Monthly Archives: February 2014

Numbers 8-10; Mark 5:1-20

Jesus said to His disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Mark 4:35.  Awaiting on the other side was a demon possessed man which no one could bind and who roamed the tombs and mountains, crying out and cutting himself. Mark 5: 2-5.

In Numbers, we read the prayer of Moses who said, “Rise up, O Lord! Let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.” Numbers 10:35

I appreciate the image of a God who is ready to defend His most precious creation, mankind.  I wonder if, when Jesus told His disciples to get in a boat and go to the other side, He knew that a legion of demons awaited Him.  And did Moses, too, expect enemies full of hatred to await the Israelites as they journeyed through the Wilderness?  It appears so since He entreated God every time the Lord told them to move. And oddly enough, the only thing that Jesus did on the other side was free the demoniac from bondage before shoving off to the next mission field.

So many times, and especially lately, I have prayed for peace and comfort from not only the storms without, as Julie described, (66 Books, Juliet2912, Feb 22, 2014), but the inner wrestling of my own fleshly soul. I think I am surrendering to Him my concerns by laying them at His feet.  The problem is, though, that I have usually started a fight then ran home to Daddy to protect me.  Yet here we find that our God and Lord Jesus knowingly marches us into the fray, not shielding us from the battle to come.  For me, the picture of God waiting around for the next bad thing to happen in my life so that He can show up right on time, changes to God already on the side of victory just waiting for me to walk through the battle. Now that is an idea I do not readily cherish!

Lloyd Ogilve once said, “It’s our struggle with His uncompromising call to make Him absolute Lord of our lives that causes us to continue to do battle with the anxieties of life.” (The Other Jesus, 1986).

So why do I react with incredulity at the troubles I experience at work, at home, or in relationship with others? Might these situations be occasions for God’s glory to blast open the hardened heart or spread His grace like sweet honey to cover the sins of those whom I would prefer He just plain blast away?  As is so often the case, my self-centeredness leaks toxic waste at the end of my prayers.  Toxic because I want justice (on others) and not mercy; I want to win to boost my pride; I want to be vindicated of any wrong in my doings to be satisfied in my self-righteousness. Instead, God calls me to the other side not for my comfort, but to watch Him free the demon possessed, and to learn to watch the Holy Spirit, much like the cloud, who says, “Follow me.” Is He calling me when I am whining about misfortune or squirming under authority?  Yes, He is calling me to walk toward Him, especially in these times. For then my eyes are on Jesus, and His image is what others will see in me.  No matter the outcome of my struggles – in my favor or not – there is no better place to walk than toward Him.

Janet

Advertisement

2 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Mark, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament

Numbers 7; Mark 4:21-41

And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:37-40

More often than I’d like to admit, when in the midst of a crisis my faith wanes. Like the disciples, I become fearful, overwhelmed, and full of anxiety. I begin to feel hopeless. I know in the deep recesses of my brain that Jesus will never leave me nor forsake me, but I can’t always see the calm through the storm. I begin believing the lies of the enemy more than I trust Christ in me. It breaks in over me and negative circumstances fill up my boat like water. I feel like I might drown in the turmoil of the squall; I wonder how I will survive.

My current storm is one I think most mothers (and fathers) experience: the chaotic, all-consuming task of parenting small children while juggling life. I am stress out and exhausted, physically and emotionally.

On top of that, I am struggling with finding ways to keep my children occupied so that I can manage my house, and struggling to keep the to-do list small enough so I can focus on my kids. I am fraught with the frustrations of conquering one task only to find three more tasks have taken its place. I am still shocked at how quickly the girls can demolish a room – laundry I spent the morning folding but didn’t have a chance to get put away strewn across the bedroom , toys littering the play room floor, yet another wall covered in crayon mural (how did she get the crayons off the top shelf anyway!?)…Not to mention the fighting, the biting, the temper tantrums at full blast on and off all day long, the bed time resistance, the climbing all over mommy…Mommy…MOMMY!

This storm frequently feels like more than I can handle. It seems too big and some days, I am slow to remember that God is with me in the boat. I try to manage things by myself, but I am quickly overcome. I don’t feel peace. I don’t experience joy. I struggle to stay afloat. I am terrified. I am anxious. I am angry. I am impatient. I lose control and yell. “Mean mommy” rears her ugly head, producing fear and confusion, and in turn, my behavior becomes a storm for my children.

At times, when I finally do ask Jesus for help, I ask out of fear – “Don’t you care that I am overwhelmed by this storm? Don’t you care that I am afraid of drowning in it? Don’t you see I need help?”

Of course He cares. Of course He sees. He calms the storm and I am given a (temporary) breather.

However, I am learning that when I ask Him for help out of a place of faith, even when I am afraid, the storm is calmed and peace is restored in my home, and also in in my heart. He protects me. He gives me strength. He gives me wisdom. He shows me the best path to take. His love casts out my fear and I am able to lay my head in the cushion of His shoulder and rest, though other storms may come.

 Yesappa, I know you’re always there. Thank You for being with me in the midst of the storms I experience in life. Thank You for casting out fear and replacing anxiety with peace that surpasses understanding. Help me hold onto faith even when I am feeling overwhelmed. Help me trust You in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Mark, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament

Numbers 5-6; Mark 4:1-20

I know this much about both ancient and modern farming practice.  Seed is precious. Purchasing seed usually comes at great cost and is a huge investment. Accordingly, the farmer takes great care to plant in season, after the winter freeze and before the summer sun threatens to scorch delicate seedlings.

I’ve read the parable of the sower numerous times and to be honest, it has prompted feelings of guilt. What have I done wrong that the seed  of faith planted in my life hasn’t taken off and grown more vigorously? This reading is different. It seems that God has me asking me a different set of questions.

What precious word has He planted in my life in this season?  It’s not the same word that He had for me 6 months or a year ago. What is He longing for me to hear and understand that is important today?

What changes do I need to make in my life today, so that that word can take hold and develop roots that reach down deep and support the new life He wants to bring? Maybe it’s churning up the soil of a hard worn path or habit (maybe it is time to actively listen more and speak less). Maybe it’s time to look for the stones that get in the way of growth, things that are easily picked up and removed (time wasted being distracted by something without much meaning…a tv show, a book that has no redeeming value).

I think that God doesn’t intend this to be an exercise is self flagellation. Jesus points to the preciousness of His word planted  in us. He asks that we value the “seed” sown  so that we carefully tend the soil of our lives. It is then, through his grace that the word takes root and grows within so that our humble lives become something beautiful and reveal the hand of God at work in unexpected and marvelous ways.

klueh

Ps 119:175

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Numbers 3-4; Mark 3:22-35

I was looking around at other women, looking to see what they were doing–and it put me at odds with my life. They were at women’s retreats and Bible studies and community groups and part of service opportunities. I was at home–a substantial commute away from church that would require my husband to take on my responsibilities after he came home from (crazy long hours of) work, two young kids at home, and (at the time) I was homeschooling one of them. There didn’t seem to be a fit for someone like me. I struggled with wanting what I had and wanting what other women had. I struggled with feeling like I was less a part of God’s plan because my calendar was not filled with church things.

***

In Numbers, God tells Moses how the Levites will assist Aaron, these Levites like first-born sons.

11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, 13 for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.” Numbers 3:11-13 NLT.

I made a list of this tribe, and their duties. They had a role to play, and the roles didn’t cross over but were specific to the Gershonites, Kohathites and Merarite clans.

***

The other day, I sat across from a mom at her kitchen table and we talked about gifting, purpose and service. I understood that in those early years as a mom of littles, I was still able to serve God and that it didn’t have to look like what everyone else was doing. I found community and Bible study here, online through 66 Books. I was able to assist a church hospitality ministry by handling scheduling and emailing from my home at my convenience. And my service opportunities looked more like play dates and coffee dates, cultivating friendships with other moms where we supported and encouraged each other.

My kids are growing. My responsibilities look different today than they did six years ago. We even moved. Those years of hosting and hospitality were the training ground for other opportunities, preparing the way for what I’d encounter today:

One woman let her guard down and asked for prayer for a serious health problem. Another one doesn’t know her purpose. And still one admits to a lifetime at church, but now, late in life, isn’t sure she ever really believed. I saw the vulnerability of their hearts when I stopped looking at what other women were doing, and started looking at what God was doing. This happened over play dates, dinners, and doing the things God wired me to do.

24 “A kingdom divided by civil war will collapse. 25 Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.” Mark 3:24-25 NLT

I imagine how relationships would be strengthened and blossom under the encouragement of other women, cheering the other on–instead of secretly coveting or criticizing another’s life and opportunity. (A good listen about comparison with Andy Stanley over here.) It tears relationships apart. Note to self: don’t do this.

34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:34-35 NLT.

Lord, thank you for putting a desire to serve you in my heart, and for calling me to look to you for opportunities to grow close to you and serve others. Thank you for so many examples in the family of faith whom you’ve equipped and prepared to run amazing races for you–and for telling me that you’ve got a plan just for me. Thank you for loving me, and making me part of your family.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Numbers 1-2, Mark 3:1-21

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach… 

I struggle with the distinction between Jesus calling disciples to “follow” Him, as with Levi (Matthew) in Mark 2 and “appointing” them in this chapter.

Is there a crucial difference between Jesus calling one person at his job on the spot to come with Him and simply appointing a select number at one time?

Here’s a possible difference in the Greek: Poieõ, to make, from poios, quality. To endow a person or thing with a certain quality; to qualify, to make, appoint, constitute. 

The keyword study contrasts this with another derivative prassõ: to do or perform. Poieõ, it says, brings out more of the object and end of an act while prassõ brings out more the means by which this object is attained.

It may be that prassõ, which I take liberties to extend to “following,” or consistently patterning ones life after the example of Christ, is vastly different from being made—poieõ. Being called up to a standard of discipleship and being equipped to be a disciple are two distinct things.

Do I stress the following of Christ based on my own accomplishments, progress, and spiritual success and forget that I have already been wanted, called, and appointed specifically by Christ to accomplish His work?

Sometimes I think I allow my work to replace His Workmanship.

Jesus,

I rest today in Your finished work. I am what You have made me. I am appointed. I have a different quality than before I received the call. And I am fully equipped by Your Holy Spirit and able by Your power to do the work.

Amen.

– C

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized