GUEST WRITER: EMILY SWANSON
GUEST WRITER: EMILY SWANSON
It was said of Abraham that he was a friend of God. What a marvelous statement about any person Think about what all friendship involves.
My best friend is my husband of 55 years. He knows more about me than any other living soul. Yet he still loves me, warts and all. He knows where I keep the coffee cups and the spoons. He knows where to put the dirty laundry. He knows that I snore. That is because we abide together. He knows my joys and my sorrows. He knows simple things; like I like to eat sandwiches of anything. These are probably things about me that others do not know…or care. We can spend hours together never uttering a word and then suddenly both say the same thing simultaneously.
There are other friends in my life who know secrets from my heart. We have laughed and cried together over events for many years. They, too, know my joys and sorrows. I may call on them at anytime for a cup of coffee, a visit, a prayer. We have even prayed over the telephone together as I cry and they pray. There are those who have given me little gifts (for no reason other than love) at no eventful time. They leave a small package on the seat of my car, or on my doorknob at home. What a friend!
Beloved, we all have such a friend. (Not one with skin on as the little boy is noted for saying). But we have a friend who loves to abide with us. What a privilege to abide with the Living God! He would like to walk with us in our garden as He did with Adam. He would love to call us friend as He did Abraham. Perhaps He would like to know us as a “child after His Own Heart” as He did King David. He already knows your our intimate secrets; but He would like to reveal some of His secrets to us.
Our Father wants to hear from us about the secret things of our hearts…our joys, our sorrows, our desires. He wants to know the simple things like our concerns over our children’s grades in schools, what can I do to stretch my time as a wife and mother or grandmother? He listens to our frustrations and our victories (say, Father, did You know my husband got a raise today; my child made an A in math. WOW) He can know these things from us because we choose to abide with Him. Abiding indicates quality time spent together.
He already leaves little gifts for us all over the place. What was that special hug from my child or that smile from my baby if it wasn’t a Gift from God? Who do we think arranges for those A’s in life and those raises that come unexpectedly? What was that beautiful day of sunshine shedding its light over the ountryside? What was that refreshing rain cooling off the parched land? What is that “Peace that passes all understanding” in a time of trial? Where’d that come from anyway?
We can spend much time together…never saying a word, just listening; and all of a sudden the Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, speaks to my heart revealing His Heart and His plans for me. He reassures me of His love. He gives me glimpses of His secrets.
Dear Heart, Friends love to be together and to share. The mark of a true friend is their availability to us when we need, and their undying friendship regardless of our faults. We have such a Friend…and What a Friend He is. Enjoy Him
“Dearest Father, What a Friend we have in You all ‘because of what Christ has done in dying for our sins…making us friends of God’. (Psalm 5:11 Living Bible) Help us to take every advantage of that friendship by abiding in You and Your Word. ‘I come to the Garden alone; while the dew is still on the roses.’ Amen”
GUEST AUTHOR: EMILY SWANSON
Are you one of those “short people” who is always straining to see over the heads of the crowd? Or reaching up into a cupboard that is at least 8 inches above your reach? I am such a person and I can relate to the little fellow of scripture, Zaccheus, so very well.
As I think about the encounter Zaccheus had with Jesus, my mind goes back to the Jericho of long ago. I try to visualize the crowds that day as they waited along the road to see the itinerant preacher they have heard so much about. The chief tax-collector, the hated Zaccheus, was there and he was being squeezed out by the people. Somehow this little fellow had grown up in a “tall world”, the object of stares and much ridicule. Perhaps he grew up as the “kid who got pushed around”. We’ve all witnessed what happens to those the world labels as “runts”. Perhaps in growing up his childhood was trodden underfoot and the tender part of Zaccheus died. Maybe this made him compensate for that abuse by becoming a man of power that people had to “look up to” whether they liked it or not. True, Zaccheus gained stature in power and wealth…but no friendship…he was hated.
But Zaccheus heard stories about this Jesus who was coming to Jericho that day. He heard that Jesus was a friend…even to tax-collectors. Zaccheus longed for a look at this Jesus. His curiosity drove him to climb the sycamore tree and go out on a limb to see for himself.
All of Jericho was out on the dusty road. The business men, the housewives, the transients, teachers, bakers, holy men, were all elbow to elbow…except the chief tax-collector. (Let me put a parenthesis here. Zaccheus could have stayed home that day and avoided the crowd of people who hated him and whom he also hated.) But where did Jesus stop? He stopped right at the bottom of the sycamore tree! Whispers rippled over the crowd as people watched the Master in disbelief. Was Jesus actually asking to go home with this sinner? And He wasn’t asking for an audit or even and accounting. He was asking for the pleasure of Zaccheus’ company; the company of the chief tax-collector.
Can we even imagine the flood of repentance gushing from Zacchaus as he encounters Jesus Christ that day? Scripture bears out that he repented and turned his life over to Jesus immediately. His faith was followed by his immediate actions and life adjustments…WOW.
I think about coming-up short today in my life. Not short of stature, but spiritually short because of bad attitudes, broken relationships, broken commitments, or a critical spirit. I have to strain to see Jesus over this crowd of attitudes that crush me. But He is always there. He is ready to stop and call me to come down and meet Him, to commune with Him. What a joy.
