Psalm 119: The Wonder and Wisdom of “The Word”

Hi Friends:

For the last several days, I have been studying Psalm 119. I have read the entire chapter many times in the past, but, in sitting and studying the words this time, it’s like I had never read it before. God is so good, as He is always revealing new things to us, each time we read His Word, and I think He takes great pleasure in giving us new insight into something we have read many times. Yes, “Wisdom is gained every time we open the Bible and read His Word,” as an old, old bookmark I have still reminds me.

I think it can be said that in all the great chapters and passages in the Bible, Psalm 119 stands alone. It is a written monument to the importance of God’s Word. In fact, it is God’s Word that is the sole subject of the chapter. We all know that Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, with its 176 verses. How important is it that we read, study, believe, and learn the Word of God? How important is God’s Word to us? Let’s put it this way: What is the single subject matter of the longest chapter in the Bible? God’s Word.

As I read and studied the chapter, I learned so many things that make this chapter unique. Of course, we always begin any conversation with the length of the chapter. But, it is the way the chapter is arranged that sets it apart. Like many of the Psalms, it is an “acrostic.” An acrostic is when sets of letters (such as the first letter of a line) are written in order: “A composition, usually in verse, in which sets of letters (as the initial or final letters of the lines) taken in order form a word or phrase or a regular sequence of letters of the alphabet.” The Hebrew alphabet had 22 letters. Usually, when writing an acrostic verse, only one verse per letter of the alphabet is used. In other words, each line would begin with a letter, the next verse begins with the next letter of the alphabet, and so on. In Psalm 119, there are 8 verses for each letter … that is why Psalm 119 has 22 stanzas: One stanza for each letter … 8 verses for each letter … 22 letters in the alphabet … 8 verses per letter … equals 176 verses! Amazing! Yes, I had to go back and look at each stanza … 8 … 16 … 24 … all the way to 176! For this reason, the chapter is also referred to as an “Alphabet Psalm.” There is a tradition that King David used this Psalm to teach his son Solomon the alphabet. It’s also thought that King David taught his son to not just use this alphabet for writing letters, but as an alphabet for spiritual life.

Perhaps the one word most associated with the Psalms would be “praise.” In Psalm 119, the entire chapter is a “praise” song for God’s Word: Its authenticity, its value, and its purpose. Here’s the number 8 again: There are 8 words which repeat, over and over, throughout the chapter, and they all have to do with the Word of God: Word, Law, Statues, Commandments, Judgements, Precepts, Testimonies, and Thy/His Ways. All of these words stand as synonyms for the Word of God, revealed to man. Here we have the longest chapter in the Bible, 176 verses, and the Word of God is mentioned in every verse, but three! Reading God’s Word … learning God’s Word … knowing God’s Word … hearing God’s Word … and … and … keeping God’s Word close to us must be of the utmost value and importance. Another word which appears repeatedly throughout the chapter is “quicken,” which means “revive.”

Who wrote Psalm 119? Not sure. It is one of the 61 Psalms which credit the author as “anonymous.” Just as with the book of Hebrews, there is debate over authorship, and the list is only a couple of names. For Psalms 119, as with Hebrews, it comes down to writing style. It is believed that either King David wrote Psalm 119 (compiled over his lifetime), or Ezra wrote it. But, consider this: The ultimate Author of Scripture is God Himself, using men to write, as inspired by the Holy Spirit. That’s why you need the help of the Holy Spirit to understand the Scriptures … Who better to get the true meaning from … than the Author?

Psalm 119 is approximately the same length as the books of Ruth, James, or Philippians.

I never miss an opportunity to encourage people to read the entire book of Psalms. People, especially those reading the Bible for the first time, will ask me, “Where should I start?” While it is easy to say, “At the beginning,” which, of course, isn’t a bad idea, I always suggest the book of John … and, the book of Psalms. If they will, seriously, read either … it will make them want to read more. I think that one of the reasons Psalms is so “popular” (if I may use that word in context) is that they are so easy to understand, and they express so well the feelings that we all share. Plus, and I think this is important when someone is first learning to start devoting time to Scripture reading every day, the Psalms are easy to read an entire chapter in one sitting … I can’t remember a time when I have read through the book of Psalms, and, every chapter I read, every time, spoke directly to something I was going through at the time.

I’ve known so many people who have told me that Psalms was their favorite book. This includes my Mom, who, like all of us when going through difficult times, turn to the Psalms … and, in particular, favorite Psalms. Time and again, it is the peace and comfort found in the Psalms that give us “just what we need” for any situation we are facing. C.S. Lewis said that, “The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.” And, R.C. Sproul said that, “Whenever I read the Psalms, I feel like I am eavesdropping on a saint having a personal conversation with God.”

