Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #127

#127 "God With Us"
December 25, 2007
"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" -- which means, "God with us." (Matthew 1: 23)
I heard a story about a woman who was doing her last minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before. Her arms were full of bulky packages when the elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed, she blurted out, "Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!" A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, "Don't worry. They already crucified him."
How is that for a stark reminder about Who is responsible for the "whole Christmas thing"? Christmas is all about how God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him might have eternal life. It is all about the One who existed in the very beginning with God and was God. It is about Jesus...the One who became flesh and made His dwelling among us. He took on human flesh and made His home with us. The One who is called Emmanuel...God with us.
God with us...what does that mean? It means that Christ, the eternal God, came to earth as a man. He didn't just appear to be a man...He became one. He put His feet right here on planet Earth as a man. He walked and talked and ate and cried and laughed. He slept and played with children. He spent time with family and enjoyed His time with friends. God with us. Everything that Christmas means is within that name, Emmanuel...God with us. Not just another baby born in the town of Bethlehem that night. Not just another man walking the dusty roads of Galilee. Jesus was never just another man. He was also God, in the flesh. That is so amazing that we can scarcely take it in. Some can't...others won't..
Those who saw Him with their own eyes...might they have noticed that He was what God is like? His eyes...God's eyes. His ways...God's ways. His hands...the hands of Almighty God. His character...God's. 
God with us means just that...God with us. Not distant. Not walking around in royal robes, even though He IS King of the universe. Not on some earthly throne. He was WITH us. Became one of us. Experienced what we experience. And He didn't send someone else to do the job...He came Himself. 
And He wasn't just God with us in the past tense. God IS with us...Now! Not in some distant external way. God is with you today! Closer than your dearest friend. Closer than your brother or sister. As close as the next beat of your heart and as close as your next breath. God is with us...you and me..intimately.
And He is with us only because of the second half of His story. The part that we seem to overlook at Christmas time. We forget that the baby born in a borrowed stable was later buried in a borrowed tomb. We forget that the baby that was laid in a wooden manger, later was hung and died on a wooden cross at Calvary. We must remember the whole story. Christ lived on this earth, died a horrible death and triumphantly rose from the dead for you and for me. He did this so that we would believe and so that our sins would be forgiven and we would receive a gift more precious than any gift we will receive this Christmas. The gift of eternal life and the gift of Emmanuel, in our hearts. God with us. Right here..right now.
There is so much hurt, so much pain and so much loss in our world today. The Christmas trees and decorations and gifts will not heal any of that hurt or pain or loss. We may be able to gloss over and hide our individual pains and struggles during this season and replace it with presents and an attempt to produce the "perfect" Christmas. But it's only a mask, only a covering up of what our real need is. Our need for a Savior to free us from the bondage of our sins. Our need for a Savior to heal our broken hearts. Our need for Emmanuel...God with us. A God that is with us everyday, not just on December 25th. A God that we acknowledge everyday, not just at Christmas time. A God that came as an indescribable gift, in the person of Jesus Christ, to save us from ourselves and to daily bear our burdens. A child that was born. A Son that was given. One who the prophet Isaiah said would be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. One who would give us gifts that can never be found in boxes with brightly colored bows on them. Let us not forget Emmanuel this Christmas or any other day for that matter.
The world is a dark place but that same prophet, Isaiah, said that people walking in darkness have seen a great light and on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. That light is Jesus Christ...the Light of the World. And He is God with me and He is God with you today! Find a still and quiet moment this Christmas week and listen for His still, small voice. Go to Calvary and kneel down at the foot of the Cross and it is there that you will find the meaning of the manger. You'll find Christ this Christmas. "God so loved the world, (and that means YOU), that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Notice that God "gave". He gave the most precious Gift that He had. For you.
By the time you read this, Christmas Day may have passed. I pray that you had an awesome time with your family. I pray that you shared many treasured moments of love and laughter. But most importantly I pray that you will never, ever forget the Ultimate Gift that you have been given. Emmanuel...God with us. God with you. He is Emmanuel everyday, every hour, 24/7...365. You may be facing the same old problems and struggles and situations that you were facing before the holiday. Know that God is with you, right there where you are. He loves you so much. He is so close to you that if you close your eyes, you might even be able to feel His breath on your face. He can't be found in a package or a gift bag. His brightly colored bow was a crown of thorns on His head. From the manger to the cross, He did it all for you. Emmanuel...God with us.
Merry Christmas,
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #126

#126 "None But Jesus"
December 18, 2007
"Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand." (Ecclesiastes 5: 15)
An estimated 64% of Americans either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the assertion that "there is no such thing as absolute truth." (Christianity Today, September 16, 1991, p. 48, from George Barna, The Barna Report: What Americans Believe, 1991) I would venture to guess that those figures are even higher now that we have turned the millennium. Some reports suggest that even "Born Again Christians" hold this view.
Last Monday evening, I was blessed to spend what turned out to be the last hour of my father's life, with him at his bedside. Within minutes of my leaving, he went home to be with the Lord. The events, circumstances and progression of details that evening, overwhelmed me with how my Heavenly Father loves me so. The knowledge of His love was real, tangible, palpable and concrete. It was "absolute truth."
It was very quiet during that hour we spent together. We had done all of our talking in the last few months leading up to that final night. I stroked his arm and we only spoke a couple of times. I did tell him that I loved him. But as I looked around the room and let my mind wander over the years, I was hit square in the eye with truth...absolute truth.
When all is said and done, there is none but Jesus. Nothing but Jesus. And if you don't have Him, you have nothing. Pretty succinct and to the point. Sorry...but that's absolute truth. My father was a very educated man. But on that night, his Magna Cum Laude from Law School couldn't save him or give him hope for eternity. The money that my parents had acquired at one time was no longer in the bank. The house, the cars, the knick knacks carefully placed in their home, offered no comfort or hope of salvation from this tragic end. I just read this the other day: “you will never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.” In the words of the Cowardly Lion, "Ain't it the truth...ain't it the truth." Absolute truth.
David said in Psalm 39, "Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain." All over the Bible we are told that our lives are like a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow. More absolute truth. Nevertheless, we continue to pursue, to chase....things that won't ever last, things that won't save us in the end and certainly things that cannot give us any hope for the eternity that starts when we close our eyes for that final time.
People will let you down. Even that husband or wife that you think would never hurt you. Human beings hurt other human beings. Money comes and goes. A job can be lost on a random Friday afternoon leaving you wondering how you're ever going to make it. Houses burn down or get blown away in hurricanes. With just one short visit to the doctor for an annual physical, someone is told that they only have a few months to live. Or in that hour, stroking the arm of your dying loved one, what can we hold onto for dear life? In those kinds of moments...in the midst of gut-wrenching pain and loss, what is there to hold onto? Where is Hope? Where is truth. WHAT is truth?
Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18: 38) Before Pilate's very eyes stood the One who called Himself, "The Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life." (John 14: 6) But Pilate didn't see it. So many of us don't see it either. But I'm here to tell you today that whether you see it or not...whether you understand it fully or not...it is truth...Absolute Truth...the One called Jesus of Nazareth is the only sure Truth that there is. 
Truth says, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16: 26) Security, provision, protection, and hope for eternity is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the anchor of our souls when the waves are tossing the boat of our lives to and fro. He is the sure, firm, foundation when the winds of adversity beat and blow against our house. In the words of a well known hymn, "All other ground is shifting sand." He is the fourth man in the midst of the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3). He is the One who rides the white horse and is called "Faithful and True" (see Revelation 19: 11). His face was the face I knew my father would see when he took his last breath on that cold, winter Monday night, only one week ago. Because that's what The Word says. Without that Truth and the certainty of it, what hope could I have ever found as I sat in that room? Without that Truth life is meaningless because He is the meaning of my life. 
Love your family. Enjoy time with friends. Live life to the fullest. Work hard and enjoy restful times. But don't make those things your pursuit. Wise Solomon, after trying every kind of pleasure and avenue to success, said, "Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12: 13) And I know that if Dad could come back to us for one short minute, he would tell us that there is such a thing as absolute truth...and His Name is Jesus.
Worshiping Christ this Christmas,
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #125

#125 "Broken Wings and Misfit Things"
December 11, 2007
"Jesus heard about it and spoke up, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out." (Luke 5: 31-32 The Message)
Chuck and I were taking a break from putting up the Christmas tree and I came upon a snow globe with a manger scene inside. Sitting atop the globe is an angel. Because I'm Polish I have wiped and cleaned Ms. Angel so well that in the process I broke both of her wings and her hand. I told Chuck that there must be a message in that pathetic scene. Because my mind works in ways that most people's don't, I then started to think about how my Pastor calls our little congregation "The Church of the Misfit Toys".
In the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the characters visit the "Island of Misfit Toys", an island sanctuary where defective and unwanted toys are sent.  Here they meet "King Moonracer", a lion with wings, "Misfit Elephant" who has polka dots, a misfit cowboy who rides an ostrich and a train with square wheels on its caboose. There's a toy boat that sinks rather than floats; a squirt gun that shoots grape jelly; a bird with the characteristics of a fish who swims instead of flies, an airplane that can't fly and a bear that rides a bike. Misfits indeed. Defective and unwanted. Do those two words in any way, shape or form, describe your church? According to Jesus, they should.
Jesus tells us that it's the sick who need a doctor. That He calls the outsiders...not the perfect, beautiful people. Those who have been labeled, rejected and discarded. Those who most of society have written off as useless and untouchable. Remember the upstanding words of the Pharisees? "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Might I paraphrase and say, "Why do you hang out with the misfits?" I don't know about you, but it seems to me that Jesus prefered those misfits to those who seemed to have it all together. I think He called them a brood of vipers. 
My very favorite Misfit Toy has to be Hermey the Misfit Elf. Hermey prefers studying dentistry to making toys. He has a dream and a vision locked up on the inside of him, just screaming to come out. Does that resonate with anyone out there? You have a passion deep down in your spirit and you're frustrated because you don't seem to be able to work it out in the natural. You know who you were made to be on the inside, but life goes on without ever seeing your dream come to pass. Maybe you feel out of place in your own skin, because there is so much more being birthed in the inner man than what seems to be happening on the outside.  
Or what about "Charlie-In-The-Box"? He looks like a normal jack-in-the-box, but he was misnamed. What have people named you? Even though I have not practiced as a registered nurse for over 20 years, my mother always feels the need to introduce me as her daughter, "the RN". I guess that brings her more pride than the fact that I'm a Bible teacher and that I speak and preach. Go figure!  For whatever reason, she doesn't want to know who I really am. What about you? Has someone named you "poor", "weak", "stupid", "fat" or "ugly"?  Do you look normal on the outside, but have deep wounds on the inside from what you've been named by other people?
Misfits, discards...flawed and rejected. Tossed out like yesterday's newspaper because we just don't fit in. At least the toys were fortunate enough to be taken to a place where everybody had a problem. Their mixture of defects all blended together and allowed them to function in their own individual ways. On the "Island of Misfit Toys". Wish we had a place like that! But wait, we do! Right smack in the middle of the Body of Christ.
The apostle Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29: "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." God chose the "misfits". He didn't just get stuck with us...He chose us. The verb "chose" means that God selected us from a number of possibilities. He picked us by preference. He preferred, wanted and desired the "foolish, weak, lowly and despised things" of the world. And He puts us together like a beautiful needlepoint picture. On the back are all the flaws and ties and cuttings, but to the viewer's eye the picture is magnificent. The Body of Christ, made out of "misfit toys", is magnificent to behold!
Back to my angel....She inspires me to fulfill my calling with broken dreams, broken wings and broken hands. God can use me in spite of my flaws and weaknesses. And He can use you too. I will sit atop the "manger" and proclaim the highest, greatest, sweetest Name that I know, the Name of Jesus Christ...broken wings and all. I may be a "misfit", but I'm HIS "misfit". So are you...and He loves us best!
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #124

#124 "What's It All About?"
December 4, 2007
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6: 33)
I penned this "Tuesday's with Jesus" last December, as the Christmas season was bearing down upon us. I remember that the message touched so many, and as I thought about what to write today, I think these words bear repeating. Over the past year the "Tuesday's" list has more than doubled in size and I really want those of you who didn't receive this message in 2006, to enjoy it today. Many things have changed over the last 365 days. I have watched my 50th, Jubilee Year of life, truly bring restoration, release and renewal in many areas. "Living the Word Ministries" was born in 2007 and promises to be more than I am humanly able to accomplish without Christ. So I hold on to Him for dear life! I am still continually humbled and deeply honored to serve you. As with any year of our lives, 2007 has been filled with much joy and heartfelt tears, fears and failures, deep sorrow and great blessing. I'm sure that it's been that way for you too. Life changes, doesn't it? Sometimes in an instant. We never know what each day will hold. To everything there is a season.... But in every season, every shifting of the winds' direction, and in every belly laugh and every deep gut-wrenching cry, there is One Who never changes. And that is the timeless message that I so want to share with you. So get a cup of hot cocoa, pull up a seat and enjoy ... one year later, I am still so in love with Him!   
According to Garbage Magazine, Americans used 28,497,464 rolls and sheets of wrapping paper, 16,826,362 packages of tags and bows, 372,430,684 greeting cards, and 35,200,000 Christmas trees during the 1989 Christmas season. I can just imagine what the numbers are now. The National Retail Federation projects that $457.4 billion will be spent on the "winter holidays" -- including Christmas -- this year. What's it all about?
