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Archive for July, 2008

9-10When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!” The Message – John 2:1-12

This story always tickles me because there’s a group of people who have found a reason to celebrate doing so and there is wine included in the celebration. I know it couldn’t be a group of Baptists. (Since I am one, I can talk) Or at least they aren’t telling anyone that they are. (I am not making a statement about the “do’s and don’t’s of drinking wine”. I don’t drink and don’t intend to do so. However, let’s not get lost in that argument. I just think that most “good Baptists” don’t know how to celebrate. There are some things one ought to get excited about.) At any rate, they are having a great celebration. It is a wedding. People are supposed to be happy. People are supposed to celebrate at weddings. It is a happy time. It is something worth looking forward to. The expectation level is wonderful.

This is Jesus’ first visible recorded miracle. Mom goes by and sees a crisis developing. The wedding celebration is not over and the wine ran out. She calls for Jesus and as she goes by the servants of the house she tells them, “whatever he says, do it.” Jesus tells them to take six water pots and fill them with water to the brim. He changes water into wine. It wasn’t just any old kind of wine but the best. Heaven doesn’t give you cheap stuff.

One of these days the Bride Groom is coming to get the Bride. Furthermore, we are going to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I am learning to wait, but there are days when I really would like for Him to “come on and get His Bride”. The expectation of that event is so powerful in how we live life victoriously now. Jesus has saved the very best to last. He always has done that.

On a personal note:

Here of late I think of my Aunt Jane who is having some more serious surgery today as they replace a valve in her heart. She glorifies God in all she does and her testimony of the power of God is marvelous. She, too, is ready to celebrate the goodness of God now and in heaven as well. I lift her up today in prayer. My friends, Ken and Ken and Randy have had to conduct some big funerals lately. One of them was an influential coach in Wauchula Florida. He had faced so many tough things in his life, and now he celebrates with the King of Kings. He gets to see the Bride Groom. Oh, praise His name. This whole story of leaving the best to last gives me so much hope and peace. Dying is no challenge to Aunt Jane because there is really something to celebrate. She faces the surgery today with calm assurance.

Heaven is a wonderful place
It’s filled with glory and grace
And I’m gonna see my Savior’s face
Heaven is a wonderful place.

Celebrate!

Joni Erickson Tada opens this YOUTUBE video that David Phelps sings “NO More Nights”

This is something to celebrate…can’t wait…

The timeless theme, Earth and Heaven will pass away.
It’s not a dream, God will make all things new that day.
Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell.
Evil is banished to eternal hell.

No more night. No more pain.
No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great “I AM.”
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See all around, now the nations bow down to sing.
The only sound is the praises to Christ, our King.
Slowly the names from the book are read.
I know the King, so there’s no need to dread.

No more night. No more pain.
No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great “I AM.”
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

See over there, there’s a mansion, oh, that’s prepared just for me,
Where I will live with my savior eternally.

No more night. No more pain.
No more tears. Never crying again.
And praises to the great “I AM.”
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

All praises to the great “I AM.”
We’re gonna live in the light of the risen Lamb.

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50-51Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again.”

There are times when I am silenced by what I am seeing. Sitting on Ram’s Head looking over the New River Gorge is a sight that took my breath away. I regret not being able to sit there for a long while and capture more of God’s beauty. It was a beautiful sight to see how God’s hand carved out a gorge for us to enjoy and to learn of his majesty.

I put myself in Nathaniel’s sandals this morning. It would have been enough to see Jesus. Even so, to get near him and carry on a conversation with him would be more invigorating. However, to hear him tell me that he saw me under a fig tree when I knew good and well he couldn’t have seen him like you and I see things would have been an unbelievable moment. Nathaniel experienced something supernatural. His heart would have been beating a thousand miles per hour. It would have been like the woman at the well when Jesus told her she had five men. How in the world did he know.

However, the phrase that blew me away this morning was, “you haven’t seen anything yet”. Jesus tells Nathaniel that he would see angles ascending and descending to Him. One minute Nathaniel could only see what his flesh could see and now he was promised to see things that only God can do. I can’t imagine what was going on inside. There would be excitement. There must have been awe. What would his eyes see?

God loves to surprise. You haven’t seen anything yet! Moreover, I don’t want to miss any of it. Open my eyes Lord!

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture,
in the Body and the Blood
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

At his feet the six-winged seraph;
cherubim with watchful eye,
veil their faces to the Presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
“Alleluia, alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!”

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Reflection

“…since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.”  2 Peter 3:14

We look forward to the Lord’s return. He will come in majesty and power. The first time he came as a child in a stable in Bethlehem. Only a few saw this coming. The next time He comes, and he will, all will see him.

