About Barbara Harper

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When God Gives Up

When God gives up

God’s patience and longsuffering are some of the qualities I appreciate most about Him. He works and waits so patiently to draw sinful and resistant people to Himself. He picks us up a thousand times when we fall. He forgives us when we confess the same sin repeatedly.

But we can’t presume upon Him. We can’t put Him off, either for salvation or for obedience, for ever. We can’t expect Him to just wait in the wings until we get good and ready to come to Him.

God was patient with Israel’s complaining and unbelief when He first brought them out of Egypt. They had been captive slaves for 400 years. Surrounded by paganism, they probably had not been taught much about God and His ways. But after seeing His power displayed in the plagues, at the Red Sea, in providing for water and food in the middle of a desert, more of them should have started trusting Him. He even forgave them when they built a golden calf and worshiped it instead of Him.

But finally, when they refused to go into the promised land even with reassurances that God would help them conquer, that was enough. God deemed that they would wander around the wilderness for forty years until that generation died off. Then their children would be able to enter in.

God still loved them and worked with them. But they forfeited their opportunity to enter into their rest.

But my people did not listen to my voice;
    Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
    to follow their own counsels.
Oh, that my people would listen to me,
    that Israel would walk in my ways!
Psalm 81:11-13

It’s sad to think that disobedience and unbelief could be so costly for God’s people. But it’s even scarier for those who refuse to believe on Him at all.

In Romans 1, Paul tells about God’s wrath against ungodly and unrighteous people who:

  • suppress the truth (v. 18)
  • did not honor God as God, even though evidence of “his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (vv. 19-21)
  • did not give thanks to him (v. 21)
  • “became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21)
  • “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (v. 22) and “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25)

Three times in the next few verses, we’re told God gave them up.

  • “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24)
  • “God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (v. 26)
  • “God gave them up to a debased mind” (v. 28)

This commentary says these were degrees: God gave them up (or over, some translations say) bit by bit until they ended up with a debased mind. That debased mind led to “all manner of unrighteousness,” which Paul expands on in the rest of the passage.

C. S. Lewis has said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'” (from The Great Divorce). When we insist on our own way long enough, God lets us have it. And the results are never good.

Because they hated knowledge
    and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
    and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
    and have their fill of their own devices. Proverbs 1:29-31

Because God is longsuffering, He doesn’t usually give people up at the first rejection. But at some point, the door of opportunity will be closed. We don’t know how much time we have. It’s wise not to wait. “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

It’s also not wise to put off obedience or the next step of faith God wants us to take.

When I have been reluctant to obey God at some point, I’ve had to confess my unwillingness and ask Him to help me be willing. One person said, “I’m willing to be made willing.”

When I have felt my heart wasn’t right and my will was being stubborn, I’ve prayed with Jeremiah, “Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned” (Lamentations 5:21, KJV) and with the psalmist, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6).

The psalmist and the writer of Hebrews used Israel’s disobedience to plead, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95:6-11; Hebrews 3:7-8, 15). May our hearts always be pliable in His hands.

if you hear His voice do not harden your heart

(Sharing with Sunday Scripture Blessings, Scripture and a Snapshot, Hearth and Soul)

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

The first week of April, 2021 is in the books. I hope yours was a good one. Here are some highlights from mine:

1. Easter. Though we think of the resurrection of Christ through the year, it’s special to focus on its meaning on Easter Sunday. And we enjoy the fun parts of Easter as well. All the family but my oldest were able to come, and we Facetimed with him. We enjoyed a good dinner and dessert, and the kids had fun with hunting Easter eggs. Then everyone left and Jim and I crashed. 🙂

2. Watching Timothy while his parents were getting their COVID shots.

3. My late package came in! I almost never have trouble getting Amazon packages, but three of them disappeared somewhere between Amazon and here recently. One contained a sewing machine cabinet I had ordered to replace the desk I’ve been keeping my machine on. I know none of the packages were delivered and then stolen because we have a camera on our doorbell and would have seen that—plus Amazon still shows the packages as out for delivery. I got refunds for the other two, but held out on the cabinet, hoping it would come in. It finally did Thursday afternoon!

4. Jim and Jesse being willing to put the cabinet together. We had already asked Jesse if he’d be willing to help put it together, and he was. Jim has said that Jesse is good at figuring out the instructions and multitudes of parts of projects like this. As I am writing now, Thursday afternoon, the plan is for Jesse to come over for dinner after work and then start on the cabinet. If they get it done tonight, I’ll take a picture.

Update: They did get it finished!

I don’t know why the carpet looks gold in the top photo: it’s beige. Anyway, I am looking forward to transferring my sewing stuff over.

5. A successful grocery trip. Though we’re not experiencing the shortages of early pandemic days, I often can’t find everything I’m looking for in stores. This week I had to go to two places, but found what I wanted.

What’s something good from your week?

The Incredible Privilege of Drawing Near to God

The privilege of drawing near to God

In Old Testament times, God’s people were aware of a great distance between themselves and God.

One of the first times God met with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt, the experience was scary: “a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear’” (Hebrews 12:18-21).

Getting a glimpse of God’s holiness brought people to their knees and made their sin stand out all the more in contrast. Isaiah reacted by saying, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:1-7). Peter responded to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:1-11). John, called the beloved disciple, “fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:9-19).

The children of Israel had to go through detailed rituals to have their sin forgiven. In Exodus they were instructed to build a tabernacle with an inner Holy of Holies which only the high priest could enter once a year. Leviticus had instructions for the different kinds of sacrifices. The tabernacles, sacrifices, and priesthood all carried wonderful symbolism of what Jesus would come to be and do. But at the time, the clearest message was that the people could not draw near to God without sacrifces and mediators because God was holy and they were not.

But even with all those rituals, “since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. (Hebrews 10:1).

But then Jesus came. The Savior, the Messiah promised ever since the first sin separated man from God. He fulfilled all the OT prophecies about Himself. His death was the reality pictured by the OT sacrifices for sin. At His death, the veil covering the Holy of Holies was torn open, signifying that the way was open to God.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)

The OT sacrifices had to be offered continually because they were insufficient to take care of sin for ever.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:12-14)

The OT priests died and had to be replaced.

But he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:24-25)

Though Jesus was God, He was also man. He was holy, but He faced temptation and weakness and dread.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Jesus fulfilled the prophecies and symbolism given to the Jews. But what about the rest of us?

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

How do we draw near? The verses above mention faith and cleansing: faith Jesus is who He claimed to be, faith that His atonement took care of our sins. This privilege is open to anyone willing to repent of sin and believe on Jesus as Lord and Savior.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrew 11:6)

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9)

We have the incredible privilege to draw near to God—for salvation, for cleansing, for fellowship, for grace and help.

What a privilege to come into God’s presence,
Just to linger with the One who set me free.
As I lift m eyes and see His awesome glory,
I remember who He is and bow the knee.

-Ron Hamilton

For more information, see 4 Conditions to Draw Near to God.

(Sharing with Scripture and a Snapshot, Hearth and Soul, Inspire Me Monday, Senior Salon, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth)

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

I had some ideas for a blog post about the results of Jesus’ resurrection. But when I began to research it, I found several posts that already did a better job than I could have:

Here are a few more good reads discovered this week:

It Is Finished. An imaginative account of what the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus might have looked like from Satan’s point of view.

React vs. Respond. This was a helpful distinction.

A Few Short Truths regarding how teaching Biblical sexuality is not hate and does not incite to murder.

When America Put the Bible on Trial, HT to Challies. A look at the Scopes trial and its effects 100 years later. “Liberalism believes that you can hold on to cultural influence by compromising your convictions. And in so being and doing, it is a fool’s errand. For one, the world or culture is not interested in compromise. Nothing short of wholesale endorsement will suffice. Second, compromising the Bible’s truthfulness and trustworthiness destroys the foundation and the superstructure of Christianity itself. The church does not stand over God’s word. Culture or ‘progress’ does not have the final word on matters.”

Losing Forgiveness, HT to Challies. “It is apparently fine to be concerned about a deceased horse, while being part of a baying crowd that seeks to destroy a man. In our rush to virtue signal, or to vindicate our own omniscient appraisal of a situation, we lose perspective—we lose sight of the person.”

While I Was Still a Marxist Christ Rescued Me, HT to Challies. Wonderful account of the conversion of Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of World Magazine.

Leading in Prayer, HT to Challies. This is some good advice for when you’re asked to lead in public prayer. Though it’s for a particular slot in a particular church’s service, it has some good general principles for any gathering. I especially like the part about not making political points or preaching mini-sermons during prayer.

The Louvre Just Put Its Entire Art Collection Online, HT to The Story Warren.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for you.