Chuck and I had mixed feelings this weekend as we were decorating our home for Christmas. We just weren't into it so much this year. As we pulled the boxes out of storage, I began to look at all that we've accumulated over the years. Mind you, I pitched a lot of it a few years ago. It's amazing how it grows again! Some of it was junk that ended up in a bag for either donation or the trash. Haven't decided yet. Other things held dear memories. Like a picture frame that I received from a homeless man one year when we were coordinating a shelter program. He was so proud of the gift that he gave me, even though I'm quite sure a certain store at Macomb Mall lost some money that year. There was "The Night Before Christmas" book that I read to my children each Christmas Eve before Chuck would read the Bible passages from Matthew or Luke. They're too old for that now, but maybe one day I'll read it for the grandkids. So I hung on to that one. As I was decorating the tree, I was able to look at ornaments made by my children when they were small. Those are precious to me. Paper ornaments with their pictures on them brought a smile to my face. Other ornaments have been gifts received from family and friends over the years. Those made me smile as well. These are important things; children, family, friends, my husband.
The space under my tree is empty. It is awaiting the brightly colored, ribboned packages that will soon be placed there. A part of me wishes that it could stay empty. The true meaning of what we celebrate is not found in those packages. The meaning is in the simple manger that I placed under the tree. The truth of the One who was born in a borrowed stable and was buried in a borrowed tomb. The truth of the One who was laid in a wooden manger and died on a wooden cross. This is what my heart is full of this year. The gift that God, my Father, gave to me, in His precious Son, Jesus Christ. I wish my tree would remain empty except for all of my children sitting around it, each one claiming Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  
Maybe it's because I'm getting older. My husband hates when I say this, but I've lived more years of my life than I have left. Maybe it's because in the past month or so, I've been acutely aware and grieved over different people, problems and situations that have come across my path. In the last week alone, I've been asked to pray for sickness and disease, relationship restoration, people divorcing, people dying. There was one day where honestly, I told the Lord I didn't think I could pray for anyone else. It was sucking the life out of me. On Friday morning, it was pouring rain..literally beating against my windows while it was still dark and I was trying to pray and read the Word. I felt like there was just a blanket of evil over everything...Satan overcoming the world it would seem. Of course, when I focused on the Word, the voice of truth let me know that the world had not spun out of control and that God was still sovereign and in charge. Nevertheless, it still made all the Christmas trappings seem very meaningless to me.
So like the loving, wonderful Father that He is, my Abba sent His word to me right in the middle of my half- put- together Christmas tree and all my boxes. I pulled out a beautiful crystal frame in which I had placed a greeting card front a few years ago. I had forgotten about it. As it brought tears to my eyes, it brought peace to my heart. It reminded me "what this was all about" and I want to share it with you.
"If you look for me at Christmas, you won't need a special star - I'm no longer just in Bethlehem, I'm right there where you are. You may not be aware of Me amid the celebrations - You'll have to look beyond the stores and all the decorations. But if you take a moment from your list of things to do, and listen to your heart, you'll find I'm waiting there for you. You're the one I want to be with, you're the reason that I came, and you'll find Me in the stillness as I'm whispering your name. Love, Jesus."
That frame, with that simple message is my favorite decoration this year. If it were up to me, it would be the only one. But since I have children and they enjoy the decorations and the presents and the cookies, I will keep pressing on. But now my heart is filled with the answer to my question, "what's it all about?"  I will find quiet moments and go to Calvary. And there I'll kneel with those who know the meaning of the manger, and find the Christ, this Christmas. I will praise the one who would one day be executed for my crime. That, my friend, is what it's all about!
May you find Christ this Christmas,
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #123

#123 "Blessed Hope"
November 27, 2007
"Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." (Revelation 1: 3)
From Parade magazine comes the story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.
A golden feeling...hope. Something to look forward to...something waiting for me...hope. I don't know about you, but I think that life can be a big, fat bully. Trials and tribulations, problems and circumstances, can beat us up and leave some very painful bruises on our hearts. And like a child who gets beat up on the playground and knows that running to Mom and Dad will make it all better, we need to know that there is somewhere to run where there is hope. We need to know that there is more to life than this. Whatever your "this" may be. I don't know about you, but couldn't we all do with some hope today?
I have been studying the book of Revelation in the Bible for the last couple of months. It is a difficult book to say the least. I don't think that any book of the Bible has been so highly debated, has produced more interpretations, or caused as much debate among scholars, as this final book in God's Word. You may take the book literally, historically, symbolically, or futuristically. You may be pre-Trib, mid-Trib, or post-Trib. You may be premillenial, amillenial or postmillenial. My purpose today is not to teach the right interpretation, or to change your mind if I don't agree with you. I believe that I saw something today in this wondrous passage of Scripture that will land a few blows on the bully and send him running home to mama. Jesus Himself has given us hope and a vision to heal the wounds that life so brutally inflicts.
In the very first chapter of Revelation, in the third verse, Jesus Christ says that we will be blessed if we read the words of this prophecy, hear it and take it to heart. I've read that verse many times over the years and often wondered what kind of blessing I would receive just from reading Revelation. Would I be blessed in health? Would my finances prosper? Would my children all come to know the Lord? Would there be peace in my home? What would that blessing be? The Amplified Bible says that I will be "happy, to be envied" if I "heed them [the words of this book], laying them to heart." First of all, I can't just read the book and get the blessing. That's just abracadabra and kind of spooky. The key is to take it to heart.  
After spending weeks reading Christ's messages to the seven churches, visualizing with John the seals, trumpets, and judgements of God on the earth and watching the demise of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet, I came to the awesome climax of the story. The Rider on the White Horse, called Faithful and True comes on the scene. (Revelation 19:11) Jesus Christ rules and reigns on earth for a thousand years, Satan and his minions are thrown FOREVER into the lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20) and then ... there it is...this is better than any suspense thriller you have ever read!
This is only my opinion, mind you, but I believe that I found the "blessing" of Revelation 1:3 today. And I believe it is found in Revelation 21: 1-5. Listen: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.""  So I ask...Are you getting it yet? The blessing of Revelation 1: 3 is HOPE! When you read the book to the end and take it to heart....there is hope. Something to look forward to. Something waiting for you. It's a golden feeling...hope.
The old order of things will pass away. Your disease is the old order. Your poverty is the old order. Your loss is the old order of things. There will be no death. You will never lose a loved one again. You will never mourn or cry or experience the pain that you are feeling right now. All of your tears will be wiped away and you will never cry again. My precious friend, today's hurt and pain is NOT all there is. There is a bright and glorious future to look forward to. To give you hope. And that's the blessing of the book of Revelation...at least for me.
