Saturday, July 22, 2017

Living Water

We don't know her name, she is only referred to in Christian circles as The Samaritan Woman. But I love her. I love her because she is like us. Yes, like us: she needed Jesus, we need Him, too.

I'm sure you know her story in John 4. Jesus and His disciples had left Judea on their way to Galilee and v4 says, "Jesus needed to go to Samaria."

The Jews did not like the Samaritans and the Samaritans did not like the Jews, and they went to great lengths to avoid each other. No Jew wanted or needed to go to Samaria. But Jesus did. The disciples went into town to buy food, but Jesus, exhausted, sat down at Jacob's well. It was noon, extremely hot, and the Samaritan woman came to the well with her waterpot to draw water. The other women from town had already been there; they had come early in the morning, in the cool of the day. They came as a group, laughing, talking, maybe adding a little gossip into the mix as they made their way to the deep, cool well. Women of all ages, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, daughters-in-law, every woman who could carry a clay pot or waterskin came to the well. But the Samaritan woman was not in their group. She was excluded. You see, she did not fit what they thought a good woman should be. She had been married five times, she was living with a man who wasn't her husband and she was openly shunned by the other women. I can hear the mothers as they tell their daughters, "Don't speak to her. Don't help her with her waterpot. Don't walk close to her. Don't look at her." But Jesus did not see her as the women saw her. He saw a heart hungry for real love and acceptance. He saw a woman whose heart yearned to know forgiveness.

In verse 7, Jesus asked her for a drink. She is surprised. She is surprised because she is a woman and men did not speak to women publicly. She is surprised because she is a Samaritan.
In v9 she can't believe that He would ask her for a drink and in v10 He says to her, "If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that is talking to you, you would have asked of Me and I would have given you Living Water."

They talk for awhile about the appropriate place to worship; the mountain or the Temple in Jerusalem,
then Jesus surprised her again.  He said, "Go home and bring your husband back to the well." And she said, "I am not married." Jesus said, "I know. You've had five husbands and the man you are living with is not your husband." She thinks He is a prophet because He knows her past. I won't tell you the rest of her story because I want you to prayerfully read it for yourself, but this is what it says to me:

1. Jesus did not preach to her or condemn her sin.
Neither should we. That is the job of the Holy Spirit, either through the preaching and teaching of the Word, or from reading the Word. She'd heard it all before. She knew she was living in sin. Jesus did not point His finger at her and respond to her in anger. He simply spoke to her in a kind, matter of fact way.

2. Jesus gave her an opportunity to reflect, to listen, to freely ask questions.
He didn't rush in. He was respectful. He gave her time to process what He was saying. We should, too.

3. Jesus did not shame her.
Shame is a crippling emotion. Jesus came to take away all shame and all guilt. The Bible tells us that our shame, guilt, and our sin were placed on Him at Calvary and He bore them in His own body so that we don't have to.

If you are saved and still feel shame and guilt, they do not come from God. What God forgives, He forgets. What He redeems stays redeemed. Thoughts of shame and guilt come from our enemy, Satan. When we allow his accusations to linger in our minds, they shape our feelings about ourselves.

Several years ago Gigi Graham Tchvidian wrote that when her father, Billy Graham, came home after a long absence from preaching evangelistic campaigns the kids were excited to see him and they would often sing for him. One night after dinner they sang the song, "I've God the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart."
When they came to the part, "If the devil doesn't like it he can sit on a tack" her father stopped them and said, "I don't like that song. Don't ever give place to the devil."

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:27: Do not give place to the devil. When we let our minds linger on thoughts of shame, guilt, past sins, embarrassing moments, and failures we are giving him a place in our mind. And what starts out as a small space can turn into an occupied zone. He can never have our soul, he cannot have our heart, but he relentlessly tries to occupy our mind.

Amazed that she had met the long awaited Messiah and that He had given her Living Water, she ran back to town and invited everyone she met to come with her and meet the One Who knew everything she had done. This woman who had been shunned became the first woman  to hear that Jesus was the Messiah: she became the first woman soul-winner. Many of the Samaritans believed and they, too, received Living Water. Did any of the women who had shunned her and thought she wasn't good enough to walk with them receive Living Water? I believe they did.

Verse 41 says that "many believed" and in v42 people are talking to her. They are saying, "You are right." She is included. And that is what Jesus will do for you. All of us have felt excluded. We have all been shunned at some point and by someone, we all know shame and guilt. But when Jesus walks into the situation, things change. Attitudes change. Old perceptions change.

