Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The First Sunday of Advent-Getting Ready for Something Big


Today’s Scripture is two-fold.  The first reading is from ISAIAH 64:1-9 and the second reading is from Mark 13:24-32.  Today begins the season of Advent and I want to talk about “Getting Ready For Something BIG”.  One of the most favorite t-v game shows as a child was The Price Is Right hosted by Bob Barker.  When you receive tickets to attend this highly-watched, fast-moving game show, you become automatically eligible to have your name drawn to become a participant. As the show opens, names are drawn, and an announcer exclaims: “Betty Walker, come on down!”  Betty excitedly jumps from her seat and runs down to the front of the game show set to compete with the other contestants for an opportunity to go on the platform to guess the price of various show cases. If Betty guesses right, she will beat out the other competitors by coming the closest to the price of a certain item or items. When this happens, she runs onto the platform to compete for various prizes and show cases.  Competing on The Price Is Right all begins when the announcer calls a contestant’s name and asks him or her to  “Come on down!”  Our first read is in Isaiah.  Isaiah...chapter 64:1-9.  It  gives us a picture......on this first Sunday of Advent of Isaiah’s desire for God to reveal Himself once again to His people. For Isaiah, God must appear.  The great Advent hymn reveals this desire of Isaiah and of people of all times for God to come down.

O come, O come, Emmanual,

And ransom captured Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appears.

This is Isaiah’s desire......but it is also our desire.

How are we getting ready for Christmas?

Have we gotten out our Christmas tapes or CD’s yet?

Have we started our gift shopping?

Have we decided what Christmas cookies we are going to bake?

Have we written our Christmas cards yet?

Have we put up our Christmas trees?

Christmas preparations are starting earlier and earlier.  Some stores start putting up their Christmas displays before Halloween!  While that may seem out of place......aren’t they merely following that traditional advice: “One can never start too early to get ready for something big?”  Advent is a time of expectation, anticipation, and preparation for celebrating the fact that Jesus came into this world 2,000 years ago......that Jesus has come into the hearts of those who believe and has caused us to become born again...to become new creations...children of God......and that Jesus will come back again and usher in God’s kingdom in all it’s fullness!  “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!”  The prophet Isaiah is speaking on behalf of a people who are powerless and oppressed.  His address is in the form of a prayer which contains the hope of Advent.  Isaiah reminds God about how God came and helped in the past......and Isaiah is waiting for God to come again......to rip open heaven so that He can become involved in the affairs of earth!  “How then can we be saved?”  Isaiah is waiting for Christ...the Messiah.......and he petitions Christ to “come down,” but in order to attract God’s attention, something must be done besides  shouting.  As the prophet surveys the situation, he lowers his voice and confesses the guilt of the nation......for Israel has sinned and is unclean!  You know guys….For the church to really experience Advent, there must be genuine confession and repentance.  For all of us to truly prepare for the coming of Christ, there must always be confession and repentance!  Before Christ comes into our hearts we must confess our sins and repent......in order to be ready for the second coming of Christ we must confess our sins and repent.  Confession is a clearing house in order for us to seek the mercy of God.  True confession washes away the arrogance of thinking that we can save ourselves.  Advent comes each year to judge us and remind us that we are all sinners.  Advent also answers the question: “How can we be saved?”  Isaiah reminds Israel and us right here in Randolph County, AL….today in 2014 that our own efforts to save ourselves leave us like filthy rags......contaminated and impure.  In our own strength we are like a fall leaves......faded and vulnerable, that will be blown away!  How are we getting ready for Christmas?  Let’s let our Gospel lesson for this morning set the stage for us:  In Mark 13:24-32…Jesus says:  So let me ask you….Are we talking about getting ready for Christmas here?  Have we made a mistake?  The answer is “No!”  Because it all depends on what we are preparing for!  The secular world measures the time of preparation before Christmas by the number of shopping days until December 25th.  The Church measures it’s time of preparation in terms of the number of days remaining until the time when Jesus will return to the earth in glory and power.  I don’t know about you, but that completely reverses my personal expectations about celebrating Christmas......let alone getting ready for it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like to get caught up in the “Christmas spirit.” I like to put up and decorate the tree.  I loved it when my kids would get our the Christmas music.  I like it all….I like Christmas cookies and Christmas parties.  I like wrapping gifts.   But if the theme of the first Sunday in Advent is to focus our attention on the real meaning of Christmas......then we need to realize that celebrating the birth of Jesus was important to our ancestors in the faith because they had experienced the life-changing effects of having “God with them”...God living in them......and they were eagerly waiting for Him to come back in order to establish the new heavens and the new earth.  I think we need to see that we need to change our attitudes about what we are preparing for.  Let’s recapture the sense of eager anticipation about the second coming of Christ which was present in the early Church.  During this Advent season, let’s listen to God calling us to look beyond ‘today and tomorrow’ to the time when Jesus will come back.  This morning we are preparing for much more than December 25th.We are celebrating the fact that God has indeed come to us through His birth into this fallen world—in order to destroy sin’s gridlock on us. This is what Isaiah was praying for. A Chinese Confucius scholar who was converted to Christ told this story: “A man fell into a dark, dirty, slimy pit.  He tried to climb out of the pit, but he couldn’t.  Confucious came along.  He saw the man in the pit and he said, ‘Poor fellow, if he’d listened to me, he never would have gotten there,” and he went on. Buddha came along.  When Buddha saw the man in the pit, he said, ‘Poor fellow, if he’ll come up here, I’ll help him,’ and he too went on.  Then Jesus Christ came and He said, ‘Poor fellow!’  And He jumped into the pit and lifted him out.” We celebrate that Jesus Christ is beside us in the muck of our world. He lives. He has come. He is down here with us!  And because He is down here with us, we are also preparing for that grand and wonderful day when there will be no more pain or sorrow or death. We are getting ready for an event that has no equal in human experience and for which we wait with eager anticipation!  I remember what it was like for me to wait for Christmas morning when I was a child.  The closer it got to Christmas, the more excited I became.  On December 24th, my enthusiasm reached its zenith.  After the Midnight Christmas Eve candlelight service, I still remember how hard it was for me to fall asleep that night.  This Advent season, let’s expand our Christmas preparations to include Christ’s coming back to earth in power and glory. No one knows when that will happen, but we do know that it will happen.  Let’s allow our eager anticipation of that event to spill over into our anticipation of this year’s Christmas celebration! Such a vision will definitely change the way we live from day to day...every day!  Let’s prepare to celebrate what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will do in the future!  Remember: “One can never start too early to get ready for something big!”