The last few days have been hard. My family has suffered loss and hurt, pain and uncertainty. We have gone through a roller coaster ride of emotion. But...this is NOT all there is. We have a Blessed Hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is the Glorious Victor over it all. We can endure today because of our vision for tomorrow. I can dare to dream about tomorrow. And maybe that's why I am "to be envied". Because I can look the trials and tribulations and hurt and pain square in the eye and still have hope. There are many more chapters in this story we call life. If you have trusted Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, today, you have this same hope. You can send the bully back home. You can endure today because you know what the future holds. The Rider on the White Horse, the one whose name is Faithful and True says that He is making all things new. He says, "It is done." There is the blessing of the book of Revelation. Blessed Hope. He is coming soon. And in His own words, "These words are trustworthy and true."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #122

#122 "Matters of Life and Death"
November 20, 2007
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die.." (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2)
I ran into my cousin, Myra, a couple of weeks ago. She's actually one of those cousins who are about third or fourth removed, on my mother's side of the family. She's nice enough, but very chatty. We exchanged niceties.  "How's Mom and Dad?" "How are the kids?" She's had her share of ups and downs in life. But haven't we all? At the end of our conversation she looked at me and softly said, "Wow! Life really turned out well for you, didn't it?" I've thought about those words a couple of times since that day. Life has turned out well for me. Hasn't always been easy. Hasn't always gone according to my plans. But .... it has gone well. There has been "a time for everything". There has been "a season for every activity under heaven".
The activity called "a time to die" is a painful reality in my life today. My father is dying of cancer. He was sent home from the hospital this weekend. There's not much more that can be done. All treatments have stopped and hospice will be helping my mom and dad for however long is needed. I was able to spend some precious time with him last week. Just he and I. Now, you have to understand, that Dad and I have not had a great relationship over the years. This is absolutely not the time to air the details, but let me just say that it's been less than ideal. I have had to receive the love of my Heavenly Father and look to Him and Him alone for my security, my provision, my care and my wholeness. I stopped looking to earthly Dad a long time ago. But somehow, all of that doesn't matter anymore.
What mattered the most to me was to talk to Dad about Jesus. And that's what we did. It's amazing how our priorities change when faced with urgency. Our fights no longer mattered. Our disagreements and differences in how we see things didn't mean a thing at that moment. The conversation wasn't as profound as I imagined it would be. I never used the eloquent words that I had planned. But the power of the Holy Spirit was in that hospital room and He guided our words and gave me amazing openings to talk to Dad about death and Christ. I must confess selfishness. It was probably more for me, and my piece of mind, to be sure that Dad was going to see the face of Christ when he opened his eyes after he died. But I know that it was the most important thing that I could do for him.
"A time to die". It really seems to become a time to look back. Dad talked about regrets that he had about things he had done, or didn't do. He remembered a Christmas tree that sits each year at The Henry Ford where he worked until he became ill. Describing it to me, tears filled his eyes and he couldn't continue. He knew he would never see that beautiful tree again. I heard him tell me that he was so glad my daughter came to see him because he got to see her one last time. I told him he'd see her again...but who knows? What happens now is anybody's guess. What happens now is in God's hands. 
But... I am also absolutely overwhelmed by the fact that while experiencing "a time to die", I am also blessed to witness "a time to be born." A time to look ahead. Both of my beautiful daughters are pregnant! Two precious grandchildren are on the way, one in March and one in June. I cannot even describe to you the joy that fills my heart. My babies are having babies! Isn't that just like God? He is tempering my pain with inexpressable joy! Truly, "weeping may last for a night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30: 5)  I don't know that anything can come close to the feeling I had when I held my children in my arms for the very first time. But I'm beginning to think that this is going to come pretty darn close. I can't wait to feel the softness of a baby's skin. And that smell. There's nothing like the smell of a precious baby. I long to whisper "I love you" in their ears. And to tell them that there is Someone who loves them even more than their Grammy. And I can't wait to watch my girls, as they love and care for their own children. Two babies...my "double portion". The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is giving me the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (See Isaiah 61: 3, 7)
There is a time for everything. A season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. Hasn't always been easy. Hasn't always gone according to my plans. But, this is the stuff of life. This is the circle of life. And....life HAS turned out well for me! It will turn out well for you too.
Have a blessed Thankgiving!
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #121

#121 "Stand Up, Pray and Be On Your Way!"
November 13, 2007
"And because the Lord had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. This went on year after year." (1 Samuel 1: 6-7a)
Scripture Reference: biblegateway.com
Two women. Married to the same man. One had children, one had none. Hannah was barren. The Bible says that the Lord "closed her womb". To add insult to injury, her rival taunted her cruelly, rubbing it in. (The Message) Hannah did nothing but cry. She couldn't eat. She couldn't sleep. She was depressed, despondent and discouraged. I can't say that I blame her. It's bad enough to long for what you don't have, to yearn for your heart's desire. It's another thing to have the exact thing you want, flaunted in front of your face day after day. What do we do when other people have the one thing we desire with our whole heart? What do we do about Peninnah?
What do you do when you're waiting for your Boaz and you're always the bridesmaid and never the bride? What is your response when your car is held together by duct tape and paper clips and your friend pulls up in their shiny new sports car? You don't need a sports car, for heaven's sake, you just need a car that RUNS! And how about that lady in your Bible Study who just got back from a long, expensive vacation? The only getaway you need is five minutes alone in the bathroom away from those screaming kids. And money for a vacation? What's that all about? How about money for groceries and bills and more bills and wait...more bills. Think about your own situation that fits this scenario. Not everyone around you is a Peninnah, deliberately provoking you. But it irritates you all the same. "What about ME?" You can weep. You can stop eating. You can throw a pity party. You can look depressed and let everyone feel sorry for you, or...you can do what Hannah did. I think she just got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
By definition, provocation moves a person to an action or a feeling. Therein lies the choice. Will provocation incite you to anger and resentment, self-pity and depression, or will it stir you to action? And will your action be positive or negative? If you've already determined that you've been provoked to move in the wrong direction, don't get down on yourself. Hannah started out that way too. But there was a point where she got fed up. She pulled herself up by her sandals and began to walk in a different direction. I hope that you have read the Scripture Reference by now so that you have a feel for the whole story. If not, please go back and read it now. My desire is for you to see Hannah's strategy and learn it for yourself, because the proper response will produce the most amazing results.
Verse 9 of our text tells us that "Hannah stood up". I don't know what happened at that dinner table on that particular day, but something inside Hannah said, "that's enough!" Enough with starving herself. Enough with crying. She wiped her eyes, blew her nose, pulled herself together, and set off on a course of action to the only place where there was any hope of getting help. The temple. The place where the Lord was. I don't know what your situation is today, but are you ready to say, "that's enough!"? Don't let your personal Peninnah provoke you to wrong action. Divine provocation will drive you to God. Hannah stood up. Will you?
Next, Hannah prayed. She told Eli, the priest, that she was "pouring out [her] soul to the Lord." This was no mealy mouthed prayer. So intense was Hannah's silent prayer that Eli noted the movement of her lips and assumed that she was intoxicated. Verse 10 says that "in bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord." I'm sure that she told God of her desire to have a child and how disappointed she was. I'll even bet that she spent some time tattling on Peninnah. You may not be this unspiritual, but I've tattled to my Daddy on a few people before. And in her prayer she proved that she knew a little about her God. She asked Him to look on her, to remember her and to give her a son. She knew that He was always watching over her. She knew that He would never forget her. And she knew that He was the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The Giver of Life. The Giver of All Things. Hannah prayed. Will you?
