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About jansuwilkinson

Love my family, my church, and most of all - the Lover of my soul - Jesus Christ!

I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4; Daniel 4; Psalm 108, 109

Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two statements, one of which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. The other is to love your neighbor as yourself. I wax and wane in my passion to love God even though I never want to leave His side. And I sometimes step back when loving my neighbor is at stake. That is, I have to take a time out to rethink my words, reframe my motivations, and reign in my emotions before asking questions, making and answering requests, or commenting on what others say and do. Years of not getting this right and experience in hurting others or causing chaos in my relationships has heightened my vigilance for preventing problematic encounters, yet nothing can stay my heart and my tongue like the chastisement of God.

As I read I Kings 21:5, 15, I recognized how Ahab was influenced by his wife. Specifically, I relate to my own behaviors that incited my husband to defend me in situations where I needed to humble myself, instead. Like Ahab, I displayed a sullen, pouty face about something that I could not have. In the Old Testament, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, asked, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat not your food?” She then orchestrated the murder of Naboth so that her husband could have Naboth’s vineyard. Like Ahab’s spouse, my husband sought solutions, and sometimes that meant compromising his own righteousness. And what did I do? I did just like Ahab: “So it was when Ahab heard Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” That is, I allowed my husband to do something that I would not, but then was happy to have what I should not.

Isn’t it interesting that in marriages, a spouse can either encourage and inspire or manipulate and blame.

In other situations, trying to love thy neighbor as thyself has left me confused and disappointed. I think I am in good company because even the saints cried out to God in similar situations: Psalm 109:4, 5 records these complaints, “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for love.”

Yes, I pray, and yes, I want justice. Yet one meaning of justice is “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people,” (https://www.google.com/search). Do I want this just for me or do I love well enough to desire this for all others? I’m afraid my ill will too often highlights the sin of entitlement. Instead of agreeing that others deserve happiness, I speak this lie to myself; “I deserve an easier life.” Thus, what naturally pour out of my mouth are words of bitterness, jealousy, and anger. Like I said, experience has taught me this.

Walking with God, the Father, however, has taught me better truths. I now know that I despise inciting or attacking others worse than accepting being sad, frustrated, or afraid. I know that I can praise the Almighty, loving God who is able to confront or defend me, as He sees fit. Daniel 4:37 says, “I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” I do not have to play the Holy Spirit in another person’s life; my task is to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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I Kings 7; Ephesians 4; Ezekiel 37; Psalm 87, 88

I sometimes think all things should work out for me, here and now; as if I should completely find rest and satisfaction on earth. Expectations of God, of others, of me, and impatiently waiting for it to happen, now. Entitlement – a word to describe the belief that one inherently deserves privileges or special treatment. And I have no qualm in declaring with other worshipers, “All my springs are in you,” (Psalm 87:7). Hint to God.

Reality often strikes the senses like plunging your dry, warm body into a frigid pool of black water – shocking, awakening, slicingly sharp. Each time, I go back to my knees. Regroup, re-read Scripture, PRAY…“O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You. Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry,” (Psalm 88:1, 2). Then more waiting…

When I forget that I have been redeemed, reborn, I feel like Israel who cried out to God, “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (Ezekiel 37:11) Yet, regardless of my culpability in getting lost, God reminds me of His unfailing love. He demonstrates His mighty mercy to Israel and by their example, to me. God took the prophet Ezekiel to a valley to see dry, bleached bones come together; sinews attach, and flesh cover as the bones came to life. He gives this same promise of restoration and revival to the drought within this earthly temple, this jar of clay, me. And even if these promises become sparks of light He shoots out of my fingertips to others, I will be glad. Like King David who dedicated his personal goods to the future sanctuary that his son Solomon, not David himself, would build; I take pleasure in being a conduit for translating concern for the things of God to my family and others in my little sphere of influence. I can make every word count, every effort all in, every passion submitted.

Ephesians 4:29, 31, 32 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If my heart is turned to pleasing my heavenly Father and loving others, then the things of earth will pale in importance. How easy it is to trust God when my heart is set on obeying His commands. How satisfying it is to forget that I am and immerse myself in the “Great I AM.”

 

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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2 Samuel 16; 2 Corinthians 9; Ezekiel 23; Psalm 70, 71

I’m not too sure about wisdom coming with age. Sure, I feel I have a few things to say or to offer the ‘younger generation.’ Yet, I’m well aware that they generally like to just figure this all out by themselves. I definitely am not saying that I want others to look up to me as the example of Christian perfection; the days of hubris have long passed. Life experiences for the most part though, have taught me to say, “All is well with my soul,” even in the midst of hell on earth. Still, when I hear myself complaining of indigestion, this aching pain in my left hip, or the increasing wrinkles on my forehead and loose skin on the underside of my arms, I admit that I am being remiss as a servant of God. For how will focusing on me teach others to glorify God? Smooth sailing through calm waters may not lift the eye to seek God, but a mentor captivates with steady faith.

