God Keeps Your Tears in a Bottle

I have cried many tears in my life. If you have never cried, you can stop reading right now. But if you have shed tears for yourself or for others, or if like me you have shed some without even knowing why or where they came from, take heart. God knows the tears you have shed. Psalm 56:8 says so. Here are several translations of that wonderful verse:

Record my lament;
       list my tears on your scroll —
       are they not in your record? (NIV)

You have taken account of my wanderings;
         Put my tears in Your bottle
         Are they not in Your book? (NASB)

You keep track of all my sorrows.
      You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
      You have recorded each one in your book. (NLT)

Write down my poem of sadness.
      List my tears on your scroll.
      Aren’t you making a record of them? (NIRV)

I love the image of God keeping all my tears in a bottle. I can envision shelves filled with bottles in Heaven, each with a name on it, and an accompanying scroll documenting every tear and lament. Or maybe it is just one huge bottle with all of our tears mingled together.

Today tears are being shed in dark rooms where children are being held as sex slaves, in Africa as people remain homeless and without food and water, in the United States as many remain jobless, in hospitals and on the streets where the mentally ill are forgotten, in homes around the world where people are spiritually lost and have no hope.

We live in a fallen world. Tragedies happen and humans are not always kind to one another. And so tears are shed. It is hard to fathom God collecting every single one, but He does. He notices and He records each tear and each lament.

The more I think about it, I like the idea that God has mingled all our tears together. The Psalm does refer to God’s “bottle” in the singular. And if He has collected every tear in that bottle, then mingled with our own are the tears of Jesus. In John 11, the apostle records this event: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.

In this passage, Jesus weeps when He learns of the death of Lazarus.

When they see Him weeping, the people say “See how he loved him!” John 11:36. But I don’t think Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was dead – He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Rather, I think He wept because of the compassion He felt for humanity as we weep over our own tragedies and losses. It is us that He loved so much that it brought Him to tears.

So if you weep today, remember that God is collecting your tears in His bottle, and mixing them with the tears of our dear Savior. Not only that, but God will deliver you from the final trial that lead to tears by redeeming your soul.

For you, O LORD, have delivered 
   my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears,
   my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
   in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:8-9 (NIV).

 

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Linda’s blog is at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/ Please check out all she has to say.  Linda tells me that it is absolutely guaranteed to bless, or your money back!

To Be Despised by All, but God

I’m working my way through Ezekiel in the Old Testament, and before that I was reading Jeremiah. These are challenging books to read and to apply to our daily lives. Here and there is a nugget with direct – and easy – application, but I think these books are there for a much bigger purpose. The Old Testament prophets show us what is important to God. As I read, I find that God is concerned with two things:

  1. That His people trust in Him, and not in idols of their own making. This seems reasonable, since He alone is trustworthy. An idol made of stone or gold – or as we often trust in these days, of paper in the form of money and stocks – cannot protect us or provide a sure and trustworthy future. Only God can do that.
  2. That His people care for the “widow and the orphan,” that is, the less fortunate of society who are in need of a helping hand. This seems reasonable, too, since those of us who have been blessed should not find it a burden to bless others in return.

These are simple principles. When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus echoed these two principles when He answered, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV).

And yet the prophets were hated and ridiculed for telling the Israelites that they would suffer and were suffering exile and death, war and famine, because they failed to follow these two simple principles. Instead of loving and trusting the God who had seen them through so much and protected them, they trusted in idols and the ways of their neighbors. Instead of loving their neighbors and caring for the downtrodden, they cared only for their own gain and gluttony. The Israelites were warned over and over by the prophets. I believe that the message of the prophets – that these two principles are paramount – is just as relevant for our world today as it was for ancient Israel.

The other day I received this wonderful quote in my Quotemeal email from Heartlight.org. I believe it illustrates not only the struggle the Old Testament prophets faced, but also the struggle those who trust in Christ alone for salvation and seek to share His expectation that we love our neighbors with the world face today.

To be forged upon the anvil of God’s purpose, to be at once His hammer, His tongs, and His molten iron; to hear words that rend the heart, see visions that pierce the chest; to be emptied like an urn, again and again and again until one desires only rest, only an end to the refilling — and to know one cannot live without the refilling. To be given words that one dare not speak, and to feel those words churning and boiling in the belly until one must speak them aloud, or die. To be despised, soon or late, by everyone except Adonai — and to desire it so, while hating it. This is to be a prophet.
— Thom Lemmons

I’m not suggesting that I am a prophet, but there have been times in my life when I was compelled to speak, or to write, words I did not wish to say or write. I have had words churn and boil in my mind and in my heart, felt the fear of saying or writing them, but had to push through that fear and let those words fly and land wherever God desires.

Just writing that last paragraph makes it seem all so dramatic, but really it just is. Sometimes I don’t push through the fear and I fail to share the words that are on my heart. Although I have not yet died as a result, a small part of my spiritual growth does whither. Perhaps my faith would be stronger and more souls would have been saved if I had always spoken up.

But, in the end, I know that God loves me and knows I am being sanctified daily, though sometimes more slowly than I would like.

Linda’s blog is at http://lindakruschke.wordpress.com/.  Please check out all she has to say.  Linda tells me that it is absolutely guaranteed to bless, or your money back!

