Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Just as I didn't heed to the advice to use the stool to help me, so many times in our lives we do not listen or heed God's advice!!! Our troubles can sometimes be the chastisement and the consequence of our transgressions. In Psalm 38:17 it says, "For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me." This is a Psalm of David, the Prayer of a Suffering Penitent, and his troubles were the chastisement and the consequence of his transgressions!!
If we are truly penitent for sin, that will make us patient under affliction!! The Lord will hasten to help those who trust in Him as their salvation. "Wait upon the Lord!" The true believer's trouble will be made useful! Isaih 40:31: "Yet those who wait for the Lord, Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."
Father, I fall upon my face thanking you for your grace that saved a sinner like me!!! I thank you also, that my fall from the van was not serious!!! Praise the Lord!!
Saturday, March 27, 2010
My sister's husband, Larry, passed away this week. He was only 53. We all love him so much. He didn't die because of an extended illness. His death was sudden and unexpected and overwhelming to his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. It was overwhelming to me. Nobody had time to mentally prepare themselves for it.
It was an accident. But not.
It was God's decision. God does not have accidents. It was his time to go and be with our Lord.
It is the time for his loved ones to grieve and mourn for him.
And we are grieving and mourning greatly.
But we do not mourn as those without hope. We know that one day we will see him again in the presence of Jesus.
In the meantime, we still hurt. My sister's heart is shattered. And I feel helpless.
I prayed this morning and told God that I would take my sister's hurt from her if I could. Just give it to me, not her. I can't bear to see her pain.
And He said to me, "will you sacrifice your son or daughter? A grandchild?"
What a question! It set me back and made me think about what I had prayed. To take her hurt and loss on myself.
Jesus said, "No greater love has a man than this, to lay down his life for another."
Would I lay down my life for my sister? I think that I would. I like to think that I would. I love her so much.
But would I lay down the life of my child for her? If by doing so it would bring Larry back to life?
NO. Emphatically NO! I love my children too much. Losing one of my children would be more than I could do. The pain would be unbelievable.
God knew that would be my answer.
And the enormity of God's gift to man in the sacrifice of His Son washed over me. The sacrifice that gives us life. The pain and incredible heart rending torture He willingly and willfully accepted is hard to believe.
In order for God to give her heartbreak to me, I would have to sacrifice one I love. Feel the pain that she feels.
He said, "Kathy... this is not your cross to bear. It is your sister's. It is My plan for her. You can not carry it for her."
So I learned a lesson about the vastness of God's willingness to endure the anguish of a broken heart in order to love and save His creation. He laid down the life of His only Son to give us life. He suffered terribly as He watched His Son die a hideous death. For me... for you. I would never do that.
I also learned that I can not assume His plan and purpose for another person. No matter how much I want to. It is His plan for them. Not for me. It is their mountain to climb or valley to cross. It will be their mountaintop experience. Or pit of despair. Their ultimate victory in Christ. How could I ever dare to take that from them?
Oh... one more thing I learned. I am not helpless. I have a mighty and loving God and He hears and answers my prayers for those I love.
I am not helpless.
On the contrary, my prayers are powerful and effective. I lift my sister, her children, and grandchildren to Him. The One who loves. The One who heals. The One who hears. The One who restores. The One who gives life.
My God is mighty to save. He is compassionate and loving beyond all understanding. He has already made the necessary sacrifice that results in the healing and restoration of our hearts and souls.
Thank you God.. Thank you for sending Jesus.
And please loving Father, please speed the healing of my sister's heart and soul. I love her so much. And I know that You love her more.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
For instance, messages such as: " Your words have creative power, declare it. Speak God's favor over every area of your life. Declare it. Your words bring faith into action", I believe that Our words have creative power as long as we are speaking THE Word. And words do not bring faith into action. On the contrary; ACTING in faith brings a response from God. "Your faith has made you whole", " It shall be done according to your faith." and others. Maybe our words can work us up into acting on faith.. but the words alone are not faith in action. Just because we speak a word, does not mean we believe it. The belief factor has to be there. Faith is the act of believing God.. not believing IN Him (even demons believe in Him), but believing Him to do what He says He will do and then acting on that belief. Words do come into play; however. If I do not waiver in my faith, and if I continue to believe and speak my belief that God is answering my prayer and acting on my behalf, then because of His promise, I know I will receive what I ask. "Whatsoever you ask, believing, that you will receive."(Matthew 21:22) Sometimes the answer is different than we expected, but He does answer.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Heb 11:3) The Lord calls us to act in faith.
Abraham ACTED on faith... Moses ACTED on faith.... Peter ACTED on faith... and on and on. They were all rewarded because of their FAITH ACTION. Moses lifted his staff... Peter climbed over the side of the boat to take a first step on the water... It might have been a simple physical action on their part, but those actions done in faith resulted in extravagant responses from God. Would you climb over the side of the boat? It probably seemed like a very silly and foolish thing to do from a human standpoint. It took an ACT of faith. They didn't make a declaration of what God was going to do and then expect God to do it. They waited for God to speak to them and tell them what to do or say and then they did it. God responded to their ACT of faith. He parted the sea. He caused Peter to walk on water. Because they took a faith action.
A ball player up to bat will never get to first base, never make a homerun, never score a point, unless he swings his bat. If we want to see answers from God, we have to swing our faith bat.
