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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let the Children Come

There is a big difference between being tired and burned out.  I am physically tired due to this season of life with a little 16 month old running around.  Zachariah is into everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  I also have the privilege of homeschooling my oldest boy Dustin.  This also is a task that requires self-sacrifice and huge time commitment.  I don't do it alone, which I am thankful for, but it does mean I have to prioritize my day. The last few days have been crazy to say the least.  We have been trying to get a backyard project completed all summer long and well the timing wasn't perfect but, we finally got a concrete patio poured in our backyard.  The thing about it is that means the dogs, all 4 of them can't be in the yard for 3 days.  In case you don't live in an area that is receiving an arctic blast let me just tell you it's cold, bone chilling cold. Right now it's 11 degrees. Winter blew in and settled in.  So the last few nights I have spent time bundling myself up to take trips outside with dogs who are not leash trained in any fashion to go potty.  This routine of going outside is filled with drama.  It is not an easy feat to take one dog because all four of them want to go at the same time.  Try doing this at 2 am half asleep and trying to keep quiet so you don't wake the rest of the house! I have spent two times now chasing dogs who seem to have a mind of their own and want to taste freedom.  This makes me tired!

I've been working on some ideas for children's ministry at church lately.  I was recently challenged by my husband to figure out why the disciples prevented the little children from coming to Jesus.  Why would they do this?  I mean it's Jesus - the man who heals the lame, sick and blind.  Why would they say we don't want any kids here? It was the disciples telling the parents, we don't want your kids here.

[Matthew 19:13 NKJV] "Then little children were brought to Him that He might put [His] hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them." [Matthew 19:14 NKJV] "But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."" [Matthew 19:15 NKJV] "And He laid [His] hands on them and departed from there."

Looking at verse 13 we have a key word: then. You see Jesus was busy.  He was up over his eye-balls in day to day ministry activities.  Let's face it, He was busy doing miracles, preaching and teaching and traveling.  He had just finished dealing with a question about divorce from the pharisees.  Before that he was in Galilee and traveled to Judea beyond the Jordan.  This was a journey on foot that normally took two and a half days, roughly 70  miles as a straight path.  But this meant going through the region of Samaria.  Jews would take the long route to avoid Samaria.  They traveled the hot desert road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and up the Jordan valley.  This route would be twice as long and much hotter and more uncomfortable. This means Jesus just spent four days give or take out in the desert walking and entered into ministering to the people immediately upon arrival to the Jordan area.

This reminds me of another time the Lord was traveling from Galilee to the Jordan area.  Except this time he traveled through Samaria. Jesus cut right through on a straight path to a well outside of town for an important encounter. There was a woman coming to the well to draw water.

[John 4:3 NKJV] "He left Judea and departed again to Galilee." [John 4:4 NKJV] "But He needed to go through Samaria." [John 4:5 NKJV] "So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph."
[John 4:6 NKJV] "Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from [His] journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." [John 4:7 NKJV] "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink."" [John 4:8 NKJV] "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."

Jesus was tired.  Physically tired from walking in the hot desert sun and now apparently hungry and thirsty.  The disciples go off into town to buy some food as Jesus sits down by the well. It's noon and the well should be vacant, but it's not.

[John 4:6 NKJV] "Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from [His] journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." [John 4:7 NKJV] "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink.""
[John 4:8 NKJV] "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."
[John 4:9 NKJV] "Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans." [John 4:10 NKJV] "Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.""

The point is this: even though Jesus was weary from his traveling, his teaching schedule and constant discussions with the pharisees he still did the will of the Father.  He was still doing ministry.

Jesus was weary in the ministry, not of the ministry.

[John 4:7 NKJV] "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink.""[John 4:8 NKJV] "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."
[John 4:9 NKJV] "Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."[John 4:10 NKJV] "Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.""

Jesus goes on to explain to this woman all the details of her life and really takes her to the Living Well. This is in spite of his physical condition.  He worked past it. At the end of the passage we catch a glimpse of how he was able to accomplish this.  The disciples didn't understand.  They thought someone else brought him food to eat.

[John 4:31 NKJV] "In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat.""
[John 4:32 NKJV] "But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know.""
[John 4:33 NKJV] "Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him [anything] to eat?""[John 4:34 NKJV] "Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."

The secret to not becoming weary of the ministry is to continually do the will of the Father.

[Matthew 6:33 NKJV]
 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

If God has called you to something He will be faithful to equip you as you serve. The hard part is staying committed to the calling.  Continually doing the will of the Father has some amazing benefits both here on earth and later for heaven.

So back to why the disciples were telling parents to keep the kids away from Jesus.  I think the disciples were tired also and just hadn't figured out how to continually do the will of the Father and not be weary of the ministry. One bonus we have now is the power of the Holy Spirit in us to give us power to accomplish His will. There are lots of things in this world that can cause us to become tired. We just have to keep our focus so we don't loose sight of the prize ahead.  In children's ministry it's no different.  It seems like a revolving door.  No one wants the job of Sunday school teacher. The job of teaching kids isn't the most visible position of leadership.  Yet even Jesus wasn't too busy to lay hands and pray over the children.  We shouldn't be either.

