Category Archives: Patience

Saturday — The Place of In Between

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”  Mark 8:31-33

Jesus taught his disciples about suffering and rejection!  This is a revelation to me.  Yes, I know Jesus said that we’d have many troubles in this world, I know he even mentions future persecutions for us, but we tend to think of the non-suffering passages of Jesus, the yoke is easy and burden is light ones.

It seems appropriate on Easter weekend to study this passage.  Today is Holy Saturday.  It is a remembrance of the day of in between, the day when Jesus was dead.  For the early disciples, it was a day when all hope was lost, a day of uncertainty and sadness.

Oh, that place of in between.  I do not like it!  That place between my prayers and the answers.  The place where it doesn’t seem like Jesus is alive and active.  The place where my hopes can be lost.

Right now I am yearning to convert just one married couple.  I’ve been praying about it for years.  I’ve been trying to build relationships.  I’ve studied the Bible with my friends.  But I am in the place of in between.  And I feel powerless.  It’s hard to envision that I am really going to get to the place where we study with and baptize married couples.

So it’s good to study out that suffering is necessary.  I can’t help but think that if something isn’t going smoothly, something is wrong.

But with God, it’s not that something is wrong, it just isn’t time yet.

On that Saturday when Jesus was in the tomb, it wasn’t that something was going wrong.  It wasn’t time for Jesus to rise yet.  But resurrection Sunday WAS coming.

Jesus had to suffer MANY things.  I’ve got to stop thinking that there is a system breakdown when I face challenges.  There is NOT!  Facing challenges is a part of the process.

And Jesus faced his challenges head on.  He resolutely set out for Jerusalem to confront them.  He was led like a lamb to the slaughter yet he did not open his mouth.

And Jesus taught others about the necessity of suffering.  Peter was aghast.  The KING, the Messiah, suffering?  That would be seriously wack!

But it wasn’t wack, it was part of God’s plan.

We need to help others see that suffering isn’t this sign that everything is going wrong.  I was talking to a sister yesterday and she has MANY sufferings right now, many things that are challenging.  She feels overwhelmed.  My job is to help her see that it’s going to be okay, that she can make it through this “Saturday” to the miraculous deliverance of “Sunday.”

So what is necessary?  Having in mind the concerns of God.  Literally, we should have the “phroneo,” the understanding and thinking of God.

It’s like this passage in Phil. 2:

Have this MIND among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name. . .

Have the mind that we are not to be great, but humbled; that we are not to be served, but to serve; that we will stay the course and be subservient to God no matter what.

Have the mind that we do this for God, we do it for others — it is a caring, communal thing.

And then, humbling ourselves is like Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.  We are in a state of nothingness, and GOD raises us up!  The astounding answer, the thing we need, WILL come!

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.  Hab 2:3

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Filed under Faith, Mark, Patience

Patience in the Dark Valley

What a week this has been!  Sunday we had the wonderful shower for Cecelia and Yesenia.  It was so beautiful, such a celebration of friendship and God’s goodness.

Praying at the shower.

Praying at the shower.

Then I spent Monday and Tuesday having a treasure of a time babysitting my grandchildren.  It was a great gift to be able to spend one on one time with them, to just love them over and over.  It was a gift to have visits with two of my children while I was there.  Just to see them and have time to talk about their lives was precious.  It was also a gift to have a quiet period away from everything.

God knows just want we need.

But then when I came back I found myself besieged once more by a storm of emotions.  Menopause really stinks.  I have been depressed and weepy.  The howling wolf of failure dogs me, nipping at my heals.  I hear his howls over and over.

I had a good conversation with my friend Nancy about this.  She told me I need to be patient with myself.

So read these verse on patience, and they were balm to my soul —

 Love is patient.   I Cor 13:4

Be patient with everyone. I Thes 5:2

 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.  II Peter 3:15

 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Rom 15:1

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  II Peter 3:9

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?  Romans 2:4

 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!  Is 30:18

These verses are awesome!  God is so very patient with us.  He knows we grow and come to him imperfectly, and He gives us space to do that.  And we need to be patient with others

One thing I’ve found that helps in this barrage and tangle of emotions is to embrace where I am at the moment, to relax and be wholly present.  I tend to think I need to accomplish all kinds of things, so I’m always intent on achievement.  But then I don’t feel good.  In a sense, I accept that this place of being moody is the place I am supposed to be.   And I see that in my emotional state,  I care even more for others, and I can focus on one person, and just talk to them and love them.   I have a deep need to connect with God, and I can get down on my knees and talk to Him until something clicks.  I can play the guitar and sing spiritual songs and be filled with the goodness of God.

