Eternal Focus–Beyond the “Stuff” of Life

things of heaven

“Set your minds on things above,
Not earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
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The stuff of life –
Packed in boxes, stored for years.
Dormant in attics, dusted with time.
Encased in glass, memories sealed.
Hidden in dressers, locked inside.
Folded in pages, the family Bible.
Was the life in the “stuff?”
All the sorting, sifting, tossing
Of  things once important.
Memories piled and stacked.
Was the “stuff” the life?

We hold onto the things that bring forth memories of what we once were, what we might have been, what we are now. We hold onto the things that remind us of who we were at different stages of our lives with the people important to us at those times. We hold onto the things that take us home to our parents and siblings, to our cousins, aunts and uncles. We hold onto the things that signify special events in our lives. We hold onto the things that flood our eyes with tears, our minds with memories, our hearts with emotions. The stuff of life. Our life.

And, yet, while holding onto these things, we have an increasing awareness as we age of the temporal nature of this world. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

Even with this understanding, as we sort and sift and toss, we still hold back and save, all the time knowing that we will take none of the “stuff” with us when this life is over. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:17)

But the things have seemed like an integral part of us–explaining who we are, how we got here and now, what we endured, and what we sacrificed. So hard to let go. Yet, what is before us in boxes, in closets, in basements, in attics, in pictures, in videos, in flowers pressed and preserved   will never define us. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)

Is our life in the “stuff” seen?
Or does it go beyond this realm
To the unseen, the eternal?
What things do we hold onto here
That can be taken with us there?
Sort and toss, sift and let go;
Leave behind the transient.
Keep faith and love enduring.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/29/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations of God’s Word

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God-given life, the precious gift

life-is-a-gift

You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
(Psalm 16:11)
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God-given life, the precious gift. We open the gift with a cry as we enter this world, unaware of its value. The baby must have needs met to live, crying to let someone know. As children, our carefree laughter in play accepts the gift of life as one to experience with curiosity and the assumption that tomorrow will open yet another day to play and discover. The teen, emotional and uncertain about the life he sees, questions its meaning for him personally, trying to understand his place in this life and if he even has one. The young adult with a new family struggles with the reality of life as work and debt but, also, sees the promise of life continuing through children. The middle-aged couple wistfully look back at youth and promise–how their lives might have been different-but holding hands, move forward to the days ahead. A new retiree may have a difficult time finding purpose to continue in life– or he may look at life as a chance to begin anew, opening the gift each day with anticipation.

During the stages of everyone’s existence in this world, the gift of life is one that most want to open with each sunrise. We will seek God’s strength and wisdom to help us endure trials, find medical help to sustain our daily existence, connect with people like ourselves who will encourage us to keep going, read books to see how others cope with similar problems, and even take treatments that are toxic to our bodies with the hope of more sunrises–to open and reopen God’s gift of life again and again.

“For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together
In my mother’s womb;
I PRAISE YOU
Because I am fearfully
And wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful.
I know that full well.”
(Psalm 139:13-14)

Let us, like David, “know full well” that God’s works are “wonderfully made.” The life He breathed into us can be no less. We honor Him by living our lives for Him, looking forward to each sunrise, the gift of God-given life continuing.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/22/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Following the Voice of the Lord

God speaks His Voice

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)

 I heard the Voice. I questioned Who was speaking.

I heard the Voice. I was too busy to listen.

I heard the Voice. I didn’t want to get involved.

I heard the Voice. I couldn’t possibly be the instrument.

I heard the Voice. I began to feel the urgency.

I heard the Voice. I spoke out loud, “All right, Lord!”

So I called my best friend and asked for her daughter’s number. I said I had to call her daughter, that it was urgent. I had never called her daughter before on the phone. This seemed confusing to my friend, but she gave me the number after I told her that her daughter absolutely had to go to Bible study this Sunday.