There is just a special “connection” we feel with the Psalms. And, so many of us keep going back to our favorite verses within the 119th chapter. For instance, John Calvin preached 22 sermons (one for each stanza) from Psalm 119. Here is this statement about one of those great, “we all know” verses from Psalm 119, from Thomas Watson: “I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. The Word, locked up in the heart-is a preservative against sin. As one would carry an antidote with him when he comes near an infected place-so David carried the Word in his heart as a sacred antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin.” Wow! That was really good!

Charles Spurgeon liked Psalm 119 so much, that he said, “We might do well to commit it to memory.” Commit it to memory. I know that most of us know, maybe, Psalm 23 by heart … but all 176 verses of Psalm 119? We wrote that there is a belief that King David used this Psalm to teach Solomon. It has been suggested that Psalm 119 may have been written as an acrostic poem so that it would be easier to memorize. The words of this particular Psalm were considered to be that important! I’ve learned that there have, indeed, been some pretty famous people who have made a point to memorize the entire chapter … all 176 verses. Some people you may know, who were known to have the entire Psalm memorized, include William Wilberforce (19th century British politician who led the movement to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire), Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher, Henry Martyn (19th century pioneer missionary to India), and David Livingstone (19th century pioneer missionary to Africa).

These examples epitomize the words of verse 11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart …” meaning “to deposit or place” in my heart. Which leads me to the question of which are my favorite verses from Psalm 119? Who could pick? Allow me to write that there are so many, and, on any given day, every verse could “stand out” as being just what God wants me to learn for today. There were a couple of verses I specifically wrote down, as I went through. One was verse 160, which personally responded to my last writing about why believing God’s account of creation was important: “Thy word is true from the beginning.” This spoke to me about what I had written about believing God’s Word from the very “beginning.” I’m working on the “Wealth Stored for the Righteous” series, which speaks so much about the benefits we have right now … so, verse 162 spoke to me about what should be tops on our list of wealth we already possess: “I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great treasure.” Verse 42 repeats what we should say, constantly: “I trust in thy word.” And, not just trust: “I hope in thy word” (verses 81, 114). Another treasure we have is the assurance that God is always with us, that “thou art near” (verse 151).

What a great, great chapter. What Words! No wonder I am “in awe of thy word” (verse 161).
I am reminded that, besides Isaiah, the book of Psalms is most quoted in the New Testament. I am also reminded that this chapter praises the Word … and, that Jesus is, literally, the Word in human form. The Word made flesh. When we praise Jesus, we are praising His Word, and when we are praising the Word, we are praising Him. You can’t separate Jesus from the Word.

I will close with another example of someone from history who had memorized the entire chapter of Psalm 119. I found this same story on several different sources, so I will share this with you:

George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century. Wishart was condemned to death, and was scheduled to be executed. But, when he was on the scaffold, he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one Psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalms 119:1-176. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared.

Please read Psalm 119.
And … the rest!

Blessings to you, and your family,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

“Confirming” Creation

Hi Friends:

First, I am really getting a lot out of the study of Psalm 119 (previous post). Several days so far!

This week, due to conversations I’ve had, and things I’ve heard, I was reminded of what I consider to be the greatest statement regarding “Creation vs. Evolution” I had ever heard.
First, in case there was any doubt, I believe 100% in the story of Creation as written in the Bible, in Genesis. Period.
Guess what? I believe, 100%, in the rest of the Bible, as well.

Why is this, this discussion of whether we believe in Creation exactly as written, so important, anyway? Do I really believe that God created everything in 6 days?
Yes.
Why?
Because that’s what the Bible says.
Period.

What’s the big deal about this 6 “days,” anyway? Can’t I believe in the Creation story, and believe that God’s Creation took millions of years? Can’t I believe that, in between “days,” could have been a period of thousands, even millions, of years?
What’s the big deal?
Yes … I have heard Christians say that it didn’t matter to them how many “days” it took … that it’s not important, this thing about “days.” As long as we believe that God was the Creator, it didn’t matter how much time may be involved. Oh, and also … yes, the most important thing was that you believed that Jesus was Who and What He said He was, and that you believed in Him … As long as you did that … Who cares how many “days” it took?

