Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Pep Talk




We had upper respiratory symptoms at our house over the weekend. Ryan's nose was draining like Niagra and my throat was having a super sandpapery day. I, of course, did my Dr. mom best. The first antihistamine knocked Ryan out cold. He was still drowsy the next day. A little leery of my treatment offerings, he accepted a second medication, hoping a multi-system cold preparation would be better. It wasn't. Finally, I tried the old-standby, " triple soothing action" cold lozenges. 

Much to my surprise, I found "a pep talk in every drop".  You can read it for yourself. These multi-purpose cold lozenges offered helpful comments such as:
Tough is your middle name.
Go get it! 
Hi-five yourself!
Don't try harder. Do harder!
Put your game face on!
Dust off and get up!
Be resilient!
Put a little strut in it!

The motivational lozenge messages were interminable. Best by 10 March 2015. After that date, I suppose, strut will be irrelevant and you can change back to your original middle name. In my self-pitying doldrums, I began to reply to the lozenges. My middle name is NOT tough! What we need to go get is more tissues! I don't want to try harder or do harder!  I just want to sit on the couch!On and on. 

Truly, the multi-symptom soothing lozenges did very little for my symptoms, but they did provide brief entertainment.  They were not, however, the comfort I expected in my nasal misery, and left me wondering how the "pep talk" idea got started. Who thought people with a cold or the flu would want to read these "encouraging messages"? Did they think it would help sell more lozenges? It was odd, to say the least, and reminded me of old Job's friends. They, too, were pretty poor comfort when he was down and out. Maybe they meant well, but they didn't quite do well, did they?

In times of trouble and sickness, we want real comfort, real support, not some silly slogans on a lozenge wrapper. How grateful I am that we have a Comforter who is with us in all our troubles and never leaves us, no matter how difficult our situation. As we enter the Advent season, give thanks for the Prince of Peace who not only gave us His peace, but left the Holy Spirit to give us comfort in every trial, every sorrow, and never leave us or forsake us. Now that's comfort we can count on. 

Peace and Quiet

 

What a wonderful holiday we've had! Ryan the SuperSon was home from Ga. Tech, so I've had hugs and laughs and fun galore for the last few days. We've had family in and out, visits with friends, and way too much food! Today was Back-to-Georgia day so my cousin, Terry, came for a visit and let to Ryan hitch a ride back. 

Maggie the Wonder Dog is very particular about who she allows into our house, but she greeted Terry as if he were her long-lost best friend. Only one tiny little bark!  Of course she had to entertain a little, so she demonstrated her full repertoire of tricks. Her "sneak like a spy" trick is my current favorite, and that's what she's doing in the picture above. (Of course, you will have to trust me on this, but she really was scooting across the floor on her tummy.)

After we were full up from a big lunch and laughed up from all Maggie the Wonder Dog's antics, the guys headed out for the long ride back to Atlanta. Maggie and I watched them head down that long driveway and slowly pull away. Back in the house, it was amazingly quiet, but the memories filled the air like summertime wisteria, lingering and sweet. 

This afternoon, I've snuggled up with Maggie the Wonder Dog in front of the fire and revisited the events of the last few days, savoring every one. As I've thought about our holiday, I've been so grateful that there were no harsh words to regret, no arguments to try to wish away. Frankly, I'd have been surprised if there were, but not everyone has this kind of home. I'm grateful I do. There are dishes in the dishwasher that need to be unloaded, dirty clothes to wash, suitcases from last weekend that still need to be unpacked, but it will all keep. For this evening, I'm just savoring the peace that reigns in my home. It's the kind of peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.  What a wonderful gift!
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Thy Will Be Done (Luke 4:43)

But He said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose." (Luke 4:43 NASB)

Remember the crowds? 
They wanted to keep The Miracle Worker all to themselves, but Jesus said "No". He explained that He had other work to do. This has been clearly stated in the synagogue in Nazareth. He was not sent to heal exclusively, He was sent to preach the Kingdom of God to as many people as possible. Their plan would prevent His plan from being carried out. When the choice was between God's plan and man's desires, only one would be accomplished, and it was God's. 

Dear ones, that is a good rule to remember in intercession. When our prayers are consistent with God's plan (clearly outlined in Scripture), we can be assured of His response to our requests. It's why the prayer that never fails is "Thy will be done."  When we want what God wants, He has given, and will give, us the desires of our heart. It is also why, in intercession, the first heart that needs to change is often our own. 

