Sunday, July 13, 2014

A trip to Eretz Yisrael

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2. Cor.4:7)

Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. (John 6:31)

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. (Matt.4:18)

And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.(1 Kings 20:23)

The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:6-8)

I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together:
That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it (Isaiah 41-19-20)

For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. (Job 14:7)

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Micah 7:19)

Is the seed yet in the barn? Yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.(Haggai 2:19)

But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller. (Job 31:32)

Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:2)

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Behold, I have told you before.
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. (Matt.24:24-26)

For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. (James 1:11)

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. (Psalm 31:3)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)

For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. (Isaiah 51:3)

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psalm 32:8)

And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. (John 1:46)

 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.(Matt.4:23)

We have just been on a trip to Israel. It was lovely there, despite the fact that there were awful things happening. We got home before the worst of it started. Praying for peace in Israel!

Am Yisrael Chai.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Old photos and random thoughts

I really liked this apartment. Of course my dear daughter was born while living there, and we spent her first years there. My Button. I have sometimes called her Button ever since she was a baby. She just looked like a button with her button nose ans big button eyes.

I also learned to live more simply in this apartment.

Sometimes our current place feels like we are still just camping out, after over a year here!
Our only arm chair is used so much that the fabric in the seat has holes where you can see the stuffing and the back is wiggly. The duvet covers still hang in the bedroom instead of curtains.

Yes, one of these days we will settle down somewhere and have a real couch.

But now, summer is almost here.

There will be sandy feet, home-made icicles, eating lunch in the park.

The best memories that shine through are small moments of every-day living. I have no grand dreams or plans.
Today I plan to make soup for dinner, that's a plan I have.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Passover and the Mystery of Salvation

Pictures of me and Ian taken by my sister

We had a very nice Passover. I hadn't been riding in a long time, so my sister asked if I wanted to go for a ride. It was so nice, the sun was shining, birds chirping, the forest waking up to a new summer. Ian is such a lovely horse. We also visited my dad and his wife, with the whole family there.

I want to write about something now, that has to do with Passover.

I was startled by the comment I got on my last post about not having heard the gospel explained like that in 55 years! Even though it was just a few lines. And I realized that the gospel has all too often been reduced to God just wanting to bless us because he loves us so much, and that we are basically good people who just sin a little here and there and Jesus Christ was killed by those evil unbelievers, and now we get to live "our best life now" and as a bonus get to heaven when we die.

Yes, God IS perfectly good, and perfectly just. He is love. And that, my friends, is a big problem for people.

Because we are not.

God is Holy, Holy, Holy. He is perfectly righteous and sinless. No unrighteousness, no sin, no evil can enter His presence in eternity. Sin is not just something we do, it is our fallen nature.
If God is just, he HAS to punish sin. Nobody in their right mind would say it is just and loving to let criminals go free without a punishment.
And since God's standard of absolute holiness is so high that even evil thoughts are damning sins, what is a man to do?

That is the dilemma that we faced after the rebellion and fall of man in Eden. The angels probably watched God, holding their breath, to see how God would solve the problem. It was a mystery that God already hinted at in Genesis, right after the fall of man, by telling that Adam's seed would crush the head of the serpent. He always had a perfect plan! From the beginning God taught that there needed to be blood for the atonement of sins. He taught people the seriousness of sin. Abel obeyed God with his blood sacrifice, while Cain thought he could please God with an offer of his own choosing, and then  was upset when God rejected his sacrificial offer of produce.

The Jewish people had to keep the sacrificial lamb as a house pet a few days before the sacrifice. Throughout old testament the people are taught to recognize the seriousness of sin in God's eyes, and that a blood sacrifice is needed to atone for it, so that they would understand the work of the Messiah when he came. Of course they did not understand it, but even the disciples of Christ were utterly confused that he didn't come to reign as a King but went to the cross like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection fulfilled hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, yet the majority of the people failed to, or chose not to, believe it.

No mere sinful man could ever atone for his own sins, so The Almighty God, Yahweh, The great I AM, became a man himself to live a sinless life and bear God the Father's wrath upon himself, and die the death of a criminal though he was innocent. He did not sweat blood in agony at the Gethsemane because he was afraid of the cross. No, his greatest suffering was caused by our sins upon him and the wrath of God that would rightfully belong to us, but which he bore on our behalf. This one time for all people of all times was sufficient, because it was God who sacrificed Himself.

It is ALL a gift from God for those who would humble themselves. We so much want to be good on our own. We want to work out our own salvation. We want to earn it! This is what all the other religions, except for true Christianity, try to do one way or the other. But God says it's not possible.

This is sobering, but also freeing. God knows what is in a man. He is offering us a new Spirit, His Spirit, and a new heart that WANTS to be obedient to him. We can stop striving. We can give him nothing that he didn't first give to us. Our own good works are as dirty rags to him, says the word. The work of God that he wants from us is that we believe in His Son.

