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Gravy's Gleanings?!?

I was never a big fan of gravy. When I was a kid, I preferred butter on my mashed potatoes and watched it dissolve into a tiny lake atop my spuds. I was also not fond of gravy for another reason. It was a maddening moniker hung on me as in "Davey Gravy;" disrespectful and not representative of my true genius.  

As I've grown older, however, I find myself warming toward the idea of gravy. It hearkens back to a time in life where my entire family--all six of us, and even seven when my grandpa was living at our house--could sit around a small kitchen table and eat meat and potatoes slathered in gravy and feel guiltless about doing so. My father's perfectly seasoned gravy is largely what gave our food its flavor. Gravy was as close as we came to exotic on an otherwise ordinary table. It was as spicy as we got. And, as hard as it would have been for me to believe when I was young, I have actually become fond of the nickname Gravy.

As far as gleanings are concerned, I tend to be a synthesizer at heart. I gather a bit from this source, then I remember what somebody else said about the topic and I use that, and soon I'm not sure whose thoughts I am channeling. So some of the things you will see here are gleaned from my own mind as in sermons; some pieces will be gleaned from church or world happenings; some things will be what somebody else said about a topic. Wherever it has been gleaned from, it will reflect God's perspective, our struggles, and most importantly, God's forgiveness offered in Jesus that makes us more than conquerors. All of this with special note to theology, counseling and human behavior, linguistics and language, music and worship, and anything else that comes to my liberal arts styled mind.

With those things in mind, welcome to Gravy's Gleanings. I will attempt to serve up generous portions of gleanings to think about, slathered in the gravy of God's Grace. Gravy's gleanings may not always seem as exotic and spicy as you can find elsewhere, but they do provide solid spiritual nourishment. To quote my dearly departed father, "They're good for you, schnookie." And who knows. As time passes, you may actually become fond of them as well.

Lent 5, Sunday, March 13

It's Monday, and it's my usual custom to try to wrap my head around the Scripture readings for Lent 5, Sunday, March 13. Here's my synthesis:

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned against the Lord, He has provided the way to bring us back to Himself. The Introit for this week acknowledges that when it states, “Salvation [the way back] belongs to the Lord.” In the Old Testament reading from Isaiah, God promises to make a new and different way to deliver His people than He did when He brought them through the Red Sea on dry ground. In the Epistle, Paul acknowledges that he cannot do things his way when it comes to returning to God, but instead, he must press on following the way laid out for him in Christ. In the Gospel, shameful tenants follow their own way and evil desires when it comes to giving the Owner of the vineyard the fruit that is due to Him. In the process of insisting on doing things their way, however, the tenants are crushed and broken to pieces by the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The point of this is to remind us that there are not many ways, but only one way to God: the way of Jesus Christ, His Son. All other so-called paths are arid, fruitless, and ultimately lead to death. In a world where it’s easy to become confused by the tangle of pathways and shortcuts and byways that confront us, the author of Hebrews invites us in the gradual: “Come, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” Doing so will keep you on God’s chosen path for you and on the way He has provided to bring us back to Himself.

The Face of God

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, a face is a picture of the person who wears it. Babies communicate with their parents by their facial expressions. If I raise one eyebrow or curl my lip, you know what I’m thinking.

There’s a song written largely in questions to Mary the Mother of Jesus. It’s called, “Mary Did You Know?” and it gives us the question on which to ponder tonight. The songwriter asks:

Did you know that your Baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss you little baby, you have kissed the face of God?

Kissing the face of God?! That’s hard for us to comprehend, but think about it. The eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, present-everywhere God confined Himself to a human form like ours. And, like us—He has a face. Jesus’ face gave clues to what He was thinking. It showed when He was happy, surprised, disgusted, sad, angry and fearful. Actually the Bible says a great deal about God’s face. Let’s think about it together.

