Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Living Hope and Incorruptible Inheritance

Living Hope and Incorruptible Inheritance      

What is the most valuable thing about being a born-again follower of Jesus? 

Certainly the benefits are beyond countless but think about it ... 
Eternity is a really long time. The human mind cannot even begin to comprehend FOR-EVER. Close your eyes—right now—and try to imagine Eternity—Forever and ever and ever and ...

As promised, I’m posting the second part of the blessings found in 1 Peter 1. My previous post is titled, “Hope Alive” (posted June 6, 2017).

As a result of God’s abundance of mercy toward all people living hope comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Therefore the living Christ makes possible a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). And the ultimate hope that is alive in us Jesus followers is the anticipation of our eternal destiny—our place of residence following death or the catching away of the saints—which ever happens first for each of us. 

Verse four of the first chapter of 1 Peter is rich in hope, alive with glorious expectancy. The apostle Peter writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). 

The English Standard Version (ESV) puts it this way: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

What an amazing inheritance we have! 
It is-

- incorruptible, meaning imperishable; Greek - aphthartos, meaning undecaying; not corruptible, immortal. Synonyms – indissoluble, permanent, endless, eternal, perpetual. (1) page 2118

- undefiled; Greek – amiantos, meaning unsoiled, pure, unpolluted. Synonyms – sincere, unalloyed, holy as being free from admixture of evil, sacred. (1) page 2092

- will not fade away – Greek – amarantos, meaning perpetual; unfading, hence enduring. (1) page 2091

As I was writing this post, I received word that the father of a friend died last night. I didn’t know the father but my friend’s family is confident that their loved-one is now realizing the fullness of his glorious inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and will never fade away. WOW! Think of it.

Of course there is sadness in the passing of a loved one, who will be missed in this earthly life, but the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus eases the pain of separation and calls out to a future reunion that is eternal and greater than anything we can imagine.

Thank You, Father God and thank You, Jesus, our Savior.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

God knows, y'all!

God Knows, Y’all!

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8 [He also knows what you want.]

Last week while chatting with friends, I began lamenting over the weather forecast for the upcoming Saturday− 85% chance of rain in the town where I was planning to sell my books at an outdoor arts festival.  I had already paid the nonrefundable fee of $50 and dreaded the thought of setting up in the rain for a show that would likely have only a handful of browsers and shopper.
When I realized I was sounding like a negative grumbler it occurred to me that God is in charge of the weather. And besides, He’s the One Who called me to do what I’m doing− write and sell my books. My bemoaning was surely not honoring Him. So I came to myself, looked at my friends, threw my hands in the air, and in my naturally southern way, declared, “God knows, y’all!” They agreed and we laughed together.
The next day while thinking about the fact that God truly knows, my thoughts turned to an experience I had had several months earlier where He clearly showed me that truth. It happened at my 40-something high school class reunion. I’m still blown away by what happened that night.
An old classmate came over and sat down with my husband and me and said he wanted to tell me something. I eagerly listened as he began describing an old photograph he had bought in an antique store a few years back and he thought I would like to have it.
As he continued on, I knew the exact photo he was talking about and it was all I could do to hold back tears. In fact a few began to leak no matter how hard I tried.
The picture was of my brother, Tommy, as a sophomore, sitting in the locker room before a baseball game. It had been taken by a yearbook staffer and held a major spot in the yearbook that year (1966) as the sports section intro page.
Very puzzled, I asked my former classmate how in the world he came to find it in an antique store and where. A few years earlier I had been told that it was in a box in storage and would be given to me when the box was emptied.
This photo had been given to Charles Fretwell, a highly respected man in our city, who wrote a monthly column for our local newspaper. When my brother, Tommy, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 19, Charles visited him and my parents and asked if he could write about Tommy and our family’s experience. His column for that edition was titled, “Tommy Edwards Puts on the Badge of Courage.”
Then after my brother lost his battle with cancer, at age 22, Charles wrote about Tommy again, commending his quiet courage and faith in God. Charles obviously thought highly of my brother and admired his “quiet courage” as he expressed it.
A few years later, my husband and I were visiting Charles in his office and I noticed, hanging on the wall, the picture of Tommy-- nicely framed, and with a caption, “Tommy - Quiet Courage.” I recognized it immediately as the one from the yearbook.
I said, “Wow Charles, you have the picture of Tommy!”
He commented about how he was so pleased to have it and we reminisced a little about days gone by.
Several years later Charles and his wife both passed away and I was sent word from one of their daughters that when they came across the photo of Tommy, which had gotten packed away, they’d send it to me.
Then a few years later, at this reunion, you can imagine my surprise when I was told it was found in an antique store. My classmate didn’t remember the city or even the state where he’d discovered it. But, God knew.
I said to him, “God had His eye on that photo for me and kept it safe all these years! It’s just incredible!”
He agreed and said how pleased he was to give it to me and wouldn’t even let me reimburse him for the price he’d paid. I’m still amazed every time I look at the photo of my dear brother. It truly encapsulates his quiet nature and unassuming personality.    

