Saturday, July 30, 2005

The children of the barren one: Is 54:1

" 'Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,' says the LORD." (Isaiah 54:1)
What determines our futures? Is it our past failures or our present weaknesses? This scripture tells us that our future is not determined by either of these things but rather by the grace of God alone. Your spiritual life may not have been fruitful in the past but that does not mean that you will not yield fruit in the future. Your ability to conceive the blessings of God may be non-existent but God is still able to bless you in ways you cannot even fathom. God is not looking to our ability or our track record but simply to His own desire to bless us and to give us the kingdom. God wants to bless us in spite of ourselves in order to demonstrate to the world His love and care for us. We must not falter in faith just because the promises of God seem impossible to us. Consider what Paul wrote about Abraham, "Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform." (Romans 4:19-21) Abraham did not deny his present circumstances and his inability to produce an heir, but he knew that the promises of God were not dependent upon these things. He believed that God could do what He had promised, with or without his own personal abilities.

There is a tremendous promise in this scripture: the end of those who have not will be greater than those who have. When we trust in God, our barrenness will be turned into abundance. "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are." (1 Corinthians 1:26-28) Are you weak? Are you foolish? Are you insignificant in this world? If so, then you are a candidate for God to work in and though. God is not looking for highly talented people. God is not looking for people of great ability. Rather, God is looking for willing people who are available and who will believe Him. These are the people whose fortunes are great. Let us confess the same confessions as Paul, "for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)

David Robison

Friday, July 29, 2005

He will see His offspring: Is 53:10-12

"But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:10-12)
This scripture contains several truths. First, it testifies of the resurrection of Jesus. The prophesy says, "He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days." This is not the kind of thing you say about someone who is about to die young, and to die without leaving behind any children. Jesus died, yet in His resurrection, He lives forever. Jesus is alive today and He watches over His "children", those who have believed upon Him and who have become children of God.

Secondly, we see that Jesus died for us. Jesus bore our sins on the cross, He died to pay the penalty for our sins, and now He lives and grants us forgiveness and reconciliation with the father. Though His death was excruciatingly painful, He endured it and is satisfied with the results, that is, that many have become children of God. "For the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2) Its was for the joy of knowing that we could become sons and daughters of God that Jesus endured the cross. Through His death, we have salvation, and "He sees it and is satisfied."

Lastly, the scripture says that it was the Father's good pleasure to crush His Son. Why was the Father pleased? Because He knew that if the Son would offer Himself as a sin offering, then mankind would be reconciled back to Him. The Father loved the Son, but He also loved us. "For God so loved the world , that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16) We know that the Father loves the Son, but have we ever stopped to consider how much the Father must also love us seeing that He was willing to give His Son for us? "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are." (1 John 3:1) How unfathomable is the love of God for us!

David Robison

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Three prophesies of the Christ: Is 53:7-9

"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence." (Isaiah 53:7-9)
Here are three specific prophesies of the Christ that were all fulfilled in Jesus.
  1. He did not open His mouth. As Jesus was arrested and placed on trial, He did not struggle against the Father's will for Him. He did not argue and try to plead His case, but He quietly accepted that which was the Father's will. "The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, 'Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?' But He kept silent and did not answer." (Mark 14:60-61) "Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, 'Where are You from?' But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, 'You do not speak to me?' " (John 19:8-10)

  2. By judgment He was taken away. This scripture foretells that Jesus would be arrested, tried, and given the sentence of death. The Jews did not just take Jesus away and kill Him, but they took Him to trial and won a judgment against Him. He was judged even tough Pilate knew that He was innocent of the charges. "And he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.'But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted." (Luke 23:22-24)

  3. He was with a rich man in His death. Jesus was crucified with two other common criminals, yet He was buried in the tomb of a rich man. "When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away." (Matthew 27:57-60) Joseph, a rich man, laid Jesus in His own tomb, just as prophesied.

One final though, all that Jesus endured and suffered, He did for us. His rejection, His punishment, and His death were what we deserved. We deserve eternal death and separation from God for our sins and transgressions, yet Jesus came and paid the price Himself. The righteous anger of God towards our sins Jesus took upon Himself that we might be reconciled and have peace with the Father. What we could not do, Jesus did and, in doing so, He set us free.

