Ephesians 3:20-21 (New International Version)

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's About People Not Programs

A common sight in my community and the surrounding area...the old church/one room school house.  One can't help but wonder what happened to the people that once went to church there.  Did the church grow and rebuild elsewhere?  Did it die with the people who started it?  A church that never grew?  Why does it stand alone?

Sometimes I wonder if we forget what it's really all about...Christ told us to "feed my sheep".  Did we forget?  The command wasn't about anything but the welfare of His sheep. 

As a cattle farmer's wife, I understand the care needed to keep the herd healthy.  It's really all about the cows.  Each day we make sure their needs are met; food, water, shelter.  We don't argue about the color of the barn, it's more about which type of feed is best for the money we have. 

Comparing cattle to people is not my point.  Yet, sometimes we forget the people and it becomes about the program and whose idea is going to be carried out, the set up, the right songs, etc.  Really, it needs to be all about meeting the needs of God's people.  If the church fails to meet the need of God's people, the building will be left in ruins. 

In the book of Nehemiah, ch 7... the wall has been rebuilt.  The first mission is complete.  Yet, it wasn't just about the wall...it was about restoration of God's people.  Now it's time to move back into the shelter of God's wall of protection.  The whole time, it was really about God's people...

Is 43:2-4  Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.  I've called your name.  You're mine.  When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.  When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you're in between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end - Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.  I paid a huge price for you; all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!  That's how much yo mean to me?  That's how much I love you.  I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Who Have You Helped Today?

The essence of family...we stick together!  No matter the sacrifice, we are family and we do what we need to do for each other.  Once, my Aunt Gladys reminded me that God created the family BEFORE He created the church.  Wow!  Wasn't that an eye opener!  Let's dig even deeper, with closer examination we find the church is really a picture of God's FAMILY!  So really, the sacrifice doesn't stop at my front porch (although I really believe it must start there...).  Interesting thoughts to ponder upon, don't you think? 

In Nehemiah, chapter 5, I was astounded to find the Israelites (God's chosen people, His family, the early church) oppressing others in the family.  It came with an astounding, "Really...What are you thinking!"

5:9-11 What you're doing is wrong.  Is there no fear of God left in you?  Don't you care what the nations around here, our enemies, think of you?  I am my brothers and the people working for me have also loaned them money.  But this gouging them with interest has to stop.  Give them back their foreclosed fields, vineyards, olive groves, and homes right now, and forgive your claims on their money, grain, new wine, and olive oil."

Nehemiah didn't even collect taxes from those in need (although it was legal and he could).  He found the people had it hard enough as it was.  Nehemiah 5:17 -19

Here was a nation, living in appalling conditions.  Those who had money collected even more...from those who didn't have it to give.  Doesn't that sound crazy!?  What's necessarily legal doesn't mean it's ethical!!!!!  nor does it mean it is right in the eyes of our Father! 

This has really burdened my heart today.  Are there people living amongst my community that I haven't helped when the opportunity came along?  Worse yet, did I place undo burden on those who needed a helping hand?  What am I doing for my extended family?  My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus...I don't have much...yet, I don't want to be found guilty of hording what God has given me to share. 

Jesus gave it all....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beyond the Rubble

Recently, I drove some of my favorite "old lady friends" (a term of affection, really!) to brunch at one of our favorite tea rooms in Ozark, MO.  We planned to arrive upon opening; talking and having a good time, we arrived 30 minutes after opening and found very few parking places open.  Fortunately, I drive a small car and found a space open near the trash dumpster.  Ugghhhhh, it wouldn't be my first choice but it would be fine.

After a fantastic time of antique shopping and brunch, we brought our treasures and full tummies back to the car...parked at the trash dumpster.  As I was unlocking the doors and letting all the hot air out of the car, I noticed the view beyond the dumpster.  It was absolutely stunning! 

A picture beyond my expectations, beautiful greenery in what seems like a dust bowl.  We've had 100 degree temperatures for what seems like a very very long time.  In Missouri, we are experiencing a vicious drought!  Yet, hidden beyond the rubble was a small oasis of green leaves and a small trickling of water; most likely spring water bubbling up from the ground.  It was so stunningly beautiful, I reached for my camera to try and capture it's elegance.  Unfortunately, I'm not a photographer.  My picture couldn't capture the sound of trickling water, the sun shinning between the green, lush leaves, the peaceful serenity and beauty from behind the dumpster.

This reality beyond the rubble brought me back to a hidden truth found in Nehemiah 4:10 "The strength of the laborer fails, since there is so much rubble.  We will never be able ro rebuild the wall."  The Isrealites has so much rubble to deal with while rebuilding the wall, it was really hard to see past all the "yuck"!  Often in my life, I can get caught up in what lies in front of me, rather than what lies ahead of me.  If we could just visualize beyond the rubble or simply trust God's Word, God's Work, and His unfailing love...trust that something beautiful lies beyond the rubble.  

Can I let go of the vision of rubble and trust that God has a plan?  His plan is perfect and better than anything I can imagine.  Eph 3:20 (NIV)20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us  

Let Go Of The Rubble, Look Beyond Today...It's Immeasurabley More Than We Can Ask or Imagine!!!!!   