[Galatians 6:9 NKJV]
 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

So the question I have is how committed are you? Are you weary of the ministry or weary in the ministry? We must take time to seek first the kingdom of God which requires praying, reading the Word and waiting for Him to respond. Let's not loose heart. The children are important. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Attitudes to Be

The treasury of scripture never ends.  The deeper you dig the more buried treasure there is to find.  I love this about the Word.  There isn't enough time in my life to spend studying the truths buried between the lines of each verse.  I have set to a habit of cogitating the profoundness of this great and marvelous mystery.  It is an absolute joy and privilege to have the ample resources at my finger tips to make digging into the Word easy.  Tools at the swipe of my finger, located on my iPhone like the Blue Letter Bible, software programs like Logos, pod casts from various pastors and YouTube videos of teachings.

 I always found it hard to understand this particular passage of scripture in Matthew chapter 5.  I have spent some time really studying it and wanted to share my findings.  Of course these aren't all my original thoughts.  Mostly this is due to the fact that my Bible study group is covering the life of Jesus and we just happened to finish up on this.  I have re-read this over and over.  Trying to wrap my human brain around these God-concepts.  The Holy Spirit gives us understanding when we earnestly seek and ask.  I am so thankful for this.
Matthew 5:1-12
[Mat 5:1 NKJV] And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.
[Mat 5:2 NKJV] Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
[Mat 5:3 NKJV] "Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Mat 5:4 NKJV] Blessed [are] those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
[Mat 5:5 NKJV] Blessed [are] the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
[Mat 5:6 NKJV] Blessed [are] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
[Mat 5:7 NKJV] Blessed [are] the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
[Mat 5:8 NKJV] Blessed [are] the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
[Mat 5:9 NKJV] Blessed [are] the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
[Mat 5:10 NKJV] Blessed [are] those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Mat 5:11 NKJV] "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
[Mat 5:12 NKJV] "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great [is] your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verse 3
When I am poor in spirit I recognize I am nothing.  Jesus is everything and I am nothing without Him. I am a broken vessel unable to fix myself and in need of someone to save me from myself.

Verse 4
  I was always confused about those who morn.  Why would it be a blessing to just cry?  Then I understood why the crying was taking place.  When you honestly take inventory of your heart it will reveal the ugly secrets you want know one to ever know about.

Psalm 51:2-4;10-11
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin [is] always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done [this] evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, [And] blameless when You judge.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Cleansing takes place as we mourn or cry over our sin, our brokenness, our need for a savior.  I plead with God to forgive my sin and I am sorry and ask for forgiveness from my sin that separates me from God.

Bleeding Heart
Verse 5
Poor in spirit is meekness.  It is being humble.  It is an emptying of self. We can label this pride or arrogance.  It is surrendering your rights and giving full control to the Lord.

"Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Isa 41:17, Luk 18:1-8). Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God's goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23). " Copied from Blue Letter Bible

Even Jesus made himself humble (Philippians 2) even to the point of death on a cross.

Strong's G5013 - tapeinoĊ

to make low, bring low
to level, reduce to a plain
metaph. to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances
to assign a lower rank or place to
to abase
to be ranked below others who are honoured or rewarded
to humble or abase myself by humble living
to lower, depress
of one's soul bring down one's pride
to have a modest opinion of one's self
to behave in an unassuming manner 
devoid of all haughtiness

Verse 6
Now that I have admitted I am a sinner, repented of my sin and confessed Jesus as Lord of my life and I am in submission to Him; now I am truly empty ready to be filled.  If the previous statement is true I will be genuinely hungry  for God to fill me.  So it begs the question, am I really hungry for God in my life?  Am I looking for Him to fill me? What am I filling myself with?

Verse 7
When I extend mercy to others it will be given to me.  Because I am poor in spirit I can give to others in a self-less way.  It's not judging when really judgment is necessary.  One just simply over looks the issue at hand. 

 Ephesians 4:32 
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

Verse 8
My motivation of self promotion has died. I am not pursuing fame and recognition of man.  No I am in the business of giving glory to an audience of One.  My heart has grieved over my own sin and I am free of self seeking glorification.

 Mark 9:35 
 "And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

Verse 9
Being a peacemaker is not something you can fake. This is where you find out if you have thick skin or not.  People can me mean.  I have laid down my rights and my ideas of how things should be done.  Yes I still have opinions but self-promotion has ceased. I am a servant and I want to keep the peace around me by leading by example.

Romans 12:9-21
[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
[Be] kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but [rather] give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance [is] Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Verses 10-12
This is my conviction. Do others see my beliefs lived out loud and know where I stand? To some I will be a sweet fragrance and to others the smell of death (2 Corinthians 2:15)  This is one we just don't want to talk about.  Persecution.  Here in comfy USA we just don't give it much thought.  Yet I do believe their are several types of persecution. The obvious and most easily recognized would be current day saints in chains because of their faith.  Pastor Saeed Abadeni from Boise Idaho is one of many in chains for his faith.  His story like others reminds us that persecution is real.  We can also experience persecution from friends and family when we take a stand that others don't agree with.  The end result is the same.  Persecution was meant to spark growth and the spread of the Gospel.  I have no doubt that is exactly what Saeed is doing in a very dark place. This earth is not my home.  I am on a mission to know Him and make Him known whatever the cost.  You have to decide what side of th fence you are on before perscution arrives at your door.  The reality of our world today should provoke us to live out our faith.  With news reports of school shootings, be-headings occurring globally, the rise of ISIS and Ebola outbreaks one must be ready.  Be ready now.  Don't wait church.  We were told by Jesus that trouble will come. It is not a matter of IF but WHEN.

John 16:33 
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."