Knowing what she knew about the God she prayed to, caused her to take the last step. "Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast." (v.18) The Message says, "she ate heartily and her face was radiant." It reminds me of a verse that I was memorizing over the weekend in 2 Timothy 1:12. "...I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day." She was fully persuaded that the God of the Universe had it all under control. She was so convinced that she could now eat, and her countenance lost its look of depression. Are you convinced that when you pray, God hears? Are you convinced that He is in charge? Are you convinced that He answers prayer? Then go on your way. Eat. Smile. Hannah did. Will you?
Don't let your Peninnah provoke you to wrong action. Let Divine Provocation drive you to God. Stand up today, my friend. Dust off your slippers and go. Go to the place where you know God is. Maybe it's your favorite chair by the window. Maybe it's by the water's edge. Maybe it's a literal closet. Even if it's in the bathroom with the kids waiting outside the door....go! Pray. Pour out your soul to the Lord. Tattle if you want to. Lay it all out before Him. That's what relationship with Him is all about. Then, wash your face, have something good to eat and rest in Him. Go on your way, fully persuaded that He is able to do what you've entrusted to Him. Exceedingly, abundantly more than you could ever ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20) Hannah received her son, Samuel, whose name means "heard of God". Your Samuel is on the way, because, like Hannah you "asked the Lord for him." (v.20)
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #120

#120 "Contented Thankfulness"
November 6, 2007
"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4: 11-12)
I come to you today to say, "Happy Hallothankmas!" In case you haven't noticed, Halloween was last week and wouldn't you know it, suddenly it's Christmas! The trees are going up in the malls and grocery stores, the local radio station is playing Christmas music 24/7 and we are reminded daily that we need to clean our carpets, whiten our teeth, get our hair done and all the other ridiculous things they tell us to do before Christmas. Over the years it's become a blur to me. What happened to Thanksgiving? Can anyone tell me? I don't think that the turkeys are even scared anymore! Is it just me, or wasn't Thanksgiving a separate holiday? A time to reflect and be ... well...thankful?
As I ponder this conundrum, it seems to me that we are a discontented people. Is there such a word as "discontented"? I don't know, but I say that's what we are. We are not content. We live in a world that has increasingly pushed the notion that more is better. And in the pursuit of "more", we live our days like a whirling dervish until we collapse at the end of every day, just to get up again and start all over. Besides the fact that we just don't have the time, our quest for more means that what we have in the here and now isn't enough, and as a result we're not thankful. You cannot be thankful when you are not content.
In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul said that he had learned the secret to being content in whatever circumstance he was in. Rich or poor, full or hungry. He was referring to money in this passage, but generally the principle is the same. Being content is having a rest or quietness in your mind in the middle of your present condition. It is a sense of satisfaction which holds the mind in peace, restrains complaining and is totally independant of external circumstances. It's having a moderate degree of happiness, no matter what's going on around you.  Changing circumstances did not affect the inner contentment Paul enjoyed. At times he experienced great hardships, financial and material needs. At other times, he lived in abundance. But he learned to be content, abasing or abounding, through Christ, who gave him strength. And that made Paul a thankful person. How about you?
Paul wasn't on a pursuit for more. Well, not in the way we are anyway. He told the Corinthian church that he had resolved to "know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor 2: 2) Listen to these words: "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things." Lost? Do we ever seek to lose?  He goes on to say that he "considers them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him." (Philippians 3: 8-9) The Greek word for "rubbish" is "skybala" and it means street filth or dung. In case you aren't aware, dung is animal excrement. Paul considered all of his losses as nothing more than a big old pile of manure! He was content in his circumstances, pursuing higher things, and a thankful person. What about us?
Now, I am not saying that you should not have dreams and goals and want good things for your life and the lives of your loved ones. I'm not saying that at all. But is that your primary pursuit in life? And as you pray and plan and dream for the future, are you content with where you are today, right here and now? Because today is a precious gift from God. Where you are and what you have ... today...are you content? Or do you have a grumbling, complaining spirit? The endless pursuit of more, with unthankful hearts for what we have, leads to discontent and we cannot celebrate Thanksgiving because frankly, we're not thankful. We don't own enough, make enough, have enough, or see enough results in our lives to be thankful. And even if we do, we're too darn busy to even notice!

Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. "Why aren't you out there fishing?" he asked. "Because I've caught enough fish for today," said the fisherman. "Why don't you catch more fish than you need?' the rich man asked. "What would I do with them?"
"You could earn more money," came the impatient reply, "and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you'd have a fleet of boats and be rich like me." The fisherman asked, "Then what would I do?" "You could sit down and enjoy life," said the industrialist. "What do you think I'm doing now?" the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea. Our Daily Bread, May 18, 1994. My point exactly!!
Might I suggest that when you get into bed tonight, you look over at that spouse of yours and be thankful. He or she is the one God has given you. There might be more handsome, richer, savvier guys out there or more shapely, prettier women, but be thankful for the one God has blessed you with. Some of your friend's children may be smarter, be accomplishing more, maybe accepted into a better college, but those are the children God has given you. Love them, cherish them, be thankful for them. If you are reading this right now with a roof over your head, be thankful. It means that you are warm on this cold November day. It means that you have heat and electricity and for goodness sake, the luxury of the internet. You're not living under a bridge waiting for the soup kitchen to serve your next meal. Piles of laundry represent family members that you have to care for. Dirty dishes mean that you had someone to share a meal with.
Circumstances might not be ideal today where you are. There may be real financial need or sickness invading your body. Relationships may be out of whack and it may seem that there is no hope and certainly, not much to be thankful for. But 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to "give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Sounds like a command to me, not a suggestion. Ask God to show you the "secret" that Paul talked about. The "secret to being content".
Tomorrow I'm going to pull my Thanksgiving decorations out of storage and display them inside and outside of my home. I will not let this holiday become a blur with the rest of the world. I hope that you will do the same. My precious friend, slow down. Take some time to pray. Take some time to ponder your life. Be content in whatever situation you are in today. And by all means, be thankful. Just maybe, as Christians following our Savior and obeying His Word, we can bring this holiday back after all.  