In light of all that I should focus on two things of importance out of this text. One, I should strive to live at peace with God, myself, and others. Furthermore, secondly, it should be my goal that I live a pure life following after holiness. As I look into the mirror of God’s Word, the Lord will reveal to me what needs to change. Somehow the Presence of God within and the work that God does on the inside should somehow be seen on the outside. What is outside is a reflection of what is on the inside.

It is remarkable how we can hide things from each other. We are to live a pure life (blameless in the sight of men). I live my life to fool men who cannot see my heart or know my motives. However, I live before God who sees the very minute details of my life.

What is more outstanding is that God journeys through this life with me. He lives in me and longs to bring me to the place of being at peace with God, myself, and with others. He is also working in me to clean me up as I stand before Him and other people. He did not command me to do something that He is not willing and able to take responsibility for and make provisions for. He is both my guide and the one that supplies all that I need for a life of holiness and purity before Him.

I am getting ready to see Him. There are days when I wish he would come and take His family home. Until then, I am excited about the work he will be doing in my life.

I want God and others to see His reflection in me.

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8-11“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

Isaiah 55:8-11

God operates. He does not ask me. He doesn’t need my input. I read. I listen. I repeatedly watch His handiwork. It is awe inspiring. Sometimes it is unbelievably frustrating. You look at his creation, and you are in awe. You watch people and you begin to understand the complexities of how God is at work in all things. Being open to what you are doing is vital to our daily success. God is the only one with the right position and perspective on all that is going on around us. You are at work. I must trust you in all things. Your words diligently carry out what you certainly want.

Word of God, speak! I am listening.

I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

[CHORUS]
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I’m finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

[REPEAT CHORUS 2x]

I’m finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it’s okay

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You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts.

2 Peter 1:20

If there is light, then there must be darkness a squalid place. I know it’s dark because I have seen the light. Is the light that makes the darkness define itself. The darkness is dispelled when you shine Light on it. Christ is the light of the world. The light of Scripture has shone in our hearts, and we can now see.

Oh Holy Spirit of God, I am longing to see the Day Star coming to take us out of this world’s darkness. You are my Redeemer and you will save us…

The Darkness never wins…

Lily of the Valley, let your sweet aroma fill my life

Rose of Sharon show me how to grow in beauty in God’s sight
Fairest of ten thousand make me a reflection of your light
Daystar shine down on me let your love shine through me in the night

Lead me Lord, I’ll follow. Anywhere you open up the door
Let your word speak to me, show me what I’ve never seen before
Lord I want to be your witness, you can take what’s wrong and make it right
Daystar shine down on me, let your love shine through me in the night

Lord I’ve seen a world that’s dying wounded by the master of deceit
Groping in the darkness, haunted by the years of past defeat
But when I see you standing near me shining with compassion in your eyes
I pray Jesus shine down on me let your love shine through me in the night

Lead me Lord, I’ll follow anywhere you open up the door
Let your word speak to me, show me what I’ve never seen before
Lord I want to be your witness, you can take what’s wrong and make it right
Daystar shine down on me, let your love shine through me in the night

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“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast,
walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget,
I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands. Isaiah 49:15+

There is something amazing about a mother’s love for her children.  They have a tender heart.  Even the most hardhearted or rebellious mother has a hard time getting their children off their heart.  Seeing a mother with the very life she bore resting in her arms as she caresses them is an unbelievable picture.

There might be some reason she would forget.  She may be sick and dying.  She may be facing something like postpartum depression dealing with some dark unhappiness.  I have been in the ministry now for 35 years and find it hard to remember a mother who simply forgot her children.

God’s love is greater than any parent’s love.  His love for me is constant.  He has tied a string around his finger to remind himself of his love for me.  He will never forget.  Like the man who puts a ring on his finger to remind himself of his deep love for his wife, our Heavenly Father has written our names on the back of his hand.  He remembers.

I had been in his heart until the day that my mother conceived me.  He, God, developed in her a young man named Jim Crooks and has been working in my life to fulfill his best purposes in my life ever since.  He has never forgotten me and never will.

I stand amazed at the love of One who loves me and he never forgets.

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You’re Mine!

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:

Isaiah 43:1-4

Two Songs Instantly Come to Mind!

  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O light that foll’west all my way,
    I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
  3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.
  1. The love of God is greater far
    Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
    It goes beyond the highest star,
    And reaches to the lowest hell;
    The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
    God gave His Son to win;
    His erring child He reconciled,
    And pardoned from his sin.

    • Refrain:
      Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
      How measureless and strong!
      It shall forevermore endure—
      The saints’ and angels’ song.
  2. When hoary time shall pass away,
    And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
    When men who here refuse to pray,
    On rocks and hills and mountains call,
    God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
    All measureless and strong;
    Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.
  3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade;
    To write the love of God above
    Would drain the ocean dry;
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.

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