It Really IS Simple!

In the last several weeks, I have continued to be far too busy with LIFE! Although much of my days include good things, there have definitely been some major challenges also. Through these challenges, once again, I have gained some new spiritual insights that I want to share with you.

Because my mother-in-law is in the midst of dementia, one of the things in my life was attending a workshop to better understand her world and how to help her navigate that world. It was fascinatingly sad, but it definitely helped my husband and I to better understand what her world is like. Just after we attended that seminar a friend shared some insightful videos by Dr Caroline Leaf that left me wanting to dig deeper into what the Bible has to say about our minds.

As I studied, prayed and meditated on scripture I was wowed with a common thread I found pointing to the simplicity of living life according to God’s mandates. Two mandates that work!

I trust I won’t offend any of you but…compared to our almighty, majestic creator we are not very smart. I believe that is why He makes things very simple for us regarding everything that has to do with Him and our relationship with Him. Now, lest you misunderstand… I am not saying that living a life of faith following Jesus is easy, nor am I saying that we don’t have many questions that we won’t have answered until we are face to face with our savior in heaven. What I AM saying is that we basically have been given two mandates. The first is on what it takes to become a Christian and the second is how to live a life that is rich and full. Both of these mandates are not complicated.

In Acts 16:31 of the New Testament it says “And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” – ESV

This was in response to the jailer, who was in charge of the prisoners where the disciples Paul and Silas were imprisoned, asking what he needed to do to be saved. Saved, in this context, means saved or rescued spiritually from eternal damnation.

Paul doesn’t give a list of good things that the jailer needed to do. He doesn’t give a list of all the things the jailer couldn’t do either, but rather there is ONE THING that Paul tells the jailer. “…believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…”.

This is the first mandate. A spirit saving, life-changing mandate that makes us a child of Almighty God, the God of the universe and our creator redeemer and comforter!

I chose to follow that first mandate when I was a small girl and so, I have a sacred identity as the daughter of God. He is pleased to call me His and no one can mess with this relationship. I am safe forever in the arms of my precious savior.

I have walked in this assurance nearly all my life, but it was not until I took the seminar on dementia, and then listened to the videos by Dr Leaf, that I understood the second mandate… and its simplicity. The second mandate is: meditate on God and His word. There are many places in the Bible that tell us to meditate, dwell, think on God and the word of God (the Bible) day and night. The meditation that God mandates is not a meditation of emptying your mind as many eastern religions teach. It is FILLING our minds with God, and the things of God.

In her videos, Dr Leaf shows what happens scientifically in the brain when we think on good things versus bad things. Good thoughts build new pathways in our brains while bad thoughts cause pathways to shrivel up! Let me make a disclaimer at this point: I am not saying that all patients who have dementia, which is indicative of a brain that is dying, thought too much on bad things vs good things. I know that there are many things that determine mental health, genetics included.

However, here is the simplicity of the second mandate: God created us, therefore as as our creator He knows that our brains thrive when we are filling them with good and beautiful thoughts. Even with a predisposition to dementia, medical science is beginning to see that a steady diet of “God thoughts” can stave off mental decline with certain forms of dementia. There are a few parts of the brain that do not die with dementia. One of those parts is where blessings, music, poetry and prayer reside. Isn’t that fascinating?! How much more effective then, is meditation if we never get dementia? God says, in essence, “think on me…day and night” and your brain will continue to thrive. As a fringe benefit those good thoughts will spill out onto everyone and everything in your life.

God in His infinite wisdom, working with His creation sets forth two simple, magnificent life-giving mandates: one if for our eternal life and one is for our temporary life here on earth. Both are simple… both are our choice.
1. Will we believe that Jesus is who He says He is – the son of God, who came as a babe to this earth; lived, was killed but three days later rose the dead AND thus with His sacrifice for sin we can be justified and made pure in God’s eyes?
2. As Jesus followers will we adhere to God’s mandate to meditate/fill our minds, day and night with Him and His word?

Let me close with Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – ESV.  May God Bless You!

Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part 4 (final part)

…a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich.  old hymnal

 

“To God be the Glory”

Several weeks ago our pastor began to sing this hymn toward the end of his sermon and the phrase “opened the Life-Gate that all may go in” caught my imagination.  I knew I had to share this hymn with you as the last in this series because it tells us how we can know we will spend eternity with God in heaven.

This hymn was written by the famous blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby in 1872.   I am going to share the words of the first verse and chorus with you, because they are so powerful – but, I will change some of them to be easier to understand than the Old English it was written in.  I want to then focus on the phrase I referred to at the beginning: because it will encourage and enrich your life, in a way nothing else can,  IF you take it to heart and act on it.

To God be the glory, great things He has done,
God so loved the world that He gave us His son (Jesus).
Jesus gave up his life on the cross as an payment for sin – mine and yours,
…and with his death and resurrection he opened the LIFE-GATE that all can enter in.

Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the earth hear God’s voice.
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord – let the people rejoice.
Oh, won’t you believe in God the father and Jesus God’s son
And then you can give God glory – for the great things He has done.

Have you ever heard the word “gospel”?  Do you know what it means?  It refers to the “good news” – the Biblical account of  Jesus coming to earth – born of a virgin, living a perfect life and then being killed and buried…only to rise from the dead in order to pay for your sins once and for all.  The Bible says that if you believe the gospel you have salvation (saving faith from your sins and the consequence which is eternal death).

If you are a sci-fi fan you may watch Stargate.  For those of you who have never watched the show, let me explain that there is a “gate” that opens up and allows people to travel from one galaxy to another or one time-continuum to another.  It is a very ethereal gate through which you pass from somewhere else in time and space back to the present time on earth – or vice versa.  (For those of you who are hard-core sci-fi fans, I apologize if I have described this “gate” in a less than adequate way.)

Picture with me a gate that is not hard to open in one direction…yet impossible to open the other.  This Life-Gate is exactly like that.  Unlike the Stargate, the Life Gate is a one-way gate.  If we believe the gospel we walk through the gate to forgiveness of sin and eternal life.  The gate never opens back up the other direction, no matter what we do.  AND, it is yours to walk through by simply believing the Biblical message about Easter.

The movie “Son of God” has been in the theaters for several weeks now.  If you have had a chance to see it, or possibly “The Passion of the Christ” that Mel Gibson produced a number of years ago – you are familiar with the story/plot.  This story/plot is this gospel message I keep referring to.

If you have already believed and walked through the Life-Gate I know you are praying for others who haven’t, to do so when they read this.  If you have not believed before, for whatever reason; put your disbelief aside – believe – and walk through the Life Gate.  Come…join me and millions of others who, over the course of history, have believed the gospel.

The Bible says that when someone walks through the Life Gate the angels rejoice.  As humans, rejoicing often leads to singing.  Perhaps it is so with the angels, too.

…and so, we end this series “on a good note”!