Explaining the Levels of Discipleship

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

(Luke 14:27 NIV)

There are various people in the world back in Jesus’ day as there are today. There were sometimes vast crowds (“multitude” In the KJV) of people numbering in the thousands. (Luke 12:1) The size of these crowds of people apparently ebbed and flowed. Sometimes there were just a few followers, and sometimes it was in the thousands.

Then there were the unnamed disciples. These apparently sometimes numbered in the hundreds. (John 6:66-67, Luke 6:17 NIV)

Then there were the twelve. (Matthew 10:1-4)

Then out of the twelve, there was an “inner circle”: Peter, who was given a promise that nobody else was given — namely that he would be the rock that Jesus would build His church upon (Matthew 16:18). Then there was James and John, the disciple that “Jesus loved” who were the only disciples present to see the transfiguration. (Mark 9:2)

Present day is little different. We all have different stations. There are evangelists, such as Billy Graham, teachers, like Joyce Meyer, and pastors of huge churches like Pastor David Yonggi Cho, and pastors of small community churches. There are elders and deacons and the congregation. There are people minister to youth, and the little old lady who brings the wonderful dishes to the pot luck dinners… All the way down to people who only go to church on Easter and Christmas.

So. How strong of a walk with Jesus do you want? It is up to you. Though God calls many, He is very polite. If you are among the called, He leaves it up to you how close you want to draw to him.

Sure it sounds great in theory – but in practice, you will find there is a cost. Sure the reward is great but so is the cost. And the devil will remind you of all the things you are “missing out on” in hopes of discouraging you.

You have to take up your cross. Not a fun task as anyone who has seen or heard about Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ will know. What is the “cross”? I misunderstood this for years. Your cross is not suffering for your own sins – though you will reap what you sow – everyone, believers or not, will in some fashion will reap what they sow. The cross that Jesus carried was a burden that he carried for others. If you take up burdens for other people, you are bearing your cross.

Remember Love is a choice of behavior – not a warm fuzzy emotion. Emotions go away. Love is eternal.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

(John 13:35 NIV)

 

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A.L. Howard is the founder of www.modernchristianissues.org: A Christian Apologetics Blog which attempts to provide biblical answers to tough questions — Bible Apologetics for the layman — designed to be a resource of Biblical Apologetics that you do not have to be a scholar to understand. He has been studying creation science and Bible prophecy since the early 1980s. Visit the site to explore salvation, evolution vs creation science (creationism), cults, the 12 steps and Christianity and much more.

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Internet Funnies: Muppets in Trouble

In 40 seasons, Sesame Street has featured over 1,000 characters. Although we’ll always have mainstays like Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie, many Muppets have been forgotten or deemed unnecessary. Here are a few Sesame Street residents who were evicted, or just created a stir.

1. Roosevelt Franklin

roosevelt-franklinPerhaps the most famous of the retired Sesame Street Muppets is Roosevelt Franklin. Originally voiced by Matt Robinson, who portrayed the first Gordon on Sesame Street, Roosevelt was an African-American Muppet who had his own school (named Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School). He often taught the class important lessons about things such as the geography of Africa and how to avoid drinking poison.

Parents wrote to the Children’s Television Workshop to complain that Roosevelt was a negative stereotype of African-American children, citing his rowdy nature and the fact that his classes closely resembled after-school detention. Roosevelt only lasted from 1970-1975, but he has appeared in many Sesame Street books, and it was recently revealed that he will make an appearance in the background of an episode of Sesame Street in the upcoming 40th season.

2. Harvey Kneeslapper

harveyIf a Muppet with a ’70s porn mustache and googly eyes offers to keep an eye on your hat, run the other way. Chances are he’s Harvey Kneeslapper, and he’s about to crush your fedora with an oversized letter I. Harvey pulled practical jokes on unsuspecting victims—jokes featuring bad puns about letters and numbers. Harvey was his own biggest fan, laughing loudly at his gags. One person who didn’t care for Harvey’s trademark laugh was his performer, Frank Oz, who complained that performing the character was too hard on his throat.

3.  There’s an HIV-Positive Muppet

kami
In 2002, Sesame Workshop released a statement saying that they would be introducing an HIV-positive Muppet to Sesame Street. What most people in the U.S. missed was that Kami, the Muppet in question, would not be appearing on the domestic version of Sesame Street, but the South African version, which is called Takalani Sesame. The producers of Takalani Sesame agreed that an HIV-positive Muppet would be beneficial because South Africa has the highest percentage of AIDS-infected people in the world, many of which are children. People became outraged that PBS would allow a children’s show to feature an HIV-positive character, and news sources and pundits went to town on the story. Kami never appeared on the American Sesame Street, though she has proven to be a very successful character on Takalani Sesame.

4. Professor Hastings

professor-hastingsIf there’s one thing kids like, it’s boring lectures. That’s why Sesame Street introduced Professor Hastings, a Muppet whose lectures were so boring, he’d put himself to sleep. And as entertaining as an educational narcoleptic might be, the dull Professor didn’t last long.

For a bunch more ‘failed muppets and basic muppetology’ go to Mental Floss at:

http://blogs.static.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/40275.html