Monday, May 29, 2017

What Do We Do Now?

What Do We Do Now?

Matthew 28:16-20
When the women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (vs.28:1,) saw Jesus after the resurrection, He told them to go and tell the disciples to meet Him in Galilee. With joy, they obeyed. We pick up our story there, at the foot of an unnamed mountain in Galilee where the eleven are about to have an important encounter with the risen Jesus. Galilee was home for most of them and so it was a logical place to meet since they would have been traveling there after Passover week. I wonder as they entered the region if they reminisced over the last three years, especially their unusual call to become “Fishers of Men.” Today, they were soon to discover the fulfillment of that call Jesus had spoken to them those years ago. 
“When they saw Jesus, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” (vs 17) In this short verse, we have two words that unless are defined correctly can lead us astray.  The first is “worship.” In the Greek, the word is proskyneo which means: to pay homage to, revere, but also to place under the authority of. This was more than just bowing, or having an experience with Jesus, this was a total surrendering of wills.  We also need to understand the word “doubted” which doesn’t mean unbelief, but rather, “to have hesitancy or wavering.”  This particular word is seen only one other time in Matthew and that was in Matthew 14:31 when Peter was walking on water and Jesus said to him, “Why did you doubt [or hesitate]?”  This is important to our lesson today because when we are faced with Jesus’ call in our lives, sometimes we “doubt” or hesitate to do it for a variety of reasons but especially our feelings of inadequacy. 
Don’t we “doubt”? Jesus appears to us in a mighty way and we know in our hearts we need to surrender immediately but we hesitate.  For Peter, while walking on the water, that hesitancy caused him to sink. May I submit that when God speaks and we hesitate we will take our eyes off of Jesus, lose focus and we sink. Often, we will fail to follow through with God’s plan for us. Jesus understood this and so to combat our hesitancy Jesus sandwiched some spiritual encouragement around His commands and instruction. 
The top of our encouragement sandwich is Jesus’ absolute authority or power. (vs18) He wants us to know there is not a thing He cannot do or command to take place. The bottom slice of bread is His presence, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (vs.20 CSB) He is going to be with us every second. We have Jesus’ Power and Presence and in between, we have—the going, the making disciples, the baptizing and the teaching to obey His commandments. Could it be that too often we focus on what we should do and become over-whelmed and hesitate?  In our own sense of inadequacy, we might deem the task too large or the number too many to be able to reach. Perhaps there was a sense of inadequacy in those who “doubted” that day as they thought, “No one is going to believe this.” or, “How will I ever convince them?” Their focus was on what they could do or not do in their own strength but Jesus quickly added, “I will give you the power and be with you.” Luke, in the book of Acts, elaborated Jesus’ directive: Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you…” That Powerand Presence Jesus talked about can be seen in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which each of us as a believer can draw upon. 
It is long past time for the church to believe again in the Power and Presence of God in our midst. There is not a task too great, for we have the Holy Spirit’s power and presence. We are without excuse. 
Matthew’s fellow disciple, Peter, was told to strengthen the brothers after he “turned back.” (Luke 22: 32b) I will close today’s lesson by his strengthening words: II Peter 1:3 “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” His power will give us everything we need. Let’s quit doubting and surrender to Him.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

When Does Life Matter?

The last couple of weeks I have been in a pondering mood…maybe it is just that time of year but my soul has been deeply troubled.  The summer and fall were filled with stress and conflict with the upcoming election.  I think it began then.  You see the main issue of the election for me was that of life.   It wasn’t a political issue because it is personal to me. I was to be aborted…for the health of my mother.   My mother had spent a great deal of her young life in a sanatorium for those infected with TB.  She had lost a husband and a baby to this dreaded disease but it was “arrested” [their term since it is never cured] and could now enter life again.  She married my father and was told to not get pregnant. She did, however, not long after she married.  After having lost one child she was being told she would have to abort the second one for her own health.  She refused and I was born.  (My mother lived for another 40 years after my birth.)  So, this abortion thing is personal to me.  But this writing is not so much about abortion but to consider when life begins to matter.

