By Joyce Pelletier
‘He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God. Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.’
There is so much in this reading. God created us purposefully. The most important focus is when we come to realize is that we are children of God. When we recognize that we are chosen by Father-God, what does that really mean?
Jesus is the most important person in my life. It took me many years and life experiences to accept that for myself. Somehow in the past few years, my heart has healed from growing up in sadness and pain from parents who really didn’t know what love was or how to express it. Like so many of us they were victims of not knowing how to love. Sometimes we fail, but the Father is there to lift us up again.
We grew up poor but didn’t know it. Going to church was a must do on Sunday mornings. My brother and I were there every Sunday. We heard the Gospels and other readings. However, I rarely got anything out of going to a traditional church. However, it always piqued my interest listening to the Gospels. Something in me knew they were important, but I had no clue why. I remember hearing about Jesus, but that’s as far as it went. I went to catechism on Saturdays, but that’s all I remember. There was not much encouragement of developing a personal relationship with Jesus. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I heard the truth from a friend. She shared Jesus with me. My life has never been the same since. Mom and Dad rarely went to church, let alone about Jesus.
There was a lot of confusion and pain from growing up in the 40’s. This past year, as I reread my mom’s journal it opened so many new doors and it was a real eye-opener to me to read that she loved Jesus. She didn’t know how to show it. She was not mean or unfeeling, she just missed out on the closeness that could have been in her life. Her life experiences were very difficult.
Reading through Mom’s words brought me peace and understanding that I missed along the way. God was showing me who Mom really tried to be. Now my memories swing towards the good she tried to live.
My first Bible Study was with a group of women from our neighborhood. As we studied the Gospel of John, my heart was open to receive whatever God wanted me to have.
I never understood why a man had to die on the cross. No one explained that to me. It was when I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life, that on the long road of not knowing, became a journey of an amazing awareness of who Jesus is. Through the study of John, I learned what having a personal relationship was supposed to be. Jesus gets down and personal with us. The concept of being an adopted daughter (child of God) is where I want to be the rest of my life. Even when I fail, God doesn’t abandon me. He gets me and is always ready to forgive my sins. I understand more why Jesus He so willingly went to the cross so we can receive the promise of Eternity.
Every time the worship team leads any song that mentions being a child of God, the conviction of this truth opens my eyes wider and wider to the joy that comes with knowing who I am in Jesus. The reality of being a child of God is very real and has made tremendous difference in how I handle things that sometimes are hard to deal with. Maybe that is also true for you. I hope that you come to know that the Father never has left your side and He’ll never stop fighting for us. Psalm 139 has become a good friend to me.
I tend to keep overly busy most days, sometimes I put more pressure on myself. That same friend who shared Jesus with me and I were texting recently. She asked me how do I keep my schedule so active. My response was…
First – Keep my focus on Jesus and
Second – One thing at a time.
And third remembering – I am a child of God, I am never alone!
By Donna Churchill
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7, 8
When I read this, it makes me think that because my Father knows what I need, He has prepared the answer for me before I even know the question. Most of the time I don’t know what I really have need of, but God always does and He has already prepared the provision for that need. Before I can even articulate the prayer, the provision is on the way. Now that doesn’t always mean that I see the immediate answer to the need, but I believe it does mean that God has seen the need. In the subsequent Scriptures, when Jesus teaches us how to pray, He includes this request, “…Give us this day our daily bread….” He knows and understands that we will have need of daily bread, which I believe encompasses our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs; the needs of the whole person. He knows we will have needs.
Several weeks ago, the Lord illuminated a Scripture from Psalms to me. I have probably read that psalm many, many times. But on this particular day, it jumped off the page to me.
“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7
Wow, I thought, as I read this. I need to stop here and ponder this for awhile. My mind went to all the bad news we hear in the world every day that just gets worse and worse and I thought this is a good verse for trusting the Lord with what’s going on in our world. I’m going to hold on to this one.
Two days later, I received personal bad news and in the days since I read that verse, (it’s been a few weeks now) I have received several personal pieces of bad news!
The first “bad news” I received, I will admit, threw me for a loop. It was very unexpected and quite overwhelming and has the potential to affect my daily life. And I will also admit, I didn’t receive it very graciously. Thankfully, it came via text so I was able to “contain” my response, but I still did not respond with the grace available. For about five hours, I stewed and plotted about how I was going to handle this “bad news” going forward; how I was going to rearrange things to compensate for this “bad news.” Looking back, I can just picture the Lord allowing me to get myself all worked up and in a frenzy about how I was going to fix this. I’m sure He was shaking His head, saying, “Donna…Donna…Donna!”
Then the Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the Scripture I had read just two days earlier.
“Are you going to trust me with this? Are you going to trust that I knew about this before you did and it’s no surprise to me? Are you going to trust that I have made provision for you? Haven’t I always provided for you? Is your heart firm, trusting in me in this “bad news?”