 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Advent Wreath



It is one of my favorite times of the Christian year.  It is Advent.  Do you know what the Advent wreath stands for?  The Advent wreath is a Christian tradition that symbolizes the passage of the four weeks of Advent.  It is a circular candle holder that typically holds five candles.  During the season of Advent one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday until all of the candles, including the fifth candle, are lit on Christmas Day. Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Most Advent wreaths use three colors of candles – purple, pink, and white. However, some may use blue in place of the purple.

  • 1st CANDLE – (purple) THE PROPHECY CANDLE or CANDLE OF HOPE – We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. Our hope comes from God. (Romans 15:12-13)
  • 2nd CANDLE – (purple) THE BETHLEHEM CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF PREPARATION – God kept his promise of a Savior who would be born in Bethlehem. (Luke 3:4-6)
  • 3rd CANDLE – (pink) THE SHEPHERD CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF JOY – The angels sang a message of JOY! To the shepards in the field and they came to see. (Luke 2:7-15)
  • 4th CANDLE – (purple) THE ANGEL CANDLE or THE CANDLE OF LOVE – The angels announced the good news of a Savior.  God sent his only Son to earth to save us, because he loves us! (John 3:16-17
  • 5th CANDLE – (white) “CHRIST CANDLE” – The white candle reminds us that Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth! (John 1:29 ) (John 3:1-8)
    My hopes are that this Christmas you will light a fire of hope in your heart and keep it burning always.  May God Bless You and Yours during this Christmas season.
    Blessings,   Karen

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Dream Of Home

 

