What does God care most about?

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He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His faithfulness.
Psalm 147:10-11NASB

We all know that as people age or fall sick, they start losing physical and mental abilities. This is to be expected in a broken world. Death entered God’s creation because of human sin. In fact, Jesus himself promised affliction for all of creation to include animals and nature. But this state is temporary and the Lord, in his kindness, doesn’t want any bodily afflictions to frighten us or steal our peace. Afterall, he prioritizes our ‘heart’ health, rather than our physical health. What pleases our Father A LOT is when we prize, live for and treasure Him.

As both Mike and I turn 65 this summer and with an elderly mom who is half-way to 94, this fact about the Lord’s priorities and goals for us brings great comfort and mental/emotional stability.

Reading through my Bible I can see that what God prioritizes and values totally guide his actions and plans. Over and over, scripture records him saying that he ALWAYS and only does what he wants. And what he wants is always good, regardless of whether we agree or not.

Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. Psalm 135:6 ESV

Knowing how God operates, given what he loves, here is how my mind worked out the truths of that verse in Psalm 147.

Don’t you think it’s important to know what makes God happy, what he delights in? It’s obvious that the Lord takes pleasure in our hearts’ inclination. What we prize, revere or value (another way to say, what we ‘fear’) is the first thing he notices about us. So, we should expect God’s blessings in our life to be NOT primarily about our bodies, our health, but connected to our longings for him. He eagerly answers prayers to transform our desires, our delights, and all the content of our heart.

For example, when we moved to Huntsville, Mike was plagued with a physical and mental condition that wouldn’t let up. It had been in abeyance for a few years, but struck him after that welcome absence. In this round, he suffered for about a year, then by grace, God removed this ‘thorn’. We have not stopped being grateful.

As we prayed every day through this season, besides asking for physical relief, we also asked the Lord to help us NOT waste this suffering. We wanted him to use it to grow our hearts toward him, to deepen our confidence in the fact that he is good, no matter what his plan for Mike turned out to be.

The Lord answered those prayers and our confidence in his goodness grew stronger during this affliction. Recently, I realized that God is doing the same thing with me regarding sleep.

Consistent restorative sleep has alluded me as I’ve aged. Mike prays every evening for the gift of a good ‘through’ sleep.

Yesterday morning, the Holy Spirit gave me a new insight. I had slept super well the previous day, but felt oh-so-tired by early evening. That night, I slept poorly and woke yesterday feeling that lack. But, by grace, I suddenly knew that how my day would go did not depend on ‘good sleep’ the night before, but on the Lord. Afterall, energy and strength come from him.

Sure enough, that lack of rest did not affect my day’s activities. God enabled me to stay energized until my normal bed time.

I see the warning in God’s lesson this week. I can easily (and have done so) make good health and plenty of sleep into an idol.

But the fact is my body IS going to weaken as I get older. But what God cares most is how much of my heart is his. If I were a wagering woman, I would bet that God will answer ALL my requests for a heart that obsesses only for him and his presence. I risk nothing praying for his heart and soul work.

Living with Jesus is like being a substitute teacher

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We make our own plans, but the LORD decides where we will go. Proverbs 16:9 CEV

Have you ever been a substitute teacher or had one as a child? Then you know what it’s like for these stalwart men and women who never know when or whether they will receive that early morning wake-up call. When the phone does interrupt that last hour or two of REM restoration, they quickly dress, heading out the door to such-and-such school by the designated time.

That’s how I’m beginning to look at my life.  Even though I do all my work these days as a volunteer, I still have a schedule.  I’m learning to hold it loosely. Recently, I readjusted my week so I could fly out to Seattle to encourage and help my mother-in-law.  This family need trumped what I had penciled in on my calendar.

That decision altered an entire week. I’m also finding that the Lord redirects my steps not only at the beginning of a day, but in the middle of the day. I’m developing the mindset that allows me to hold loosely every plan I make. 

I see the life of a substitute teacher as a metaphor for how we family members of God are to live.  We are not the ones running God’s household.  But he’s included us in his family to learn and to serve, obeying out of love. We should expect the Holy Spirit often to change the schedule according to the needs of the Godhead.