Monday, July 16, 2012

Act or React: I Choose to Act!

Today marks a day in history I will never forget.  My grandmother, a woman whose imprint in my life will always be noticed, passed into Heaven's Gates.  She was surrounded by her children and grandchildren as she looked up and gazed toward the ceiling in amazement and took her last breath.  She left a wonderful legacy behind; a model for her family to follow. 

My grandmother, Agnes Dillon, raised her children and grandchildren with Biblical precepts.  She wouldn't/couldn't lie...not even a little bit.  For example, once the phone rang and I asked her to answer it.  If it was for me, I wanted her to tell them I was in the shower.  Her reply was simple, "You better get in there before I answer it then!"   

I can't help but think of her when I read today's study in Nehemiah chapter 4.  As the Israelites were rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem, dignitaries mocked them, trying to stir trouble or cause a fight.  Rather than REACT, Nehemiah stood by what he knew to do.  His first act was to pray; asking for God's hand on the situation. He also posted a guard to watch for trouble or meet the threat.  I notice Nehemiah wasn't plotting his revenge, he continued in the work that was at hand.  The Israelites weren't side-tracked with the appearance of impending attacks! 

How many times have I REACTED to cruelty or rude remarks?  This is my big ahhhh-haaa, that's a good way to get side-tracked or even thrown off track!  Prayer would keep my focus where it needs to be.  Guarding my heart and mind is the work I need to be about, letting  God guard me while I act in obedience. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Building Up The Body of Christ

The study of Nehemiah has stirred my heart.  The walls of Jerusalem, broken and in serious need of repair, could be rebuilt.  Nehemiah, burdened for the disgrace of his people, set the wheels in motion to rebuild the gates and restore the grace of God's people.  

It wasn't a one man job.  It took the talents of everyone to rebuild the city.  Men, women, mayors, villagers, laymen, ... it took the skills of everyone to build up Jerusalem.  Each talent was needed.  It's much like a picture of today's church.  It takes all of us to build up the body of Christ.  Each of us play an important role, no one is more or less needed.  Am I as zealous as Nehemiah?  Am I as zealous of the Israelites?  What am I doing for the body of Christ?  It can be rebuilt!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Prayer of a Righetous Man Availeth Much

James 5:16

The study of Nehemiah...a beautiful reminder of the power of intercessory prayer.  The prayer of one; just one person...and how that prayer changed the lives of so many.  Much like the prayer of Moses for the Israelites.  Both men prayed for the forgiveness of their people, themselves included.  I find it beautiful and awe inspiring how God heard the prayer of these men and forgave the lives of many. 

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (NIV) 

Nehemiah, greatly moved by the conditions of his people, a group of individuals he didn't know, but he was yet a member of the family.  He was so moved by word of their trouble and disgrace that he was moved to pray day and night...for four months!  How often do I see a need, within my family, my community, my daily life that for moments my heart melts and feels empathy?  Yet, ultimately that's where it stops.  I might even pray a brief prayer and move on.  Yet, have I earnestly and fervently prayed when those nudges fall into my path?

Are we, as Christians, a group of those who move and act on behalf of our Savior?  I know that I'm falling short of this call.  Yet, Nehemiah has reminded me to be a person of action. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An Extended Sabboth Rest

So....better late than never...or is it really?  I've felt the importance of Daily Bible Study, I've personally grown through daily Bible Study, and I know the importance of spending time with my Savior.  Yet, I allow things to get in the way.

After experiencing the mountain top or the lonely valley, the lesson should be deeply embedded.  Yet, it's easy to venture off the path, if even just a little...staying only feet or inches away...the path is still in sight but I'm just to busy to get there today.  Today turns into tomorrow, then a week, and before you know it a month, or even a year!

That's where I found myself today.  I have been excited about this new study.  I really want to do this on-line and on my own.  If I could have found someone else doing this on-line...I would have jumped at the chance.  Yet, here I am.  It's two weeks behind schedule and I still haven't got the book even ordered.  I keep thinking I will make it into Springfield and buy the book. It also sits in my checkout on Amazon.com.  Yet, neither have moved into action. 

It dawned on me this morning that maybe a portion of the study could be downloaded.  Alas, I can start!  What a start it is, too.  While studying the background for Nehemiah we look into the past of Jerusalem to find out why they are in need of rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem.  In 587 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple.  He had it plundered and burned, sending the Jewish people to Babylon and living in exile. 

What a blow that must have been to God's people.  2 Chron 36:21 This is exactly the message of God that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths.   
The first thing that comes to my mind,...having been in a yucky place where you feel there is no way out but up...I guess that gives you time to put your relationship back into place with God.  Yet, isn't that what the Sabbath is all about?  Isn't that what daily Bible Study is all about?  It's one of those things we know; staying on the path is important.  Yet we ignore the message of God and venture off, even feeling safe when the path is still in sight, and we keep on walking. 

Well, that's my big "ahhh" of the day.  Now what to do with it!