Monthly Archives: July 2020

Adventurously Expectant!

Many of us are waiting. We are unsettled. Why? It may be that our focus needs to be readjusted. Ponder these words from Paul found in Romans 8:

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Romans 8:15-25 The Message*

Paul is reminding us of who we are and what we need to refocus on. How do we do this?  Steer ourselves away from “SELF”.  Look around – what is God asking us to consider during our wait?  It will not involve what we think we want or deserve.

John 4:36 reminds us that, “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay; gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life.”

Luke 12:35 emphasizes the same reminder. “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants who the Master finds on watch”.

These Words from God remind us to be prepared for the return of Jesus – it could happen at any moment and we want to be doing what is right and good when that time occurs. Those who are ripe will be harvested.

So during the “Wait” of this season, we should be in preparation for eternal living. How do we do that? By living each day at a time – doing the next “right” thing.

 

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Sit and Wait

The phrase, “I don’t know” is an interesting phrase that wears many masks. There are emotions hidden behind an, “I don’t know”. Different feelings, moods and implications are applied to different situations. No matter what the situation, “I don’t know” is almost always followed by a period of waiting.

When using “I don’t know” in situations with potential for positive outcomes, it can be accompanied by excitement and joy. The phrase can go hand in hand with anticipation of success and healing. It can be coupled with thankfulness that overflows! We can agree waiting for a positive outcome can be pleasant.

But not every situation ends happily.

Many situations with unknown outcomes may not end well – situations that may turn out very sad or very destructive – situations that cause separation in relationships or a life-altering illness. When waiting out a potential negative ending to “I don’t know”, it can seem like each day is grueling.

In those cases, it takes a conscious effort to keep “I don’t know” from marrying “Worry”. “I don’t know” and “Worry” seem like opposite ends of a magnet while we wait for a probable negative outcome.

But in the wait is hope!

First, God can do anything! Converting an “I don’t know” into “yes” or “no” based upon your own power and understanding leaves God out. God wants to be with you in every situation and every waiting period!

Second, we are told over and over again in the Bible, do not worry.

Philippians 4:6 advises us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Matthew 6:25 counsels us, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

How do we leave worry behind? How do we wait without worrying?

Often times to avoid worry, we like to fill our waiting time with other jobs, other tasks that will distract us from the impending outcome. Keeping busy helps us concentrate on not worrying and it helps us feel accomplished.

However, there is another path we can follow found in Luke 10. This is the story of two sisters, Mary and Martha who are friends of Jesus.   It appears that Martha, is a very busy, task-oriented person and frankly, a bit cranky. Mary, on the other hand, is captured by Jesus’ presence and hangs peacefully on every word.

Martha has an “I don’t know” about how all the work is going to get done during Jesus’s visit. Mary is not helping; everything is falling on Martha’s shoulders and she is getting frantic. She is fed up. She complains straight to Jesus and here is His reply in verse 42.

“but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was worried and she did not know the answers to all her questions. She didn’t know how long the guests would be there, she didn’t know how to get all the work done – she didn’t know how to just sit.   Is this you?

If you are faced with “I don’t know’s” that are potentially negative, stand firm in your trust in the Lord! Remember not to worry! Don’t fill up your wait with tasks that may distract you from one thing that is needed. Sit with God. Wait with Him. His plans are greater than ours and He is always good.

Just sit and wait. Be peaceful.

It is in your “wait” spent with God that His outcome is revealed.

Criticizing others? Really?

Cultivating Good Relationships

14 Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.

2-4 For instance, a person who has been around for a while might well be convinced that he can eat anything on the table, while another, with a different background, might assume he should only be a vegetarian and eat accordingly. But since both are guests at Christ’s table, wouldn’t it be terribly rude if they fell to criticizing what the other ate or didn’t eat? God, after all, invited them both to the table. Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.

Or, say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.