So... I speak my words of faith and belief. I believe God will answer my prayers in my best interests and in His wisdom. I even make statements to that effect. "God will do this. God will do that." Even though I do not see any evidence, it is already the same as accomplished because God is always faithful to His promise. I just don't see the evidence yet. But I know that I will. His answer may surprise me, but I know that He will answer. My words of faith are my belief in action. Because I speak what God has put into my heart and I believe that what He tells me is truth.
I do believe we can speak favor (blessings) in our lives. I have done this in my family. It is self-evident. The blessings or favor I spoke into my children's lives have come to pass. It was as though I prophesied over them. Out of our mouths come blessings or cursing. It's up to us to believe and speak blessings.
It was not my act of speaking that brought about a response from God ... it was my act of faith. My faith was expressed in words. But not only was I speaking blessings into my children's lives, I was praying to God for those blessings and trusting Him to deliver. Have you ever spoken your faith aloud? Have you ever prayed about something and trusted God for the answer and spoken out loud about it to others or to the person you may be praying for? Telling them that an answer is on its way?
I told my daughter "One of these days, God is going to turn your life around, and you are going to have an incredible testimony!" I told her this because this is what I had been praying for and I believed God's promise that if you raise your child in the way he/she should go, then when they are old they will return to it. In this case, He acted very quickly in her life to answer my prayer.
I am not a 'name it and claim it' believer. I know that God's ways are higher than mine and if I don't see the answer that I think I want, it is because He has a better answer. I trust Him. I think that many are quick to judge when someone starts talking about actual physical or spiritual power and are suspicious of anything that is not your "traditional' belief.
There is more to Christianity than the Baptist doctrine or Methodist or any other denomination. Thank goodness! These are sound doctrines, but there is more to God and Christianity than a religious doctrine.
There is also more to Christianity than salvation. What is the point in being saved when you are young and then 'trying' to live a Christian life on your own? You can't do it. You will fail every time. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can live the Christian life through you. He is the one with the power and He gives it freely to His children who believe and act on their belief. We have to 'die' daily so that the Spirit can flow through us. And we have to actively believe Him.
If a Christian has no evidence of the Holy Spirit in him, then he/she should start asking for it. How do you get it? By seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. Seek a relationship with the Lord... seek to live in His kingdom. If being saved is the end all and be all of Christianity, then that is a tremendous and undeserved blessing for us! But the Bible teaches us that there is more!
Each saved person is sealed with the Holy Spirit. It's up to that saved person to access that Spirit in order to live the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is a person. He is one of the Trinity. If I have a person living with me, I interact with that person. We have conversations. We do things together. We take that other person in to consideration when we go places or do things.
Now... just think if the other person that lives with you is a super hero. He has the power to take you anywhere, to protect you from anything, to help you in any situation. Wouldn't you take advantage of that? Wouldn't your life be different? Wouldn't the way you think about situations be different? Other people would know about this relationship because it would be evident in your life. They would want to get to know this super hero guy too. After all, you have a relationship with a super hero who is there for you. It kind of makes a difference.
If a Christian's life exhibits no difference... no power...then why would an unsaved person even be interested? I think this is one reason why churches today are not seeing large numbers saved.
Just think... After 9/11 many thousands of people flocked to church... some maybe for the first time. But are they still there? They came looking for help...answers.. something tangible that would make a difference. Were they met by Holy Spirit empowered Christians that could show them salvation and a new way of living? Or did they find "church as usual"?
The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might." Ephesians 1:14, 18-19.
There is power in the Holy Spirit that dwells in the believer and that power is accessed by the believer's acts of faith and by God's faithfulness to respond to our belief.
I think I am going to go to Wal-mart. Hey Holy Spirit! Ya wanna come along?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
God wants the very best for us!! He tells us in His Word to put on the whole armor of God!!!
"Our padding!!!" The Lord provides his saints with sufficient armor to combat and thwart the adversary. Ultimately, Satan's power over Christians is already broken and the great war is won through Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, which forever conquered the power of sin and death. ( Romans 5:18-21; I Cor. 15; 56-57, Heb. 2:14) However, in life on earth, battles of temptation go on regularly. The Lord's power, the strength of His Spirit, and the force of Biblical truth are required for victory. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
We are told to "Put on the whole armor of God!" "Put on" conveys the idea of permanence, indicating that armor should be the Christian's sustained, life-long attire. It is a necessity of the Christian's appropriating God's full spiritual armor by obedience in taking it up, or putting it on.
Since the fall of man, every day has been evil, a condition that will persist until the Lord returns and establishes His own righteous kingdom on earth. "Standing firm against the enemy without wavering or falling is the goal!" We are told in Ephesians 6: 10-18, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, "Having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the Breastplate of Righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the Helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints."
We serve a righteous and Holy God!!! He is the Truth!!! We are to live in obedience to Him!!!
As believers we are peace with God , He is on our side!!! We have confidence of divine support which allows us to stand firm!!! God is our strength!!! We are secure in God!!! Blessed Assurance!!! Pray and read the Word!!!
Have you got your "padding on?" Your armor!!!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
You say, "of course not! Jesus was on the earth 2000 years ago. I never actually saw Him."
You are right.
You are wrong.
1 John 1:1-4
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete."
