A MOTHER’S LOVE: BLESSING AND HOPE

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers who love your children and who are loved by them. You are blessed and are a blessing. You will leave a legacy of blessing and hope.

Jeff and Sheri Easter wrote a song, “She Loved,” both in honor of their her own mothers and to express perhaps the best that can be said of a mother after she passes from this world. You may read the words below, but please also listen to Jeff and Sheri Easter performing the song online to be blessed.

Ponder your own legacy. May we parents strive to better love our precious gifts from God, our children. I am thankful that a mother’s love for me and my brother (and for our children) is a legacy left by my own dear mother.

SHE LOVED

Someone once asked,
“If only you knew
How short life would be,
What would you do?
What would they say
When God called you home?
What would they engrave
Once you were gone?”

I hope they would see
What I’ve done in my life;
Who I’ve cared for
And how I survived.
I hope they’d say,

“She loved more than anything else.
She loved with all of her heart.
She loved everyone she believed in.
She loved, oh she loved.

She loved the Lord
And served all her life;
A sacrificial mother
And an honorable wife.
She gave all she had
And through every trial
Made life much sweeter
Because of her smile.”

Everyone will see
What she’s done in her life,
Who she cared for,
And how she survived.
I’m sure they’d say,

“She loved more than anything else.
She loved with all of her heart.
She loved everyone she believed in.
She loved, oh she loved.

She loved, everyone she believed in.
She loved, oh she loved
Oh, she loved.”

(Jeff & Sherri Easter)

Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: ‘Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.’ Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”  (Proverbs 31:  28 – 30)

HOPE FOR AMERICA: PRAY, REPENT, HOPE

In the 20th century America endured great turmoil from WW1 and WW2 to unrest of the 1960’s and 70’s, racial riots in streets at home, threats abroad of “Death to America!”, political assassinations, hostage-taking, and numerous signs of decline and deterioration.

Finally believers from across America gathered in Washington, DC, shared President Lincoln’s Proclamation for Prayer (see April 24, 2021, blogpost), and prayed trusting 2 Chronicles 7: 14.

The two main prayers of this event were answered the following day! Fifty-two American hostages held in captivity for 444 days were released and a new US President was inaugurated.

Many had renewed hope for America as Ronald Reagan took the oath as President with his right hand raised and left hand on a Bible opened to 2 Chronicles 7:14.

As in the past it was the Scripture needed for the day:  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Signs of healing and restoration were witnessed, falling inflation rates, rising economic growth, strengthening military power, fall of communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Not only American history but world history changed after people prayed.

Now… today… have we forgotten Who gives blessings to a nation? Unfortunately we are not heeding warnings. With prayer and repentance we can become hopeful again. Without it the future becomes bleaker and America weaker. If we pray, repent, hope, then we will experience God’s blessings in our hearts… our nation… our world.

PRAYER PROCLAMATION:  ASSURED HOPE

Some living through America’s Civil War (1861-1865) believed the bloodshed, pain, and suffering of those years were a judgment from God. It had followed undeniable and sinful wrongs of slavery in our country and destructive forces to divide our nation that was meant to be a unified light for God’s purpose.

Today many believe that terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, brought a judgment from God for the millions of innocent lives murdered in abortions. They believe that because that warning, that call to return to God, was not heeded, the result is this covid-19 pandemic as a greater judgment.

Thankfully God’s judgments have a purpose to restore, redeem, and forgive, both nations and individuals. A warning was initially directed to Israel who unfortunately chose to ignore it and suffered severe consequences.

2 Chronicles 7: 14 tells us God’s clear warning and plainly shows His love:  “If My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day for Americans to follow 2 Chronicles 7: 14. Following is Lincoln’s prayer proclamation with assured hope that is needed today as much as it was then.

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And inasmuch as we know that by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clememency and forgiveness.

Now therefore in compliance with the request and finally concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cries of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition and peace.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

History tells us that in 1863 Americans overwhelmingly united and sincerely prayed. Immediately following those prayers the turning point of the war came bringing the end closer.

Americans today should follow God’s call to humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways. If we will, then here is what we can expect to happen. God “will hear from heaven” and will forgive our sins and will heal our land. Assured hope indeed!

 

MOTHER TERESA QUOTE:  PEACE & HOPE

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”  (Mother Teresa)

I read the above quote by Mother Teresa recently. I highly respect her selfless example of a life of service to others and think that her writings are worthy of consideration. However regarding this particular quote, I will dare to make a slight change. My preferred quotation follows.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to God.”  (J. Gillum Foy)

My quotation offers more peace and hope. While we each are connected to our fellow humans, I think there is more truth in my quote. In fact, real peace in a human heart comes only when we belong to God our Father. Peace, hope, comfort, joy — all good things — result from that position.

I trust it is true, because the Bible teaches that it is, and I believe the Bible is the source of truth. Also I believe it, because it has been proven and experienced in my life.