David Robison

Monday, July 25, 2005

He died for us: Is 53:4-6

"Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Even in His death, Jesus was misunderstood. He was misunderstood by His enemies and by His friends. To His enemies, He was getting what He deserved. As He hung dying on the cross, those around Him mocked Him saying "He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'' " (Matthew 27:42-43) To them, His death was proof positive that He was not really anything special at all, and He certainly was not the Messiah. To His friends, His death was the end of their hopes and desires. While the two walked on the road to Emmaus, they spoke, not knowing it was Him, to Jesus of His death saying "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened." (Luke 24:21) In His death, they say all they hoped for vanish. Even His disciples did not understand His need to die. When speaking of it, Peter rebuked His saying "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." (Matthew 16:22)

One of the greatest statements of misunderstanding came from one of the criminals being crucified with Him. He mocked Him saying, "Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!" (Luke 23:39) What they did not understand was that, has He saved Himself, He would have condemned all of humanity for all eternity. His death was the only hope left for mankind. We were lost in our sins and transgressions and all our efforts could not reconcile us to God. We had lost eternal life and only the death of God on a cross could restore it to us. The only way He could save us was to not save Himself.

Consider what Jesus achieved for us on the cross:
  • He bore our griefs, sickness, our diseases.
  • He carried our grief, pain, and sorrow.
  • He was wounded and bruised for our forgiveness.
  • He was chastised that we might have peace with God.
  • His stripes purchased us healing.
  • He took upon Himself our iniquity and carried it to the cross.
Jesus died for us. In His death He purchased salvation for us. We can now be reconciled with the Father. None of this would have been possible had Jesus not died. I am so thankful that, on that day, Jesus did not decide to come off the cross and save Himself. That day, He was thinking of me.

David Robison

Sunday, July 24, 2005

We esteemed Him not: Is 53:2-3

"For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (Isaiah 53:2-3)
Jesus was not a "stand out" kind of guy. He was not one to be voted "most likely to succeed." He wasn't especially hansom and physically there was nothing that would draw us to Him. He was not popular, rather he was despised by many. His life was seasoned with sorrow and grief and He understood what it meant to suffer. But there was something that did set Him apart.

Jesus grew up in a time of dryness. This scripture refers to the time of His coming as "a root out of dry ground." Picture a sun parched land, void of water, when the dirt is dry and cracked. In the middle of this land is a stump, dead and dry, with its root exposed to the sun and heat. This is a picture of Israel and the times in which Jesus was born. The land was dry, the word of the Lord was rare. Times were hard, and there was little joy. It had been a long time since the rain of God had refreshed the weary land. Beyond the land, the people were dry. The stump of the remnant of Israel was dry and dead. They still had their religion, but they lacked the movement and presence of God in their midst.

This was the historical context into which Jesus was born, yet something was about to change. Out of the dry, dead, barren land, a shoot was about to spring forward. Out of death was to come life. What set Jesus apart form all others was life. Jesus had life and, those who recognized it, wanted that life for themselves. John said, "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men." (John 1:4) It's like the story of the burning bush. A bush is not very notable, but when it is on fire and not burred up, it can even make a seasoned sheep herder turn aside to look. Jesus was a man, but He was also a man who had eternal life. As a man, we would not have taken a second look, but it is His life that captures our hearts and desires.

What made Jesus notable was His life. How about us? Do people see in us the life of Jesus, or are we just like everyone else in the world. It's not our words, our doctrine, or our beliefs that will make people take notice, but it is the quality of life that we live. "And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." (1 John 5:11-12) The world needs to see our life, they need to see the life of Jesus in us. This is the evidence that God has given to the world, God has given us eternal life!

David Robison

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Marred more than any man: Is 52:13-15

"Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted. Just as many were astonished at you, My people, so His appearance was marred more than any man and His form more than the sons of men. Thus He will sprinkle many nations, kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; for what had not been told them they will see, and what they had not heard they will understand." (Isaiah 52:13-15)

This scripture prophecies of the brutality of Jesus' death. It says that he will be "marred more than any man." Jesus death was not pleasant. Roman crucifixion was one of the most painful means of death that has ever been invented. Most of today's art, in depicting Christ's death on the cross, fail to accurately depict the brutality of His death. As Jesus hung on the cross, He was so disfigured that you couldn't even recognize that it was Him. Jesus died a painful and horrible death, and He did it for us!