The apostle John wrote these words to believers near Ephesus some 60 to 70 years after he first became a disciple. It had been a long lifetime from the crucifixion and resurrection to his twilight years. Yet he still continued to proclaim the gospel of Christ. He had lived with the Lord. He was compelled to testify to the world about Him. He did this so that his joy would be complete.
Although we did not walk beside Him in Galilee and Judea and did not see Him on the cross, yet we are eyewitnesses to Him also.
We are eyewitnesses to what the life of Christ in us has done. This is our testimony. It is a testimony of salvation, transformation, miracles, and effect.
As John never retired from preaching Christ, we also should never stop proclaiming His name and His story. Never stop giving our testimony.
Telling others of Jesus is the only way to "make our joy complete".
What joy? Joy is found in living out your purpose. A Christian's only purpose is to live a life that glorifies the Lord.
In these days of terror, political upheaval, and moral decline, it is more important than ever that we give our eyewitness testimony to a lost and dying world.
And I write this so that my joy may be complete.
As we drove into the outskirts of town we drove past houses of differing states of disrepair and neglect with yards filled with fallen trees or debris, trash, long-dead vehicles and all other forms of broken down, discarded junk. Places that reminded me of defeat and bondage, sadness and despair, hopeless situations and heartache and hunger. As we got closer to town the houses, though older, were lovingly restored and well-kept. Then there were of course the new ones that looked as if no one had set foot into them. The town itself was filled with historic buildings. Some restored and filled with business and life while others stood a haunting, empty reminder of a past that was thriving with business and success. People drove and walked in all directions, intent on their lives and places they had to be, wrapped in the cares of their worlds. Intent on doing the the things they need or wanted to accomplish that day. Much like we were doing, focused on our goal of the mountain top state park with all it's promise of scenic beauty.
Soon we began our ascent. Immediately the road signs began to warn of the dangers of falling rocks and steep narrow roads, no shoulder and dangerous curves, no parking and rusted guard rails. The climb would be difficult and possibly treacherous if we had car trouble or bad weather. There were even signs warning that travel would be restricted in case of snow or dense fog; and once on top of the mountain if these conditions arose there would be no leaving until they cleared.
Still we pressed on, excited about what the top of the mountain would bring - beautiful views, scenic trails, a chance to see the wildlife and nature. Who knew what else could be at the top of this mountain - we were in for the adventure and beauty - we wanted to experience God's creation!!
As we drove up our van strained against gravity and we noticed that our "miles to empty" began to rapidly drop....113, 110, 98, 85....and so on - this trip was going to cost more than anticipated, but we did not turn back to fill up the tank confident that we had enough to make it up to the top.
At different times we could stop at overlooks and look out across the valley below. Of course we did and as our height increased so did our vision of what we had just left below. Not only did I become aware of the great expanse of the valley and all it's beauty I became aware of the many things I had not seen. The things I had not noticed or been able to see with my limited vision: small neighborhoods and communities nestled here and there, a beautiful still lake, a forest fire at the base of another mountain and so much more.
Finally we reached the top with only 1/4 of a tank of gas left. I began to open the van door and immediately it was whipped by a blast of cold wind. Stepping out I zipped my heavy coat and with eyes watering made sure each child had their coats zipped and hoods pulled tight. WOW! What views! What absolutely breath-taking views - I could see for miles the very Handy-work of God. Undeniable in every aspect, unexplainable by any means, unbelievable. I noticed that the mountainside and valley had beautiful, tall, old pine trees green and strong surrounded by lifeless looking trees still asleep in winters cold. I imagined how much more beautiful it would be when the life-giving spring rains began and the warm spring sun brought everything to life again. I also noticed though some of the valley lay deep in the shadows much more of it was in open sunlight; still and protected from the fierce, cold wind I was being buffeted with.
You see as Christians we are like the evergreens - tall and proud, called out and alive in the middle of winter's deadness. Alive while others are asleep or dead in sin around us. We stand in stark contrast to our surroundings, different and beautiful, ever-alive. Too often we are too satisfied in our own salvation that we forget to be the water for valley around us. We were after all given the living water of Jesus Christ never to thirst again (John 6:35). We are commanded to go and share this living water when Jesus said, "Go ye therefore..." in Matthew 28:19. Yet sometimes we live our lives striving to reach the mountain tops regardless of the cost. Not taking into account that which is around us. We become so focused in on our own circumstances and feelings. Sometimes distracted by our struggles and trials and some how we become convinced if we can only get out of the valley and onto the mountain top the enemy won't be there, things will be beautiful and peaceful and right again.
So sometimes God lets us ascend to the glories of the mountain top...to take in his handy-work and teach a lesson. The mountain top has always been a place of lessons taught and God's presence, of sacrifice and obedience, of reckoning, and acknowledgement. After all the laws were given on the mountain top and the promised son was placed on the alter, and the sufficient sacrifice of the time provided....and ultimately the life-giving sacrifice at the "hill" of Golgotha.
He allows us to take full view of His hand-work in our lives, the beautiful tapestry he is weaving - the very tapestry of which we are a part of. We can see what surrounded our lives that we neglected to see or could not see in our limited vision while in the valley. Down in the valley I could not see the lake or the fire or the great expanse of life, I could only take in that which was around me.