January 22, 1973 is a day that changed our country forever. Thanks to women like Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem, children were relabeled as distractions rather than blessings.  Children after all were the reason women were not achieving all they could. If we could get rid of this distraction, life would be wonderful.  So in 1973, the Supreme Court decided that not allowing the aborting of a baby for any reason was unconstitutional. The ruling was termed Roe vs. Wade. Women were now free to be all that they could be!  No longer would they have back ally abortions…it was legal now to rid yourself of this distraction.  Fast forward several years…women were beginning to feel guilt from these actions.  It wasn’t as easy as they thought.  Depression grew and the freedom they were promised was fleeting by the knowledge of what they had done.  We had to do something to abate these feelings so what we did is redefine when life begins.

When I was in college no one ever questioned when life began.  We had studied basic biology and knew when it began. But now, to soothe the consciences of those who choose to rid themselves of a baby, many tried to justify the act by questioning the beginning of life.  They did this by declaring “It wasn’t really a baby yet…it was a fetus.” Somehow making it clinical would help and we could justify our guilt.

But this issue goes much further than aborting babies in the womb. Since that day in January 1973… murders have increased in our country.  There is seldom a day that goes by that my news app doesn’t mention yet another murder in the capital city!  Unthinkably, we see mothers and fathers killing their own children. Recently, one of the most heinous instances was a mother killing her child to get back at the father for an indiscretion.  She filmed the murder to show him and felt justified.  We are seeing teens as young as 12 killing other teens without remorse.  Why? I have pondered this and came to this conclusion: Could it be that if life doesn’t matter at the start it never really matters?

You see that is the way sin goes…it never takes you where you thought you were going to end up.  Society thought, out of sight (or womb) out of mind but the reality is that if life doesn’t matter in the womb, when does it matter?  At one?  At twelve? At 93?  If it doesn’t matter at the start, sub-consciously, does it ever matter?

It happens on the ending side, as well as our elderly are thrown aside instead of being honored because they are no longer useful to society. They are also considered distractions and it costs too much to maintain a distraction.

Recently, I visited two graveyards.  One was from a town that doesn’t exist any more and the other was the graveyard at my husband’s childhood church. The first was on a hike with my children. We walked around this neglected graveyard of a town long since gone and I was stunned as I read the headstones.  One hit me especially hard:  Emily Rose born June 18, 1883, died June 22, 1883.  Forever, memorialized even though her life lasted only 2 days.  The stone stared up at me screaming out…Emily Rose was alive and her life was important to someone.  She existed.  I looked at all the other grave markers and realized even though I never knew these people, there was a connection with them, I couldn’t deny.  They had lived.  They were.  The grave markers are there to prove it.




The other graveyard was a showing of family heritage. It showed that there were those who came before us with their stories and their trials.  They mattered. Their lives were important. We learned valuable lessons from them.






We lost so much when life became disposable. Life means something to God…heritage means so much to God.  Any bible student will tell you that.  Read Matthew 1. Read the numerous “begats” throughout the Bible and we clearly see it matters.  God knows us while we are in our mother’s wombs.  He created each of us for a purpose and not a single one of us is a distraction to Him!

So as we argue whether black lives matter, white lives matter, blue lives matter…let’s go back to the beginning…when life begins determines what lives matter.  


Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Small Stuff Matters!

Our world says, "Go big or go home!" If what we do isn't large or before thousands we tend to think it is not worth much! Last week I went to the funeral of a great lady. I sat and listened to her accolades and left feeling worthless in my own spiritual life wondering if I would ever do as much for the kingdom as she did! I saw our pastor at the grocery store that week and told him what a wonderful job he did and I added, "boy, do I feel guilty because I will never measure up!" He looked at me and with great wisdom said something like this, "She did small things consistently for a very long time." Wow! He was right! She was in her mid-eighties. She never spoke to a stadium of people or did any of the things the world says you must do to be valuable...she was consistent in doing daily what God led her to do and it added up! Believer, are you not doing what God wants because you are comparing yourself to someone with a bigger stage? Stop! I found a scripture this morning that puts things in perspective: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin!" Zech. 4:10 We each have a purpose or as Hebrews says, our own race to run...don't think the small stuff doesn't matter...do it consistently and for a long time and others will notice!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Follow up on massage!

