16 March 2017

HOW LONG WILL I LIVE?

Recently I received a questionnaire from the investment company where I have my IRA. One section dealt with “Investment Time Horizon.” In other words, how many more years do I plan to live and invest in my IRA. The choices ranged from “0-2 years” to “more than 20 years.” First of all, I have not invested any monies in my IRA in several years. I have been doing the opposite. I have been receiving the much needed funds to supplement my Social Security income. Well, I am approaching my 82nd birthday, the Lord willing, in the month of May; so, how many years should I select, if I plan to do any investing in my IRA? By God’s grace, providence and “by reason of strength”, I have surpassed the “four score years” mentioned in Psalm 90:10. My cardiologist , at my last checkup, said, “I will see you next year.” But, he did not give me a guarantee when I asked him if he would. He then said, “Has God ever given you a guarantee?” When you consider the facts, as found in the Word of God, you know that death is no respecter of persons. “The living know that they shall die” (Ecclesiastes 9:5); “It is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27); that life “is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Furthermore, death is no respecter of age. During the month of February, 2017, two young men of my acquaintance died, unexpectedly. One friend was only forty-eight years old and a relative of mine died when he was fifty years old. Someone has said, ‘The old must die and the young do die’. Let it be understood, it is not the quantity of life that is important; rather, it is the quality of life that means so much because it affects our eternal destiny. A person who lives for Jesus Christ, will die in Christ and will be blessed eternally (Revelation 14:13). An individual who enjoys longevity of life but lives without God, will die without God in eternity. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (unprepared) (Hebrews 10:31). Are you interested in knowing what selection I chose relative to how long I might live should I decide to invest in my IRA? It is said that a positive attitude contributes to the longevity of one’s life, so, I selected the bracket, (6-10) years, but I did so, knowing that I have no assurance I will live another day. But I have this precious promise from the Lord Jesus Christ: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die, Do you believe this?” (John 11:25, 26). I do, because I trust in Him. If we know how to live (in Christ), we will know how to die. My heart’s desire is that every believer will “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins” and the Lord will add you to His church of which He is the Savior (Acts 2:38, 47; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18).

10 March 2017

"CHOICES"

The late country singer, George Jones, recorded the song, “Choices”, which sounds like a confession regarding the bad ones he made in his life and that he was “living and dying” with those choices. The Lord God made man to be a free moral agent, that is, he possesses the ability to make choices in life, either good or bad. That has been true since the time Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden. Before his death, Moses, the great leader of the children of Israel, informed the people the following: “And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal” (Deuteronomy 11:29). God did lead them to the mountains: Mount Gerizim was the mountain of ‘blessing’ and Mount Ebal was the mountain of ‘curse’. Moses commanded six leaders from six tribes to stand on Mount Gerizim to pronounce the ‘blessings’ that would come upon the people ‘if’ they obeyed the commandments of God. He also commanded six leaders from six tribes to stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce the ‘curses’ that would come upon the people if they disobeyed the commandments of God (Deuteronomy 27:11- chapter 28) In Deuteronomy 30:15, 19, Moses said, “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.” “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants my live” (Emphasis, re). The Lord God allowed the Israelites to choose between “life” or “death”. Jesus Christ gave the people of His day a choice that is applicable for all of mankind as long as time shall stand, as recorded in Matthew 7:13, 14: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (ESV). How sad indeed it is, that “many” will choose the “easy” way “that leads to destruction”! And, only a “few” will choose the way that is “hard that leads to life.” On the judgment day when Jesus Christ will sit on the “throne of His glory”, your eternal choice will not be yours, it will be His! You will either hear, “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”; or, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:34, 41). The decision you make presently will determine the direction you will follow in this life, and eventually, your eternal destiny. Please remember, you are “living and dying” with the choices you make in this life. Prayerfully, you will choose ‘life’ in Jesus Christ. If you do, you will “die in the Lord” and will be blessed in the eternal care of our Heavenly Father (Revelation 14:13).

09 March 2017

"Till the Storm Passes By"

On Friday, March 2, 2012, our country was ravaged by an outburst of terrible tornadoes that brought death and destruction in at least 13 states. One tornado in the state of Kentucky stayed on the ground for 95 miles! Two others stayed on the ground for some 40 miles. At least one town was completely destroyed. Some forty plus persons lost their lives in a moment of time when their houses and other buildings fell on them. One infant was found critically injured in a field and later we learned that she died, as well as the rest of her family. Hearts were broken and heads were bowed down with grief and sorrow as people saw the destruction of properties and learned of the loss of lives. You are made to feel so small and insignificant when you consider the onslaught of nature’s forces. My wife and I prepared the best we could by getting into closets when the warning came for our county but even then we did not feel secure. It is only when the clear signal was given did we feel relieved.