Then again - I was also not assaulted by the terrible wind in the valley. You see the wind is like our enemy - he is always there. He will follow us even to the mountain tops of life, intent on seeing us fail. Christ tells us this. We can not run to hidden places or be satisfied standing still. We must learn to walk in the valleys. Even in the shadows and trust in the the Lord as David said so eloquently in the 23 Psalm when he stated that "Lo, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil...". Trusting always that the Lord will lead us out of the shadows into the green pasture where the sun is shining and beside the still, untroubled waters. Both places are in the valleys of life - the still water and the shadows, the green pasture and the dry land! The still waters are not on the unprotected, exposed mountaintop where the wind is strong and fierce; they are in the valley covered in sunshine and the warmth of God's love, a haven of rest for a moment.
I eagerly descended the mountain that day. Ready to be out of the wind. Eager to see the lake and look more closely at the the things around that I had missed on the way up. Curious about the lake and the fire and the small communities that had dotted the valley.
Do not be blinded by your limited vision. Rather place that limited vision into the hands of a limitless God calling on his name (Jeremiah 33:3)and see what he can do. His miracles are fresh every morning and He has called you out as a peculiar people with thoughts of peace and an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). He will guide you through the valley of the shadow to the still water and you will be as lamp on the hilltop providing light in the darkness. You will become the instrument of God to dispense the living water in the dry, thirsty places. God will empower you, sustain you - his strength is sufficient.
Trust. Only trust. The valley is not so bad when the God who created it all is there beside you - - there's lots of beauty all around.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Life can be just like that sting from a wasp!! Finances, Divorce, Health, Depression, and many other things sting us!!! Things come at us and seem to overwhelm us!! But, thanks be to God for His Marvelous Grace and Mercy!!! In God's Word it tells us," O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor. 15:55-57.
Thanks be to God that sin was conquered by Christ on the cross!!! Thank God for His love and his care for us!!Sinners saved by grace!!!
"Sin will take you farther than you want to go,
Keep you longer than you want to stay,
And cost you more than you want to pay."
Friday, March 12, 2010
As Christians we may sometimes feel like we are so tuned out to Jesus! Do you get so involved in things in your own little world that you are not praying, reading your Bible, meditating on the Word, and listening to God?
We can hear from God in so many different ways. Thru other people, places, or things! Different circumstances in our lives can speak to us! Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading and listen and learn and apply what God may be wanting to teach you. Our stability is in Christ. We can fall away from the fellowship with Christ. But, He is ever faithful and always there to forgive us, heal us, restore us, whatever the need! (Psalm 18:2)
One of my grandsons made a comment several years ago that I have never forgotten. He was only 5 years old at the time. He said, "Everything will be okay!" Oh, for the faith of a child! Those 4 little words were just what I needed at that time. It brought to my mind this verse, Proverbs 3:5 &6-"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."
Oh, for the joy in knowing that every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!! Faith truly is Fantastic Adventures in Trusting Him!! Unplug your ears and plug into the Holy Spirit!
Every one of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, unique, God's creation, Seek God's Guidance in finding your spiritual gifts and apply them, Step out for Jesus and be a great witness for Him!!!
Lord, I pray that , "Whatever ye do, whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God." I Cor. 10:31
Lord, let me hear the things I should hear with spiritual ears, see the things I should with spiritual eyes, guide my words, and shut my mouth when I need to listen!!!
May the words of my mouth be true, necessary, & kind!!
Praise God from whom all blessing flow!!!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
In the last few years, I have gone through several stages and changes in my life. God changed my life drastically! For 2 years it was like a honeymoon with Jesus and then...My church family fell apart, My children had consequential situations to deal with and my prayers for them went up continuously. My marriage of 34 years fell apart and I am now divorced. I've been single for almost 3 years now.
These are not unusual circumstances. It happens to everyone in every walk of life. It's life. Jesus said "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."
But it is my life. Personal. Intimate. Affecting me. Tearing me apart. Breaking my heart and mind and spirit.
Through all of it, I have believed God's promises and trusted Him. Asked Him to intervene. Asked Him to change things. Asked and begged Him to restore things. Asked Him to use the tribulations in my life in some manner.
Right now, I am at peace. I am at a place where there is nothing drastic or traumatic or earth shattering going on. And I am glad of it. Hopefully, it is a place where God will help me to learn and understand the things I have been through. A friend recently told me that I was on the Injured Reserve list. A place of healing where God can call me up from at any moment.
And I think He is doing that.
God blessed me so tremendously last week by allowing me to share with someone who is going through similar life shattering circumstances. I won't disclose details or names, but someone that I would never have dreamed that I could have ministered to in any way. When asked, "is there hope?" I was able to say YES. When asked "what did you do? how did you deal with it?" I was able to share how I trusted God and how God has come through over and over again.
I am not super christian. I have had my days of doubt and my days of unbelief. But through it all, I have never once questioned if God was working in it. I have just questioned the reason, the method, the seemingly undeserved pain. The delay of the vision God gave to me of a ministry.
God is always at work. And He is more interested in helping us discover who He is in us than who we are in Him. When we start trying to figure out who "I am in Christ" we put ourselves first and make ourselves the I AM and we lose out.. God is the great I AM. We are not. We need to figure out who HE IS in us. The power that He can work in us. The fruits of the spirit that only HE plants and grows and harvests. In His time. His season.
Things can overwhelm us!!! Trust Him, Lean on Him!! Acknowledge Him, & Heed His direction!!!
Scriptures to remember when you get stressed:
1 Peter 5:7- "Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 -"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight."
Psalm 46:1-2-"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 4:8-"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety."
Psalm 121:7-8-"The Lord will keep you from all harm---He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Deuteronomy 33:12- "Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.
Psalm 18:2- "The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
John 16:33-"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Romans 8:37-39-"we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Things in this world come and shake us!!! But, THANK GOODNESS, GOD IS IN CONTROL!!!
Our solid Rock!!! Never Changing!! Thank Him for His Presence, His Power, His Provision, and His Protection!!! Thank goodness He is taking care of everything!!!
Rest with the Lord, precious brother-in-law, Mark!! How we loved you!!!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."
As only a mother can, Mary knew her son. She knew every innuendo of voice and body language. She knew that He was not reprimanding her. Jesus loved and honored His earthly mother as no other Son before or since. She had been the recipient of her child's unconditional love for 30 years.
As a child, He had answered her concerned questions with "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2: 49)
In the ensuing years, the Bible tells us that "He was subject to His parents and that He increased in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man."
Although He was God in the flesh, He was obedient to His earthly parents.
As an adult, He was once again gently reminding His mother of His purpose.
Here He is at the very beginning of His public ministry and she was asking Him for something that only He could give. No one else could provide wine for the wedding feast. At least, no one else could provide it without going to some considerable trouble and expense to obtain it. The wine was needed now. Not later.
The 6 water pots were dry and empty. These were vessels that were used in purification of the Jews. They were set aside to be used only for a special ritual and purpose. (Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. John 2: 6)
When He tells the servants to fill the water pots, they obediently do so. In fact , they fill them to the brim... almost overflowing. When it was poured into the cups, the water had turned to wine. The best wine. Wine meant to be shared with all the guests. They all drank of it.
The wedding guests had been in need.... looking for something more than what they had.
Now the wedding feast was saved... the celebration could continue!
Like these wedding guests, in the middle of our lives ... sometimes even in the middle of a celebration, we run dry. Nothing and no one satisfies our longing. When our hearts and lives are shattered and empty, we reach a place where we finally say..."there has got to be something more." Jesus offers "have a drink.... fill yourself .. quench your thirst." When we accept His offer we are transformed by His grace and it pours out on us. Jesus fills our emptiness and parched souls with His living water and then asks us to pour it out into our families, friends, co workers, etc...
When He said to Mary, "My hour has not yet come", was Jesus thinking of the future and of the bitter cup He would drink? Did He look ahead and see Himself on the cross?
He knew that this miracle at the wedding was the first of many miracles. The first miracle on the road leading up to His ultimate sacrifice when His hour would come and He would be tortured and slain like a murderer or a thief.
Jesus knew that once He took this step, there was no turning back.
When the wine was drawn out of the water pots, did He think of the blood that would run from His head and hands and feet? Did Jesus, the only pure and sinless vessel, wince at the thought of the cross? Had he already begun to feel the pain and shame of being filled and covered and smeared with the filth of all our sin? Was He preparing Himself for the day when His heart would literally burst with love for us as He took on our sin.
Did He think about the night when another cup of wine would be poured and He would share the Passover with His disciples saying "Do this... in remembrance of Me." " And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mar 14:22-25)."
Or later on, during the night that He was praying in the garden before His arrest, did His thoughts go back to this wedding day and the miracle of the wine when He prayed "Abba, Father, all things [are] possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."
While He sweat drops of blood praying for His Father's will to be done, did He remember His obedience to Mary's request on that long ago wedding day when the wine flowed freely?
Maybe He thought past the cross to a future wedding day when He would return as the Bridegroom and take His bride home. Maybe he smiled and laughed at the thought of that coming celebration!
Wherever His thoughts wandered that day, this was His first recorded miracle. It was indicative of what He came to do. It was a picture of His entire ministry. An act of obedience. He was and is the vessel of purification. He filled Himself with all our sin.. all our base ugliness... and transformed it into righteousness like a fine wine... a sweet fragrance. He filled our empty lives and spirits with His Living Water and His Holy Spirit to save us from sin and to teach us how to pour Him out to others. Now that is a miracle!
"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. John 2: 11"
Jesus begins His ministry with an act of obedience to His mother. It is finished with His ultimate act of obedience to His Father. He became sin who knew no sin. He did it all because He loves us.
Prayer: Holy Father, thank You for sending Your Son. Thank You for Your love. Please fill us as only You can and use us to to reach others for Your glory. In Jesus' precious and glorious Name. Amen.
Monday, March 8, 2010
When I began to homeschool 10 year ago, (my how fast the time flies) the picture I envisioned for our homeschool days went something like this: Me, coming out of my room after an hour or so of prayer and Bible study, my makeup freshly applied, my hair perfectly groomed, wearing a dress that I had made myself. My children sitting at the table, in matching hand made outfits, finishing their breakfast of warm baked bread and homemade jam, from berries that we picked on a field trip while studying native vegetation. They would have already cleaned their rooms and made their beds while singing hymns of gratitude for all their blessings. Then they would eagerly come to the table in anticipation of today’s learning. The older children working happily on next weeks lessons because they worked ahead just for the sheer joy of learning, while the younger child sits quietly nearby playing with legos and puzzles. But then I wake up.