Mike’s clients in his contractor’s job often don’t clarify what they want, making it difficult for Mike and his team to provide value.  He sometimes laments the murkiness of his job. He frequently doesn’t know what to expect.  How like the daily duty of a substitute teacher!  I remind him to count on the Lord to unfold his plan for Mike when he doesn’t foresee how he should proceed.

This approach is so like the one a sub has to adopt. She regularly has no idea what the day will be like when she shows up to a classroom.  But usually there is a plan, already purposed and laid out awaiting her. She arrives and carries out the regular classroom teacher’s lessons, following all the directions.  She doesn’t have a say in what she is to do.  She is under ‘orders’, so to speak.

I have found a certain freedom in anticipating God’s sudden changes.  There’s no longer a reason to stress.  For example, when I flew out to Seattle, I had to change in Dallas.  The margin was a mere 34 minutes.  Therefore, I packed a small carry-on bag that would not have to be gate checked, costing me minutes.  When the pilot announced a delay in our arrival time due to a headwind, I had to fight against anxious thoughts which attacked my peace.  Proverbs 16:9 was the weapon I used.  During the 2-hour flight, I wielded that promise about 6 times, finally reasoning that if I missed my connection, then Jesus had a good reason that would be better than making my connection. Anxiety finally gave up.

I’ll leave you a final thought connected to this idea of a substitute teacher.  A simple way of thinking of the grace that Jesus provided is that of a substitute.  He took my place as guilty sinner, deserving of God’s just anger and punishment.  What is more, his perfect life also substitutes for my fouled-up record.  A double substitution. Maybe it’s only fitting that I can sub for him as hands and feet in the part of the world he has placed me.  What do you think?

Jesus really wants us to be care-free!

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I have gone back to reading Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest.  A few years ago, someone gifted me with Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening. So, I put Chambers’ book aside.  But a friend quoted him a few months ago. I dug out a copy and have so enjoyed and been challenged rereading his thoughts.

This morning I copied down a Chambers’ teaching: “Worrying means we don’t think God can look after the practical details of our lives and it is never anything else that worries us” (May 23)

That admonition ties together today’s reflections about worry and relying on Jesus.

**

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 ESV

Being an ‘ezer’ to my husband is a serious responsibility.  Yet, I know God has assigned me to be Mike’s helpmate. I pray a lot, though still succumb to fretting over possible ‘wrong’ advice.

Mike had been experiencing frustration at work. So, I encouraged him to seek other local jobs in his field. Boeing had an opening.  He applied and Monday was offered the position at a salary way more than he even asked for. All along we prayed for God’s wisdom. But, when I suggested that he let his boss know about the offer, we moved out on a limb of faith, being unsure of the reaction the email would spark. Would he write back: ‘Good luck and in touch!’ or something worse like, ‘After all we have invested in you, you search out another job!!!!’

Brad did not respond the day Mike pushed ‘send’ on his email. It wasn’t until the following day that he connected with Mike. But Mike did not let me know until he came home.  In suspense that lasted until early afternoon, I wrestled with doubts and fears. “Father, did I ill-advise Mike?” Peace came only after throwing myself on God’s sovereign control of even my ‘wrong’ decisions.

Being a wife stretches my faith!

**

Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near! Philippians 4:5 NET

I keep re-reading this teaching.  Like you, I am aware of the many cares and burdens that loved ones have. If God is sovereign, then these problems are planned for the good of His people. And He alone gets to define ‘good’!

How are we to handle suffering?  By casting our ‘unsolvable’ burdens on Him.  We specifically ask His help and then hand over the matters.  That means we are CARE-free.  Freed from cares that are too much for us, those situations for which we have no visible resources.

Our mental space then is freed up to reflect God’s desire: ‘Let your gentle carefreeness, which is due to Jesus’ nearness, be evident to all’ (my translation).

I can follow Jesus this day, serving others in love, doing my assigned tasks BECAUSE I know who this Jesus is. He is none other than the loving, faithful, sovereign Creator and Lord of the universe.

If He, the Almighty One, is handling my issues, no worries. But help me, Holy Spirit! It’s far easier to know how I am to handle life’s issues, than to follow through.

Jesus is not who we think!

