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."

Penny

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."

Penny

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 of....new 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.

Penny