I ask God to forgive me for trying to compensate for my “stunted spiritual” growth. Perhaps I have expected my works to increase my stature. Help me Lord, to see that I can increase only if I am willing to decrease. It is in losing my life that I find it. It is by dying that I live. It is in giving that I receive. If I am not willing to give up everything, I cannot be His disciple.
“Father, I confess to you that I am short in spiritual stature. To even see You I need something to stand on…just like Zaccheus. But I want to see Jesus; not just through the eyes of a pastor or a teacher or an evangelist. I want to hear Him; not just hear about Him on tapes and radio or TV. I don’t want a second-hand experience. I want to feel Him with my own Heart. I want to have faith that I can stand and “Look Full in His Wonderful Face”.
Lord, if I have to climb a tree to see you, I will gladly do so. Please come near Lord Jesus. I will be the one out on a limb, waiting. And as you come, overwhelm me with the awesome wonder that it is not I who seek you nearly as much as it is you who seeks me. Give me courage that I do not let anything crowd me out and lose the privilege of experiencing communion with Jesus. Amen”
GUEST AUTHOR: EMILY SWANSON
The Psalmist said, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged”, and he cried out to God to deliver him. (Psalm 25:17) We have all felt that way at sometime. Our hearts become heavy with the trials that come upon us. The Book of Job records “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble”. (Job 14:1) If anyone knew about troubles, Job did.
But Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me.” What an admonition that is. And it is coupled with the promise in verse 2 of John 14 as Jesus assures us that He is making provision for our eternal comfort and security.
“When things aren’t doing right in life”, it does help to cling to this precious passage for it comes from the lips of our Savior. He is faithful to keep His promises. My mother would always tell me in times of trouble, “This too shall pass away”. Remember, dear one, all things in life will pass away…whether it be good or bad…it will pass away. Enjoy the good things of life, family, friends, they will be fleeting. Endure the trials of life; they too will be gone in time.
“Father, Thank You for your blessed promise that You are gone away for awhile to prepare a place for us to be with You. That is such a comforting thought and such a blessed time to look forward to. Amen”
GUEST AUTHOR: EMILY SWANSON
It seems that when I get to the end of my rope I find God is already there.
The promise goes way back to Genesis 28:15, when God spoke to Jacob. His promise then was that He would not leave Jacob. He would take care of him. The writer of Hebrews reiterates this promise to them as he is referring here to the Genesis passage.
We all come to a place in our lives that we sometimes feel is the end of our rope. When that happens we feel all we can do is tie a knot in it and hang on. Go ahead; tie the knot…help’s a ‘comin! Our Father, Himself, has promised that He has not moved and left a “no forwarding address”. He is right where He has always been…just a prayer away.
We have all had offers from well-meaning people who say, “If there is anything I can do, just let me know.” Sometimes the need arises at the midnight hour and you are not about to call on such a one. But, our Father neither slumbers nor sleeps; He is available and He is able.
“Father, help me when I feel lonely, abandoned or helpless to know that You are there. Let me know that I am protected in the refuge of Your mighty arms. You are there to hear me, to help me, to protect me and to love me. I thank You and praise You. Amen”
GUEST WRITER:Emily Swanson
In my quiet time of worship I said to God, “I want to enter your presence with praise. Sometimes I long to know what you look like. I know you are holy and attended by angels; but I long to know you!”
My Father replied, “I sent my Son that you might know me. ‘He who has seen the Son has seen the Father’, and you can see my character in My Son. Remember His commitment in the temple as a little boy; His commitment as a man when He ‘set His face toward Jerusalem and the cross’. Also remember His communion with others; His disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the wedding feast, Nicodemus, the many people who stopped Him along the way to talk. He was never too busy; neither am I.”
Healing is another attribute of God as expressed by Jesus on many occasions. The gentleness of those strong hands that made a “mud-pack’ with clay and spittle and applied it to the eyes of a blind man. See his compassion for the woman in adultery as she was dragged before Him. I see His forgiveness even to the cross as He looked upon His accusers and His own disciples who had forsaken Him. He knows rejection…the families and friends of Nazareth rejected Him; there was a moment on the cross when He felt rejection of the Father as He took on the sin of the world. Still He is rejected of men even after His sacrifice. He is the ultimate of love (AGAPE). He laid down His life willingly. He is patient and longsuffering. I see Him teaching His disciples and yet see their misunderstanding of what He was really about. (They squabbled over first place in the kingdom like children squabbling over “who’s first at bat”.)
He was gentle and kind as He took the little children to Him and as He fed the hungry multitudes. He was powerful as He called Lazarus forth from the grave and when He calmed the story sea. He cast demons out which recognized Him as the Son of God. He was concerned as He gave His mother over to John’s care at His death on the cross. He was sorrowful and compassionate…He wept. He showed righteous anger as He ran off the moneychangers from the temple. He showed grace even on the soldier whose ear was cut off by Peter. He was totally unprejudiced. He ate with publicans and sinners; communed with Sadducees and Pharisees, Roman Soldiers, Jews and Greeks. He was merciful…see the widow whom Jesus gave back her son. He was faithful to keep His promises,
The Father said, you have seen My Face in the person of Jesus. My Character is there in My Son. See ‘Family Resemblance”.