22 May 2008

Jesus Loved(s) Children

The lines were very long as we waited for our groceries to be checked. The Hispanic family right in front of us consisted of a lady with two of her children and a nephew she was raising. The small girl sitting in the buggy was so cute. The boys, ages eight and nine, were fine looking children. The older boy looked me straight in the eye and said, “I don’t speak English” and then he smiled from ear to ear. He was so cute and his beautiful smile and his childish humor reminded me so much of one of our grandsons who lives in North Carolina . While we were waiting we also did a lot of visiting with this family. Of course, the boys spoke good English. They said that people just assumed they spoke Spanish instead of English because of their physical appearance. In just a few minutes our hearts were touched by these beautiful children.

The mother said that they were moving back to Houston , Texas . The chances of seeing this family again is very doubtful. I could not help but to be moved emotionally when I contemplated they might not be taught of Jesus Christ. I prayed a short prayer upon arriving home for them and for all the children of the world that they might learn of Jesus. All of God’s children are beautiful and precious in His sight.

Even in our own city you see children of various races and nationalities. It doesn’t matter the color of their skin whether they are “red and yellow, black and white” they need to know of God’s saving grace and of Jesus who loves every one of them. I pray regularly that all of our grandchildren might come to know Jesus as their savior. As Christians, we should support monetarily and morally every effort to evangelize the world with the message of salvation, made possible through the death of the dear Son of God. You see the faces of the innocent children on television who have been devastated by the various natural disasters that have occurred recently and you want the very best for them. And the very best for them would be that they could be brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”.

In the accounts of Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16 and Luke 18:15-17, it is recorded that people brought little children to Jesus “that he should touch them”. Matthew wrote that “he laid his hands of them” while Mark records, “And he took them in his arms, and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.” All three witnesses mentioned that Jesus had the highest regard for the children when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me; forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God .” Here was God incarnate in human flesh whose name was Jesus and He took the time out of his busy schedule to touch and caress these little ones and to bless them. It is to be more like our Lord when we take time to hug the children and teach them of Jesus who loves them so much.

You can have your wealth and riches all the things so many seek,
Position, power, and success, the fame you long to keep.
You can earn as much as you wish, reach a status high above,
But none of these can equal having one sweet child to love.
'Tis the greatest gift from heaven, little arms that hold you tight,
And a kiss so soft and gentle when you tuck them in at night.
A million precious questions and each story often read,
Two eyes so bright and smiling, and a darling tousled head.
God has never matched the goodness of a trusting little face,
Or a heart so full of laughter spreading sunshine every place.
A child to hold and cuddle, 'tis a gift from God above,
And the world is so much brighter when you have a child to love.
~~ Author Unknown ~~

11 May 2008

It is always good to remember a godly mother. Jesus while on the cross of shame and suffering thought of His mother and instructed John to care for her after His death (John 19:26, 27). One of the sweetest words in any language is ‘Mother’. A dictionary is not necessary to possess an understanding of such a meaningful term. Not all mothers are wives but they should be and not all wives are mother but God permitting they can be. One of the primary purposes of marriage is the propagating of the human race (Genesis 1:27). The role of motherhood should never be taken lightly nor should the status of being a mother be made light of in this modern age. There is no greater relation for a woman to sustain in this life than being a Christian mother.

Perhaps the crowning act of creation by the Lord God was the forming of woman from the side of man. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone thus He gave to him a help suitable for him. Adam later named this woman “Eve” because she was the “mother of all living” (Genesis 2:18-25; 3:20). The wise man taught that “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing” and that “a prudent wife is from Jehovah (Proverbs 18:18; 19:14). In the bringing forth of a child the husband and wife truly become one flesh. There is the binding together of the two. Motherhood is the highest honor given to woman. No matter what else she may do in life it should be secondary to her being the kind of mother that God desires.

A mother is greatly responsible for the spiritual training of her children (Proverbs 22:6). Her influence is great for good or bad. Abraham Lincoln said of his mother, “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother”. An old Spanish proverb states that “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy”. Most of us have heard the old saying that “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. No doubt Queen Jezebel exerted a tremendous amount of evil influence on her husband Ahab and their wicked son Ahaziah (I Kings 16:30; 22:52, 53). Several years ago “Ma Barker” trained her sons to rob, steal and to kill. It was said that the infamous Nero had a murderess for a mother.

However the Bible is replete with examples of godly mothers who influenced their loved ones to live for the Lord. Jochebed, the mother of Moses, guided that young heart in the right way because when he became an adult, he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Numbers 26:59; Hebrews 11:24, 25). No doubt students of the Bible know of the beautiful story of Hannah and how she received a son from the Lord. This wonderful woman had promised that she would give the child “unto the Lord all the days of his life.” Hannah named her son Samuel. This young boy, at a tender age, was carried to the house of God to be taught and trained by Eli the high priest of God (I Samuel 1). Samuel became one of the truly outstanding leaders in Israel , serving God and his people as prophet, priest and judge. If there were more Hannahs in the homes there would be more preachers in the pulpits.

Jedidah was the wife of the wicked king Amon but she was also the mother of the young and good Josiah (2 Kings 22:1)). In contrast to the wickedness of his father it is said of Josiah that “he did that which was right in the eyes of Jehovah, and walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left (2 Kings 22:2). We must conclude that his good mother and perhaps Jeremiah the prophet exerted a godly influence upon Josiah. Then consider the mother John the Baptist, Elizabeth, who walked righteous before God, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6). We also learn that she was determined to name her son John (Luke1:13, 60) Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed greatly by having been chosen of God to give birth the very Son of God (Luke 1:42). Mary was a typical mother in many ways. For instance she treasured in her heart the things said about the baby Jesus and later the things which he said (Luke 2:19, 51). Finally we mention the grandmother and mother of Timothy. These two godly women, Lois and Eunice, had taught timothy from his earliest childhood “the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14, 15). These are some of the godly mothers mentioned in the Bible who are worthy of imitation by Christian mothers today.

A virtuous mother is industrious as is brought out by the passage of scripture in Proverbs 31:10-31. Certainly the daily chores of a mother are demanding. She is also considerate of the needs of others in her community. Dorcas was one who was “full of good works and alsmsdeeds” (Acts 9:36, 39). The widow who was to be enrolled by the church must have been “well reported of for good work…if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work” (I Timothy 5:10). Also the Christian mother and wife will be hospitable. Again from I Timothy 5:10, “…if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints feet.” From Hebrews 13:2, “Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” The Shunammite woman manifested a wonderful attitude of such hospitality in regards to the prophet Elisha as recorded in 2 Kings 4:8-37. This quality of hospitality makes the home pleasant where people to love to visit.

We need always to show our respect and honor to our mother whether they are living or have died (Ephesians 6:1, 2). We can do this by living for the Lord and being the proper influence for good among our peers.

By Grace Crowell

So long as there are homes to which
Men turn—at close of day,
So long as there are homes where
Children are, and women stay,
If faith and love and loyalty are found
Across those sills,
A stricken nation can recover
From grievous ills.
So long as there are homes where
Fires burn, and there is bread,
So long as there are homes where
Lamps are lit---and prayers are said,
Though a people falter in darkness,
And nations grope,
With God himself back of these little homes,
We still have hope

07 May 2008

Makes You Think Of Your Own Mortality, Doesn't It?

These were the very words spoken by my doctor during a visit to his office following my having a stent placed in a main artery leading from my heart on Friday, May 4, 2001. My Cardiologist had been successful in the procedure to insert the stent. I know this personally because seven years later here I am writing this article. There was a ninety-five percent blockage in the artery but I had not suffered any pain which made me completely unaware of the impending danger. What I had was what doctors call ‘a widow maker.’ For extending my life to this moment of time I am very grateful to my Heavenly Father who has added seven years to my life (As in the case of Hezekiah, 15 years, Isaiah 38:4).

But this is not the only time that I have considered my own mortality. Just recently Virginia and I made new wills. Our older ones were out of date and needed revising. These were more complex since we have added ‘stuff’ to our possessions over the intervening years. Not only that, we made out ‘living wills’ which we had not previously done. When you make wills you realize more and more that you are going to leave all of your material blessings behind because you can’t take anything with you. It is important that you “lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19, 20). The apostle Paul said it in this manner: “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1, 2). The older a person becomes the more he thinks of the hereafter.

In addition to the Word of God, I have read scores of articles and books on what awaits us after this earthly life has ended. Now the authors of the various articles and books have never experienced what it is like in the ‘great beyond’. They will either base their findings on the inspired scriptures and/or the various philosophies of mortal men. The fact is, the individuals raised from the dead as mentioned in the Old and New Testament (including Lazarus who was dead for four days) never mentioned anything about what lies beyond the grave. Even the one (I believe Paul) who was caught up to the third heaven and into Paradise was not permitted to write what he saw and heard (2 Corinthians 12:1-7). The unbeliever would desire that when a man dies he is like the ‘dog Rover and is dead all over’. Others might concede that the wicked will be punished but not for eternity. But what if these teachers are wrong? It will be too late to make changes in my belief and in my manner of life. I will not be able return to this life and prepare to meet my Lord in eternity. There is to be no second chance.

Another thought came to my mind and that is, am I to believe that when I die I cease to exist in both body and spirit. This might be better than being in torment for eternity but does it satisfy my longing to continue to be when this life is over. There is so much I don’t understand about afterlife but I do have an unwavering trust in my Lord Jesus Christ who said, “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)? The apostle Paul wrote that “to die is Gain” “and to be with Christ, which is far better” (Philippians 1:21, 23). It was my Lord Jesus Christ who said, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death” (Revelation 1:18).

Because He LivesWords and music by William J. Gaither© 1971
God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

And then one day, I'll cross the river,
I'll fight life's final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict'ry,
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!