Today, pray that our heart's greatest desire would be the will of God in the lives of our loved ones, as well as in our own. Invite Him to direct their paths (and ours) in whatever direction He desires. What fun it will be the see His plan unfold! 
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Friday, November 29, 2013

The Crowd (Luke 4:42)

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. (Luke 4:42 NASB)

The crowds

The crowd had seen one miracle of healing after another, and did not want it to end. They were so determined to keep Jesus for themselves that they hunted Him down in the secluded place, and tried to prevent Him from leaving them. On first glance, one might think the crowds were doing a good thing in trying to keep Jesus near. After all, we are supposed to stay close to Christ, aren't we? 

The problem was not that they wanted Jesus to stay, the problem was motivation. Why did they want Him to stay? Scripture doesn't tell us exactly why they wanted Him to stay, but what they had seen was one act of healing after another, beginning in the synagogue and continuing long into the night. We can assume they wanted more of the same. Jesus had taught in the synagogue as well, but they did not gather outside Simon's mother in law's house at sunset for more teaching. They weren't after the Words of Life, nor about repentance. Most likely, they wanted more miraculous healings. They wanted what Jesus could do for them in tangible ways to relive their suffering. There is no indication that they were seeking a repentant, forgiven heart, nor that they were seeking a deeper relationship with God. 

What about us? What do we want from
 Jesus? Physical healing? Relief from suffering? Change in circumstances? Are we content to simply remain in our current circumstances in order to love Christ more and know Him better?

Today, do not pray for a change in circumstances for yourself or your loved ones. Pray instead for a change of heart in your circumstances, that current difficulties would not be wasted. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Compliments

My sister and her husband joined my son Ryan and me for Thanksgiving dinner today. I had cooked up a storm, of course, and we had quite a spread. In addition to the usual turkey and dressing, I had my favorite orange cranberry relish and pumpkin pie. I'm not much on casseroles, so we had a variety of vegetable dishes which, in retrospect, were actually pretty healthy (as far as holiday food goes).

Yesterday, I text'd the menu to my sister, proud of my culinary prowess. Her reply was not at all enthusiastic considering the magnificence of the menu. I was surprised. No "Yum".  No "Great!"in reply. It all sounded good to me. Who doesn't like roasted root vegetables? What's not to like about rutabagas?

We all ate more than we should today, as usual, and were sitting around the table enjoying the last crumbs of our pie. My brother-in-law looked at me and delivered a stunning compliment. "Well, 'Anna, I have to say this is the first time I've ever eaten at your house when I actually liked everything you cooked!" What??? I was shocked. Having put his foot in his mouth up to his knee, he tried to explain that I served weird food that he didn't recognize, cooked in ways that were unusual and unexpected. It was not that my food was not good, it was just strange. I was incredulous! What foods were weird? I wanted specifics. You may be as surprised as I was by his list. Kiwi, artichokes, avocados, and pumpkin pie. Apparently the creamed rutabagas and roasted parsnips today were also candidates for the weird list, but had gotten a pass because of their deliciousness. Joe went on to explain that the weirdness was mostly because the foods were unfamiliar. I had simply introduced him to something new, but perhaps a little too often. He has come to expect the unexpected (at least menu-wise) from me. 

That whole idea of introducing someone to something new reminds me of the disciple Andrew. He was good at introducing, too. He introduced his brother to Jesus and, later, introduced the boy with the loaves and fishes to Jesus.  Apparently Andrew kept his eyes open for people who needed to know The Messiah, and he didn't hesitate to introduce them. Andrew's kind of introducing seems a lot more important than mine, doesn't it?

As Thanksgiving winds down and we begin the Advent season, let's make an effort to be more like Andrew. Who do you know who needs Jesus? Now is a perfect time to introduce them. 

The Secluded Place - Avoiding Distraction (Luke 4:42)

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. (Luke 4:42 NASB)

Distractions. 
When Jesus went to a secluded place to pray and spend time with His Father,  He was not looking for a scenic retreat. He was looking for a quiet, undisturbed retreat where He could avoid all distractions, focus on His Father, and hear the Still Small Voice. Hearing in that way is very difficult in the midst of the crowd. 