Does God our Father have a face? Technically, we would say “No,” because God is a spirit, and spirits don’t have bodies like ours. But as soon as I say that, you will remind me that in the Benediction, we say, “The LORD make His face to shine upon you.” When God’s face shines on us, it means God is favoring His people. In the last line of the benediction, I say, “The LORD look upon you with favor and give you peace.” In Exodus 33 Moses asks God to show Moses His face, and God responds, “Nobody can see My face and live.”

So the answer is that we’re not sure if God’s form has a face like ours, because nobody has ever seen Him.

That’s why He sent Jesus as a man—so we could see God and touch God and look at His face without being afraid of death. And that’s just what the disciples did. In his first epistle, St John writes:

This is what we proclaim to you… what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched.

There’s a family who used to belong to Calvary in Whitewater, and I will never forget the first time I came to their house to visit them. They had three kids under five who all climbed up and sat on my lap and they ran their fingers through my beard and all over my face. Their parents were embarrassed and told the kids to stop, but as a grandfather in withdrawal, I thought it was the best welcome I could ever receive! And that sounds like what John is saying—we saw this guy Jesus, we touched Him and we looked at His face.

What did Jesus look like? The Bible doesn’t really tell us, but Isaiah writes, “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” That makes it sound like Jesus, the Servant Messiah, was an ordinary looking Palestinian Jewish peasant of His day.

But the disciples saw the happy smile on Jesus’ face when he left Zacchaeus’s house and said, “Today salvation has come to this house!” They saw His face cry tears of sadness for the city of Jerusalem. They observed the stern anger on His face when Jesus said, “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You cross land and sea to make one convert, and when you get one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves!” They saw His face in anguish as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

And the face no follower of Jesus can ever forget is the face bloodied, bruised, sweating, and twisted in pain on the cross of Calvary. At that moment, the face of Jesus didn’t resemble the picture you and I have in our hearts of the Son of God. Instead, it resembled the face of the most hideously evil man who ever lived, the face of the person for whom death is too good. That’s because his painful face resembled the face of a condemned sinner carrying all the world’s sin and evil in His body on the cross.

But there was also love and determination on His face as well. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says:

I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

The face of God, grimacing in agony, is our rescue. But after the face of God’s agony comes the face of God’s triumph! And that’s where your face comes into the picture.

In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet says, “And I will not hide my face anymore from them….” The days are coming soon when the words of Revelation chapter 22 will be true for you and me: God’s people “will see His face, and His name will be upon their foreheads.” Until that day comes, we have God’s glory shone to us, in the face of Jesus, the infant who bears the face of God. His face shine upon your Advent! Amen.

Incarnation

This year during Advent at Living Savior, we are thinking about various aspects of Jesus' incarnation: His becoming fully God and fully man in one person. I'm so used to just rattling that thought off as a fact, that I can lose the mystery and the marvel of God becoming human. It's so full of paradoxes that I'm not sure anybody is capable of unpacking all of them. This is my attempt.

 

Marvel of manhood that receives,

Endless majesty bound in fleshly form.

Conceivèd Babe whose hand conceived creation,

Godhead meekly clothed in human frame.

 

Is the wonder of Your Advent, mystery?

Or is it love that staggers human view?

Or cunning means to slay the serpent foe,

By power enwrapped in weakness fiercely dealt?

 

A mother births the Maker of the cosmos,

A maiden bears Creation's Author frail.

Should mortal root produce a deathless Vintage,

Or common clay give breath to Holy Sire?

 

Quizzical quandary beyond our penetration,

That flesh and Godhead meet within one Man,

Conciliating Heaven and its creation.

The infant face of God smiles at the thought.

Peace in the Face of Pain Philippians 1:2-11

Physician, Scott Peck, once referred to it as “The Road Less Traveled.” C.S. Lewis once described it as “God’s megaphone.” Christian author Philip Yancey said, “It’s the gift that nobody wants and seems so confusing.” The English poet, Byron, once called it “the pathway to truth.” But no matter what metaphor you use to describe it, pain drives people to try to make sense of things by asking why questions: Why this? Why me? Why now? Why, God? Even though God is in the midst of our pain with us, it doesn’t take away the challenge of trying to make sense of brokenness in life and the anguish that comes with it. Paul’s personal experience of pain, and his words in today’s Epistle give our pain some perspective. Let’s talk about it.

