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by Frank Phillips
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Pristine understates the image that accompanies this post. I stood by this bubbling, turbulent stream and watched as millions upon millions of water drops clung to one another as they rushed by. The beautiful sounds of their gurgling reminded me of the joy and peace that comes from our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Each drop serenaded my soul with stories from the past and dreams of the future – all in search of an audience. While gazing into the stream I prayed silently that just one drop would pause and share with me stories of it’s past journey. Perhaps it would tell me the story of Easter and of Mary’s agony while experiencing the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.
I closed my eyes, opened my heart and waited. Then a voice, gentle but reassuring, explained: “My name is Teardrop of Sorrow. I am one of two very special little teardrops. There are thousands more of us that Mary shed because she knew something terrible was going to happen to her son. She cried herself to sleep almost every night in anticipation of the unknown. Then on that fateful Friday she watched as her Son carried his heavy cross to Golgotha. Her eyes were red and swollen from grief when they reached the top of the hill where He would be crucified. Those sinful, misguided people crucified Jesus! She watched helplessly as her innocent child died on the cross. I was the last teardrop to roll down her cheek and fall to the ground at His crucifixion.”
The story doesn’t end there – another teardrop said: “I’m Teardrop of Joy, the other special teardrop. I was the first to roll down Mary’s cheek after she heard that Jesus was resurrected. Remembering when Jesus told them, ‘The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and crucified, and the third day rise again’ (Luke 24:7). In a moment’s time Mary, the mother of Jesus, was transformed from deep despair to unspeakable joy and hope. She had always known that he was the Son of God but she could not conceive of the impact His resurrection would have on this world and the world to come. The joy emulated through her first born was truly overwhelming. Now every year we celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection at Easter. Over the last 2,000 years we have grown to incalculable numbers. We flow like rivers of living water throughout the earth.”
The term Easter is not of Christian origin, therefore celebration of this special holiday must always be within the context of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. His resurrection distinguishes the day from all other religious and secular holidays. He is the one and only person that died for the sins of the world and on the third day was resurrected.
Spring is such a beautiful time of year. It’s my favorite of the four seasons because it reflects the nature of God in so many ways. It is the oasis of the year; a time of renewal. Just look from where you were planted; watch and listen as the wonders of God’s imagination blossoms into full bloom. If the eyes are a window to the heart then surely the ears are a doorway into the soul. As spring awakens look closely and you can see God removing the earth’s winter coat. Then listen quietly and you can hear nature’s sound track as He wraps the chill of winter with a blanket of warm spring colors.
As I write this article the Holy Spirit guides me to the book of Genesis and the relationship God had with Adam and Eve. It was a beautiful relationship but was fatally changed and plunged into spiritual darkness. Humanity was forced to live in a cold winter environment where spring never seemed to come. But spring did come! It came from God through His son Jesus Christ. He came to renew the relationship between God and man that was severely damaged by Adam and Eve.
Our astronomical seasons vary depending on the geographical location relative to the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Even so, in most parts of the world spring paints the earth with a palette of colors taken from a thousand rainbows. It’s just one of many ways that God says, “ yes I still love you”. It is also His way of reminding you to establish your relationship with Him through His son, Jesus. Let Him become the spring of your life. His season never ends.
Offer Christ the privilege of manifesting Himself through you while enjoying the pleasures of this earthly home He has given you.
“Pray for a blessing, receive a blessing, give a blessing, and on the morrow it will return”
Happiness comes through giving, receiving and service to others but it ebbs and flows with the tides of life. Joy, by contrast, is the internal mechanism that will carry you to mountaintops and guide you through life’s most turbulent waters; yet it is not diminished by time or circumstances. It is an everlasting gift from God that comes to us through His Son and is spread abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Prayer is one of the many privileges the Trinity has blessed us with.