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Jesus startles. He is NOT whom we expect nor does He act like ‘normal’ people. Sometimes He’s not even whom we want. But we don’t get to choose our particular flavor of our Savior.  He is God.

Martha and the man in the crowd want personal ‘justice’.  The disciples want reassurance as protection against future suffering.

Father, give us the desire to want to receive Jesus just as He is!

***

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13 ESV

This request has got to be the ‘male version’ of Martha’s complaint to Jesus in Luke 10.  I can’t quite picture a gal this focused on land and wealth.

Jesus responds with ‘anthropos’, translated by my Bible as ‘man’, although the Greek word can mean either man or woman. 

Just as Jesus rebuked Martha for focusing on cooking and serving dinner, our Lord here points out to the complaining brother that life isn’t about collecting riches or ‘stuff’.  Jesus suggests a better way in verse 21:  Man, don’t be rich for yourself; instead, be rich toward God, by offering Him your abundance.

Likewise, I can picture Him gently reproving Martha in a similar fashion: Martha, don’t do your household tasks for yourself, do them for God, to please Him!

***

“Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered?” Luke 13:2 NLT

I was telling a non-Christian friend about a woman I had recently who had suffered trauma in the past two years: the sudden death of her husband, a double mastectomy and now she was facing more cancer.  My friend reacted with a rhetorical question, but one you hear a lot these days: “Why do bad things always seem to happen to good people!”

This sentiment is the opposite of that held by those in Jesus’ day and even earlier. (Consider Job’s friends.) Furthermore, because of God’s Law handed down through Moses, people reasoned differently: “All this bad stuff happened; ‘they’ must have sinned!”

In either case, whether one hails from the western world in the 21st century or from Jesus’ day and earlier, the conclusion is the same: Good people deserve favorable circumstances.

Jesus responds in the next verse, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish!” Luke 16:3 ESV

There are no good people, by nature.

Are you weary of thinking about yourself or the world?

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Last night I was reading Vaneetha Risner’s latest book Walking through Fire.  One comment she made stayed with me through this morning.  She sensed God say to her, “It’s not about you.”

So often I flit between three emotional sinkholes (they don’t get me anywhere):

  • evaluating what will make me content
  • wondering if what I am doing is the best use of my time
  • pondering whether someone I care about is saved since I don’t see much ‘fruit’

All three keep me locked up thinking about me or others. When all along it’s not about me, but about God.

The only solution is to focus on Him and trust His plans.

I offer these two short devotions from my daily writing.

***

For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed… he has done great things for me. Luke 1:48-49 NLT

Usually, I boast about my accomplishments in order to impress others.  But sweet little Mary, all of 14 or 15 years old, doesn’t.

I can imagine her marveling at how God noticed her, she a ‘nothing special’ among many other rural backwater Hebrews. To boot, she’s a young girl in a patriarchal society, with no status at all. The fact that God singles her out, sends a mighty angel to speak personally to her, announcing an unimaginable future must have stunned her.

She proclaims her future fame as an insignificant participant in God’s story by bursting into praise for how people will one day make a big deal over her.  Not for anything she has done. It’s all about the Almighty and the great things He has done for her.

Has done’. She knows that Gabriel’s announced future event is already recorded in God’s history book.

***

…Don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. 1 Corinthians 4:5 NLT

Sometimes I feel discouraged about the few changes I see in the lives of those for whom I care.  I’m thinking particularly of believers, in whose patterns of daily living I would like to see more Christlikeness.  They view me the same way, no doubt. 

This exhortation from Paul should relieve us greatly. The story is not over! Do you remember Polaroid cameras?  A simple click and a picture would emerge.  Someone, something caught for an instant.  That is how our evaluations are; we base them on ephemeral snapshots.  We use too little information each time we draw a conclusion.

Not only is this way of thinking not based on God’s reality, it is sin. I defame someone when I make a negative judgment formed from one of those earlier captured moments.

Today’s scripture both rebukes me AND encourages me.  I can leave the judging to God who sees all, and keep on praying in faith.

Each day I look forward to talking with Jesus!

