Tag Archives: Connection

Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thessalonians 3

A year ago, we were dealing with a daughter’s health issues. A year ago, I didn’t realize she was two weeks from hospitalization. A year ago, I had no idea she would receive a diagnosis that was a lifetime sentence. And that was just the beginning of what the year would hold.

A year later, I sat at a table across from a woman who was selling me textbooks. The books sat stacked off to the side. She was a fellow innie, so we easily sailed through the niceties and entered into meaningful conversation. We had both experienced a redirection in the past year. I soaked up her words like a sponge.

I could relate to things she was saying. I felt a heart connection to her experiences. She was honest and vulnerable and so real. As I listened to her story, I loved her even more. I felt rejuvenated and refreshed by her words and her encouragement.

When I read of Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 3, I think of her and our time together that day.

and we sent Timothy to visit you. He is our brother and God’s co-worker in proclaiming the Good News of Christ. We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. But you know that we are destined for such troubles. Even while we were with you, we warned you that troubles would soon come—and they did, as you well know. 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4, NLT.

The books? She gave them to me. I never imagined what that day would hold, and I’ll never forget–and not just her generosity, but the healing her words held.

12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, NLT.

Father God, thank you that at the right times, you send encouragement, strength and healing. Thank you for sisters in Christ who love by example, overflowing.

Courtney (66books365)

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Isaiah 65, 66; 1 Thessalonians 1

For thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,

and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;

and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,

and bounced upon her knees.

As one whom his mother comforts,

so I will comfort you;

you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

you shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;

your bones shall flourish like the grass;

and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,

and he shall show his indignation against his enemies. Isaiah 65:12-14

I love all of the imagery that God wove through His Word, describing aspects of His character and of the roles that He plays in relationship to His people. He is a Creator. He is a Father. He is a Bridegroom, a Lover. And, He is also a Mother.

As a mother, I often feel overwhelmed with everything that ‘should’ be done every day. I often feel ignored by my kids who are stellar at selective listening. I often feel unappreciated for the sacrifices that I make for this growing group of kids that were entrusted to me to raise well, raise to adulthood. There are moments throughout each day that I just want to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out until I fall asleep…I need to be comforted and encouraged by someone who understands, by anyone, by God.

And then I read a passage, like this one, reminding me of the importance of my role as ‘mother’ and the comfort that brings to my children. And, it reminds me that just as God is my Father, God is my Mother.

As a mother comforts, I will comfort you…you shall nurse at My breast…

The very first thing that I was able to do for my children after they were born was provide nourishment for them through nursing. I was able to feed them, sustain them. They learned very quickly that I was going to care for them, meet their needs. I can be sure that God will provide for my needs – not just in the area of food, but in every aspect of my life. He is Jehovah Jireh.

As a mother comforts, I will comfort you…you shall be carried on My hip…

When my children were infants, I carried them everywhere – in my arms, in one of my various wraps and slings, and in their car carriers – and even still today, at ages two and nearly four, they still want to be carried all of the time (which unfortunately I can’t do as much as I would like at the moment due to my large, pregnant belly filled with baby #3). Even when they just sit in my lap, it helps them feel safe and secure. When I am feeling vulnerable, I am learning to look to God to be carried through difficult moments. I know that He will never leave me nor forsake me.

As a mother comforts, I will comfort you…you shall be bounced on My knees…

As my children grow, they seek connection with me, a chance to feel my joy over them, a chance to experience my love for them. One of the many ways we connect is when they sit with me, whether on my knees to bounce or on my crossed leg to play ‘ride the pony’. As we spend those moments connecting, it strengthens our bond. I believe that God wants the same kind of connection with me, and though it doesn’t manifest in quite the same way, the principle of comforting joy holds true. I can relax in Him, when I know without doubt that He loves me, I am comforted by His expressions of care and of fun – my favorites are those little gifts I find that seem to be just for me, like a double rainbow when I am feeling lonely, or a $20 bill in my pocket when I needed a little extra cash, or a heart in the clouds or a hawk soaring in the sky.