Please let me introduce you to the heavenly Trinity. They are God the Father, His son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I was adopted into their family 33 years ago. They have effectively managed not only my life and affairs, but that of everyone for more than 6000 years. They can do it all! But here’s the catch: to enjoy the benefits of their grace you must first have a close personal relationship with Jesus. A key ingredient is found in the verse, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). Jesus is saying first and foremost that we must endeavor to meet the needs of His earthly kingdom; only then should we expect to receive the desires of our heart. But how do we convey those needs to Him? Simple – through prayer and supplication make your request known to God.
No human being has complete theological knowledge of the mind of God. But in numerous places throughout the bible God extends extraordinary invitations to us. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). He invites us to His throne of grace to offer prayers of thanksgiving and to ask for help with our weaknesses. He then extends His love, grace, mercy, guidance, wisdom and spiritual strength to us. His attributes are more than sufficient at all times and in all circumstances. Prayer opens the door to His “throne of grace” 24/7, 365.
There are always motivations behind the choices we make. Prayer is no different; the disciples were also concerned about how to pray. On one occasion, a disciple came to Jesus and said, “Lord teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded to their request by giving them a model prayer (Luke 11:2-4). The importance of God’s priorities are dictated by the order of these verses. Clearly, He wants us to place His will ahead of our own. When you pray, remember, it is not that your will be done in heaven, but rather that God’s will on earth can be accomplished through you. Your motives must have clarity of purpose and originate from a pure heart.
Prayer in its most complex form is simply communicating with God. Talk to Him; He really wants to hear from you! Visualize this when you pray: First approach His throne of grace with confidence; then take your thanksgiving or request in hand and give it to the Holy Spirit, your intercessor. He will personally deliver it to Jesus Christ, our advocate, who is seated at the right hand of God. Jesus will then pass your petitions onto God, his Father, who answers every prayer with perfect timing and provision.
This week I want to tell you how important it is to let God into your life. But before you go in search of the why’s and why not’s, there are some ground rules to consider. Your heavenly Father has definite plans for you and it all begins with His son, Jesus Christ. He explains by saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If you truly want a permanent relationship with God you must first accept Jesus as your savior. As written in my book Living Life, the fullness of life is realized through Christ and Him alone.
Sir Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. The pun is obvious; you’ve made and are living with bad decisions. Wise-up, choose a lifestyle that works both now and in the future. It is your prerogative – but know this: letting God rule your life will change its direction. In the eyes of God humanity on earth is two dimensional and consist of two groups. One group is made up of people who surrender their lives to Jesus Christ while the other group includes the people who reject Him. Likewise, eternity may be viewed as two dimensional. Heaven is where Jesus Christ has prepared a place for His saints and hell is where God has prepared a place for Satan and everyone who denied Christ while on earth. The imagery invokes thoughts of celestial celebrations on streets of gold versus acrid smoke rising from fiery bottomless pits filled with people that made bad decisions. So, given the facts, the importance of letting God into your life should be a no-brainer.
By now I hope to have nudged you in the direction of right decisions. If so, here is a small sampling of your heavenly Father’s earthly provisions. By walking in fellowship with Him you will receive gifts such as love, joy, peace, hope, comfort, healing, guidance… As David said in Psalm 23, “I shall not want”. The bliss of eternal life in heaven will surely dwarf the sprinkling of blessings you will experience on earth. John describes in apocalyptic form a few words concerning His heavenly care, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying; ‘“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away”’ (John 21:3 & 4).
This post is designed to open your heart to a better understanding of what it really means to let God into your life.
A CLOSER LOOK
While cruising through life I have often been told to slow down, “take a closer look” before making a decision. In this message I want to share the experience of lessons learned while on vacation. Often times, life’s strongest guideposts come from the small, simple, and sometimes distant encounters with others. Such is my case, as I became the benefactor of the behavioral patterns of 2 &1/2 year old twins. The cruise was only four days but during that time my wife and I were exposed to the unique life lesson of what it truly means to love and care for another as yourself.