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I’m practicing being honest with God.  This week, He seems to be encouraging me NOT to filter my feelings. He’s been encouraging me to ‘spit them out’.  I realize how often I stop myself from acknowledging any thought that feels like sin.  Like pride. Or judgmentalism.  But you know what I also realized?  That if I don’t tell Jesus what I’m thinking and feeling, then I don’t allow Him to speak.  I cut myself off from what He thinks about all this and what He wants me to do.

Here are two entries from my journal this week.  

December 5

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3 ESV

What are little kids like? I think of Elizabeth, my very verbal granddaughter, who is 6.  Every time we are together, she asks a million questions. She wants to know everything.

Just how does that make me feel? Happy that she is interested in what I think! She also wants to show me her latest drawings and what she can do, from cartwheel to piano melody.

Am I annoyed?  No! I enjoy her company. 

I wrote yesterday that God has called us into koinonia: intimate, conversational fellowship with Jesus.  He wants us to talk and listen to Him non-stop.  Without an ‘adult’ stuffy filter.

Someone said the other day: ‘Oh, I don’t want to bother God about the little things in my life.  He’s way to busy!”

One of Satan’s favorite lies! And definitely not what the Bible teaches.  But do we actually believe what Jesus said?

Chatter on, dear friends!

December 6

We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 Berean

In my study this morning, I saw Paul’s statement differently.  So, I rewrote it in my journal like this:

We capture every thought, bringing it out of Satan’s governing purview, and present each thought and the feeling it produces to Christ who is Lord over our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.

I’ve written about Jamie Winship and how greatly his training in both knowing God and recognizing false identities is changing me. The first step is to bring our thoughts out into the light and ‘confess’ them to Jesus. 

Next, we think through what that thought or feeling implies about ‘who we are’, (who we THINK we are).  All this, without any filter.  Then we ask Him: What do YOU say about this, Jesus?  What do you want me to do?

Then we listen.

I like how Paul says the same thing.

**

You know, this freedom to bare all to the One who already KNOWS it all is a relief. I find that I can’t wait to tell him what’s on my mind and in my heart. And I’m curious to hear from Him, too.

Each day, I look forward to hearing from God!

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I’m practicing being honest with God.  This week, He seems to be encouraging me NOT to filter my feelings. He’s been encouraging me to ‘spit them out’.  I realize how often I stop myself from acknowledging any thought that feels like sin.  Like pride. Or judgmentalism.  But you know what I also realized?  That if I don’t tell Jesus what I’m thinking and feeling, then I don’t allow Him to speak.  I cut myself off from what He thinks about all this and what He wants me to do.

Here are two entries from my journal this week.  

December 5

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:3 ESV

What are little kids like? I think of Elizabeth, my very verbal granddaughter, who is 6.  Every time we are together, she asks a million questions. She wants to know everything.

Just how does that make me feel? Happy that she is interested in what I think! She also wants to show me her latest drawings and what she can do, from cartwheel to piano melody.

Am I annoyed?  No! I enjoy her company. 

I wrote yesterday that God has called us into koinonia: intimate, conversational fellowship with Jesus.  He wants us to talk and listen to Him non-stop.  Without an ‘adult’ stuffy filter.

Someone said the other day: ‘Oh, I don’t want to bother God about the little things in my life.  He’s way to busy!”

One of Satan’s favorite lies! And definitely not what the Bible teaches.  But do we actually believe what Jesus said?

Chatter on, dear friends!

December 6

We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 Berean

In my study this morning, I saw Paul’s statement differently.  So, I rewrote it in my journal like this:

We capture every thought, bringing it out of Satan’s governing purview, and present each thought and the feeling it produces to Christ who is Lord over our thoughts, our feelings and our actions.

I’ve written about Jamie Winship and how greatly his training in both knowing God and recognizing false identities is changing me. The first step is to bring our thoughts out into the light and ‘confess’ them to Jesus. 

Next, we think through what that thought or feeling implies about ‘who we are’, (who we THINK we are).  All this, without any filter.  Then we ask Him: What do YOU say about this, Jesus?  What do you want me to do?

Then we listen.

I like how Paul says the same thing.

**

You know, this freedom to bare all to the One who already KNOWS it all is a relief. I find that I can’t wait to tell him what’s on my mind and in my heart. And I’m curious to hear from Him, too.

Hearing God

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The amazing discovery. I can actually have a conversation with the Living God and HEAR what He says. Not audibly, mind you, but He provides the sense or thoughts. Here are two recent journal entries.

November 29

Since you are precious to me, you are honored and I love you…… Isaiah 43:4 God’s Word Translation

I was lying. To myself. About who I am.

Identity is foundational. Watching a Jamie Winship teaching on identity, I pressed myself to be honest.

Since I was 8 years old I have believed that I am one who is NOT enough. And in order to be liked, appreciated, needed, valuable, popular, chosen….wanted, I have to DO a lot for people.

What does someone like me who doesn’t feel wanted for herself, apart from what she does LOOK like?  Competent and driven.

In the training, Jamie had us close our eyes and offer that false identity up to Jesus and then ‘watch’ what He would do. ‘Okay….I don’t think anything is going to happen,’ I thought. But I complied.

Immediately, a picture came to mind:   Jesus gently sweeping that identity of ‘Unwanted’ out of my offering hands, breaking it up into many sparkly, glittering particles that floated off into nothingness.

I realized: This is fact!  I am not ‘Unwanted’. Nor have I ever been. That is a lie absorbed, encouraged by Satan and believed –  all from my child’s sense of events.

Who does Jesus, the only True and Living God, say I am?

“Precious, full of honor and loved”. That’s the Truth.

30 November

Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace (Shalowm) to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Psalm 85:8 ESV

The text message arrived late. I didn’t want another obligation! Knowing I was to meet with Jesus in the morning, I nevertheless fell asleep quickly, having reminded myself that Jesus calls me ‘precious, full of honor and loved’.

This morning, coffee at hand, I read yesterday’s words in my journal (Psalm 85:8) – an invitation to confess my feeling of ‘resentment’ due to that possible obligation. Freely writing down how I felt, I next formed an ‘identity statement’:

  • I am someone who doesn’t trust You to supply enough time to satisfy me.

Then I asked Jesus: What do YOU say about this?

Closing my eyes, I raised empty hands to receive.

I penned what came to mind. The ‘bottom line’ was this:

  • ‘Connected to me, Eternity, I’ll always supply you with enough time.’

His words of peace satisfied – ‘Shalowm’.

Where’s my belt (of Truth)?

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Gizmo lost his collar in the house.

Our granddaughter Elizabeth with Gizmo

He also lost his identity when his collar went missing – that little tag that says WHO he is and WHOSE he is.

I keep losing my ‘collar’, too. That belt or yoke which joins me to Jesus and keeps me KNOWING my identity and who my God is. When I forget and think incorrectly about who I am and who Jesus is, I temporarily lose all my peace and contentment.  I start to feel either anxious or angry.

I’m sure you know that believers don’t lose that ACTUAL state of peace with the Father, once they have been transferred INTO the Kingdom through Jesus’ blood. But we can lose our awareness of peace, of connection with Jesus.

Do you listen to podcasts? I love them. News & cultural reports, interviews, stories, reflections are part of my daily routine.  But never have I taken notes from a podcast, nor listened to one twice!

However, when our son Graham described a couple of concepts he had learned on a recent podcast interview, I knew I wanted to take my time listening.to this one.  Not multitasking as usual, but actually sitting down and taking notes.

Jamie Winship, the interviewee, is a believer whose gift is storytelling. During the two-hour conversation he related a few experiences from the time he and his family had lived in the Middle East and he taught in a Muslim university. Listening to these accounts opened up and changed my understanding of hearing from God.

He also shattered some of my fixed ways of thinking about Jesus.

Let’s circle back to peace and what happens when I LOSE my feeling of peace and joy and fall into fear, worry or anger.

Since the podcast, I have been practicing what I learned.  That is, when I’m stewing in fear, anxiety or frustration, I am learning to STOP and articulate my emotional state.  Jamie calls this ‘confessing’.

Here’s what I noticed and worked through on Wednesday, writing it all down in my journal:

  • Jesus, I’m feeling overwhelmed and burdened by the number of people in my life who need my encouragement and prayers.

Next, I confessed the ‘identity’ these feelings revealed.  Jamie describes this step as formulating an ‘I am’ statement.