Through His death, God gives us this promise, "He will sprinkle many nations." God is speaking of the salvation of the gentiles. Jesus died not only for the Jews, but he died for all mankind, even the gentiles. The blood of Jesus, poured out on the cross, was to effect the redemption of all mankind, of the Jew first and also the gentile. Even today, Jesus' blood is cleansing all those who turn to Him in faith. The effect of Jesus' death on the cross is still being felt today.

Paul, in writing to the Colossians, says that the gospel, "has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth." (Colossians 1:6) The gospel is continuously bearing fruit because the work Jesus did on the cross is continuously working in the lives of those who believe. Thank God that the spilled blood of Jesus is just as powerful today as it was 2000 years ago.

David Robison

Monday, July 18, 2005

Dominican Republic missions trip: Report 4

My 14 year old daughter left yesterday for 13 days in the Dominican Republic. She is part of a short-term missions trip organized by our church. Here is their fourth trip report:
We received a phone call from Cheryl this morning. What great news! The team is back at Glen and Rhoda's home having left the camp after completing their outreach. They are all happy and tired. Today they are looking forward to a day of shopping and a trip to McDonald's, then to the beach. They will be staying overnight at an all-inclusive hotel till tomorrow afternoon when they return to the Martin's home to attend church Tuesday with the Martin's and have dinner with the church family. Wednesday they head for home!

Everyone is healthy, happy and looking forward to a couple days of rest. The weather is hot and steamy, but the sky is clear and blue and bright. Thanks for all the prayers that sustained them through difficult accommodations, etc.

As far as "Emily" the team had several "dumps" of rain but only one afternoon of constant rain. The rainy afternoon they got together and prayed if they should go ahead with their plans for an evening outreach in a park and felt is was a go. On the 45 minute drive to the park, the rain stopped and the sky cleared and was filled with stars. God is so good.

Please continue to cover the team with prayer as they take some down time to relax and be refreshed, then travel home Wednesday. Thank.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Depart from Babylon: Is 52:11-12

"Depart, depart, go out from there, touch nothing unclean; go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves, you who carry the vessels of the LORD. But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard." (Isaiah 52:11-12)
Why were the people of Israel to flee from Babylon? Because God was about to bring His punishment upon her. God was about to punish Babylon and did not want his people to be harmed in the process. Though we live in the world, God does not want us to be entangled by the world. We are not to be so vested in the world that all our hopes, dreams, and desires are dependent upon it. This scripture reminds me of a prophetic picture from the book of Revelation.
"The merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of the fear of her torment, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, she who was clothed in fine linen and purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls; for in one hour such great wealth has been laid waste!' And every shipmaster and every passenger and sailor, and as many as make their living by the sea, stood at a distance, and were crying out as they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, 'What city is like the great city?' And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, 'Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!' " (Revelation 18:15-19)

The destruction of Babylon will be a time of great rejoicing for many Christians. To know that the one who represents this present world system has been judged by God, will bring joy to those who are in Christ, but to those who love this world system, it will bring sorrow and pain. This is why the Apostle John reminds us, "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15) This is not to say that I don't appreciate and enjoy all that God has created, but my heart is set upon the things of Heaven rather than the things of earth. I live in the world, but I do not live for the things of the world, such as power, position, wealth, pleasures, etc, rather I live for the things of the Kingdom of Heaven. "Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." (Colossians 3:1-2)

Consider your own life, are there areas where you have become entangled by the world? Are there things in the world that, if God were to come and judge them, you would be sorrowful? Are there things in the world that have captured your heart more than the things of God? If so, what are we to do? First, we are to flee from. Paul says to "flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22) And secondly, we are to flee to. Jesus said to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)

When God comes to judge the world, I do not want Him to find me so connected to the world that its hard for me to leave. I do not want to be like Lot's wife who had to turn around and look back at her beloved Sodom. I want to be ready to leave whenever God calls my name.

David Robison

Friday, July 15, 2005

A final goodbye to my grandmother: Back Home

I'm back home now. It was good to see everyone. As I flew home, I reflected on my grandmother's life and her funeral. I remembered what Solomon said, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart... The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure." (eEcclesiastes 7:2,4) Funerals make us face our own mortality. Our bodies will not live on forever, but our spirits will. The question is, where will we spend eternity? This is a question we must all ask ourselves. The scriptures teach that those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ will spend eternity with Him and will escape eternal judgment.

