God’s Unchanging Constancy in All Seasons of Life

seasons-all-flow-into-one-another

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes—His eternal power and divine nature—have been understood and observed by what He made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

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Autumn’s debut —

God’s splendor on display-

Leaves in vibrant colors-

Geese honking overhead-

Frosty early mornings-

Sunrise-short days-sunset-

Winter’s notice in the air-

Changing seasons.

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CHANGE: Change the channel, change the battery, change the light, change the diaper, change the temperature, change your clothes, change your mood, change your friends, change your position, change your job, change that attitude, change your lifestyle, change your life-CHANGE.

We exist in constant flux. Exponential societal change is ongoing. A technology update is dated before we can upload it. Such a rapid state of increasing change gives way to inconstancy, fluidity, instability, unsteadiness, fluctuation, variation, shifts, rise and fall, seesawing, yo-yoing, uncertainty.

Unlike societal change, our God and our Savior are the constants:

 –Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

— God is not human, that He should lie, not a human being, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

–Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who  does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

God’s creation does not change either. Winter follows fall, spring follows winter, summer follows spring, fall follows summer, and the cycle continues. An unchanging constant in our lives brings forth stability, steadiness, certainty, serenity, peace.

While the world is in an ever-constant state of continuous change and instability, those who turn to God can have peace: “Then God’s peace, which goes far beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Let us enjoy the coming season that God has ordained from the beginning, knowing what will follow, feeling secure in His promise of constancy, and being hopeful in His promise of fulfillment, finding peace in His “good and perfect gift(s).”

(Sharon G. Tate blog 09/25/16) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

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The Good Shepherd, Our Lord Jesus Christ

good shepherd holding baby sheep

A Psalm of David: Psalm 23:1-4

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 Without the shepherd, the sheep under his care will be lost. They will not know what to do or where to go to find sustenance or shelter. Sheep need to be led; they need to be told and shown what to do and where to go. The green pastures, the quiet waters, the right paths are only attainable through the shepherd. To reach these, the sheep must hearken to the shepherd’s voice and follow only him, staying near the one with the rod and the staff, the one who corrects and protects.

Jesus is the Shepherd, the One who guides, leads, protects, and comforts:

11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me d I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.

16 “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. “ (John 10: 11, 14-16)

Are we the sheep who will follow the Shepherd to green pastures and quiet waters OR are we the sheep who follow our own paths to arid deserts and dried up basins?

Are we the sheep who will follow the Shepherd down paths to refreshment and comfort OR are we the sheep who turn away to take the wide road ending in hunger and longing?

The Good Shepherd wants us all to be in the same flock, together in the sheep pen, where He can take care of us. Listen to His voice and follow Him. His path leads to eternity with the One Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world… 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ “  (Matthew 25:31-34, 41)

Are we the sheep who will follow the Master Shepherd to the right paths OR have we become the goats that follow the deceiver who shepherds us down the wrong roads? Whom we follow will determine our path here and our journey into eternity.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 09/04/16)  teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

I KNOW I CAN—WITH GOD’S HELP

I can through Christ

      “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”              (2 Timothy 4:7)

In the children’s story “The Little Engine That Could,” the Little Blue Engine used positive self-talk to achieve the seemingly impossible task of pulling the train full of toys to the top of the mountain and down the grade to the city below. Merely thinking about the possibility of success was not quite enough as she huffed and puffed: “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” ¹ It was only when those spoken words were truly believed that the little engine chugged “faster and faster,” reaching the top of the mountain. The belief was uttered in a new phrase on the decline down the mountain to the city: “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.” ¹

Sometimes, our life circumstances make our daily walk a difficult uphill climb, “chugging” and “puffing” as we struggle to keep ourselves going. Our self-talk during these times is critical. These internal words can defeat us, delay us, or inspire us. This self-talk is also God-talk as He hears everything we think. There is no alone time. God is ever-present.

If we change our self-talk to “I think I can- with God’s help,” then we are closer to reaching the top of the mountain we need to climb– to reach a goal, endure a crisis, survive the work week, pay the bills, overcome a loss, see a way to keep going. To truly attain these things, however, our self-wording must be one of firm belief and action based on that faith: “I know I can-with God’s help” and “I thought I could-with God’s help.”