It took me several attempts to articulate this functional identity, to get to what I thought was true about me, what fed my feelings of unrest and churn.

(warning, what you read is very ‘stupid’ and not at all true, but it’s what brought on ‘burdened and overwhelmed’ Maria)

  • I am one whose prayers tip the balance in whether people receive God’s blessings.

There, it was out, on paper in front of me.  Even as I penned the words, I knew ‘this identity’ was silly and not at all true. But ‘confession’ is an important step to being cleansed, to being restored.

The next step was to ask God: ‘What do YOU have to say about that?’

I didn’t ‘hear’ God…but He was revealing in my thoughts, what actually IS true:

  • Maria, you’re not me – God!  It’s not up to you how I act in the lives of your friends and family.  I have invited you to participate in their well-being.  Do you really think I won’t do what is best for them? Do I stop being all-powerful, all-good, all-wise, just because you don’t pray?

What was my reaction?  A ‘sheep’-ish realization of how I had been misrepresenting God!  And relief! No, it is NOT up to me!  Yes, I’m one of Jesus’ little lambs, part of His flock and I get to help out.  But I’m not the only one who has received the privilege of praying for certain people in my life.  Besides, if all of us little ones fail to pray, there is still the Holy Spirit who, together with the Son of God at the Father’s right hand intercedes ALL the time.

What happened next?  Amazingly, and immediately the burdens evaporated. Peace and calm came over me. I was back to knowing my true identity and thanking God for who He is.   That is what Jamie calls repentance – a returning to my identity and my God.

Just as Scripture teaches, fear and anger are where Satan abides.  Peace and joy are evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

The simplicity of this ‘tool’, this listening prayer dialogue stuns and excites me.

I’ve been taking advantage of the rhythm of noticing what I’m feeling, confessing it through words in my journal and then asking God for His input and waiting and listening for His answer.  He has not failed to respond to me, sometimes just in thoughts that occur, often through Scripture that just ‘happens’ to pop into my mind.

Joy awaits!

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Genesis 1:3 And God said, ‘Let there be light!’

Psalm 119:130 Understanding your word brings light to the minds of ordinary people.  (CEV)

Explosive joy filled me the other day!

I speak French and am now working daily with Spanish.  But decades ago, when I arrived at university, I started Russian and kept at it for 3 ½ years.  Unfortunately, I have barely used it since.

Yet, 41 years later, God dropped a joy bomb into my lap when I read and understood a short text in simple Russian, forwarded on by a sister language coach. She’s writing a reader for her Russian learners and offered to gift me with the first 4 short chapters, together with a glossary. With dubious expectations of what I would be able to understand I sat down before dinner one afternoon to have a go at it.

To my shock, I understood the first page and a half!!! I could actually still read Cyrillic and comprehend the story line.  The sheer pleasure of reading in another language and understanding it shocked me. I think it’s because I have scanty Russian and as such, assumed I would struggle.

Au contraire!

Not only has the delight, the pleasing surprise stayed with me, this experience has confirmed the necessity of encouraging my English and Spanish on-line students to read in their second language.  Of course, I must curate the texts to ensure success and JOY for my learners.

That’s the goal – giving delight to another student, just as I, a re-invigorated Russian language-learner, received and was able to exult in reading with understanding. But this joy is not limited to second-language learners.  There’s joy to be had in reading and understanding God’s Word

Do you remember the exiles who returned from Babylonia to rebuild the city wall surrounding Jerusalem? The book of Nehemiah tells the account when Ezra read the Scriptures to the people. It goes on to say that the teachers of the law, the Levites, systematically explained to the people what the text meant.

Nehemiah 8:10, 12 (Nehemiah said)…..“This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

When I teach Spanish and English, I make it my goal to clarify meaning and remove obstacles so that my students can acquire a language with joy.  Our Holy Spirit of God acts similarly, moving in us, shedding light and understanding so WE can experience great joy.

With joy comes strength. Strength to endure hard work, whether learning a language or overcoming sin, the world and the devil through faith.

Is there someone you can guide side-by-side, moving slowly through some Scripture, showing her that with the Holy Spirit’s help we children of God CAN understand what God has said and done? What a privilege!  What joy awaits you both.

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