packing and preparing. I usually take too much stuff because I’m convinced I might need it and not be able to find it wherever I am. That’s actually never happened, but it could. Possibly.
One time I drove five hours to Mississippi for board meetings and realized, right before arriving, that I’d left all my dress clothes in Texas. I took a lot of ribbing for the new stuff I bought, but it was either that or dress in jeans and pajamas for my board meetings.
I also don’t like dealing with dirty laundry when I return home. Dan made a great suggestion years ago before I went to Germany. He said he knew I’d want to bring home souvenirs, so just leave all my underwear in Germany; and it’s still a great practice for freeing up my suitcase.
I believe it’s awfully good of God to not require me to pack a suitcase for my very last trip. And I have it on good authority that I won’t need to purchase anything when I get there because I won’t be missing a thing.
…only God knows
whether I was in my body
or outside my body.
But I do know
that I was caught up to paradise
and heard things so astounding
that they cannot be expressed in words,
things no human is allowed to tell.
2 Corinthians 12: 3 – 4
…a city designed and built by God.
…”No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9
When I was about 8 yrs old, I decided I wanted to make a quilt. My mother didn’t sew and I’d never seen anyone piece a quilt, but I loved all the different colors in my grandmother’s Around the World quilt.
I started with a little cardboard pattern and cut out my first cloth square. Then I used that cloth square as a pattern for my second square. Then used the second cloth square as a pattern for my third. And then used the third cloth square…and so on.
I vaguely remember Ma Mooney suggesting I should use the original cardboard square as my standard pattern; but it was hard to hold in place and I didn’t want to struggle with it.
When my hands grew tired of cutting, I tried to line out all my cloth squares into the beautiful quilt design I’d envisioned; and was heartbroken to discover they didn’t fit. All the squares were different sizes because I’d unintentionally used a faulty pattern for every single cut.
And I know it’s the same in this life I’m living.
If I don’t measure my thoughts and decisions against an absolute unchanging standard; I’m eventually going to discover I’ve used faulty patterns.
Fortunately, there’s a absolute pattern available that comes without fault or blemish…
Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
What do I forfeit if I deliberately sin?
Uncluttered prayer connection to God
God’s answers to prayer
Ability to live guilt free
Peace of heart and mind
What do I gain if I deliberately sin?
…if we deliberately
after we have received
knowledge of the truth,
there is no longer any sacrifice
that will cover these sins.
There is only
the terrible expectation
of God’s judgment
and the raging fire
that will consume his enemies.
For anyone who refused
to obey the law of Moses
was put to death without mercy
on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
Just think how much worse
the punishment will be
for those who have trampled
on the Son of God,
and have treated the blood of the covenant,
which made us holy,
as if it were common and unholy,
and have insulted and disdained
the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.
For we know the one who said,
“I will take revenge.
I will pay them back.”
He also said,
“The Lord will judge his own people.”
It is a terrible thing
to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10: 26-31
For the Lord had made a covenant
with the descendants of Jacob
and commanded them:
“Do not worship any other gods
or bow before them
or serve them
or offer sacrifices to them.
But worship only the Lord,
who brought you out of Egypt
with great strength and a powerful arm.
Bow down to him alone,
and offer sacrifices only to him.
Be careful at all times to obey the decrees,
regulations, instructions, and commands
that he wrote for you.
You must not worship other gods.
Do not forget the covenant
I made with you,
and do not worship other gods.
You must worship only
the Lord your God.
He is the one who will rescue you
from all your enemies.”
But the people would not listen…
2 Kings 17:35-40
Everything in me wants to holler STOP! Why won’t you listen? Can’t you see this isn’t going to work out well? Play the story all the way out.
During the years I worked as a mental health professional, I oftentimes helped my clients visualize the probable outcome of their choices; if they continued in the same direction they were going.
If you do that, then…
If you take another drink, then…
If you go there, then…
God does the same thing in Scripture. He tells me things like:
If you…then I will…
If you don’t…then this will happen…
Don’t forget me…and I will…
Obey me because…
Everything he says to me is all wrapped up in his love and grace, and by playing the story out; he’s encouraging me to love him back. My creator knows me best.