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

Here we are at the first Monday of April. We’re having another cold snap, and I am hoping this is the last one. You just never know. But the temperatures have been lovely in daytime.

Here are some favorite parts of the last week:

1. A new sewing/craft room. I mentioned in my end-of-month post that since my youngest moved out, we transferred my sewing and craft things from the small bedroom they were in to his larger room. But first my husband patched holes, painted walls, and cleaned the carpet. The room is so much brighter, and everything fits in it much better. Jim helped me move most of the things in last Saturday. I have a few more small things to do in the old room, then he’ll patch and paint that one. Then we’ll turn it into a guest bedroom.

2. Pegboard accessories. Jesse had a pegboard in his room but didn’t want to take it. I decided to keep it. My work table fits just perfectly underneath it. And I’ve discovered a wide world of pegboard accessories! I had only known of the metal industrial ones from the hardware store, so I am having a blast deciding what I need from these cute options.

3. When kids want to come over. One thing about having adult kids is that they all have their own lives. Which is how it’s supposed to be. We see Jason, Mittu, and Timothy usually at least once a week, often more. With Jesse just moving out, we weren’t sure how often he’d want to come over. And he got a washer and dryer already, so he doesn’t need to come home for laundry any more. 🙂 We knew they all had plans last Saturday. We thought we might hear from them Sunday, but we didn’t. We enjoyed a restful day. Then Monday Jesse texted and asked if he could come over for dinner and just hang out with us for a while. I was touched. 🙂 I texted Jason and Mittu to see if they were free to come, too, and we had a good evening. I’m not sure how often schedules will work out for all of us to get together with Jesse on his own now, so I appreciate those times even more.

4. Ladies Bible Study. This was my first one in person in a year, though most everyone else has been meeting in person for a few months now. We spread out across the conference room.

5. Sarku from the mall. I love their chicken teriyaki. They are on the way home from church, so we used to get take-out from them often. But we haven’t done that in a year, either. 🙂 Until this last Sunday. So good!

With this being Good Friday, I can’t let it go by without saying how thankful I am for Jesus’ death for our sins. I was just recounting to someone recently how I almost got swept up in a false religion as a teenager. I was so lost and confused, and my life could have gone so many bad ways. I can’t adequately express my gratitude for God’s drawing me to Himself.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend.

March Reflections

It’s hard to believe the pandemic has gone on for more than a year now. But in some ways, it feels like we’ve lived under pandemic guidelines for ages.

There’s hope on the horizon with vaccine availability. But COVID numbers are still rising in our area.

We still don’t know what’s ahead, whether COVID will ever really go completely away, what kind of “normal” might eventually emerge. But we walk by faith and not by sight, trusting God’s guidance and keeping.

I had mixed emotions about the vaccines. I feared that we hadn’t had enough time to see what long-term effects they might have. But then we figured the negative effects of COVID, with our health issues, probably outweighed the possible negative effects of the vaccine. Plus I don’t think quarantine conditions will lift significantly until the vaccine is more widespread. So when my husband’s workplace sponsored an afternoon of giving out vaccines in conjunction with a local pharmacy, and they had the J&J one that we wanted, we went ahead and got them. We had sore arms for a few days, but no other side effects so far.

Almost two weeks after receiving vacations, we went back to church in person for the first time in a year. Our church is small enough to socially distance inside the building. We’re asked to wear masks except during the service while sitting with our families. They’ve been meeting in person for several months, but left the Zoom option open for those who felt they shouldn’t come in person for health reasons. It was good to see everyone in person again, but it did feel weird. Maybe it will just tak a while to get used to beig around people again. Maybe it won’t really feel normal until COVID ebbs away enough that we can meet without masks.

Family

Our biggest news this month is that my youngest son, Jesse, moved out into his own apartment. He was later to “launch” than usual due to going back to college for a few years, then difficulty finding a job, then COVID. He’s super excited to have his own place and he’s learning how to cook. 🙂

We’re adjusting to being official empty nesters. It will take a while to get over the sensation that he’s right down the hall in his room. We’re learning different daily rhythms in everything from how often we need to do laundry, what groceries to buy, how much to cook, taking on the chores he used to do, etc. Plus we just miss his everyday presence. 🙂 But we’re thankful he’s not far away. And, as we experienced with our other boys, the relationship continues and grows. It’s fun to see him take the next steps on his journey.

March also held my husband and sister’s birthdays, Pi Day, and the first day of spring—all reasons to celebrate!