Funerals also make me ask myself, how am I living my life? Paul says, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2) I would include my grandmother among that great cloud of witnesses. She lived her life and lived it well, and so can I. It is examples like my grandmother that encourage me and inspire me to live a godly life. We have only one life to live, so lets live it well.

David Robison

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dominican Republic missions trip: Report 3

My 14 year old daughter left yesterday for 13 days in the Dominican Republic. She is part of a short-term missions trip organized by our church. Here is their third trip report:
Good morning DR friends & family:

Pastor Cheryl just checked in and asked that we intercede for the team this afternoon as they go on their first outreach. They will divide into two teams led by Cheryl and Sandi and minister to locals in near by villages. Jennnifer and Brittany will share their testimonies in the respective groups and the team will minister through dramas and prayer. They will minister in a silmilar fashion on Fri. evening and Sat. afternoon - so please cover them with prayer.

The team has no sunburns, few bug bites and are truly flourishing in the Lord. Tues. and Wed. evening, the ministry camp has had two powerful alter ministries after teachings on inner healing and the Holy Spirit. The word to you parents is keep up the prayer and be encouraged! Your children have demonstrated, good manners, clean hearts and submissive attitudes!

"Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed." Psalm 112:1+2

Blessings to each one of you. Thank you for your prayers and kingdom support.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dominican Republic missions trip: Report 2

My 14 year old daughter left yesterday for 13 days in the Dominican Republic. She is part of a short-term missions trip organized by our church. Here is their second trip report:
Greetings friends and family:

Pastor Cheryl called this morning to update us on the Dominican Republic missions team. All are well though they are a bit fatigued from the extreme heat. They are making efforts to stay well hydrated and most are enjoying the Dominican food. The kids wake up up at 6:15 and break into small groups for devotions by 6:45. Lights are out by 10:00 p.m.! They will be at the YWAM camp through this Thurs. until around lunch time. At that point they will break up into groups of 30 and minister through the arts to some surrounding villages. Friday the entire group of 130 will gather in a large park for an evangelistic outreach through live music, drama and dance. Sandy Vutzinas gave an effective teaching at the camp last night. Pastor Cheryl will teach on Sat. evening. The kids have maintained positive attitudes throughout the many transitions.

The YWAM camp facility is a well constructed and sturdy facility located toward the center of the island. Pastor Cheryl said that there are few surrounding trees and that the area holds a minimal flood risk. Nonetheless, we would like to ask all of you to begin praying and interceding on behalf of our Dominican Republic missionaries, the Martins, and our New Life DR team under the leadership of Cheryl Muniz and Sandi Vutsinas. This tropical depression in the Atlantic is expected to become a hurricane and its projected path is right over the DR and Haiti by Saturday. Please pray that this hurricane would not develop and that it would turn away from the Dominican Republic and other land masses. Pray for the protection of our NL missions team and missionaries.

Thanks for praying. God does hear our prayers and responds.

David Robison

A final goodbye to my grandmother: The Interment

Today we buried my grandmother. Here is a picture of my grandfather placing a purple flower on her casket. As he did he said, "I know you're not here dear, but it seems appropo to lay a purple flower on your coffin." Purple was her favorite color. I also heard a heart warming story from a man who grew up in her neighborhood. He said that my grandparents were the first ones in the neighborhood to get a color television, everyone else had black and white. So every year my grandmother would invite in all the children in the neighborhood to watch the Wizard of Oz. She would even make popcorn and have goodies for them. All these years later, it was still a vivid memory for him.

I was asked to speak briefly at her interment. I shared the following scripture.
"All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:13-16)
This world is not our home. We are just sojourners on this earth. God has prepared for us a new home with Him. A home where there is no sickness, disease, sorrow, pain, death, or goodbyes. It is a place that needs not the light of the sun or moon because the Lamb in the center is its light. My grandmother is now home and, one day, all of us who loved here will join her in the presence of our Lord.