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #119

#119 "Believing is Seeing"
October 30, 2007
"...and He asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied." (Matthew 9: 28) 
Scripture Reference: biblegateway.com
How do blind men follow Jesus? I'm not too sure, but it must've been a real sight to see (pardon the pun). Jesus was moving from place to place, calling disciples and healing many people. The Bible tells us that two blind men followed Him. Just imagine..talk about the blind leading the blind...literally. Picture this...the crowds are big. News was spreading about this man Jesus. It was noisy and close. Here come these two men. Hanging on to one another for dear life. They were probably depending on each other to move in and out of the crowd. They were depending even more on their sense of hearing to keep up the pace with Jesus' movements. Arm in arm they bump into the people, jostled back and forth as they go. All the while, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" Bump...push...shove..."Have mercy on us, Son of David!" Long before Peter ever declared, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16: 16), these men knew that the Messiah had come. They may have had physical blindness of the eyes, but their spiritual sight was acute and perfect.
Following Jesus so closely that they knew He went indoors, He asks them a question that begs for an answer. "Do you believe that I am able to do this?"  If they had not believed so strongly, I don't think they would've ever followed Him all the way through. The blind in Jesus' time were outcasts and usually beggars. They must've endured some verbal insults along the way. But they were persistent in following Him. They were stumbling around in their physical darkness but they were pushed along by a greater, inner light. They were compelled by their belief that their eyes would soon be opened by the only One who they believed was able.
It's hard to be blind. Physically, of course. But what about when you're blind in your situation? Circumstances and situations are pressing in hard and you have no idea what to do. You are blind. You go to the Word. It spelled out your next steps for you last time, didn't it? But this time...this time...there's no clear word. No clear chapter and verse to fit your problem. It's what you might call a gray area. On Monday, you think you've got the page with the right instruction, but on Tuesday, there seems to be something different on another page. Which is it? What do I do? "Have mercy on me, Son of David!"
Fumbling around in the darkness of a personal situation in my life, the Word did give me an answer. It wasn't a three step plan or a six point program for enlightenment. It all began with that same question that Jesus asked the two blind men..."Do you believe that I am able to do this?"  I have never heard the audible voice of God, but as sure as I'm sitting here typing, I heard God ask me, "Donna, do you trust me?" God's Word truly is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119: 105). Don't ever think it's not in the Book. Gray areas are in the Book....under Trust!
This was me and it may describe you today: "Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, (is that you?) trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." (Isaiah 50: 10) How much plainer can it get? If you're still not convinced, try this: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3: 5-6) The Message says, "don't try to figure out everything on your own." My analytical, organized mind doesn't accept that too well, but if God says it , that settles it. If the Lover of my Soul tells me to trust, then guess what? I need to trust. And I can't trust what I don't believe. Back to the same question....Do you believe that He is able?
Can you trust Him even in the darkness? Try this on for size: "even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." (Psalm 139: 12) Even if you can't see the way...it's not dark to God! He knows the way. On another day, in a place called Bethsaida, there was another healing of another blind man (Mark 8: 22-26). The Bible says that Jesus took that man by the hand and led him to where his healing would occur. There is light out there somewhere. Let Jesus take your hand. Hold on tight and let Him lead the way.
I'm going to give you more Word. I hope you don't mind, but when we're groping around in the darkness, the only thing that's solid, the only thing that we can cling to, is the truth of the matchless Word of God. Psalm 19: 8 says that "the commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes." The world and some people and the devil will only tell us lies. We need truth to walk in the darkness. Isaiah 60:1 says, "Arise, shine, for your light has come." Psalm 118: 27 tells us that "The Lord is God, and He has made His light shine upon us."  That light shining is Jesus Christ according to John 12: 35-36 and in John 8: 12 Jesus Himself says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." "God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all." (1 John 1: 5)  
That darkness you're in today may be heavy. It may feel oppressive. I know, I feel it too. But let's, you and I, call out to Jesus...the Light Himself. Let's come to Him believing that He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Let's trust Him. Let's go hand in hand, together, in spite of the crowds, in spite of the noise, in spite of what people say. Let's follow Jesus until He takes us each by our own hand and leads us to the place where the Bright and Morning Star dispels all of that darkness around us. It is said that it's always darkest before the dawn. But if you look up at a clear pre-dawn sky, you'll see that bright, morning star shining. Let that star always remind you that Christ is there, in the light and that your darkness is never too black for the light to shine through. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." (Psalm 19: 1)  
There is no darkness that the "Light of the World" and the "light of the Word" cannot penetrate. If you can't see today, listen. I've heard it said that if you are blind, your sense of hearing becomes more acute to compensate for vision loss. I don't know if that's really true, but I think it makes good sense that when you can't see your way clear, listen. Listen to the voice of God, the voice of Truth.  I pray that I have helped you in some small way today to see a glimmer of light in the distance because of the word that I have shared. The honor and privilege that I feel in doing so becomes a light in my own darkness. Right now, with tears, things don't seem so dark after all.
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #118

#118 "Can You Hear Me Knocking?"
October 23, 2007
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3: 20)
Have you ever gone to someone's home and knocked on the door or rang the doorbell over and over again, and no one came to answer? You could hear their dog barking, music or the TV playing, and you knew they were in there, but no one ever opened the door?
Our verse today comes from the message that Jesus Himself had for the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3: 14-22). This was a church that He called "lukewarm...neither hot nor cold". They thought that they were all that. They imagined themselves to be rich, wealthy and in need of nothing. They had it goin' on. Or so they thought. But in contrast, Jesus said they were poor, blind and naked. This message was not for those who didn't believe in Jesus. It was, and still is, a message for believers. It is just as much a message for the church of 2007, and for you and me, as it was for the Laodicean believers in their day.
Dramatically Christ pictured Himself as standing outside and knocking on a door. You may have seen the familiar painting of this scene where the latch is not shown, but is assumed to be on the inside. Christ's appeal is for those who hear, to open the door and let Him come in. To those who open the door, He promises to "go in and eat with him and he with Me." 
When Jesus says, "Here I am!", notice the exclamation point. He's trying to get our attention. In essence He's saying, "Hello, Hello, is anyone in there?" But we are preoccupied with so many things. We're too distracted to hear the knock. Do we hear Him? Or are we even listening?
This door is one that only we can open. The latch is on our side of the door. Jesus is knocking at your heart's door. What is so wrong is that Jesus is standing on the outside, excluded from all of our activities and programs and the business of our lives. We have, in effect, shut him out. We've become self-sufficient, complacent and only marginally Christian. 
The tense used in the words of Christ reveal that He is continually standing and knocking. He doesn't go away. He doesn't just knock a couple of times and leave. He is patiently waiting for you to answer the door of your heart to His gentle knocking. I say gentle because He's not beating your door down. He lets you know He's there even if you're not paying attention. The knock may come in the sweet song of a bird in the morning. He's calling you when you see the morning star in the dark sky. He's whispering your name when you hear the laughter of a child. A sunrise, a rainbow, a cool breeze on your face. Good news from a friend. An answered prayer. Or maybe in the realization that you had the strength to bear your problem without having a nervous breakdown. You know it wasn't your strength, but His strength was made perfect in your weakness.
