Fierce love repels rocks

Holding a rock.jpg“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”  So the saying goes.  The meaning of this phrase is that people shouldn’t criticize or judge another person for a flaw when they struggle with the same thing.  I would take that definition one step further and say that none of us should ever stand in an attitude of prideful judgment over another human being seeing as we have SO many flaws in our own lives.  I may not struggle with the issues you do, but I’ve got a lifetime’s worth of my own issues I should be focused on. And so do you, by the way!

Let’s look at a version of this life lesson as told by the disciple John in the Gospel of John chapter 8, verses 3-14.

Jesus is just minding his own business when the Pharisees and teachers of the law drag a woman over to Jesus and throw her at his feet.  These men were always trying to trap Jesus and make him do something they could accuse him for.  When they threw her at Jesus’ feet, they wanted him to condemn her because she had been caught in the act of adultery. (Does anyone think it’s weird that they all knew where this woman would be and what she would be doing? How did they all appear at the scene of the crime at the same time? The Bible doesn’t go into those details, but I watch too many crime dramas not to be suspicious of a set-up!)

But anyway, these Pharisees say that their Jewish law demands that this woman be stoned and they ask Jesus, “What do you say?”

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Words in Red: John 7:6 – Ready, Set,Wait!

Words in Red are excerpts from my journal as I have been taking the words of Jesus and letting them speak directly to my own heart.

20160901_191329_resizedJohn 7:6(NIV): Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do.”

Timing is everything. The right thing done at the wrong time becomes the wrong thing.  Jesus, You never succumbed to the pressure of hurry or allowed other people’s agendas to get you off track.  Your time in prayer and in the Father’s presence set Your daily course and caused  You to walk in power and authority out of divine directive.

Now Lord, You tell me in your Word that I have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and that I can know the will of God for my life on a daily basis.  Jesus, as I wake up and spend time in Your Word, I ask You to tune my ear to Your voice so that I don’t go running in my own reactionary direction, running into obstacles I could have avoided and making rushed mistakes.

Lord Jesus, You told your unbelieving brothers that any time “was right” to them for You to reveal Yourself as the Messiah. They were like pushy agents for a Las Vegas talent act – trying to get You to “perform” where and when they thought best to get the most attention and biggest following. But You didn’t allow their worldly agenda to get You out of alignment with the Father and push You out of His will. You knew that success and promotion come from God – and self-promotion is from Satan. Therefore, You were able to wait on the Father’s timing for the “who, what, when, where and how” of every detail of Your destiny.

Lord Jesus, help me to settle down and rest in You.  Help me to approach the throne of grace with confidence, asking for help in time of need and patiently waiting on You for the right timing to execute the items on my task list.  Free me from a “hurry up” mentality and lead me calmly beside still waters. (Psalm 23)

Lord God, today may I hear Your voice for my day.  May You guide me in all my affairs. Because I have given my day to You and surrendered everything that concerns me, I trust and believe that You are going before me to make straight paths for my feet.(Proverbs 3:6) I walk on the red carpet of Your favor. Thank you Lord that my acceptance and identity are settled in You so I don’t have to scramble, struggle or strive for promotion or approval from people.  I will wait on Your timing for all good things in any way you choose to bring them! Amen.

Now you:

  • Do you struggle under the pressure of deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise?
  • Are you a slave driver of yourself?
  • Is someone else in your life putting great pressure on you to perform perfectly and causing you feel the weight of their unreasonable expectations?

I’ve been on both sides of that coin. Have you? Most of the time, though, I am the one putting pressure on myself to get too much accomplished – and perfectly at that!  I want to be all things to all people.  I want to be the perfect wife, mother, grandmother, friend, employee, colleague, Women’s minister, teacher, and child of God.  Seeing it all in print reminds me how impossible that would be, even on my best day.  Jesus states so clearly in the Scripture above that there is a time for everything.  God knows when and how things should be done and when we fail to consult Him, we are doomed from the start!

You can learn to start Your day off with prayers of consecration and requests for wisdom and guidance and favor.  Thank the Lord for His everlasting goodness and faithfulness in your life, even through the times when you were faithless!  The more you magnify Him in your day, the more your ear stays tuned to His voice and you receive guidance without having to strive. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Words in Red: John 6:61 – When God offends you

Words in Red are excerpts from my journal as I have been taking the words of Jesus and letting them speak directly to my own heart.

Sitting on the tracks

John 6:61  “Does this offend you?”

Lord Jesus, I honestly have to admit that there have been many times that I have been offended by You.  When I was a young, immature Christian everything about You seemed so neat and tidy.  Before long, I started creating a nice doctrine where You answer every prayer the way I pray it, and behave according to my interpretation of how God should behave.

Fortunately and unfortunately, You are not containable in a theological box of my creation.  The only way You could mature me and bring me to a deeper understanding of Who You are was to smash the box.

 
I remember one time when You didn’t answer my prayers regarding something really big.  When the opposite of what I prayed for happened, I thought I wouldn’t make it. I thought John and I would be ruined – and I was offended by You.

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“Free”: The word that gives access

 

Free PassI love free stuff.  In fact, “free” is a four letter word that gives me great joy! I especially love free stuff when it’s great quality and something that I have been wanting for some time.  I remember once when I needed a chandelier for our dining room.  We didn’t have the money to purchase one but I had seen a chandelier at a local store that I loved.  One day, my mother-in-law, not knowing anything about the chandelier I had been eyeing, gave me a gift certificate to that very store! You better believe that I bolted over to the store, purchased the chandelier and had my husband up on a ladder installing it that night! And the best part about that blessing is that every time I look at that chandelier, I am reminded that God provided the exact thing that I was hoping for which made the waiting so worthwhile!