Of course, I agree that the most important thing in life is your relationship to God, through Jesus Christ. The most important question you will ever have to answer is still, and always will be, “Who say ye that I am?” Jesus is, and will always be, the only way to the Father, and our only means of Salvation, and eternal life.

So, what’s the big deal about this “day” business?
What’s the big deal if we don’t believe that “God created the heavens and the earth” exactly as written?
Why can’t we believe in evolution?

*** Please note that in using the term “evolution” for this writing, I am directly, and only, speaking of what is called “The Theory of Evolution,” as pertaining to the evolution of man from a monkey, or an ape, or whatever … ***

By the way, science fans, it is still a “theory.”
And, so … it must remain …
(I know that bothers “them!”)

Yes, I know that creatures “evolve” over time. Of course they do. But they don’t become a totally different creature! For example, over time, even our bodies change, due to things like environment, etc. I read where people are now born without an appendix, for example, because an appendix is no longer a necessity; or, how about tonsils? I can remember when “having your tonsils out” was something it seemed a member of every family went through. I can’t remember the last time I heard of someone “having their tonsils out.” Again, just an example, but … even if a creatures’ bodies change, adding or subtracting something that is either needed or not needed, they still don’t become a different creature!

Ever really thought about why the “link” was missing?
Never found?
It, simply, can’t, and won’t be found … because, simply, it doesn’t exist.

Scientists aren’t stupid.
Again: Scientists aren’t stupid.
Any more than we were stupid before we discovered the Truth.
Scientists aren’t stupid.
They’re just blind.
Just like we were blind … before we discovered the Truth.

So … this Creation thing, this Biblical account, that God created everything … just like it is written … What’s the big deal about whether we believe the Genesis account or not … exactly as written … What’s the big deal???

Well … Here’s the Big Deal:

How come the word used for “day” in the Creation account always means a 24 hour day everywhere else it is used?
It is only debated when it is used in the Creation account. Why? What’s the big deal?

Well … Here’s the Big Deal:

The very first verse of the Bible says, clearly, that God created everything, and then goes on to describe how He did it … including the creation of man …
If I can get you to doubt the first verse … maybe … just maybe … I can get you to begin to doubt the rest …
Plain and simple, that’s the “Big Deal.”
The first story, off of that first verse, describes, well enough for me, how God created everything … and created man …
If I can be made to begin to doubt that first verse … then, maybe … just maybe … I will begin to doubt the first story, off of that verse … then … maybe … just maybe … I will begin to doubt the rest … Ultimately … and, this is the key to the enemy’s defense …. Ultimately … maybe … just maybe … maybe … just maybe … I’ll begin to look at the Gospels … and the rest … with a little doubt … just maybe … just maybe …I know it may be a “stretch” for the enemy … but, maybe … just maybe … just may be … it could work …. Maybe not for everyone … but for someone … maybe … just maybe … just maybe for a lot of someones …

I use Map Quest for directions. What would a do if I printed out directions and then discovered that the first group of directions weren’t accurate? What would you do? We’d probably, at the very least, doubt the validity of the rest of the directions … Maybe … just maybe … just maybe … we’d just rip up the directions, toss them in the trash … and … find another source for directions … At the very least … the seed of doubt would be planted … wouldn’t it?

You can’t deny that this “doubt” strategy is a major “genius” idea. Did I just say the enemy was a “genius? I don’t know: Did it work? Let’s never forget out enemy is smarter than us, stronger than us, and has been at it for centuries … And … That’s exactly why we need the Truth … the Truth of what? The truth of Scriptures!
Let’s see … if we can begin to doubt the Scriptures … how hard does the enemy now have to try to defeat us???

When I was at the Elementary School, Substitute Teachers would come to the Library for lunch. One such Sub was a friend of ours from Church, and would come to enjoy the quiet of the environment. I would always use the time to take advantage of an empty Library to catch up on paperwork, etc., but, sometimes, I’d engage in conversation, if I knew the person. So often, for no particular reason, questions about the Bible would come up. Maybe it was a lesson I was working on, or a book I was putting back on the shelf, but, on this particular day, the question of Creation, and in particular, evolution, came up. That was when this lady made the statement of which I referenced at the beginning of this post, came up.

She didn’t understand how someone could “buy” the “theory” of evolution. Here is what she said:
“If that’s true, how come we still have monkeys? How come we still have apes?”

I haven’t forgotten that statement, after all these months. I agree:
I know that at one time, there was only one dog (I know there had to be two, but for illustration I’ll only say “one”). As time went by, there were a lot of dogs, and a lot of different dogs … maybe, over time, there were thousands and thousands of “different” dogs. They became different breeds, different types of dogs (long hair, short hair, tall, short, poodle, etc.). But … no matter how much they changed … they were still dogs!!! They may have been different, totally different, St. Bernard to Poodle … but, they were still dogs! They didn’t become an entirely different animal.

How about cats? Same thing … Every animal: There became many, many different types … but, they suddenly didn’t become another animal.

For our science fans, every instance of this type of “evolution” has been “horizontal” evolution … not “vertical” evolution … The animal just didn’t change into a different animal. The dog was still a dog, a cat was still a cat …

So, months later, I still remember that question she had … thinking about writing something about this “theory” business … when, all at once, as I was watching an old TV show on “TV Land,” they ran a promo about a new show, which just happened to be about Teachers. It’s still true: I don’t watch network television, except for football games … during which I get to see promos of all of the “great new shows” … I know I’m not making this up, but is there actually a new TV series where “Lucifer” is a good guy? Where there is an “Angel from Hell” … and it’s a comedy? Surely, I must be making this up. Surely there would be an outcry against such programming, right? Surely this wouldn’t be acceptable??? Next thing you know, we’ll be believing that man came from an ape!!! That the Biblical account of Creation is incorrect! Now … And, please don’t get mad at the atrocity I am suggesting might happen if we keep going … Next thing you know … we’ll be teaching our children that the Biblical account of Creation is incorrect … No … that’ll never happen …

Anyway … I’m watching a promo for this new show … I’m also thinking about how “TV Land” used to have family shows … I think about the “evolution” of our society, just as demonstrated by what used to be on “TV Land” vs. what is, somehow, allowed on there now … Anyway, in the middle of this promo about Teachers in a School, here is the statement I heard as part of the promo:
“If evolution is true, how come we still have monkeys?”

So, I’ve been thinking about this … about how this statement was confirmation of what I have discussed with Teachers at School all this week … about “How come we still have monkeys/apes?”
How will I write about it?
How should I write about it?
Should I write about it?

The Substitute Teacher which made the original statement … I haven’t seen in several months, not since I was at the Elementary School. But, I have been thinking about her and the statement she made, ever since I saw this promo for the Teachers TV show.

Today, while doing the grocery shopping for the week, I had just entered the grocery store, and was stopped in the first aisle, just to the right as you enter the store. Guess who came into the store, and, not seeing me … walked right up to me? This same lady, the Substitute Teacher, who had made the original “evolution” statement months ago, and whose question I had heard repeated a few nights ago … a lady I have never seen out in public before, and hadn’t seen since the Elementary School …

I knew then, what to write about.

In closing, I’ll offer this:

I can’t remember what animal it is that started out as a bird, or maybe it was a bird that started out as another animal, but I still hear this phrase from time to time: “When Pigs Fly!!!”
Keep going … and they’ll try to convince us that, at one time they did …
Maybe … just maybe … just may be … that we’ll believe it …

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Acrylic

“Relationship With The Word!”

Here’s a great post I’d like to share from the blog
“Word For Life Says,” entitled “Relationship With the Word,” keying in
on verses found in Psalm 119, and “the importance and power of His Word.”
This makes a terrific Bible study!

Word For Life Says . . .

lamp_and_Bible

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105, NKJV

“And so Betsie and I arrived in Barracks 8 in the small hours of that morning,  brining not only the Bible, but a new knowledge of the power of Him whose story it was,”Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place, p. 214, Hendrickson Publishers, Copyright 1971, 1984, 2006.

The Hiding Place has been my favorite non-fiction books for years.  I am always amazed by the lives of Corrie and her family and the circumstances that God used in and through them.

The above quote was written after Betsie and Corrie were able to smuggle a Bible in one of the concentration camps.  The Bible could obviously be seen through her clothing, yet she was inspected and patted down like the rest before and after her.  She risked everything…

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Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part 15

Time after time, over and over, I try to help and encourage by writing about the importance of two things we can do, every day, to help us improve in our walk with God … our relationship with Him … and our relationships with others:

I just can’t empathize enough how important it is to begin the day with prayer and Bible study. How much? That’s a personal choice, but it is a choice which must be made, and followed through with, every day. As with most things in life, start “small” and you will find both time, and yourself, growing. I put it this way, in order to show that, as you begin to see the difference doing this makes in your life, you’ll begin to devote more time to prayer and Bible study, and you’ll see even greater benefits as you go along. I was sharing about this just this morning, as I ran into a dear Brother, while I was at a local gas station (Sorry, there doesn’t seem to be “Gas Stations” anymore, just convenience stores which sell gas … another point for another time …). I explained that setting aside this time does require a sacrifice, as does just about everything worthwhile which is meant to improve us (I think there’s another topic right there). I explained how much of a difference it is to have to get up at 5:30 in the morning. Last year, I could leave my house-on a bicycle-at five minutes until eight, and make it on time. This year, a different School, so I have to leave around seven. Which means I must get up at 5:30 in order to “do what I need to do” in order to leave on time. But, it is so much worth it. The hard part is that, while I must get up at least an hour earlier … I can’t seem to get to bed any earlier. That’s something that I am continuing to ask God’s help for.

The point I am making is that, in order to improve, it does take work. Hard work. Consistent hard work. And, this work requires more time than if we didn’t want to improve, and didn’t want to find the time to improve. That’s why the time to improve, often, with our busy lives, doesn’t exist. It does not exist. That’s why … that’s why … we have to “make the time.” Those who “don’t have the time” never will … because they are not willing to do what it takes in order to “make” the time, to manufacture the time. Trust me, the time really doesn’t exist … and won’t exist … until we make it. Then, and only then, will this “new time” come into existence.

What could possibly be more important than “making” time to “spend time” with God? Talking to Him, listening to Him, and reading His Word. How could anything be more important? What is more important than our own, personal relationship with God?
“Our … (fill in the blank) …”

I get this thought that if we spent more time speaking with God about our problems … there would be less problems to speak with Him about … So … So … So … that would give us more time to just praise Him, thank Him for … yes, for … what He has already done … for the prayers He has already answered … the needs He has already met …
I’m going to say this, because it is true: God loves it when we praise Him! How do you think He feels-about you-when you are willing to “make time,” manufacture time (which before didn’t even exist!) in order just to have more time to spend with Him? How would you feel if the situation was reversed? Remember that our “closeness” with God depends upon how close we move toward Him. And, movement of any kind takes effort. And, in order to move closer to an object (yes, even an “object” of our affection), it is going to take more effort.

I keep getting this picture, as I think about all of the gifts God has already bestowed upon us. After all, this is the whole point of this series, to help understand how rich we are right now, how much God has already done for us, and what He does for us every day. The picture I get is this:
We see a gift that we know would be great to give to a particular person. Something they want, something they will just love, but, maybe, something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. Something, maybe, you know that they want, something maybe that they’ve even hinted around for. Something they will never be able to get on their own, but they still want. You have the resources to give them this as a gift. What goes through your mind as you think about it?
“They are going to love this!”
“I can’t wait to see the look on their face …!”
“This is great! I can’t wait!”
You become just as exited to give the gift as they are to receive it.

I believe God feels the same way. I think of the look on Jesus’ face, as He looked upon the face of someone He had just healed. I don’t even know the way I would describe it. What joy He must feel when He gives a gift to someone. When He answers a prayer.
I think the greatest joy Jesus gets today is when someone praises Him, when someone realizes what He has done for them, and thanks Him.

I think about how we feel.
When we give a gift to someone … and, “the look on their face” as they receive it is something we’ll never forget. I remember, a few years ago, when Carol gave a daughter of friends of ours a necklace. It was not for “Christmas” or for a birthday, or anything like that. It was just something she wanted to give this child. I remember that the necklace had a sunflower design (we love sunflowers!). This is years later, and I still remember the look on this young child’s face, as she unfolded the chain, and realized what it was. The look on her face! But, it was what she said that I think I remember the most. This was one of those moments, which you experience so rarely in life, when you witness something so special, as it unfolds before your eyes, that it is like a scene from a movie being played out in front of you. Something that you have read in a book, or perhaps seen in a movie … What she said, as the necklace was clasped, and the sunflower came to rest, it was what she said:
“I am never going to take this off!”
I’ll just never forget the joy and wonder in her voice, and on her face. I remember it so clearly today, so many years later.

God loves when we talk to Him. He loves when we are thankful for what He has given us. I don’t know about you, but I think that when we give someone something, and they go out of their way to let us know how grateful they are … it makes me want to give them something else! I hope the underlying point settles in.

God can do anything. There is nothing He can’t do. Guess what? He knows this. But, I think He loves it when we tell Him that we know it, too. He so loves it when we go out of our way to thank Him, to praise Him, and to just let Him know that we realize that what we have, the blessings we have been given (already), we are thankful for.

I’ve helped people, and they were so grateful … I wanted to do something else for them!
Another point.