Lesson – Our dinner reservations were for 6:00 pm. I was seated one table to the left of the twins – front row seat. Their mom sat between them for what I assumed was obvious reasons: Sibling rivalry!!! Boy, was I surprised. The little boy took a grape from his plate, held it out at arm’s length so his sister could see it. Then she took one from her plate and they then ate together. Throughout the three course meal the same pattern continued, complete with gestures and constant reinforcement from each other…
Lesson – Following dinner the group migrated to the foyer. During endless conservations within the group the twins ran around playing when suddenly, the little girl fell. Her mom rushed over to help her up, but she refused to accept her outstretched hand. She lay there on a cold marble floor as if waiting and looking for someone else. Her brother saw her and rushed over to help. He reached out his hand and his sister smiled as if to say, “I knew you would come to help me”. She smiled, reached out and took his hand. He pulled her up, they embraced and started to play again.
Lesson – It was getting late so the parents excused themselves and left with the twins. I watched as they walked down the hall. The twins between mom and dad, holding hands, with the other hand firmly locked in the grasp of their parents. Suddenly, as though an invisible hand reached out to restrain them, the little ones stopped. Without a word, they pulled their hands from their parents and turned to face each other. They locked in a big bear hug, grinned in delight and after a few moments reached for their parent’s hand and continued walking.
As an adult, parent or grandparent what did you discover about the twin’s behavior that deserves a closer look? I saw an innocent but sincere relationship that truly exemplified the heart of Jesus Christ. Their love, care and codependence on each other pointed to something far greater than the material things of life. Their love for each other replicated the love that our heavenly Father has for us. Jesus compared the hearts of little children to the kingdom of heaven when He said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14 & 15).
Take-Away – Above all else, Jesus Christ earned the right of a Closer Look. He will reach out and lift you up every time you fall and His love, care and pure delight for you is always sufficient.
INSPIRATION Part II
Refresher – I’m making a comparison between physical and spiritual inspirations. I ended Inspiration Part 1 with a physically motivated example; now I will write about it’s spiritual counterpart.
My inspiration to write Living Life was truly spiritually motivated. While there were many reasons for writing the book, my primary objectives were to share just how much God really loves you, explain how He has definite plans for you and finally, to help you experience letting Jesus Christ live within you and you in Him. My goal is to share with you the collective wisdom of our heavenly Father which can only be found in His word, the Holy Bible. Lesson – Engage God and incorporate His wisdom into your life in a manner that will add both spiritual and physical value.
The two points I have discussed here should not be judged as either positive or negative, however spiritual relevance does demand precedence over the physical realm. Jesus said: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). Now, compartmentalize this thought process. Place the spiritual compartment on bottom with the other on top. Lesson – The model requires you to enter the spiritual compartment (seek first his kingdom) before ascending to the physical/personal level. Lesson – Notice also there is no ladder leading to the top which means you must rely totally on the Lord’s guidance and resources. Upon arrival you will not only be inspired, but enabled to pursue your dreams and experience their reality through Jesus Christ.
Finally, let’s take a thumbnail view of David’s life. He is the young shepherd boy whom Samuel anointed to become King of Israel. From that day forward the Spirit of the Lord rested on him. But, because David yielded to his weaknesses, he experienced the consequences of sin for the remainder of his life. In spite of his failures, the spirit of God never left him. He is known in the Bible as a person who sought after God’s heart. David was at times undoubtedly overwhelmed by guilt but found inspiration in God’s grace and compassion.
Take-away – David’s life as an object lesson is the source of our inspirations. His ultimate dependence on God’s spiritual guidance carried him beyond his own physical and emotional abilities. Being totally objective must start from within. David offers a wonderful example for us through this prayer: Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not the Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:9 – 11).
Next week I will address some life issues that beg for “A Closer Look”…
The Bible within itself is a love story, addressed to all mankind, from our heavenly Father. It serves as book-ends to many accounts of love and romance. One of my favorites is the story written by King Solomon in 960 BC. He speaks of his courtship with a Shulammite maiden. He writes: “I want you to promise O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right” (Song of Songs 8:4 Tyndale). This beautiful verse underscores the dignity of love in marriage. I have composed the following poem to illustrate my thoughts:
Do not awaken my love until it matures;
nor take from me the flower of my youth.