You probably know a little about distractions. You sit down with your Bible and almost immediately the dog wants to go outside, family members have an urgent need that only you can meet, texts pop up on your phone and you just have to see them, Facebook starts calling your name. Whatever your distraction, the purpose is accomplished when you move your focus from our Lord to the situation at hand. Our lives are so busy that it is hard to find a truly quiet moment, isn't it? It is in those quiet, secluded times, however, that the Voice of God speaks most clearly. 

Today, on this day of national thanksgiving, make a diligent effort to find a still, quiet moment and listen for that Still Small Voice in your heart. Thank God for all His kindness, mercy, and grace towards you and your family. On this day, take a break from asking and spend your time thanking. If your focus is on thanking God for blessings, a stopping place may be hard to find. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day!
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Click here to read Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation. It's worth reading again. 
http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2013/11/lincoln-thanksgiving-proclamation.html

Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation



This is the text of Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation, signed March 30, 1863, in the midst of the civil war. It's worth the read:

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? 

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. 

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. 

And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty seventh.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State.


Source: Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The new book

My new book is here and available in two local stores - Park Place Salon and Joyful Creations Gift Market. It is also available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.  

The Road to Bethlehem is a series of devotionals based in the first two chapters of Luke. During the writing, the verses spoke to me in a fresh (and often entirely new) way, and I hope it is reflected in the pages of the book. To whet your appetite, I'm posting the first devotional from the book tonight. It is my prayer that the devotionals will help you see Christmas in a new way and leave you more like the Christ Child than you were at the start. 
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# 1
Just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, (Luke 1:2 NASB)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14 NASB)

Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. (Psalms 119:11 NASB)

Luke suggests that there had been two previous levels of information about Jesus. The first accounts came from eyewitnesses and "servants of the word", who handed down, probably orally, the stories of their personal experience with Christ.  Luke makes a clear distinction between eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Eyewitnesses simply reported what they had seen just as they had seen it. They had a story to tell, but not much more. 

Servants of the word, however, are a different matter. The term servant implies one who obeys the command of a master. We easily understand the term "servant of God" or "servant of Caesar", but "servant of the word" doesn't seem quite so clear-cut. John tells us that Jesus is the Word and Peter, when asked if he wanted to leave Jesus as the crowds had done, proclaimed "Where would we go? You have words of eternal life!" (John 6:68) How amazing! 
Jesus IS the Word. 
Jesus HAS the word. 
Jesus SPOKE the word. 
Our job is to know the word, embrace the word, and incorporate it into our lives in such a way that we  become SERVANTS of the word.  

Eyewitnesses are observers who have a story to tell. Servants of the word are more than observers. They have become participants who give evidence of the truth of their story by their changed lives. 

Which are you? Do you merely pass along the stories of Jesus you learned as a child or are you a participant who demonstrates truth by the power of your changed life?  

Today pray to become a more committed Servant of the Word. Pray, too, that our loved ones will encounter believers who are Servants of the Word  bearing irrefutable witness to the power of Christ by the quality of their transformed lives. May they present that truth in such a way that our loved ones find it irresistible. 

Working for you or in you? (Luke 4:42)

When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. (Luke 4:42 NASB)

The crowds. It seems like crowds would be a blessing for a traveling evangelist, but these crowds were anything but a blessing. Jesus had gone to a quiet place for time with His Father. Although it was a secluded spot, the crowds searched and found Him. They were trying to keep Him from moving on to the next town. They wanted this miracle-worker all to themselves. 

We know from Scripture (Matthew 10:14, 11:23) that Jesus lived in  Capernaum but that there was not tremendous faith there. The crowds wanted what Jesus could do FOR them, not what He could do IN them.  That's a word for us today, isn't it? Do we come to Jesus with a shopping list of miracles we want Him to do, or come to Jesus desiring to be more like Him? There are many Scriptures dealing with prayer in general and answered prayer specifically. He delights in answering our prayers, but our Heavenly Father sent His Son to redeem us. Part of that redemption was the sinless life He lived and which He desires us to emulate. 

In a way, praying for others begins by praying for ourselves. We need to pray  for greater transformation, that we could be more like Christ and that we would know Him in a more personal, intimate way. If we were more like Jesus, many of the things on our "prayer shopping list" would take care of themselves. Today, begin to pray for our loved ones by seeking greater transformation and intimacy with Christ for yourselves, then pray the same for those we love. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One of them

I talked with a man earlier this week who was incredibly excited about Thanksgiving this year. He told me about his plans several times during the course of our conversation before I realized there was something unusual about them. He was going to the house of a man who, by most anyone's estimation, should, at the least, strongly dislike him. Before I thought, I asked him about it. "I wonder why he's okay with you coming." Without a moment's hesitation, he gave me the answer. "Oh, he don't mind me coming. He's one of them Christians," he said. "You know, they love everybody, and they don't hold none of the bad things you've done against you."