About The Book:  When she moves to Amish country to find peace and healing, Madeleine finds a special community—and a special man—who pull her out of her solitude into a new life.
Moving to Pennsylvania wasn’t in Madeleine’s original plans. She should still be in California and should have married her pilot fiancĂ© a year ago—but death has a way of changing everything. Now the former Air Force flight nurse is living alone in Paradise, Pennsylvania, and working as a maid at the Lancaster Grand Hotel. She isn’t exactly a widow . . . but she sure feels like one.  Saul Beiler isn’t exactly a widower . . . but his wife is long gone. His eleven-year-old daughter, Emma, doesn’t know that her mother fled the Amish community—and married another man—but she does know that her dat is lonely, and that a pretty young maedel just moved in next door. Madeline’s numb heart begins to thaw as she spends more time with the innocent and ever optimistic Emma. The stronger her friendship grows with the young girl, the more intrigued Madeline grows about the humble, strong, man raising her on his own.  But even as a strange attraction pulls Saul and Madeleine across a stark cultural divide, they—and everybody else—have to wonder: What could they possibly have in common besides heartache? Will love allow Madeleine to finally find the home she’s been dreaming of all along?
About The Author:  Amy Clipston is the award-winning and best-selling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple best-seller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at www.amyclipston.com Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks Twitter: @AmyClipston
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have read all the books in this series and have to admit this one was my favorite by far.  Amy Clipston really has a knack for developing her characters, her scene, and her plots and making the reader feel as if they are part of the story.  I could not put the book down!  It was an easy read.  It was a new twist on an Amish story of love, faith, and romance. I cannot wait to get my hands on the fourth book in the series.  
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookLook Bloggers  as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The First Thanksgiving Feast...What Was It Really Like?


     According to History.com:  For many Americans, the Thanksgiving meal includes seasonal dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. The holiday feast dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration, an event regarded as America’s “first Thanksgiving.” But what was really on the menu at the famous banquet, and which of today’s time-honored favorites didn’t earn a place at the table until later in the holiday’s 400-year history?
While no records exist of the exact bill of fare, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow noted in his journal that the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the three-day event. Wild—but not domestic—turkey was indeed plentiful in the region and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely that the fowling party returned with other birds we know the colonists regularly consumed, such as ducks, geese and swans. Instead of bread-based stuffing, herbs, onions or nuts might have been added to the birds for extra flavor. FYI - Did You Know - Many people report feeling drowsy after eating a Thanksgiving meal. Turkey often gets blamed because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can have a somnolent effect. But studies suggest it’s the carbohydrate-rich sides and desserts that allow tryptophan to enter the brain. In other words, eating turkey without the trimmings could prevent that post-Thanksgiving energy lull.  Turkey or no turkey, the first Thanksgiving’s attendees almost certainly got their fill of meat. Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag guests arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and that the colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.
     The 1621 Thanksgiving celebration marked the Pilgrims’ first autumn harvest, so it is likely that the colonists feasted on the bounty they had reaped with the help of their Native American neighbors. Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table include onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas. Corn, which records show was plentiful at the first harvest, might also have been served, but not in the way most people enjoy it now. In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that was occasionally sweetened with molasses.
     Fruits indigenous to the region included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and, of course cranberries, which Native Americans ate and used as a natural dye. The Pilgrims might have been familiar with cranberries by the first Thanksgiving, but they wouldn’t have made sauces and relishes with the tart orbs. That’s because the sacks of sugar that traveled across the Atlantic on the Mayflower were nearly or fully depleted by November 1621. Cooks didn’t begin boiling cranberries with sugar and using the mixture as an accompaniment for meats until about 50 years later.
     Culinary historians believe that much of the Thanksgiving meal consisted of seafood, which is often absent from today’s menus. Mussels in particular were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested because they clung to rocks along the shoreline. The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds, a dairy product with a similar consistency to cottage cheese. Lobster, bass, clams and oysters might also have been part of the feast.
     Whether mashed or roasted, white or sweet, potatoes had no place at the first Thanksgiving. After encountering it in its native South America, the Spanish began introducing the potato to Europeans around 1570. But by the time the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower, the tuber had neither doubled back to North America nor become popular enough with the English to hitch a ride. New England’s native inhabitants are known to have eaten other plant roots such as Indian turnips and groundnuts, which they may or may not have brought to the party.
     Both the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe ate pumpkins and other squashes indigenous to New England—possibly even during the harvest festival—but the fledgling colony lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for making pie crust. Moreover, settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven for baking. According to some accounts, early English settlers in North America improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes.
     I don't know what your meal will consist of but as for me and mine there will be a lot of people (50+ family, friends, and folks with no where else to go....we are like that.  My family cannot stand for someone to be alone on special days.) and way too much food.  We will laugh, cry, hug, and enjoy ourselves to the max.  There will be people there we have not seen since last year and some we have not seen in even longer....but all in all it will be a great day.  I hope your day is a wonderful one too. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let Us Give Thanks for Hodge Podge

