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Friday, February 22, 2013

Lessons from Luke - What makes a treasure a treasure?

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 As I type the rain is softly falling playing a lovely cadence on the tin roof.  It sounds beautiful, but even as I listen to it I dread the consequences that it will bring...muddy pathways, wet laundry, and disappointment to the eyes of little boys who so love to jump in puddles.  However, without that rain I wouldn't have this majestic glimpse of what Eden must have looked like when it was tended and loved by the Father's hand.

I can only imagine that after hearing Jesus preach many turned away and went back to their homes to live their lives just as they had before.  Sure, He was interesting to listen to at first, and they enjoyed seeing His miracles, but Jesus was not a flashy magician who came to play with the emotions of the people.  His words probed deeper than the surface into the depth of their hearts.

When teaching I used this same passage many times to help the children understand that because they are born sinners they have a natural desire to do what is wrong, but goodness is a trait that must be developed.  If you were seeking to find a treasure like a precious pearl, you don't look just anywhere.  A treasure like that takes time to mature.

If you could see the treasure within your heart what would it look like?  Would it be dirty, dark, smelly, broken and cast aside, or shining reflecting the radiant light of God.  If I invited you to my home to see my most valuable treasure what would you think of me if you saw it tossed into a mud puddle in the yard where my children play?  I would be ashamed to show it to you after speaking so highly of its value and esteem.  If I really valued it I would take the time to care for it.

We have a great treasure in Christ!  His Word is the principal foundation of our lives.  If we do not remain rooted and grounded in Him we will be driven and tossed by the storms of this life.

I want my treasure, the treasure of my heart, to be as good, as brilliant, and as rich as it possibly can be.  And in order to attain that goal, I know that many times I will need to polish, clean, shine, and remove any dirt that would want to remain hidden in the corner.

How embarrassing it is when my mouth speaks and the words that come out do not please the Lord. My prayer is for God to help me take root in His Word, to allow the Spirit to be my daily guide, and to proclaim the hope that is only found in Christ.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Galatians 6:9

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lessons from Luke - A baby changes everything!

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A Baby Changes Everything!


 Christ's coming fulfilled the hope of nations.

My husband has a little book written in 1955 called The New Testament in Verse written by Alvy E. Ford.  Ford summarizes Luke 2 with these words: 
Mary at Bethlehem, brings forth a Son,
Lays in a manger; redemption's begun.
Jesus conceived by the blest Holy Ghost.
Shepherds are told by the Heavenly Host.

What God was doing wasn't visible to all even though he prepared it in the face of all people! The shepherds were the first to receive the Good News.  And later on in the chapter we see a simple man named Simeon who was waiting for God to fulfill His promise.

Simeon was just and righteous and being led and taught by the Holy Spirit. God does not give His Spirit to just anyone! Simeon's life pleased God and he was blessed to have seen Jesus, the Long awaited Messiah, the Lord's anointed, the Light of the Gentiles, and the Glory of Israel.   

May my life also be one that pleases God, just and holy in His sight, led and fed by the Holy Spirit! I don't want to miss out on any of the blessings God has in store for me.  As we head to Peru, we want to share "the hope of nations"!  There are those who are waiting and hoping that their good works will be good enough to get them into heaven, but we have a more sure hope of salvation in Jesus Christ!


Christ's life gives us an example to follow.


Live under the grace of God daily. 

Jesus grew as a normal child but always under the grace of God. As Christians we can grow and be strengthened in our faith if, and only if, we faithfully follow God. If we ask Him to, He will give us His wisdom. Every day we live in the grace of the salvation we have in Christ! What a wonderful blessing from God!  We can't do it on our own! We need His wisdom to live righteously, to grow spiritually, and to walk daily according to His Word.


Live in obedience to God's commands daily.

Another example to follow is Christ's example of obedience in all things. He was "subject unto" His parents!  What a novel idea in this day and age.  He truly lived up to the commandment to honor His earthly father and mother.  We know what we SHOULD do, but it is often difficult to submit our own fleshly will that wants to do what it wants to do!  We know what we want our children to do, but are daily fighting against their own self-will and pride.  If God Al
mighty, the Maker of all things, could willingly subject Himself in obedience to mortal man, can we not do the same?  What a different place the world would be if we followed the example of Christ!


 Live in a continual state of growth.

The last verse of Luke 2 states, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."  Jesus increased in wisdom.  The book of James tells us that wisdom comes from God, and if we don't have it, then we need to ask for it, and God will supply it liberally!

