Family Battles


Todays Reading Genesis 37

Good Monday Morning, the story that will take place here could easily be portrayed in a melodrama or soap opera for today.  The setting is just after the beautiful vision of heaven, Jacob has and the ladder to Heaven.  Jacob has just witnessed the promise that his entire linage will lead to God, through Christ. The destination is seen, but the journey is not known.   Directly after the vision, Jacob travels north to escape his brother, Esau, from killing him because he deceived his brother from his birthright.  

Once in Paddan Aram with his uncle Laban, Jacob finds work as a shepherd. Jacob promised to work for his uncle for seven years for the hand of Laban’s daughter, Rachel.  After working for seven years and having a wedding and feast, Laban tricks Jacob and slips his first daughter, Leah, into Jacob’s wedding tent.  The next morning, Jacob realizes the deceit and questions the validity of the transaction and finds out that in the new country where he resides the first daughter must be married before the younger daughter.  So Jacob gives Laban an additional seven years to be married to Rachel. With each daughter, Laban gives a servant.  To Leah, Laban gave Zilpah and to Rachel, Laban gave Bilhah.  In total Jacob works for Laban twenty years: seven for Leah, seven for Rachel, and six working flocks. 

Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter by theses women: Leah: Reuben(1), Simeon(2), Levi(3), Judah(4), Issachar(9), Zebulun(10), Dinah (technically 11) ;  Bilhah: Dan(5), Naphtali(6); Zilpah: Gad(7), Asher(8); Rachel: Joseph (11); Benjamin(12). Leah was Jacob’s first wife; Rachel was the second wife; Bilhah was the third wife given to Jacob from Rachel; and Zilpah the fourth wife given to Jacob by Leah.  

After twenty years under his uncle’s watch, Jacob decides to leave Paddan Aram and return to his home of Canaan.  As Jacob attempts to leave Laban, Laban pursues Jacob and tries to kill him.  Once Laban catches up to Jacob, they made a truce to never cross paths again.  As Jacob returns home to Canaan, he sees his brother, Esau, advancing with 400 men and he again is afraid for his life.  The night before he meets with Esau whom he stole the birthright; he is placed in a battle against an angel for the entire night.  He then is crippled from his wrestling match, but given a new name Israel. After Jacob has reconciled with his brother, his daughter is kidnapped and raped by the new neighbors at Shechem. His sons, Simeon and Levi, take vengeance on the men at Shechem. Then Jacob’s true love, Rachel, dies in childbirth giving birth to Benjamin.

This brings us to the seventeen-year-old Joseph and his brothers and coat of many colors.  Joseph is one of the favorite son’s of Jacob because he is the offspring of Rachel.  He has been treated differently his entire life because he has not really had to share or live in the same tent as his other siblings his entire life. He has now the opportunity to interact act with them and trying to fit in he tells them the different dreams that he has about grandeur and prestige.  He fails to realize that these dreams would have harmful implications for him. Joseph then is deceived and sold into slavery by his brothers.  His brothers then deceive their father into believing his precious son is mauled and killed by animals.  

There are many themes that run through the story of Jacob and Joseph: 

  1. Be careful whom you share your dreams with. It is good and necessary to have dreams and goals.  This allows us to set a target and make plans to achieve the target and adjust our sights if we do not make the mark.   We must be thankful for our dreams and blessings and not brag or boast.
  2. Good intentions are good if they are put into action and followed through.  Genesis 37:21-30

.   21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” Rueben had the opportunity and the position to stop this entire scenario of the killing or entry into servitude for Joseph, but he did not act.  When we have the authority and the knowledge to act, we must be bold and not allow others to suffer because of our negligence and fear.

3. Model the behavior you seek.  Jacob had modeled the behavior of deceit from the beginning of his life.  He deceived his brother from his birthright.  His uncle with his brides deceived him.  He deceived his uncle when he ran away.  His sons deceived the men of Shechem.  His sons deceived Joseph.  His sons deceived him about Joseph.  We have to be mindful of our character and true nature.  We can perpetuate human nature or we can ask God to create in us a new creation daily to be more like Christ.  We will continually have these inner struggles, but with the Holy Spirit we are able to be strengthen for God’s work and glory.  

