Tag Archives: children

Ruth 2:14-4:22; I Samuel 1

Women of the Bible: the stories of Ruth and Hannah

 When reading Scripture, I often visualize myself walking in the shoes of the principal characters of the narratives. I can imagine, for instance, being Ruth the Moabite woman living in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Rising early and walking to a field where she hoped to pick up the leftover grain to bring home sustenance for Naomi and herself. Listening to the wise council of the one woman she trusted with all her heart, the one who taught her to love and believe in the God of Israel. Risking her virtue and physical safety to join with strangers, she a foreigner in a small, but tightly woven community where everyone knew your story without knowing you. What could that have been like? The part of me that relates is the yearning I had as a young girl to know who to depend on for sustenance, guidance, and comfort. Grateful for those times when others showed concern and genuine caring. Yet, always longing for stability when, even as a young woman, I continued to need protection and provision. I’ve often testified that God answered the prayer of this unbeliever when He sent to me a husband who satisfied my need for security. How wonderful that even though I was not then aware of my future salvation, God knew. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son,” Romans 8:29.

Like a Cinderella story, Ruth found her charming prince and Naomi held her precious grandson against her shoulder. And from that fortuitous pairing of Ruth and Boaz came the future King David and the messianic lineage of Jesus Christ. I, too, had my prince and then my own little darling to raise.

In Hannah’s story, my heart was torn reading that after God answered her prayer for a child, she could give up of that same child for another to raise. Hannah’s anguish over being barren, year after year, may be difficult to understand in America today. Young adults are waiting longer to marry and longer still to have children. We praise the family who limits conceiving their number of children to two or less. We value resources such as food, fuel, forests, and air as if these elements preserve our future. Yet, are we not, as C.S. Lewis once argued careening toward the “abolition of man?” Still, what is the first commitment made by most Christian parents who love the Lord God? We dedicate our children to God – to raise them in the “admonition of the Lord.” We stand publicly before our congregations to declare we will raise our children in a godly home, and we ask for their support in teaching and modeling for our children how to obey and love God. Yet, Hannah’s desire for her son to know God went so much deeper. She held the hand of little Samuel, a child of two or three years old, and took him to actually live in the sanctuary and be raised by the aging priest, Eli.

“And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord [Eli], I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord…For this child I prayed and the Lord granted me my petition…Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord,” I Samuel 1:26-28.

In dedicating my own daughter, did I truly give her over to the Lord? I thought I did. I still feel the joy and pride of her memorizing Scripture for the Bible Bowl, attending Vacation Bible School, singing in the Children’s Choir, coloring pictures of Jesus and the Cross, creating her own Christmas and Easter cards, and writing stories and poems for her Christian school English teachers. But did I hamper her learning to trust in God by my own need for validation as a mother? Why was it so hard to believe that God loved her more than I ever could?

These are questions that I ponder being a parent. There is no end to my negative self-talk, my mother-guilt, especially since my daughter passed away. Yet I am comforted knowing that “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him,” (Biblegateway.com). As her mother, I can rejoice that God ‘lent’ her to me for a while like Hannah could rejoice despite knowing how short the time she would have to nurture her son.

Scripture is for our instruction in righteousness and for strengthening our faith, for courage, healing, and peace. God’s Word also reminds me that women in the Bible were important to His plan of redemption and the birth of the Church. I am comforted by the real stories of people who walked with God, obeyed, and worshiped Him, and were rewarded with renewed joy and greater faith. Ruth’s loyal love to Naomi, Hannah’s sacrificial gratitude for Samuel, and the many other heroines of the Old and New Testaments are the precious jewels of Proverbs 31 which declares, “For her worth is far above rubies…a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Precious Lord God, You alone fashioned me and every other child inside of mothers whom You loved. You know the first and last day we will walk this earth. Thank You, Lord, that You rejoice and sing over us from that first reunion with You and into eternity. May the Lord bless us and favor us, our family, our children, and their children while we wait for that day we are together again with Jesus, our Lord.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, Ruth, Uncategorized

2 Kings 16; Titus 2; Hos. 9; Ps. 126-128

“As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds. You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them.” Titus 2:1-15 NLT

I am so grateful to have had older, wiser, godly woman mentors in every season of my life. From singleness to marriage to children…they have encouraged me, spoke the truth in love and gave me a hunger for God’s word. They were humble and would admit their need for Him. They showed me what it was like to live for Jesus. They walked with me through painful and joyful times. I pray that I can be that person for someone else. Even when I don’t feel adequate, God can use me the most through my weakness and surrender. He is weaving a testimony of faithfulness and victory in my life. I wonder who needs to hear my story? Who needs to know that on the hard days when sowing the seeds can be tiresome, that it matters. That God will make something beautiful from it one day.

“When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams in the desert. Those who plant tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” Psalms 126 NLT

Dear Father, I praise you for who you are. Thank you for always meeting me where I am at. Thank you that you hear my prayers. Thank you for the people that you have brought into my life at key moments. I know it wasn’t by accident. You love me that much, to show your love through others. Help me to live with an eternal perspective. Amen.

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects the city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.” Psalms 127:1-4 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 2 Kings, Hosea, Psalms, Titus

Job 28-30, Revelation 18

Success. How do you define it, measure it? According to Webster, success is:

  1. obsoleteoutcome, result
  2. degree or measure of succeeding
  3. favorable or desired outcome; also :  the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
  4. one that succeeds

As a parent of young children, I am often reflecting and evaluating my parenting goals and style. I look around at the culture and see the different measuring sticks for success. I read parenting articles or listen to interviews of parents on TV that say, “All I want for my children is for them to grow up to be happy and successful!” Success to Americans is healthy, wealthy and happy. It’s measured by GPA, SATs and which college they attend, by how much is in their retirement account, how big their house is and what’s parked in their driveway. It’s their job status and town they live in. To add to the stresses of success in our culture, we are now able to hide behind the mask of technology and be whoever we want to be on the outside. Facebook, Instagram, texting…..we can appear successful without actually being successful which only fuels the fire of depression and hurt as we measure our own lives based on what we see others portray.

