Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Message

Sometimes reading a familiar verse in a new way can be eye opening...

"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you - plans to give you the future you hope for.

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen.

When you come looking for me, you'll find me.

Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."

-Jeremiah 29:11-14 from The Message

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fields of Wheat

This morning I read the parable that Jesus told about the wheat and weeds in Matthew 13:24-30. I know very little about farming, or growing anything for that matter! Jeremy has tried to educate me a little...I can usually identify what crop is growing in a field, and know the names of some key pieces of farm equipment...but that is the extent of my knowledge. So after reading the above passage, I was desiring a little more info to help me understand what Jesus was saying. I came across this explanation online. Good food for thought...

"We are told in the parable the farmer is the Son of Man and He planted good seed in His field (vv. 24, 37), then the enemy, Satan, planted weeds (tares or darnel). The enemy is no originating genius. He is an imitator. He produces counterfeits of the works of God. It is important for Christians to know this, so that they may be on their guard. If we study Scripture we shall not be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11). Note if you will, the enemy did not plant thorns or thistles. If he did this it would had been easily detected, and there would be no difficulty in distinguishing the false from the true. He planted "tares," or "darnel." It is impossible to distinguish the darnel from the wheat until the wheat begins to bear fruit. When the "servants" of the Farmer discovered what the enemy had done, they wanted to root out the darnel (v. 28). He told them not to root out the darnel. If they root out the darnel, they will uproot the wheat (v. 29) because the darnel wraps itself around the roots of the wheat. It is only when the wheat is harvested can the wheat and darnel be safely separated. As these imitation blades, green and flourishing, growing side by side with the real wheat, it appears there will be a good harvest. However, appearances are deceptive, and the harvest will be a disappointment and mockery to those who have spent so much time and labor on their cultivation."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Complete Me

Any romance lover who has watched Jerry Maguire can most likely picture the moving scene in the movie when Jerry bursts into a room full of women and declares to his lady, "You...complete...me". Let's all say it together...Awwww. That's what we all want, right? For our mate to complete us?

Maybe that's where we get it all wrong. Men and women were designed to complement each other, but only God can complete us. Are we expecting our spouses to fill needs that only He can fill? I've been challenged by this question. How about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

To Honor and Cherish

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. I remember learning about it in school. Basically it says that what we believe about ourselves, which is shaped by the things others believe about us and how they act toward us, ends up coming true. For example, if a student's parents and teachers expect him to fail, he will begin to expect that as well, and due to lack of effort and belief in himself he will fail. The reverse can also be true. Our own expectations can have a tremendous effect on our behavior. While I've known of this theory, I'd never thought to apply it to marriage. But that's exactly what Gary Smalley does in his book I Promise. Here are a few excerpts from Chapter 2: The Power of Honor...

"When I choose to look at the inner value of my wife, I'm simply looking at her as God looks at me. And I'm so very glad He sees me as He does. I would cringe to think that my Creator sees only my weaknesses and judges me by my stumblings and bumblings. Instead, He sees my potential, my innate worth, complete with all the godlikeness that He instilled into me originally. Honor is so simple, really. All we need to do is look at each other as God looks at us."

"You can make the choice to look beneath the surface behavior of your mate and find the value inside. You decide in your heart, on your own, that you will treasure her; that you will honor him as valuable. You will look at all the plusses instead of the minuses. And it will work. Your emotions will fall in line and validate your choice because it is our nature to place our affections, desires, and enthusiasm on whatever we treasure highly. Our feelings always follow our beliefs and thoughts." As it says in Matthew 6:21, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

"I want to tell you a story to remind you of a point I covered earlier - the result you can expect when you give honor to your mate.

There was a Polynesian island tradition that when a man wanted a bride, he had to give in payment to her parents something that he believed to be of equal value to what she was worth. Most men would give a pig, chicken, parrot, or some similar animal. For the most beautiful of all women, a man might even be willing to give one of his prized cows.