As a mother comforts, I will comfort you

I think of the many ways that I am able to comfort my girls and feel blessed that, for at least a little while, I can be the person that they run to for comfort, for relief, for security, for encouragement and a confidence boost, for a sense of contentment and well-being. I kiss boo-boos and offer band-aids, give tickles, snuggles, and hugs, wipe tears, wrap them up in warm, cozy blankets and hold them until my arms fall asleep, and the list goes on and on. But, as much as I love being a place of solace, my goal is to teach them to trust God, to go to Him for sanctuary. I want them to believe that He is the same safe haven, an even better refuge than I could ever be, especially as they grow up into adulthood. He is the Comforter. He is Mother.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

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.

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Proverbs 23, 24; 2 Corinthians 5

Apply your heart to instruction

and your ear to words of knowledge.

Do not withhold discipline from a child;

if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.

If you strike him with the rod,

you will save his soul from Sheol.

My son, if your heart is wise,

my heart too will be glad. Proverbs 23:12-15

A couple of months ago, I experienced a number of people evaluating my parenting style, while visiting at their respective houses. In each case, they mentioned the adage, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” Though this saying isn’t a direct quote from the Bible, it is taken from a few verses of Proverbs, the above being one of them.

I always wondered about this subject, especially since becoming the parent to two very head-strong girls, as the concept of God ‘striking’ me into submission for the sake of discipline has never been what I had personally experienced in my relationship with Him. In fact, in my own childhood, I can say that when I was spanked in the name of discipline, what I learned was how to evade the punishment, rather than to avoid the misdeed.

Discipline is important to success in life. When I used to hear the word, the connotation that I associated with it was always related to punishment and spanking. But when I looked more deeply into the meaning, punishment is only a small part of it; more often the word ‘discipline’ means to correct or train through an activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves knowledge, skill, self-control, etc.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5

For me, discipline is about training or correction that brings about reconciliation and an environment for learning, more than punishments that produce fear. When God disciplines me, He doesn’t spank me, He shows me His heart. When I see the part of His heart that is hurting because of my less-than-stellar choice, I better understand the effects of my choice and with wisdom and guidance through His love, I am able to make the necessary changes in my life decisions; I am able to repent and be forgiven. There may still be consequences that I have to experience in the natural, but the process helps me to learn and brings us back together in connection.

By wisdom a house is built,

and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled

with all precious and pleasant riches.

A wise man is full of strength,

and a man of knowledge enhances his might,

for by wise guidance you can wage your war,

and in abundance of counselors there is victory. Proverbs 24:3-6

I believe that my children were given to me to steward, to teach, to discipline, to nurture, and to love; it is my job as a parent to best represent God while raising them, so that they can understand a small piece of who He is and manifest that in their lives as they continue into adulthood. Just as I need wisdom, understanding, and knowledge – discipline – to be victorious, my children need it all too.

I have to decide in each moment of parenting: Will I show them self-control or a lack of restraint? Will I show them God’s truth or my frustration? Will I show them love or give them something to fear? Will I build them up or tear them down?

Parenting is hard, and I know that along the way, I am going to get it ‘wrong.’ There will be times that I am too lax in the eyes of others; there will be times when I am too overwhelmed to catch every bad choice that my children make. There will be times that I lose my temper and show my children my exasperation; there will be times that I react aggressively and scare them into obedience.

That being said, my ultimate goal is to show them a heart of love, to maintain connection, to experience right relationship, and demonstrate how to make good choices in life that protect those things, the way that God shows the same to me.

Yesappa, help me understand Your heart better as I walk through this journey of parenting. Shape my heart to be more like Yours. Show me how to keep my love on in every situation with my children, not only in the joyful times, but most importantly, in the moments that call for discipline. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

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.

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2 Samuel 15, 16; Luke 20:27-47

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.” Luke 20:45-47


After this Absalom got himself a chariot and horses, and fifty men to run before him. And Absalom used to rise early and stand beside the way of the gate. And when any man had a dispute to come before the king for judgment, Absalom would call to him and say, “From what city are you?” And when he said, “Your servant is of such and such a tribe in Israel,” Absalom would say to him, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” And whenever a man came near to pay homage to him, he would put out his hand and take hold of him and kiss him. Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. 2 Samuel 15:1-6

My grandparents had a spunky Jack Russell terrier named WYSIWYG (pronounced “wiz-ee-wig”). WYSIWYG is an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get.’ Whenever I think about this phrase I think about the importance of being authentic, of being exactly who I am. It is about projecting my true self and not hiding my sinful nature or making myself out to be greater than I really am.