Are you listening? Can you hear Him? Are you ignoring the knock and the call? We can ignore Him when we don't confess our sins. When we aren't praying. When we aren't reading and meditating on His Word or going to church. Do we hear His voice at all? Like He said to His people in Matthew 23: 37, Jesus says to you..."how often I have longed to gather [you] together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." He wants to be close to you. He wants to be where you are. He wants to eat with you. Are you willing?
Sharing a meal is a time of close fellowship. Great business deals are made over dinner. Romantic dinners strengthen relationships. Secrets are shared when friends meet for lunch. Jesus says He wants to eat with you. He wants that time of fellowship with you. That time of closeness where it's just you and your Savior. Sharing secrets, talking things out, including Him in every minute detail of your life. He's knocking. He's calling. Can you hear Him? Are you even listening?
We need more than just our experience of salvation to get us through this world that we live in, with all of it's problems and circumstances and half-truths and chaos. Yes, we'll make it to Heaven someday, but we will miss out on the fullness of life here...in the land of the living...that a closeness with Christ will give us. Slow down, my brother or sister. Listen. Do you hear the knock at the door of your heart? The latch is on your side. It's up to you. Hear His voice and open the door. Today.
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #117

#117 "Humble Pie"
October 16, 2007
"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." (Romans 12: 3)
A young woman asked for an appointment with her pastor to talk with him about a besetting sin about which she was worried. When she saw him, she said, "Pastor, I have become aware of a sin in my life which I cannot control. Every time I am at church I begin to look around at the other women, and I realize that I am the prettiest one in the whole congregation. None of the others can compare with my beauty. What can I do about this sin?" The pastor replied, "Mary, that's not a sin, why that's just a mistake!"
The Bible instructs us not to think of ourselves "more highly than [we] ought."  The New Living Translation puts it this way: "Don't think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves." And the Amplified Bible: "[Do not] have an exaggerated opinion of [your] own importance."  The Lord Himself says, "I hate pride and arrogance" (Proverbs 8: 13), and that He "opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6)
Pride is an insidious sin that is inherant in each one of us. You know as well as I do that it is so easy to think that we are all that and a bag of chips. We puff ourselves up over our accomplishments, our possessions, and even our service to God. The simple fact that we are Christians and "they" are not, can cause us to walk in pride. When God says that He "opposes" the proud, the Greek word, "antitassetai" is used, and it means that He battles against the proud. I think that the Almighty started a little skirmish with me this week. Not a full out battle but just enough to humble me.
I was humbled when I heard about a husband and wife who have taken in two children, one who is autistic and the other who has attachment disorder. This young couples' love for two little ones who would have no one without them, humbled me. I was humbled when I heard about another couple who take people into their home, and most recently provided a hospice in their living room for a dying friend. They love and give, even when they know that their hearts will be broken. I was humbled when my community group leader got down on her knees last night and washed the feet of every person there. She wanted us to know how much she loved us and to let us know that she was our servant. I was humbled when I learned that my pastor was walking the streets of the eastside of Detroit, at night, praying and talking to the young men who hang out on the street corners. I can no longer think more highly of myself than I ought.
The world would call things like this "random acts of kindness". I submit to you that there is nothing "random" about them. Compelled by the love of Jesus Christ, they love. Compelled by His forgiveness, they love much.
We might become discouraged when we look at what others in the body of Christ are doing. But let me say to you that humility is not humiliation. Humility is having the proper perspective on who we are and on our service to God. We become discouraged if we do not read the next verses in Romans 12. "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."
Look at that. We don't all have the same function. We have different gifts. We are not all called to take unloved children into our home. We are not all called to set up hospices in our living rooms. We are not all called to walk the streets of the inner city. We are not all called to preach and teach. But we ARE all called to wash some feet. (see John 13: 14-15) We are called to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last. (see John 15: 16) We have different gifts and callings but one Savior who will lead us to exactly where He wants to go. And He wants to go many places. To companies, to hospital rooms, to homes and schools and neighborhood porches. He wants to go to churches and soup kitchens and jails and homeless shelters. We are a body with many members. We are the hands and feet of Christ. He can't go unless we go. We are His Body!
Don't be so proud of your service that you look down on others who don't share the same vision. They're not supposed to! God has gifted each one of us uniquely. He allows our individual hearts to break over different things. He endows us with different gifts to serve Him in different places. In just that way, fruit is born from the neighborhood to the farthest reaches of the world. One gifted believer at a time ... one submitted life at a time. Stay away from pride!
On the flip side, don't be discouraged by those you think may have a greater gift than you. We belong to one another. We are all individual parts of the same Body, with the same purpose and the same Head. "...those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. ...God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Corinthians 12: 22-23a, 24b-26) Be humble, but not humiliated. Your gift is vitally important to the Body, no matter what it is. It was given to you, tailor made, by God Himself.
Balance is the key. A quote from Guideposts put it this way, "God wisely designed the human body so that we can neither pat our own backs nor kick ourselves too easily."
Proper perspective is found in the realization that we can do nothing apart from Christ Himself. (John 15: 5) He is the Vine, we are the branches. We must remain in Him, abide in Him and obey Him. Wherever it is that He leads, to whomever He leads. You're going to go places I will never go. I will speak to people that you never will. But that's what it's all about.
I can't sum this up in a better way than this: Corrie Ten Boom writes in "Each New Day", "When I saw Sadhu Sundar Singh in Europe, he had completed a tour around the world. People asked him, Doesn't it do harm, your getting so much honor?" The Sadhu's answer was: "No. The donkey went into Jerusalem, and they put garments on the ground before him. He was not proud. He knew it was not done to honor him, but for Jesus, who was sitting on his back. When people honor me, I know it is not me, but the Lord, who does the job." 
"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last." ...Jesus
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #116

#116 "Pitching Tents"
October 9, 2007
"Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters [tents]--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.""  (Mark 9: 5)
(Scripture Reference -  Mark 9: 2-8)
We have all experienced times on the mountain top. We've all had times of intense exhilaration and happiness over the blessings of God. Maybe it was on our wedding day, when we looked into the eyes of our one true love and anticipated our future together. How about the feeling of holding your child in your arms for the very first time. What a rush!  Maybe we got the job, or the check came in the mail. What about the day that the doctor said all the tests were negative? Seasons where all is right with the world.
Peter, James and John had one of these experiences with Jesus on the top of Mount Hermon. In their presence, Jesus was transfigured. This means that He was changed into another form, not merely a change in outward appearance. For a brief time Jesus' human body was transformed and the disciples saw Him as He will be when He returns visibly in power and glory to establish His kingdom on earth. And if that weren't enough, they were able to see Moses and Elijah with their very own eyes.
Impulsive Peter says, "This is awesome! Let's pitch some tents and stay here!" He wants to prolong this glorious experience. And aren't we just like Peter? During those times when everything is as it should be, when all the facets of our lives are in perfect alignment, when the pieces all fit....we want to make our home there. We want to pitch a tent and never leave the mountain top, where we know we've heard the voice of God and our prayers have been answered and we take up residence on the sunny side of the street. 