One woman in the village who had just reached marriageable age was considered to be a little more plain and ordinary than most. Yet every girl had a few suitors, and she was no exception. One of these young men offered her parents a rabbit, another a chicken, and another a goose. One suitor came along, however, and offered the girl's father ten of his finest cows. Everyone was stunned. Such a bride price was unheard of. All the other young men walked away in disgust. No woman is worth that!

The new suitor was thought to be foolish and extravagant. But he knew what he was doing. Knowing the value her suitor had placed on her, this Polynesian plain Jane began to hold her head higher as she strolled through the villages. She, after all, was now the famous "ten-cow woman". She paid more attention to her speech, her dress, and her way of conducting herself. She became more confident and elegant. Her facial expressions became kind and gentle, her body movements graceful and elegant, her voice soft and caring. In short, she became what she believed her worth to be..."

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. By honoring our spouses and those around us, we have the power to help them become the men and women they were created to be.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Look Past the Pigs

I love when I read a story that I've heard many times and it strikes me in a new way. This week it was the story in Matthew 8:28-34 about Jesus driving out demons. So Jesus comes into this town in which he finds two madmen living in the cemetery. They had been kicked out of the town because they were so violent and had terrorized the townspeople. The evil spirits that were in the men recognized Jesus as the Son of God, knew he had the power to cast them out of the men, and begged to be allowed to live in the herd of nearby pigs instead. For whatever reason, Jesus allowed this and the crazed pigs stampeded over a cliff into the sea and drowned. Now here's the part that got to me..."Scared to death, the swineherds bolted. They told everyone back in town what had happened to the madmen and the pigs. Those who heard about it were angry about the drowned pigs. A mob formed and demanded that Jesus get out and not come back". (The Message)

I'm thinking...what a minute...Jesus just changed the lives of these two men! The people no longer have to live in fear of being terrorized. They have just witnessed a miracle! Yet they were more concerned with the pigs. Maybe the pig-owners just saw their source of income run into the sea (it was about 2,000 pigs). Maybe they were worried how they would provide for their families. Maybe people were worried that their source of nourishment was gone. Or maybe the people were just scared because they didn't understand what had happened. Whatever the case, they missed what God was doing because they were concerned with less important things. It's so easy to do.

In our times of fear and uncertainty may we draw close to Jesus instead of pushing him away like these townspeople did. Ask Him to open your eyes to the ways He is at work in your life and in those around you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Engaged in Battle

Are you in a battle? Who is your struggle with? Your spouse? Family? Co-worker?

Here is what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". Remember who your enemy is.

Then what are we supposed to do? "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Ephesians 6:10-11 We are then told to stand firm with the armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God in place.

Maybe you don't feel strong enough to fight. That's okay, because the Lord is a warrior, He is mighty in battle. I am encouraged by the words Moses spoke to the Israelites "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13-14 Put on your armor, stand firm, and ask God to take up your battle!

And when you get weary, pray David's words "Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress." Psalms 71:3

Don't forget to share your struggles with other Christians who can pray for you. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20

There is power in that. I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are there to lift me up and help me to stand firm. I'm ready for battle.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Making a Difference

I get overwhelmed at times thinking of all the needs and hurting people in the world. There are charities for everything from cancer research to starving children to missions. There are people dying physically from starvation, disease, and abuse. There are people dying spiritually. There are people without jobs who can't pay their bills. Everywhere I look there are people in need. So how can we make a difference? Is it even possible? I am reminded of this poem called The Starfish:

An old man was walking down the beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. As the old man approached the young man, he asked; "Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?" The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish, exclaimed the old man. "How can your efforts make any difference?" The young man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said; "It makes a difference to this one!"

I alone am not going to cure the world of hardship and suffering. No matter how much time or money I give, there will always be others in need. Sometimes I'm tempted to do nothing, because I feel it won't really change anything. But that's just an excuse. God has been opening my eyes to the world around me. To the people and issues that He has placed in my life and in my heart. I don't need to feel overwhelmed with all the suffering in the world...God can handle it. What I do need to do is be obedient to what He is asking of me. Maybe there is a charity or ministry that tugs at my heart and needs my time or resources. Maybe there is a person He places in my path who has a need I can meet. I can make a difference, and so can you, one person at a time.