The list of ways to measure success goes on and on but it’s rare to find someone in today’s culture who measures success by true wisdom. You rarely hear parents say, “All I want for my children is for them to be wise!” But the bible speaks to my heart reminding me that my measuring stick is not what the culture looks at but what God desires for us, wisdom. It is more valuable than all the things we work for, attain and succeed. It requires searching, seeking and waiting on the Lord.

12 “But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
13 Man does not know its worth,
and it is not found in the land of the living.
14 The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’
and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’
15 It cannot be bought for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed as its price.
16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire.
17 Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls.
19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it,
nor can it be valued in pure gold.

23 “God understands the way to it,
and he knows its place.
24 For he looks to the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he gave to the wind its weight
and apportioned the waters by measure,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a way for the lightning of the thunder,
27 then he saw it and declared it;
he established it, and searched it out.
28 And he said to man,
‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,
and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” Job 28:12-28 ESV

One Day, all the measuring sticks of success will be thrown out the window and the things we thought were so valuable will be gone.

15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,

16 “Alas, alas, for the great city
that was clothed in fine linen,
in purple and scarlet,
adorned with gold,
with jewels, and with pearls!
17 For in a single hour all this wealth has been laid waste.” Revelation 18:15-17 ESV

Lord, who can grasp your infinite wisdom and fathom the depths of your love for us? I thank you Father that the goal for my children is not defined or measured by the people around me and that you give wisdom when I ask. Help me to remember to call on you day and night for my children that they would grow in wisdom and stature and favor with you all the days of their life and rely on your wisdom. Help me, Father, to teach my children how to use your measuring stick! Amen.

kateredding

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Genesis 26, 27; Mark 10

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

One of the greatest aspects of being a parent is the ability to see everything fresh through my children’s eyes. Everything is new to them, even if they’ve seen it before. Everything is exciting, even when they’ve done it before.

Over the holidays, my parents and I decided to take my children for a drive to find Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods. We all loaded into the van after dinner and started driving looking for the decorated houses. It didn’t take long to find them, and the girls went crazy, oohing and aahing, squealing with joy at something as simple as lights in the darkness of the evening.

They do the same thing with Jesus. They love to hear Bible stories and sing songs about Jesus (amazingly I often hear my girls singing “You make me brave” at the top of their lungs when they are playing in their room). They accept who He is without questioning if He’s real. They accept everything He’s done without wondering whether or not they are worthy. They revel in His love. They dance with all their might in His presence. They accept every good thing He gives and expect nothing less than the best. They are princesses and prince(s), coheirs with Christ, and they don’t doubt that for a second. They don’t worry about what someone else might think about their relationship with their Heavenly Father, they don’t worry about ‘works’ they just jump into His arms, so to speak, and are blessed.

I remember times in my walk with God where I was like that little child, but more recently the cares of life have crept onto my shoulders and weighted me down; I became an adult trying to survive and my spirit has suffered for it. The responsibilities of ‘doing’ have taken over – because someone has to cook, clean, and wipe runny noses – and I have neglected simply ‘being’.

I watch my girls, especially on Sundays, dancing and waving flags and having fun, and while I really enjoy watching them expressing their love and freedom, I am also jealous to experience even a small piece of that again. A part of me wants to cast off the responsibility, the ‘Martha-like’ to-do list, the worry of ‘who is going to watch my kids’, and immerse myself like a little child in God’s presence, in Heaven on earth. And, a part of me is scared that I have forgotten how to enter in, how to let go, how to let my guard down enough to let the little girl escape her ‘duties’ and encounter joy.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I am not sure how to balance being an adult and being child-like. But I know that I want to be received into Jesus’ arms and be blessed just like a little child.

Yesappa, thank You for loving me. Thank you for blessing me with Your gift of grace. Will you give me wisdom for becoming like a little child before you? Will you meet me where I am and heal my spirit, heal my heart? Will You show me how to let go and let God? Thank You for showing me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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

1 Kings 4&5; Ephesians 2; Ezekiel 35; Psalm 85

You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people, you put their sins far out of sight. You took back your sin-provoked threats, you cooled your hot, righteous anger. Help us again, God of our help; don’t hold a grudge against us forever.” Psalm 85:1-7 MSG

This week I had the privilege of sitting on a mentor mom panel for my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. I have been in MOPS for 10 years, since my oldest was a baby. It was humbling to be giving advice to younger moms.“How do you show love to multiple children, so none of them feel left out?,” was one of the questions that was asked. While there’s a lot of ways I can show love to my kids, forgiveness was one of the words that came to mind. I am quick to ask for forgiveness from my kids when I mess up. And when they apologize to me, I don’t ever want them to question my love and wonder where they stand with me. I think about how I am sometimes left wondering if someone is still harboring a grudge against me. Or, do I have an unforgiving heart that has a become a stumbling block for me?

I am grateful that I never have to question God’s love for me., or have to wonder where I stand with Him. He accepts my apology and forgives me that second. It is gone from His mind…Will I ever fathom that?

When I come to HimHe embraces me fully.

It wasn’t long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.” Ephesians 2:1-5 MSG

Thank you Father that Your love for me never changes. Help me to remember that, so I don’t hold on to guilt, that never comes from You. I pray that I would be quick to ask for forgiveness and forgive others, knowing how much You forgave me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Filed under 1 Kings, 66 Books, Ephesians, Ezekiel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized