Broken Cisterns

As I read through the Old Testament of the Bible, the words tell me about God’s holiness and justice. He has made a way for us to dwell with Him. God has given us precepts for living; his laws are good. But it is human nature to disobey. 

The prophet Jeremiah was directed by God to warn Israel. 

for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13

Currently my women’s Bible study is using a study guide titled, Discovering the God of Second Chances. Our nation needs a second chance. God is merciful and patient.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Join me in praying for revival.

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Words of Gentleness

During the years of Jesus ministry on earth there was political turmoil—not so different from our world today. There was division among the Jews: Pharisees, Sadducees, zealots and followers of Jesus. And they were ruled by the Romans. 

Jesus didn’t offer a political solution. He was focused on turning the hearts and minds of the people to God, to forgive sins. He healed people spiritually

Last Sunday we sang a hymn that you might associate with Christmas. Who Is He in Yonder Stall gives snapshots of Jesus’ life. It is a beautiful description of our Savior.

Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall? Who is He is deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

Who is He the people bless for his words of gentleness? Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He who stands and weeps at the grave where Laz’rus sleeps? Who is He the gath’ring throng greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo, at midnight, who is He, prays in dark Gethsemane? Who is He on yonder tree, dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave comes to heal and help and save? Who is He that from His throne rules through all the world alone?

‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord! The King of glory!At his feet we humbly fall, Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all! 

Benjamin Hanby (1833 – 1867)

May we follow Jesus’ example, engaging our culture with gentleness. May we obediently follow our Lord and Savior.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

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The Gospel in Guatemala

After completing a year of employment as a nurse in a Detroit hospital I went on a mission trip. I served as a guest helper for Wycliffe Bible translators in Guatemala. I went to a little village, two hours or more from Guatemala City.

The village of Cubulco was surrounded by mountains. I remember unpaved streets and adobe type houses. Early in the morning the roosters were crowing. Some nights I could hear the sound of a marimba.

Mary Shaw and Helen Neuenswander were translating the New Testament into the Achi language. Helen was a nurse, also providing health care to the Mayan Indians at a clinic—the Indians had no other place to get help for health problems.  I assisted at the clinic.

Whenever Helen was in the village men, women and children began lining up at the clinic early in the morning. They came on foot from the surrounding area. Helen continued to see patients until dark.

I helped with medications, talked with patients in my limited Spanish (and their limited Spanish) and did whatever Helen asked. The days were long and exhausting.

For a couple of weeks, a midwife and I stayed at the clinic open while Helen was away. We did not see nearly as many people at the clinic, but we were called out to a house in the mountains where a woman had been in labor a long time. Eventually she had to be carried down from the mountain on a stretcher and transported to a hospital.

After four months I returned home and made plans to attend the Summer Institute of Linguistics to prepare for work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I completed the first summer of training, but then family needs took me on a different life path. 

Recently I heard a speaker who stimulated memories of Guatemala. The Ambassador to the United Nations from Guatemala, Luis Lam, was talking about a bit of history. In 1948 the United States was the first country to recognize the provisional government of Israel, Guatemala was next. During the previous administration the United States moved our embassy to Jerusalem. Under President Morales, Guatemala followed our lead. The Ambassador is a man of faith and he alluded to others in the government. You can hear his message on the World Prayer Network. The growing Christian movement in Guatemala warms my heart. 

There is some fascinating history in Guatemala. Cameron Townsend was the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators. His initial translation of the New Testament into an Indian language (Cakchiquel) took place in Guatemala during the 1920s. Townsend believed that when people had the Bible in their own language it would lead them to faith in God. You can read about Cameron Townsend’s vision here.

What is the effect of God’s Word on a community? On a country?

I wondered what had happened to the clinic in Cubulco. I did an internet search and found several articles written by Mary Shaw on a blog. In 1984 the Achi New Testament was completed and printed. The town held a great celebration. In 1990 a hospital was opened in Cubulco, Centro Medico Christiano, La Senorita Elena (as Helen was known in the village). 

This week is Holy Week. The New Testament records the Passover, Jesus’ crucifixion, His sacrifice for our sin and His resurrection. The gospel is a message for all people. God loves us and offers to redeem us through Jesus.

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Celebrating Springtime

Green is the color of spring time.

The snow is melting and snowdrops are raising their white petals to the sun. I am looking forward to tulips and daffodils. I give thanks for the seasons and all that God has created in nature.

In the soil, below the surface, plants are awakening. Some things happen outside of our view. It is the same in the spiritual world. God is at work in the world even when we don’t see it. The disciples were confused when Jesus was crucified and then amazed, filled with joy when Jesus appeared to them, having risen from the dead.

On this side of the cross, we celebrate Easter. What if we had been there with the disciples? What are the unseen workings of God now? 

This morning I read the account of Peter’s arrest during the week of Passover. James had been killed and the persecution of Jesus’ followers was increasing.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out [releasing him to those who would kill him], on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood next to him . . . Acts 12: 5-7

The angel leads Peter out of the prison, but Peter is thinking that he is seeing a vision. He doesn’t realize what has happened until the angel leaves him along a street. Peter did not expect this miraculous work of God.

Neither did Rhoda or the believers that were praying for Peter. Rhoda was so surprised that she forgot to open the door for Peter when he knocked. She recognized his voice and ran to tell the others. No one believed her. When finally someone opened the door, all were amazed.