In trusting, I can be patient with myself.

I’ll close with something from Emily Weirenga’s blog that I read that really helped me —

“One night I was so undone, I went for a walk beneath the stars and cried out to God for all of the awful.  All of the young kids getting addicted to porn and all of the hurts and the sins and the confusion.  And I heard the Lord say, “Emily-do not fight darkness with darkness, but with light.”

Because I was acting out of fear. And fear is darkness.”

This moodiness and all of these emotions make me feel out of control, and that makes all of my fears of failure seem like they are coming true.  But I cannot fear, because fear is participating in the darkness.

I cannot get my affirmation from achievement.  In the past, God’s enabled me to feel great about myself.  But that tempts me to get my confidence from performance.  Now, instead, I must have confidence in God and His plan.  I must have confidence that even though I feel like a failure, I am in the right place at the right time.  I must be patient and realize that things are NOT out of control.

I must fight the darkness with light, and the light is hope.  The light is being able to endure walking through the darkest valley, patiently waiting to stumble upon the table prepared for me, seeing that my cup overflows, and knowing goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.  (Ps 23)

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Diary, Patience, Peace, Self Worth

Seven Things I Am Learning

book my story

1. God believes in my story! 

If Jesus died for me, and me alone, then my story is important to him.

Each day is significant, a piece of my narrative.  Each season of my life is a vital chapter.

And God believes I can get through to the next chapter, get out of this experience what I need to.

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

And if this is true, then. . .

happily ever after

2.  I have to trust the end of the story.

Sometimes lately I feel like my glory days are over.  I am tired and grumpy, and often can’t do what I used to.  My husband, who used to seem like the lazy one, runs circles around me.  It seems at every point that I am faced with evidence that I fall short.  And on top of this, some of my prayers have been answered, but not in the way I imagined, but in a way that has brought me a new set of trials.  This makes me feel discouraged.

How different would my attitude be if I believed that the story isn’t over, that the end of the story is still good?

“You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness.  You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. . . You crown the year with your bounty. ” Ps 65:5, 11

He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion.  Phil 1:6

The end of the story is GOOD, because God is righteous.  He will be faithful to us.  He wants good things for us. 

It is like the verse in Eph. 3:20, “To him who is able to give immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.”  God certainly gave me more than I could ask or imagine in my marriage, and in other areas.  He  is the hope, the only hope, for me, and for everyone on earth. 

half full glass

3. Battle negativity.  “Resist the devil and he will flee from you. . . .  purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  James 4:7-10

Joann Acosta just moved to Enterprise.  Her husband is in the military, so they had no choice but to move there.  There are no churches of our fellowship there.  She and her husband drive two hours to be with us.  The school systems aren’t good, and she will have to home school.  But it is encouraging to see how positive and faithful she is.

“You have to be a glass-half-full kind of person,”  she shared in our Women’s Class last Wednesday.  She said that whatever comes in life, we have to see it as a great thing, not as a bad thing.

CU081219_002HR2

4. God is patient!  As I was telling my best friend, Nancy, about the difficulties of growing older and being more irritable, Nancy reminded me of the story of Jonah.  Jonah was a selfish grump who didn’t respect God’s will!  But God was incredibly patient with him.  He saved Jonah when the prophet foolishly ran away, and even endangered all on the ship.  He patiently taught Jonah when he got angry about the vine withering, and still didn’t care about the people of Ninevah.

In the same way, God can be patient with me with I am a selfish grump.  Since I’ve read this, I’ve seen so many other examples of God being patient.  This is so helpful to me right now.  After all, “It does not depend on human will or effort but on God who shows mercy.”  Romans 9:16

stumbling block

5. Pride is a huge stumbling block.  It can mess me up.  It can impede God’s will.  It can be detrimental to others.

Recently I had a critical attitude about something.  I shared what I was struggling about with my husband.  Later, he made a choice that was affected by what I had told him.  I was sobered as I saw how influential bad attitudes can be.

