Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Ladies of Luke - Elizabeth

The Elizabeth of Luke Chapter One.

What we know:
     - She was older and without children. To have been barren (childless) in Elizabeth's time was a mark of shame. Many in this culture viewed infertility as an indication of or punishment for sin.
     - Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were both Godly people.
     - When Elizabeth became pregnant she immediately gave God glory and honor. But she mostly kept the blessing to herself. She stayed at home for many months. Set apart time for her, her husband and God.
     - One of Elizabeth's first guests was Mary. Mary - a young, unmarried, family member in the middle of a situation that she hadn't planned for. She was pregnant and her soon to be husband wasn't around.
     - She offered Mary love.
     - She was obedient and bold, even when it meant breaking with tradition to honor God specific instructions.

See the picture in your mind. Elizabeth is old and pregnant. Her husband has been stuck mute by the hand of God. You know people are talking. Smiling, but talking. Elizabeth stays home. I get that. When the world is spinning - even when it's spinning by God's plan - home is sometimes the safest and most comfortable place to be. Knock, Knock, Knock... her come's Mary - an unmarried, teenage, pregnant member of the extended family. Elizabeth was the logical choice for Mary in her time of crisis. Elizabeth had surely faced the unspoken judgement of those around her. To be childless was to experience shame. Yet God blessed Elizabeth with His divine action. Only the hand of God could have caused this series of events to unfold. Elizabeth praised and honorer God without pause or hesitation. Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit and passionately loved God. So it makes sense that God used her as an instrument of validation in Mary's life. She offered Mary love and encouragement and not judgement.  Joseph isn't around for this part of the story. Perhaps this is the time frame where God and his angel are working on the heart of this man. The Bible's not real clear about that. But we do know that Joseph there, and we do know he didn't come to get her. Mary and Elizabeth spent considerable time together - some things take time to process - and when Mary returned home she was more empowered to face whatever came next.

God used Elizabeth. God would use personal and and probably painful experiences of her past for ministry. God was using Elizabeth during one of life's unexpected moments too. It probably wasn't the best timing for Elizabeth. It probably made her life a bit more complicated. It took extra effort. I'm sure the people around these two women probably had something to say about it. But Elizabeth was sensitive to the prompting of the Spirit and obedient. God's voice was the one she listened for and to. Elizabeth let God use her whole story for His glory.

Yeah - I can learn something from that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Ladies of Luke - May It Be...

I am the Lord's servant - Mary answered - May it be to me as you have said.  
Luke 1:38

A quick break down of how I read Luke 1:22-55.
Mary. A young girl pledged to be married to a man that the reader can presume based on the tradition of the culture was older (vs 27). She was a young woman (probably in her mid to late teens) who had both sought after God and was treasured by the people she did life with every day (vs 28). She was visited by an angel (vs 26) and God was with her (vs 28). When God's plan began to be reveled in her life, Mary was afraid and she had doubts. She didn't really understand how it was going to all work out (vs 29-33). Mary wasn't afraid to ask God questions (vs 34) and in the midst of complete uncertainty Mary was still faithful and obedient to God's purpose and plan (vs38). Mary went to spend some time with someone she loved and trusted and even while she was in the middle of a situation that she never planned to be in, Mary offered up praise to God (vs 39-55). She was humble even as God used her.

Mary. Mother of God. Favored by God and man. How is she relevant to me?
Well let's see. Mary had a nice little plan and then God stepped in and did His "I have something better" thing. God had a plan for Mary that she had probably never dreamed of for herself. The people around her probably didn't understand. She probably faced some opposition, some judgement and maybe a bit of criticism too. She had a "God what are you talking about" moment. There were details that only God could work out. Mary sought out a trusted Godly friend in her life that offered her support. God's plan was for God's glory and not hers, and in the center of chaos Mary offered up to God songs of praise.

So it turns out that maybe Mary and I have a bit more in common than I had realized at first glance. At this point she was young, but Mary has a lot to teach me, and I have a lot to learn. I think my biggest take away this morning is Luke 1:38 I am the Lord's servant ... may it be to me as you have said. WOW! What obedience. What mature faith.

Is that how I live out my faith today? Am I the Lord's servant? Do I represent His will, His purpose, His plan? When I am living my Trisha life and doing my Trisha thing, am I willing to boldly obey and say may it be to me as you have said?

Today Lord, help me to live out Luke 1:38. Amen

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Whiner

I am continuing to read in Luke. Today I picked up in Luke 18. The story of the whining widow. Your translation may say something like the PERSISTENT Widow, but make no mistake she was a whiner.

Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’  “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’” Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”

She's like my children. They have been known at times to wear down. He wants something, or he needs my assistance. Doesn't matter what I am doing; the laundry, an important phone call, making dinner, or perhaps I am on my way to a quick and quiet retreat in that special place I call the bathroom. "Mom. Mom. Mom. Can you hear me in there? Mom. Mom. Mom. Whatcha doing in there? Mom. I need your help mom. Mom? Mom? Mom?"  I didn't want to say yes. I didn't need to say yes. His crisis was in fact not my crisis. But I will admit it. There have been times when I have relented and said yes JUST so HE would stop talking to me! And let's be honest, an extra cookie never killed anyone. If your children are old enough to both talk and follow you from place to place in your home, then you have probably had this conversation too.

Jesus used this familiar exchange as a teachable moment. And he specifically says it's a lesson in prayer. The king did not care about the woman at all, nor was he a Godly man. Yet he relented. Not for the benefit of the woman but instead for his personal peace. See, the woman just didn't give up. She knew in heart heart what she needed - and she stuck to her repeated request. But God does care. He cares so much that he sacrificed all for me. So what am I suppose to unpack from this little passage of truth?

When it comes to my practice of prayer: Do I give up? Do I say my nice little prayer and wait 5 seconds for the tidy little answer I wanted tied up in a cute little bow? If my answer isn't quick, do I move on to the next thing? Is my heart open? Do I expect God to in some way respond? Am I fervent? How much listening is in my praying? How much waiting is in my praying? And what about when I don't even have the words. What about when life is just too big and things are just so broken? In those moments, my prayer is often just one word.


There is power in the name!
Thank you God for hearing the cry of my heart when all my mouth can say is Jesus.  Amen

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

When I don't know how to pray...

Some days life is just overwhelming. Bills, Work, Church, Family, Friends. Mean People. Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, Kids in Elementary School, in Middle School, in High School and College. Children who are adults but sometimes don't embrace it at all. Grandchildren. Retirement. Aging Parents. Illness, Injury, Death. Life just comes fast some days.

Today in Ladies Bible Study we will be looking at John 11 - the death and resurrection of Lazarus. But our focus will be on the sisters. Martha: a passionate little fire ball. You know her and you love her ... she's the hostess with the mostest that we all want to be, and she has that little hint of OCD that personally resonates with me! I think Martha was the oldest daughter. Mary: a woman of less words for sure. More contemplative, soaking up the details of the moment and highly sensitive to the moving and prompting of the spirit. Mary was the younger sister for sure - less consumed with the "details of daily living" that her big sis just naturally addressed.

In their moment of tragedy each woman responds to her loss and to her Savior in unique fashion. They had choices to make regarding what would come next. Life happened. It was hard. It hurt. Now what? Every day I have a choice to make too. What am I going to do with the things that this day gives to me? How will I soak it up and how will I respond? 

Some days are just beyond words. Sometimes I don't even know what to pray or where to start. How can I know what to pray for when I struggle to process the moment? 

Judicii tui est, non praesumptionis meae—I leave it to thy judgment, not to my presumption.—Aug. in locum. When we know not what to pray for, it is our comfort that the great Intercessor knows what to ask for us, and is always heard. - Matthew Henry

What great peace this simple truth provides!
I don't have to have the perfect words or the perfect idea's.
I just need to rely on my perfect God.

I don't have the words today God, but I trust that You know my heart. I trust that You know what's best. Even tho it's scary - today I chose to trust. Amen.