Welcome to this pre-Thanksgiving Holiday Hodgepodge! If you've answered the questions add your link at the end of Joyce's post and then go say hi to the blogger who linked before you.

Thank you for joining the party here every Wednesday. It's a day brightener for sure, and always fun to see all the many directions people run with their answers. Please don't miss next week's HP, because Joyce has a special little giveaway planned in honor of our 200th Wednesday Hodgepodge.  

Feeling especially grateful today for the way words connect people. Happy Thanksgiving!
 


1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?  I do jigsaw puzzles every day on my IPad and love it.  Frank and I compete for time completed.  I usually win.  We play Mexican Train dominoes often with friends.  We are all highly competitive so it makes for an exciting evening. 
2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?  I was thankful for the beach this year.  There was something very relaxing about hearing the waves roll in and being with good friends.
3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal. We will be sharing a meal with about 50 family members and then traveling to Knoxville to spend time with two of my oldest and dearest friends.  I do NOT shop on Thanksgiving and wish stores would not open until midnight like it used to be.  I believe salespeople should be allowed to stay home and enjoy their families.  The Auburn vs Alabama game will be the highlight of Saturday and the Macy's Parade will be on too.
4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?  Beef Stew, soups, mac and cheese. Not together.  I love the comfort provided by these three things....if you add bread pudding with praline sauce I am in heaven.
5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?  The green frying pan but you can get it from an As Seen on TV store....or Walmart if you are lucky.
6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?  I am finished....Frank still has some initials to make for me to give as gifts.  I will not shop on Black Friday and I hate the fact that stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day.  This year I did a good bit...50% of my shopping on line.
7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?  The ride I have down Co. Rd 15 from RCHS to Wadley High.  There are several old churches, beautiful trees, some old barns, an abundance of wild life.  I have seen several hawks, a fox, and a fawn.  I also love crossing the Tallapoosa River.  There are turtles that sit on logs and it is just gorgeous.
8. Insert your own random thought here. Just a thought....Everything happens for a reason.  So often we wonder about the "whys" in life....."Why did this happen?" "Why me?"  "Why now?" But there is a secret that wise men know...Bumps in the road are an inevitable part of life that soften us, make us grow, and bestow upon us the virtue of compassion.  Often it is only with the passing of time that it becomes clear that the could really did have a silver lining, and now we have wisdom, strength, and hope to share.  And at last we understand the true meaning of the phrase "Everything happens for a reason." 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Live Each Day With Gratitude

In preparation for Thursday I began thinking of things I am grateful for.  I found a little ditty on a calendar I bought for myself about gratitude and thought I would share it with you all today.


Gratitude is one of life's greatest gifts, and it is free for the choosing.  When we make this choice, we are demonstrating an understanding of our free will.


Gratitude is a practice...an exercise in which we train our minds to look at the good things before us each day, no matter what is happening in our lives.


Gratitude is a state of mind we cultivate in ourselves that enables us to understand that often it is our greatest challenges and losses that bring us our greatest lessons in life.


Gratitude is the place from which we recognize life's compensations that are always before us, so we can enjoy each day with thanksgiving.


