Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Jesus Speaks to Women - Matthew 12


Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”  Matthew 12: 46-50

Well, in my quest to find all the instances when Jesus spoke to women recorded in the Gospels, I've come across the passage above as the next instance when Jesus have some kind of interaction with women in Matthew.  

Although Jesus does not speak directly to a woman in this passage, He does speak about women...one in particular:  His Mother.  

I have to admit that this piece of Scripture is a bit perplexing to me.  But again, that's because I'm looking at it from the perspective of my limited human understanding.  I believe that if I were to be so bold as to place myself in Jesus' sandals, I might have a better glimpse of what Our Lord is trying to communicate here.  

Well, first of all, Jesus knew that His Mother and brothers were there to try to convince Him of being more careful about His public ministry.  They probably wanted Jesus to be less conspicuous.  And since He would not stop doing His work, well, He spared His earthly relatives the scene.  The other reason is that this was a teaching moment.  Jesus never allowed a teaching moment to not be taken advantage of.  And this is no exception.

This was another opportunity for Jesus to remind us that we are all His family.  We are all part of the Royal lineage of Christ, the King of Kings!  Those whom He chooses...those who follow Him...those are His family!  Notice the precious addition of the "sisters" in Jesus' reply.  It is He, not the one who comes looking for Him, who includes the "sisters" in the list of relatives.  I absolutely adore that!  He didn't have to.  Sisters, daughters or women for all that matter, are rarely mentioned when listing those in attendance to anywhere.  Only men were usually counted back then.  In this case, Jesus makes sure He includes the fact that sisters are also worthy of mention as significant members of His family.

Dear sisters in Christ, let's never forget that!  We matter to Jesus.  He knows we are here.  We count!  May we never listen to the lies of the enemy who wants us to believe we are insignificant or inadequate or unworthy to be among those loved by Our Lord!  May we always remember that even if the world forgets, Jesus does not.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Jesus Speaks to Women - Matthew 9: 20-22

I continue in my quest to hearing Jesus speaking to me by searching and pausing at passages where He spoke to women in the Gospels.  Today, I'm stopping at the first instance of recorded words that Jesus spoke to a woman in the Gospel according to Matthew: 

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment. Matthew 9: 20-22

This is another scene when Jesus performs a healing to a woman...while getting on His way to raising a young girl back to life after she was pronounced dead, by the way...but this time, there are words spoken by Our Savior, precious words that we can cling onto.  But before we get to His words, let's look at His actions.  

We have the woman, who, filled with faith and hope, dared to touch His cloak, even if only the very edge.  Scripture gives us a detail about this woman's condition which is very important:  she had been bleeding for twelve years.  Lord, have mercy!  This condition was not only debilitating and potentially lethal (actually, it's amazing she survived that long!) but it also made her unclean, and as such, unable to go to temple.  She was an outcast.  This was her chance to plug herself into the Power of the Most High, and she took it!  She knew, she ran a risk of being tossed away, but, fueled by faith, she went for it.  

What did Jesus do?  Did He shush her away?  Did He have His bodyguards get her our of the way?  Of course not!  He turned to her.  Can you believe it?  Jesus actually TURNED. TO. HER.  WOW!
And He saw her...

Nobody is too small.  Nobody is too far away.  Nobody is too unimportant.  Nobody is too unclean.  Nobody is too insignificant that the King of Kings may not stop, turn and see him or her.

Then, as if that weren't enough for an outcast woman (NOT an oxymoron in Jesus' time), He speaks to her:  “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”

Blessed be the Name of Jesus!!!!

Don't you long to hear Him say that to you?  I know I do!  With all my heart, I do!  

So, let's grab these words as if spoken to us, because they are, indeed!  Let's push through the crowd of unbelief, of busyness, of entertainment, of activities, of our circumstances, of our fears and anxieties, like Jon Courson says in his Application Commentary, and let's be like this nameless woman, and reach out and touch the hem of His cloak.  He is waiting for us to do so.  She is nameless, because she is every woman who needs His healing power, His presence, His eyes on her, His words spoken to her...

Sigh...

Dear Lord, may I recognize that I am your daughter.  May I know that You know me.  May I realize that You see me.  May I accept that You heal me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Jesus Speaks to Women

Tonight, I feel a great need to hear the voice of my Savior.  I need His presence to be evident to me at this moment.  

I can't count myself as one who claims to have ever heard the audible voice of God.  I wish I could, but it just has never happened.  I do hear His voice, however...in Scripture, that is.  The Word of God comes to me out of the pages of the Bible.  And it never fails me.  

Tonight, as I feel anxious thoughts creeping up, contaminating my mind, I search for it once again.  This time, though, I am intent in locating instances in which Jesus speaks to women.  So, I begin at the Gospel according to Matthew, and it is in chapter 8 when I find the first interaction between Jesus and a woman in this account.  There aren't any actual words recorded in this passage, but it is a healing, and that intrigued me to no end:

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. 
Matthew 8: 14-15

In this instance, nobody asks Jesus to exercise His powers to cure this woman.  He simply enters the house and sees her, lying in bed with a fever.  I imagine her to be a middle-age woman, perhaps not much older than myself.  She is probably feeling embarrassed because, rather than fussing about dinner to entertain the guests, people are fussing about her not being her usual self due to illness.  I can picture her totally in awe that Jesus looks at her.  Unable to move, she holds the gaze for it's impossible to look away.  She trembles as His hand makes contact with her skin.  And, instantly, she feels the healing touch covering her as she regains her strength.  What to do, then?  Well, what else?  Get up and start showing her thankfulness the best way she can:  serving Him Who Has Healed her.

Sigh...

Lord, what a wonderful scene!

The compassion of Jesus has no end.  At a time when women were at the same level as cattle, and older women were more likely disregarded as useless burdens, Jesus, the Lord of All that There Is, the Great I Am, not only notices her, but touches her and heals her even when she is not worth her own relatives asking for it.

He is the Lord Who Sees.  He sees us.  He knows us.  And He does not abandon us.  Even if the entire world forgets about us...Jesus remembers, because we are His masterpiece, carefully thought of, designed and knit together before the beginning of the world.    

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for seeing me.  My trust is in You.  You are the King of Who I am!


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Stronger Legs

Recently, I read a devotional online that really pulled at my heartstrings.  It had to do with the power of friendship.  The writer was telling a story of the day her son started kindergarten, and how at the beginning he was so sad and disappointed because he felt lonely.  However, one day, he made a friend, and together, they began to enjoy the kindergarten experience as they thrived together.  When she asked her little boy to explain how his new friend had helped him, her son replied:  "he makes my legs stronger!"

I just thought that was the cutest thing I've ever heard!

The whole reading made me think of when Grant started six grade at a new school.  He was so lonely and we didn't know how to help him.  It broke my heart to watch him be so alone.  He is such a trooper, though...and he got through it...with the help of a little friend the Lord put in his life.  Little by little he started making a few other friends and that has helped him tremendously to gain confidence and to make the high school experience a bit less traumatic.

I also thought how it is the same for everyone, regardless of age and circumstance.  The Lord places people in our lives to help us through our difficulties and to savor the joys.  Friendships make the hardships a bit less harsh and more endurable.  They make the happy moments a lot sweeter and more memorable.  

Knowing we have friends pulling for us, praying for us, offering their hand when we are down, sharing their company when we are alone, bringing in light in our darkest hours is like receiving the embrace from the Lord Himself.

Just recently, as I was, yet again, sinking in anxiety over medical issues, the selfless words and helpful presence of unexpected friends injected peace to my weary soul and hope to my twisted mind.  I felt more confident and I grabbed hold of my choice to trust God's plan over whatever my foolish heart might be telling me.  I praised Him for His Goodness and for sending friends to help me up and make my legs stronger for the road ahead.

We are not supposed to walk along the dusty roads of this life alone, said the author of the devotional...I totally agree with that statement.  Even if you think you are alone, you are not.  There is always someone there.  It's a matter of looking intently.  Jesus is always here with us, and He always sends His angels in human flesh at our hour of most intense need.  Let's trust and walk together, as iron sharpens iron, and as friends who make each other's legs stronger.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Seeking to Rest

Sometimes I wish I could have days upon days when I don't do a thing.  I'm so busy, though, that taking even a couple of hours a day sets me back and causes the pile of stuff I have to do to get higher and higher.  To say that I am overwhelmed with work and other things is a large understatement.

That's not what life is supposed to be like.  Just looking at the way the 24 hour span of time works is enough to prove we are not meant to be non-stop.  There is a balanced cycle of activity and rest built into the days by the One Who Created the days.  Why should we imagine that we can modify such perfect cycle?  Our arrogance?  Our pride?  Our focus on the things of this world?  All of the above?

Whatever it is that makes us join the mad race of life in our society, needs to stop!  I need it to stop!

I need to at least put it on pause, so I can recalibrate and find my true north again.  I feel lost in the myriad of to-do lists, e-mails and agendas.  It's as if I've walked deep into the woods without my GPS.  And now, I'm not sure I know how to turn around and go back home.

The reason why I've lost my compass is because I've forgotten that the compass is the Word of God.  The minute I remember that, I regain a sense of direction.  As soon as I turn my eyes back to His promises, I regain hope. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30

The plain and uncompromising words of Jesus bring me comfort tonight.  They call me and they offer me peace.  "Come to me..."  Yes, Lord, to You I come for rest...as you promised.  But it is not rest that implies a "do-nothing" condition.  He invites us to take His yoke upon ourselves...and learn...two very active states of being that imply work.  The difference is that work in Him, work that is done in Him, is not work at all, for He is the One doing it.  We are just along for the ride, hence the "light burden."

Jesus is the One Who Did it all and He continues to do it the same today as He did back on the Cross.  As we walk with Him towards our sanctification, He teaches us how to carry the yoke as He did:  with the eyes fixed on eternity and the heart lifted toward the Father.

May the Holy Spirit guide us towards a place of rest, true rest, the rest that is only possible when we drop the yoke of this world and take upon the yoke of Christ.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Rush of Days

Are you often so busy that life seems to be passing you by at the speed of light?  Do you ever feel as if time is just slipping away?

I feel like that.  And I don't like it!

I want to savor the days.  I want to enjoy the moments.  I want to set aside time to speak and to listen to God.  I want to pause and listen to my children's laughter while I still can.  I want to pet my dog and enjoy a nice walk with my husband.  I want to look at the sky and marvel at God's creation.

Mostly, however, I rush through hallways as blurry faces hurry by.  I look at the pavement and drag a heavy load in my arms.  I speed through the streets and sigh in frustration when trapped in traffic.  I speak harsh words and stare at watches and clocks.  I tap my fingers and shake my legs in restlessness.  I listen little and push around. 

I blink, and there isn't even the vapor of the days left behind.

I don't even know where the years have gone?  Today was the first Halloween neither of my kids went trick or treating!  That, to me, was a big blow!  A reality hit in the face that woke me up to the fact that my boys are not little anymore...what in the world?  How did that happen?

In the busyness of my days I'm afraid, I'm weaving an entrapment of my own, which threatens to rob me of my ability to redeem the times.  The days are evil, and I am to make the most of my time. (Ephesians 5: 16)  But that doesn't mean running around like a crazy woman or becoming a workaholic.  It means, being wise at how I spend my hours.  It means allocating my precious moments to what truly matters.  It means spending time in God's presence and enjoying the abundant life He has provided.

When I forget and take my eyes off of eternity, my life becomes chaotic and senseless.  But the Lord is Good all the time.  He loves me.  He loves you.  And in His infinite love and compassion, He renews His mercies every morning.  Therefore, each day presents a new opportunity to refresh our resolve to be grateful for the day He has made and to rejoice in it, in all of it!  May Our Merciful Jesus guide us on the path of redeeming our time.  May our lives pay tribute to His presence.  So the moments that together make up our lives be spent in His Grace and in His Love.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Is It Truly Possible to Have an Enjoyable Ride?

A few years ago, one of my dear sisters in law told me that I needed to just chill and "enjoy the ride." 

To tell you the truth, I've never known how to do such a thing. 

Sigh...

The other day, as I was on a plane coming back from a work trip, I started thinking about how much I detest air-travel.  The whole thing makes me really anxious.  From packing, to going through security, to dealing with delays...the whole thing is a nightmare.  The worst part for me is the actual flying.  I have to kind of suspend my disbelief in order to get on board of a plane...because...if I truly think about what I am doing...I would panic!  I mean, really...flying???  Who ever thought that was a good idea?  55 thousand feet up in the air without anything to catch you if something goes wrong!  'Comon!?

Sigh...

So, I try not to think about it.  It is easier if I'm traveling with someone else, because I could get distracted in mindless chatting.  Cruising altitude...nice and smooth...good conversation...no problem!  Until the darn turbulence hits!

It's like I've forgotten where I am, and the bump just slaps me on the face to wake up! 

That's how I feel about life.  Just when I feel like I'm cruising...attempting to enjoy the ride...a bump literally pops up and disrupts any semblance of balance.

How am I supposed to enjoy the ride if the pesky bumps keep showing up when I least expect them?

Big pause...

Perhaps, the key is in what Scripture tells us:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (Psalm 37: 4-6) And that, "for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8: 28)  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29: 11) Therefore, I just need to "Be still" and know that He is God! (Psalm 46: 10).

I have to admit, that up until today, I always thought the expression, "enjoy the ride" was a call to a completely, carefree-existence, where problems were not part of the road being traveled and if there were problems, they were easily ignored. That's not what the pieces of Scripture above imply, though.  In each of these examples of biblical wisdom, the message between the lines is, that we need to intentionally choose to have a transformation of the way we view things/problems/circumstances in life. 

Don't lean on your own understanding kind of says, that your understanding of the current situation is flawed.  Therefore, if you follow it, it will lead you to the wrong conclusions.  The situation is bad, so don't look at it from your own perspective.  Lean on God's! 

All things work together for good is implying that, even though all things might not be good, trust that He will make them work for good in the end.

In Jeremiah's 29: 11, God invites us to place our trust in His plan, and to believe that it is good.  If it was obviously good to the human perception, He would not have to emphasize that it is good, would He?

And, the call to being still is the ultimate "calm down!" expression in which God is basically saying, I know, things don't look good from your eyes, but let me be God!  I can handle it.  You just sit still and wait.

Sigh...

Maybe, the expression, "enjoy the ride" means that we need to learn how to discover the beauty of everything that is part of the ride of life, including the bumps... 

Sigh...

I don't like it when my cruising hits rough spots.  But I pray that the Holy Captain of my flight of life helps me to trust Him fully, for He knows what He is doing and I'm in the best of hands.