Jesus stayed in Samaria for 2 days and I believe He changed the trajectory of this woman's life. I believe she was respected, I believe she was included all because she received the Living Water. And that is why she is like you and me: no matter our past, no matter how bad we feel we have messed up, we all need the Living Water that only Jesus can give. Only Living Water can quench a thirsty soul. Only Living Water can take away the shame, the guilt and the sin.

If you have not received this Living Water, my prayer for you is that you will. You must do nothing but confess your sin, believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to pay your sin debt, then ask Him to come into your heart and save you. And when you do, your thirsty soul will never thirst again.
I always love to here from you.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I'll Know His Voice

Wouldn't you think after 47 years of marriage David would know my voice? Yeah, me too. Recently my sister Sherry, David and I were returning from Vanderbilt after my brother-in-law had had surgery. She was in the backseat and together she and I were doing an excellent job of telling David the best way to get out of Nashville. (Of course as you know, there is no best way to get out of Nashville.) A driver in front of us kept switching lanes and she made a comment and David thought it was me who was talking and he made a comment back. (in that way that husbands and wives who have been married a long time will make and in "that tone") Then suddenly realizing it wasn't me he was talking to he said, "Oh Sherry I didn't know it was you! I thought I was talking to Penny. Y'all sound just alike." Well we've gotten a big laugh from that and shared it with other family members, but the fact remains that often it is difficult to distinguish someone's voice; even someone you have lived with for a long time.

Imagine Mary Magdalene at the tomb. In the cool semi-darkness of the early morning she sees the stone rolled away. She runs to tell Peter and the other disciples, they go to the grave, look inside, see He is gone and the napkin that covered His face is folded neatly. In John 20:8, John went into the tomb, saw that it was empty and he believed. Peter and John leave but Mary Magdalene remains. She cannot leave. This is the last place she had seen His body. She has to stay close by. The grave becomes an important place to loved ones: sometimes we cannot leave the one we love.

Eventually she walks to the opening of the tomb, kneels down and looks inside. Verse 12 says that she saw two angels, one sitting at the head of the bier, the other sitting at the foot. They asked her why she was crying and she said, "Because they have taken away my Lord and I don't know where He is." Then as she turns around she sees a man standing in front of her and presuming him to be the gardener, asks where they have taken the body of her Lord. In verse 16 Jesus says, "Mary." And as soon as He spoke her name she knew He was the Risen Lord. No one else could speak her name like Jesus. No one had done for her what He had done. No one meant to her what He meant to her. No one loved her more than He loved her and she loved no one more than she loved Him.

Even though I have never heard the audible voice of my Lord, I believe when He speaks my name I will know Him immediately. I am His sheep, I will know His voice. (John 10:4)

As David and I get older and his railroad ears find it harder to distinguish voices, there will be times he may think I sound like one of my sisters because I do. But when I hear Jesus speak my name, there will be no question; I will know His voice.

Enjoy time in the Word, reading John 20. Happy Easter.

He arose He arose
Hallelujah Christ arose.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Are You Standing in the Need of Prayer?

"Standing in the Need of Prayer" is an African-American spiritual whose origin is unknown. It was published in 1925 in The Book of American-Negro Spirituals and the text is simple, yet profound:

"Not my brother, nor my sister
But it's me Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer."

The simple statement of this song expresses a deep need and a deep humility. It is a knowing in the heart that isolates the writer and his/her needs from those of all others. And that great need becomes an intimacy with God, a longing that excludes all else; even the needs of family.

Do you feel that's you today? Is there something in your life that has taken all your attention, all your time and resources and you feel there is nothing of you left over to give to someone else? Maybe like the writer of the song you feel it is YOU who has the greatest need of prayer today. Check out Psalm 70:5;

"I am poor and needy,
Make haste to me O God.
You are my Help and my Deliverer;
O Lord do not delay."

Ladies, He is faithful, He will not delay. And it is OK to tell Him right now:

"Hurry Lord."


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

When the Impossible Becomes Possible

Hi Everyone,

It has been a while since my last post and I thought today we'd do a little Bible Study. So get your Bible and turn to Luke 10 and look at verses 38-42; one of my favorites. Turn to John 11 and place a marker there.

Do you have a sister? I have four! Older sisters are bossy (I know because I'm an older sister) and younger sisters like to tattle. Martha and Mary are my two favorite sisters in the Bible and the reason I love them so much is that they are a mirror of our own relationships. Their little family in Bethany is much like our 21st century family dynamics and from them we learn many spiritual truths.