I.Paul

It’s quite an understatement to say that Paul was acquainted with pain and suffering. Listen to how he describes his experiences elsewhere in the Bible:

Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep. I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food. I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.

On top of that list of calamities, today’s reading from Philippians finds Paul in prison!

Our translation calls it imprisonment, but the original language has Paul referring to his chains. Listen to what one resource says about chaining prisoners in ancient prisons:

The chaining of prisoners caused various consequent sufferings. Iron chaffed and corroded the skin over time. Tightly fixed chains were a means of torture. Prisoners could be weighed down with such heavy chains as to exhaust or cripple them. Without recourse to personal resources or the help of friends on the outside for food and drink, a prisoner’s prospects could be grim.

And that description doesn’t mention the emotional pain that comes from being unjustly held in chains.

Knowing the conditions that Paul was living under, we could certainly refer to him as a victim of injustice. But how does Paul deal with his appalling situation? Does he complain about his circumstances? Does he ask the Philippians to organize a protest? Not at all! Instead, Paul has peace, and he dwells on all the gifts God had given to him and the Philippians.

These opening verses find Paul at peace in spite of his painful circumstances! And he is so much at peace in Christ that he can extend God’s grace and peace to the Philippians. That’s a typical greeting from Paul’s day—wishing charis or grace, a Greek greeting; and shalom or peace, a Hebrew greeting. Paul’s covering his bases so that he’s greeting both the Jewish Christians who spoke Hebrew and the Gentile Christians who spoke Greek. But there’s so much more to these words than a simple, “How are you doing?”

Grace and peace are the things Paul has in common with the Philippians—the things they share in Jesus. First, they both share in g-r-a-c-e. Besides those letters spelling the word “grace,” they can also stand for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That acronym spells out how God gives us His grace—on account of our Savior, Jesus. God’s grace—His undeserved love—brings peace both to the Philippians and to prisoner Paul. In spite of the pain he was enduring, Paul has the peace of knowing that the war between him and God is over. And the Philippians and you and I have the peace of knowing that whatever it is that you feel most ashamed of doing in your life, no matter how many times you’ve done it, even if you’re still trapped in in doing it now, God has pledged Himself to forgive you and put you at peace when you turn to Him in repentance.

Paul mentions that the Philippians are in partnership with him. In reality it’s a three-way partnership: God, Paul and the Philippians. First, they have a partnership in the Gospel, because of their mutual faith, and because the Philippians are supporting Paul’s mission financially. Then Paul says something that makes us think: “For you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.” Partners in Paul’s imprisoned pain?! Absolutely, because Scripture says when one of us is hurting, all of us hurt.

Here’s something for you to ponder. All of us want to be independent. None of us wants to burden our fellow Christians with our problems. We want to handle things on our own—carry our own weight, as it were.

The only problem with that approach is that we were never designed to do that. When God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” That statement was made when the world was still sinless and perfect. Can you imagine how important avoiding suffering in solitude is outside the Garden of Eden, in a sinful world? One of the reasons God puts us in a congregation of people is so we have the opportunity to be in a three-way partnership with Him and our fellow believers. We bear with and comfort one another in our pain. Elsewhere Paul says:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort, too.

As incredible as it may sound, God doesn’t want you to bear your pain alone, not only because that pain can overcome you, but also because your pain is an opportunity for your fellow Christians to minister to you and to comfort you! It’s been said that God never wastes a wound. Instead of simply allowing pain, God wants to use it for your growth, and also, for the growth of your fellow believers. For you, the phrase has been transformed from “No pain, no gain,” into, “No pain comes without gain.” Gain for you, but also gain for those who minister to you in your pain.

