1 Chronicles 28:20

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.

This is perfect advice from father to a son. David has told the all the leaders that Solomon will be building the temple. This is part of what he then addresses directly to Solomon. David had lived a lifetime of being a man after God’s heart. He knew God’s character, and this allowed him to give Solomon this hope.

What can we learn from this? Can this apply to us today? We know that God’s character hasn’t changed. While God was with them in the Old Testament, He is in us through the Holy Spirit. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). He has also planned good works for us to do (Eph 2:10).

So, our work for the Lord is never finished this side of heaven. He has promised never to leave us, and He is always with us. Therefore, we also should always be strong and courageous, we should act, and we should not fear nor be dismayed.

Spiritual Maturity, part 3

Friday, I found out that a precious lady from our church passed away unexpectedly. She was a faithful servant, always helping out anytime it was needed. I didn’t read that day’s verse until the weekend, which was probably a good thing. The verse was 2 Timothy 4:7.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; (NASB)

Paul wrote this when near the end of his life, knowing that he would soon face his death. Paul knew that he had completed the tasks that God gave to him to the best of his ability.

At the end of my life, I want to be like Paul and know that I have run my race well. I wonder whether my friend knew that she had run her race well. Dr. Billy Graham passed this last week. Did he feel that he had finished well?

I believe that this is the goal of spiritual maturity: Keep the faith. Persevere. Keep going. When you fall, get back up. Fight the good fight. Finish the course.

Seeking God

1 Chronicles 16:11

11 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. (NASB)

This verse is part of a psalm of that was written when King David assigned Asaph and his relatives to the Lord. Many of the psalms are labeled as songs of Asaph.

This verse reminds me of the promise that those who seek God will find him. That promise is a comfort when I feel distant from God. However, this verse reminds me that I shouldn’t be just seeking God when I feel distant from Him. I shouldn’t just seek God when I difficult circumstances in my life. I need to seek Him all the time. I need to seek not just His strength, but His face.

I need His strength to face the difficult circumstances in my life. I also need his strength to run from temptation and to do His will. He has given me His Holy Spirit to be that strength for me, but I must learn to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh. I learn that by seeking His strength and not trying to use my strength.

I also need to seek His face. In my human relationships, it is important that I see people face to face. Long distance relationships (whether with friends, relatives, or my husband) can be strained, because there is less face to face contact. When Mike was working in India, he was gone 4 months before I was able to go over for a visit. While we could email, text, or Skype every day, there was nothing like being directly in his presence again.

It is the same with my relationship to God. I need to be in His presence. While He is present everywhere, there are times when I know He is speaking directly with me. Sometimes this happens during worship. Other times I am in prayer or reading the scriptures. Again, this verse reminds me that I need to seek His face, I need to know His thoughts, not rely on my own opinions.

Magnolias

My mom forwarded this story to me today, and I just had to share it.

I spent the week before my daughter’s June wedding

running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist,

tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away.

As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good

Christian young man, I felt laden with

responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle . .

So many details, so many bills, and so little time.

My son Jack was away at college, but he said

he would be there to walk his younger sister down

the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died

a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying he’d

wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!

To save money, I gathered blossoms from several

friends who had large magnolia trees. Their

luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green eaves

would make beautiful arrangements against the rich

dark wood inside the church.

After the rehearsal dinner the night before the

wedding, we banked the podium area and choir loft

with magnolias. As we left just before midnight, I

felt tired but satisfied this would be the best

wedding any bride had ever had! The music, the

ceremony, the reception – and especially the

flowers – would be remembered for years.

The big day arrived – the busiest day of my life –

and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her

fiancé Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do a

final check. When we opened the door and felt a

rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw

them – all the beautiful white flowers were black.

Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night

had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on

that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died.

I panicked, knowing I didn’t have time to drive back

to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in

time for the wedding.

Tim turned to me. ‘Edna, can you get more flowers?

I’ll throw away these dead ones and put fresh

flowers in these arrangements.’

I mumbled, ‘Sure,’ as he be-bopped down the hall to

put on his cuff links.

Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the

dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. ‘Lord,’ I

prayed, ‘please help me. I don’t know anyone in

this town. Help me find someone willing to give me

flowers – in a hurry!’ I scurried out praying for

four things: the blessing of white magnolias,

courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safety

from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person

who would not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut

his tree to shreds..

>

As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the

distance. I approached a house…No dog in sight..

knocked on the door and an older man answered. So

far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea

the man beamed, ‘I’d be happy to!’

>

He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and

handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted

the last armload into my car trunk, I said, ‘Sir,

you’ve made the mother of a bride happy today.’

No, Ma’am,’ he said. ‘You don’t understand what’s

happening here.’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on

Monday. On Tuesday I received friends at the

funeral home, and on Wednesday . . . He paused. I

saw tears welling up in his eyes. ‘On Wednesday I

buried her.’ He looked away. ‘On Thursday most of

my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on

Friday – yesterday – my children left.’

I nodded.

‘This morning,’ he continued, ‘I was sitting in my

den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the

last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she

needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I

cried, ‘Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out

man? Nobody!’ I began to cry louder. ‘Nobody needs

me!’ About that time, you knocked, and said,

‘Sir, I need you.’

I stood with my mouth open.

He asked, ‘Are you an angel? The way the light shone

around your head into my dark living room…’

I assured him I was no angel.

He smiled. ‘Do you know what I was thinking when I

handed you those magnolias?’

‘No.’

‘I decided I’m needed. My flowers are needed. Why,

I might have a flower ministry! I could give them

to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have

no flowers. People need flowers at times like that

and I have lots of them. They’re all over the

backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches –

all sorts of places. You know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to serve the Lord until the day He calls

me home!’

I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On

Patsy’s wedding day, if anyone had asked me to

encourage someone who was hurting, I would have

said, ‘Forget it! It’s my only daughter’s wedding,

for goodness’ sake! There is no way I can minister

to anyone today.’

But God found a way. Through dead flowers.

‘Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the

way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes

the difference.’