Saturday, December 16, 2017

Pass the Bread

“For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24 NLT)

One of my favorite holiday traditions is to bake a huge batch of dinner rolls. They are always a big hit with my guests. ‘Can you pass the bread’ is a frequent request at the dinner table. As the basket of bread gets passed along from one end of the table to another, each individual takes what they need before they hand it to the next person.

The Word of God is bread that sustains and nourishes the soul.  These days, technological resources enable us to share Scripture with others. Once we take what we need, we can pass it along to the next person. By doing this, we can bring comfort, encouragement, wisdom, conviction, and edification. We can feed the masses through social media, or we can have intimate gatherings where we minister to one individual at a time through private communications. Whatever methods we choose, the Word of God is distributed and everyone is blessed.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Speaking for Others

“Speak up for the people who have no voice,  for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice!  Stand up for the poor and destitute!” (Proverbs 31:9 MSG)

The popular passage on how to be a ‘wife of noble character’ is found in Proverbs 31. I have looked to this portion of the Bible for directions on how to be a good wife, mother, and woman. Yet, until recently, I had not paid attention to the verses preceding this section. As women, are we called to speak up for those who have no voice?

There are so many people in this world who are powerless, vulnerable, and voiceless. Refugees, undocumented immigrants, women, young children, the elderly, the underprivileged, people with disabilities-- all often go unheard.

If you have the privilege, the luxury, of being able to have a voice--then develop it and use it. First, learn to stand up for your own beliefs.  Then, speak up for those who have no rights. Defend the powerless, the voiceless, the poor, and the destitute. Confront bullies and oppressors. Fight against injustice. As women of noble character, this is part of our calling.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Clear Voice

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5 NLT)

I am not one to keep my opinions to myself. Yet, I often feel unheard or ignored. Am I not speaking clearly, assertively? I used to blame others for not listening, but I’m beginning to think I am contributing to this problem. I am recognizing certain patterns in my behavior. I state my opinions, desires, beliefs. If there is any resistance, especially from people I love, I back off; I defer; I yield.
  1. I don’t want to face the discomfort of disapproval; thus, I cave in when others push back.
  2. Yielding makes me feel feminine, kind, magnanimous. I’ve internalized the message that being unyielding is selfish, bitchy, hard, and cold.
  3. I am not clear about my own values, choices, and priorities. I’m not sure where my responsibilities end and where the other person’s start. I send out mixed messages. This makes for fuzzy boundary lines.
  4. Since I’m not clear about my boundaries, I don’t defend them firmly. I really don’t have a plan on how far I will go, or how far I will allow others to influence my life. I don’t prepare myself for the inevitable resistance I will face when I stand up for my beliefs.

Lord, grant me the clarity, wisdom, courage, and strength to find my voice, speak clearly, and not be shushed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Prince of Peace

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 NLT)

Peace, wholeness--this is what I long for
Confusion, brokenness--this is what I have
I’m tired of this never-ending battle
There is no fight left in me

Who is ruling my heart?
The Prince of Darkness or the Prince of Peace?
It’s time for a regime change
Wholeness shall reign

I’m handing my brokenness over to the Restorer
The One who brings Shalom
Supernatural peace
Wholeness shall reign

The War will continue
But the battle is not mine to fight
The Prince of Peace will take over
Wholeness shall reign

Amazing Counselor
Strong God
Eternal Father
Sovereign of Wholeness

Monday, December 11, 2017

Identifying the Enemy

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT)

I struggle with anxiety. It would be easy to think that the emotion of anxiety is the enemy that I need to battle, but it’s not. It is just a spear in the hands of a skilled Enemy. If I only focus on fighting this weapon, I can easily be defeated by a blow to the head.

I struggle with certain relationships. Often, I mistake the difficult person as my enemy. However, this person may just be under the influence of Evil. At some point in our lives, we have all been pawns in the hands of the Enemy. But for the saving Grace of God, we would still be there.

The conflicts we face in our lives may appear to us in the form of other individuals and human weaknesses. Yet, there are unseen forces at work behind the scenes directing these battles. Properly identifying the real Enemy is integral to fighting Evil.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Applying Logic to Spiritual Problems

“Well aware of their reasonings, Jesus answered their questions by asking in turn, "What is this that you are debating in your hearts?” (Luke 5:22 WNT)

Antibiotics are useful when treating bacterial infections but not for viral illnesses. However, since it is often hard to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections, many of us seek antibiotics when we feel ill. This can cause more harm in the form of antibiotic resistance.

Similarly, logic and reason are useful ways of dealing with most earthly issues but not for spiritual matters. It is often difficult to tell the difference. Most of us apply the same ointment of logic to every affliction. When faced with adversity, we use rational thoughts, arguments, debate, human knowledge, and experience. If something doesn’t make sense, we reject it as nonsense. This can cause more harm in the form of spiritual resistance.  As long as we continue to rely on human strategies, we cannot access God’s power.

Natural solutions cannot address supernatural problems. At best, human logic can lead to temporary relief. Faith that does not extend beyond human reasoning is ineffectual.  Thus, it is imperative that we lean not on human methodologies but on God to fight spiritual battles.  Only Divine healing leads to true transformation.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Holy Spirit

“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26 NLT)

The Holy Spirit is a mystery to many. We can imagine God as Father--a better version of our earthly dads. We can picture Jesus--healer, teacher, savior. But the Holy Spirit seems enigmatic--ungraspable like the wind, animated but invisible, all encompassing yet unexplainable.

The Bible describes the Holy Spirit as an advocate, friend, teacher, counselor, comforter, reminder, giver of gifts, indwelling presence, voice of truth--keeper of all the intangible attributes of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is more often experienced than visualized--a hefty weight that is comforting, not burdensome; a supernatural conscience that influences our human spirit--empowering, clarifying, prompting, electrifying. How do we respond to this inexplicable member of the Trinity? We welcome Him/Her. We make space to be filled. We hand over control.