God had given me the answer when I didn’t even know yet the prayer! Trust in Him!
Two things were at play in my heart in the midst of this: Did I believe that God is good regardless of the circumstances and do I believe God is sovereign over all of life? The answer has to be yes and with that yes comes the ability to trust….in ALL things because I know He’s got this.
For the rest of the day, I felt the Holy Spirit ministering to me with this verse and others He has given me, gently reminding me of all the Lord has done for me and reminding me of things He has spoken to me over the years. I repented and prayed through the evening and the next morning. The next day, I called the person who was the messenger of the “bad news” and apologized and was able to share, even though this person is not a Christian, the word the Lord gave me and the fact that I was trusting God and I understood her part in it. I don’t know what the Lord did in her heart through the Word, but I know what He has done in mine.
Since that first piece of “bad news,” I have received several more pieces of “bad news.” I’m not entirely sure what God is up to, but I know He continues to teach me day to day what it means to completely trust in Him. With each piece of “bad news,” I have determined to keep my heart firm, trusting in Him. Some of this news has immediate effect in my life, some will be worked out over time. I continue to see that I have everything I need for today and I trust my God for tomorrow.
What I needed that day was this Word from the Lord to sustain me and He provided it before I even knew I would need it!
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? Psalm 56:3, 4
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
By Peggie Potter
Genesis 25:34 – Back in the ancient days, the firstborn son was entitled to the birthright. Esau was always more interested in immediate gratification than waiting for his inheritance. Neither he nor Jacob were perfect by any means. Esau was like many today: wanting satisfaction & now! Jacob was sly & calculating. He gave his brother stew to eat in exchange for his birthright!
We have a birthright today & it doesn't depend on our birth order.
Our birthright, salvation, was purchased for us on Calvary over 2,000 years ago. We have only to accept it for ourselves & then wait for our inheritance in glory forever with God!
It is very sad how many simply don't care & go about every day with their eyes & hearts on the world & today's cares. And so, they despise their birthright!
Please remember 1 Cor 2:9: eye has not seen, nor ear has heard, & no mind imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.
That is our birthright & it is absolutely worth waiting for. So don't be an Esau!
By Rebecca Vickery
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
I have this tendency to take on other people’s burdens. This can be a good thing in some ways. After all, we are supposed to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), so it seems good for me to do that. I am lightening the burden for someone else by hearing them, coming alongside them. But then I keep their burdens. I fret about them. I try to figure out ways to fix the burden for the person. Sounds great, right? Except I can actually do very little to help people out of their burdens. Sure, I can help with tangible things. But I can do very little to help people with their real burdens; the things that weigh so heavy on the soul. I hold onto them and feel their weight.
I take on my children’s burdens, my husband’s burdens, my friends’ burdens. And keep them.
At the same time, I have my own burdens to bear. Inability to lose weight. Basing my value on a number on a scale or a size. Chronic health battles leading to battles with insurance companies. Not finding my worth in the decisions and outcomes of those same insurance companies. Marital struggles. Struggles with loneliness. Unmet connection needs. The list goes on.
Sometimes I can get lost in the fray. I lose sleep trying to figure out ways to fix things. My things. Other people’s things. To help. And sure, I pray. I pray about those things and ask God to take care of them. I give them to Jesus. And then upon finding these problems not instantly fixed, I take them back so that I can worry about them some more.
The struggle is real.
In my family, we play on those words and say, “the struggle of Israel.” In this case, it is literally like the struggle of Israel. Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord (the LORD, it later says), and His hip was wrenched in the fight. He wrestled ALL night long. Imagine what it would have been like for Jacob (Israel) if he simply stopped wrestling. He might have gotten to sleep. Maybe his hip wouldn’t have been wrenched in the process. Maybe we’re not meant to win that kind of wrestling. How often have I wrestled with an issue that I’ve brought to God, and played tug of war holding so tightly that I just end up keeping it as a burden, when I could have found rest for my soul?
In the past few years, I have been learning to actually give these things to God more readily. I have actively sought to recognize the things I’ve held onto for so long when I should have let go. God has allowed me to see how holding on has taken a toll. Gradually, my fingers have released their death grip on the burden I’m holding.
Some of us have held onto certain burdens for far too long. The process of learning to let go can be painful. But we were never meant to bear these burdens alone. And in some cases, we were not meant to bear them at all.
“Come to me.” We are meant to come to Jesus with our heavy burdens. I have been weary and heavy laden for far too long. I have been anxious about many things. But I want to take up the yoke of Jesus and learn from Him. I want to be gentle and humble in heart. I want to be able to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily (way more easily than I care to admit) entangles. I want to untangle myself from the burdens I am holding and give them over to the One who is more than able to bear the weight of them. And I want to find rest for my soul that only comes from surrender.