Lynden

Year End Wrap-up

As we are preparing and planning for the closure of 2018 and anticipating the arrival of 2019, let us reflect on the events and experiences of the past year.  For many this past year has brought joy: birth of children, new houses, new career paths, marriage, and countless other joys.  The year has also brought sadness and the need for comfort: deaths, loss of finances, loss of relationships, and more.  But in the midst of these journeys in life we have a constant strength that is unwavering which Christ.    Paul states it best in the letter to the Galatians 

Galatians 5: 22-23 (KJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

God’s love and patience is part of the fruit of the spirit. But we also see that in enduring the harshness of life, God is able to provide comfort to us.

As we enter this New Year, allow this to be our constant prayer:

 Philippians 4:6-7 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

May we enter the New Year with hope and acknowledge the difficulties that will present themselves, but be assured that God will give us peace that will transcend all rational thought and logic.  

I John 4: 18

18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 

Thank you for being a blessing to me this past year.  May God continue to work through us for His Glory.  

Happy New Years. 

The Word Became Flesh

Good morning friends! As my son would say, “It’s Christmas Evening!” Jesus’ birth is upon us today and I’m wondering how you are? Are you surrounded by friends and family this morning or are you welcoming Him in a more quiet and personal way? Whether you are experiencing the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ or experiencing the need for peace, I’m so glad you’re here. Although the primary focus of today will be Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, I’d like to share another scripture with you:

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

I wrote down several verses in preparation for my post today. I came up with about 10 different verses that have held me up when I needed them most. But this morning I opened my bible and this one was underlined. Three years ago around this time I was asked by a total stranger to write for Bible Journal. I’m not sure why I said yes! I don’t have any qualifications and certainly didn’t have experience with Christian theology. I had no way of knowing the personal and spiritual challenges that lay just a few short months ahead. I know now that it wasn’t a stranger in the form of BJ Armstrong asking me to study and write. It was God, inviting me to go deeper in His word and develop my relationship with Him. The Word has truly become flesh for me in the hands that have reached out to our family and the feet that have walked the miles with us. As I sit down to write to you for the last time tonight I can testify that I have seen His glory. John says, “The Word became flesh…”in other words it became human. By doing so, Jesus became our perfect teacher. As we celebrate Jesus’ birth today, he truly becomes flesh in our lives. He goes on to become a model of what we are to become. Those who welcome Jesus as Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God. Through faith in Christ, this new birth changes us from the inside out. Jesus is born today. We don’t have to wait until the new year to reaffirm our faith and put our trust in Him! 

I am grateful to each one of you for reading our posts but more importantly, I am grateful to you for helping me to grow. If it wasn’t for you andthe Monday morning deadline, I wouldn’t have come to know God as I do now! To the rest of the Bible Journal team, I am forever humbled by your wisdom and grace. I wish you all a very blessed Christmas season. I look forward to reading with you each day and promise to guest post a time or two for my beloved Mr. McGriff. 

The love of Christ be with you-

Jillian

The Plans He Has

“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfareand not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Jeremiah 29:10-14

Well hello Bible Journal readers, another Monday is upon us! How are you feeling? I think of you and pray for you at the beginning of each week. I hope that you are finding joy and some peace in this holiday season. In these final days of the year, we have the opportunity to share a verse or two with you that is close to our heart. Jeremiah 29:11 has always been a foundational piece of the word for our family. I wrote these words on a small piece of paper the night before our son had a very important brain MRI in 2011. That small scrap of paper has been there ever since. We rely on these words to remind us that God will indeed fulfill his promises, that he has plans for us that are good and that he doesn’t ever harm us.