It reminds me of many times over the course of my life when I was sure I was making the right choice, only to realize it was a big mistake.  I need to stop being so sure of myself, so indignant when things don’t go the way I think they need to.

“Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.”  Prov. 22:4

For our communion service Sunday, Ryan told us to envision ourselves in prison, waiting to be executed because of our crimes of sin.  As I did this, the sin I pictured most for myself was pride.  I could see clearly how major a sin pride is, and how majorly it defines me.

I am having some struggles right now, but on one level, I thank God for them, because they are revealing my pride as never before, and how repugnant it is.  If this helps me be more humble, it will be a good thing.

bread

6.  Let Him be my only fuel.

You are the air I breath…your Holy Spirit, living in me.

You are my daily bread.  Your very word, spoken to me.  (From Breathe by Michael W. Smith)

I need to remember to not work from my own energy.  God gives us manna in the morning. . . and all through the day.  I need to continually breathe in Christ, settle into His will, and act from that.

eeyore

7.  No pity parties!

As I feel that I can’t do as much as I used to do, it is really hard for me not to feel sorry for myself.  “My husband works all day, and he has energy to get with a brother at 9:30 at night,” I tell myself.  “I’m a slug next to him.”  I can feel like no one needs me anymore.

I was reading the story of Elijah in I Kings 19, about how Elijah ran away from Jezebel and had a big pity party, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

What did God say to Elijah?  He didn’t coddle him.  He didn’t berate him.  He just told Elijah, “Go back. . . ”  Even when everything seems like it is falling apart, God wants us to continue trusting and obeying, doing what we are supposed to be doing.

 

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Filed under Gratitude, Patience, Self Worth, Things I Am Learning

Five Things That are Vital

1.  Understanding how God works is vital. 

It was the best of times this past weekend -- the fruition of hard work

It was the best of times this past weekend — the fruition of hard work

GOD WORKS IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME, NOT ON MY TIMETABLE.

I read the story of the Israelites’ struggles with the Philistines in the early chapters of I Samuel.  At one point the Israelites try to go to battle against the Philistines, and they bring the ark with them, thinking that by doing so, they will ensure that God is with them.  But they are routed, and the Philistines capture the ark.  It isn’t until later, after the Philistines return the ark, that things come together and they are moved to return to the Lord and repent.  Then God is truly with them, and they defeat the Philistines.

This story reminds me that God works through a natural progression.  Just like a seed is planted, and must go through a process to grow and bear fruit, people must go through a process to be ready to repent.  The people I am praying for, and studying the Bible with, will come to faith in the fullness of time.

This is also true for the things I am praying about.  The prayers will be answered in the fulness of time.  One thing we have prayed about for years is to have permanent leaders in Auburn.  It looks like this prayer and dream is about to come to fruition.  In many ways, I can see that this is the right time for this to come to pass.  Our financial contributions have grown so we can support a leader better now.  We have learned much in the years of struggle waiting for this to come to pass.

  • Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. . . So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.. . . On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.”  (From I Sam 7)
  • You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)
  • but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 40:31

2. Maintaining a focal point is vital.

tightrope 1

I read a chapter of “Finding Balance from the inside out,” by Sheila Jones.  She mentioned that tightrope walkers are taught to focus on a point at the end of the rope they traverse.  Keeping their eyes on that point will help them keep their balance through the walk.

In the same way, I must keep my eyes on God.  If I allow myself to be distracted by emotion, ambition, people pleasing, worry, challenging situations, and so on, I lose sight of the one thing that will get me through.  Focusing on God gives me the right perspective for every situation.  Focusing on God gives me strength. 

  • We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”  2 Chron 20:12
  • My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare.  Ps 25:15
  • the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  John 5:19
  • I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.  John 8:28

3. Being a good guide is vital.

sherpa

In the first few chapters of I Samuel.  Israel suffered greatly because of the sin of Hophni and Phinehas, who, as priests, were their spiritual leaders.  They lost the ark to the Philistines, and thirty thousand of them were slaughtered in battle.

