Author Archives: jansuwilkinson

About jansuwilkinson

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

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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Joshua 16, 17; Psalm 148; Jeremiah 8; Matthew 22

For a person who sees the glass half full, it is difficult sometimes for me to accept that others will not look up to the heavens or at least reach outward to the extended hands of those willing to help. I mourn with Jeremiah for my people:

Astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead; Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery For the health of the daughter of my people? – Jeremiah 8:21, 22

Believe me, I am not privileged or unscathed in the battles that I start or are drafted into; in fact, quite the contrary. So I reason that I am different by temperament or blessed with stamina and strong will which teaches me to survive. Is God then, just my religion in the foxhole? I was thinking about this while driving to work; and when the religious supplications I had uttered seemed flat and without meaning. Again, I experienced this brain jolt as I texted a friend to say that I was praying for her father to be healed. I was unsure in both situations that my words were grounded in the will of God.

Wouldn’t it be great if we were moved to pray and seek God’s favor with the confidence of Joseph’s family?

Joshua 8:14 Then the children of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given us only one lot and one share to inherit since we are a great people, inasmuch as the Lord has blessed us until now (my emphasis)?”

Joshua 8:18 …And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph – to Ephraim and Manasseh – saying, “You are a great people and have great power; you shall not have only one lot, but the mountain country shall be yours.”

Notice how the children of Joseph gave God credit for their burgeoning numbers of people. Can confidence also be based on the multitude of blessings (too many to count) that I have received? Also note  Joshua’s answer – more would be given. Can I seek God for favor or am I asking too much too often and mostly for material things? Am I even praying according to God’s will?

Just as I get caught up in this cycle of questioning that leads back to feeling inadequate, a more humble me whispers, “Look up!”

Matthew 22: 41-43 Jesus asked them, saying “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit (my emphasis) call Him ‘Lord’…”

I am reminded that Christ is not limited by human hands and feet or time and place or mood and thought content. I am not limited by my own humanity when I am in the Spirit. Looking up to Christ is to be filled with the Holy Spirit who is able to speak to me and through me – that is my confidence.

So with the psalmist, I say, “Let them praise the name of the Lord For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” – “Psalm 148:13-14.

janet

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

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Deuteronomy 33,34; Psalm 119:145-176; Isaiah 60; Matthew 8

To the Leper: Without discrimination or hesitation: “Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed,’” (Matthew 8:3). What are my biases, my prejudices? How many times have I withheld my hands from reaching out to strangers, the homeless, those who are needy? Where did I rationalize caution when obedience would have best mirrored Christ?

To the Centurion:  Without hesitation or stipulation: “And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him,’” (Matthew 8:7). How have routine and self-imposed obligations built a wall of separation from the immediacy outside of my world? How often have I held back from offering a hand and depended on the prompt responses of others to do what I would not?

To King David: Without fear of rejection and with assurance of God’s covenantal love and His just nature, David calls out: “Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, revive me according to Your justice,” (Psalm 119:149). When was the last time that I praised God for His lovingkindness and supported His acts of justice? How often do I seek Him with confidence that He has loving thoughts toward me?

To Moses: Without complaint or argument: “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there…by the mouth of Hashem,” (Deut 34:5, 6). The mouth of Hashem has been interpreted as the Divine Kiss. How is it that I continue to wrestle with the sting of death instead of the joy of my salvation? Do I long to see Christ face to face only to ask about earthly matters?

After a self-examination, I am tempted to sink to the ground in despair. I still know what it feels like to sin. I have heard it said God looks down at me and sees me dipped in the cleansing blood of Christ. However, in my human nature, I do not feel perfect or holy. Yet, I will be perfect in holiness one day – not because I finally get it right or because I have stored up enough good deeds to outweigh the sins that will burn before my eyes (and the Lord’s eyes!). Rather, I will be changed from this woman struggling to fight the good fight into the beloved bride of Christ by the same resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead.

To Me/to all His beloved: “Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you,” (Isaiah 60:1). Without doubt and with a contented sigh, take a deep breath: Deut 33:26, 27 says, “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to help you, And in His excellency on the clouds. The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms…”

I confess that I need God to be the Divine Warrior who is always ready to be my protector, even though I may start the fight. I need Him to be a place where I can run when my poor decisions or unintentional mistakes cause chaos and distress to chase after me. I need the assurance of God’s strong arm that delivers me with love and with power when I am least able to defend myself. Nothing can compare to the way God shows Himself to His beloved.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

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Deuteronomy 19; Psalm 106; Isaiah 46; Revelation 16

When I am most likely to feel far away from God is the time that God is closer than my shadow. I experienced this phenomenon on a recent visit with family.  Though I cannot know what image I project around my family, the distance between us in miles and frequency of visits causes us all to dance around each other carefully. Usually I do the Christian be-bop, happy-go-lucky dance with praise and testimony, smiling broadly. However, these past few years of grieving the loss of my daughter have pasted me in the wallflower position when it comes to witnessing. I know the truth of Christ; just am finding it hard to speak without being spoken to. In one of two direct ‘blessed be’ beatitudes by Christ in Revelation, Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame,” (Rev 16:15).

