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{Luke 7} Finding hope in our compassionate Savior…

 

Ever glance through old pictures and think to yourself, “Woah, did I really live through that?” 

Oh, man.  I happened to run across this one this week –  taken on a hot summer day in 2008 – the day we arrived home from the hospital with the surprise of our lives: a brand new chubby baby girl – an entirely new adventure after we had accepted that God’s good plan for us would be to raise a house full of rowdy boys.  All these years later, I marvel at these sweet faces that God has entrusted to Tyler and I (all six and under here!), and can only laugh at my lack of personal space and sweaty brow.  I’m pretty sure I’ve been sweaty and piled on top of ever since. Ha.

I remember my thoughtful, intentional, prayer-filled road leading up to becoming a mom.  I had my plan for how things would go.  I read a few books and committed to some strategies.  I knew we would be far from the perfect parents and we’d never have even close to a perfect child, but before we idealists are forced to hit the trenches, we hold on with everything we’ve got. :)

And hit the trenches we did, right out of the gate.  There was colic and exhaustion, which turned into Children’s Hospitals and diagnoses.  And to be honest, those things paled in comparison to the challenges we faced with a very “spirited” little three year old (“spirited”… good one, huh?), who often gave us a run for our money.  I was the mom who had to leave birthday parties early and say no to playdates at the park, because I just couldn’t handle one more scene.  I remember wondering how I could pour so much passion and love and commitment into this thing called motherhood, only to feel so defeated and lonely at the end of the day.

 

Anyone ever been there?

 

I’ll never forget the night, after an especially difficult day (of correcting and redirecting and training and correcting again…), when I laid my weary body down on the floor outside of my sleeping toddler’s bedroom, and began to sob as I prayed out loud, begging for God to supernaturally intervene.  Crying out for His wisdom and mercy.  Petitioning Him to grab hold of my boy’s heart, and pleading for Him to comfort mine.  I prayed my way deep into the night; oh, there was much to say as I exposed all of my grief and fears to my Father.  

 

God, would you remind me that I’m not alone in this battle?

And like a flood, His words of compassion battled their way into the forefront of my mind:

 

My grace is sufficient… (2 Cor. 12:9)

I am close to the brokenhearted… (Psalm 34:18)

Draw near to me and I will draw near to you… (James 4:8)

I gently lead those that have young… (Isaiah 40:11)

Be strong and courageous, for I am with you… (Joshua 1:9)

I will never leave you nor forsake you… (Hebrews 13:5)

I am mighty to save… (Zephaniah 3:17)

Nothing is too hard for Me… (Jer. 32:17)

I am the One who sustains you… (Psalm 54:4)

The battle is mine… (2 Chronicles 20:15)

Do not fear, for I am with you… (Isaiah 41:10)

My compassions never fail… (Lam 3:22)

You may weep in the night, but joy comes in the morning… (Psalm 30:5)

 

My daughter, you are not alone in this battle.  What a compassionate, loving Savior!

 

That night was over eight years ago, and by God’s grace, I’m not the same hopeless momma I once was.  God has poured His compassion over me, and He’s changed me.  His presence and peace have refined me and brought me joy.  His grace has made me alive in Him.  I can tell stories of His goodness and can now even encourage those in the trenches - not because life is always easy or I’ve figured it all out – but because of the hope that He brings beyond what this world can offer.

Have you ever had moments… days… maybe even years… in your life when you could identify with the grieving widow in Luke 7?  Probably not in the literal sense for most of us, but maybe you’ve grieved the death of a dream, or endured a load that seemed much too heavy to bear.  Maybe you’re mourning over dead relationships, or the loss over any hope or security for your future.  Could it be that some of you have just had some really hard days - for whatever reason - and are simply longing to feel alive again?

Oh friend, run to your compassionate Father, who knows what it’s like to suffer great loss, yet rise victorious over death!

 

He so longs to bring His love and life to your situation today.  And once you’ve experienced His compassion, you won’t be able to keep it to yourself.  Then you’ll be able to say more than you just “lived through it.”

 

You’ll be able to bear witness to the beauty that came from it, because of Jesus.

 

“When the Lord saw her, He had COMPASSION

on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”

~ Luke 7:13

At His feet,

 

 

Luke {Week 7} ~ Intentionally Seeking Out the Lost

Oh friends, God’s Word is SO rich and applicable to all of life!!  We’re so thrilled that you’ve made it to {Week 7} with us in our Luke study!!  Hang on tight and determine to finish well with us, will you?!