We are first introduced to this family in Luke 10. Since Martha is mentioned first, she is believed to be the oldest. They lived with their brother Lazarus in the small village of Bethany, about 2 miles southeast of the Temple's eastern gate. In the gospels of Luke and John, we're told that Jesus enjoyed spending time with them. He made it a priority to stay in their home when He was in Judea. Matthew 8:20 tells us that Jesus had no earthly home, and when He visited Bethany, He made Himself at home in the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

Martha and Mary are a fascinating pair simply because they are so different. Their personalities were on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but they had one thing in common, the most important thing to have in common and it was this: they loved Jesus. He was the focus of their earthly existence. Is He the focus of yours? And John 11:5 states Jesus' feelings for them very simply and to the point: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

We aren't given the backstory on how this family became so intimate with Jesus, but through His earthly ministry these three had heard His message of forgiveness and salvation and they had given their heart to Christ and from there they had each built an intimate relationship with Him.

Look at v38: Jesus was so comfortable with them that He knew He didn't need an invitation, He went immediately to their home when He was in Bethany.

Martha is the perfect hostess, an excellent cook, and perfect housekeeper. She is always ready for company. She was warm and friendly and very welcoming when Jesus came to her door.

In v39, Jesus is sitting, talking with Lazarus, maybe some of the disciples are there and even other men who had seen Jesus go into their home. And where was Mary?

In v40, what was Martha doing?
Martha was righteously indignant and may have felt just a little superior to Mary because she was doing all the work and she looked at what Mary was doing as a means of getting out of helping her prepare the meal.
In our words, Martha saw herself as "the victim" and Mary as "lazy".
What did she ask Jesus to do?

And look at Jesus' answer in v41: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about a whole lot more than Mary's refusal to help you in the kitchen. Leave Mary alone. She has chosen to do the most important thing and what she is doing she will never loose."

Martha was the one who put on the apron, pulled her hair up into a bun, put her hands in the bread dough and went to work serving everyone in the house. But.....there was something just not right with her servant's heart. She was so focused on the work, she wasn't listening to the words of the Master.

Mary, on the other hand, was so consumed with thoughts of Jesus, that she was oblivious to the good smells coming from the kitchen, or the hints from Martha that she needed help. She was by no means lazy, she just understood better than anyone what an important occasion this was and that there would never be another time when Jesus would be with them like this. Mary had the ability to discern the heart of Christ.

In v40 Martha's "much serving" was a distraction from the "one thing." (v42)

Ladies, Jesus established worship as the highest priority for every believer. And we are in danger, spiritually, when we are more concerned with doing things "for" Jesus, than we are with hearing Him and being in His presence. Our service for Christ must be subordinate to our intimacy with Him. We have to choose "the good part."

Turn to John 11. At this point, I'm feeling just a little sorry for Martha. After all, she is working so hard to make everything nice for Jesus. There are probably a lot of men there, waiting to eat, and she could sure use Mary's help. And on top of all that, she is reprimanded by Jesus. But in John 11, her brother Lazarus has died and has been in the tomb for four days. Death is such a hopeless thing and even though Jesus has arrived in Bethany, for them, death is final. Read v22 of John 11; Martha said to Jesus, "But I know." Did you hear her faith? She isn't working now, trying to impress Jesus with her nice home and good meal. She is simply a grieving sister making a statement of faith: "Lord, my brother is dead and has been in the grave four days. If You had just been here, I know You would have healed him and he would still be alive. But even now, I have faith in You (please get this, Martha knew Who Jesus was and she knew He was God in the flesh) and if You will ask God, God will restore his life."

For me, that is one of the most extravagant expressions of faith I have ever read in the Bible. Martha knew that even death was not final if Jesus said it was not final. Look at John 11:43; Jesus went to the grave and called out Lazarus' name in a loud voice, and what happened?
Martha knew the truth of Luke 1:37; Nothing is impossible with God.

You may be facing what looks like a hopeless situation today; remember Martha's words to Jesus, "But I know." Jesus can do anything and He will do whatever it takes to bring about His will and purpose for your life. Trust Him with whatever seems impossible today and know that the impossible becomes possible when we say, "But I know."


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Life Verse for the New Year

Happy New Year! I love the beginning of a new year. I love mornings, Monday's, and the first day of each month. It is so exciting to have the privilege beginnings.

