Monthly Archives: December 2015

Miracles in our Midst

The poor you will always have with you and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.  Mark 14:7

I know, I wrote a blog about this passage a week ago.    But this part of the story of the woman who broke the alabaster jar speaks to my heart today.

I remembered it when I was praying.  Sometimes I can get overwhelmed with all of the needs when I am praying.  No matter how many prayers God answers, there are always a thousand things more that need to change.

But then I also remembered a conversation I had earlier in the week.  A sister was talking to me about my son’s upcoming marriage to a lovely young disciple.  “That is so encouraging to me,” she said.  “That is my dream for my sons when they grow up.”

And I didn’t know how to answer her.  Because I am super grateful.  But I’ve also been caught up in all of the issues my son and fiancee have had to go through in getting to the point of marriage.  Being a mom, I worry.  I’m afraid to hope.

So I lose sight of the miracle — that this marriage IS what I always wanted for my children.  I truly am receiving immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine.

How many more miracles am I missing?  For many years we had no one, but now we have Mike and Marge here, a seasoned leadership couple with a passionate heart for God and others.

Mike and Marge

I can think of other small churches that don’t have leaders, or can only afford to partially pay the leader.

I have my health.  All I have to do is look on Facebook to see friends who are majorly struggling with health issues.

I’m alive. Today in the news is the shooting death of 14 people in San Bernardino.

San Bernardino Shooting

It is so tragically sad.  They just went to a Christmas party, and they ended up dead.  It can happen to any one of us at any time.   I can think of many people who have gone on and are no longer with us.

A couple of days ago, I read last week’s blog to my writing group, and one of the women there was an atheist who is unfamiliar with the Bible.  “He sounds selfish,” she said about Jesus.  “It doesn’t sound good that he would say to not worry about the poor.”  To her, it seemed like all Jesus wanted was attention for himself, and didn’t care about the needs of others.

Of course she missed the point.  And that is that we will always be surrounded by needs, so when we have something in our life that is awesome, we need to savor it and celebrate it.

And that is what I need to do, myself.  I need to give God credit for the miracles in my life.  I need to be completely grateful for them.

My biggest problem is missing the miracles.  Either I take them for granted, or I get too caught up in life to even notice. Or I don’t recognize them because I’m afraid that they are too good to be true.

Let me break the alabaster jar in celebration and praise.  Let me kick up my heels, like we did last night at the church Christmas party.  (Here’s a picture of Bill living it up at the party.)

IMG_6291

Let me revel at the epic wedding that’s coming in just a week!

We have all have been given wonders.  God is good.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,  and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied,  then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Deut.  8:10-14

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Gratitude, Mark, Miracles

Prepare and Dare!

Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.  Mark 14:1

It’s a good thing to remember that Satan is plotting our downfall.

ambush

snake2

And no matter how hard we try, all of us will fall victim to Satan’s schemes at one time or another.

I mean, look what happened to the twelve disciples.  They were around Jesus all the time, heard his teaching, saw his example.  You’d think they would be impervious to temptation.  But Jesus warned them in verse 27, “You will all fall away.”  And that is what happened when he was arrested.

In a strange way, that’s kind of encouraging to me.  No one was immune.  They all messed up.  I’m not so bad.

BUT, what is really encouraging to me is that these same men who messed up went on to be the most influential men in history!

I think the same is true for us.  No matter how badly we fail, we can always pick ourselves up and go forward and do something that will make a difference.

We just need faith.  We don’t have to be super talented to impact the world in a great way.  We just have to step out in faith and do what we can, instead of cringing at home and thinking we’re not good enough.

I love this quote from an article by John Oaks:

“Israel’s leaders were real–not perfect. David was an adulterer, Abraham was a liar, Noah got drunk, Jacob was a manipulator. What all of these men had in common, ultimately, was faith in God.… God chose Moses, Abraham, David and others in spite of their sin.  He chose them because of the child-like faith and because of their willingness to repent.  The same is true today.”

So all of us can make a great impact for God.  The important thing is to not let Satan succeed in his schemes to take us out.

We need to be like Jesus in this.  He withstood temptation because he EXPECTED that Satan would ambush him.  He PREPARED for severe trials.  He lived his life in such a way that he was READY when they came.

How did he prepare?  I think Mark 14 gives us good insight.

First, he maintained righteousness.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.  Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” (Mark 14:13-15)

No matter what was coming, Jesus still honored God.  He celebrated the Passover.   If it were me, I would have been tempted to take a break and live it up a little.  But Jesus always had the discipline of being God focused.  And then when hard times came, he was close to God.  He had all the spiritual tools to deal with challenge at his disposal.

Second, Jesus surrounded himself with the support of friends.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.  (Mark 14:22-23)

In Luke’s parallel account of the Last Supper, Jesus said,  “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  (Luke 22:15)  Jesus’ heart was joyfully anticipating this time with his friends.  He drew strength from being with them.

I experienced something like this on Sunday, sitting in church with two of my children, one on either side, and my spiritual family all around me.  Since my kids live in other cities and have busy lives, it is very rare that we get to sit together at church.  For me, this is the closest thing to what I think heaven will be like — being with those we love most, worshiping our magnificent Lord.  It was momentous.  It was indescribable joy.  Afterwards, I felt refreshed, like a different person, ready to face my week.

Surely Jesus felt the same way.  There is something so strengthening about being with our loved ones before the Lord.

Surely we need to do likewise.  We need fellowship opportunities like we need bread and water.  I am an introvert, I know that being with others can be draining.  But it still also replenishes me.

Third, Jesus prayed.

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36)

THIS is how Jesus was able to face the impossible, how he was able to stand with integrity and power against heinous challenges.  He prayed.  He poured out his heart to God.  He begged and pleaded.  He didn’t stop until he had it within him to go on.

So today, let’s prepare for trials.  Let’s not lose ourselves in life so much that we forget how important it is to be ready for something to go wrong.

Because as much as God works for the good, it still is true that things will go wrong.  But these things don’t have to sideline us.  We don’t have to become a casualty.  We can take our trials in stride, and then dare to step out one more time, in faith, to do good works that will change the world for God.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.  Eph 6:10-18

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Battle Against Evil, Mark