30 June 2010
28 June 2010
25 June 2010
This month (Originally written in Sept. 08, this was the last month I taught Ladies' Bible study at our Nigerien church before returning to the States for Mary Michelle's birth), we looked at another "rendez-vous" with the Lord. So far, we've considered the Lord's meetings with:
- His mother Mary and the servants at the wedding feast in Cana,
- and the Samaritan woman at the well.
So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth. Then inquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him. So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee. (John 4.46-54, KJV)
- Mary, Jesus' mother, knew that she could approach the Lord with whatever her need, big or small. So can we, for He is the same Lord now that He was then.
- Jesus responded to her, and will also respond to us. It is not always the response that we desire, for which we are looking, or what we want to hear. But, He does and will respond.
- We can have confidence in Him, just as Mary did, that whatever His response, whatever He chooses to do, it will be very good.
- Jesus performs extravagant miracles - things far and above what we could imagine or dream up on our own. He loves to bring pleasure to those He loves.
- The servants, those in the position of unquestioning and immediate obedience, where the first to see and recognize this miracle of Jesus. To see God working, we too must be found in the position of obedience.
- Nothing protects us from problems during this life. If we are alive, we can expect trouble and difficulties.
- It is often those troubles and difficulties that push us to seek and search for the Lord.
- Jesus is approachable, and longs to see our persistance as we seek Him.
- Jesus responds, not just as we expect or want, but often in a manner that is even more magnificent, extravagent and far beyond what we were actually asking Him to do.
- Faith and belief are best demonstrated by obedience.
- God's Word is infinitely powerful.
- Those in the position of a servant, those set on obeying the Lord, are the ones who first recognize His hand and His miracles.
Did you notice that several of these key points are repeated from the water into wine encounter earlier in John? The ladies at Bible study did!
There was one other thing that the Lord so impressed upon my heart as I prepared for this Bible study: the father's dedication and engagement in the life of his child. Most parents will tell you that they love their children and would do anything for them - but one priority that I need to make even more of a priority is to truly pray for my children, to spend time before the throne of grace truly interceding on their behalf. Do I pray? Of course. Could I pray more fervently. Definitely! And prayer according to the will of God is an investment into the lives of our children (or the children who the Lord has placed into our lives) is an investment with eternal dividends. Several years ago, just before Nadia was born, I attended a baby shower where I was given a bookmark titled: "16 Things to Pray for Your Children." I've carried that bookmark around in my Bible ever since - trying to frequently pray through that list for each individual child. I decided to translate that list and share it with the ladies at Bible Study. They loved it - and the ladies who can read asked me to make a bookmarks for them to carry around in their Bibles. They also committed to pray for their own children along these lines - several were ideas they had never considered before - as well as to pray for the youth and children who attend the church or who they have the potential to influence in their homes and neighborhoods. It is wonderful to see them get excited about an opportunity for ministry such as this!
24 June 2010
23 June 2010
22 June 2010
When Tim recounted this story earlier today, my mind wandered to these words: "As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew... and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he rose and followed him."
Each day, the Lord gives me opportunity to follow Him... the question is will I obey... right away, without questioning, exactly as He leads and with a sweet attitude?
I'm finding the longer I live that this isn't just a one-time commitment; neither is it simply a daily choice. Rather, it is committing to choose moment by moment, each moment, to walk with the Lord. And it is impossible without His abiding presence...
21 June 2010
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus... (Phil 2:1-5a)
I'm finding that for me, the best remedy to any sense of entitlement is deliberately choosing contentment by choosing gratitude. When I practice remembering the multitude of graces God gifts to me each day, it makes it easier to focus on the joy He brings rather than worry about perceived rights and happinesses that He might not be lining along my path. As a once-upon-a-time athlete, two words particularly resonate: CHOOSING and PRACTICE. Years from those days of early morning workouts and several daily miles in the water, the word practice has immediate connotations.
Practice means to perform or do habitually, and is often a strict regimen. This repition serves a key purpose - it is to help acquire skill or proficiency in that skill. One definition I particularly like is the pursuit of competency. In older English, it had the idea of plotting or consipiring (i.e. figuring out)... how to do something well. Thus, contentment doesn't come without a lot of effort... Practicing contentment helps me to more readily choose thankfulness. It is a wonderful way to remove my focus off of what I want and help me see the needs so readily supplied, the multitude that has already been given... and given... and given again.
20 June 2010
- my kids have such an amazing daddy...
- he has captured their hearts and they love him unreservedly...
- they love spending time with him and will try anything ~ just so they can...
- he enjoys so many things that naturally captivate a kid's heart...
- he leaves behind footprints of love, kindness, servanthood, faithfulness, loyalty, gentleness and a heritage of seeking and following His Heavenly Father.
19 June 2010
“...some Christians spiritualize wishing - we call it 'praying.' Please understand, I'm not knocking prayer; I'm challenging a misconception about prayer, namely that we can merely voice our displeasure and expect our world and our relationships to be transformed. True biblical prayer is about much, much more than that. It involves receiving our marching orders and then acting on them.”
[a woman quoted in the book, speaking first on God's grace... and how one of her listeners applied that same principle to marriage] “'The pressure is off me,' she told them. 'Don't get me wrong; it's not that I'm not pursuing holiness. It's just that I know that my Father will get me where He wants me to be and that even my failures serve, in some way, to glorify Him. My relationship with God is growing to be all about His grace, His mercy, His power.' Then Elyse's friend 'astounded' her by responding, 'That must be such a blessing for your husband, Elyse. To be walking in that kind of grace must enable you to be so patient and so grace-filled with Phil. To know that God is working in him just as He's working in you must make your marriage so sweet and your husband so pleased. It must be great for him to know that the pressure is off for him too.'”
“It takes great spiritual maturity to love mercy, to offer grace, to give someone the same spiritual benefits we ourselves have received from our heavenly Father. Get in touch with how much God has done for you - how he has seen every wicked act you've ever committed; heard every syllable of gossip; noticed every malicious, ugly and hateful thought - and still, he loves you. Even more, he adores you. And he's forgiven you. Now comes the hard part: will you give your husband what God has given you?”
“Families crumble because we've lost our respect for responsibility. Instead, we allow romantic intensity to enthrall us. Since God created our feelings, they must be good; there must be a divine purpose behind infatuation. Unfortunately, however, we've become romantic gluttons. Instead of giving thanks for romance when it comes, we crave it, demand it, and even build our lives around it. We rarely give ourselves the opportunity to experience the more steadfast satisfaction of loyalty, commitment, and responsiblity.”
“The brilliance of Christianity is that God can grow you in an unhealthy marriage as well as in a healthy marriage. He can shape you in prosperity or need, in comfort or stress, in intimacy or loneliness. And intimacy with him is the most precious reward any of us can every know or experience.”
If you are interested in becoming a better helpmeet and completer for your husband or if your goal as wife and mom looks something like what is described in Proverbs 31... I'd highly recommend the time it takes to study through, with your Bible open, this book. If you do, let me know what you think.