Trust, surrender, believe, obey. Let your good works be HIS good works, which he gives you the will and ability to do. Offer him your empty hands, and let him fill them with what he knows is best.
We can stop pretending we are good and stop living in denial. We can confess any sins right away (he knows about them anyway, but he wants us to acknowledge them too) and have assurance of forgiveness, and thus live with a good conscience. That is true freedom. I am thankful each time I feel a conviction of sin. It is His grace and love toward me to let me know if I do wrong.

The mystery was slowly coming to focus more and more throughout Old Testament times, and was fully revealed at the Calvary. Now when God looks at us who are in Christ, he no longer sees our sins, but he sees us as perfect and sinless as his Son Jesus and he loves us as his own children. Jesus bore our sins and abolished the curse that was upon us. His blood covers us and washes us and his righteousness is imputed to us.
What a miraculous thing!
We now have a way to God again and the promise of an eternal life in his presence. The Holy Spirit given to every born-again believer is like a down payment, a seal and a promise. In it is the resurrection power that will one day change the mortal body into an immortal one so that we can stand in front of the Holy Lord.

Jeremiah 32:38
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Strange times

It's been too long! Thank you for still sticking with my blog even though I have been so neglecting. 

The winter passed and it was a strange winter. So warm and so little snow! 

Indi turned five. We are living in our small apartment and I know some of you wanted new pictures of our home but it's exactly the same as when we moved. I still have the same duvet covers hanging in the bedroom window. 
Not very interesting :)

Our life is pretty normal, pretty quiet. 

The world around us though, it seems to have gone off the rails lately. I know it's not just me.

I thought it was pretty crazy before, so many horrendous things happening in many countries, the wars and cruelty and the natural disasters and disasters caused by humans. And then this stuff with Russia escalated. 

It is surreal to suddenly notice people here actually worried and nervous. We are so used to stuff happening far away, a safe distance away. Sharing a border with Russia, and having been part of Russia before 1917 when we gained independence, are facts that make people watch the situation closely. The Baltic countries are really worried since they were part of the Soviet Union not so long ago. In Finland there has been a sudden increase in interest in discussing a possible application for NATO membership. Others are saying we should apply like yesterday, and others are saying it would only provoke Russia and it would guarantee no protection anyway.  Yet others are saying that we have nothing to worry about.    

What do I think?

I think that God has everything under control. 
His children never need to fear.
I think that He is trying to get us to see that

We will never stop the wars      
We will never save the environment
We will never stop being greedy     
We will never change for the better on our own
We are not evolving into a moral and good people 
There is no goodness hidden inside of us, waiting to get out
We are lost sinners
Needing a Savior
We need to admit this, repent and accept the atoning work accomplished by his only Son at the cross, so that we will be forgiven our sins and given a new heart and the promise of an eternal life. We need to let go of our pride and make Jesus Christ the Lord in our lives. 

You see, I used to think that I was a pretty good person. I consider it pure grace that my eyes were opened to see my true condition of sin and selfishness. I got a chance to see myself with His eyes and feel the sorrow and repent. I stumble a lot, but each time I am convicted in my heart, I am thankful. I am so thankful that I am so loved that I get a chance to repent, be forgiven and try again. That is Grace. I get to live with a clean conscience because of that.

The offer still stands, and it is amazing. Sadly, not many people will take it. I know this because it says so in my Bible. But you can take it, if you have not already. And then you can live with incredible peace in this raging world, because the shepherd that is leading you is good and trustworthy.

For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2

John 3.16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Daily Bread

There are people in this world, who after paying bills and putting food on the table, give away the rest of their paycheck. They don't keep savings or retirement funds or stocks. They don't put their trust in money, belongings, property, stock market, insurances, themselves or other people. They trust the Lord to keep providing for them, taking care of their needs.

Wow, it's possible to live like that. Isn't it so inspiring?  Imagine what freedom and calm you can experience when you put your trust in the sovereign God of the universe, and not on yourself, not on the stuff that this world wants to make you think you cannot live without.

Some people think that when they have a bulging bank account or stock portfolio, they are safe. But that is a false sense of security. Just think about where the world is today. I'm not an financial expert (nor any other kind of expert) but many people who are experts in the financial realm, are saying that the world economy will collapse, that it's inevitable. In any case, it is a very real possibility.

Anything you have can be taken away. No material thing can offer real security. It's okay to have some material things, but don't put your trust in them.
Even your life is not your own.

Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread. He didn't tell us to pray for  a big house, two BMW's, and lots of savings. We are to live our lives trusting him, taking each step in life in faith. We are not shown the whole picture of our life and what the future will hold for us. If we knew, we wouldn't be living in faith.

And you know what? He WILL lead those who are faithful to him.

He is a living God.