He preached a sermon that sent me to my knees with those two simple sentences. I've thought about them ever since. This Christian man had taught him more about the character of Christ than a thousand sermons ever could. The Christian man had faced an extremely emotional, painful situation and chosen to act like Jesus. It was just that simple.

It grieves me that I am astounded. The behavior of one good man was presumed to be the behavior of all Christians. What if it were? What difference would it make in our world. Judging by this man who is excited about Thanksgiving, it would make a huge difference. 

I have good news for which I am extremely grateful. One Christian has already chosen to love like Jesus. He has started by loving the unlovely and overlooking faults, and his actions have already affected countless lives, including yours. Tonight, I'm inviting you to join with this godly man and choose to live and love like Christ. Do the hard thing even when you'd rather not. People are judging Christ by your behavior, by my behavior.  Let's make sure we represent Him with the same love and kindness He has shown to us. Maybe one day everyone will say, "Oh, those Christians, they love everyone and they never hold the bad things they've done against them". Until then, let's live like it's true. 

Priorities (Luke 4:42)

And when day came, He departed and went to a lonely place; and the multitudes were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. (Luke 4:42 NASB)

In the preceding verses, a spontaneous healing service had begun (probably outside Simon's mother-in-law's house) at sunset. Jesus turned no one away, and Scripture tells us that ALL with any who were sick brought them. It suggests he dealt with a crowd of sick people. It's not clear how long the service lasted, but at daybreak, He headed out. Jesus needed time with His Father, and He headed to a quiet place where He could be alone. It didn't matter that He had a rough Sabbath yesterday, that He had been up late (possibly all night), or that He was exhausted. The source of His power, strength, and perseverance came from that quiet time, and He was not about to miss it. It took precedence over everything else, including the accolades and demands of the crowds. 

It was a matter of PRIORITY.  He knew what was most important, and He did it. There was no whining about how tired He was, how much He had to do, or how many people were making demands on Him, nor did those things deter Him. He needed time with His Father and He took that time. Because He did, we never see the consequences of missed quiet times in His life. 

We do see the consequences of missed quiet times of prayer and Bible study in our own lives, though, don't we? How diligent are you about being still with the Father? How faithful are you to be quiet enough to hear the Still Small Voice in your heart?  If our loved ones are to see the evidence of following Christ in our lives, we must actually follow Him and the example He set. That example begins with making time with the Father our highest priority. 

Today, pray for a clear understanding of your present priorities, a godly reordering where needed, and the fruit of time alone with God to be evident in your life. Pray, too, that our loved ones will begin a priority restructuring of their own and that they will begin to have regular times of prayer and Bible study that become an ongoing way of life. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The unexpectedly grateful heart - plumbing trouble

More than a year ago, I walked into my laundry room to find a steady stream of water running out of the ceiling and puddling on my clothes dryer. I grabbed a big bowl, stuck it under the leak, and hurried upstairs to intervene with my showering son. I then made a frantic call to the plumber, and he was quick to arrive. A brief look revealed that he would need to cut into the sheet rock of the ceiling and "explore" to find the leak. There would be "a lot of dust". Unfortunately, my mother was recovering from pneumonia in the next room and was on oxygen. Extra dust was not an option. I put an "out of order" sign on the shower door and waited. 

Before I knew it, my mother died, then the holidays came, and then I fractured my hand. There was never a good time to make such a mess in my home, especially since the laundry room is right off the entrance to the house. I've lost track of when the next plumbing crisis arose, but it was real trouble. The toilet in my bedroom wouldn't quit running. My plumber had a family emergency and couldn't get by, so I called Substitute Plumber. The substitute plumber said my toilet was too old to fix and I should just get a new one. That seemed absurd to me. Why couldn't he just get a kit at Lowe's and install it? There was a detailed explanation that I didn't want to hear and totally ignored. 

