Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Week Seventeen - Let's Go

Beside the Well

            My grandmother was my first Sunday school teacher.  I remember her patience and love for that little group of toddlers meeting in the basement of the old country church.  The first memory verse she taught me was Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.
            I have begun reading sermons by Rev. Samuel Martin in 1859 though warned I should not read old writers because they mess up my writing, resulting in the use of old phraseology and sounding very dry and technical.  Sorry, but I find depth and encouragement in these writers, so please bear with me!
            One particular sermon was on Psalm 122:1, and it was so good I wanted to start sharing some of it with you.  I’ll try not to burden you down with lengthy quotes in old English, but I think you will enjoy his message as much as I!
            To start his sermon on gladness, he addressed the phrase “let us go.”
            Calling someone to go with you is a way of securing companionship and cooperation.  It is an invitation we readily use today saying, “Let’s go shopping.”  “Let’s go get something to eat.” 
            Here in Psalm 122, it is an invitation to worship.  And there are other invitations using the same phrase. The Shepherds said one to another, after the announcement from the angels, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass.”  In Mark 1:38 Jesus invites the disciples saying, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.”And in Mark 14:42 Jesus wakes the sleeping disciples with, “Rise up, let us go: lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.” 
            In Proverbs 1:11-12, we see an invitation from the wayward lads calling out for the son to join them in their rebel rousing.  “Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: let us swallow them up.”       As I meditated on this I began to notice the calls we hear today: calls to political persuasions, calls from activists, calls to come out for a pint, calls to accept alternate lifestyles and many others. The world is not shy about inviting others to join them.  Hoards are following these calls; such is the manner of the broad way.
            Reverend Martin used this phrase to challenge those listening saying, “But who…have gone to them and said, “Let us go—let us go together into the house of the Lord?” How few have taken the working man by the hand, and said, “Let us go together.”  You can bring multitudes whom you never can send.  Many who would never come alone would come most willingly under the shadow of your company.  Then brethren, to your non-attending neighbours say, “Let us go:” to reluctant members of your own family say, “Let us go:” to those who once went to the house of God in your company, but who have backslidden from worship say, “Let us go:” to all whose ear, and mind, and heart, you can command for such a purpose say, “Let us go, let us go together into the house of the Lord.” (p 45)
            What a great missionary challenge for all of us.  Who have you invited to church this week?  Who is just waiting for your invitation?  You never can tell.  And you will never know until you say, “Hey, let’s go to church this Sunday.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Week Sixteen - Broken

Beside the Well

            Do you ever feel broken inside?  Like there is a great rift ripping away at your soul? Do you struggle along fearing others will see your brokenness?  You look for rest and freedom from the haunting doubts and inner accusations, only to become more discouraged and baffled?
            Well, join the club!  I think we all feel that way at times.  Even those who put on a brave face and look happy may be dealing with an internal battle.
            A couple weeks ago mind took off on a tangent and successfully entangled me its web.  Torturous voices worked hard to convince me life was not worth living.  The battle for truth raged in my soul as I pulled out every weapon I knew how to use. 
            What are my weapons?  Honesty. I look to see where I may have sinned.  I bring my own guilt to the cross and ask forgiveness.  My sin was pride and anger.  You don’t need the gory details!  I’m sure you have felt the pangs of those sins as well. 
            Prayer.  I ask the Lord to cover me with His blood, to protect my mind and emotions, and lead me through the battle to truth.
            The next weapon I call “owning up.”  When Satan starts accusing me, I accept it.  “Yes, I am wrong.  Yes, I am angry.  Yes, I am not willing to forgive.”  I lay it all out on the table and agree with the accuser.  If I’ve already agreed with God about your sin, there is no reason to disagree with anyone else that is pointing fingers.
            Then, there is the weapon of Matthew 18—go to the person who hurt you and seek resolution.  A bit of humble pie is good for the soul!
            That usually takes care of it, but this was a rift of a deeper sort.  I had to use my next weapon—personal confession.  I went to a spiritual friend, confessed my sin of hurt and unforgiveness, and requested prayer.  Satan hates that!  He loses ground when we apply Scripture. 
            Which Scripture, you ask?  James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.”
And you know what?  Not four hours later that torturous, demonic voice was gone.  I was totally free again.
            Here’s the truth: the fact that we live in a sinful body/nature means spiritual warfare is a part of life.  Paul spoke it well when he cried out in Romans 7:24, 25, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 
            Deliverance is ours through Christ. Final victory comes as we cross Jordon or meet our Saviour in the sky.  But until then, we live in a broken world.  We will face spiritual battles.  That’s why we need the Comforter—to give us the assurance and strength we need to carry on. To give us that certain hope of the resurrection and a new body—free from brokenness, doubts, and discouragements. My brokenness reveals His perfection—for which I am predestined!
            So, chin up!  This is a temporary battle!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Week Fifteen - I Shall Not Die

Beside the Well

Do you ever have dreams that make sense? I do.  Sometimes they wake me up and I grab my pencil to jot them down because I know it is the Lord speaking to my heart.
             A few weeks ago, while meditating on Psalm 118, my thoughts kept hovering around the swarm of bees in verse 12 and the statement in verse 17,
“I shall not die.” God woke me with this dream.
            On one side of me were people laughing and pointing fingers.  They were jeering because I was trying to become a writer.  They were more talented and qualified than I. There were loads of them! They were embarrassed by my attempts, so they laughed and ridiculed.
            On the other side, were people who wanted me to believe they had the answers to my concerns.  They were calling me to follow them, but I could see their intent was to use my efforts for their own advancement.  They weren’t going to help me, but use me.  They might not be laughing openly, but behind my back they were trying to set me up for a fall.
            In front of me was an open road.  No markings just a plain path.  I stood for a moment wondering how to go forward.  Then, I heard Proverbs 17:24.  “Wisdom is before him that hath understanding.”  And it was followed by
Isaiah 30:21, “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying,
This is the way, walk ye in it.”

            God used the dream to assure me that though the enemy swarms like bees, God has a path for me and I need only look to where He has taken me before and listen to His voice.  God isn’t finished with me yet.  He is my strength and salvation.  The enemy may be swarming and trying to knock me down or divert me from the path, but God’s strength will prevail and His mercy will endure forever.
            So I swatted away the bees and continued forward.  I shall not die!  I will live and declare the glory of the Lord.
            Maybe you are facing doubts and fears.  Maybe you hear voices seeking to discourage or sidetrack you from your goals. The best thing you and I can do is keep our eyes fixed on the Lord and continue to move forward by faith.  There will always be someone better or more talented than us.  There will always be those who would want to set us up for a fall, but we need not allow it. Swat away those bees, live, and give God the glory!
            God has a path—a plain path that we are to follow.  Find it and walk in it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Week Fourteen - Funnels

Beside the Well

            My word for 2018 is Increase.  It comes from a promise I claimed for my children as our nest emptied. “The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children” Psalm 115:14. 
            I found great comfort entrusting them into the hands of the best parent they would ever know to care for them and increase them in every area of their lives. And He has!
            But this year, the promise is for me.
           I have started out on a new venture—writing and self-publishing books. It’s a whole new learning curve! While studying about marketing, I began reading about funnels of revenue, and that got me thinking about the funnels of God’s activity in my life. These funnels are pots the Lord will fill; or, Increase.
            I was challenged to think: Where was I pouring my life and investing the majority of my time and effort?  I found four funnels.  

            1) I am actively involved in the ministries of my church. 
            2) Though my children are grown and live overseas, I am still loving and praying for them.  Their increase is my increase as my growing family now includes thirteen grandchildren, and God uses my life as their grandmother to influence them for Christ.  
            3) I have ministries among women, speaking engagements, college administration, and allowing the Lord to use me where He sees fit.  
            4) And, I have the new funnel of my book venture, devotional blogging, and writing that is now a part of my scheduled time.
            Here is one thing I know from my spiritual journey to this point: unless God’s hand is in every funnel, nothing of eternal value happens—it is all temporal.  I don’t want to spend the majority of my life’s effort on temporary time fillers that produce little to nothing.  I want to see God’s hand increasing every funnel He has given and see Him at work around me.  That is my greatest joy and reward.  
            Into what are you pouring your life?  Where are you investing the majority of your time and effort?  What will you have in the end? These are important questions because where we invest we will see increase.