In the same way, my spiritual walk can affect others.  How I live matters.

And I have a responsibility to help others, to warn them about the “small” poor choices they are making with their lives.  Often these choices seem like they are no big deal.  It is so easy to think I need to give people their space.  It is easy to avoid conflict.  It is easy to procrastinate.

But I have to remember that every negative thing my friends allow in their lives is DESTRUCTIVE.  As a spiritual leader, it is my job to stand up for the purity of living that will lead to the best life for all of us.

  • Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.  I Tim 4:16
  • You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.  Titus 2:1
  • teach the older women to live in a way that honors God.. . . These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.  Titus 2:3

4. Having partners in the mission is vital.

crew boat

  We moved to Auburn because we deeply desired to be involved in helping others to have a great relationship with God.  But we would not have moved here on our own.  We wanted to join a church of like minded people — partners in the gospel.

Jake said on Sunday that being actively involved in the mission builds close relationships, and this is so true.   There is nothing like working together for someone’s salvation — studying the Bible, praying, fellowshipping, going through the ups and downs together.

I have felt at my lowest spiritually when I did not have partners in the gospel.  There’s just something special about feeling that you are putting your hands to the oars, and knowing that others are alongside you, rowing with all their heart as well.  As we pray for this ministry to grow, we pray for God to bring us workers!!! I do want everyone to know the sublime sweetness that come from having a relationship with God and being at peace with him.  But I want, I need, to have those who will be with me heart and soul in the fight.

  • Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.  Phil 1:3-5
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Matt 9:38
  • “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”  I Samuel 14:7

5. Having the right motivation is vital.

I was saved from death row.

I was saved from death row.

I can do the right thing because I am supposed to do it.  But it is much better if I do it from the heart.  Love and grace must be my motivators.

It seems like there are a thousand challenges to build this motivation!!  But it is a good fight.  I am praying to learn to be more loving.  I am fighting to rid myself of the wrong attitudes.  God is guiding me, showing me great verses, speaking through others, helping me to grow.

So I say, if it isn’t going to be done in love, don’t do it!

  • For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, ( Titus 2:11-12)
  • And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  Phil 1:9-10
  • Clearly, Christ’s love guides us. We are convinced of the fact that one man has died for all people. Therefore, all people have died.  II Cor 5:14
  • Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  I Tim 1:15-16

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Filed under Balance, Having the Right Heart, One Another Relationships, Patience

Six Things That Encourage

1.  That it’s all about coming to a point where we surrender and praise.  

  • When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped.  Judges 7:15

After many evidences and workings of God, Gideon finally got it.  Something clicked in his heart.  He finally realized at a gut level that God really was with him.  It was something he didn’t see after fire came and consumed his sacrifices, or even after God worked miracles on the fleeces he put out. But something about creeping through the night and being at exactly at the right place, at the right time, and hearing the dream in the enemy camp brought it home to him.  He was ready to fall on his knees, quit worrying about the strength of his opponents, trust and worship God.

God does this in our lives as well.  Through my health challenges lately, I have had to wrestle with it and be able to say, “God, if it is your will that my health fails, or even my mental facilities fail, I will trust you, and praise you.”

The good news is that when we come to this point, God acts.  Just like with Gideon, when we surrender and delight in the Lord, He has us where we need to be, and He will work.

2. That God will open our eyes.

  • Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  Luke 24:45

We need God to help us to understand the scriptures, to be able to see Him better, to have insight into all of the mysteries and truths.   Here are some other scriptures that address this:

  • I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe  Eph 1:18
  • And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  Eph 3:18

It strikes me in an increasing way how much I need this.  I have been praying for God to show my how to love others better.  And it has been working!  I have seen the importance of thanking God for others frequently, and how this helps my heart.  I have seen how interactions with others can nourish my soul.  And much more!

Yesterday we were talking at a workshop on leading about how to pray better, and how difficult it can be to pray sometimes.  One of the comments was that we need to ask God for wisdom on how to be devoted to prayer.  God didn’t make it so we can just figure things out by our own wisdom.  We try and try to serve him, and after awhile, we just hit our head against a wall.  But if we pray for wisdom, God DOES open our eyes, and it is by His power, not our own.