  1. Jesus

Paul can say that only because he also writes, “He, who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word that translates as completion carries the meaning of bringing an activity to a successful finish—to fully accomplish something. When pain overwhelms us, it’s all too easy for us to forget that the God who is using our pain for our benefit also knows how we are going to successfully finish the course of pain in our life, because He has and He will continue to fully accomplish His plan for our rescue from sin day by day!

That same Greek word is used in the Gospel of John when God was fully accomplishing His plans to rescue the entire world through our Savior’s death on the cross. There, from within the most intense agony ever experienced by a human being, Jesus’ last cry on the cross was: “Tetelestai.” “It is finished.” “It is successfully completed.” “It is accomplished.” God used the pain of His Son’s death to transform all of your pain into gain.

Jesus’ words, “It is completed” give us a new dimension to viewing life. Think about all the good news you hear. All the bad news. All the difficulties you encounter. All the blessings. The unanticipated happiness. The unexpected trouble. It all has God’s divine purpose behind it. No matter what occurs in my life—good or bad—I can truly say, “Without this, I would not be ready for the day of Christ.” That’s the kind of Good News that will give you joy and security no matter what kind of pain and suffering you are facing.

In many ways, all of us want to be control freaks. As much as possible, we want to be in control of the happenings in our lives and avoid chaos. But it’s impossible for us to avoid the confusion that comes with suffering in a sinful world. Anybody who has ever lost a loved one can identify with those unnerving questions of, “What should I do now?” Who do I call next? What’s going to happen to me in the future? Today’s word from Paul is a sweet reminder that in the midst of the agonizing and the disorder, you can have peace, because God is in control, and He is using the agony and disorder to complete His plans for you.

  1. You and Me

So what good is this word about peace in the face of pain during Advent? How about that these are good words because they help us face reality? It’s been said that there are three kinds of people in this world: those who are going into trouble, those who are in trouble, and those who have come out of trouble and are getting ready to cycle back through it all again!

Many of us are searching for meaning, purpose, and value in life. Others of us are having troubles in our marriages. Some of us suffer from loneliness. Others of us struggle with disease—either in our lives or in the life of a loved one. Some of us still ache from the loss of loved ones in our lives—either by death, or by separation. Others of us are struggling with addictive sins. Many of us face a shortage in our finances. Others of us are depressed or anxious, overscheduled, overstressed, or simply bored with the routine race of life. However you want to describe these difficulties, they cause us physical or emotional pain.

Those things by themselves would be bad enough, but to add to the problem, most of us try to sanitize our lives by telling others everything is okay. Sometimes our denial is so complete that we can even fool ourselves. But notice how it happens in today’s Epistle. Paul acknowledges his being in prison. He’s also alluding to the fact that he had been dependent on the generosity of the Philippians just to survive. By the standards of our day, it’s a little surprising that Paul doesn’t try to cover up and say everything is all right. He acknowledges God’s gifts and he doesn’t cover up his difficulties. And it’s all because when you’re loved by someone who cares deeply for you, it’s easy to acknowledge both the good and the bad.

This next week, this Advent, and for the rest of our lives, I’d like to challenge you to be honest about pain. Like Paul, you, too can be at peace in spite of your painful circumstances! God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense—His undeserved, unimaginable love—brings peace both to Paul and to you. In spite of any pain you may be enduring, the war between you and God is over. You and I have the peace of knowing that whatever it is you feel most ashamed of, no matter how many times you’ve done it, even if you’re still trapped in in doing it now, God has pledged Himself to forgive you and put you at peace as we turn to Him in repentance. Now is the perfect time to do it. Amen.

Advent Anxiety

Confession is good for the soul. As a pastor, sometimes the extra preparation around Advent and Lent is a cause for anxiety [imagine that].  I penned these words for myself, and for all who suffer from Advent anxiety in its many forms. Enjoy.

    Advent Anxiety

Comes a thought of Christmas,
Let your heart not fear,
All the things to ready,
As the Day comes near.
For from in the Manger,
Comes a Word divine,
"Take the peace I give you,
Let your cares be Mine."