I had to go back to that little scrap of paper this week for the first time in a long time. A friend of ours died very suddenly in a place that was not his home and in a way that brought more questions than will ever be answers. It’s been a long time since I have questioned in the “but why God” sort of way. Honestly, I thought I was more mature in my faith journey than that, but this event changed things. This extinguished life without a why brought on unexpected waves of grief and anger. Have you ever had a rock bottom moment like that in your faith journey? I rolled it around in my mind looking for the grace or maybe a hint of mercy in the situation, but I couldn’t see it. I came back to my foundational verse, Jeremiah 29:11 and I got even more angry. There is no hope or future for our friend so what is the plan?When it came time to write today, I went back to my Bible, flipping pages looking for inspiration and came back to Jeremiah. For the first time in a very long time I began at the beginning:

“These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.” Jeremiah 29:1

 These are the words. The words of the letter. The letter sent to the exiles. So, before the exiles got this letter they were just exiles. In fact, I noticed for the very first time in the ten years that I have been frequently this page of my Bible that the name of this chapter is, “Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles” All along it’s been really helpful and comforting to read that part about God’s plan for hope and a future but I sort of missed the point. Without a period of exile, we can’t experience the hope and the future. Without the separation or exile from that which we hold dear, we can’t truly know Him. Shoot, I forgot that being a Christian does not guarantee that we’ll be protected from really hard things. It doesn’t mean that we’ll have an easy life without the broken parts. It does mean that when the really hard things happen that we will know to seek Him. And when we seek Him, He finds us. He finds us in the darkest dark when all we have left is to cling to Him with our whole heart. There may never be answers but there will berestoration.

If I’m writing to you today, I hope you find comfort and hope in this message. I hope you see that all Christ followers have a bottom of the barrel “whyGod” moment. We are all in exile some of the time. As Christmas draws near, I hope you’ll go to Him with all your heart. Pour out your hopes to Him and ask Him to intercede with good in your life. If you are approaching this holiday with trepidation because you are broken, go to Him. If you are reading this and you are not sure if He has a plan for you, go to Him and ask.

Have a great week!

 

Season of Anticipation and Wonder

 

Today’s Reading: Revelation 1

Advent is here.  This is the time of year that we celebrate the anticipation of the coming Christ.  This is the time that we start to sing Christmas carols.  The kitchens are a buzz with warm cookies and treats to share and gift to our loved ones.  We might start decorating our houses for guest and family to share in the holiday.  And in the midst of the preparation have we allowed our spirit to settle and prepare for Christ?

John gives us a beautiful salutation to the season:

Revelation 1: 4-5

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

In the Life Application Study Bible, the commentary is as follows “ The book of Revelation unveils Christ full identity and God’s plan for the end of the world, and it focuses on Jesus Christ, his second coming, his victory over evil, and the establishment of his kingdom.”  This echoes the fulfillment of the prophets Isaiah and the gospels of the apostles.

Isaiah 9: 6-7

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon
[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
 

As we begin our journey through this Advent season let us mediate and reflect on the Grace and Peace that Christ give us daily and allow the love of Christ to more evident in our daily lives especially in this season.

 

 

Surrender

John 17

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.

John 17:8-10

 As John’s gospel draws closer to the crucifixion of Jesus, there’s a certain heaviness that settles in. We witness the intimacy of the relationship between Jesus and his Father. Jesus reveals the character of God through his presence on earth and now that character will continue to live through his disciples and Christ followers.  For me, as I read today’s scripture it feels like the beginning of goodbye. As Jesus prays for his disciples and then for all believers I find myself thinking, “no, not yet, I’m not ready to be without you!” There is so much comfort and peace in the knowledge that we belong to God and that he is always with us. But there is also a requirement of surrender that comes with that promise. My husband and I have experienced that surrender on two occasions. Two of our children battle chronic illness. Our son became very ill as an infant. The days in the hospital became weeks and the answers more elusive. Eventually, it became clear that we would take this baby home without the healing we had prayed for. Truthfully, I was angry. I couldn’t understand why God would heal other babies but not mine. I asked Him over and over to reveal what I needed to do to be a better Christian so that he would heal my son. The answer never came. As time went on, I watched friends and family members give birth to healthy babies and I envied their freedom. Every part of my life was colored by the realities of having a sick child.

On one particularly difficult day in the hospital, our son required a procedure to place central line into his heart for nutrition. They took my baby from me and promised to be back soon with the new line in place. When they brought him back, everything had changed. He was lying still, eyes closed inside a clear plastic warming box. All we could do was look at him through the lid. We could not reach in, could not touch him we simply could not have him in that moment. We were told that he was having difficulty bringing his body temperature back up to normal and therefore he needed to stay in the box. We were told that his body was very weak going in to the procedure and that now we’d have to wait and see how he responded over the next several hours. I remember every detail of that night. I remember sinking into the corner of his room, face to the wall as I slid down to the ground. There was no more reasoning, no more bargaining, no more controlling the situation. I surrendered. For the first time in my life I had to livethe truth that our children are not ours, they belong to our Heavenly Father.

“All mine are yours and yours are mine….“ John 17:10

In John 17 we watch and listen to Jesus making that same kind of surrender. He knows this is the beginning of the end for his earthly life with his disciples. There is a sadness and a heaviness as he acknowledges the tremendous battleground he leaves on earth. Jesus’ greatest desire for his disciples is that they will become one. He wanted them to be unified as a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. I view this chapter of John as Jesus’ last love letter to us. He has completed his mission on earth and God glorifies him. Now we are left to live in His truth until he returns. Jesus gave me one son, and today Ollie is a nearly 8 year old miracle. When I surrendered him to God on that February night in 2011, he was given back to me several hours later, tiny baby fists pounding on the lid of his isolette. I said goodbye to the idea that he belongs to me and accepted Christ and the plans he has for our life. If there’s something you can surrender this week, I hope you’ll take the time to be in prayer and conversation with Jesus. I wish you joy and most of all hope in this season of Advent!

~Jillian

 

 

 

Wait for it

Today’s Reading John 11

As we are preparing for the feast of thanks this week throughout the city, state, and nation here at my house the children are asking “When is it Christmas?”  This is somewhat due to the Christmas carols playing on the radio and television.  Somewhat due to the commercials of winter themed items and toys.  Somewhat due to the several dozen of catalogs that come to the house daily.  But the true questions started to come last Thursday when several inches of snow covered the streets, cars, and everything.  They are waiting on the coming of Christmas, but they want it to be here NOW.   I know that many parents are experiencing this anticipation and have been for several weeks post-Halloween.  While reading and reflecting on the chapter for today, I find peace in the waiting on Christ.  In Chapter 11 we can find several tokens of peace in waiting:  Waiting can be challenging, waiting can be productive, waiting allows God’s glory to be revealed.

 

In John 11, we have a truly significant story: The Resurrection of Lazarus.  In the beginning of the chapter, John tells us that Lazarus is sick. John also tells us the connection of the family with Jesus.  John tells us in Chapter 11, the woman whom loved Jesus an anointed him for his passion is the same Mary, that is the sister of Lazarus.  The sisters sent word to Jesus and he acknowledged the sickness, but didn’t rush to his friend’s immediate rescue.  Jesus stays in the place for 2 additional days.  Then he began his return to see his friend. When he arrived at the town of Bethany, Martha first and then Mary greets him.  The body of Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days.  When Jesus saw the family and the tomb, Jesus wept. Then Jesus instructed the tomb to be opened and he summoned Lazarus out of the tomb.  Lazarus was restored and able to be with Jesus and his family during the coming Passover.

 

John makes several references to the timing of this sickness, burial and resurrection to show significance of human timing and Divine timing.   1.) Lazarus is sick: This is not shown with a reference time.  We do not know the time span that Lazarus has been ill before his death i.e., one day, three weeks, a couple of months, we know that he is close to death and that Martha and Mary are expecting a miracle of health and healing.  2.) Once Jesus is informed of the sickness, he stays for 2 additional days.  Jesus knows outcome of the illness, before it has been completed.  He knows that this illness will result in death.  He knows the circumstances that we are in before we are experiences these situations.  3.) When he arrives Lazarus has been in the tomb for 4 days.  This passage of time is not shown either. We know that Jesus was summoned, he stayed where he was for an additional 2 days, but we do not know how long the journey was for him to get to Bethany.  We know that Lazarus was sick, died, had a funeral, was buried in a tomb, and now 4 days plus Jesus comes to Bethany.

The significance of the four days is profound because of the ancient traditions and the area of the world this takes place.  The regular funeral rites of the ancient Jewish people are to bury the body with in the 24 hours of the death.  Once the body is buried, the decomposition of the body in this region happens rapidly.  Due to the inability to embalm or prepare the body as in modern times, the body would start to decompose within 2 days of being buried.  The entire body would change and the figure that once was the person that as buried no longer resembled the living body.  Lazarus was dead for 4 days, and Jesus was either visiting on day 4 or 5, which means that he was completely dead and only the grace and glory of God would be able to restore him.   The full picture of Lazarus is seen after his resurrection while he is eating with Jesus, Mary, Martha, and the apostles for Passover.  Lazarus is not a half-living individual, but a fully functional person.  Christ has given life to the dead, and will fully restore all of the vitality and function to the decomposed body that once was, Christ is the resurrection and the life.

 

In this chapter we find lessons in waiting:

  • Waiting is a challenge and can be difficult. – Ask anyone that is waiting of results of classroom examinations, blood test, or diagnostic exams.  This can be some of the most terrify and difficult times that you experience.
  • Waiting can be productive. – In many instances waiting is the process that we can anticipate and reflect on something exciting.  Examples are waiting for the bread to rise after kneading or waiting for the flower to blossom after the long winter.  These are times that new growth and expectations blossom our spirit and our resolve.
  • Waiting to allow God’s Glory to be revealed. – In the chapter Jesus makes mention that he could have saved his friend several times over, but the ultimate purpose was not to give Jesus glory, but to give God the glory not only over health and sickness, but also over undeniable death.He has the final say.

 

Lord,

Thank you for not being on human time, but on your on time.  Thank you for being over all things in heaven and earth.  We praise you that you created all things, including life and time and you are the keeper of all things.  Lord, allow us to be in tune with you and allow us to wait on you for your will and glory to be shown. Amen

Our Messiah

Today’s Reading: John 5

Good morning friends. I’m writing to you this week from my kitchen table as I watch snow flakes fall and the wind blow. The change of season is such a powerful reminder for me of God’s presence in our world. I’m appreciative of the quiet beauty as I study! Today’s scripture from John 5 has two major themes. First, we have the healing of a lame man, which is further evidence that John provides to show that Jesus is the true Messiah. The second major theme is Jesus’ claim to be the son of God. We begin with Jesus in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival. There he finds a man lying on the ground who has been disabled for 38 years. When Jesus sees him lying there he says,

“Do you want to get well?”

“Sir, the invalid replied, I have no one to get me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me!” John, 5:6-7

After 38 long years, the man’s problem had become a way of life for him. He was left with no hope of being healed as no one had ever offered to help him. How often do we decide that our situation is permanent? Do we give up hope when faced with hardship or continued defeat? No matter how trapped we may feel, God can minister to our specific need. When Jesus asks the man if he wants to be well, we expect him to respond with a resounding “Yes!” but he doesn’t. Instead he complains to Jesus that no one has helped him. When I read that, I was quick to judge the man. But when I really thought about it, I realized that I certainly have this kind of pessimism in my nature. It is often difficult to accept help even when you know that you need it. Are there moments in my day that Jesus is present and offering help? Are there times that I feel hopeless and helpless and Jesus is standing there ready to intervene? It’s tempting to think that God’s healing depends upon the quality of our faith. But the man whom Jesus heals showed no outward sign of faith. He was still worthy of a miracle.

Later, Jesus encounters the healed man in the temple. The man shares that it was Jesus that healed him and the Jewish authorities are enraged. When Jesus tells them that he is simply doing the work of his Father, it makes matters worse. Jesus was identifying himself with God. Although the Pharisees also called God their Father, they realized that Jesus was claiming the distinction of being equal with God. Jesus says:

“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out-those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing, I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” John 5:28-30

With these words, Jesus establishes his true identity despite the inherent risk of persecution and what he knows will result in his eventual death. The Old Testament identifies three signs of the coming Messiah. John shows that Jesus has fulfilled all three signs in this chapter:

  • All power and authority are given to him as the Son of Man
  • The lame and the sick are healed
  • The dead are raised to life

Jesus is quite simply saying that to accept him is life and to reject him is death. He’s inviting us to enter in to a new relationship with Him in which we are obedient. It means that we accept a way of life that may be difficult at times and require sacrifice but will end in eternal life. As I prepare for a new week, I’m aware that I am often more like the man at the pool than I am a fearless and obedient Christ follower. I love that today’s scripture brings us the solid evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. He is our Messiah. I hope His words bring you joy and hope as you re-commit yourself to Him. Have a great week!

 

 

 

Women in our lives

 

Today’s Reading Luke 23

Happy Monday everyone, autumn is finally here.  The trees are changing and the leaves are falling on the ground.  The time change has taken place and the kids are waking up an hour earlier.   The smells of cinnamon and cloves is permeating throughout the house.  This time of year, reminds me of my grandmother and how she would start her baking expeditions and fill the house with smells of sweet potato pie and so many cakes that they are hard to count.  Sometimes she would bake about twenty pies per day.  That was an amazing woman and she influenced my life more than words can describe.

As we enter Luke 23, the passion of Christ is unfolding to us through the testament of the apostle Luke.  Luke’s perceptive of Christ is seeing Christ in the human aspects in connection of his divinity.  Christ is shown as God and fully human which allows Christ to truly understand the full spectrum of human emotions and life: happiness, sorrow, joy, pain, suffering and ultimately death.   Luke has several instances in this chapter that personifies the humanity and emotion of Christ through the eyes of women. This is critical because during the day of Christ, women were not recognized as being integral but Luke enlightens us to how important women are in our lives.

Luke 23: 27-31

And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23: 48- 49

48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.

Luke 23: 54- 56

  It was the day of Preparation, and the Sabbath was beginning.[g] 55 The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments.

Luke is attempting to connect the reader to the true human side of Jesus with the most natural and intense connections that we know: women.  We all have women in our lives that brings out the best of us.  We have mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, aunts, and friends that will be there to really listen to us in the most sorrowful times and give us unparalleled compassion.  Both men and women can provide compassion, but it is something that is innate about a mother’s love that cannot be explained.  Many times, throughout our lives, we may want to have our mothers by our side, even if we have not had a close relationship with her.  Mom’s presence is just a true comfort.    Luke uses this to his advantage.  “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” This is the only place in the gospel that this passage is found.  Luke is making a powerful statement about the true pain that is happening to Christ.  This is something that is at the core of human emotions: pain and sorrow.

Luke also shows us that because of the persistence and devotion of the women, we can know what Christ suffered at the cross and where he was buried. In the two passages above, the women are the only ones that truly followed Christ from the trial to the grave. In my study bible, the author relays this very eloquently: “They stayed at the cross when most of the disciples had fled, and they got ready to anoint their Lord’s body.  Because of their devotion, they were the first to know about the resurrection.  As believers, we may feel we can’t do much for Jesus.  But we are called to take advantage of the opportunities given us, doing what we can do and not worrying about what we cannot do.”   This allows for so much clarity for me and the death and resurrection of Christ.   Most of my life I have always wondered why the Marys could not recognized Christ after the resurrection.  But now, I understand that they were the only ones able to endure and witness the true pain and suffering and scourging of Christ.  When they went to the tomb, they were expecting to see the mangled body of the human, but they had the opportunity to see the glory of God.

Luke allows us to see a couple of things:

  • Women are an essential part of our life and we need to cherish them in all aspect of our life. Make sure that you take time to let each one know that they are special to you and make sure to connect with them.
  • The persistence and devotion of a few can impact phenomenal outcomes
  • God can completely change and transform the expected into the unexpected.

Be Blessed.

L

Living in Abundance

Image result for abundance

Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 17

Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. Luke 17:28-30

 Hello, it’s another Monday! I seriously love writing to you on Monday’s. I imagine you at home with your morning coffee and toast or at the office getting your week started in the Word. As I was preparing to write to you this week I sort of had things all lined up, but then this morning I had a bit of a game changer. I went out for a run and randomly selected an episode of a podcast I’ve been listening to. The topic was generally related to living an abundant life with less. What I heard changed my view on today’s scripture and I want to share that with you!

So, Luke chapter 17 highlighted by Jesus telling us about forgiveness and faith. In the first few verses we hear about forgiveness of sin. Jesus talks to us about being accountable for our own sin and also the sin of others. The next part is about Jesus healing ten men with leprosy. Jesus sent the ten lepers to a priest before they were healed and they all responded in faith and agreed to go. Jesus healed them on the way because they demonstrated faith. Only one of the ten men came to thank Jesus and only he had the opportunity to learn that it was his faith that led to healing. Then Jesus teaches about the coming of the Kingdom of God. He warns us against the false security of materialism. This is where it got real for me! Jesus is warning us that we will have to separate ourselves from the attachments of this world in order to be ready for Christ’s return. He mentions eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building. He’s essentially saying that it doesn’t matter if we are living in the days of Lot or the days of a-whole-lot, our human sinful nature draws us to these selfish values. My NIV study bible breaks it down like this:

Those who live for themselves display these common attitudes:

  • Materialism-I want it and work hard to get it. All that I see is real. Unseen things are merely ideas and dreams.
  • Individualism-I work hard for me, and you work hard for you. I may make it; and you may not. That’s your problem, not mine.
  • Skepticism-Anything I’m not convinced about can’t be important. Everything important to know I can figure out.

(NIV Study Bible, Zondervan)

How hard was that to read? I see a little bit of myself in all three of those descriptions. When I considered those three attitudes, what I found to be at the center of it all is power and privilege. When I think about the challenge of materialism, I think about money. Money gives us the power to either provide for ourselves or provide for others. Jesus tells us that when he returns, it will happen suddenly and that we must abandon our attachments to the world if we want to live eternally with Him. As I listened to my podcast this morning I was challenged to consider money and possessions as a circumstance. Regardless of our current circumstance, our thoughts and feelings about money are what impact our life more than the actual circumstance. In other words, if our thoughts and feelings are directed toward living a Christ centered life than we will truly experience abundance. When we are so focused on eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting and building we are unable to truly have gratitude for the abundance we are experiencing right this minute. No matter what level of wealth and accumulation of things we achieve, our brain looks ahead to the next bit that we can have. What if we stopped and just sat quietly in the blessing and richness that Jesus has provided for us right now. What if we reflected back to a time when we imagined what it would feel like to be a first time home owner, have a newborn baby, or land that dream job. When we imagined achieving those successes or acquiring that new thing, we imagined a feeling of contentment. Jesus is encouraging us today to let go of materialism, individualism and skepticism in order to prepare ourselves for his return. He is asking us to stay engaged in relationship with Him. At the end of my podcast today the narrator asked this question:

“What is the very most happy and most peaceful you can allow yourself to feel with less?”

Isn’t that a startling question? What is the very most happy and peaceful we can allow ourselvesbe with less money, less stuff, less screen time, just less things but more Jesus. Keeping our commitment to Christ means we’ll be ready when he returns. I hope you’ll take time to think about what I the most peaceful and happy you can allow yourself feel in the love and connection to Jesus Christ. Have a great week!

~J