Studies, Lessons and Devotionals
The first part of this new year has been overflowing with reflections, learning, practicing, and understanding victory through surrender. I've read some great books and spent time in deep conversations about spiritual warfare, victory, and surrender.
I still get those jitters. I have had them since taking my first plane ride with my twin sister since when were sixteen years old. There's nothing between the plane's wheels and the ground but thin, invisible, air. Butterflies move around in my stomach. I say a prayer, and then....take off! Flying in an airplane is awe-inspiring. God has actually given us the capability to take a machine and manipulate it to move through the earthly heavens to get from one destination to another.
"But God saves those who suffer through their suffering: he gets them to listen through their pain." --Job 36:15 (NCV)
I told God the other day, "OK. I hear you. I will listen. And I don't need migraine pain anymore. Father you have my attention." I don't actually believe God was giving me the migraine, it's just that I deeply believe He can take it away right then and there. But I also believe there is something to be gained by this suffering – by this pain.
Those of us who are physically challenged go through trials and emotional turbulence. God is with us every minute, working to bring us closer to him—while Satan is scheming to wrench us away. Being chronically ill is one of the greatest challenges a disciple can face. Sometimes we wish our illnesses were of an acute nature so we could go through them, die and go be with God. Living in constant pain or sickness without knowing when it will end, yet trusting that God truly loves us, summons every bit of faith we have...one day at a time.
"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." -- Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)
Jesus teaches that God made husband and wife to be an inseparable unit. Their union supercedes their relationship to their parents. This commitment and loyalty are to be for life. They are to be "no longer two, but one." Jesus is referring to an intimate sharing of the whole of two people's lives, including the past, present, and future. Consider the implications of such oneness in marriage.
It's a question we, as leaders, are accustomed to asking of others. Sometimes the responses come to us in the form of a quick "fine," while other answers are much more detailed. At times we hear more than we wish to hear. While often we don't know what the responses to this question may bring... we strive to stay equipped to help with scriptures, prayer, and a listening ear. That's our job, right? But it's more than a job. We really do care.
Yet, I find that all too often, we don't take time to ask this question of ourselves or to each other.
So, how are you doing?
God wants to use you! I know you have weaknesses, insecurities, and fears, but they are not there to discourage you. Instead, God allows you to have them so you may depend on God, and see his holy power work to make up the difference as you step out on faith (2 Corinthians 12:9).
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." -- James 5:6-7
Embracing humility and off-loading anxiety are not disconnected ideas, and they are certainly not random commands. In God's great love for us and his desire to be our refuge, he offers us this gift of peace. Accepting his gift requires our participation and self-awareness.
Today, International Women's Day is a day women are celebrated all over the world. God celebrates us each day, but on this day "set aside" particularly for women, we want to remind each of you how deeply you are loved by God.
The following is an excerpt from chapter one of Prime Rib: Exploring a Woman’s Value and Purpose by Jeanie Shaw. The chapter is entitled, “Designed with Love and Purpose.” The list of “Who I am in Christ” is from appendix C of her book, Understanding Goose.