You might remember I spoke about a deep tissue massage I had a couple of weeks ago.  Today I went back for my 2nd and it wasn't as bad as the first...I had done all the things she said and my muscles were much less tense...I still have some issues but it is better.  When I left I made another appointment because I know if I don't, I am going to get back into the same shape I was in before.  It is that way with our Christian life...it is not a "one time fixes everything" life! If we treat it like that then we will be faced with deep pain that was not necessary.  If I keep a regular schedule of taking care of my body my body will work better.  If I take care of my spiritual life, that also will work better.

It might have been a long time since you met with God...He loves you and wants you to be healthy.  If meeting with Him cause you some personal pain then it is what He needs to work out of your life so you can be better...but it is not a one time thing.  Continue to meet with Him, daily.  Pray, read His word and depend on Him.  It will keep you strong and feeling great.  Thanks, Kristen for reminding me of what I need to do!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Blessings

Here is a verse that goes against contemporary thinking: "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Job 2:10b As I read that this morning, I think often of how many times I rejoice in the blessings that God gives me yet wonder where He is when things go wrong. The biggest misconception we have in the church is that if you are a Christian everything will always go "your way" and you will not have trouble. The fact is, nothing could be farther from the truth. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us and times of testing our faith will come. Jesus said while He still walked the earth, "In this world, you will have trouble...but be of good cheer I have overcome the world." John 16:33 Today, believer, perhaps it seems like your world is falling apart and that God has deserted you...He has not. He will never leave you or forsake you. Our good blessings are not an indication of God's presence...His peace in the middle of trouble is. In all things give thanks and you will be surprised at the calm that will come over you.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Painful


Yesterday I redeemed a gift certificate for a deep tissue massage. Do not imagine the relaxing wonderful massage that you see on commercials. This was brutal. I had not had one in a couple of years and my muscles were like concrete. I am not a violent person, but if my face had not been secured in a tiny round hole on the massage table, I think I would have slapped the sweet girl doing what I asked her to do! At one point she asked me if it hurt too much and I said yes but keep it going because I know I will feel better later...so she did! You know it is the same way with God's Word...we tell Him we want to get better and that He can break us but then the pain comes and we want to slap somebody! We want to justify why we don't need that and often we just want the pain to stop. The result is: We don't get better! Our hearts are still like concrete! Today, I am deep in writing for a series I will be doing in October on "How to Prepare Ourselves for Prayer." These lessons are wrecking me in every conceivable place! When that happens, I know it is from God. I know when this is finished, I will be stronger, more passionate, more in tune with His will but boy it is painful right now. After my massage (first of two because I was so bad off!) the therapist told me to drink lots of water, which will help my muscles to relax. Jesus is our living water and drinking deeply from His well will help the lessons God is teaching, to sink in deeply so we can relax in His truth. Today consider when was the last time you were wrecked by God's Word? Don't wait too long.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The B-I-B-L-E That's the Book for Me!

In Nehemiah 8, the wall was built and all the people in Jerusalem came together to worship the Lord. The priest Ezra read from the Book of the Law of Moses. (The Torah) They stood from daybreak until noon as Ezra read and listened attentively. That in itself is amazing but what happens next is what is missing today. As the people heard the Word of God they began weeping over their sin... In our country there has been a controversy the past two weeks about using the Bible with unbelievers...some pastors are saying that it might turn the lost away from God and might not be understandable to them. I cannot say how very wrong this kind of thinking is. If we don't have the Word of God to guide us, then what we have is merely man's opinion of what is right. These people in Jerusalem merely heard God's word read and repented...then Nehemiah said, "Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 8:10 A verse later says, "Then all the people went to eat and drink...because they now understood the words that had been made known to them." 12 When we try to find a "better way" to reach the lost rather than what God has said, we are making disciples of ourselves not disciples of Jesus. Are there parts of the Bible that at first are hard to understand...yes! But when the Holy Spirit comes, He gives us understanding. Today, believer, don't fall for the pop culture that says the Bible is not necessary...the words within it have the only defensive weapon against the enemy we have. Jesus Himself used scripture to fight with satan in the desert. If we listen long enough, we will understand and have joy!