I heard the young woman’s voice when I called, a question in the tone after I identified myself. Her thoughts spoke in the pause, “Why would she be calling me?”

I told her that I heard His Voice, over and over again the entire day, telling me to call her, urging me to tell her to attend the young adult Bible class Sunday morning. I could hear the question again in her response, but after continued efforts to convince her to attend the Bible class, she said she would consider it. The voice wasn’t what I had wanted to hear, but I hung up the phone and prayed that she would go.

Have you ever heard His Voice, compelling you to go, to do, to speak, to become involved? How did you answer Him?

I have heard His Voice. He was there, whispering to me, calling to me repeatedly all day long. I could not shut Him out. I could not ignore Him. I had to make the call.

This story is real. And the ending was fairy tale in human lore. The Bible teacher–a young man, not yet engaged– spoke on marriage that Sunday morning. Happily ever after, there was an engagement and, then, a marriage and, later, a family. To this day, this young couple is very involved in youth ministry, in teaching, and in leading young people to hear and respond to His Voice.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

Let us listen and hear His Voice leading us, guiding us, directing us to do His Will.

 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

 (Sharon G. Tate blog 01/15/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Listening for God’s Voice, His Word Spoken, in all Creation

heavens-declare-god 

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)

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The child, awkwardly running in his baby waddle to catch the whirling snow, lifts his small hands to grasp the flakes-as they melt within his hand. Laughing, tilting his head back, mouth wide open, he tries to hold the flakes on his tongue—while they disappear  at his touch. These delicate intricacies, patterned with individual God-designs, cannot be captured and kept. Yet, the toddler persists in his quest, running and laughing with the wind, to hold the tiny droplets-for a moment.

What moments are we the child chasing after God’s creations? Do we remember the awe, the first view of snow, the first touch on the tongue?  The voice of God, Elohim the Creator, resounds in each individual flake and in each individual child. He speaks, “I AM.”

Do we hear Him when we plant the seeds in the furrows? Do we hear Him when wafts of lilac drift near? Do we hear Him when lightning sparks the sky? Do we hear Him when the first movement is felt in the womb? Do we hear Him when the birds sing? Do we hear Him when the sun bursts through the clouds in radiant glory? Do we hear the song, the rejoicing of God’s creation all around us?

 

11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. (Psalm 96:11-12)

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24 How many are your works, Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small. (Psalm 104: 24-25)

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“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
10 In His hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12: 7-10)

 Listen for the whisper of God. Hearken to the song of creation.

Hear God’s Word spoken all around us.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/08/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

 

Ringing in the New Year with the Lord

new-year-go-deeper-with-god

“They call us to wake, to pray, to work, to arms, to feast and,

in times of crisis, to come together.” 1

BELLS. Their tolls signal a new birth, a wedding, a departed soul, an emergency, a call to unity, a New Year.

Ringing in the New Year: What bells will we hear?

 Hear the loud alarum bells–Brazen bells!

What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

Too much horrified to speak,

They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune. 2

Does the New Year sound an alarm to our ears? Are these the bells we hear of fear, chaos, and uncertainty? If we continue to hear the peals of those clanging out the fright, then we will ring in the New Year with alarm shrieking in our heads.

If, however, we, the church, are one with the Lord as the bride of Christ, we should hear wedding bells.

 Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight!

From the molten-golden notes,

And all in tune.2

 The sound from within will be a harmonious melody in tune with God. Whatever alarms are ringing from without cannot disturb the joy of the Lord within and what the New Year with Him will bring to our ears and to our hearts.

 Ringing in the New Year: What bells will we hear?

A new birth that we helped deliver to Jesus.

A passing soul joyously ringing out “Saved!”

A unity resounding forth as “One in the Lord.”

Not the alarm, but the peace of Christ that chimes within.

  Let us ring the bells of a Happy New Year!

 1 The History of Bell Ringing. www.bellringing.org/history

2 Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Bells.”  From The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, vol. II, 1850.   https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/bells

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/01/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word