Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Some Things Never Change

“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must want these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name. Acts 4:16-17

Does this sentiment seem at all familiar to you? Peter and John have just appeared before the Sanhedrin. The result is that now all the big guys are in complete uproar. Here are these two uneducated, ordinary guys claiming that they have indeed given the lame guy his legs back. Worse, they are claiming to have done it in the name and power of Jesus Christ. You know the elders, Sadducees and the rest of the crew were thinking, “Oh please! Are we ever going to stop hearing about this Jesus?” Pretty sure that they won’t, they decide to stop Peter and John. They tell them, “That’s it, no more talking about Jesus.” Fine, except Peter and John aren’t quite so easily deterred. Politely they say, “Sorry but we can’t help ourselves. We’re going to talk about Jesus.”

Reading this account of nearly 2000 years ago, I saw some similarity to our own times. How often have you recounted a miracle in your life just to have some one explain it away? There is a medical reason, a paperwork reason, a misunderstanding of the original circumstance, something, anything other than what it really is, a miracle.

The name of Jesus is not terribly welcome in our world these days. We aren’t supposed to invoke it in a public school setting. It isn’t politically correct to approach someone whose behavior is abhorrent based on the teachings of Jesus. He isn’t invited into many, if any, secular settings but conversely I hear his name slandered in those same settings, all the time.

As Christians we are supposed to stand still, be quiet and not oppose those whose lifestyles bring total dishonor to the precious name of Jesus. We are supposed to stand silent in the face of a culture that demands respect for every other belief system while blatantly blasting ours. We face a Sanhedrin of our own every time we raise the name of Jesus in a secular venue. We are told as plainly as Peter and John, “Don’t talk about him here and by all means keep your miracles to yourself.”

For all the freedoms we posses in this fine country the one we cherish most is being severely challenged. Pray that we all have the courage of Peter and John to stand up for the name we say we love. Pray that no one will able to silence those of us who do believe in one nation under God and who do put our trust in Him.

My Savior never pretends that he doesn’t know me. He fights for me and he’s proud to know me. How can I do any less for him?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mary, Martha, Us


 

Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

Most mornings I get up before my husband and/or anyone else who might be visiting us. It's intentional. When the house is quiet and there is no one who needs me for any reason I can spend time alone with God. Before you give me points for being “good” let me tell that while it is a part of discipleship it is also very much for me.

We read in Luke about Mary and Martha, two sisters with differing approaches to service. Martha is a feeder (so am I). Mary is an adorer (so am I). Both sisters love Jesus and are thrilled to have Him in their home. Martha takes her cue from every Italian and Greek mom I've ever met. She's going to feed the crowd. My guess is the “work” she's referring to is slaving over some huge meal so that she can offer Jesus and whoever else is there, “just a little something.” I love Martha! When you come to my house it is highly unlikely that you will leave without having “a little something.”

Mary is with Jesus! She's sitting there listening to every syllable of every word that He says. Is she worried about that feeding Him? No she is not. She's not worried at all. She's content, relaxed, in tune with the heart of her Savior. Clearly as it says, Mary chose the better end of the deal. I love Mary!

But, screams my human, influenced by every Italian and Greek mother I've ever met.... Who is going to feed the crowd? If I listen God will answer that question, “You are. Right after we talk.”

The other day due to circumstances way out of my control, I had to hit the ground running. The day was fine. There weren't any major disasters but I was off. Not terribly focused, a bit out of sorts, letting worry take over. I had to be Martha without one moment of Mary and it just wasn't the same.

The story of the two sisters is one that all of us should heed. If we will be Mary and sit with Jesus even for a few minutes, then we can be Martha and get the work done but without the Martha stress.

Jesus said that Mary chose what was better and that it couldn't be taken from her. Things, people, opportunities will be taken from us. Our health can be taken from us but if we put our faith in Jesus, that relationship can never be taken away.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.” If we take time to listen to Jesus, dedicate our day, hour, moment to Him then even if the day gets a little crazy, we have the comfort of our dearest Friend.









Friday, January 6, 2017

Little Christmas


 
When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:10-11

Today is Epiphany or Little Christmas, today ends the time frame sung about in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Those are not the days prior to December 25th, those are the days between Christmas and January 6th, Epiphany, the day we celebrate as the day the kings arrived to see Jesus.

I am not going to get into how long it took the kings, who the kings were or any other deeper theological topics. I want to talk to you celebrations.

We've just been through Advent, the waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior. Then Christmas, the celebration of Jesus arriving here on Earth to be with us, to be one of us, the promise that He will one day come back for us. Now it's Little Christmas and the celebrating is over.

To be honest, it's been over in a world view since December 26th. “Baby Jesus” gets a lot of air time for a few weeks, then He goes away and Jesus gets shoved to the back burner by many who think that's where He belongs. If you disagree with that, if you're still waiting in joyful hope, if you want to continue to celebrate Jesus, to appreciate the gift(s) that He gives to you, the gift He is to you, then I have a suggestion. Keep celebrating.

I'm not suggesting that you leave your Christmas decorations up year round or play Christmas carols non-stop. I'm suggesting that you celebrate Jesus by celebrating the people He has put in your life. Do you have a spouse, children, extended family, friends and/or co-workers? Then you have someone to celebrate. Ask Jesus who it is that needs a little love. He's more than happy to point you in the right direction.

We learn about being good stewards and we see that in a dollar and cents way or maybe we take it as far as our belongings. What about people? The people in our lives are God's gifts to us and we should be faithful stewards of those relationships. Celebrate Little Christmas and every day of the year, by celebrating someone God has placed in your life. It will bless them and give you joy.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Resolved

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55:22

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I do not and that is not a condemnation of those who do. It's just a different perspective. Having said that, it's not that I don't make resolutions. It's that I don't make them on New Year's day with an eye toward changing my life over the next year.

No, my style of resolutions is more of a daily thing. I resolve every day to live that day in God's will. Some days that goes very well and other days..... well, let's just say, not so much.

The dictionary says that resolve means, “to settle or find a solution to a problem” and “decide firmly on a course of action.” I think that second part of the definition is what people think of for New Year's resolutions, to “decide on a course of action.” My problem with that is that if the decision is mine and mine alone, I will find a thousand loopholes, a million reasons why that decision needs to be modified.

A new year, a new month, week, day or even hour, is a great time to say, “starting right now, I'm going to _________.” The problem is I can't ________ without help. Again, because I am bound to make excuses and start over the next hour, day, week, month, year for reasons that make sense only in the tiny kingdom of my mind. My resolutions will fail because I have no power to sustain them.

It is a new year. Hard to believe but it is 2017! This year is the year that I become officially a very old person. It is the year my oldest grandson will become a~gasp~teenager. It's crazy and before I can truly process this it will be yet another new year, unless our Lord comes back for us. So what shall I do with this since I'm not going to make any resolutions?

I'll do what I do whenever I take the time to listen to my Father. I will cast my cares on Him and He will guide my steps. He does have the power to sustain me and I am grateful to lean on that power.