Creating

We’ve had some discussions about possibly getting an RV. We finally decided maybe we should rent one for a short trip and see how we like it first. But I used an RV theme for Jim’s birthday card.

The RV design was from the Cricut, and the background was from a woodland scrapbooking paper set. I printed out the words via computer, cut them out with decorative scissors, and outlined them with a marker.

The other thing I’m creating this month is a new sewing/craft room! I had all my “stuff” set up in the smallest bedroom. When Jesse moved out, I wanted to move my things to his larger room. But first my husband patched up holes, painted multiple coats, and used a wet-vac to clean the carpet.

The whole house interior is painted beige, and after 11 years, it all need to be redone anyway. We want to switch to a light grey. We’re using the bedrooms and bathrooms to try out different shades. There’s an unbelievably wide variety of light grey shades, from yellowish to bluish to whitish to dull to bright. After a couple of tries, we found one we really like.

I thought it would just be a matter of moving a few bits of furniture and cabinets from one room across the hall to the other. But I forgot how much little stuff I had in there! We got the biggest portion done Saturday, but I have several little things to finish up.

Once I get the old bedroom cleared out, Jim will patch holes, paint, etc., in there, and then we’ll buy a bed and turn that into a guest room.

I am so thankful for my husband’s willing hard work, both with painting plus moving my “stuff.”

Jesse had a pegboard in his room on which he displayed his collection of airsoft guns. When Jim asked me if I wanted to keep the pegboard, I wasn’t terribly excited about it, but I figured it would be more trouble to take down and patch up behind it than it was worth. So we kept it and he painted it for me. Then I found tons of craft room pegboard ideas on Pinterest. And I discovered a whole new world of cute pegboard accessories!

Watching/Listening

We haven’t really watched anything out of the ordinary this month. I’m still working my way through Lark Rise to Candleford on my exercise bike, but I m nearing the end of that.

I’m not a big fan of podcasts—I’d usually rather listen to audiobooks or music. But Hope has mentioned the Literary Life Podcast. When I checked it out, they were discussing Silas Marner, which I was listening to at the time. So I listened to and enjoyed those sessions. Then it took me a while to decide which classic to listen to next, so in the meantime I listened to Literary Life’s discussions of 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, which I had enjoyed reading a few years ago, and Why Read Old Books. I’d like to listen to Why Read Fairy Tales sometime.

Reading

This month I’ve completed (titles link back to my reviews):

  • Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (audiobook) was actually completed right at the end of February, but reviewed at the beginning of this month. I had never read this Dickens classic, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t like it as well as David Copperfield, but it was good.
  • Silas Marner by George Elliot (audiobook). A man is betrayed by his best friend and falsely accused and disappointed by his church. He becomes something of a recluse, suffering another great loss, but taking in an orphaned child that changes his life. Very good.
  • Hudson Taylor and Maria: A Match Made in Heaven by John Pollock. A brief biography of the famous missionary who began the China Inland Mission, particularly in relation to his first wife.
  • The First Gardener by Denise Hildreth Jones, novel. The Tennessee governor’s family experiences a stunning loss and is helped by the governor’s mansion’s long-time gardener. A good story except for a couple of flaws.
  • Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. Good perspective and tips.
  • The Warden by Anthony Trollope (audiobook), the first in his Chronicles of Barsetshire series. A meek warden of a local hospital is caught between a young reformer who thinks the funds are being mishandled and the staunch archdeacon who takes opposes the reformer. Took a while to get into, but I enjoyed it.
  • Be Holy (Leviticus): Becoming Set Apart for God by Warren Wiersbe.

I’m currently reading:

Blogging

Besides books reviews, Friday Fave Fives, and Laudable Linkages, I’ve shared on the blog this month:

This is one of my favorite times of year, changing from winter’s gloom and coldness, grass and trees greening up, buds forming, more daylight. Winter is having its (hopefully) last hurrah with temperatures in the twenties again at night this week, but the weather is often delightful during the day. We feel a little like bears coming out of hibernation. Somehow, more warmth and light gives us new energy.

How was your March?

(Sharing with Grace and Truth, Senior Salon, InstaEncouragements)

Be Holy: Becoming “Set Apart” for God

Leviticus probably is no one’s favorite book of the Bible. In fact, as one man in our church put it, Leviticus is where Bible reading plans go to die.

But Leviticus is part of God’s inspired word, and “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). It is “quoted or referred to over 100 times in the New Testament.” So it’s highly worthy of our study.