We may listen to and learn from those who are highly esteemed, but we can still think for ourselves. Sometimes we may even improve original quotes as I believe I have this one.

I hope you’ll ponder these quotes then make your own judgment. Just make sure you belong to God. That is the distinction that makes mine true. Peace to you… Shalom!


For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him.”  (John 3: 16-17)

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:  13)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4: 7)

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3: 16, 17)

“THE ROSE BEYOND THE WALL”: COMFORT, FAITH, AND HOPE

A. L. Frink is credited with writing a beautiful thought-provoking poem that I discovered decades ago. It instantly spoke to my heart, and I have loved it ever since. The poet’s intent is that the reader receive faith and hope from his words.

I feature it today when “…claim of death cause us to grieve and make our courage faint or fall” and because a loved one who belongs to God continues to live “on the other side” and “will forever more.” May the poem’s deep meaning give comfort, faith, and hope today and always until our faith becomes sight.

THE ROSE BEYOND THE WALL

“Near a shady wall a rose once grew,

Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,

Watered and fed by morning dew,

Shedding its sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,

Slowly rising to loftier height,

It came to a crevice in the wall,

Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength,

With never a thought of fear or pride;

It followed the light through the crevice length

And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view,

Were the same as they were before;

And it lost itself in beauties new,

Breathing its fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve

And make our courage faint or fall?

Nay, let us faith and hope receive;

The rose still grows beyond the wall,

Scattering fragrance far and wide,

Just as it did in days of yore.

Just as it did on the other side,

Just as it will forever more.”

(A. L. Frink)


Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.”
(Matthew 5: 4)

Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one is going to take your joy away from you.”  (John 16: 22)

Therefore, being always of good courage and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith not by sight — but we are of good courage and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
(2 Corinthians 5: 6 – 8)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” ( Hebrews 11: 1)

“HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LAMB!”:  LIFE & HOPE

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ satisfied our perfect God’s requirement for paying the sin debt of imperfect humanity. That miraculous event gives us opportunity to know abundant life and hope on this planet now and experience eternal life and hope (-fufilled) in heaven forevermore.

The Easter story and its music remind me of life and hope that only God gives. They remind me to be thankful, to worship Him, and to praise the One Who is the Perfect Lamb of God.

Many songs express well the meaning of Easter and His mercy, grace, and love. “HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LAMB!” was written by Dawn Thomas, Pam Thum, & Gary McSpadden and beautifully recorded by the Talley Trio.

“HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LAMB!”:

“From the moment man first disobeyed the Father,
We were then held captive by our sin.
The law of God demanded a sacrifice
Restoring to Himself His own again.

So the Lamb, His only Son, was freely offered
Atonement for our sins forever made.
The Innocent and Holy — still God and God only —
Would ransom and redeem us back again.

Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
My heart sings His praise again!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!

So to the cross they carried Him
With all our guilt and all our sin.
The Lamb of God was slain for our transgressions,
And on the cross those nail-pierced hands
Reached up to God and down to man.
And just as if I’d never sinned,
He took me in his arms
Embracing me He willingly forgave.

For mercy, grace, and love that know no bounds,
Though guilty and condemned I now am free.
Forever I’m forgiven for Christ the Lord is risen,
And risen with Him we shall one day be.

Oh, Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
My heart sings His Praise again!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
My heart sings His Praise again!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
My heart sings His praise again!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lamb!
Praise the Lamb!”
(Thomas, Thum, McSpadden)

May you know the Risen Christ of Easter, worship Him in Spirit and Truth, and join me in saying (or singing), “HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LAMB.”

“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!”  (John 1: 29)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter: 3)

IMAGINING EASTER MORN: HOPE AND LIFE

On this Sunday morning I awakened early before the birds began their joyful chirping to greet the new day. It is going to be a lovely day with unclouded sunshine and a nice temperature — both welcome signs that springtime really has begun.

As the sun appeared on the horizon I imagined the first Easter morning more than two thousand years ago. It followed the most horrific evil known on earth when the power of darkness gave its best effort to stop God’s plan of salvation for humankind. Jesus had been crucified on Calvary’s cruel cross; it was the end to a perfect life of perfect love…. Or was it?

It would seem that the day should be shrouded in deep dark misery, no more bright sunshine, no birds singing, no joy to be experienced ever. But… as I imagine it, the sun appeared with beams of sunlight shining brightly to illumine the land and to show that this was a glorious day unlike any other!

God’s plan was achieved to bring HOPE and LIFE to humankind. Jesus Christ though crucified and buried had defeated death, and He had arisen! Soon women, disciples, and crowds of many others would witness His resurrected and living presence among them. The account is written for our eyes of faith to see and acknowledge like they did that He is risen indeed!

An official celebration of His resurrection will be next Sunday, April 4. Experience His life, love, and hope and share it with someone else. Everybody on planet Earth needs to know that He arose as Lord of all for all who believe. He is risen… indeed!

Have a blessed Easter celebration!

[God’s love story is found throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but you can find more focused accounts of the Resurrection in the following gospel chapters:  Matthew 26, 27, 28;  Mark 15, 16;  Luke 22, 23, 24;  and John 17, 18, 19, 20.]

VINNY SKARO:  BEYOND A WISH TO HOPE

Thanks to Fox News, I learned about 8-year-old Vinny with a rare genetic disorder who suffers nightly seizures. Make-A-Wish Foundation offered him a Disney World trip that was postponed due to the pandemic. The story does not end there. As American Radio Broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, “Now for the rest of the story….”

On his own Vinny Skaro made a decision that went beyond a wish to hope for special needs kids by donating $5000 (the trip value) for a wheelchair accessible playground near his home in Wisconsin.

When the weather allows, Vinny plays at the park every other day, but he realizes that all kids with special needs like him cannot play on the equipment.

Vinny related, “I just want to help other kids have a fun place to play with wheelchairs.” He understands wheelchair-bound children, because he uses a wheelchair when he gets tired from his condition.

“… I feel like it’s the right thing to do,” added Vinny. “I was thinking in my head, ‘This is weird, but I love it.'”

Vinny also hosted a hot chocolate stand at the park on Saturdays and raised $22,000 to buy a merry-go-round that is wheelchair accessible.

Because I like to help lots of people,” explained Vinny. “I just don’t want to help myself all the time.” Vinny’s attitude and actions give hope and serve as our example to share our blessings.

Readers may contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (www.wish.org) to help make wishes of kids like Vinny come true. You never know when your gift may go beyond a wish to hope.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it.”  (Proverbs 3:27)

“A generous person will be prosperous,
and one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty.”  (Proverbs 11: 25)

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  (Hebrews 13:16)

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”  (Booker T. Washington)

WALKER MOORE: WISDOM AND HOPE

I have enjoyed reading Walker Moore’s writings for years. He has amused, blessed, challenged, dared, and educated me — usually all at the same time! I can go through the alphabet with words describing his positive effects on our planet. He has impacted so many around the world including me.

In this week’s Rite of Passage article (3/11/2121) called “A Child’s Wisdom,” Walker wrote, “Unrestrained fear can chew up your peace, hope, and security.” Then this man who has been writing articles and producing Bible studies for decades admitted personal fears. He publicly confessed his fear of writing and deeper fear of failure.

In this article he shared how a child reminded him, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1: 7). He shifted the focus from fear to faith. That’s what Bible verses do for him.

God teaches him through Scripture: “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me (Philippians 4: 13).

God rescues him with Scripture: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34: 5); “The Lord is my Strength and my Shield” (Psalm 28: 7a); “When I am afraid I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56: 3).

Lies focused on fear dissipate when one focuses on God’s Truth. That which Walker began in fear, he ends in trust. God can do the same for us. Despite partial truths in the lies, God’s Truth reminds us there is no need to fear.

It is true, I can’t do it — but God can.
It is true, I am weak — but He is strong.
It is true, I am shallow — but He is my depth.
It is true, I don’t know what to say — but He will fill my mind and mouth.
It is true, I have no direction — but He is the Way and the Truth.
It is true, I am not worthy — but He has made me worthy.” (Walker Moore)

The March 11, 2121, article concludes with wisdom from a child. When we trust God, the four-year-old is right: “There’s not’ing to be ‘fraid of.”

[I appreciate Walker Moore for trusting God and for sharing hope. His weekly articles may be read at baptistmessenger.org.]

SCRIPTURE:  COMFORT, ENCOURAGEMENT, HOPE

I read a quote by John MacArthur about Scripture that I believe is accurate and true. I also believe it is needed today and is especially helpful as we are clearly living in the midst of one of “the trials of life.”

If you want to understand your hope, you go to the Word of God. And your hope is clearly defined in Scripture. I find comfort and encouragement from the Scripture because it gives me hope in the midst of all the trials of life.”  (John MacArthur)

Some examples of Bible verses that bring comfort and encouragement are included below. They give hope to those who seek to find it. They give strength when God’s help is needed to endure and get through life’s trials — even a global pandemic.

Do not fear for I am with you;
Do not be afraid for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will also help you,
I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10)

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:38-39)

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge just as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you so that you are not lacking in any gift as you eagerly await the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will also confirm you to the end blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful through Whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (2 Corinthians 1: 3-9)

There are many more Scripture verses to bless your heart. I hope readers will begin or continue a lifelong search to find that which is needed for life’s trials. Meditate often on these verses and discover a personal favorite. Romans 8:28 is one verse that happens to give me comfort, encouragement, and hope anytime no matter the trial I face.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 28)