Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Week

This week, I decided to take a break from my Bible Study Fellowship lessons and follow Jesus' activities from the point of the entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to Resurrection. I guess I never focused on how busy he was. I thought about the key things that we celebrate in church like Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, but Jesus was really very busy in addition to all of these activities.

There were crowds of people eager to hear everything he had to say and Pharisee's doing their best to trip up Jesus in front of the crowd and making themselves look foolish at the same time. Jesus even directly spoke against the Pharisees in the seven woes passage and taught a lot about what the Kingdom of Heaven was really like, what would happen to him in the coming days and about his second coming. He taught that his servants wouldn't know the time of his return so we should always be ready and should be prepared to give an accounting of the work done here in his name.

He talked about the King who gave the wedding feast for his son and the invitees refused to attend and went about their own business. Even one of the people from the street (second list of invitations issued) didn't even give the groom honor enough to dress appropriately for the occassion.

There are so many principles from the passages this week that I have read (I haven't even gotten through them all) but I have taken the following for action in my upcoming weeks, months and years to put into practice:

  • Am I investing what the Lord has given me with an eternal perspective? Am I investing my time, talents and resources in a way that would honor the Lord and bear fruit for his Kingdom?
  • Is there someone I can touch today to encourage a soul and help them trust in the Lord too?
  • Am I guilty of hiding my allegience to Jesus Christ and not boldly standing as one of his disciples?
  • Am I investing myself to learn about the Lord's character so that I can pattern my choices after his?
  • Am I willing to risk opposition in order to stand for Christ or will I be like the church leaders who believed but were afraid if they confessed their belief they would be thrown out of the synagogue?
  • Are their limits I have placed on what I am willing to yield for the Lord? Are there hindrances of self indulgence, comfort or pride that I am hanging on to that prevent God from fully using me as his servant?
  • Do I weep over the people who have not yet come to accept God's offer of salvation? Do I use opportunities to share God's character with those who don't have a clear understanding?
  • Am I guilty of being blind to the work of God in my own life? Have I acted without faith?
  • Am I content with a mere physical healing from pain or do I want the abundant life promised in scripture? Is it reflected in the prayers I offer? Do I go beyond the physical and ask for spiritual insight and forgiveness of my sins?
  • Faith allows for no doubt: am I asking for something in prayer and not acting in belief?
  • Am I bearing fruit for the Lord? Will I be proud to give an accounting of my work here?
  • Do I keep an eternal focus or do I let momentary trials and unkindnesses affect my responses?
  • How much of my faith is compromised: to keep a job? to keep peace at home? to keep friends? to maintain security? to be thought of well? Do I love the praise of men more than God?
  • Do I treat my Lord in a casual way and not give him the respect he deserves? Do I not do my best?
  • Do I allow anything to come between me and my love of the Lord? Are there any habits or idols that need to be removed from my life? When it comes time to pray and to spend time with the Lord, is there anything that comes to my mind that I would rather do? Is my time appropriately allocated to give the Lord priority place?
  • Do I give God all that belongs to him?
  • Are my thoughts and actions centered on loving the Lord my God with all my heart/soul/mind?
  • Do I really show love for my neighbor? How can I make my neighbors know they are loved?
  • If Jesus returned today, am I ready? Am I prepared like the virgins with the oil or have I allowed other distractions to consume me? Have I put off something that I should do to get ready?

As you can see there are a lot of applications to be taken from the instruction Jesus gave during his last week on earth before his crucifixion. More than can be learned or put into practice during a mere week.

God Bless you as you seek him and as you serve him!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Who me? Submit?

As you know, I am so blessed to be involved in a Bible Study Fellowship study. This year we are studying the life of Moses. We have taken almost 30 weeks to get where we are, but we currently are finishing the book of Numbers. Chapter 30 discusses the importance of keeping a vow and how we are known by our word. BUT it also has a section for women who make a vow and then find that their father or their husband do not allow them to complete their vow.

God gives ALL of us principles about submission. Men are not exempt from submission; in fact they bear the greater accountability to God for their choices as they have been ordained by God to lead their households. Women are given exemptions by God if their father's or husband's mandate another course of action.

I feel compassion for Christian children who are under the authority of harsh parents who are overbearing and do not use their leadership responsibly. I also know that God sees their condition and intervenes on their behalf. I also know that God can use even unpleasant circumstances to accomplish his purposes in our lives. As grown women, we have much more freedom and enjoy more "grown up" priviledges, but I believe that God honors women who will obey his principle of submission to their husbands and will hold their husbands accountable for wrong choices.

If I only pick and choose the principles God gives me in scripture, how am I honoring him as Lord of my life? If I only choose the pleasant and do the things that I like to do, how am I growing in grace. How will I ever learn to put to death my flesh and my strong will and choose the things of the Spirit if I only do what I like and never subject myself to disciplines of the faith?

I do run the risk of being treated wrongly by those in authority (all authority), but like Joseph, I have a defender who is greater than any foe and able to overcome any circumstance that does not accomplish God's purpose in my life. Submission is not a terrible thing. I choose to submit out of love for my Lord Jesus Christ and in submitting to my husband, and other authorities (boss, government etc) I am following my Lord's commands becoming more pleasing to him.

Recently, I had a conversation with a woman in her 30's who is about to be married for the first time. She has enjoyed some independence and now struggles with the concept of submission to a husband. She want's to maintain her independence but enjoy the benefits of marriage. I don't believe that two people can become one if they both remain independently two people. When we marry we choose to become a unit and our actions become centered on making that unit successful.

In my own personal marriage, God knew that I was very strong willed, so he gave me a husband who is even stronger. God knew that I needed someone equally strong to counter my own selfish desires and to challenge my unholy behaviors. Sometimes it has felt as if he were overbearing, but God knew that if I were to become a Christian who really lives my faith that I would have to endure some chastening, some molding, some unpleasantness. My husband didn't create the unpleasantness as much as my selfish attitudes did. I thank God for giving me the husband that he did to grow me up and teach me what holiness, grace, forgiveness and love are really about. I know more about the depths of God's love for me because he has given me a strong willed husband to love. I know more about Christ's submission to the cross, because God has given me hardships to endure to make me a better servant for him.

If we always resist the unpleasant we may just be resisting the chastisement and the character building that God is putting in our lives to conform us into his image. If you are enduring unpleasant situations take heart! God knows your circumstances and is able to see you through your trials and bear you up. His grace is sufficient for all of our needs. Look to him and find the comfort you need.

God bless you as you seek him and as you serve him!