God is at work in the world. We don’t know specifically how God will answer our prayers. We do know that he has a plan that is constantly moving forward. 

We can celebrate with joy: springtime, Easter and the continuation of God’s plans for his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement.

A Path of Peace and Joy

My husband and I are committed to reading through the Bible in one year. We have a schedule of texts that our pastor provided. We read out loud to each other, two selections in the morning and two selections in the evening.

Currently we are reading a chapter from Exodus and a chapter from Acts in the morning. In the evening we read passages from Psalms and Proverbs.

The Bible is consistent. It demonstrates God’s holiness, righteousness, justice and love. The people in the Bible have human failings. Their sins are recorded transparently.

Woven through the human story is a message of love and redemption. The Bible records God’s plan of redemption from promise to fulfillment.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

When we seek God and confess our sins, he hears us.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

God enables us to live a life of peace and joy.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Do you know the story of Queen Esther? Esther was courageous in taking steps to save her people from the plot of Haman. Mordecai motivated Esther to take action, and Esther asked her people to pray. The people prayed and called out to God. He heard their cry. Today God’s deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia is remembered. Today is the celebration of Purim.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: ENABLE I’m also linking up with Heart Encouragement.

We Need to Sing

Prayer and Bible study are ways to be observant of our faith. Singing hymns is another way.

On Christmas Eve we could not attend an indoor church service. Our family—our children and grandchildren—met in a church parking lot with others. We were standing outside, and it was freezing cold. We held candles and sang Christmas carols. 

The children will remember Christmas Eve in 2020.

This past Sunday we attended our church. We sang the hymn, To God Be the Glory. The hymn brought back memories of a Bible study group that I attended while in college at the home of an older couple. The song leader was very enthusiastic in expressing his faith. He sang this hymn with great joy. The memory has stayed with me.

Hymns are a part of my family heritage, and I am grateful. I remember the hymns that my Dad sang at home. I remember the words to hymns that we sang in church on Sunday mornings  The words that are sung help to instill faith and joy. We need to sing. The children need to hear us and to sing with us.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: OBSERVANT

Any Truth in Fairy Tales?

Many fairy tales begin with once upon a time. It is interesting that these children’s stories can include suffering and waiting. 

Cinderella was treated harshly by her stepmother and stepsisters. When the fairy godmother makes a way for her to go to the Prince’s ball, she has to leave at midnight. And days, perhaps weeks, go by until the prince finds her.

Snow White flees from her stepmother and goes to live with the seven dwarfs, keeping house for them. When the witch gives her the poisoned apple she falls into a long sleep. The dwarves are convinced that she has died. Eventually the prince finds her and awakens her.

These stories tap into a truth about life in our broken world. 

Currently I am reading through the book of Genesis, taking in the account of Joseph and his brothers once more. Joseph went from favorite son, to slave, to wrongly accused. He spent two or more years in jail before he was brought before Pharaoh.

Suffering is part of the human condition. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  . . . Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1. 3-5

We will meet difficult times in our life. I can testify that God hears our prayers. He has helped me. Sometimes we wait for the answer, and sometimes the answer is different than what we expected. God hears the prayers of his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt for today is: ONCE I am also sharing this post with Heart Encouragement and Hearth and Soul.

Sunrise and Refreshed Faith

The first chapter of Luke provides the only details about Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist. They are described as righteous and blameless. Elizabeth is barren.

The angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the temple and astonishes him with the announcement that he will have a son. Because he is an old man, Zechariah doubts that this is possible. In response Gabriel tells Zechariah that he won’t be able to speak until the baby is born. Is this punishment? Or discipline?

In the quiet months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Zechariah had the opportunity to search the scriptures and gain an understanding of God’s plan. I like to think that God gave Zechariah an intermission to prepare for the birth and parenting of John.

Zechariah’s song demonstrates his new understanding and his faith.

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,

because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1: 76-79

Sometimes we may benefit from an intermission. When the world around us is confusing, we need time reading and meditating on God’s word. It is good to pause and be still, knowing that Jesus is our sunrise. 

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A Divided Country: How Do We Fix it?

We can’t fix ourselves. We know that. The Bible explains our situation and our nature.

My husband and I are following a plan to read through the Bible in a year. We are reading about the faith and failures of people. The problem of sin.

God promises to send a Savior. The New Testament records the arrival of Jesus, the Son of God incarnate. Jesus explains God’s plan for our redemption. He offers himself as a sacrifice for sin. 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Our nation cannot fix itself. George Washington once said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

King Solomon prayed for his people and God replied. If My people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

The book of Hebrews teaches that we must hear God’s words, believe Him and act according to his precepts. 

It is time to hear and obey. Pray for our country.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: FIX

Also linking up with Heart Encouragement.

Faith and Hope for 2021

On New Year’s Eve I wrote the following words. As 2020 slips into sunset, I look forward with hope that the new year will bring a revival of faith, renewed health and joy.

And yet, just a few days in, the pandemic continues and the political tension is increasing. I wake up in the morning with a heavy feeling. What should I do?

I must begin the day with time in God’s word and continue to pray. And then these thoughts come to me: Encourage my family. Participate with the church—in person or on zoom as circumstances allow. Ask the Lord for opportunities to reach out to others.

God can use this time to increase my faith.

But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.

I cried aloud to the LORD,
and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
Psalm 3: 3-4

In the sermon on the mount Jesus calls us to be a salt and light in the world. He will help us. 

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: TIME . Also sharing with Heart Encouragement.