6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

10-12 So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother? And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister? I’d say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse. Eventually, we’re all going to end up kneeling side by side in the place of judgment, facing God. Your critical and condescending ways aren’t going to improve your position there one bit. Read it for yourself in Scripture:

“As I live and breathe,” God says,
“every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will tell the honest truth
that I and only I am God.”

So tend to your knitting. You’ve got your hands full just taking care of your own life before God.

13-14 Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.

15-16 If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

17-18 God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

19-21 So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong. Romans 14 The Message*

Paul says it all.

 

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Summer selections

Have you given up watching TV, walking the dog, wondering what to do with the kids (or your spouse)?  Well, how about some good reading?

Friends for the Journey by Madeline L’Engle and Luci Shaw is about friendship – their friendship and what friendship really is.  These two women had journeyed together for a long time, held together by their love for God and writing.  L’Engle has since passed away but Luci is in her nineties.  They both experienced the loss of their husbands and the questions of faith. This is a great read to share with friends and reflect together on God in the midst of your friendship.

God in the Dark: Through Grief and Beyond is another wonderful book by Luci Shaw written about her journey through her husband’s illness and death.  This is not an “easy fix” kind of book.  She deals with the reality of death and grieving in a clear and profound way. I would invite you to explore on Amazon her books of poetry as well.  There is always depth and beauty in what she writes.

You may be acquainted with Madeline L’Engle’s children’s books . . . A Wrinkle in Time . . . Swiftly Tilting Planet and others.  Always good reads and re-reads.  I would encourage you to read the Crosswicks Journal that are written for adults and will give you insight into her and to her writing:  A Circle of Quiet, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, The Irrational Season, and Two-Part Invention. You will find in them a woman of faith, a wife of commitment and grace, and a woman who knows family.

Now, out of fiction and into study:  Living beyond the Sanctuary.  Glenn McDonald has written before about discipleship in Disciple Making Church.  Here is a challenge to all of us as disciples who are called to make disciples.  Living beyond the Sanctuary is an invitation to become lifelong learners of Jesus, not just casual observers sitting along the sidelines of life.  The Christian life is outside the box, outside the church building.  Go disciples, and make disciples!

And last, Walking in the dust of the Rabbi by Lois Tverberg.  Through Lois you will hear about the world of Jesus and what you hear will open your eyes and mind to truths you may have missed because we read Jesus in American culture.  It is as if you are eavesdropping on Jesus.  Come listen!

 

 

 

Waiting . . . Waiting . . .Waiting!

No one likes to wait. What can make the waiting harmful are the temptations that creep in! Temptations like restlessness . . . or crankiness . . . or falling into “comfort” behaviors like eating too much or watching too many movies or worse!

Fortunately, The Holy Spirit provides us with the fruits we need to endure life which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. See Galatians:22-23

Let’s focus on #4, patience, “the ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance when faced with delay or put another way – quiet steady perseverance”.

I’ve been waiting a lot lately for different things. Waiting for different steps to happen in my family’s life to be able to move to the next segment of our journey . . . the next milestone.

And as I wait, I find that although I know that God will follow through with His promises, I am not being as patient or joyful as I could be in the waiting.  As I was researching scripture to match this feeling I have, it’s interesting to me that I was led to 2 Peter 3 which talks about the eventuality of Jesus coming back and how we are to wait for his return.

My dear friends, this is now the second time I’ve written to you, both letters reminders to hold your minds in a state of undistracted attention. Keep in mind what the holy prophets said, and the command of our Master and Savior that was passed on by your apostles . . .

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. 2 Peter 3: 1-2, 8-9 The Message*

This scripture reminds us that God’s timing is not our timing – He is in constant motion even when we are at a standstill. He is working diligently to save all – not just to save us. It reminds me to think of the broader picture and not to be self-focused. All in life – being patient – being joyful – becomes effortless when we train our minds to focus on what God is – not what we want to become.

 

*Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Return -Refocus - Rebuild - Remember

Connect With Us 

NEKODA UNLIMITED
PO BOX 97 New Bloomfield PA 17068