Friday, February 26, 2016

Jesus Loves Me Like A Mother Hen

Luke 1334 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

We studied this passage in Luke 13 Sunday morning, Jesus’ determination to continue his ministry, offering life and health to those he touches, even as he knows he’s drawing close to his sacrifice.

The above verse has always made me sad, to think of how much Jesus loved these people, wanted to hold them close, but they would not let him.

This time though, we looked at this verse in a new way for me.

Move past the sadness. Consider what Jesus says he’s offering, and remember that he offered it not only to the people of Jerusalem of that time, but to us just as much.

The picture is of a mother hen, gathering her babies close to her, under the warmth and protection of her wings. A danger comes near the chickens—a loud truck, a threatening animal—and the mother seeks out the babies to keep them safe, to give them comfort.

This is the love that God is offering to us. In the cold, stormy world, prodded and grabbed by so many threats and fears, God is offering us the love of a mother hen. He wants to gather us close to him. He wants to cover us with the warm, comforting shelter of his love and grace and wisdom. As he seeks me and offers to draw me near, I want to say, “I am willing.”

Yes, we see Jesus’ sorrow here as he mourns those who would not accept his offer. To me that says, as I accept his offer of protection, I bring him joy. What a wonder. What a mystery.

Hebrews 12:2: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”


Friday, February 19, 2016

Youth Night, Let Me Show You Jesus

We meet on Tuesday for youth nights in the city, to show kids the love of Jesus.

A lot of noise and chaos. Kids from kindergarten through high school. A healthy dinner. Crafts, games, prizes. Lots of noise. Bible stories, memory verses. The group divided between elementary school, middle school, and high school; dinner, the gym, and Bible study. “Let me tell you about Jesus.”

Music, dancing, running, laughing, shrieking. Basketball. Games—tag, Hula-hoops. More and more ball games. Did I mention the noise?

Yes, it’s chaos. But through it all, adults shower love on the kids and tell them about Jesus.

Those who run this program have big goals—show these kids God’s love, teach them to show respect and self-control, and make sure they hear the gospel of Jesus. I see this as a long-term project. Sometimes it’s disappointing that the kids don’t seem to hear much of the Bible teaching. They have a hard time staying still and quiet. But recently my husband Murray reminded us that when he became a Christian at twenty-eight, there were many voices he’d heard in the past which helped lead to that.

The verse about planting seeds is a vital part of God’s plan. We may never see when some of the seeds we sew open and grow, but we can have confidence that God’s Spirit is alive and working to use the words we speak. Our job is just to keep loving the kids and always tell them about Jesus.

1 Corinthians 3:6,10-11: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Living and Active

The Bible is an ancient book. Yet it sparkles with new life every day.

I’ve been a Christian for thirty-seven years. Through all my highs and lows in this walk, sometimes more than others, I’ve tried to be consistent about reading the Bible.

I’ve read the entire Bible more than once, been a part of many studies and classes, memorized actively as some points. I’ve known the verse about this book being living for a long time.

Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It is true. After all these years, I still find the Bible to be new to me.

I’ve been reading through the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. Often these have been a struggle for me to plod through. But lately, I’ve been seeing here more richly the depth of God—his grace and mercy, his purity and jealousy, his justice.

The Scriptures are filled with fascinating stories. The story of Balaam and Balak is in Numbers. I’ve known this story for a long time, but recently, this became a page turner for me. I pressed on through the chapters, eager to see in detail what happened next. I’m excited about getting to Kings and Chronicles.

Other topics I’ve been thinking about have popped up for me in my reading too—women, what I can add to my writing, how God’s love is shown in the Old Testament, special help for me in prayer, giving peace, showing grace, God’s specific direction to love people of other nations and care for those with special needs.

Deuteronomy 14: 28-29: At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Romans is fun!

I’ve always found Romans difficult to understand, and when we came to it in a Bible study group I was in, I warned that it might be hard. I still find it difficult, but recently, I realized I wasn’t just rushing through reading it. Some points pricked my interest. I slowed down, reread, tried to figure it out. Many of the difficult points began to make more sense, and made me want to study further.

And some of the verses that comfort me most are found in Romans. I’ll share just two.

Romans 5:9-10: Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Sadly, I’ve often been proud about the teaching I’ve received and my knowledge of Scripture. Now more and more Scripture is becoming mind-opening to me, showing me where I need to grow, reminding me of my need for humility, giving me reasons to smile.

I have been with the Bible for a long time and many repetitions, but I’m learning new truths, hungering for more. Truly, the word of God is alive.

Psalm 119:18: Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.