Jesus also increased in stature, meaning He literally "grew up", just like the rest of us did.  That doesn't take much effort, it just happens naturally, which is also something that God is orchestrating in our lives.

Last, Jesus not only grew in His spiritual and physical life, but also in His daily relationships with others. This is where "the rubber meets the road" in our daily Christian walk.  We can't make excuses for being at odds with everyone around us while claiming to love God.  Jesus may have been perfect, but the people around Him were not. (I know somebody is saying, "Amen!" to that one!). 

So while we are passing our years "as a tale that is told" here in this life, we should also be growing in wisdom.  Don't have enough?  Keep asking God for more!  The more wisdom that we have, should be reflected in our daily walk with God and our relationships with others.

Some boast in their great knowledge, bu I know that my wisdom will always fail me.  Some claim you should "follow your heart", but I know that my heart will always lead me to seek my own desires.  I need God's help to submit and surrender my will and my life to Him.  

Let's follow the example of Christ today! 

Be blessed! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lessons from Luke - From Shepherds to Preachers!

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Tell Somebody!

When you hear good news you just can't help but share it!

True good news comes from God...

The reason for the shepherds praises in Luke 2:20 were the things that they had heard and seen.  God had spoken to them from heaven through the appearance of the angels, and their meeting with God forever changed their lives!

Good news often comes when you least expect it...

In Luke 2:8 they were simply going about their daily lives on the sheep watching night shift.  Sheep do not just take care of themselves, and predators don't just hang up their hunting instincts just because it the sun goes down.  These were not easily frightened men.  They surely faced all kinds of dangers from predators, animal and human alike, who were after their sheep.  It was just another night's work in the sheep fold.

Good news should motivate us to action...

  However, in v.9 these brave night watchmen were suddenly filled with fear, until they heard the message from their celestial visitors.  In v. 15, they immediately decided to leave everything and go and verify the message they had heard.  In v. 16, we learn that they wasted no time in getting there.  They were moved to action!

Good news is meant to be shared...

After seeing the promised Messiah in v.17 they testified about what they had seen.  Oh sure, they could have said, "That was awesome!" and spent weeks reminiscing among themselves about the glorious sight they had witnessed, but they couldn't.  This news was just TOO GOOD!  They had to share it with anyone and everyone who would listen.  They just had to TELL SOMEBODY!

Our Good News should impact lives...

 When you have good news to share, I mean really good news, you don't keep it to yourself, you don't whisper it in a corner, you can't really even express it on paper.  What do you want to do?  You want to shout it from the rooftops!

The shepherds communicated their good news in a way that astounded and amazed their audience (v.18).  They had become preachers and heralds of the Messiah's coming to earth!  When they finally returned to work their message remained the same.  They returned glorifying and praising God for the wondrous gift He had brought into their lives that night. They were different!  Forever changed by their encounter with Emmanuel - God with us!

We have the GOOD NEWS as well today and no matter the situation, circumstance, or excuse, we need to boldly proclaim the same Good News that those preaching shepherds proclaimed!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That's a friend...

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Luke 1:45-50
45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. 46And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

How do you respond to the "impossible" challenges of life?

In Luke 1:45-50, we see the response of two women to two different "impossible" situations in their lives.  These were not bad luck, or the hand of destiny dealing them a blow, but God ordained challenges that were placed into their lives for one simple reason: for His glory!

Elisabeth, who had already faced the challenge of being barren in a society where bearing children was seen as God's blessing upon your home, was suddenly faced with the "impossible" challenge of bearing a child in her old age.  A child whose job would be to "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17)  She didn't complain about the circumstance of her life, the economy, or how she was enjoying her life being free from the duties of child rearing, or how she was just too old and out of shape for this task set before her.  Now, we don't know what she thought or felt, but we do know how she responded.


Elisabeth believed the word of the Lord.  

 Zacharias was the one who received the message from the angel.  He then was struck dumb!  Can you imagine the conversation they had when he told her what the angel had said?  I know I would have had to read it twice!  She believed her husband and believed that God's word would be fulfilled in her life.


Elisabeth encouraged Mary in the Lord.

Fast forward a few months and along comes Mary.  Like a typical woman she had received some astonishing news and probably wanted to share it with someone.  However, in her society, she could not openly admit that she, an unmarried woman, was about to have a baby!  That would have definitely sealed her death sentence.  So she runs over the hills to visit her cousin.  Did she spend her trip wondering how she would explain her message from the Lord to Elisabeth?  If she did we'll never know because God allowed the message to go before her as baby John the Baptist leaped in Elisabeth's womb.