As our church came to Leviticus in our Bible reading schedule, the ESV Study Bible notes and Warren Wiersbe’s Be Holy (Leviticus): Becoming “Set Apart” for God were invaluable companions.

It doesn’t take long to see that God’s holiness is the main theme of Leviticus. “The word holy is used 93 times in Leviticus, and words connected with cleansing are used 71 times. References to uncleanness number 128. There’s no question what this book is all about.” As I mentioned before, a seminary professor teaching Leviticus had his students try to live by its regulations for a period of time. One result was that holiness was a primary focus throughout the day, in regard to everything the students did.

Also, as Ken Baugh points out in his introduction to this book, “Almost everything in Leviticus anticipates the life and death of Jesus. The sacrifices, festivals, rituals, and laws foreshadow God’s redemptive plan. Jesus becomes the means to remove the guilt and penalty for sin through His substitutionary death on the cross. His death provides the final atonement for all sin.”

Though I saw some of those glimpses of Christ in past reading of Leviticus, this time they seemed to be on every page.

A couple of quotes from the book that stood out to me:

God’s church is supposed to be “a holy nation” in this present evil world, to “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2: 9 NIV). The Greek word translated “declare” means “to tell out, to advertise.”

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isa. 5: 20 NIV). The first step toward disobedience is often “reclassifying” sin and making it look acceptable instead of abominable.

Have you ever heard a preacher or teacher say that seven is the number of perfection in the Bible? I had, but I didn’t remember ever hearing why that was so. Wiersbe explains here:

The Hebrew word for seven comes from a root word that means “to be full, to be satisfied.” It’s also related to the word meaning “to swear, to make an oath.” Whenever the Lord “sevens” something, He’s reminding His people that what He says and does is complete and dependable. Nothing can be added to it.

This book helped me get more out of Leviticus than ever before.

What we have studied should make us realize the awfulness of sin, the seriousness of confession and restitution, the graciousness of God in forgiving those who trust Jesus Christ, and the marvelous love of our Savior in His willingness to die for undeserving people like us.

(Sharing with Booknificent, Carole’s Books You Loved)

Easter Teaches Us of New and Better Life

Several years ago, we got word that a lady in our former church had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She had been one of the merriest people I’d ever known. When we went back to that town for a visit, it was hard to see her in the church lobby looking confused and suspicious.

When our former pastor announced he had pancreatic cancer a few years ago, I was stunned that God would take someone in his prime with an active ministry and love for people who was doing so much good. Our pastor admitted he was going to have to take by faith that what God had for him in heaven was going to be so much better, because what he had on earth up til that time was pretty good.

I wondered why God would let one of His beloved children end up in pain or confusion.

But then I remembered this was not their end. Alzheimer’s and cancer were just stopping places in their long journey home. God promised that their sufferings would produce and eternal weight of glory.

 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

We get so caught up in the things we have to and want to do, our families, our ambitions, that we forget this world isn’t all there is.

We look forward to heaven . . . some day. But when we get there, we’ll probably wish we could have come sooner.

C. S. Lewis wrote to a friend of the unpleasant effects of aging: “the growing realisation that there were a great many things one wd. never have time to do,” studies one could never take up, facing retirement and “the infernal nuisance (to put it no higher) of patching up some sort of new life somewhere,” and so on. “I am therefore (with some help from the weather and rheumatism!) trying to profit by this new realisation of my mortality. To begin to die, to loosen a few of the tentacles which the octopus world has fastened on one.” He acknowledged that a good night’s sleep or a pleasant day would likely dispel his gloomy mood. But, he went on to say:

One ought not to need gloomy moments of life for beginning detachment, nor be reentangled by the bright ones. One ought to be able to enjoy the bright ones to the full and at that very moment have the perfect readiness to leave them, confident that what calls one away is better. . . (Letters of C. S. Lewis, October 15, 1949).

It was said of those in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11 that they desired “a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (verse 16).

I admit I am too caught up in the bright moments of this life. God kindly breaks in and turns my attention up and away to that world to come. “Eternal glories gleam afar . . .”

I’ve found a Friend, O such a friend! All pow’r to Him is given,
To guard me on my onward course, and bring me safe to heaven.
The eternal glories gleam afar, to nerve my faint endeavor;
So now to watch, to work, to war, and then to rest forever.

James G. Small, “I’ve Found a Friend, O Such a Friend

Easter speaks to me of many things—redemption, forgiveness, new life, and more. But this year it reminds me that this world and its pleasures and problems are temporary. We’re going to spend a lot more time in eternity than we did here. Are we ready?