David Robison

Monday, July 11, 2005

A final goodbye to my grandmother: The Funeral

Today was my grandmother's funeral. It was good to see so many friends and family come together to celebrate her life and to rejoice in her reward. Much of the family I had not seen for quite some time. Many who came shared how grandma (and grandpa) had touched their life. As they shared their stories, two things struck me. First, she was grandma to everyone. No matter who you were, you felt completely comfortable calling them grandma and grandpa. Secondly, a consistent theme in everyone's remembrance of her was her faith. Her faith was both a witness and a beacon to all who knew her. My grandfather shared a story about he and grandma that I had never heard before. It was 1930 when he first met my grandmother. He said that the first time he touched her, God spoke to him very clearly that she was his. So he asked her out on a date and the very next day he proposed to her. The only problem was that she was 14 and he was 16. Grandma was not quite ready to settle down and get married, but after five years of waiting, they were married.

I had the singular privilege of officiating my grandmother's funeral. It was an honor I had not expected. I wanted to share something that was both encouraging and challenging. My grandmother was not afraid to speak the word of the Lord and to even challenge someone if it was needed. I shared the scripture from the story of Lazarus'' death. As Jesus and Martha discussed Lazarus'' death, Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) My grandmother believed in a now God. Not a God of yesterday, not a God of someday, but a God of today. She believed and lived her life as if God was with her every day. No matter what she needed, God was there to help her and to supply her with what every she needed in the moment. When there was a need, she did not wish God would meet the need, but she would pray believing that God would answer her prayers. At any moment of the day, no matter where she was, she could reach out and lay hold of her God and Savior. She did not wait for her death to begin to live in resurrection power, she lived it every day.

After the service, we returned to Hillcrest where my grandmother and grandfather lived. While waiting for supper, my grandfather asked my sister in-law to play some hymn so that they could worship awhile. This picture so typifies my grandmother's and grandfather's faith. At a time of great sorrow in his life, after saying goodbye to his wife of almost 70 years, he chooses to worship. In the good times and bad, my grandfather's first response is to worship. At first, I marveled at how well he was doing and how well he was holding up, but then I understand why. He is tapped into a strength far greater than anything you and I could muster up. He has found a source of joy that can comfort him in any sorrow. He has a father, brother, and friend that loves him more than any earthly human can. He serves a God who is ever gracious, kind, and loving to him. I hope that this might also be the testimony of my life as well.

David Robison

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A final goodbye to my grandmother: The Viewing

Today was the viewing and another chance to see family and friends I hadn't seen in many years. It was hard to watch my grandfather saying goodbye to the woman he had loved for so many years. My grandparents had a tradition that they passed on to my parents and even to my wife and me. At each meal, after praying and asking God's blessing on the food, they would turn and kiss each other. Growing up, it was normal to see such signs of affection from my parents and grandparents.

My niece put together a lovely video tribute to grandma. As I watched the video record of her life it struck me how quickly our lives pass bye. It reminded me of this verse, "Their inner thought is that their houses are forever and their dwelling places to all generations; they have called their lands after their own names." Psalms 49:11 Most of us do not like to think about our end. We tend to live life as if life will go on pretty much as is always has, yet none of us will live forever. Life is quickly passing us by, we are but a vapor in time. Knowing that life is short, we must be diligent to give ourselves to those things that are of lasting value. Moses said, "So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom." (Psalms 90:12) Life is short, we have no time to loose. Therefore, let us live each day as if it might be our last, let us give ourselves to the things that are eternal, and taking an example from my grandmother, let us live our lives and live them well.

David Robison

The watchmen rejoice: Is 52:7-8

"How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, they shout joyfully together; for they will see with their own eyes when the LORD restores Zion." (Isaiah 52:7-8)
Who are the watchmen? Biblically they fulfill two functions. First, they are seers. "Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself." (2 Samuel 18:24) Watchmen are called to stand on the wall and watch. They are to search the horizon and to cry out when someone approaches the wall. They are a kind of early-warning system, giving notice and allowing the city to prepare for what ever is coming. In this sense, watchmen share a prophetic calling. The ministry of a watchman is the ministry of a prophet. God says to the prophet Ezekiel, "Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me." (Ezekiel 3:17)

Secondly, watchmen are intercessors. "On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:6-7) In this case, the watchmen are more concerned with what is happening inside the city than outside. Their job is to assess the needs of the people and to take those needs to the Lord. They represent the needs and wishes of the people before the Lord. In their intersession, they remind the Lord of what He has already promised. They remind Him of His word and they watch and wait for His promises to be fulfilled. They stand on the wall praying and watching for the good word of the Lord to be fulfilled. As intercessors, they too share a prophetic calling.