Be ready for the celebration dance.

Bring family and neighbors to the dance.

Deuteronomy 19:14 is a warning not to remove a neighbor’s landmark. That is, no one should take territory from a family or cheat them out of the land inheritance that God gave them. I wonder how God views us, His people, when we go after our brothers and sisters in Christ with the intent of poking holes in their theology, laying burdens of legalistic traditions and perfection expectations on them. Have we moved boundaries to make room for rigid opinions?

“Nevertheless, He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry; And for their sake He remembered His covenant, And relented according to the multitude of His mercies. He also made them to be pitied by all those who carried them away captive,” (Psalm 106:44-46).

Choose to be carried when dancing is impossible.

I suppose I could have sought other conversations or indulged in meaningless activities while visiting family, but a funny thing about me is that being genuine when face-to-face with someone is intensely important to me. No surprise then, that God placed gentle words on my lips to speak His love and mercies to my family.  But first, He spoke these words to me:

“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb; Even to your old age, I am He, And even to your gray hairs, I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you, (Isaiah 46:3-4).

Hold His hands and let Him lead the dance!

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

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Deuteronomy 4; Psalm 86, 87; Isaiah 32; Revelation 2

Psalm 87:6-7 “Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, For You will answer me.”

I had what I suppose was a thought straight from the pit – God may not hear and answer my prayers, but I trust that others more godly than I have God’s attention. This negative thought came on the heels of praying for the return of my granddaughter’s stolen car. I prayed, yet when a friend agreed to have her prayer group pray, and the car turned up in an alley the next morning (nothing broken, nothing stolen), I heard myself thanking God that He answered the prayers of my friend. Not that thanking God for answering others is inappropriate, just that in that moment I realized that I thought God answering my prayers seemed remote.

Back in the 80’s, we were called prayer warriors. My Christian sisters and I would meet weekly to pray for the hurting, the ill, the dying. We visited hospitals and held the hands of the weak; we prophesied over the despondent who came to the altar for prayer. We lifted up our husbands, our children, our military, our country to the only true God for peace and prosperity and mercy. We worked tirelessly because the Spirit of the living God was upon us. Isaiah 32:12, 15, 17 says, “People shall mourn upon their breasts…Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high…The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” This was, for me, a remarkable time of trusting in God. I had long since shed complacency in the world, and trusting its empty promises.

The recent moment of self-doubt, however was a wake-up call. Thankfully, I know how to challenge unwanted, negative interruptions in my thought life. Crowd them out with Scripture! And keep praying and praising! We have a great God who listens to each prayer. Deuteronomy 4:7 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?” [Italics mine.] I repeat this phrase over and over, “…for whatever reason we may call upon Him.” We are called to trust in God’s intimate knowledge of our condition and need of His Spirit:

Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 27 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give…” 1) to eat from the tree of life; 2) shall not be hurt by the second death; 3) hidden manna to eat and a new name written on a white stone [that only God knows]; 4) power over the nations [to rule with Christ] and the morning star [Christ our Lord].

So I pray, “Rejoice the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul,” Psalm 86:4. You hear my simple prayers of faith and assure me of Your presence from start to finish. I thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You listen for and lovingly answer even my prayers.

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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Numbers 26; Psalm 69; Isaiah 16; I Peter 4

Isaiah 16:5 “In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.”

Yet what of my erring, essentially my death wish? What darkness creeps in on the heels of hope firmly rooted in the coming joy of Messiah’s reign? For I know my future in Christ. Thoughts jump back in time to the mistakes and purposeful wrongs that I defended then and rue today.  My thoughts race in ‘now’ time to what ought to be and what I’m called to be. No perfection here. And thanks to the Holy Spirit, real conviction in real time. I submit willingly and pray for mercy.

Psalm 69: 13 “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation.”

What more can I ask? For Jesus Christ has brought salvation and provided unending mercy – in fact, mercies new every morning. Instead of my crimes screaming condemnation to the heavens, God listens to the splendid sound of Christ’s salvation song about me. I am saved. I am covered by His blood. And just as His mercy covers me, so my prayers and love for others should mirror His mercy when I experience rejection, humiliation, abandonment, and hurts inflicted by others. Only unconditional positive regard for another human being is acceptable.

I Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” Yes, “The humble shall see this and be glad; and you who seek God, your hearts shall live. For the Lord hears the poor, and does not despise His prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them,” (Psalm 69:32-34).

Worship, I read once, is defined as bowing down or kissing the ground to show profound reverence. Not singing, though our praises in word and song are beautiful to our Lord. More than a heart swelling with love for God, and even more than a prostrate sinner repentant, the hands and feet of love, hospitality, and forgiveness pleases our Lord best.

Father God, You have modeled the ultimate sacrifice of love, mercy, and forgiveness. Shall I be paltry in giving the same or lavish in extending the same to others? Though I am in no way able to love like You, forgive to the width of Your expansive salvation, nor extend mercy for others or myself to the depths of Your sensitivity, I will give myself over to You. Make me Your instrument that my song will be a testimony of Your unfettered reach to those who need Your love the most. And who is it that does not?

In Jesus Christ’s precious Name,

Yours because I choose no other.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

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

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