 How did she respond?  She called Mary blessed!  Elisabeth knew just what Mary needed to hear to calm her heart and point her in the right direction.  She was living proof of the impossible hand of God at work!  I'm sure their time together was very encouraging for Mary.


Mary gave glory and praise to God.

 In her song of praise Mary rejoices in the Lord and does not take any of the glory for herself.  She does not sing about being the only unmarried woman to ever be with child having never known a man.  Mary does not exalt herself.  She exalted the name of the Lord and stated that if anyone ever called her blessed in generations to come, it would be because of what God had done in her.  She was only a servant of the Mighty One! 

We need to follow their example.

Many times in my life I have face challenging circumstances that were out of my control.  Deaths, life threatening surgeries, miscarriages, and at times loss of health and home.  In my perfectly planned out life these things NEVER would have occurred, but God's plans are not always our plans.  His ways are not always our ways.  Yet I have learned that God's plan is always for my good, and like Elisabeth and Mary I have learned to believe God's Word, to encourage others to do the same, and to give Him the glory and the praise for the results that only He could bring about in the first place.   
"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17
Yesterday, we visited two different homes for two different reasons.  In one home we were excitedly sharing what God had done in our lives in preparing our way to leave for Peru.  This was something that was on our list of the seemingly impossible because our feeble minds cannot see the hand of God working all over the world to fulfill His plan at the exact moment He desires.  We could only see today and hope for tomorrow; but we believed God, encouraged others to do the same, and were giving Him the glory for what He had done.

In the second home we also shared tidings of joy, but were able to comfort a heart full of sorrow.  Our plans never include the loss of loved ones because we can only see today and hope for tomorrow.  It is a challenge that no one wants to face, but we can still believe God, encourage others to do the same, and give Him the glory for Who He is and the praise for His sustaining grace.

We are to live like Jesus!  Trust the Father, lift up the down trodden and the weary, and when it is all said and done, give God the praise because He is the Mighty One.  He alone can take the challenging circumstances of life and weave them with strands of His love so that His grace shines through to those around us.

How will you respond to life's challenges today?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Get excited!

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  • In two weeks my family will be heading back to the mission field of Peru after being on deputation for three years! 
As a single girl on my first trip to Peru in 1998, I learned that the things I thought were important in life were nothing compared to the joy of knowing God and sharing His love with others.  I returned in 2001-2003, and then again in 2005-2009!  I am excited to be heading back down again with my husband and two sons!  You can check out our adventures over on our ministry blog or website.

My first trip to Peru back in 1998!

  • Today also marks the beginning of the online Good Morning Girls Bible study on Living Like Jesus: Luke 1-8!  With so many days spent traveling I found it difficult to join a ladies Bible study anywhere for any length of time.  In Peru I was used to holding a study in our home with some fellow teachers.  When I discovered GMG online I was thrilled to start a Bible study group online which has now expanded to an English group and a Spanish group!

Luke 1:1-4

 In these first four verses of Luke we see the reason why this account of Christ was written. There were many teaching about Christ, but not all were teaching the truth. Luke was one of the eyewitnesses of Christ's ministry here on earth, and he wanted to tell what truly happened in a lasting and permanent way.  He had spent time thinking about what he wanted to say, he had investigated the facts, and he was ready to write them in the order they occurred.  But more importantly, he was led by the Spirit of God.
 Luke was a decided, diligent, man of details dedicated to declaring the Truth of God!

Why did he write to Theophilus?

So he would know the story of Jesus.
So he would know the story well. (If it were written down he could read it again and again!)
So he would know the TRUE story of Christ.

What can we learn from Luke?

We have the TRUE LIGHT of the world and we need to combat those who are teaching error with the TRUTH. We have a responsibility to teach other of Christ so that they can teach others and the message of the gospel marches on.

But BEWARE! You can't teach what you don't know, and shouldn't teach what you don't believe. We need to meditate on God's Word and ask for His guidance and strength to share His word with others.

I am excited to read, meditate, study and memorize God's Word this year.  I am excited about sharing God's Word with my English and Spanish online study groups.  I am excited about sharing God's Word in Peru in less than two weeks.

Won't you join in me in getting excited 

about the things that matter most in this life?