Isaiah prophesies of a day when the watchmen on the wall would rejoice. In Isaiah's day, most of the time the watchmen were sounding the alarm of war, yet God was speaking of a day when the watchmen would shout for joy. The reason for their joy was because they would see with their own eyes the coming fulfillment of all the good promises of God. They looked out and saw the promised restoration of Israel coming to pass. They shouted for joy to the people that God was bring to pass what He had promised.

I have been in some churches where, each week, people would go to hear what was wrong with them. Every Sunday they would hear about how God was angry with them over their sins and, if they didn't repent, how God would punish them. The watchmen cry doom and gloom, even though we live in the dispensation of God's love and grace for all men. Where are the watchmen of joy? Those who see not only the problems in the church but also the good things God is doing in and for the church? Where are those who can see past the sins of people to see the redemptive work that God is doing within them? God is moving in a mighty and awesome way. Maybe we need to be more focused on looking for and sharing the good things God is doing rather than all the bad we see around us. It's time to rejoice so let the watchmen begin!

David Robison

Friday, July 08, 2005

A final goodbye to my grandmother: A Reunion

Today was our first full day in California. Six of my eight siblings have made it back to California for my grandmother's funeral. Today we were able to spend time visiting with each other. My dad also gave us a walking tour of the area that included La Verne college where he and my mom went to school. We also saw the church where my grandmother's father pastored. His final pastorate was the La Verne Church of the Brethren. This is a picture of the original church building. This is also the church where my father was baptized and where my mother had her graduation ceremony.

We also shared lunch and dinner with my grandfather at Hillcrest retirement home where he resides. Here is a picture of my grandfather and my father. My grandfather is 90 and was saved before he and my grandmother were married. He is both the natural and spiritual patriarch of our large extended family.

There were two stories that my grandfather shared that really gave testimony to his faith and love for our Lord. He told us that he was able to preach at his sister's funeral. About ten years ago, my grandma and grandpa started visiting and ministering to his sister. Every week they would make the long journey to his sisters house and spend time with her and help her out. Tough as it was, at times, a burden to them, they wanted to show her the love of the Lord. She had became angry at all men because of the actions of her late husband and she directed that anger at God the Father as well. One day, God came to her and said, "I come to you with love and you come to me with hate." These words broke her heart and she gave her heart to the Lord. My grandfather was in tears as he related this to us and as he remembers the joy he felt when she came to the Lord. For five years he and my grandmother ministered to her and, shortly before she was to pass away, she found the Lord. You could see not only my grandfather's love for his sister but also his joy in knowing that one who was lost found life in Jesus.

My grandfather's favorite hymn is How Great Thou Art. He shared with us that many times, when the reality of my grandmother's passing has been the hardest, he has closed his eyes and worshiped God with this hymn and it has brought him such great peace. When faced with the pain of losing his bride of 70 years, he is reaching out to God for strength, help, and grace. He is not bitter, but he is hurting, and in his pain, he is finding comfort in the Lord. Listening to him I learned a great lesson. No matter what life brings our way, in the good times and the bad, we must never stop reaching out to the Lord. Our Father loves us and is forever near to us to help up. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalms 46:1

David Robison

Dominican Republic missions trip: Report 1

My 14 year old daughter left yesterday for 13 days in the Dominican Republic. She is part of a short-term missions trip organized by our church. Here is their first trip report:
The Dominican Republic team arrived safely yesterday afternoon. Their luggage did not accompany them but they are hoping to have Continental deliver that to their camp today! What a great opportunity to practice "Blessed are the flexible"! Hurricane Dennis left a little damage to the island but was no longer a threat when the team arrived. All are well and in good spirits. Please continue to cover our group in prayer as they begin to minister to the people of the Dominican Republic.
We have since heard that they did receive their luggage and that Continental compensated each one of the youth with a $50 bill! They were quite excited! Please continue to pray for the team and their work with the people in the DR.