What actually happens is more like this...
Me, in my house robe staggering out of my room heading for the coffee pot, the only prayer on my lips is “ Please get me through this day Lord.” My faced is lined with pillow creases and my hair hangs limply in my face. My children are either sleeping in late or sitting at the table waiting for me to get the presweetened poison... I mean cereal, down for them. They fight and argue over who gets the last bit of Cookie Crisp or the last Pop Tart. Their beds haven’t be made, mine either for that matter. Their rooms might have carpet, I haven’t seen the floor lately. Instead of singing hymns of thanksgiving I hear howls of dissent
“Mom! Tell her to stop looking at me!”
“I’m not looking at her!”
Then later that morning...after I announce it is time for school I hear moans, groans and deep sighs of semi-silent protest. To which I give the universal homeschooling response, “Your lucky to be home, you could have been in school for 3 hours already!” To top it all off, none of us even like legos!
That is a more accurate picture of homeschooling in my home. They are fallen sinners saved by grace, just like their mom, who happens to be their teacher. We are not perfected by any means, but I know that by training, teaching and guiding them at home we all are learning to lean on on the Lord to make up for my own short comings as a mother and a teacher.
Proverbs 1:7 tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This knowledge just isn’t intellect but also encompasses wisdom. Many intelligent people make foolish choices. The Bible says in Psalm 14:1 “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” I don’t want to raise fools, but wise individuals who look to the Lord for guidance. When one “fears the Lord”, looking to Him and His ways, they will strive to do their work with excellence, as we are urged in Ecclesiastes 9:10, & Colossians 3:17,23-24. When we do the Lord’s will His plans will succeed, Psalm 37:5, Proverbs 16:3 and Philippians 1:6.
My goals for my children are that their lives are God centered, with the Living Word in their hearts, that they are Christ-minded, and Spirit led. I want them prepared to serve the Lord, sharing Jesus, with the foolish of the world, using their God given gifts and talents. God has entrusted me with these children to raise them for His glory. Someday I will answer to Him for my faithfulness and stewardship of the children He has given me. More than anything I want Him to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Am I achiving that lofty goal? Somedays it is hard to tell if I’m having any impact at all, when the girls argue about meaningless things, when the house is a shambles and the science experiment didn’t work. Then there are the days when the girls surprise me by doing the laundry, reading books to their little sister, and I over hear one telling another that doing what God wants isn’t always the easiest thing, but it is the best thing. Those are the moments that keep me on this road the Lord has lead me down, knowing that it’s His goals that will be reached.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I taught over the Passion of Christ to our youth this past week. A very generous lady of our church provided a crown of thorns for our example.
I had only seen these thorns one other time in my life. My husband and I had visited a conservatory in San Antonio several years back and there was a tree that had terrible, ugly, thorny branches. The tree itself was nothing beautiful to look at. Underneath it was a sign giving it's proper name and origin and a brief description. In the description it was noted that this was the very type of tree from which the crown of thorns was fashioned. A weeping tree, created in the beginning of time to be a representation of the terrible, blackness of the sins of man. It would be the tree that a crown of torture was fashioned, that would cause the precious life-giving blood to flow from a torn head to be the forgiveness of man.
As I passed this crude and terrible thing around I asked that the children look closely at each giant, sharp, treacherous thorn. Each thorn had thorns on it, protruding in every direction.
You see sin and the lies of the enemy are like the splinters my kids pick up in the world and they are like the thorns of this terrible tree entering into our lives at different angles and times. Sometimes they are like the splinter sliding in unnoticed until afterwards only making one entry wound. They are small or big, they may break into tiny pieces upon entering or they may stay together, they may be close to the surface or they may be deeply lodged within. Sin and the lies of the enemy are also like the thorns of the crown. They can cause terrible life altering implications as they enter ripping to shreds a life, a testimony, dreams, marriages, families. Once there they hook in and blood and pain flow freely and with great abundance. The pain, the injury is undeniable, and can't be hid: everyone can see it. Unlike the splinter you can not close your hand over it, wrap it up, hide it, or ignore it until the infection is too bad to deny it.
The wonderful, magnificent thing is that God chose not a small splinter to be the crown of thorns. God did not make the rose bush to be the thing from which this was fashioned. Instead he chose the most terrible thorn, the best representation of the ultimate implications of sin in our lives. He wanted us to know that it was not just the small seemingly unnoticed sins that he was interested in, but also the big ugly ones. God does not distinguish sins, he does not categorize or minimize or say one thing is greater than the other. He understands in his infinite wisdom that ALL sin, even the ones we keep hidden from the world cause pain, infection, and ultimately death if left untreated. However, he chose the greatest thorns to give us a picture that he was willing to forgive it all. He chose the thorns that would cause the life-giving, bondage-breaking, wall shattering, life-altering, chain-breaking, prison-freeing, precious blood of Christ to flow freely.
God is interested in it ALL!!! He wants us to come to him, call on him, ask forgiveness let him become Lord of our lives. He wants to remove our sins.
He may explain the process, loving take us in his arms, expose the sin to us and gently remove it. Or he may show it to us and give us little explanation as to how it will be removed and aggressively cut it out of our lives. There may be a wound left, and healing to be done, or there may be little left as a reminder. Always he applies an ointment of forgiveness, love and grace to our lives, and he wraps the wound (great or small) in grace and love, with forgiveness. He kisses away our tears and steers away from the things that might cause us to fall again into this terrible thing that inflicted pain.
He redeems us! We are set free! We are no longer flawed by the pain of our sin - - His son wore the crown that we would not have to.
"For God so loved the world that he sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not come into this world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed on the Lord...." John 3:16-18
Thursday, March 4, 2010
It's comforting to know that there is a plan.
Jesus the Creator.
Jesus the Light of the World.
He stepped into His own creation and became more than a creator. He became part of the Creation. He is the axis of all of creation. Not only that, Jesus shed light on the Ultimate Question of why we exist. Contrary to Douglas Adam's answer to the Ultimate Question in the sci-fi comedy "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the answer is NOT '42'.
The answer is Jesus.
We are here because of Jesus. We are here for Jesus. We were created and exist to live lives that implement and carry out His plan.
We are living, breathing, thinking entities and were created to ask the big questions of Who am I? Why am I here?
There is something inside each of us that seeks those answers.
We were MADE through Jesus. He is the Ultimate Answer to our big questions.
In Acts 17, Paul makes the statement that " we are here in this time and in this place so that we will seek the Lord and in seeking Him find Him.... For in Him we live and move and have our being."
Our express purpose in life is to find Him. He's not far... so you don't have to search too long or too hard. He's not playing "Hide and Seek" with us. He wants us to find Him. He longs for us to reach out to Him. He's waiting with open arms.
Douglas Adams did have one good piece of advice: "DON'T PANIC!"
My advice is "Don't panic, but trust in the Lord with all your heart". The road might be a little bumpy and difficult, but the Light is always on.
Father, help me to always remember that I am here because of You and to always look to you for answers to my questions. Thank you for sending Jesus into my life. Amen.
We love to, love to, LOVE to celebrate! And celebration always includes good food and good things to drink. Whether your favorite is iced tea, a mocha latte, a refreshing punch or a glass of wine, it seems that there is an unending supply of some kind of beverage for all the guests.
Except for a particular wedding at Cana. This wedding was different. I don't know if the host just didn't plan well. Or if every invited guest brought an extra guest. Maybe the party goers were having such a good time that they all overstayed their welcome and the supplies ran low. But regardless of the circumstance, at this famous wedding, the drink ran dry. The wine was gone. Consumed by all the bride and groom's well wishers.
What a dilemma! What a disgrace! How would the bridegroom face his family and friends? He would lose face with them all. The bride and her family would be so embarrassed and the celebration marred by this turn of events. In those days, this would have been a devastating social faux pas.
Fortunately for the bridegroom, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in attendance at this wedding. And she had brought her son along. Jesus, the man that people were already whispering about and telling tales that there was just something different about Him. Jesus, who had already created a bit of a stir at His baptism. Jesus, who had already developed somewhat of a following. He was almost famous!
Apparently, Mary must have been close to someone in charge of this celebration. She found out about the situation with the wine and her mind started working out a solution. You know how us women are. We have to fix things. Her way of fixing this thing was to let her son know that she expected some assistance from Him.
She had birthed Him and raised Him to be a man. She knew Him as no other human being on earth knew Him. Mary knew exactly who Jesus was and she knew exactly what He was capable of doing. Shoot! She may have even secretly been hoping to show Him off. You know how you are when you are just bursting with pride in your kid. You want other people to know how special and wonderful he is.
So like any mother would have done, she said to her son "They have no wine." Just a simple statement of the situation. She could have only been commenting about it or feeling some compassion for the bride and groom. But, of course, Jesus knew that in 'motherspeak' this meant she expected Him to be the One to do something about it. Kind of like telling your kid "The garbage can is full." He knows you expect him to bag it up and take it out. No questions asked.
Mary knew that He would do what she wanted. So, like any mother, she disregarded His quiet protest. She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
What an incredible statement! “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
I mean, really! What did she expect Him to do about it anyway?
This is a statement that can only be made when you KNOW without a doubt that something is going to happen.
If He says “pat your head and rub your belly”, then DO IT. If He says “do 15 jumping jacks”, then DO IT. If He says “fill those empty water pots to the brim“, then DO IT. Don’t ask questions. Don’t make excuses. Don’t wait. Don’t try to rationalize the situation. To borrow from the Nike commercials, Just Do It.
Her command to the servants showed extreme faith. Faith that grew from living day in and day out with this once baby, once child, and now a man. This Jesus. Faith that came from knowing Jesus intimately inside and out.
Faith from seeing Him in action.
Faith from knowing His heart.
Jesus tells the servants “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. (John 2: 7-8 NKJV)
They did what He told them to do. They were servants. They did as they were told. They may have had some doubts. They may have laughed. They might have thought this lady and her son were half a bubble off. But they did what they were told.
Then the impossible happened. A dramatic and impossible transformation took place in those water pots.
The water became wine.
But not just any wine. The master of the feast proclaimed that this was the “good” wine. (John 2: 10 NKJV)
The word “good” used in the Bible is from the Greek word “Kalos”. Kalos is defined as: excellent, precious, magnificent, praiseworthy, noble, beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy; morally good, noble, honourable, conferring honour, affecting the mind agreeably, comforting and confirming.
All this to praise a bit of water turned to wine.