In life we all experience storms of various kinds. Sometimes like the tornadoes, they come upon us so suddenly that we are overwhelmed. Please excuse the personal experience but one of the greatest encounters with the storms of life was the death of my ‘baby brother’ who only 35 years of age when he was killed while walking across a four lane highway in the state of Pennsylvania. I received the news by telephone at 1:00 A.M. the following morning. The next day I had the responsibility of identifying his body. I sought refuge under the sheltering wings of my Heavenly Father. And he was the second son of my mother who had been killed, the first in WWII at the age of 19.

I have been with families who have lost loved ones and have witnessed the tremendous grief they suffered; especially do I remember when close friends lost their teenage daughter in an automobile accident. Then there is a friend who has been greatly affected with the ‘Lou Gehrig’ disease. In but a short time she has become almost completely helpless. Individuals as ‘wage earners’ for their families have lost their jobs because of the economical situation in our nation. People like widows who are on a limited income have to make decisions as to whether to fill their much needed medicine or to buy groceries. Almost daily we learn of families who have lost their loved ones in a foreign country as they serve in the military.

There is the constant threat of war between Israel and Iran that would involve our nation, along with others. Even our schools are not safe because of the real threat of some students bent on killing their classmates. Evil is ever present in our society. Slowly, but surely, some of religious rights are being threatened by leaders on different levels of our government. We will all experience ‘storms of life’, especially if we live long enough that will bring us much sorrow and try our faith.

One of the basic reasons why I am thankful for the book of Psalm is because David suffered so much because of the ‘storms of life’. And that brings me to Psalm 57:1 which may have been written in a cave while he was hiding from King Saul who sought to kill him. Read carefully his words: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities have passed by.”

As Christians many our hymns bring comfort and solace to our troubled hearts in the time of storms that we experience. In 1958, Mosie Lister wrote both the lyrics and music to this beautiful song.

“Till the Storm Passes By”

In the dark of the midnight,
Have I oft hid my face;
While the storm howls above me,
And there's no hiding place;
'Mid the crash of the thunder,
Precious Lord, hear my cry;
"Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by."

Many times Satan whispers,
"There is no need to try;
For there's no end of sorrow,
There's no hope by and by";
But I know Thou art with me,
And tomorrow I'll rise;
Where the storms never darken the skies.

When the long night has ended,
And the storms come no more,
Let me stand in Thy presence.
On that bright, peaceful shore.
In that land where the tempest
Never comes, Lord may I
Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by.

(Chorus)
'Til the storm passes over,
'Til the thunder sounds no more;
'Til the clouds roll forever from the sky,
Hold me fast, let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.

Hold me fast, Let me stand,
In the hollow of Thy hand;
Keep me safe 'til the storm passes by.
Till the storm passes by.

Postscript ~ You can click here to hear an acapella version of this beautiful hymn.

18 February 2017

"THERE IS A FOUNTAIN FILLED WITH BLOOD"


Zechariah 13:1: “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” The prophet Zechariah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, penned these words approximately  five hundred years before the coming of Jesus Christ. Because of the immediate context containing prophecies regarding Jesus Christ before and during His crucifixion, we can understand this passage as pertaining to His death. In chapter 9:9, the writer mentions that “Your King is coming you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey” (NKJV) This was fulfilled as found in Matthew 21:4, 5. In chapter 12:10, we read, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” This prophecy is fulfilled in John 19:37. Again, we find another prophecy regarding Christ in chapter 13:7, “...Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in Matthew 26:31.


The location of the “fountain” in chapter 13:1 was to be in Jerusalem. A fountain is a source of fresh water that is gushing forth for the thirsty souls. However this “fountain” refers to that which flowed from the side of our Savior while he hung on Calvary’s cross. It was a Roman soldier who “pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). His precious blood was shed “for sin and for uncleanness”. When Jesus instructed His disciples to drink of the cup, He said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:7: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” In Romans 6:3, 4, the apostle Paul explains that we come in contact with His blood that saves when we are “buried with Him through baptism”.

William Cowper, in 1772, wrote the lyrics of the moving and beautiful hymn, “There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood”, based on the words found in Zechariah 13:1. Here is the first stanza of the song:
There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains:
Lose all their guilty stains,
Lose all their guilty stains;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
Praise God for His immeasurable love!