David Robison

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Created for good works: Eph 2:10

I am presently in the Detroit airport on my way to Los Angeles for my grandmother's funeral. On our flight out of Norfolk there was quite the drama. As we taxied towards the runway one of the passengers began to have a severe panic attack. She approached the front of the craft and asked if she could get off. Once you board a plane, getting off is not that easy. You cannot just pull back to the terminal and disembark the plane. Since she had checked luggage, all the luggage on the plane would have to be unloaded, her bag found and removed, and the plane reloaded. This could have easily caused more than an hour delay in the flight! Fortunately, it did not come to that. One of the stewardesses, who had flown for 24 years, was also a Christian. The crew sat the lady in first class and the stewardess sat next to her and began to pray for her. Another woman across the isle, also a Christian, also began praying for her. Within a short time her panic subsided and we were on our way and arrived in Detroit on time. As I watched these events unfold, it reminded me of the following scripture.
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)
Sometimes I find myself distracted with trying to find and understand the "great thing" God is calling me to do. Should I become a missionary? Should I become a pastor? Should I start this ministry or that? It is easy to end up spending most of our time looking for, and trying to create, opportunities to do something great for God. Sometimes we can be so focused on the search that we miss the everyday opportunities God brings our way. We were created for good works, God has already planned them and set them before us. Our job is to learn to recognize them and to make the best of the opportunities that God brings our way. I am sure that the stewardess did not start out her day aware of the opportunity God would grant her to minister to one of her passengers. Her opportunity did not come because she sought it, but because she was willing and able when it came to her. She took the opportunity and made a difference in someone's life. Look around you, maybe the person needing your "good works" is sitting right next to you. Learn to spot the everyday opportunities that God has planned for you and continually ask God for the grace and strength to walk in them.

David Robison

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My grandmother's passing

Last night at about 8:45 PM eastern time, my grandmother passed away. She was 90 years old and next month she and my grandfather were to have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. My grandmother's father pastored four churches in southern California. She was saved at a young age and throughout her life she continued to walk with the Lord. While I miss her, I know that today she is in the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As I thought about her passing, I was drawn to the following scripture:
"If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." (John 14:28)
My grandmother is with her Savior and I am happy for her. I rejoice on her behalf that she is now receiving her reward in the presence of the Father. There is a part of me that wishes I could see what she is seeing, hear what she is hearing, and feel what she is feeling. I long to be as free as she is right now in His presence. My grandmother was a constant witness of the love of Christ for me and for many around her. She will be missed.

David Robison

Friday, July 01, 2005

Loose yourself: Is 52:1-2

"Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion." (Isaiah 52:1-2)
I had a friend who, when he was younger, had a flee circus. To train the flees, he would put them in a large tin can with plastic wrap over the top. When the flees jumped, they would hit the plastic wrap. After a while, they got used to the plastic covering and would only jump so high, so as to no hit the plastic covering. He would then lower the plastic and, in time, the flees would adjust the height of their jumping so not to hit the plastic covering. Over time, he would keep lowering the plastic cover until it was so low that the flees would give up jumping altogether. He then could remove the plastic wrap completely and the flees would never attempt to jump out of the can. Even though they could, they wouldn't, because they still believed that they were imprisoned by an invisible plastic cover. They were free, but they lived like they were bound.

I have know others, and at times even myself, who live like those flees. They had been set free by the work of Jesus on the cross, yet they continue to live their lives as if they are still in bondage. Paul boldly states that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:2) Jesus has set us free and He wants us to walk free. "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) Satan no longer has power and authority over our lives, yet he wants us to believe that he does. One of satan's greatest schemes is to make us believe that we are in bondage, to make us believe that we are slaves to him, to sin, and to the world. He is trying to sow doubt into our minds that we might grow weak in our faith. We have been set free, but sometimes walking free takes a deliberate stand.

Satan wants us to doubt our salvation, doubt the love of God, and to doubt the word of God. "Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped." (Psalms 73:1-2) It is easy to fall into the "but as for me's." Surely God is good to His people, but as for me... God is not only good to His people, He is also good to me! God not only died for the sins of the world, he did for me and my sins. The healing Jesus purchased by his stripes is not only for the world, but also for me and my infirmities as well. The kingdom of heaven is ours. The love of God and the forgiveness of God are ours too. It is time that we not only believe this, but that we live our lives as if it's true. This is real faith, not when we merely give mental accent to the Word of God, but when we begin to live our lives as if it's really true. The chains around our necks have been unlocked therefore let us arise and shake them off and learn to live life in freedom.

David Robison