What about you? Do have any stories about stumbling upon or being given something that you wanted for a while?

Here’s another angle to “free” stuff that I was pondering the other day.  A few weeks ago, my husband and I rented a beach house for our vacation.  We rent the same house during the same week of July every year.  We let our grown children, extended family and friends know well in advance that they are welcome to come up and enjoy the beach house.  We only ask that they let us know in advance when they plan to come so we can prepare food and make sure that beds are made.

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A lesson from my broken toe: Trust the expert

Toe.jpgI broke my toe on the last day of my vacation.  I came back to the beach house to begin cleaning and doing the loads of laundry that needed to get started when I hit a small wooden stool with my baby toe.  As I looked down, the small toe on my left foot was pointing West!  Not good. I thought I must have dislocated the toe and having done that previously on the other foot, I tried to pull the toe back into the joint.  No luck – only searing pain.  Then I allowed my adult son to try his hand at getting the errant digit back into line.  I bit down hard while he tugged and pulled.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  My husband and I decided that I was going to require a visit to the Emergency Department at the local hospital.

When we arrived, the waiting room was packed.  I overheard a very irate wife of an elderly man blow her steam off at a nurse telling her that they had been waiting for over two hours to be seen.  UGH. This was NOT how I wanted to spend my last evening of vacation.  My son was returning to his home in another state the next day and every minute with him and his lovely fiancée was precious. The thought of wasting hours watching CNN in the waiting room was making my head pop off.  I felt antsier than a kindergartner sitting through a Vagner opera.

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No More Naomi: Don’t get stuck in Chapter 19

San and alone

If bitterness was collateral, then Naomi would have been a millionaire.  Naomi was a woman in the Bible who had seen her share of sad days, losing her husband and then both of her sons.  These losses and the accompanying grief were compounded by financial distress. Because of the culture she was living in, not having a male to provide for her, be it a husband, a son or a grandson, put Naomi in a very stressful and scary position.  Furthermore, she had two daughter-in-laws to worry about.  They were lovely girls, mind you, but they were more mouths to feed.  So she told her daughter-in-laws that they should return home to their families, something that was not in accordance with the custom of the day.  But Naomi didn’t know what else to do.  She planned on returning to her family in Israel and hoping for the best.  Maybe someone would have pity on her and take her in.  Otherwise, she would become a beggar on the street – as if life hadn’t been hard enough on this older woman who was just trying to get through each day under the intense weight of her sadness. Have you ever felt so sad that you no longer cared what happened to you? Naomi felt this way.  And I’m sure just trying to think about how to take care of her daughter-in-laws while struggling under the pressure of grief and financial strain was too much for her.

One of the daughters agreed to go home to her family but the other daughter-in-law, Ruth, begged to stay with Naomi.  So Naomi brought Ruth with her back to Israel, a land that Ruth had never seen before.  Now Ruth is following a grieving widow while trying to handle her own grief and adjusting to a new culture.  She had her own sadness and financial concerns pressing down on her, but her reaction to life’s stress was different than her mother-in-law’s.  Where Naomi saw her loss and grief as a box that contained her, Ruth looked around for the new beginning.  Where Naomi looked at the season she was in as the definition of who she was, Ruth looked forward with hope for what could transpire.

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No template for this

Sewing-pattern

2 Kings 5:26 Amplified Bible (AMP)

26 Elisha said to him, “Did my heart not go with you, when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a [proper] time to accept money and clothing and olive orchards and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?

God doesn’t use a template for our lives. This frustrates me sometimes.  I like to have things all figured out.  Give me the program, the plan, the template, or the pattern and I will learn it and follow it as if my life depends on it.

But I’ve noticed in my journey with God that when I try to react to a situation with yesterday’s strategy, I often run into a wall.  I often don’t have the success and breakthrough that I anticipated I would, especially since I used the method that brought great breakthrough the last time!

In 2 Kings 5:26, we read the story of when a powerful warrior named Naaman, who had been struck with leprosy, came to Elisha the prophet to be healed.  Elisha told him to dip in a nearby river 7 times.   On the 7th time, Naaman arose from the water totally healed.  He was so grateful to get his life back that he offered Elisha money, clothing and many other things that he had brought with him as a huge “Thank You”. But Elisha declined the gifts and sent Naaman back home with his donkeys still laden down with goods. But Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, was not in agreement with this decision and didn’t want to see that wealth ride off into the Israeli sunset; so Gehazi snuck away and chased Naaman down.  After a brief chat about how his master had changed his mind, Gehazi, the servant returned to his tent with some of the booty.

But one thing every servant of a prophet should know is that your boss hears from God and you’re not going  to get away with sneaking around. Elisha confronted Gehazi and said to him, “Is it a proper time to accept money and clothing and olive orchards and vineyards and sheep and oxen and male and female servants?” (Is it striking you how MUCH stuff Naaman bequeathed to Gehazi on Elisha’s behalf??)

Elisha said, “Is it the proper time…?” to which the answer was No. It was not the proper time.  Why? Because God’s desire was to show His goodness to Naaman and to show this wealthy man that He is Almighty, the only true God.  He can’t be bought with trinkets or gifts.  God works in His own way, for His own purposes.

What caught my attention was the flip side of that question, “Is it the proper time…?” The flip side of Elisha’s question is as follows: If there is an improper time to do something, then there is a proper time as well.

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