2016 was a good year for our family. David and I celebrated our 46th anniversary last May and on December 29th  he celebrated 47 years of "railroading." I was blessed to visit several Christian Schools and preschools and share my children's book, When God Created the World, and share the beautiful story of creation with eager hearts and minds. (Mom, please teach your young children spiritual truths. It is so much easier to teach them the truth when they are young than to un-teach the lies of the enemy when they are older.) We enjoyed milestones with each of our grandchildren and witnessed God working in the lives of our sons and their families. I look forward to this year in our church and I dearly love teaching my Sunday School class and occasionally writing for Parent Life. And of course I love sharing on the blog and getting to "know" women from all over the world.

I am not one to make resolutions, but I do like to evaluate the previous year and look for ways to improve the new year. One thing I do at the beginning of the year is to choose a verse of scripture and designate it as "My Life Verse" for that particular year. And this is my verse for this year: Psalm 67:1;

"God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us."

I need God's mercy, I need Him to bless me. But what does it mean for "His face to shine upon me"?

We live in sin-darkened world. In John 1:9 Jesus is the True Light. Light exposes things that are hidden in the dark; light is warm and inviting. When I ask God to "shine His face" upon me and my family I am asking Him to look at me, to expose the dark places in my heart, and to feel the warmth of His love and embrace. With each new day I need new mercy, new blessings, and I need His face to shine upon me.

So ladies, for this new year I encourage you to choose your life verse and:

1. Pray it out loud each day.
2. Pray it with faith and confidence and watch as He blesses you more and more.
3. Look for a display of  His mercy in unexpected ways.
4. Take the time to sit quietly before Him and feel the warmth of His gaze upon your life.
5. Determine to know God better and love Him more in 2017.

Have a very blessed and Happy New Year. Tell someone about Jesus; that He loves them and what He did for them on the cross at Calvary.

I'd love to hear from You.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Give Them a Strong Foundation of Faith

If we don't get creation right, we won't get anything right. Genesis 1 and 2 is the foundation that our faith is built upon and kids who hear the truth of creation at an early age will be less likely to fall prey to the theory of evolution and other entrapments of a humanistic theology. And it is our job as parents and grandparents to give them that strong foundation of faith.

So where do we start?

Right Here!

In my book for children, ages 4-8, kids will learn the truth of biblical creation and a day by day account of what God created on each day. Kids love numbers and they sure love rhyme and I have put them together to tell the story of creation in such a way that kids will want to hear it over and over again. And as they become familiar with what was created each day, they will build biblical knowledge that will produce an unshakeable faith in our Creator.

When God Created the World is available through Hope you'll check it out. It's great for your home library, church library or Christian school. Christmas is just around the corner and it makes a great stocking stuffer.

I also hope you'll check out my article in ParentLife magazine: Be a Leader Not a Follower: 3 tips for Raising Strong Leaders.

Thanks friends, let me know what you think. I love hearing from you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

He Heals the Brokenhearted.

I do not believe there are any coincidences or that things "just happen." I believe I serve the One Who controls all things and nothing is allowed into our lives that will not have a purpose, and all things He allows will produce fruit. Plain and simple, but it is a belief I hold dear and near to my heart.

My Bible reading this morning was Psalm 147; a psalm I love. (I say that about all the psalms.) As I read this psalm, I thought of what this day will hold for so many. Some will experience a broken heart, some will know great pain. And no matter our circumstances or the challenges we may face today, I am so thankful that I serve the One True God Who can heal each broken heart, bandage every wound, has all power over all things, has no limits to His knowledge, and loves to bless the humble. I knew that God had chosen this psalm to comfort my heart today and as I share it with others, I pray it will comfort you. Here are verses 1-6:

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God:
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem:
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted:
And binds up their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars:
He calls them all by their name.

Great is our Lord, and mighty in power:
His understanding is infinite.

The Lord lifts up the humble:
He casts the wicked to the ground.

Is your heart broken? God will heal it. Are you wounded from the battles of life? God will bandage your wounds. He knows exactly how many stars are in the heavens, He named each one. He is mighty in power and His knowledge knows no limits. He looks at each humble heart and lifts it up.

In Luke 4:18, when Jesus began His public ministry He said this: "The Spirit of the Lord has anointed Me to heal the brokenhearted." Life is tough; life hurts. If that is where you are today, allow Him to heal everything that is broken and fix every hurt place. He can. He will. He is the only One with the power and knowledge to do it all. Thank you, Jesus.