Little did we know, at the time the photo was taken, that he would one day exhibit such quiet courage as a young man struck with cancer in the prime of life. His faith in his Savior sustained him and was a witness to his college friends as well as to our community.
Some may say, “Big deal. It’s just a picture.” I would respond, “True, it’s just a picture. And I could have lived out my life never seeing it again or owning it and that would be okay. It’s not like I thought of it often or fretted over it. I did not.”
But the fact that it was basically tossed out, found, rescued, and then placed in my hands is just one more example that God knows and God cares, even about little things.
Through this experience, God reminded me that He’s literally on top of all things. At the time of his illness and death, Tommy’s favorite song was, “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” as sung by Mahalia Jackson. Indeed, God’s eye is on the sparrow, and on you and me as well as every little thing that matters to you and me− such as a meaningful photo from years gone by.
Let’s be mindful always that, God knows, y’all!
Can you think of a time in your life when God showed you He knows even though it may have seemed like a small matter? (Or it might have been a bid deal.) 

Feel free to share in the comments below.

Thank you for reading my post today. I hope it encouraged you in some way.

©Copyright 2015 Connie Wohlford

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I miss Daddy when ...

Daddy & me, a college freshman
I miss Daddy when...                                                                                          

  •  baseball season starts in spring—he so loved the game.
  • I hear the word, knuckle-ball—they say his just couldn’t be hit.
  • we gather in a circle and hold hands to pray, remembering his often painful grip, especially if he was doing the praying.
  • hummingbirds come to the feeder. How he loved to watch them.
  • I make chocolate cake or brownies. 
  •  we throw snowballs in winter—his favorite winter sport.
  •  I drive by my parents’ church, the one that I grew up in.
  •  I drive the Blue Ridge Parkway and the rhododendron is showing off.
  • I drive by a field where kids are playing ball and hear the crack of the bat. 
  •  I drive country roads and think of him teaching me to drive before I was old enough for a permit.
  •  I talk with his old friends.  
  • I hear upbeat music and feel like dancing.
  • I cook hamburgers and hear him say, “I’d rather have a good hamburger than a steak.” 
  •  visit his sister.
  • we pray at meals, I often think of his long dinnertime prayers and some people wished he would cut it short so we could get on with the eating.
  • I make cornbread.
  • I wear his shirts.
  • I watch his great grandchildren play sports—and can hear him cheering them on or yelling at the officials.
  • I look at old photos.
  • I  sit by the ocean.
  • I start a prayer saying, “Oh God, our dear Heavenly Father...”
  • I make pineapple upside-down cake, or any sweet for that matter.
  • it’s Father’s Day and I can’t give him a hug and get one in return.
  • I wish I could have one more conversation, one more hug, and tell him I love him just one more time. 

    Do I wish he were here instead of where he’s now residing? Not at all. 
    Because right now he’s eternally in his prime; he’s pain free and trouble free. 
Daddy and Mamma way back when ...

He’s beholding beauty beyond anything any of us can imagine. 

He has been reunited with my brother, Tommy and my Mama, who had been anticipating his arrival for couple of months ahead of him. 

And best of all he’s with his beloved Savior, Jesus, who already had a new home all prepared for him. 

I often think of what my friend, Anna, said to me a couple weeks after Mamma’s home-going: “She’s having more fun than we are right now.”
How very true, and now Daddy’s right there having all that fun as well. I ponder that as I cherish the memories of my precious father.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.

 “He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave.”                                                     Matthew Henry

What are some favorite things about your father?
Please share in comments below. Thanks.

©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford