Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
But Ruth said, "Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you." And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more. So the two of them went on until they came to
I love everything about Ruth.
I admire her faithfulness…
In what must have been a heartbreaking time; all the men in the family had died. Naomi tried to convince her daughter-in-law Ruth to return to her own family, but she refused. Naomi had been right where she was some ten years before when her own husband died. We tend to cling to those who have been through the same life experiences as we have, and so in their shared grief, Ruth clung to Naomi.
I aspire to her humility…
In gathering the leftovers in the wheat field so she could feed her small family. She was honest and hard working, but she couldn't redeem herself. She needed help.
I am amazed by her bravery…
In placing herself at the feet of Boaz she put herself in danger in an attempt to preserve her family. Boaz had been watching her though; watching her care for Naomi. He had in fact given special orders to protect her from the day she set foot on his land. It’s easy to understand why he wanted to marry her and become the redeemer both she and Naomi needed.
I am encouraged by her focus…
In doing what was right, and on the one true God. When Ruth thought about returning to her own mother and the place of her birth, she knew that also meant returning to a people lost in the worship of other gods. She couldn’t go. “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” She was a wise woman.
I am going to try to follow her lead…
In this sometimes chaotic season of Advent I tend to find myself losing focus. Whether it is lack of sleep, lack of funds, or lack of motivation, it all can really be blamed on a lack of focus. Beyond all the sales, the cookie baking, and the piles of wrapping paper we find the only gift that really even matters. It’s the gift whose warranty never expires; the one that never wears out; the only gift that is absolutely free.
Keep me focused this season as I confess with my family our faith in you, and in your Son, our Redeemer. Keep me focused as I worship with my children and read the Christmas story again and again. Help me never tire of it. Keep me focused as I nurture their amazement in the true meaning of the most important gift we have ever received.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Each Monday I take part in a Leadership Team meeting with the administrators at the school where I work. We are have the entire week of Thanksgiving off of school so the meeting this week we focused on giving Thanks. The week before Thanksgiving is a busy one at my school as we have our annual fall book fair, two full days of celebrating grandparents and a special Thanksgiving Feast for our Middle School kids. Not to mention that it all happens the during one of the longest stretches of time with no school holidays. Everyone is on edge and especially the teachers that are in need of a mental health break before we come back to make the final stretch toward final exams. With all that in mind, I wrote the following devotion for our administrators and thought that it would also apply to us as parents working toward raising our kids.
It is so easy in times of great blessings to turn to you thanking you for being there and for looking out for all of us by providing us with what we need.
It is so easy Lord in difficult times to call out to you questioning where you are in our time of need.
Next week we set aside a day especially for remembering our great blessings and Lord I do not thank you enough for all that you do. So, dear Lord I thank you now. I especially thank you for the unseen blessings that you provide.
Lord, I thank you for illness as it serves as a reminder about your blessings of doctors, medicines and ultimately that you are indeed the great physician who can and will take away those challenges if it is your will.
Lord, I thank you for conflict with my coworkers as it serves as a reminder that hard work pays off usually, that working allows me to share without fear my faith in you as my Savior. It reminds me that I am blessed to have a job where I can talk to you in public without fear of retribution and it reminds me that I am blessed with a job when so many others are without.
Lord, I thank you diagreements with my spouse as they serve as a reminder of the partnership that you placed together to glorify you. It reminds me that I have someone to count on, someone that loves me without demanding in return.
Lord, I thank you for battle of the wills with my children as it serves as a reminder that you have blessed them with special gifts that will be polished over time to show your glory to a world so needing to hear about your unending, unconditional love.
It is hard at times Lord to see your many blessings in the daily challenges that we face as parents, workers and spouses. But, just as we can see your blessings in a beautiful sunrise or in a song your blessings can be seen in all of these experiences.
Thank you Lord for all of your many blessings.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, many of us are especially mindful of the blessings in our lives. I have a friend who is making daily posts on facebook concerning the things for which she is thankful. However, it can be harder for some of us than others to bring those things to mind. You may be going through a difficult time. You may be struggling with grief, loss, sickness, or financial burdens. You may just be one of those people who tend to see their glass as half-empty rather than half-full.
As wives and mothers, we often feel overwhelmed with the many responsibilities that come with these roles. I admit that I have been struggling a lot lately with priorities and meeting all the demands of work and home life. When I come across Scripture, like the above verse from 1 Thessalonians, it can feel more like an impossible mandate than the affirmation I need to give me the strength to keep going. For example, I’ll give you a little view of my personal thought dialog from just yesterday:
“I stayed up until one o’clock this morning writing lesson plans so that Joel and I could go out and spend some time together without the thought of work hanging over my head. What is my reward? My back goes out and I’m searching for a chiropractor who is open on the weekend. Not only is this day, that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks, not going as planned, but how am I supposed to handle the week ahead? I have to come up with a good recipe for chili for the PTL event, and I am certainly not an adept or creative cook. Then I have to find time to make it, figure out how to decorate the table…and what about work? How am I supposed to get up and down off the floor numerous times a day and wrangle preschoolers? How am I supposed to get my house cleaned and ready for Thanksgiving company? And on top of it all, I forgot that I have this devotion to write…really, God? Am I really supposed to give thanks for this?”
Very recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Christian women’s conference meant to uplift and encourage moms. One of the speakers whom I especially enjoyed was Jennifer Rothschild, who went blind at the age of seventeen. As you can imagine, she has had to overcome many challenges throughout her life. One of the audience members in Mrs. Rothschild’s workshop asked her, “Are you thankful for blindness, or are you bitter?” I fully expected her response to be that she was thankful for her blindness. After all, she was there speaking about the lessons she has learned due to her situation. She was there to encourage us. Her answer surprised and struck me. She said that she was neither bitter nor thankful for blindness. However, she was thankful in blindness. Then she quoted 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Wow! What a difference one little preposition makes! I consider myself an educated person with reasonable intelligence, but I have often read this passage and equated the in with a for. I looked it up in five different versions of the Bible, and they all definitely use the two letter word i-n. It is liberating to know that God doesn’t expect me to be thankful for back pain, exhaustion, or disappointment. After all, these things aren’t what God intended for us. They are all consequences of a sinful world. But, I can give thanks in pain, exhaustion, and disappointment because God offers His grace which is sufficient for me. I can be thankful in these circumstances because God works in and through all things for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose.
Dear God, Thank you for the many blessings you pour out on me daily. Allow me to see the unexpected blessings that come through struggle. When I get wrapped up in the circumstances of my here and now, help me to rejoice in the hope and the future you have planned for me.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Many of us have been in the car with our family on our way to a fun destination and heard the words, “are we there yet?” streaming from one of the back seats. The excitement and anticipation of your arrival takes over any patience the child may have. They can hardly wait to get there and enjoy!
When I was a child, I can vividly remember a time when I very much felt this way about heaven. I was so excited to get to heaven and start enjoying all that it had to offer. In anticipation and eagerness, I would pray every night that Jesus would come and that He would take me to heaven to live with Him. Now, I was a very happy and healthy girl, so this was not me seeking to get away from life here on earth. I was just truly and genuinely that excited to spend my eternity in heaven.
As I have gotten older I find that I do not think this way as much as I did then, but shouldn’t we? So often we begin to look at death and the “end times” with fear and dread. In reality there is nothing for us to fear or dread, rather in faith we should look forward to the time when Jesus will come and take us to heaven to live with Him.
