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Friday, November 25, 2011

We Are Come!

 I had a big day yesterday for a knee just 3 weeks out from total replacement.  I went in after dinner to lie down for a while.  I napped a little bit—until Maggie decided it was play time and began romping all over the bed.  Then I asked Rachael and Michael to entertain her a little so I could rest easier.  But my knee kept aching.

I started thinking of Hebrews 12:16 -30.  Actually I focused on verse 22:  22But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,   Then I had to get up and read the entire portion of scripture accompanying it.  What a fantastic place to be in the Lord!  To be taken into the fellowship of the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.  What a fantastic privilege! 

I thought of the respect accorded to the old Mt Sinai when Moses went up to receive the 10 commandments.  Remember how God called on Moses to issue a warning to the people in Exodus 19:9-19.  God declared the mountain holy to His Own purpose for that time and the consequence of ‘dis-respecting’ it was death.  If even one of the animals belonging to the children of Israel touched the mountain it was to be killed.  If you read the account you will see what great fear the warning provoked in the people when Moses went up on the mountain.

In Hebrews, the writer compares the Holy Mountain of the Church to that Old Testament mountain.  He begins by speaking of Esau and how he despised his birthright for a moment of fleshly fulfillment and later even though he regretted it, there was no restoring it. 16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

We are reminded how much greater a promise we have been given today by Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary!  18For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:  We don’t see a physical mountain that is surrounded with fire and blackness and storm.  We don’t hear a literal trumpet or voice.  We might be more careful of obeying our God if that were true.

No, here is the part that thrilled me.  We aren’t come to some literal mountain. But we are come  unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,   And more beautiful than that We come there through  Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Just think!  We are blessed to have obtained the fullness of the covenant initiated on Mount Sinai!  We have immediate access to all the blessing that those early Israelites struggled so hard to attain.  How fantastic!   We can dwell in the midst of that spiritual mountain, in the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God!  Accepting Christ’s atonement for our sins poured out blessings on us today that are breath taking! 

Think about it!  Christ has given us access to all the righteousness to which the Israelites aspired  by following the Old Law!  His blood has provided us forgiveness for sins and the power to live above sin, free from its bondage!  It thrills me to the very depth of my being!  The Israelites feared to set foot on the mountain but WE, WE, are blessed to dwell in the midst of it!  Mount Sion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, the general assembly and church of the first born! 

It makes me think of Psalms 87 where the psalmist says: The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah. I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there.

We were born into that holy city and assembly!  How glorious it is to know that I was born in her!  Not as a literal Jew, but as a spiritual one,  born of the Spirit through water and the blood of Jesus!  When we accepted Christ’s invitation to be born again we were born into that holy city, the Church of the living God!  Don’t those words ring in your soul!  Over and over, pealing out the joy of that new birth!  It takes my breath away! 

And while I was thinking on all of that, I considered how lightly so many Christians today consider the edicts of the Lord.  They play church.  They sit under ministers who present lectures in human values and social enrichment.  They make social contacts.  They give lip service to serving God and use the Love of God to cover all manner of sin! They disregard the tremendous and majestic heritage which God offers His People because they prefer to follow their own sinful and fleshly ways.  In many cases it is even done ignorantly because the ministry they are depending on for Biblical teaching is failing in their calling.

Masses of Christians treat the things of God so casually.  Oh yes, they ‘pay proper respect’ to the church buildings and they call one another brother or sister and refer to their spiritual leader as ‘pastor’ or ‘reverend’ and they go to church services on Sunday morning.  They even pay a ‘tithe’ of some sort or a ‘pledge’ to the local congregation.  Most of them profess themselves to be  ‘Christians’ and are proud of their affiliation with a ‘local body of believers.’ They consider themselves to be freed from following the ‘old law’ but have no commitment to the deeper dedication that comes with complete salvation in Christ. They do all the outward things that proclaim them to be good Christians.  And yet as Christ said they neglect the weighter things of following the Lord.  ( . . . ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Luke 11: 38-42) 

In the religious world today men and women have no qualms about professing themselves ‘born again Christians’ and still living in sin.  Many times their lifestyle is such that even sinners recognize their hypocrisy.  We can see regularly professing Christians committing adultery and living in open sin but still ‘witnessing’ to the saving power of Jesus. 

What a travesty!   What insincerity!  What a trampling underfoot of the Son of God, and [counting] the blood of the covenant, wherewith [we are] sanctified, an unholy thing!  (Heb 10:29)
I thought of the consequence to the people and animals who disregarded God’s warning back at Sinai.   God has similar warning for men and women today who disregard His standards and ignore His Word.  25See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:  26Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

 God’s ministers still have a responsibility to speak as the Spirit gives them utterance, to warn men and women of the Judgment of God to come.  As the prophets of old (Ezekiel 33: 1-7)  had a responsibility to their people so do God’s men today have the same responsibility.
God is still sending His Message of deliverance from sin and freedom to worship Him in righteousness.  He is shaking the foundations of Satan’s prison house and freeing those men and women who turn to him. And mankind still has the choice of refusing His Word or accepting it.   Yet, men still deny and refuse it!  They would have been among those who were very careful for fear of physical death not to touch the mountain while Moses was there.  They would observe all the outward demands and be very careful how their obsequious attitude toward the ‘things of God’ is noticed, but like the Pharisees in Luke they ignore the deeper spiritual things that are more easily hidden from casual onlookers.   They are stomping on the spiritual mountain and considering that their sin is overlooked because the hand of God no longer reaches out to strike them dead for their disobedience. 