So on Thursday when you gather at your Thanksgiving tables with family and friends remember all the things you are grateful you have in your life.  Don't be like this:  "Black Friday is a day when people trample each other for a "deal" just hours after being thankful for what they already have."  Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Road of Life Has Many Turns

If someone had told me when I was 30 that when I was 60 I was going to be a pastor of a church I would have laughed in their face.  If someone had told me at 18 that I would be a high school teacher I would have denied it til I was blue in the face.  If someone would have told me at 21 that my parents would be living with me in my 50's I would have said, "No way!"...but I have discovered many things in my life and one of those is that sometimes the road of life takes us to a place we had planned.  (I love it when a plan comes together.)  Sometimes it shows us a surprise around the bend we could never have anticipated.  We make decisions based on the information we have...We accept the ups and downs as they come...We live "one day at a time."  But often we find it is only when we look back that we can see that what we had thought was a "wrong turn" has brought us to exactly the right place and every step was a right one after all!  My mom and I did not always have the idyllic relationship.  I loved her.  I respected her.  I just did not always understand her.  My mom had a type A personality....and I didn't.  She was not always healthy for my self-esteem....what little I had.  The last five years of my mom and dad's lives they lived with us.  It was only supposed to be for six weeks when they moved it....but things just went wrong from the get-go.  Now at 60, with both of them gone, I am glad this road went the way it went.  I had five years to understand....and fall in love with my mother....and the other woman she became (she had Alzheimer's).  I would take nothing for the time I got to share with them....and here at Thanksgiving it is something I am very thankful for. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five Kernels of Corn and All I Am Thankful For


Our scripture today is from Ps 103:1-13

The Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth Rock over 300 years ago knew nothing of the affluent times which you and I enjoy today in this great country of ours.  The next time you and I are tempted to complain about inflation and the state of our economy, we need to remember the following:  During that first long winter at Plymouth Colony, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes for the living.  The ship which was to bring food and relief brought 35 more mouths to feed, but not an ounce of provisions.  Touching indeed is the picture of William Brewster, rising from a scanty Plymouth dinner, consisting of a plate of clams and a glass of cold water, to thank God “for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.”  The Pilgrims didn’t have much, but they possessed a great gratitude and it was upon this very thing that America was built. These stalwart people, strong, devout and sincere were the timbers upon which our nation was founded.  They had a custom of putting 5 kernels of corn upon each empty plate before a dinner of “thanksgiving” was served. Each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. It was to remind them that the first Pilgrims were in such dire straits that their allowance was only 5 kernels of corn per person each day.

Let me tell you…we have many reasons to be thankful. Let’s take 5 grains of corn, and using Psalm 103:1-5 as a basis, think of 5 things to praise God for.  In this Psalm David calls upon his body, mind, soul, and spirit to join in one grand symphony of praise for the benefits God has so graciously bestowed upon him. Can you see the 5?  The first is the  Kernel of Forgiveness

Verse 3a tells us: “…who forgives all your sins…”

One day a fellow was visiting with his pastor in the parsonage. He picked up a book that was on a stand and began to read. Suddenly he shouted, “Glory! Praise the name of the Lord!” The pastor asked, “What’s the matter with you?” The visitor replied, “This book says that in certain places the sea is 5 miles deep!” “Yes, that’s right,” said the pastor. “What of it?” The visitor answered, “Why the Bible says that my sins have been cast into the depth of the sea, and if it’s that deep, I’m not afraid of their coming up again. The pressure of the water is so great there that if the largest battleship could be sunk to that depth, it would be crushed like an egg shell.”  There’s no mistaking it—God offers forgiveness. All any person must do is repent and forsake his sin, and God will forgive him and revoke the penalty of sin.

This forgiveness is a…

 Promise of the Father

 Provision of the Son

 Proclamation in the Bible

 Required practice in the church

From the depths of our hearts, a sense of gratitude should well up. Gratitude should ascend like incense to the throne of God.

