Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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A Word In Season And Hope For Tomorrow

The Lord teaches us so much from His word and through other people. It is not just for the edifying, or building up, of our own spirit, but to equip us so that we may be used as His instruments to serve and help others also. The Holy Spirit is forever speaking to us to give us the unction to be ready and equipped. Isaiah 50: 4 “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” II Timothy 4:2, 3, 4 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” What does “they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” mean? In short it simply refers to watering down and perverting the word of God for the purpose of making it fit more into the liking of man’s opinions. It seems that the Holy Spirit is continually reminding us of the perilous days that we live in, and how important it is for each of us to seek His wisdom that we do not succumb to deception and the watering down of His doctrines. Hark! Hark! In these latter days we do not want to be found as one within the church of Laodicea, being neither cold nor hot, but merely warm to the point that He will spew us out of His mouth. He will keep us from that deception and equip us if we yield ourselves to Him, and spend time in His word to learn. He equips each of us to teach when the need is there.

I was listening to one of my favorite preachers, which one I cannot presently remember. What he said was so powerful to me that I took some notes about the sermon. Later, in a conversation with my sister Gail, those same notes were on the desk by my computer. We had been on the phone discussing some things about life and death, and how the Lord comforts and helps us through these and all the trials of life. And there were the scriptures that He had all ready equipped me with so that I may be ready with a word in season. One of the nuggets of His word that was needful at the time dealt with the difference between happiness and joy. Romans 15: 13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Hope brings joy.

Happiness and joy are not the same. Happiness comes from the word “hap” from which comes the word “happenstance.” This informs us that happiness depends upon what happens to you. Happiness is affected, or determined by what happens to you as a result of conditions within your environment, and cannot be totally controlled by you. However, God’s joy is yours no matter what is happening to you or around you. If you are filled with the joy of the Lord, it becomes your strength and gives you the ability to rejoice in the Lord always, regardless of what is happening in your environment.

Eddie is the youngest of my sister Gail’s sons. He was diagnosed with level four cancer about two years ago. He is in his forties and still has a little eight- year old daughter at home. Gail and Phil have been very much involved in being supportive of Eddie and his family throughout this on going battle. Anyone who knows them has had the opportunity of witnessing first hand the out-pouring of the strength of the Holy Spirit manifested in each of their lives. They have been living out their lives in such a way that others may see how the Lord’s grace provides strength in the times when we are our weakest.

Eddie has been under-going chemo treatments and is now having to go every week. This young man has been an inspiration to all. He has continued to do his job at the YMCA in an aggressive, successful, and forever innovative manner. He is forever working on his programs, such as his special needs class, to make them more and more effective. How he keeps on going in such a hopeful and positive manner can only be attributed to the grace and power of the Living God in his life.

To me, Gail and Phil are true examples of what it means to be a servant to others. As in any trial in life, we need the support of one another, both physically and spiritually. We are reminded that our Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, forever interceding for us. He sets the example for us to also continue to lift up our cares in prayer to Him. When others need help and support, we may not always have the material means or physical stamina that it takes to help others. But, thank the Lord, we can all take part in interceding for one another. It is such a blessing for us to be prayer warriors for one another. It reminds me that the family of God is bound together with cords of love that cannot be broken. When one of us is down hearted, we are given the privilege of standing in the gap to pray and uplift one another. How glorious is the love of God as He sheds that love abroad in our hearts.

In a recent visit to the doctor, Eddie was given news that could have potentially thrust anyone into the bowels of despair. I insert here parts of the “up-date” email that was sent to us by Phil. I don’t attempt to put it into my own words, as the original words truly exemplify “Hope for Tomorrow.” The following are those excerpts:

“Ed's response was typical of how he has handled the situation. He was quiet, stoic and had a stern look on his face for a while ... then as we were leaving his face relaxed and he said, "Well, this is the next step and that's okay." His positive attitude and ability to face this situation head on has been remarkable.”

Thanks for all of you keeping Eddie in your thoughts and prayers. He is coming up on two years of fighting this cancer ... it is an emotional and physical roller coaster and he is riding it with his arms raised high and determination to get the most out of the ride.”

There will be times when it is a good thing to have grief. You’ve heard of the expression “good grief!” When a loved one dies, grief brings tears. There is a weeping that cleanses the heart.

Psalms 30: 4, 5 “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Isaiah 61: 3 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.” So weeping comes, but when it ends joy comes, and it will stay because it comes from the Lord.