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”                           (Proverbs 16:3)
(6) “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. (7) That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (8) Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” (James 1:6-8)

With God as our Engineer, steering the course of our lives, we can know and believe with assurance that we will be able to “finish the race” and reach the “prize” waiting for us over the mountain in the City below: (13) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Let us press onward like Paul, trust fully in the Lord, and commit to the ultimate goal of heaven.

“I didn’t come this far, to come this far.” ²
There is a view on the other side of the mountain
To behold— the City where I will reside.

¹Watty Piper’s 1930 “The Little Engine that Could.” http://www.printmag.com
²Anonymous. thinkinghumanity.com

(Sharon G. Tate blog 02/21/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Placing our Trust in the Lord

trust God with all your heart

 (5) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
(6) in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. 

(Proverbs 3:5-6)

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The Trust Test: You must fall straight backward, trusting that the person behind you will have your back, catch you, and not let you fall. Will you take the test?
In Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, the teacher Morrie Schwartz asks his students to do this exercise. No one volunteers until one girl steps forward and takes the test, falling backward with her eyes fully closed. Others who have witnessed this trusting action then follow her example and pass the test.

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Blind trust is a difficult kind of faith to have in our society today. Is the image we see real or virtual? Is the picture a photo shop rendition or real? Is the politician truthful when he/she states a position or is it one that transitions with the majority’s beliefs at the time?

Trust, however, is a crucial element in any relationship. Without it, there can be feelings of uncertainty, fear, tension, stress, hurt, anger—and a broken relationship that falls to pieces when the person you place trust in does not have your back. The Word teaches us to only completely trust in God with an unwavering faith:
(Isaiah 41:10) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
(Psalm 28:7) “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.”

God is the only One who will never let us down. He will be there to catch us when we place our trust fully in Him. In fact, He will not only hold us up and not let us fall, but He will give us the ability to soar:

(28 )Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
(29) He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
(30) Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
(31) but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)

Let us trust completely in our God, fall back on His promises to sustain us, and know with complete faith that He will never leave us. Blind trust in God, the One Who gives us His Light to direct our paths, is the faith we must have on our journey through this life in order to reach our true home with Him. Through this blind trust, we can block out the other diversions, distractions, and temptations in life to focus completely on God, the One Who will support us through every trial, every heartache, every loss, every fear, and every step.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/31/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

OUR SEASONS WITH GOD

Seasons all flow into one another

As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter,day and night will never cease. (Genesis 8:22)

WINTER:
White raiment
Crystalline sparkle
Powdery wisps
Silent echoes
Dormant life
Resting hope
In God’s time.

Winter, the season often associated with an end and death, actually signals the onset of new life and hope lingering beneath the soil–waiting. This is God’s promise—“as long as the earth endures.”

And what of our winter season here on this earth? Writers have linked youth with spring and summer, fall with aging maturity, and winter with our final years of decline. Can we not reframe the picture and see a different view of this stage in our lives:

White raiment: Donning a garment of greater purity before the Lord.
Crystalline sparkle: Shining in the Light of His Glory.
Powdery wisps: Rising above earthly ties for a closer view of heaven.
Silent echoes: Listening to the voices of those before us in the Lord.
Dormant life: Believing more is yet to be—beyond the “me” I now see.
Resting hope: Waiting patiently for new hope and life with God.
In God’s time: Trusting that His time is best in all seasons.

The winter years for disciples of the Lord should be ones reflecting a closer relationship with God, a greater purity within, a stronger belief held, a deeper longing for heaven, and a patient trust that the Lord will walk with us through this final season in our earthly lives.

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Seasons praying hands of ages

–A white-haired woman in a wheelchair, focusing intently on the preacher’s message, whispers “Amen.”
–The younger woman sitting beside her, hearing the whisper, invokes “Amen.”
–An elderly man with a cane, standing before the congregation praying, speaks “Amen.”
–The younger man beside him at the table, following the example, echoes “Amen.”
–An older woman sitting in the pew, hearing both the message and the prayer, reaffirms   “Amen.”
–The young child beside the woman, looking up at her with innocent eyes, repeats “Amen.”

SO BE IT. Let us rejoice in the God-given seasons of our lives, being the lead and example for those passing through the seasons we have already experienced, as we prepare for our own winter that will come with its hope of promise. Thank you, Lord.  AMEN.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/23/16) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word