How you can help someone

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It started out as an ordinary church supper.  But two events transformed the occasion into a memorable one.

What do you take to a potluck?  For years I’ve relied on my standard, easy-to-assemble quiche.

  • Roll out a commercial pie crust into the plate
  • Add chopped cooked ham
  • Spread evenly 8 ounces of grated cheese (Swiss or Cheddar)
  • Beat up 3 eggs together with 2 cups of heavy cream (or 4 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of Sour Cream for less fat).  Pour on top of the ham and cheese
  • Bake at 400 for 50 minutes

There are rarely any leftovers, but the ingredients have grown pricey.  So I asked my ‘go-to source of practical wisdom, my hairdresser, for some fresh ideas.  What I wrote down was one of those Jiffy corn muffin mix-based dishes that also calls for an egg, sour cream, creamed corn, cheese and a stick of butter.

The little old ladies RAVED!  Not a finger-swipe remained in the 9×13 dish.  Note to self – keep making this for future potlucks.

The next surprise is weightier.  One of our elders shared a 20-minute message whereby he wove together and linked 30 or so Biblical promises from God to us, His people. This man’s goal was to encourage us to believe how much God loves us.  As I let wave after wave of strengthening truths bathe my heart, one couplet of verses startled me. Something new in Ephesians caught my attention, sparking some thoughts.

Whispering, I asked Mike to locate the passage on his phone’s ESV app.  I scanned the screen.  Sure enough, I noticed an anchor in Paul’s most famous prayer on behalf of this particular church.

Ephesians Chapter 3, verses 14-17 records the former legalist confidently asking God to grant the people strength to know His love so that they can be filled up with ALL of God. No new news there. But the structure of that clause-laden Greek invocation arrested me.  Here’s how I parsed it out looking at the Greek words on the Blue Letter Bible Website.

(Paul prays) I ask God to grant you all

  • to be strengthened with power
  • through the Spirit of God
  • by means of Christ dwelling in your heart by faith (both His presence and the gift of faith are permanent realities in the heart of believers)
  • whose presence makes it a given that you are rooted and grounded in LOVE and empowered with effective force
  • So that you all are enabled to seize and possess (meaning of  ‘to comprehend’) both the ‘physical dimensions’ of Christ’s love and the intimate knowing of Him that go way beyond knowledge
  • So that you all may be filled with the fullness (full measure of His grace and provisions) of God

What fascinated me was God’s supernatural interlinking of His Power with His Love. He then transmits to us intimate knowledge about Himself.  Thus, God’s power, love, and knowledge synergistically work, filling us up with Himself!

What a God! And what a prayer!  If you’re anything like me, you might be filled up with a churning mixture of anxieties, fear, doubt, pride with a touch of scorn for others tossed in to sour the pot.  Who would not rather be filled up with just God?

And just how do we replace the junk with the life-giving alternative?  By echoing Paul’s prayer for ourselves and then directing our thoughts to savor these God-given treasures that are rightfully ours.

Without a complete sifting through the Bible, these promises seem to constitute the most powerful prayer we can offer for others and ourselves.  And since I’ve been writing about power prayers, have you ever seriously thought about Jesus’ plea to His Father for us, His brothers and sisters?   Chew on this:

John 17:24 (NIV) “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

Jesus is asking His and Our Father for transfer to heaven.  Do you think that the Father will deny His Son this request?

What’s the big deal?

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dust

And God said to Adam and Eve: “…… you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  (or as the Amplified version puts it….you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt. (Genesis 3:19b)

I was upset with myself for messing up, YET AGAIN.  When I go down that road of self-recriminations, I tune out others and withdraw, my pride wounded.  It’s hard to shake that mood.  But the next morning during my Bible reading, I read God’s reminder to our first parents.  The next thought was: “Why do you expect more from yourself, Maria?  After all, you’re just DUST!”

What an equalizing and humbling assessment.  Taken a step further, if I am just an animated collection of dust, then so are you. So why fear or worry what a fellow assemblage of dirt thinks of me!

Lest you feel TOO wormy, remember God’s words in Isaiah – “Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord”, Isaiah 41:14)

Though we are little and powerless without God, we who belong to Him are fiercely loved.  Consider what God says via the prophet Jeremiah: “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” – Jeremiah 31:3

Can you even take that in?  That the all powerful, omniscient, holy God has always and forever loved you, if you are His redeemed child?

  • Even before He created the universe…
  • Even before Jesus walked on this planet and died for you….
  • Even before your parents were a couple and then birthed you….

….the happy, triune God set His love on YOU!!!  And He will continue to love you.

Yes, we are dust and worms in one sense.

But we are special collections of dust with certain characteristics that image Him.  And evidently His plans to showcase His glory and magnify His joy include loving, creating and redeeming us!  Now THAT’s the big deal!

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