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Archive for February, 2011

Walking on Water

This morning I was reading a little devotional thought about Jesus reaching out His hand to Peter when Peter demonstrated his lack of faith in the ‘walking on water’ story. (It’s found in Matt. 14:22-33 if you care to refresh your memory.)

Along with the author of the devotional I was reading, we are all quick to point a finger at Peter’s ‘lack of faith’ when he became afraid of the wind and the waves.  I’ve heard many sermons on Peter’s obvious weakness when he looked about him at the storm and remembered his limitations.  But I feel we need to step outside of this story and really take a look at Peter’s faith.  Can you even fathom stepping out of a boat in the middle of the raging sea?  In my estimation, that first step took more faith than I will ever know!  I wouldn’t have enough faith to step out of the boat if the water was smooth as glass, let alone raging in the fury of a storm not yet spent.

If we really look at this story, I believe we must admire Peter for the great faith it took to step out of the boat in the first place; to trust Jesus’ word when He said ‘come’.

It makes me think of situations that have begun with great faith, but as the daily-ness of life makes us look around us at how ordinary we are and how tumultuous the world is that surrounds us, it is so very easy to lose heart and lose faith.  It is easy to say to ourselves “What was I thinking?  I can’t do this!”  We see all the things that could go wrong, and how weak and puny we are, and suddenly we’ve taken our eyes off of Jesus and our own faith has become weakened and disabled.  And, not to be disparaging, the world around us is crazy!  We can’t accomplish anything at all in our own strength.

But the great faith that began with that first step continues with the outstretched hand.  When Peter looked around him, he realized his own weakness and mortality and lack of power.  But as soon as he looked back at Jesus, he saw the outstretched hand and he reached out and grasped it!  And in that very clasp was his salvation.

Could it be that Jesus allowed Peter to look away intentionally, so that he would realize that the sea was too powerful for him?  That alone, he was powerless to save himself?

Are you looking around you at the impossibility of all that surrounds you?  Are you feeling small and weak and perhaps overpowered?  Are you very aware of your inability?  Look to Jesus, my friend!  Reach out to Him and trust in His power and you will make it safely to the other side.

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Martha Syndrome

Do you remember the story of Jesus and his disciples visiting the Mary and Martha of hospitality fame?  Many assume that Mary had no sense of hospitality and responsibility at all, and Martha was overly-endowed with her sense of responsibility.  In case you are not particularly familiar with the story, it can be found in Luke 10:38-42 and is a rich lesson on priorities and timing for all you would-be hostesses.

Now, this comes to mind today as I wash dishes and put our household back into its normal places after hosting a fun dinner party last evening.  As I stood at the sink washing dishes a few minutes ago, I was thinking of how like Martha I tend to be.  I would be perfectly happy being a servant.  I love serving and making everyone comfortable and happy.

My mind wandered a bit with some thoughts, and then I suddenly dried my hands and here I am—jotting down some thoughts I’d like to share with you.

Through the years I’ve spent considerable time with the conundrum of this whole Mary/Martha situation because of my love of ‘sitting at the feet of Jesus’, spending time with others, and then my love of serving and hosting also.

Now I think it is good to allow specific time for each of these practices:  worshipping and fellowshipping with our Lord, spending quality time with our fellow believers—our sisters and brothers in Christ—as well as with non-believers for a different purpose, and at the same time, we must not be lazy, but care for meeting the physical needs of (and serve) our loved ones and ourselves.  Having the need for organization and order in my life, I have tried to cover all of these with my ever-present scheduling, but there are times when someone has a need that happens to fall into my ‘housekeeping’ schedule, or an opportunity to ‘sit at Jesus’ feet’ when there are things waiting to be done.  That is when I find the ‘Martha syndrome’ is most difficult to manage.

It has been an intentional discipline for me for years.  But, at one point I realized if I divide up the ‘chores’ for a dinner party, I can have the best of all worlds!  So…first of all I try my best to schedule these entertaining events when I will have the day after free to do the clean-up.  I plan and prepare—sometimes for days ahead of time including praying for our talk to be wholesome and uplifting and for our fellowship to be honoring to the Lord and uplifting to one another, then when the guests arrive I put it all out of my mind and enjoy the company of our guests for whatever time we have with them.  I want to spend every moment I can with them because I know that tomorrow they will be gone.  When they are actually gone, usually I put leftover food in the refrigerator and then turn out the lights and go to bed still savoring the conversations and chuckles (and sometimes the belly-laughs!).  Ah…such sweet sleep is mine!

The next morning, I’m refreshed from the rest, I’m still smiling from the memories, and the stack of dishes looks a lot more manageable than they did the night before!  And all the while, whether dishwashing or putting furniture back in its usual place or dismantling a centerpiece or washing tablecloths and napkins, whatever the chore, the fun memory continues.  I relive moments and replay incidents until sometimes I’m laughing out loud!

And for now…back to my sink full of suds and silver, and oh, yes:  the memories of love and laughter from an evening well-spent with dear friends.  Oh, what great gifts God does give!

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My True Wealth

As I tiptoe through Psalms these days, I am blessed over and over (as always) with the amazing nuggets of Truth and encouragement I find there.  It’s like reading love letters from God to me!  They are constantly filled with reminders of His love and grace, as well as instruction and wisdom because of His great love for me.

One thing that caught my eye this week is found in Psalm 36, verses 7 and 8 which reads like this:  “How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.”

The word ‘feast’ suddenly caught my eye.  It could have said, ‘they nibble on the abundance…’ or ‘they snack on…’  or even ‘they partake of…’, but no, it says ‘they FEAST on the abundance of your house’!  And it’s true!

Psalm 65:4 says “Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!  We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.”  And this makes me also think of Psalm 84:11 which says “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

When I really think about all this, how can I not rejoice and praise Him?  It’s true, there are many that have more material goods than I have.  But do you know what?  I always have a roof over my head, a warm bed in which to lay my head at night and food for my body and friends and family to love me, and well…I could go on and on about the material blessings, but the best of all is that I have God’s very Spirit within, His love surrounding me and going before me, His wisdom which I can access anytime I want and His forgiveness for all the times I err.

Yes, when I think about the riches of God, there are none more wealthy than that!  I am truly blessed.

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Forgiveness

Think for a moment of a time you were wronged or offended and the offender never, ever acknowledged their wrong-doing or asked forgiveness.  Was it something that happened a long time ago and you just can’t forget it, or get over it?  Do you find yourself hoping the perpetrator will still be made to ‘face the music’?

In our women’s study group last week we were talking about forgiveness; the need to forgive and when and how to forgive.  The comment was made several times about ‘confronting’ and/or someone acknowledging or not acknowledging their wrongs.  We’ve all had those thoughts, and probably even been involved in such discussions from time to time.

A while back God opened my heart and brain enough to see forgiveness in a whole new light—at least new for me, and for the women in our study group too apparently.

The truth is this:  Forgiveness is not a gift to the one who has sinned/erred/offended; it is a gift for the offended one!  And unforgiveness does not punish them in any way, but it definitely continues to hurt the one carrying the burden of grudge.

In Matthew 18:21ff we have the story of Peter asking Jesus how many times he was required to forgive an offender.  He suggested seven times, but Jesus scoffed at that!  He said, ‘Not seven times, but seventy-seven times!’  Then he followed with the parable which depicts God’s forgiveness of us and our great burden of guilt and sin which cost His Son his very life, and yet how unwilling we are to forgive our fellowman their slights.

I’m thinking Jesus must have felt like hitting Peter (and the rest of us) in the head and saying, ‘You idiot!  Don’t you see that forgiveness isn’t for the offender, but for the offended!’  If I have offended you, and you refuse to forgive me, you are hurting yourself MUCH more than you are hurting me!  If you forgive me, whether or not I’ve asked for your forgiveness, then you are truly free!  My sin against you cannot hurt you any longer.  And with forgiveness comes amazing sweet peace and joy!

In Col. 3:13 we are told:  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  And Friend, you can’t get any more forgiving than that.

S0 I say let it go, my friend.  And let the joy begin!

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