There is a peace that only the Lord can give. Isaiah 26: 3,4 “Thou will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed upon thee. Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” We need not feel ashamed when we feel down hearted for we are only human. But when we are down hearted we are reminded to look to our Redeemer. It is in our weakness that the evidence of His strength is manifested even clearer, as He continues to care and provide for us. Psalm 42: 11 “Why art thou cast down, o my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

We know not why little babies and other loved ones die so young. One scripture that has brought me peace at such times is Isaiah 57:1 “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” The hope that we are given in Christ has already blessed us with a long life. How much longer could anyone hope for than eternal life? That eternal life begins in the here and now for those who are found in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Heaven is not an escape; it is a calling, or destination. Christ is the first of the resurrected. He has gone before to provide a place that we may be with Him, for in His house are many mansions. This Earth is not our true home; it is only the beginning of our journey of life. Life on Earth is our opportunity to choose to have a life filled with joy, now and later, forever with Him in Heaven, our true destination.

I do know that the Lord will not place on us more than we can bear. There will be trials and tribulations, but He has promised to be with us always and never leave us or forsake us. I can proclaim with great confidence the truth of His help in our time of need. The following true story is shared as one example of how He has spared me and carried a burden for me. I was seven months pregnant with my second daughter, Candace. I began to hemorrhage, and my brother Dave had to take me to the hospital as Rick was out of town on business. Rick got to the hospital as soon as he could, and thankfully before the doctor had to do a cesarean to deliver Candace. The doctor’s first comment was, “Mrs. Rahn, there is no way that this baby can survive.” Immediately, after I was told that she would not live, I turned my head and moaned a low and sorrowful “Oh.” Yet at that very moment, I felt a physical lifting of a great burden from within me. I knew instantly in my spirit that the Lord knew I could not bear to carry the burden just yet. He lifted it from me and carried it for me until He knew I was able to grieve. The nurses said to Rick, “I don’t think she understands what has happened.” He assured them that I did. My main concern at that moment was that Candace would not suffer, but go right home to be with Jesus. I found out later that she was born with multiple birth defects and only lived for one hour. Rick did get to be with her and hold her hand. Thank God, the funeral director later took pictures of her for us. We had not asked him to do so. That is merely another example of how the Lord provides for us. She was dressed in the new white dress given to her by her Great Grandmother White, and the pink sweater and hat that I had knitted for her. I just regret that I was not given the choice of at least holding her for a moment. In later weeks, whenever I felt the pull to be downhearted and despondent, the Lord would immediately place in my mind a vision of her as she laughed and played with Him in paradise. Yes, I missed her. But oh the joy that filled my soul just knowing that she was safe and happy with Him and completely healed. She was one of the righteous that was saved from “the evil to come.” Yes, we are apart for now, but we will all be together for eternity. While I was in the hospital, Rick brought me pictures of our two children, Rickie and Lisa. Just looking at their sweet faces filled my heart with joy and gratefulness. Later, even though the doctors had warned against getting pregnant again, we were blessed by the birth of our second son, Shawn. Then we knew our family was complete.

Mike, my oldest sister’s first husband, was killed in an automobile accident at the early age of about forty-five years old. He was a wonderful man and loved by so many. She and I were recently talking and wondering about why God would take such good people so young. I was able to share the scripture above about sometimes the righteous are saved from the evil to come. I believe it gave peace to both of us. Yes, she lost Mike. But again the grace of God was once again seen at work in her life. The Lord did mighty works to help her through her grief. Later, he blessed her with another wonderful and loving husband, Bob. How great is our God!!!

Of course, we wont know all the answers until we are face to face with our Lord. But we thank Him for the many ways that He helps and comforts us until that time. God assures us that He will always be with us in times of trouble. Psalms 91:10, 11, 15, 16 “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble: I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” What more could we ask for? He has already overcome death for those who trust and believe in Him as Lord and Savior.

By faith we receive healing for each and every day that He has purposed for us to be here on Earth. His word tells us in Isaiah 53: 5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.”

None of us is guaranteed a tomorrow on Earth, but through Jesus we are granted eternal life. Begin and end each day praising the Lord for all that He does within us, and for being our wonderful Redeemer. Psalms 118: 17, 23, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” So while I have breath, may I always choose to sing the praises of our Lord that He may be glorified. We, who are in Christ, find ourselves feeling as Paul when he said, Philippians 1: 21, 22 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”

May we live each day as if it were our last, but plan as if we have many more days to come. Put on the full armor of God. Put on the helmet of hope of Salvation in Christ that we may think upon those things that are good, and do those things, which are pleasing in His sight. May His light shine in us that we may be a blessing unto Him, and glorify Him in all our ways through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. I again insert a comment made by Phil that provides such a wonderful mental vision of what it means to have hope for tomorrow. I take the liberty of using and changing it just a bit.

Life is an emotional, physical, and spiritual roller coaster; ride it with our arms raised high and determination to get the most out of the ride, giving all glory and honor to our Lord.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.”

Virginia A. Rahn


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