But today we worship as spiritual Jews, not literal.  Our death today is not literal but spiritual.
In Moses time all of the worship was focused on outwardly keeping of laws and ordinances; the consequences were literal.  If God said ‘death’ it was a literal physical death.   Today, the Word tells us that we are not literal Jews, but spiritual; our spirituality lies “inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter[of the law]  That life requires a much deeper commitment to the things of God and a more careful walk before Him.  And when God speaks of death now it is a spiritual condition and if we continue in our ways we find ourselves dead in trespasses and sin.  (Eph 2:1)

But, oh! the glory of accepting and following the Way of the Lord!   We are brought into His Church, His holy mountain, His Kingdom which stands sure.  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  And we are given grace to serve God in holiness, consistently and faithfully!  Amen!

29For our God is a consuming fire.  That fire consumes all the sin and dross in our life and makes us holy acceptable before God. 

Isn’t that the most wonderful thing!  It woke me up and kept me up!  Our Lord is breathtaking, overwhelming!  Take time to just read Hebrews 12:16-29.  And read it again and again, until the glory of it fills your soul! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What a Mighty God We Serve!

I realized something today.   It has been exactly two weeks since  my knee replacement.  Last week about this time (the 8th or 9th)  I was in a  lot of pain; my leg was severely swollen and had a fever.  Movement was limited and I needed help getting out of bed.  I could walk a short way, but not too easily.
That evening or the next, I sent an email to Notah and Rachael and my sister in law, Helen, and my nieces asking them to pray for me.  What a fantastic God we serve!  And how surely He answers prayer!  On Saturday and Sunday I was able to get out of bed alone.  I was able to use the bathroom and come back to straighten out my bed and get back in.  All without any help! 
On Saturday I tried to do the exercises I’d been doing in physical therapy.  I was able to do most of them without any difficulty.  The whole straight leg lifts were difficult.  The heel slides which are designed to bend the knee were do-able but I could only bend my knee enough to raise it about two inches off the bed.  I did the toe kicks sitting on the side of the bed since I didn’t have the roll to prop my leg on.  Those happened without any difficulty!  
Sunday I did all the exercises again.  This time I could raise my knee in the heel slide a little higher each time so when I reached the 20 times the therapist wanted I kept on going.  My knee was loose and bent a little further each time.   I stopped when I got to 50!  I did 15 whole leg lifts.  And the other exercises I was able to whip out in short order! 
Last night I was so blessed to remember that prayer I asked for on Tuesday or Wednesday last week.  All this progress has been because of those prayers!  Wow!  My leg is now just about the same size as the other one.  The bruising is nearly gone.  There is no fever!  This morning I walked from my room to the physical therapy room! The therapist said it was about 250 feet!  And I wasn’t even hurting when I got there. 
All that may not seem like much to you, but believe me, it is amazing.  And everybody here says so, too.  Last week this time this all looked impossible, but the Lord has made it possible.

And now I'm going home on Friday morning!
Thank you, Lord!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wow.  What a fantastic, busy, crazy, painful few weeks since I wrote about the end of my days in New Mexico.  On November 1st I had my second knee re-placement.   
The surgery went smoothly-as far as I could tell since I was ‘out’ for the whole time.   However as soon as I was able to see what was happening, I realized that this one had been much more invasive than the first.  I had used the knee much harder since the other leg worked better and was much more dependable.  Over the summer, I walked and went more places than before since I could do so with a cane or staff.  Of course that contributed to more damage to the old knee.  
By the time I got back to Ohio, I had to resort to crutches for the few days before the surgery.  The knee was swollen and I could feel new ‘bumps’ in the deposits around the bone. So, although I didn’t ask the surgeon, I think it must have taken a lot more to prepare the ends of the bone for the new knee implants. 
At any rate, the results of the surgery were widespread bruising and swelling.  My first knee was swollen around the knee and a little downwards to my ankle and foot, but this was seriously swollen and feverish from day one.  It was much stiffer than the first.  
The good news is that now, 13 days after the surgery the swelling has gone down and I can walk on the leg.  I think the progress has been faster than the first time.  The goal, my goal, has always been to be finished in rehab within two weeks.  In April I was here something more than three weeks.     Even though I started out with a stiffer leg with less mobility this time, I knew more of what I should be able to do, so I pushed harder.    Saturday I was able to get out of bed by myself and back into bed alone after having straightened the slide pad and the sheets!  I can also go and open my window and the blind.   I walked from my end of the hall to nearly the door of the Physical Therapy room.
Tomorrow I will go the whole way!  
I miss being home with my old dog and my Maggie.  I wish I could be there to help with potty training Maggie.  Rachael says she will go out with the Big Dogs to potty.  That must be a cute thing to see.  Maxim goes tearing out, Sebastian and Gabriel rush along behind him and then comes Maggie bringing up the rear.  I wish I could see it! 
I’ve been stuck here in rehab while Rachael’s new store reopened with all kinds of good reports.   I saw Michael’s work on re-finishing the cupboards, but I haven’t seen the new face-lift on the dishwasher and trash compactor (we never use it as a compactor, only a glorified trash can!)  It must be beautiful. 
I intend to be home before Thanksgiving!