Jesus came to earth as the Son of God, God in flesh. He lived a perfect life in our place because we never could. He died to take on the punishment for our sin so we wouldn’t have to. When we repent of our sin and believe on Him as Lord and Savior, His righteousness goes on our account: God sees Him instead of us.

Forgiveness of sin, His presence, His peace, his help, His grace—and heaven too!

Do you know Him? Are you ready for eternity?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Hearth and Soul, Scripture and a Snapshot, Senior Salon, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements, Recharge Wednesday, Let’s Have Coffee, Share a Link Wednesday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith on Fire)

Laudable Linkage

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Here are a few good reads from this week:

To Those Who Are Frustrated With the Church, HT to Challies. “It’s easy for a critic and the cynic to come into the local church and say, ‘Look at all this that is not yet done. Look at all this that is not yet complete. How can Jesus Christ be present in this?’ Jesus Christ is present in His church as the builder. The evidence of Christ’s presence is not that everything is complete, but that everything is in process. The fact that the church often feels more like a building site than a showroom is evidence of the presence of the builder.”

Help! I Want to Read the Bible, But I Find It Boring. “If we’re honest, I think we’ve all been there. It took years before I learned to enjoy and love the word—and that was after I became a Christian. Here are a few things I learned as a young person struggling to find a love for the Scripture.”

How My Mind Changed about End-of-Life Care, HT to Challies. My mother-in-law’s decline was a revelation in many ways. At one time I would have said that food and water should be given until the last moment. I didn’t realize that part of the body’s final shutting down means losing the ability to process food. Trying to get food into a person in that condition can cause problems. I don’t agree with withholding food and water just because someone is terminal. But there does come a time when treatment causes more harm than good.

Do You Have Enough Faith to Be Kind? HT to Challies. “If we are hesitant to be kind to one another in moments like this, it may be that we have more faith in brute force than the strength of our argument. Worse, it may be that we believe the power of public shame is greater than the power of the Holy Spirit. Our instinctive response answers an important question: Do we have enough faith to believe that ‘a soft answer turns away wrath’ (Prov. 15:1)?”

Help! My Kids Don’t Like to Read. Obstacles and tips.

As I read Shelly Hamilton’s update on her husband, Ron, his song “I’m Going Home” came to mind. At my first recall, I connected it with getting ready for heaven. But as I listened to it again, I remembered it’s a beautiful prodigal son song. I thought I’d share it with you:

Friday’s Fave Five

It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week
with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

It’s hard to believe we’re at the last Friday of March already. Here are a few good things from this week:

1. A visit and a repair. My computer has taken to flashing a blue screen and then restarting itself several times over a few weeks. I finally was able to take a picture of what the blue screen said (there wasn’t enough time to read it before the computer restarted itself) and sent it to my oldest son. I happened to catch him on a day he took off, so he remoted into my computer and updated a driver, and we had a nice chat. Unfortunately, the computer did crash again this week. He said in that case we might need to open it up and get the dust out. So that’s next—as soon as my husband or youngest son can get to that. I’m thankful I have people in the family who can help with things like this.

2. Jim is painting Jesse’s old room. I’ll let you know what’s in store for the room in my end-of-month post next week.

3. Church in person. Since we got our COVID vaccinations a couple of weeks ago, we felt it was probably ok to start attending church in person again. They ask that we wear masks coming in and out, but we sit in family groups distanced from each other and can take our masks off during the service. Last Sunday also happened to be the Sunday for bringing our own lunches and eating in lawn chairs (still distanced) on the pavilion (as opposed to the potluck dinners we used to have, so we don’t spread germs). It felt good to see everyone in person. But honestly, it also felt a little weird. I don’t know if it will just take a while to get used to being with people again, since we’ve been mostly home for a year—or if it will still feel weird until we’re able to put masks away. But, overall it was good and a step toward normalcy.

4. The first day of spring. I always love the official end of winter.

5. A new quick sweet snack. I wanted something sweet yesterday but didn’t have anything in the house I liked. I looked through an old cookbook I had put together from recipes torn out of one of Taste of Home’s old magazines, Cooking for One or Two (I wish it was still in publication). I was trying to find something simple and quick and came across Chocolate Chip Quesadillas. I used one tortilla cut in half and used margarine instead of oil. It hit the spot!

How was your week?