All this to describe an impossible transformation of nature’s elements.
“Whatever He says to you, do it.” Such a simple request. Such a simple command from a mother’s heart of love and pride in her son.
Just do it. Then wait and see what kind of impossible and miraculous transformation takes place.
Your water may not turn to wine. But your heart of stone might become soft and pliable.
Your circumstance might not change, but your attitude could be altered.
Your favorite drink may run dry, but your dry and thirsty spirit could be quenched with Living Water.
“Whatever He says to you, do it.”
Then EXPECT a miracle! Expect a ‘kalos’ miracle.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I have found that God reveals himself in profound ways on these trips - his Word becomes fresh and alive in His creation.
One such time found us in the middle of the Sam Houston National Forest at one of the Parks. At the time Justin (my youngest son) was in a stroller and I was very pregnant with our youngest daughter (Rachel Elisabeth). Brent looked down the path and we determined that the path was smooth and relatively debri free (in fact it was was one of the nicer more level pathways we had seen). So we began. Brent and the two oldest blazing a path before me, as I loaded Justin and began to walk.
If you have been that far south in Texas you may be familiar with a very unique spider. It has little spikes on it and is colored brightly, if you get to see it. What is most unique about it are it's webs. They are the most intricate thing I think I have seen and I became very familar with the dangers of them that day!!
As we began down the trail I was watchful of my feet - I am not the most graceful person when it comes to walking. Being pregnant I wanted to make sure that I did not get tripped up by a root or debris in the pathway. However, something glinted in the early morning sun, a web off to the side of the path. The dew clung to the delicate strands of the web. Just a tiny beautiful web with a yellow and black spider. Small and stretched between the tiny branches of a brightly blooming bush. I walked slower so I could enjoy the beauty of that thing that sparkled in the sun, talking to Justin about it and letting him look.
Then I felt it. Sticky, icky, tangly web all over my 5 foot 3 inches!!! Literally head to toe I was ensnared. The stroller had somehow missed it, but not I. The panic flooded over me! The vision of the little horned beast of a spider I had just seen in the visitor center (where I had been warned of these very webs!) popped into my mind. I could picture it crawling down the neck of my shirt onto my bare skin. Oh - it was too much to bare. I bagan to scream, then thought "Ok now, I am a grown woman - - I WILL NOT panic! But fear had already taken root and I began to dance around as if the fire of pentecost had gotten a hold of me (for Baptist this is dangerous you know!). I think I would have stripped down and ran screaming, if God did not get a hold of me and bring me back to my sanity! Justin began to giggle and I was pulling at every strand of the terrible web - then it happened, My foot caught hold of a loose stick, not on the path - - - but just off to the side where all my panic had taken me and I fell, face first into another web.
As if things could get no worse. "Oh, Lord," I began to pray "Deliver ME!!!!! or I might just die right here!" Tears had began to well up, panic was clinching my throat --- -Brent and the big kids were way ahead and here I was fallen, covered in a web!!!
Finally cleared - - The Lord spoke -- - I think He was laughing at His daughter!
You see the path was not my problem...the footing on the path was not my problem (this park kept the paths clear). The problem was the thing that distracted me. I took my eyes off the path, off what was in front of me. If I had been watching was in front of me I would have seen the snare stretched out accross the pathway and would have ducked underneath it, avoiding entanglement.
The rest of the path I was more watchful. I watched for the morning sun to glint off the webs that stretched across the path and bent low to go under them. For the rest of the path I did not get entangled again. Nor did I tell Brent or the kids - - I think they would have laughed to hard at me....though now I can laugh.
When we got to the van Brent and the kids asked if I had seen the GIANT spider webs stretched accross the pathway (with a giggle). "Did you get under them okay....(giggle, giggle)?" "Yes," I said, straightening my shirt..."I made it with only one tiny problem..."
Life is just this way - that is why God has warned us to stay vigilent. Satan sets out to distract us. Our footing on God's path is not our problem, it is what gets us distracted, then entangled, finally we are to the edge of the path where the ground is not cleared and footing is not certain and we find ourselves covered and fallen.
I am grateful that I serve a God who redeems. It took some time - - and me calming down to get all the web off me and to remove the icky feeling I had. It took even more time to convince myself that little horned spider was not somewhere crawling on me, but it happened.
By the time I reached the others I was calm and restored and happy. That is what God does in our lives. He lovingly removes the webs of sin, releases us from the entaglement, sets our feet in the MIDDLE of the cleared path, kills the predator, calms the fear, gives us peace, shows us love....and takes us back.
Monday, March 1, 2010
There are 4 attitudes we should have when persecution comes: (1.) Expect it, (2.) Rejoice in it, (3.) Evaluate the cause, & (4.) Entrust it to God!
Seek God!!! Have the right attitude!!!! Trust God to see you thru!!!
We all need to learn, "Life is hard, but, GOD IS GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!" There will be trials, Praise God before they come, during them, and after them!! Evaluate them!!! We may not understand, but, remember God has the best plan!!! Give them to God!!! Remember our suffering is for God's Glory!!! I Peter 4:12 & 13-"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation." Always remember when you are in the midst of a trial, what Jesus went thru for you!!! Let Him be your strength and give Him the glory for everything!!! Praise God!!!
"Don't tell God how big your storm is,
Tell your storm how big your God is!!!"