  • If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

3. That God’s kingdom is always increasing!

  • Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.  Is 9:7

Although it often feels like the world is getting more wicked, and chaos is gaining the upper hand, God’s kingdom IS growing more and more all the time.  God’s good and perfect will IS being accomplished.

As I reflect on this, I see it to be true.  I see many people who are not just believing in Jesus, but following him with ALL of their heart.  Most of all, I see the hearts of people expanding through the years to become so much more spiritual, more loving, more peaceful, more awesome!  I was thinking this morning as I regarded my husband that I have truly seen the miracle of God in him.  I have seen him grow from a selfish person (I was too) into a giving, compassionate, joyful, faithful man.  God has made him more and more into what he was created to be.

Here are some other verses on this:

  • I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.’ ”  Jer 33:22
  • But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth. Dan. 2:34
  • “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. Dan. 2:44
  • But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession.  II Cor 2:14
  • “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”  Matt 13:33

4.  That people CAN change.

People get stuck.  I get stuck.  (See point #2)  There are people I’ve been studying the Bible who want to follow God, they just can’t seem to change their lives to get it done.  One encouraging thing I learned this weekend is ways to help people to change, and hearing stories of people who have changed.

  1. First, I was reminded that your heart and outlook needs to change for your behavior to change.  Just telling them what to do differently won’t help.  I need to help them change from the inside out.  Their heart need to be softened.  They need to find godly sorrow.
  2. Second, I was reminded that they need God to help the change their heart.  They can’t just try to gut it out by doing the right thing.
  3. Third, I got ideas for things that will help.  Instead of studying the Bible with them, we can get them to study something out for themselves, and their heart will be changed.  Or we can start praying with them, and get others to pray with them.

Now that I think about it, I see so many ways people have changed.  I see Antoinette and Ashley, who got baptized recently, and the miracles that happened to get them to that point.  I see Kristen and Lin, who are still studying, but who have made significant strides that could only have been made with God.  I am excited about going forward.

5. That we need trust, not clarity.

  • Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  Matt 14:28-29

This is an amazing thought for me.  I have been praying so much lately that God would make it clear what I need to be doing with my life.  Should I work part time?  Should I just embrace where I am?  Should I find a charity work that I could be more involved it?  Am I wasting opportunities by just sitting back and waiting for it to be clear what I should do?

Here is the story that Mike Gross told to illustrate this point yesterday in his sermon.  It is about a man who went to Mother Teresa and asked her to pray that he would have clarity.  She told him, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When the man said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

6. That failing allows us to experience the love of Jesus.

  • But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  Matt 14:30-31

I HATE failure.  It is one of my biggest fears.  So although I know that in order to walk on water you have to get out of the boat, my life is a cycle of getting out of the boat, taking a few exciting steps of faith on the water, failing in some way, and struggling with hating that I have failed.

I love that Mike pointed out yesterday that each time we start to sink in the water, each time we feel like we are failing, it is a chance for Jesus to put his arms around us and demonstrate his love for us by saving us.  I am looking forward to putting this principle into practice.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Faith, Hope, Love, Patience, Surrender, Uncategorized

Helping the Weak

In working with the women of the church, here is what God is teaching me —

1. That I need to be helping my sisters to have FAITH.  It is easy to get frustrated or discouraged with people, and tell them what they should be doing.  But my good friend Nancy Berry showed me that it is more effective to help people to see what God is doing and can do in their lives.  This is what they really need to get their lives on track.  And isn’t this what Hebrews 3 is all about, seeing to it that each of us doesn’t have a sinful unbelieving heart?

2. That I should practice I Thes 5:14 with my sisters — “warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”

  • The word for “idle and disruptive” is actually “disorderly.”  It is people who are out of line, who are the opposite of being in sync with God’s will, as I so often say I long to be.  In admonishing these people, I need to, as the Greek lexicon says, “exert positive pressure on someone’s logic.”  I need to help them to see that it is reasonable to be in line with God’s will, and that it is obvious they are out of line.
  • I need to encourage those who are “fainthearted” — who have an “undeveloped soul.”  Literally the word means that they have a small quantity of soul.  These people aren’t spiritually healthy.  The NIV translates it “disheartened.”  They don’t have the heart to do what is right for God.  More than anything, I need to help them have the heart to follow God.
  • The word for “help” in the phrase, “Help the weak” is actually more like be devoted to, hold fast to, support. “Weak” is someone who is without the necessary strength, who is feeble and frail.   It is very often translated “sick” in other places in the Bible.  It is the word Jesus uses when he encourages Peter, James and John to pray that they will not fall into temptation, for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  It is also the word Paul uses in Romans 5:6 to say that while we were weak, Christ died for us.  And it is word Paul uses when he describes the body in I Cor 12, when he says the weaker parts of the body are indispensable.    The conclusion of this for me is that first, people are in a feeble state and less able to just snap out of it than I would think, second, that I have been this weak, and third, that even those who are weak are still necessary in God’s plan. Also, a sick person needs someone who will constantly care for them and help nourish them back to help.  I should be this person.
  • Finally, if there is any doubt in my mind as to how I am treating my sisters, the verse reminds me that I need to be patient with everyone.  That about sums it up, and dispenses of all my excuses about my impatience.

To summarize, here are some things I can consider in working with my sisters:

  1. Help them to find the faith that God is working on their behalf.
  2. Help them to see if they are out of line with the teachings of the Bible.
  3. Help them to strengthen their heart, build their love for God.
  4. Be devoted to those who in poor spiritual health, nurturing them back to a better place.
  5. Everyone deserves my patience.

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Filed under Faith, One Another Relationships, Patience, Things I Am Learning

The Place of In-Between

It is hard to be in the place of in-between.

Yesterday I was reading a chapter in “How to Study the Bible for All It’s Worth.”  It talked about how focused the Jewish people were during the time of Jesus on the coming of the kingdom of God.  They thought it was something that was going to happen all at once, like a magic day when everything would be changed.  The book discussed how the early Christians had to deal with a changed paradigm — that the kingdom was not something that came all at once, but something that had begun and was developing.  They had some of the blessings of the kingdom, but the ultimate fulfillment was still to come.  They were living in an in-between time.

It struck me how much all of us are living in an in-between time.  Here in Auburn we are waiting for the church to become a large stable church.  In my own life I have people I am praying for to become Christians.  I have ways I need to grow, and I see ways others need to grow.  We are all stuck in the middle of our journey.

God often placed people in the place of in-between.  Abraham wandered in the desert and it took years for God to fulfill his promise of a child to him.  Joseph spent years in prison.  The Israelites wandered in the desert.  Later, the Jewish nation was taken into captivity.   Then there were 400 years of silence from God, without prophets, before Jesus came.

The thing that is frustrating about being in-between is that you see so much that needs to happen to get to place you want to go.  For me, there are people to reach out to, people to study with, people to build relationships with, people to shepherd.  I can get overwhelmed.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed–or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

I can be like Martha, even in serving God.  I get more focused on thing things I need to do, than on the heart that needs to go behind the things to do.

One thing done well, out of love and faith, is good.  One prayer for someone that is conducted out of genuine concern and acknowledgement that I stand in awe of how God will work.  One phone call to express how much I care.  One act of love towards God.

In Ezekiel 36, God had a magnificent promise for the Israelites who were in the place of in-between.  “Therefore, O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord. He speaks to the hills and mountains, ravines and valleys, and to ruined wastes and long-deserted cities that have been destroyed and mocked by the surrounding nations… the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people—for they will be coming home again soon! I will greatly increase the population of Israel, and the ruined cities will be rebuilt and filled with people. ….I will make you even more prosperous than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.  And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.”

God gives us what we need to get through the dry barren places on our spiritual journey. Here are some things we can know while we are in the place of in-between.

To know that Your hand is upon us…

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.  Ps 139:9-10

To know that Your focus is upon us…

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.  Isa 49:16

To know that Your help is always there for us…

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,  Ps 46:1-2

To know that Your good purpose will always prevail…

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”  Ps 46:10

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Phil 1

 

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, Old Testament Survey, Patience, Relationship with God