My plumber assured me he would check the toilet when he came to fix the shower, but he was really busy and couldn't get by. He didn't have time for two problems. All that water running was driving me crazy and keeping me awake at night, so I devised a very clever solution involving kitchen twine and the float in my toilet. Problem solved. Sort of. I figured it would keep me same until the plumber arrived. 

I really hated having that twine device, so I went to the toilet store, just in case Substitute Plumber was right. I don't know who designs toilets these days, but for some reason they have started putting a porcelain model of the large intestine at the back part of the toilet. Of course you can't see that if you are seated, but if you are in my bathtub, you have a great view of the porcelain large intestine. It is really gross, and I am sure I could design a more attractive toilet. Really, I can't understand why the women who pick out toilets have not revolted already. I refused to buy a Large Intestine Toilet. I would just wait for the real plumber. 

Finally, I was out of my cast and ready to brave the dust. I called the plumber but he had eighteen new houses to finish. In my delay, I had ended up at the end of the line. I assured him I am tough as nails and I could take it. Then my shower handle broke. I got my pliers and went to work. The bad news is that I made it worse instead of better, and the only way to change from bath to shower mode was now with the pliers! 

I was being driven crazy with the plumbing, so I called the plumber again. He still had eighteen houses (I wondered what he had been doing while my plumbing was falling apart) but he assured me he would get to me soon. I know you are thinking, "Get another plumber!" but he is the only plumber in my town. The other reason to keep my plumber is that he told me he could "probably" fix my toilet. I was willing to endure anything if I could avoid the Large Intestine Toilet. 

Last week, I was close to the breaking point. I had already had to tie knots in my kitchen twine device and it was in danger of breaking again.  When I called the plumber, he uttered the most beautiful words I've ever heard! "I'll be there tomorrow!" he promised. He arrived right on time at 7:30 Friday morning. I was about to go out of town for my nephew's wedding, but I felt comfortable leaving the plumber in charge. After all, I'd been waiting for years for him to come. Well, really months, but it seemed like years. 

He took one look at my toilet and said, "This toilet is old and you can't get parts for this any more. The best thing to do is replace it."  I had waited all this time just to replace the toilet after all!  Aaargh! He assured me it was no problem because he had a really nice toilet he could install. What choice did I have? I went to the wedding and left him hard at work. 

Saturday night, we returned home to a real surprise. My old toilet was waiting for me on my front porch!! I still cannot believe I have a toilet on my porch! THAT is an issue I will deal with tomorrow, so don't worry. I hurried upstairs to see what had happened in my bathroom and to see this supposed "really nice toilet". You are NOT going to believe this, (I still don't) but my plumber has installed a Large Intestine Toilet in my master bathroom! I have no choice to keep it, but I'm not really happy. When I took a bath this evening, I had to keep my head turned to avoid the Large Intestine. 

You are probably thinking that she is just whining and whining about her plumbing when any sane woman would've called another plumber.  Probably all true. The amazing thing, though, is that, when I started considering the Unexpectedly Grateful Heart tonight, all I could think of was the Large Intestine Toilet. It seems like I should be grateful, so I've decided to count my blessings. The first blessing is that the LIT (Large Intestine Toilet) always flushes and stops running promptly. The LIT is very clean and sparkling white. The LIT has no kitchen twine attached. The LIT is "comfort height" which is perfect for a tall man (however I am a short woman and my feet don't touch the floor). It will be just right if I break my hip, which I hope I never do! Most important of all, the LIT is not a squatty potty, which I really don't want to have to use. 

It's funny how the silliest, most trivial things can induce such a firestorm of whining and complaining, isn't it? The majority of the world's people don't have indoor plumbing and I complain about the LIT? Children die every day from typhoid and other preventable illnesses due to poor hygiene, yet I have a pristine LIT but still complain? Ludicrous!  Perhaps if I paid a little more attention to the needs of the rest of the world, I wouldn't get so worked up over trivialities. 

Tonight, I'm grateful for sanitary conditions, toilets that flush, a septic system that cleans the waste water, and the health that we take for granted in the developed countries of the world. I'm grateful for my plumber, who can be counted on to tell me the truth. I'm even grateful for my LIT. 

I suspect I am not the only whiner. Have you grumbled about the blessings God has provided? Perhaps you need to look at the big picture. That aggravation might turn out to be a blessing in disguise! 

The Great Physician part 2

While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. (Luke 4:40 NASB)

There are two very wonderful points that remain in this verse, and they are too good to miss. First of all is an understanding of who Jesus healed that day. Two words indicate the extent of the crowd - all and each. ALL the people who had anyone sick brought them (that implies a crowd) and Jesus was healing EACH ONE, which tells us that, even in a crowd, He recognized the individual. It also tells us that He did not discriminate. He did not heal only children, only good people, or only rich people. He healed every individual, regardless of why they were sick or what they had done. Even when their condition was as a result of their own bad choices, He healed them. 

The other point we need to see is the use of the Greek word therapeuo. It is translated here as "was healing", not healed. It implies an ongoing action rather than a past deed that is already completed. Healing is often a process, isn't it?  This particular day in Capernaum, Jesus completely healed the demon-possessed man and Peter's mother-in-law. He may have completely healed many of the people in the crowd. For every one of the sick who were brought to Him, however, healing began, and did not stop until it was completely accomplished. 

This verse is filled with hope! Do you see it? Every parent bringing a loved one to Jesus, regardless of the problem, needs this reassurance. Our loved ones are not just a face in a crowd. Jesus sees them individually, responds to them individually, and begins healing individually. It is often a process, but you can be assured that the process has begun. 

Today, pray that our Lord will complete the healing He has begun (in ourselves and our loved ones) and that we will have eyes that recognize the process as it unfolds. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Unexpectedly Grateful Heart part 21

As you know if you read last night's blog, my son has been home from Ga. Tech for my nephew's wedding. Last night, I was grateful for the wonderful blessings unfolding in my nephew's life, his amazing new wife, and the joy of family gathered together to celebrate rather than mourn. Tonight, I'm so grateful that my son was able to come home for the wedding. I'm also grateful for His flight out of Tupelo that made it possible for us to hang out at home for a few hours. 

We arrived back in Starkville just in time for bed and, of course, awakened in time to get ready for church this morning. We actually had less than four waking hours at home, but what wonderful hours! I have missed that long lanky body stretched out on the couch chatting while I sit crossways in my big green chair, legs dangling over the arm. I have missed his blunt honesty, his eye-rolls over my little Ryan-stories, his kindness to our elderly neighbors, his big dreams that are almost within reach, and his most marvelous hugs. For nearly four hours today, I had a wonderful dose of Ryan. Best of all, it only has to sustain me for three days, when he returns for Thanksgiving holidays! Yay!!!

There is something amazing and life-altering about the love of a parent for a child, isn't there?  Totally unconditional. When my son was born, an older, wiser friend called to say, "NOW you know what love is."  She was right. It was my love for Ryan that helped me understand the greatness of my Heavenly Father's love for me. Unconditional. It shook me to my core. Until then, I had no idea what it meant that He loved me in such a way!  

There's a song that says, "How great the Father's love for us."  It always reminds me of Ryan, whose very existence helped me to see the Father's love. This evening, I'm grateful for my son and the love I've learned from him. Unconditional. It's the very love our Heavenly Father has for each of us, and I'm so grateful for that love. Aren't you?

Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones. 

The Great Physician

While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. (Luke 4:40 NASB)

It was the Sabbath, and it was unlawful to do work on the Day of Rest. Once the sun set, a new day began and work could lawfully resume. After the demon was cast out and Simon's mother -in-law had been miraculously healed earlier that day, everyone in Capernaum who had a sick loved one had likely been wondering if Jesus could heal them.  As the minutes ticked away, they probably discussed the possibility. Maybe they began to say,"As soon as the sun sets, I'm taking you to Jesus."  We don't really know what they thought or said. What we do know is that people did not wait for sunset after all. WHILE the sun was in the process of setting, people began to bring their loved ones to Jesus. There was such a sense of excitement and anticipation that they couldn't wait! They wanted healing and wholeness for those they loved and they wanted that without delay. 

Be sure you see this next very important word.  

              AND

At the same time, while the sin was setting, Jesus began laying hands on the sick and healing them. He couldn't (well, didn't) wait for sunset for them to be healed either! Isn't that thrilling? As much as the people wanted their loved ones healed, Jesus wanted it more. He had already cast out a demon and healed a dying woman, but he was not out of power, nor was he out of compassion for those in need. 
Friends, you can bring your loved ones to Jesus without hesitation. He is as eager as you for wholeness and healing. Today, present them at the throne of God and ask for more than a change in behavior. Ask for healing and wholeness and wait with anticipation for the healing to come.