Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Upturned Cup

Honey bee on Echinacea

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup. . ."     Psalm 16:5

"My cup overflows"      Psalm 23:5b

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In his book, The God Who Would Be Man, H.M.S. Richards tells of the visit of a chaplain-general of the forces, Bishop Taylor Smith, to a military hospital during World War I. He noticed two wounded men sitting by a table on which was a bowl turned upside down. He asked the men, "Do you know the two things that are under that bowl?" "No," one of the men said. "Darkness and uselessness," the chaplain replied. Quickly he turned the bowl right side up. "Now," he said to the two curious men, "it's full of light, and ready to hold porridge, soup, or anything you might like to use it for. It's a converted bowl."

What a grand concept this is. God has assigned us our cup. We can choose to turn it upside down and be dark and morose and finally useless, or we can choose to turn it right side up and fill it to overflowing with His blessings and then share these serendipities with others.

Sometimes we are asked to drink a cup of sorrow. Rather than inverting or controverting what can be a spiritual lesson for us, we can convert our cup of sorrow into a dessert of comfort instead of a desert of corrosive grief. God then blesses the upturned cup for ourselves and others. "When [we] walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains!" Psalm 84:6 TLB. "The pilgrim band, rich in hope, forget the trials and difficulties of the way. Hope changes the rugged and stony waste into living fountains. The vale blossoms as if the sweet rain of heaven had covered it with blessings. Hope sustains them at every step. From station to station they renew their strength as they draw nearer the end of their journey, till at last they appear before God." Perowne.

From The Biblical Illustrator, Psalm 84, page 468.

Pat Nordman

Wait for the Lord


Gerbera Daisy

Wait for the Lord.    Psalm 27:14

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Waiting has four purposes. It practices the patience of faith. It gives time for preparation for the coming gift. It makes the blessing the sweeter when it arrives. It shows the sovereignty of God — to give just when and as He pleases." Dr. James Vaughan, Streams in the Desert, V.2, January 4.

There is also a condition attached to our waiting: "Don't be impatient for the Lord to act! Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing." (Psalm 37:34 RSV). We are to attend to the little duties as well as to the large ones. Wait and work; pray for grace and then exercise it.

It is interesting that God also waits: "Then he waited for the harvest" Isaiah 5:2 RSV. He waits for us to regard His nature which proves His intelligence and beauty and goodness; He waits for us to consider history threaded through and held together with His justice and mercy, and whose mission it is to turn sin into righteousness; He waits for us to realize that the alternates of adversity and prosperity, friendship and enmity, sorrow and joy, are but the implements of His spiritual instruction that we may finally dwell in the mansions He has prepared for us.

Much time is wasted waiting for signs and wonders. Christ told the expectant crowd, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign" (Luke 11:29). In our day of the Gospel, which is filled with the plainest evidence, we do not need to use a flashlight to shine it on the Son who is the Light of the world and we don't need to dump our buckets of contaminated water into the Living Water. To ask a sign from God when He has already pledged numerous promises is sinful and insulting.
Pat Nordman

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Problem of Anger



"For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."
James 1:20 NIV


"So Cain was very angry, and his face was down-cast."
Genesis 4:5 NIV

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Anger is a mental, emotional and spiritual health problem! I went through a period in my life when I was very unhealthy. Then a friend told me her formula for dealing with anger. I started using it and found that it really does work. She said she would picture Jesus standing between her and the other person, and this would help remind her that Jesus was literally covering that person for her; that she didn't need to worry about the other person's attitude, only her own. I'll be forever grateful to her for her insight.

I love the old writers and I have several Bible commentaries that contain the wisdom of the ages.

I found this gem in the Biblical Illustrator on Romans 12: 
"I remark, then, that a man is overcome of evil—

1. When ill-treatment excites the angry passions, and produces harsh and ill-natured language...
2. One is still more completely overcome of evil, when he settles down into confirmed hatred of the offender. By suffering anger to rest in his bosom, he becomes in God's esteem a fool...
3. One is overcome of evil when he indulges in designs of revenge...
4. We are overcome of evil, when the ill-treatment of one leads us to suspect the friendship of others... 
5. We are more yet completely overcome of evil, when abuse begets habitual sourness of temper. 
6. One is overcome of evil, when he attempts unnecessarily a public vindication of his character. I say unnecessarily, for it cannot be denied that a good man, without his wish, may be forced into such a measure. Often this is the very object which some malicious foe would accomplish." D.A. Clark. 

Father, may we have the spirit of Jesus who, "when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suf-fered he made no threats" 1 Peter 2:23 NIV. Thank You for changing our bad attitudes and being our Go-between!

Pat Nordman

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gossip

"We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies "
2 Thessalonians 3:11

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Martin Luther had much to say about gossip and its terrible by-products. Luther pointed out that when we gossip we are doing Satan's chores for him. He related an incident of a couple so happily married that it was the talk of the town. The devil couldn't cause disharmony between them, but he finally hit upon the trick: he sent an old hag to the wife to tell her that her husband was having an affair with another woman and he planned to kill her. The hag told her that she would find a knife under her husband's pillow. She then hurriedly went to the husband with the same terrible tale. Unfortunately for the wife, the husband found her knife first, and that was the end of the town's happiest marriage. There are several vital lessons here: malicious tongues kill; Satan is behind the vicious tongue; trust your partner; and, above all, check your sources.

Gossip is verbal interest in the failings of others rather than their feelings. Our own faults should keep us busy enough praying to a forgiving and forgetting Father and offering prayers of thanksgiving that He so willingly overlooks our own many mal- practices of tongue.

"I take it as a matter not to be disputed, that if all knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world. This seems proved by the quarrels and disputes caused by the disclosures which are occasionally made." Pascal. Busybodies are parasites who go about stinging the innocent with veiled but spiteful venom. Let us beware of the one who is busy with everyone else's business. Paul gives excellent advice to Timothy: "Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge. . ." 1 Timothy 6:20. We have an overabundance of knowledge these days but precious little wisdom!
Pat Nordman

Friday, June 14, 2013

Take Time

Plumeria

"Remember how short my time is ... "
Psalm 89:47 NKJ


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Those of us heading for the sunset realize the value of time. And it's true that the older we get the faster it goes! We have to both make and take time for that which is most important in our life. I found this jewel in the 12/12/1940 issue of the Florida Baptist Witness which reminds me of the importance of this:

TAKE TIME


  • Take time to work -- it is the price of success.
  • Take time to think -- it is the source of power.
  • Take time to play -- it is the secret of perpetual youth.
  • Take time to read -- it is the foundation of wisdom.
  • Take time to worship -- it is the high way to reverence.
  • Take time to be friendly -- it is the road to happiness.
  • Take time to dream -- it is hitching our wagon to a star.
  • Take time to love and be loved -- it is the privilege of the gods. Selected.


So, dear friend, take time today for what is really important! We do not know what tomorrow may bring. And then it's too late.

Pat Nordman