All the machinations
All the plans I lay
Can despoil the wonder
Of His natal day
For from in the Manger
Comes a Word divine
"Take My ready-making,
Let its fit be thine."

Peace returns but meekly
Worries slow depart
As an Infant readies
Every weak-faithed heart
Hasten then, the hours!
Let the days grow slim.
Anxious hearts are fitted,
Who by faith know Him. 

Unpassable Words

Great to be back. In this past week's gospel, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words shall never pass away. The message preached focuses in on the phrase "pass away" and examines the world's passing away and our  passing away versus Jesus' Words never passing away. What certainty that gives us! In a pass away world, words like, "Be of good cheer--your sins are forgiven" endure!   

                                                                                                              My Words Will Never Pass Away!

In the name of Jesus, Amen. Did you ever stop to consider just how complicated words can be? I looked up the little four-lettered word “pass” in an unabridged dictionary and would you believe there were 85 different ways for that little word to be used? Count ‘em, 85! The word “pass” focuses on the concept of somebody or something that is moving. You get a pass for a movie so you can move through the line of people waiting to get in. Football players catch moving balls called passes. When history moves along we say something “comes to pass.” We pass by, pass off, pass out, pass over, pass up, pass through, pass the buck, pass the hat, pass the time, and we pass on, to name just a few of them.

Jesus uses that little word in our text this morning to speak about a kind of moving, and He uses it a way that we’re all familiar with. He says “Heaven and earth are going to pass away.” You and I know what it means to pass away, because it’s something we face personally as human beings. People and places and things move from life to death, but Jesus says there’s one thing that never passes away.

I. Heaven and Earth Will Pass Away

What does the Bible say about our world? Jesus puts it all in perspective in our reading when He says the created world is temporary, that is, like us, its days are numbered. Isaiah says that this world that we love so much will wear out like your favorite clothing. Paul says the very creation itself, “groaning” while it looks forward to the passing away of temporary things and the revealing of what will be eternal.

I think it’s safe to say that there are those times when you and I grow weary of the way things work here on our temporary earth. Here, we have no enduring city. So instead of focusing on the eternal, our hearts often become set on some temporary trinket, and we believe that when we finally get that temporary trinket, happiness will somehow be ours. What temporary trinket are you pursuing that will complete you being once it touches your hands? Finishing you education? Getting the right job? Finding the right person to marry? Retiring and taking it easy? The instant that temporary trinket is in your hands, its value deflates, and the joy it brings you is slight compared to what you expected. St. Augustine recognized that futile and hopeless cycle. He said that God must have made us for Himself, because our restless hearts never seem to find peace until they rest in Him

What’s more, Paul says that our bodies are in the process of passing away. In one place he calls them tents because they’re temporary. In another place, he says they’re clay pots because they’re so fragile. And nothing we can do will ever prevent that passing away. People have tried preserve at least the memory of someone’s life. We see monuments left by former generations in hopes that at least somebody would remember those whom the monuments commemorate. But after a hundred years or so, even the stone letters on a gravestone begin to wear off. Headstones sink lower and lower over time, and along with that sinking, the memory of the one it memorializes sinks as well.

Because everything in this created world is temporary, Jesus says that it will pass away at its appointed time. In his epistle, St. Peter tells us that the whole planet is going to come unglued, far beyond any earthquake or global warming or ozone depletion. It’s almost as if Peter is saying that all the molecules that hold together so nicely for us now are going to suddenly disintegrate. It’s similar to what happens to your car on the day the guarantee runs out.

Everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with the angels. The trumpet will sound, and all God’s people will be gathered from the four winds and from the four corners of the earth. How can we even picture that event? No one will be able to put it on canvas or film, because it will be the event that will undo both the canvas and the film. Nothing that you and I have experienced can compare with this passing away of everything, except that in our text, Jesus tells us about this passing away so we know about it ahead of time.

                                                                                       II. My Words Will Never Pass Away

And of all the things we humans worry about—from halitosis to hair-loss—thank God the passing away of this world isn’t another item you have to add to your worry list. Mark reminds us that we can wait for the passing away of this world watchfully and obediently and expectantly, because even as we see the world passing away, Jesus says, “My Words will never pass away.”