I think King David felt this, too. The “man after God’s own heart,” submitted to the ups and downs of life, the consequences of sin repented. David accepted with faith whatever landed in his lap (even rocks hurled by his enemy). He admonished others by saying, “So let him curse, because the Lord has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ “It may be that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day,” (2 Samuel 16:10, 12). Can you hear David’s faith in the only One who knew him from his first cry as a babe to his last breath of life?

I, too, am sure of my salvation and of God’s presence in my  life (hence, all is well with my soul), but I long for the day that my puny efforts in serving Him here in this earthen vessel, will be shattered and left in the dirt while I fly to meet my Lord Christ in the sky. Saying this may sound like the proverbial ‘pie in the sky’ way of life. It’s just that I am well aware that I have a duty to obedience while here on earth, even though my heart is set on the joy to come. This wanting to be with Jesus does not allow me to shirk my responsibilities that continue with age. In fact, as one of the ‘older generation,’ I will be held responsible for the tasks God has given me. So being present is the most meaningful way I can touch others for Christ. Without a doubt, I need MORE of Him, and now!

Psalm 71:9, 18 “Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails…” “No also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come.”

Thank You, Lord Jesus for opportunities of testimony and service yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Let the last wink of my eyelids declare Your glory as I gaze upwards to You. I pray to work alongside You until You come or You take me home. Maranatha! Come, O Lord!

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.”

Janet (jansuwilkinson) All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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I Samuel 31; I Corinthians 11; Ezekiel 9; Psalm 48

The men of Israel had fled from the lost battle, and Saul and his sons were dead, their headless bodies attached to a wall. “Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted for seven days.” I Samuel 31:11-13.

For all his faults and even though the kingdom was torn from his hands, Saul was still mourned and honored in his death. Sometimes I wish that I could undo all the mistakes and missteps I made in digging my own pit. Truly, the resurrection power of Christ Jesus that lives in me is the only force that could pull me up and out of those dark places.

Even so, I have experienced times when God seemed far away from me. At such times, I have examined my motives and my works to learn how far I have gone from Him. Corinthians 11:30-32 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Often, during those times, my family and others have commented on the blessings of God observed in my life. Their remarks confirm to me the unique position believers have in Christ Jesus. God illustrated that fact when speaking through Ezekiel and other prophets in the Bible to remind us that He marks His own.

Ezekiel 9:4 “…and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.’” I think of my many prayers to the Lord – admitting helplessness over things I have no power to change. Why does He come near? Because I am good – no! Because I am marked by Him; I am His own, and He alone is able to save.

I look around and the signs of God’s presence are everywhere – He is in the beauty of His creation; He is in His people, the Church; He is in the sacrifices and the tender gestures of the strong and the weak. He is here right now.

Psalm 48:12-14 “Walk about Zion, And go all around her. Count her towers; Mark well her bulwarks; Consider her palaces; That you may tell it to the generation following. For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

There is no place I would rather be, Dear Lord God, than here and now to be in Your presence!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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I Samuel 15; Romans 13; Jeremiah 52; Psalm 31

As believers we are to be subject to various authorities. I tend to have more than a little problem doing this, as is evidenced by my response to perceived dissatisfaction with my every day work, my big ideas for change, or my suggestions to others. In the immediate sense, I am talking about obeying supervisors at my job. Certain situations that come up periodically call for submission without argument. I have to say that during those times I feel the most peaceful when I just say, “Certainly.” Otherwise, I feel ill will, jealousy, and selfish ambition rising up which results in anxiety, fits of anger or pouting, and low self-esteem. Now I’m a therapist, so I should know better, right? Hey, even a king of Judah could not get this right.

King Saul failed to come under the authority of God and perform the one mission God gave him. Instead, Saul rationalized that he should listen to his army who were unwilling to follow God’s instructions. And to make matters worse, his fear of the people and his desperation to gain God’s forgiveness resulted in an impulsive attempt to grab hold of God’s prophet, Samuel, tearing his robe; thus, symbolically tearing away the kingdom from Saul, (I Samuel 15:24-30). Is it so large a stretch to believe that disobedience and defiance may result in loss of position and/or respect on my job?

What about my response to governing authorities in my community, state, or country? I heard myself telling my granddaughter the other day that if I ever get stopped for speeding going to work in the early morning hours, my license would probably be suspended. I’ve rationalized that going as fast as I drive is okay because there is little to no traffic at that hour on the roads that I travel. In truth, however, I scan my surroundings hoping to distinguish a police car from any other head or tail lights in sight (like I would recognize one, anyway). Are not governing authorities God’s instrument of judgment? What excuse could I give, if pulled over? Jeremiah 52:3, 27 describes King Zedekiah’s rebellion against the king of Babylon (Babylon was an instrument of God’s judgment against Judah). The outcome was obvious: “Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land.”  – Seriously! I might even go to jail, come to think of it!

