“This world is not my home! I’m just passing through…

This world is not my home

Being an alien or exiled in a strange land is an unpleasant experience! People who have experienced it will tell you that their “homeland” is always in their hearts.

Heaven is “homeland” for Christians! There’s an old gospel song that captures the feeling: “This world is not my home, I’m just a’passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore!”

Peter addressed the emotions of spiritual aliens and exiles from their homeland, because of their faith and devotion to Christ, at the beginning of his first letter… Here is his Holy Spirit inspired affirming message to them…

“From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ… to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy [or set you apart as His very own]. As a result, you have been obedient and have been cleansed by [or sprinkled with] the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace!”

What an encouraging, affirming word for disenfranchised, marginalized, persecuted, and scattered Christians from their earthly homelands! Their situation “known by God” – their Heavenly Father … Thy are “chosen by Him”, set apart as His very own through the Holy Spirit, they’ve been cleansed – sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ, they’re assured of more and more of God’s rich grace and wonderful peace!

Gotta tell you… As a God-honoring, Christ-following, Bible-believing, Holy Spirit empowered believer, I often feel like an alien in this old world! I affirm the reality that God has placed me here to share the message of His redemptive love. Sometimes that message is embraced by those who hear it… but at other times it is rejected! I’m just telling you, I needed to hear Apostle Peter’s inspired words today – I need to embrace them with all my heart! One more time… “This world is not my home, I’m only passing through!” But with God’s help and the Holy Spirit’s power I intend to make my time here count for the glory of God! He’s got a purpose for my life and yours!

The holiday season is here… How about considering giving a “thank offering” for God’s grace and goodness?

A thank offering

The holiday season is upon us… First Thanksgiving and then Christmas. The ancient Israelites had a tradition… They would offer “thank offerings” on special occasions as remembrances for God’s goodness and grace.

As Sharon and I approach this holiday season, I’ve felt the “nudge” of the Holy Spirit to consider and offer a special (and significant) “thank offering” to the Lord. I will be praying with Sharon about where it should go “in His name” as a remembrance of God’s goodness. It’s been a growing idea in my mind and heart over the past several weeks but came to a head this morning as I read this “Prayer of David” during “Coffee with the Lord” in my Bible.

“Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: ‘Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. BOTH RICHES AND HONOR COME FROM YOU, AND YOU RULE OVER ALL! In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now I thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. BUT WHO AM I, AND WHAT IS MY PEOPLE, THAT WE SHOULD BE ABLE THUS TO OFFER WILLINGLY? FOR ALL THINGS COME FROM YOU, AND OF YOUR OWN HAVE WE GIVEN YOU! For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD OUR GOD, ALL THIS ABUNDANCE … COMES FROM YOUR HAND AND IS ALL YOUR OWN. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. IN THE UPRIGHTNESS OF MY HEART I HAVE FREELY OFFERED ALL THESE THINGS, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, OFFERING FREELY AND JOYOUSLY TO YOU. O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you!’” (Adapted from 1 Chronicles 29:10–18 ESV)

I would not presume to tell you what you should do this holiday season to offer thanks and praise to God! But you may want to consider a significant “thank offering!” Pray about it… consider it… think about what would be appropriate and to what ministry, group or person you should give it… and then offer it with grateful thanksgiving, praise, and worship as unto Him! “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Finding the “comfort of the Holy Spirit” in deep and painful grief

The Comforter

Someone who has experienced the painful loss of someone dearly loved needs today’s post in “Coffee with the Lord!”

I am reading a deeply moving and powerful book written by Darlene Deibler Rose entitled EVIDENCE NOT SEEN.  It is the story of her hardships as a pioneer missionary with her husband, Russell, their separation because of the Japanese occupation of New Guinea in World War II, and her experiences as a POW in a Japanese internment camp.  Yesterday I read the account of the day she received the stunning news of Russell’s death months earlier in another prison camp…

“Roll call in the prison camp and our devotions were over, the women moved back to their beds.  They whispered or spoke in muted voices; even passers-by talked softly.  I said goodnight and climbed up to my rack.  When I stretched out face down on my mat, I wanted nothing so much as a shoulder on which to put my aching head, and to sob until the fountain of my tears ran dry.  I felt vulnerable and young, desperately needing the strong, comforting arm of the Shepherd.  Who can bruise and make whole again?  Who can break, then restore that which is shattered to a thing of beauty?

“Suddenly my Lord was there, standing in the cathedral of my heart, and from His Word written upon the scroll of my memory, He began to read, ‘He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted…to comfort all that mourn…to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’ (Isaiah 61:1-3)

“From force of habit, I ‘spread it out before the Lord!’ Never once did He interrupt while I told Him everything about the past, the present, the timing, what I was feeling – or not feeling – how the future looked and the oppressive feeling of aloneness that overwhelmed me.  I waited to hear what my Lord would say, and silence answered me!  How unusually quiet it was in the barracks that night!  Then, like seeing clearly for the first time what the Artist had in mind, I understood – these people shared by grief!  By their very quietness they were saying, ‘We’re thinking of you and praying for you in your time of sorrow.’  Their words of sympathy, their tears, the warm pressure of their handclasps were the delicate shadings of empathy mingled with the warm hues of love to create upon the canvas of my heart a beautiful picture of friendship. ‘Thank you, Father, for these, my friends!  Thank you so much for these beautiful people, who are so very dear to me!  Let my grief be mine alone.  Anoint my countenance with the oil of joy, that none may ever feel embarrassed to laugh in my presence.  May no joke or sharing of the ridiculous be stifled because I am there.  Wrap me in the garment of praise, that I may not burden others with the heaviness of my grief.’

“Experientially, I was learning to understand the comfort of the Holy Spirit!  Sometime during the dark hours I slept.  The sword of sorrow had pierced deep within me, but He had bathed the sword in oil!”

(From EVIDENCE NOT SEEN, Darlene Deibler Rose, Harper and Row, 1988

%d bloggers like this: