Remembering Hurting Times

We all have times when you feel like God has abandoned you, and you pray and pray and you wonder if He’s even listening.  I’ve had plenty of these times in my life.

Usually, I can look back and wonder how I got through such bad times.  At one point in my life I’d lost my job; we lost our home and had to move to a small apartment that my brother-in-law owned.  I had lost my mom several years before and as this was going on, my father died.  A very dark time in my life.  I felt like I’d been abandoned.

But I wasn’t trusting the Lord then.  I started to trust, slowly. Looking back, this was a good thing because life for me got tougher.  I learned to trust Jesus more.  As time went on my faith just got stronger.  My situation never got easier; I was just able to lean on the arms of the Lord and that was a comfort.

We want to make the hurting times go away.  We pray for God to just come in and change everything.  I’ve found out that it doesn’t happen that way.  If you have faith, the one that changes is you.

Of course, I have a song; Even If by MercyMe.  This song speaks volumes about trusting the Lord.

 

 

Remembering to be Humble

“So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men.”  Genesis 24:59

“Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died and was buried under the oak below Bethel.  So it was named Allon Bacuth (oak of weeping).”  Genesis 35:8

I was quite excited on the first full day of the Via de Cristo weekend I attended many years ago, to be assigned to sit at the table of Deborah.  After all, everyone has heard of Deborah, right?  Deborah, the judge;  Deborah, the warrior;  Deborah, the woman who was famous as a leader in a patriarchal society.  What a role model!  Who wouldn’t be honored to sit at a table named after her?

But my bubble burst when I read the card on the center of the table closely.  I discovered that I was not sitting at the table of Deborah the Judge–I was sitting at the table of Deborah the nursemaid.  You probably don’t know who she is — I sure didn’t.  She is only mentioned twice in the Bible (see the verses above), and only once by name.  Frankly, I was disappointed.  I resolved that secretly, I would continue to think of my table as the table of the “famous” Deborah.

In the years since that weekend retreat, I’ve come to rethink that position.  I’ve read the two references to “my” Deborah and what comes between them.  Do you realize that Deborah served Rebekah and her family for over eighty years?  She must have been greatly loved and greatly mourned for her death to be noted at all.  She was buried with honor under a venerable oak, symbol of long life.

If I am honest, I must admit that I’m a lot more like Deborah the nursemaid than Deborah the judge–in fact most of us are.  We may not be the star of the story, but we can be humble, faithful servants to the people around us.

Image result for images of deborah the nursemaid in the Bible

Have a Little Faith

FAITH

In listing faith among the fruits of the Spirit, Paul obviously does not mean faith in Christ, but faith in men. Such faith is not suspicious of people but believes the best. Naturally the possessor of such faith will be deceived, but he lets it pass. He is ready to believe all men, but he will not trust all men. Where this virtue is lacking men are suspicious, forward, and wayward and will believe nothing nor yield to anybody. No matter how well a person says or does anything, they will find fault with it, and if you do not humor them you can never please them. It is quite impossible to get along with them. Such faith in people therefore, is quite necessary. What kind of life would this be if one person could not believe another person?

The quote above is from Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians.   It reminds me once more of the “love” verses in 1 Corinthians.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor. 13:7)

When we love others, we  believe in them.  We think the best of them.  We want the best for them.  This doesn’t comes naturally (there go the works of the flesh rearing their heads again!).  It is so much easier to criticize, to envy and be distrustful.  This kind of faith requires taking a risk.  It requires humility.  It requires sacrifice and putting the other person first.

Sometimes our faith in others will be disappointed, but often it will be rewarded.  It will make both parties better people.  Be a faithful friend, spouse, parent, neighbor — you may change somebody’s life, and you will surely change your own.

New Month/New Theme

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:23

One of our authors was interested in having some sort of “free for all” month when we could write on any topic.  After discussion we decided to select “fruit of the spirit” as our theme for December.  Although we are limited to the nine qualities above, this still allows us a wide range of verses and ideas for blogging.

The fruit of the spirit also seems especially appropriate for the Christmas season.  This is a time when we should experience this fruit as we eagerly await Christ’s birth.  But do we?  Sometimes this season of joy and peace becomes filled with stress and discord.  Our patience is tried as we attempt to do it all:  shopping, baking, entertaining. Instead of being kind, gentle and loving, we become tired, irritable and whiney.  Self control is lost as we participate in the gluttony of eating, drinking and gift-giving.

Surely this is not what Christmas is about.  So join into our blog discussions and let us know how this Holy Season is affecting you.  Is the fruit of the spirit evident in your life?  How can you cultivate this fruit?  Let us know what you think.

God loves you and so do I!

 

 

 

More Disturbing Words

“Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:29

We think of God’s words in many ways:  comforting, encouraging, inspiring.  It is those things.  However, this verse from Isaiah tells us something very different, and a little scary.  God’s word can be destructive.

Most of us have a lot of preconceived ideas.  We think certain things because a parent, teacher or other authority taught them.  We think other things because it’s convenient:  thinking in a certain way justifies our actions, helps us to fit in, or advances our position in the world.

When we compare some of these ideas to God’s word, what happens?  They are destroyed, blown away.  We find we can’t hold onto them.  It’s painful and unsettling.  Sometimes we’re tempted to accept the parts we like, and ignore the ones we don’t.

A devotion I was reading this morning compared the process of sanctification to having braces put on our teeth.  The dentist shows us a picture of how our teeth look before braces –crooked, crowded, etc.. Then the perfect smile he wants us to attain.  The process is not without pain … at first the braces hurt, and we are self conscious because we don’t look like everyone around us. There are things we can’t do anymore –like chewing gum.  Gradually, however, we see the positive changes and the braces don’t bother us as much.

If we take God’s word seriously, it will sometimes sting and hurt.  It may destroy some cherished ideas.  It may force us to give up some things we like doing.  However, if we follow through faithfully, the end results will be worth it.