Now, I know that I am a child of God; and I am quick to say that I trust in Him to save me for His mercies’ sake (Psalm 31:14-16). Yet, am I taking God’s promises out of context? Do I claim the first half of Psalm 31:23 which says, “For the Lord preserves the faithful.” And do I disavow the second half which says, “And fully repays the proud person?” Isn’t it pride that lifts my heart above the law of the land? Romans 13:2-4 reminds us that “…whoever resist authority resists the ordinance of God…for rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil…for he [a ruler] is God’s minister to you for good…an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

These are just a few examples of how my heart gets twisted up when I fail to crucify the flesh. Something is going to die…and should. The only way to change my ways Continue reading

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Ruth 2; Acts 27; Jeremiah 37; Psalm 10

Ruth asked Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him [Boaz] in whose sight I may find favor.” (Ruth 2:2)

Boaz blessed Ruth, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” (Ruth 2:12)

I’m awestruck by the principal laid out in this beautiful story about Ruth who is listed as a woman in the lineage of Christ. Ruth received this honor by forsaking her people and all that she knew as a Moabite to follow the God of Israel. Boaz, too, was impressed with Ruth, a foreigner who submitted to the God whom her mother-in-law worshiped and moved to a land where strangers would become family. Ruth insisted on following Naomi back to Israel, and Ruth sought favor with Naomi’s people.

Sometimes I think that I am helpless to change circumstances that I find oppressive or depressing. Ruth’s story is a reminder of God’s covering and that each step brings me closer to God. Of course, each footfall is not cushioned by a bed of roses like walking to the altar on your wedding day; but can be more like a misstep – a twisting of the ankle as you throw out your hands for someone to grasp. The Apostle Paul never skipped a beat in these circumstances. Acts 27:22, 23 is an example. “And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’”

“The God to whom I belong and whom I serve,” is this great God who knows what challenges I will face. He knows that when experiencing disappointment, tragedy, or isolation that I will wrestle with good and evil from within and without. Psalm 10:14 declares, “But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.”

God does know. God does see. God does act on my behalf and for my good. I commit myself again and again to God who alone is my help. He may send that help through others, like the encouraging text from a friend on a particularly difficult morning; or the laughter with family that busts up the clog in my all-to-serious thoughts. These are the truths that teach trust and increase faith.

Jeremiah 37:20, 21 records the prophet’s simple request for life, “’Therefore…please do not make me return [to the dungeon]…lest I die there.’ Then Zedekiah the king commanded that they should commit Jeremiah to the court of the prison [a place near the royal palace], and that they should give him daily a piece of bread from the bakers’ street, until all the bread was gone.”

I remember once, in our early Christian walk, that my husband said, “When I die, I just hope to be given a place in a corner of God’s house.” How humble and how simple a trust in the protection and favor of God!

Today I pray: Dear Lord Jesus Christ, with deep affection and trust in You, in all circumstances, I will seek You with all my senses, for the morning’s opportunities and the evening’s graces.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Judges 9; Acts 13; Jeremiah 22; Mark 8

Jeremiah 22:3 Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.

I am a “mandated reporter.” That means that because I have contact with vulnerable people, I am legally required to ensure a report is made when physical, emotional, or sexual abuse is observed or suspected. I still remember the first time I had to report abuse to a protective agency. Though there was obvious evidence of abuse, I kept looking for a reason not to report. Instead of focusing on delivering the oppressed and vulnerable, I wrestled with thoughts of retribution, disloyalty, ‘getting others in trouble,’ and even worried that I would not be liked by the abuser. Looking back I think I was trying to save my life as I had formed it; that is, my reputation as one who kept confidences, my image as someone who had things in control, and my need to be a peacemaker. Fortunately, I had professional supervision and did what was right despite my misgivings.

Mark 8:35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.

That first experience and others over the next 15 years taught me to view reporting as a necessary intervention. However, God’s Holy Spirit was the discerning force that knelt with me the day I had to intervene when abuse came close to home. The old fears had returned.  Inertia was setting in. Worry that ruin would result almost caused me to hesitate and counsel wrongly.

Acts 13: 9, 10 Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.”

When Paul was presented with a sorcerer who was perverting the message of God, he did not hesitate, but Paul called out the man and initiated judgment.  I think fear of judgment screeches justice to a halt. Is this the greatest fear: the outcome of godly confrontation or the result of righteous conflict may not lead to salvation but condemnation? Yet I am convinced that our Lord God, the King of Kings will sit on the throne of judgment. I know that I have been given the responsibility of protecting others, and I pray that I will always listen to the Holy Spirit in making decisions that affect the lives of all involved.

I ask, Lord Jesus, that you open my eyes to injustice and that you give me wisdom and discernment in every situation. Give me boldness through Your Holy Spirit to speak these words, “Listen to me, you [insert the names of abusers], That God may listen to you!” Judges 9:7. Not for my sake, but for Your love for the underdog and for Your righteous judgments.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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