In the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for this very thing. “Your kingdom come.” Martin Luther explores what we are praying for in this petition in Luther’s Small Catechism. Luther says this, “We do not pray that God’s kingdom of power would come, because that is already present everywhere, but we ask God to…
A. Give us His Holy Spirit so that we believe His Word and lead godly lives
as members of His kingdom of grace;
B. Bring many others into His kingdom of grace;
C. Use us to extend His kingdom of grace;
D. Hasten the coming of His kingdom of glory.
“Hasten the coming of His kingdom of glory.” Amen! Are we there yet? No, but the time of our arrival in heaven will come. Until then, we can continue to look forward to that day with eagerness and excited anticipation. As we do so, we pray that God will give us His Holy Spirit so we believe His Word, lead godly lives, bring others to Him, and help to extend His kingdom.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You that we have an eternity in Your heavenly kingdom to look forward to. As we eagerly await the time we will arrive there, send us Your Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and keep us strong and steadfast in the work You give us to do. Amen!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)
I am waiting. At this point, there's really nothing else I can do. We have just over a week until baby's due date, and everything (as far as I know) is ready. I've learned all I can stand to learn about labor and delivery; baby's room is ready with all the furniture, gear, gadgets, and clothes we can pack into it; and thanks to my mom, we have about two weeks' worth of meals in our freezer. The only thing I can think of to do yet is pack a bag for the hospital, and the only reason I haven't done that is because I need to have something to do.
When I know exactly when something is going to happen, I don't mind the waiting so much. But when something could happen at any time, waiting is mind-numbing. The days seem so long, and the nights...the nights wouldn't be so bad if I could just sleep, but every time I have to get up or every time my aching body wakes me up and I have to change to a (slightly) more comfortable position, all I can do is wonder how much longer until baby comes. So. I'm waiting.
I know Advent is still several weeks away, but at this time of year, my thoughts to another great waiting. Just as the Israelites of the Old Testament waited for their promised Savior, so we today wait for the return of our Savior. I wonder: what do we do to prepare for His coming? In the same way that we prepare a room for a new baby, do we prepare our hearts for Jesus' return? Are we engaged in His Word, growing in our faith, and sharing His good news with others?
Habakkuk reminds us that the time will come, it will not delay. The promise of a Savior was fulfilled in Jesus, and His promise to return to us will also be fulfilled. We can rest assured in this promise, and in another--when we grow impatient or forgetful or self-reliant, we have the promise that God loves us still and forgives us. What an amazing God we have, who keeps His promises to us!
Father, as we wait for your return, keep us mindful that you fulfill your promises. Keep us steadfast in our waiting. Even so, we ask that you come quickly, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies. Hebrews 11:31
Most likely, fitting in was not something Rahab was well known for in
It is apparent that Rahab’s family loved her. Her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all who belonged to her; they were with her when the Israelites came to defeat
I wonder what she thought when Joshua’s spies showed up at her home. She immediately invited them in and acknowledged their God as the God of the heavens and the earth. God had chosen her to protect his people, and she was more than willing to participate in his plan of salvation. My suspicion is too that secrecy, meeting with strange men, and lying to the authorities were not at all foreign to her.
After the fall of
We all have times when we aren’t convinced that we fit in, whether within our community, among fellow believers at church, or even in our own families. It is at these times when we can read Rahab’s story again. In Joshua chapter 2, God tells us how he used a vile human to do his victorious work. Throw out that nice pretty picture you have in your head of what a woman of God looks like, and remember that Rahab didn’t fit in because of who she was, she fit in because of whose she was. The same can be said of us.
We belong to a God who uses us in spite of ourselves, and has placed us in the family line of the Savior of the World. With the wicked, with the vile, with the faithful, with the forgiven, we fit right in. God’s plan is at work in us, in the depth of our sin, because of the love of our Savior. Rest assured you fit into Rahab’s family. It’s a good thing. Hers is the family of God, and we too are part of his plan of salvation.
God of the Heavens and the Earth,
There are times when I don’t know where I fit into your plan. Give me the peace and contentment that only you can provide, knowing that although I don’t know where, I do in fact fit. Help me to trust in you as you use me in your plan of salvation for my family.
In Jesus Name, Amen.