Fortunately for us, tent pegs are easily removed from the ground. It's fortunate because we were never destined to stay in those types of moments. We need those times of exhilaration. We need those times of inspiration and divine blessing. We need to see the glory of God manifest itself in various circumstances in our lives. But we were not destined to stay there. Our destiny and our purpose is for the Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays of life. Where we get up and go to work. Come home and make dinner. Do some laundry. Put the kids to bed. Get up and do it all again. Oswald Chambers puts it this way, "We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the beautiful attractions in life--those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength." As awesome as this event was for Peter, James and John, when it was over, they were led by Christ to the reality of living, to a demon possessed boy, and a world living in the absence of Jesus. We must come down from our mountains to the drudgery, to menial tasks, and to the moments which the mountain top experience prepared us to face. Most of life is lived right there.
Might I also add a word of caution right here? I would dare to say that it is harder to live close to Christ on the mountain top than in the valley. Say what? You heard me. It's harder to live close to Christ on the mountain top than in the valley. I'm sure you'd agree that when your needs are huge and tears are streaming down your face, you run to Jesus. You pray, you give, you obey....thinking that if you follow the rules, your prayer will be answered. Nothing drives us to Christ like a crisis. We make promises. We bargain. We seek Him with all of our hearts. But what about when times get good? We must be careful not to allow good times to lead us into sloppy living.
This was obviously a problem inherent in all men. God addressed this issue way back in Deuteronomy 8: 10-18 when He said, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today." 
Reading between the lines, God knows we have a penchant for forgetting Him in the good times. All of a sudden we think we can get away with sloppy living. We don't obey Him or walk as closely with Him. He says that we have a tendency toward pride and toward thinking that we accomplished everything that is good in our lives, on our own. We may even praise God for our blessings, but mistakenly believe that we were blessed because we obeyed, or because we prayed enough or walked blamelessly enough. Don't ever forget that you are on the mountain of blessing because He gave, He brought you out, He led, He supplied, He enabled. We must live close to Christ on the mountain and close to Christ in the valley.
Today, if you are on the Mount Hermon of your experience, enjoy it, but remember that it is rare. Don't pound your tent pegs in too firmly. You will be moving. Soak in the inspiration, fill yourself with the fresh air of God's presence and be inspired and strengthened by Him. Remember that it was He who led you there. Every blessing you enjoy has come from His gracious hand. Hide this moment in your heart as a reserve to draw on when Jesus says, "It's time to go down from here."
And if you're in that valley today, feeling like heaven has shut it's doors or that life is just a drudge, remember that He is with you. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me." (Psalm 23: 4 KJV)  You will one day hear Jesus say, "It's time to go up." Whether you are ascending to the top of the mountain today or descending into the demon possessed valley, remember that it is He who always leads the way.
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday's with Jesus #115

#115 "Feast or Famine"
October 2, 2007
"Now there was a famine in the land--besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time--and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him." (Genesis 26: 1, 12)
If you take up residence in the state of Michigan, you woke up Monday morning to the headlines, "Midnight Shutdown". That would be the government of our Great Lakes state. By the time you read this, agreements may have been made, bills passed, everything may be up and running..or not. For days there has been a flurry of activity over a balanced budget. An increase to our income tax has been approved as well as a sales tax on 23 different services. Folks already struggling in their finances, in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, are understandably shaken. More money will come from pockets already turned inside out and empty. People are angry. Divided. Panicked over what will happen next. How are believers in Jesus Christ supposed to respond at a time like this? Let's look at Genesis, Chapter 26.
There was a famine in Canaan. Isaac's father, Abraham was dead and gone. He had survived the famine of Genesis 12:10. Abraham was the one who Jehovah had promised to bless. But what of his descendant, his son, Isaac, now in a famine of his own? Very simply, the promise would continue right on after Abraham's death. The whole of Chapter 26 stresses that the promise continued to Isaac. The descendants of the obedient servant Abraham would be blessed because of him. The obedience of one man brought blessings to his descendants. And Isaac truly was blessed. He sojourned in the land and enjoyed divine prosperity. His crops flourished and he became rich, right in the midst of a famine! 
The Bible tells us that Isaac was so blessed that the Philistines envied him. They stopped up all of his wells and filled them with earth (v. 15). At that time, wells were tangible evidence of divine blessing. No matter where Isaac dug, and no matter how often the Philistines stopped up the wells, Isaac would reopen them. God's blessing on Isaac could not be hindered. No famine and no jealous Philistines could stop the divine favor of God on Isaac's life. He was Abraham's seed and heir to the promise God had given him. (see Genesis 12: 1-3)
Did you know that you are heir to that same promise? Look at Galatians 3:29. "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." You are Abraham's spiritual seed and heir to spiritual privilege and position. You have God's blessing and divine favor on your life. No famine or tax increase or government shutdown can harm you. You can prosper right in the midst of hardship.
Nowhere is this principle more beautifully portrayed than in Psalm 91. Nowhere is there a more powerful testimony about where we find our true security and protection in life. Here we learn that God is our shelter and our hiding place. He is the sovereign ruler of the world. We can rest in His shadow. Safe in that shadow, we don't feel the full heat of difficulty. In the natural, shade reduces the heat of what we actually feel. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual realm. You can say, "God is my refuge, my strong protection and my fortress. He is my God and I trust in Him." He draws you close, under the shadow of His wings, like a mother bird protecting her young. He is a shield and a rampart, providing a protective barrier and a wall-like ridge around your life. Verses 5-7 tell you that you need not fear. Though people and circumstances and situations are flying around you by day and by night, and even when everyone around you is in a panic, the trouble will not harm you. You can live in the promises of God, in the midst of it all when you know in Whom your true security lies.
The world is not your source of financial security. "Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today." (Deuteronomy 8: 18) God is Jehovah Jirah, your provider. All of life is a gift from Him and nothing is possible apart from Him. In the midst of the famine of Genesis 26, your spiritual grandfather Isaac, took care of business, planted his crops and reaped a hundredfold "because the Lord blessed him."  That same blessing is on you today, my friend. In the midst of unemployment, high taxes, economical instability and government shutdowns, take care of business with God and reap a hundredfold blessing in the midst of. Don't let the newspapers and the talking heads convince you that there is no hope. "Make the Most High your dwelling [and] no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent." (Ps. 91: 9-10) 
God isn't broke today. He doesn't have a budget deficit. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10) All the silver and gold is His. (Haggai 2: 8) He is your source. He is your security. Don't panic. Trust. That's the way believers are to respond at such a time as this! 
Donna Schultz
To unsubscribe, reply to this e-mail and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.  
If you are viewing this on Blogger.com and would like to receive "Tuesday's with Jesus" in your e-mail box each Tuesday, please visit our website or e-mail tuesdays@livingthewordministries.org and you will be added to the list.