As Jesus is speaking today’s text, He knows he’s going to the cross. His words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” and “Today you shall be with Me in paradise,” spoken from the cross, are included in the words that never pass away.

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but today, I would like us to think about just the opposite. Words can do things that no picture could ever do. Words can bring death, as when the judge says, “I sentence you to die in the electric chair.” Words can also give life, as when the same judge says, “I find you not guilty.” And words can also bring eternal life, as when we hear the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” or, “I forgive you all of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

If you and I had no relationship with Jesus, the idea that His words last forever could be a frightening one, because He told His disciples that not one jot or tittle would ever pass away from God’s Law. That’s not good news for people like you and me who seem to be experts at breaking the commandments and falling short of what God expects. But included in the Words that will never pass away are all Jesus’ words about the forgiveness of your sins—the words you can hang onto as everything else passes away into oblivion.

We seem to lose things as we age. Your eyesight starts to go. Your hearing begins to fade. Muscle tone and strength begin to wane. We lose our mobility. Even our hair passes away, but then it begins to grow in places where we never had to shave before! Our privilege of driving a car might be taken away when somebody discovers out we can’t hear or see as well as we used to. Sometimes they even take the keys to your house away from you and say something like, “Grandpa, it’s just not safe for you to live alone anymore.” Often, the ones we loved most pass away before we do. So imagine for a moment that you have experienced those losses, and just about everything is gone and you’re lying on your deathbed. Everything in your body and in your very existence is starting to dissolve and come apart.

Everything, that is, except for the words. “Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven...In my Father’s house are many mansions...I am going to prepare a place for you...I am the Resurrection and the Life...whoever hears my words and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned...My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me...I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” When nothing else will do you any good, indeed, nothing other than those dependable declarations of Jesus will be needed! And then imagine those words you will hear as we open our eyes in the next world: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundations of the world.”

I’d like to conclude by telling you about some human words that had a hard time passing away. A soldier was stationed at a California military base thousands of miles away from his wife. His link to the lovely woman who was waiting for him to come home was their love letters.

But one letter of this soldier never got delivered. Somehow it was lost, lodged between two walls in Fort Ord’s mailroom in San Francisco. The letter was lost in the shadows, with its romantic affections of a youthful marriage, sealed with a kiss.

A half century later, this soldier and his wife had just finished celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and were relaxing in the living room when their favorite song, began to play on the radio. His wife affectionately remembered the song and how she used to get calls and letters from the soldier who owned her heart. They joked together that there would be no letter or phone call this time because her husband was with her, at her side.

Meanwhile, a construction crew was dismantling the old post office at Fort Ord, and they discovered a long-forgotten letter from a young army corporal. The crew turned the letter over to Bob Spadoni, the postmaster in nearby Monterey. Spadoni began the process of delivering that letter, tracking down the soldier and his girlfriend [now wife] through post office records and phone books.

Just a few days after hearing their favorite song, the letter, dated January 28, 1955, was delivered. That letter set a wife’s heart aflutter, tears welled, and she again became a love-struck 22-year-old. “It meant a lot to me then,” she said. “It means even more now.”

In the same way, God’s love letter written to you in the Scriptures, means more and more as each passing year brings His return ever closer. How do we live with the world around us passing away? One hymn writer puts it like this:

 

Hark a thrilling voice is sounding

“Christ is near” we hear it say

Cast away the works of darkness

All you children of the day

 

See the Lamb so long expected

Comes with pardon down from heaven

Let us haste with tears of sadness

One and all to be forgiven

 

So, when next He comes in glory

And the world is wrapped in fear

He will shield us with His goodness

And with words of love draw near

When everything else is folded up and put away for eternity, the words that assure us of eternal life will remain. Indeed, those words are worth more than a thousand pictures! Be of good cheer! Heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus’ words that save you will never pass away! Amen.

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