The second kernel is the Kernel of Redemption.  Verse 4a: “…who redeems your live from the pit…”  The London Times publishes the prices paid for art objects in all of the salesrooms of the world. If a painting is sold in New York or Paris or Rome or London, The Times gives the full details of the sale. You can judge the value of the painting by the price paid for it. And we can judge our value by the price Jesus paid for us—the depths into which He had to reach in order to redeem us.  The Governor of Texas, spoke to the assembled convicts of penitentiaries of that state. He finished by saying that he would remain to listen if any man wanted to speak with him. When the meeting was over, a large group of men remained, many of them lifers. One by one they each told the governor that he was there through a frame-up, and injustice, or a judicial blunder. Each asked to be freed.   Finally, one man came up and said, “Governor, I just want to say that I’m guilty. I did what they sent me here for, but I believe I’ve paid for it. If I were freed, I would do everything I could to be a good citizen and prove myself worthy of your mercy.” The governor pardoned this man. Why? Because he admitted his guilt. So it is with us if we are to be redeemed from the awful sentence we’re under. But there is a difference. We can’t say that we’ve paid for any of it because as the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."” If we will plead His blood, God will redeem us.  The Lord not only saved our souls from hell, but He also redeems our lives from the clutches of the devil. Satan is bent on destroying our lives. But thanks be to God who redeems our lives from his power. All one has to do is take a look at our penitentiaries, sanitariums, hospitals, and half-way houses. They are filled with people whose lives are being destroyed by our enemy. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many are on that road.”

But we praise God today with the Psalmist who said, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:2,3).

The third Kernel is The Kernel of Healing.  Verse 3b: “…who heals all your diseases…”  When first considering this passage of scripture, I was reluctant to use it because I couldn’t reconcile it with the fact that God doesn’t heal everyone who has an “incurable” disease. But I believe the Holy Spirit can help us to see three important truths contained in this verse.

The first is that all healing is divine healing and all recovery from sickness, injury and surgery is the result of the healing properties that God has built into our bodies. Medicine, surgery and therapy are merely extensions of God’s healing ministry.

The second… This verse doesn’t say that God heals everyone’s diseases, but that He heals all diseases. There is no disease or sickness that lies beyond Hid healing power—not even what we call “incurable.” He is the Great Physician.

The third…. The main truth I learned is that the Psalmist is speaking to his soul. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” he said, “who heals all your diseases.”

The diseases of the soul emanate from the virus of sin. Jesus identified this virus and its symptoms and disorders in.  Matt 15:19-20: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ’unclean.’”

Just as surely as some disorders of the body can be cured by medicines and surgery, so the soul of man can be cleansed, purged and purified—and made whole when God the Holy Spirit is allowed to possess us completely.

The fourth kernel is The Kernel of Love and Compassion

Verse 4a: “…crowns you with love and compassion…”  In one of Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman’s meetings, a man rose to give the following remarkable testimony: “I got off at the Pennsylvania depot one day as a tramp. For a year I begged on the streets for a living. One day I touched a man on the shoulder and said, “Mister, please give me some money so I can have something to eat.” As soon as I saw his face, I recognized him as my father. ‘Father, don’t you know me?’ I asked. Throwing his arms around me, he cried, ‘I’ve found you! I’ve found you! All I have is yours!’ Think of it! That I a tramp, stood begging my father for a few cents, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all he was worth.”  How similar this is to the loving kindness and tender mercies of the Lord which accompany our lives every day.

The fifth kernel is The Kernel of Satisfaction and Renewal

Verse 5: “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  This reminds me of the words of Jesus, given in the sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt.5:6).
There’s a great paradox here. We’re satisfied but never satisfied. My wife makes the best apple pie in the world. I’m always satisfied when I eat some, but I always want more because what I’ve experienced makes me want to taste it again and again. So it is with righteousness. We’re filled and the filling is so sweet and so rich and full that we want more.  When we seek God’s righteousness, He grants it. Psalm 107:9 says, “He has satisfied the thirsty soul and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.”  A famous surgeon was seldom seen on the streets without a beautiful, fresh rose in his lapel. His friends wondered why these buds stayed fresh for so long a time. When they asked him his secret, he turned back the flap of his coat and revealed a little bottle of water into which the stem of the flower had been inserted. So it is with believers. If our lives draw from the great resources of the Lord Jesus, who is in us the Water of Life, we will grow more fragrant and beautiful as the days and years go by.  But that’s not the end. Verse 5 also says that God will renew my youth like the eagle’s. The eagle is known for three things: size, strength, and longevity. It’s also known for its annual molting.  This is the result of living a fulfilled, satisfied, spiritual life. I am constantly being renewed, refreshed, and revived in my soul and God is doing it all!  No wonder then that the Psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”  So, let me ask you….when you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, take time to thank God for these blessings—and remember these five kernels.