In the 10 or so years that I struggled with extreme depression I got very good at hiding myself from others. I would don different masks for different people giving them the face I thought that they most wanted to see. I didn’t realize that what many of those people really wanted was the real me.

When God removed depression from my soul and started healing my heart, I began to understand that showing my true self, being vulnerable when sharing my struggles, admitting when I stumble and fall, laying out the good and the bad, being honest about my experience and being truthful in love, needed to be what I offered to the world.

When I am upfront and honest with people about who I am it leaves no room for pride; it’s impossible for me to think I am better than someone else when they know about the skeletons in my closet. When being genuine, it is impossible to be deceitful, two-faced, and backbiting. Revealing the truth of who I am doesn’t allow for self-importance or ego, because it reminds me of how hopeless, how helpless I am without Christ in my life.

I have found that in the ministry that I do, honesty is what connects me to people. I am able to meet them right where they are, the way that God meets me in my journey. I am able to share openly about my struggles and how God has walked with me through them. I can offer them hope through my testimony, instead of condemnation and judgment. I can offer a clean slate in Jesus, and healing through His love.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your blood and Your redeeming glory, that revives me and makes me whole, that takes away my shame and allows me to be real with those around me. Continue to remove every trace of hiddenness that tries to keep me disconnected from you and from others. Help me always walk in authenticity, living a life a truth in love. 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.

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Filed under 2 Samuel, 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament

2 Kings 3; 2 Thessalonians 3; Daniel 7; Psalms 114, 115

But the Lord is faithful and will give you strength and will protect you from the Evil One. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NCV)

God is absolute in the performance His actions. He is always true to His promises. His affections are constant. He can always be trusted and believed because He is always reliable. He always adheres to the truth, always upholds His standard. He is the ultimate picture of faithfulness.

And in that faithfulness to His people, He promises strength and protection. He can be trusted completely to be there in times of struggle, in times of need. And this has held true since the beginning of time, holds true today, and will hold true until the end of days.

Time and time again throughout history God has proven His faithfulness to mankind. One example of that demonstration is when the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom went out to fight the Moabites. They began to give up hope when they ran out of supplies, ran out of water. But they called upon the Lord. He spoke to them through Elisha, and gave them instructions to follow in order to win the battle. The Lord was with the kings, and the Moabites were defeated. The miraculous works He accomplished were “easy for the Lord to do” (2 Kings 3:18).

In my vision at night I saw in front of me someone who looked like a human being coming on the clouds in the sky. He came near God, who has been alive forever, and he was led to God. He was given authority, glory, and the strength of a king. People of every tribe, nation, and language will serve him. His rule will last forever, and his kingdom will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 (NCV)

The ultimate example of His faithfulness is Christ’s work on the cross. The greatest act of love, giving all of Himself to reestablish the connection broken by the fall, enables me to be in relationship with Heavenly Father. This humble act, full of grace and mercy, once and for all defeated the enemy of my life and opened the doors of my heart to be filled with His Spirit, with His glory.

You who respect the Lord should trust him;

he is your helper and your protection.

The Lord remembers us and will bless us.

He will bless the family of Israel;

he will bless the family of Aaron.

The Lord will bless those who respect him,

from the smallest to the greatest. Psalm 115:11-13 (NCV)

From even before I was formed in my mother’s womb, God’s faithfulness toward me was ever present. While I was still a sinner, He was unrelenting in His goodness (Romans 5:6-11). As I have believed in Him, He continues to remember me, to bless me abundantly, to strengthen me and protect me. His mercies are new every morning, His grace is sufficient, and His love is everlasting (Lamentations 3:22-24; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:31-39).

Not for our sake, God, no, not for our sake,

but for your name’s sake, show your glory.

Do it on account of your merciful love,

do it on account of your faithful ways.

Do it so none of the nations can say,

“Where now, oh where is their God?” Psalm 115:1-2 (MSG)

Yesappa, Thank You for Your faithfulness, Your steadfastness in my life. Show me Your glory and Your goodness every moment of each day. Give me Your strength, Your grace, Your mercy. Protect me from the assignments of the enemy, replace my fears with Your love and Your peace. Rule my life – my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole being – always, so that I am able to serve You forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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