I think about this: What if, every day, there was someone, a particular person, who gave us a gift? We’d get a gift, every day. What are the chances that, when you awoke every morning, the first thought you had was in anticipation of what gifts today would bring? Would this change your attitude? And, as you went about your “day to day,” I’m thinking that this would change everything. The person who gave you these gifts: Would you take the time to thank them? Wouldn’t you go out of your way to find them, make sure you ran into them-even if you had to change your schedule in order to do it? Wouldn’t you, somehow, someway … “make” the time to thank them?

I think that was another point.

So, if we don’t make the time for prayer and Bible study, it won’t be there. Because it doesn’t exist. At least, not yet. And, it won’t exist … it can’t exist … until we make this time. Consider the benefits. Remember also that doing nothing is also a decision.

Have you ever gone out of your way to do something for somebody, and they did not even acknowledge what was clearly a sacrifice for you to do?
Have you ever given a gift to someone, anticipating eagerly their response to the gift … and, they acted like it was “no big deal?”
Did you ever do something for someone, or given someone something, and they didn’t even say thank you?

Ever done all you could for someone, and they act like you don’t exist?
Ever sent a note, or a letter to someone, and they didn’t even take the time to read it?
I feel I must insert something I heard recently. I can’t get this picture out of my mind:
It has to do with football, and a recent press conference.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured during a game.
After the game, head coach Bill Belichick was asked this question:
“How did you feel when Gronkowski went down with an injury?”
Here is Coach Belichick’s response:
“How would you feel?”

God loves it when we “make” the time to thank Him, to just talk to Him.
To thank Him for what He has already done.

To be like Him, we must know Him.
How can we do this unless we speak with Him, read about Him, and then ask Him questions?

God has blessed us so much.
In closing, note that He will always make sure the time is available for manufacture … if it is something which you truly want. Meaning … if you truly want Him …

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
Modern Day Psalms

Video: Cynthia Clawson: “It Won’t Rain Always”

Hi Friends:

How often have all of us, when going through our toughest struggles and battles, clung onto a particular Scripture, or Scriptures … that we just held onto … clung to … believed … repeated over and over again … helping us make it to the other side … to the victory which the Scripture promised …

Often, a song would be right there with it … to encourage us that “the hurt can’t hurt forever, and the tears are sure to dry.” In the midst of great agony and heartbreak, in the darkest of days, in the middle of life’s greatest storms, God can lead us to a song which will remind us that “it won’t rain always … God’s promises are true …”

For me, it was an entire group of songs, in my case, a single cassette, by Cynthia Clawson, entitled “River of Memories.” I am so pleased that this recording, originally released in 1994, is still available on CD. I’ve narrowed the choices to share with you to three recordings, which I will share, over time.

First, yes it was prayer and Bible study … days, even weeks of solid fasting, prayer, and Scripture reading … through it all, as I performed my job duties from my company truck, driving mile after mile, song after song would comfort me, helping me through, day after day … I still have that original cassette, though the cassette case wore out long ago … it was these songs, day after day, mile after mile, in and out of the truck, which confirmed my prayers and the Scriptures … all three worked together to “get me through” to the point where I made the startling discovery that, what I thought was the worst thing that had ever happened to me … turned out to be the best thing which had ever happened to me. It took a lot of prayer, a lot of Scripture, and a lot of these songs, one after the other, which would “see me through …”

I first discovered Cynthia Clawson while watching one of the Bill and Gloria Gaither programs, where she was a featured member of the cast. I honestly can’t remember whether I received the cassette as a gift, or I had gotten through the local Christian Book Store. What I do know is this:

I had no way of knowing that God would use this cassette, received in a time of great joy, to be one of His instruments to help me get through the toughest, darkest, and loneliest periods of my life. But, He knew.

Recorded as part of one of the Bill and Gloria Gaither television programs, introduced here by my old friend Ralph Emery, is Cynthia Clawson, surrounded by the “Homecoming” cast, is “It Won’t Rain Always.”

I believe that, “if it blesses me, it will bless someone else.” As I look at the faces as the cameras pan, I realize that this is true, and that “trouble troubles us all” …
I’ve included the words, and out of respect, a couple of links:


It Won’t Rain Always
Bill & Gloria Gaither

Someone said that in each life some rain is bound to fall
And each one sheds his share of tears,
And trouble troubles us all
But the hurt can’t hurt forever
And the tears are sure to dry

And it won’t rain always
The clouds will soon be gone
The sun that they’ve been hiding has been there all along

And it won’t rain always
God’s promises are true
The sun’s gonna shine in His own good time
And He will see you through

Here’s the link for Cynthia Clawson Website

http://www.cynthiaclawson.com/

Click here for the Gaither Website

http://gaither.com/artists/bill-gaither

New Year-New Resolve: Part Two/Our Part

Hi Friends:

In what has now become “Part One” of “New Year-New Resolve-Part One” there was one item which I didn’t add, because I felt it was so important that I wanted to devote an entire writing to it:

To pray for our persecuted Brothers and Sisters around the world. I want to make sure that I pray, every day, for these men, women-and children-who are being persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus. I want to encourage … but a much stronger word must be used … I want to urge you, to admonish you, to pray for these men, women, children … these families … who are, simply and only, persecuted, put in jail, and killed … only because they “are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:16).

If you look at the definition of the word “admonish,” yes, it means “to tell or urge (someone) to do something.” But, if you look at the meaning of the word as used as a transitive verb (thank you Merriam-Webster!), it means “to indicate duties or obligations to.” And, that is exactly what, as fellow Christians, we are to do: “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).

The numbers of Christians, around the world, who are persecuted is, simply, staggering. Here in the United States, we are so blessed … yet, because of the freedom(s) we enjoy, it is so difficult to realize how things are “everywhere else.” I know … I know … we have griped and complained about the price of gas we pay over here … I don’t mean to sound callous, but my response to these complaints is to remind those complaining how people in other countries have been paying 5.00 for a gallon of gas for years … I think the same mind-set can set in, when we think about persecution in “those other places.” Jesus was right (I just love to write that!) when He said/predicted that things won’t change … they hated Him … they will hate you: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Luke 21:17). Jesus said this many times.

In the great chapter of Hebrews 11, we see, from today’s perspective, that things haven’t changed: “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment” (Hebrews 11:36).

I must say that there are many great organizations which both carry the Gospel to far-reaching places and peoples around the world, and that minister to families and groups which are suffering for their faith. We are proud to support one such ministry, the work of “The Voice of the Martyrs.” Through their emails and printed materials, this is one way we can “keep in touch” with what is really going on around the world, in regard to persecution.

In December, here is part of a story about an outreach program which “The Voice of the Martyrs” was involved in:
“… more than 3,000 children in northern Nigeria received VOM Christmas Care Packs this year. Her pack included school supplies, a T-shirt, soap, pencils, a toothbrush, noodles, milk and an animated story book about Jesus. Christmas Care Packs were the perfect gift for these children, many of whom have experienced the horrors of Boko Haram attacks. The gifts showed Abua and the other children that they are loved. Children from many nations, including children of Iraqi families that have been exiled at the hands of ISIS, will receive Christmas Care Packs in this year’s distribution … in many of the more than 60 countries where we work. A VOM worker from Pakistan says the Bibles included in the packs often become the family’s favorite Bible since many parents cannot read.”

Here’s another small glimpse of how it really is “in other places” around the world:
“In Iraq, ISIS threatened to kill Abu’s family if they didn’t convert to Islam, but he still trusted God. In Nigeria, Boko Haram killed Micah’s wife and demanded that he renounce Christ, but he stood firm in his faith. Christians worldwide remain committed to Jesus despite the threat of imprisonment, torture and even death. In northern Iraq, ISIS spray-painted the Arabic letter ن, or “N,” on the homes of Christians. The property owners were publicly identified as Christ followers and given a choice to convert to Islam, pay a high tax, leave the country or die. Many courageous believers refused to deny their faith.”

I am reminded of the words Walter Cronkite would use as he completed his newscast: “And that’s the way it is …” Well, in a lot of the world today, this is “the way it is”:
“Iraqi and Syrian Christians stand strong in the face of ISIS. They have lost their worldly possessions, but they have joy in their eternal hope in Christ. Nigerian Christians love and forgive in the name of Jesus while Boko Haram terrorists kidnap and kill Christians, burning churches and homes in their ongoing rampage across northern Nigeria. Pastors in China remain faithful despite being imprisoned for years because of their faith. VOM is supporting believers like these throughout the 68 countries where we work … As persecution has continued to increase around the globe this year … we have distributed thousands of Bibles and other Christian materials in areas hostile to Christianity. In addition, VOM is supporting more than 40,000 front-line workers as they carry Jesus’ name into the world’s most difficult missions frontiers. We are grateful for all those who have remembered their persecuted family in prayer.”

Don’t worry: The crime of “Bible Smuggling” is still alive and well:
“We are blessed to serve alongside a network of more than 40,000 Front-Line workers that serve as today’s “Bible Smugglers.” Many risk their lives delivering the Bibles. Others journey for days to reach remote areas. All of them covet our prayers … in 2015, VOM delivered over 1.2 million Bibles … Front-Line workers are evangelizing, planting churches, and distributing Bibles on the world’s most difficult missions frontiers.”

Again, there are many worthy organizations which are doing this work around the world. “The Voice of the Martyrs” is just one of the organizations which we support. We have shared other ministries with you, but for this writing, we are using their (VOM) information exclusively.

We’ll close with this story from Columbia. Not too long ago, Carol and I were in South America, and we witnessed first-hand the difference between “here and there.” Working with children, and especially while I was working with young children (K-2), I’ll be honest … every time I read a story of violence toward children, I put “my kids” face in the story. I’m sure you know what I mean. Here’s “the way it is” for many children around the world:
Here’s the story of “Flor,” which also carried a picture of her … you’re right … Think of your children, our children, my children, and, after you get off your knees thanking God for the blessings of your children being raised in this country … think about this story, which was titled, “Her Father’s Killer Is Looking for Her:”

“Flor” still misses her father every day.
Her father, a pastor, was killed when she was just a preschooler, but his death left a huge hole in her world. Then the news came that his killer had been released from prison and was now hunting her family. Flor’s father pastored in a rural area of Colombia. When his killers delivered his body to the door of their home, VOM immediately helped Flor and her mom relocate to a safe house. VOM supported them as Flor and her mom restarted their lives, helping them begin an agricultural business. Eight years later, her father’s killer was released from prison. Neighbors warned the family that he was asking about them. Again, VOM immediately relocated the family to a safe place. Just last week, Flor called her VOM contact and asked to be picked up from school. She was struggling with grief and fear and needed some encouragement … the Families of Martyrs Fund supports believers like Flor and her family. This fund allows VOM to quickly relocate a family when there is immediate danger, and it also helps provide for them in the long-term with jobs, housing and education for children.”

Every day, let’s pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ, around the world, who are suffering persecution. That God will give them safety and protection.
Pray for those “in bonds,” those in prison/jail because of their faith. I pray two things, every day: For God to send an angel to them to minister to them … to strengthen them (just like in the Garden). That Jesus will personally visit them …
God can do anything. There is nothing too hard for Him.
Pray that God will make a way for them to be released. Because, God can make a way where there is no way. He can open doors which no man can shut. And, He can close doors which no man can open.
Pray for the families, churches, and organizations which are praying for their release.
Here is the picture I get every morning: Moses, standing above the Red Sea, staff outstretched … that these families … will “stand back and see the deliverance (salvation) of the Lord …”

Every person whom I have ever known … ever … who has been persecuted, has the exact, same request: To pray for those who are persecuting them.
I admonish you to pray for the “captors.” For those individuals, or groups, or factions, who are doing the persecution. Here is what I pray: For them to realize that the Messiah has already come … His name is Jesus … and He’s alive forevermore …

That’s it!
Back to Hebrews to encourage us more:
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Hebrews 10:34).

Blessings to you, and your family.
Now.
And, always.

Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Here’s a direct link of Voice of the Martyrs
Voice of the Martyrs

Gospel Choir Stuns on “Britain’s Got Talent”

God will use any means necessary to reach us.
To let us know He loves us, wants us, and, yes, that’s He’s not forgotten about us.
I think, sometimes, just to let us know that yes, He’s still there.
And, He won’t run out of ways to try to reach us.
Sometimes, it something we “just happen” to hear or see.
A bumper sticker, even. A poster as we walk by. Within the lines of a movie, even.
Or, a television show.

If God did not, sometimes, “just put something” in front of us to see or hear … when would so many, around the world, hear from Him? Those who don’t, say, attend church, aren’t exposed to anything close to a Christian lifestyle at home, and don’t have Christian friends.

I know … I know … we are supposed to be the influence … to be an example to them in our daily lives, but I think God tries not to miss an opportunity to “jump in there” as well.
Plus, and I say this from experience, like just today, a tough day in dealing with people, it is us who need a boost! After a tough, tough day like today … I needed the “boost” this clip from the TV show gave me.

This is from the British Television program “Britain’s Got Talent,” and it will include the banter between panel and guest performer … who just happens to be a Pastor … before both panel and audience are stunned when they find out the Pastor is, truly, “not alone.”

Enjoy! I sure needed this today!