Let it bud into the most beautiful of all flowers,
lest it’s pedals wither and fall to the ground.
There, to become a faded dream,
lost in the shadow of youthful yesterdays.
Every year February lends a very special day to all grandmothers, mothers, sweethearts and little girls of the world. And not to be left out, the granddads, dads and little boys too, share in February 14th, because it affords them the opportunity to show their affection through giving chocolates, roses and even their hearts to that cherished person. Valentine’s Day comes to us in celebration of Valentinius, a third century Roman saint. However, the celebration of Saint Valentine did not have romantic connotations until Chaucer’s poetry about Valentine’s Day in the 14th century. Like many celebrations and holidays, it has morphed with time to more closely meet the whims of society.
If indeed Valentine’s Day has changed, my wife for one wants to keep it just the way it is – she loves all botanical variations of roses. After all, Valentine’s Day is the epitome of romance and love; as such, it certainly warrants celebration. As you read my blog think about your most romantic encounter. The picture you see should take you back to a time and place that ranks right at the top of your list…Lesson – If you hold onto this memory it will likely become the key that locks your hearts together through all the issues you face in life.
I experienced one of my high points while standing with my wife in the cool mist of Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite NP. Folklore says that the wind driven mist that blankets the granite cliff resembles a bride’s veil and if you breathe the mist it will improve your chances of love, romance and marriage. Having been married for many years my thoughts carried me behind that misty veil. As I lifted the veil I saw the most beautiful of all flowers struggling against the heavy rain drops of life but emerging every day; still my favorite valentine. The beautiful petals had not withered with age neither had they fallen to the ground. Lesson – Give a valentine that keeps on giving moment-by-moment, day-by-day and year-after-year, your undying love.
Take-Away – My book Living Life does not present God as one who passes out valentine gifts; but instead as a loving Father who above all else wants to establish a relationship with you. As my book points out He gave us the greatest of all valentines, His son Jesus Christ. The Gift is yours; all you have to do is open it. His valentine is truly the gift of eternal life.
Next week – Back to Part II of Inspiration (hope you enjoyed the romantic diversion).
WELCOME BACK – It’s always a pleasure to share my thoughts with you. I trust that you will enjoy my two minute read on inspiration. My objective is to give you something that will inspire and equip you to cope with the issues of a sometimes difficult world. Due to the depth of this subject, I’m going to post it in two parts. Next week I’ll continue with Part II.
Inspiration is like the currents of life. It flows uninterrupted in search of a final resting place. Our heavenly Father gave us all an ample supply of motivation; sufficient to meet the dynamics of every individual. Many people have asked what inspired me to become an airplane pilot. Likewise, others have asked what has motivated me to write my book, Living Life. I have chosen these two topics to annunciate physical versus spiritually driven inspirations. The bible is filled with inspirational stories, but to experience the true meaning of these narratives they must be moved from a historical perspective into a practical set of circumstances.
Let’s take the story of Adam and Eve. Adam’s desire to please Eve was physically motivated by his wife. And why not, in today’s world she would truly carry the title of Mrs. Universe. Adam was, in fact, married to the most beautiful woman on the face of this earth. However, his willingness to please her resulted in their spiritual disobedience to God. In response to this, they were cast out of the Garden of Eden. They were then driven into a world filled with sin and spiritual darkness. Inspiration springs from subjective, objective or simultaneous input. Lesson – Your inspirations must be spiritually motivated, inspired by God through the Holy Spirit and pleasing to Him.
My dream to pilot an airplane was motivated by my personal desire to prove two things: mentally that I could manage an airplane through every phase of flight and physically my fine motor skills were sufficient to control the airplane through each of those phases. I passed all the required tests – I carry a valid pilot’s license. I go to God’s throne of grace daily and offer thanksgiving to Him for the many blessings I have experienced through Him. As I further contrast the physical versus spiritually driven inspirations, my point converges on these verses: Lesson – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eye; fear the Lord and shun evil (Proverbs 3: 5 – 7).
Continued Next Week