There is something very intentional about how Jesus follows through with His ministry on Earth.  He has been sent by God the Father with a job to do, and because He’s God, Jesus carries through with His ministry in perfect form.  There is MUCH we can learn about how Jesus {intentionally seeks out the lost} in Luke 7 this week.  Here’s what God has impressed upon my heart as I’ve studied:

 

{If you’re unable to see this video, you can view it here.}

1.  Jesus had an outwardly focused ministry.

Jesus consistently showed people who He was by putting His love and forgiveness into practice.  He looked outwardly to the needs around Him, and by ministering to the hurting and the broken in physical/tangible ways, people begin to recognize Him for who He is… the Messiah, who didn’t come to be served, but to serve.

*Our problem: We live in an inwardly-focused culture.  Who will serve me?  What can Jesus do for me? 

 

2. Jesus acted on available ministry opportunities.

Jesus was more than a talker, He was a do-er.  He didn’t walk past people and ignore their need for a Savior.  Instead, He walked through open doors and sacrificed His time and comfort to meet the needs of the hurting around Him.  He intentionally looked for opportunities to serve everywhere He went, and He followed through, because He was focused on the work that God had called Him to do.

*Our problem: We’re often busy, distracted and have a lack of priority for seeking out the lost. 

 

3.  Jesus accepted that He would be misunderstood by the world.

Jesus associated with the socially unacceptable, and loved those who were deemed unlovable by the world’s standards.  He was a man of no reputation, pursuing people instead of popularity. He came, not to promote Himself for selfish gain, but to humbly promote salvation through His work on the cross.

*Our problem: The sin of pride creeps in and obstructs our ministry.  Something is wrong when we become paralyzed from loving like Jesus because we’re more worried about how we’ll look to others.

 

Do you struggle in any of these areas, friend?  Or maybe you have a different obstacle to overcome when it comes to seeking out and loving the lost around you?  Sometimes, just having a PLAN can get our feet moving in the right direction when it comes to loving others like Jesus.

 

By God’s grace, how can YOU purpose to live more like Jesus this week, by following His example, and intentionally seeking out the lost?

 

“The Lord’s worker must have a vision for the future.  The Christian who is motivated and consumed

by God’s love will see needs that are not yet filled and opportunities that are not yet met. 

He cannot help planning ahead, looking for more ways to serve and more doors to open.”

~ John MacArthur

 

*Weekly Challenge: Make a list of 2-3 people in your life who don’t know Jesus, and begin praying intentionally for God to open doors for you to share His love with them!

 

“Praying at the same time for us as well,

that God will open up to us a door for the word,

so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ…”

~ Colossians 4:3

 

At His feet,

 

 

Week 7 Memory Verse Links

KJV – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/KJV%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

KJV B&W – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/KJV%20B%26W%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

NIV – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/NIV%20-Luke%207.jpg

NIV B&W – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/NIV%20B%26W%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

NKJV – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/NKJV%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

NKJV B&W – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/NKJV%20B%26W%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

NLT – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/NLT%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

NLT B&W – Luke 7 https://dl.dropbox.com/u/97605723/NLT%20B%26W%20-%20Luke%207.jpg

Poor In Spirit

In 1660 Thomas Watson wrote an exposition on the Beatitudes. It is so good that I am going to be drawing from it in this post. You can read the whole thing here if you want.

After healing a number of people, Jesus goes up on a mountain and begins to preach his famous “Sermon on the Mount.” He starts with the beatitudes which are a collection of truths for those who want to truly be blessed or “happy”. I want to focus on the very first one because from it spring the rest.

   “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:20

What does he mean by “poor?” Is he referring to those who are without material possessions or who have a hard time paying their bills? There certainly is truth in the fact that those who belong to Jesus are the richest in the world, despite any current financial hardships, for they will one day lack for nothing. But the “poor” Jesus addresses here are the “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5). It “signifies those who are brought to the sense of their sins, and seeing no goodness in themselves, despair in themselves and sue wholly to the mercy of God in Christ.” (Thomas Watson) Someone who is poor in spirit has a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). They are humbled by their sin and know that they approach the living God with absolutely nothing to offer but their own filth and unrighteousness.

The reason we must all be “poor in spirit” is because:

1. “Until we are poor in spirit—we are not capable of receiving grace” (Watson)

Someone who is full of himself is not able to be filled with Christ. “God first empties a man of himself, before he pours in the precious wine of his grace.” (Thomas Watson)

2. “Until we are poor in spirit—Christ is never precious” (Watson)

The person who see the dirt that covers him will view the garment of Christ’s righteousness as desirable (Zech. 3:4). But if you think your works are good and beautiful on their own then what Christ offers will seem neither necessary or precious.

3. “Until we are poor in spirit—we cannot go to heaven” (Watson)

The kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit. The Kingdom is for those who have nothing, know it, and receive what is promised by faith alone.

“Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling”

I don’t know about you, but I have a major problem here. I can never be poor in spirit on my own. I am by nature proud, self reliant, forgetful, stubborn and rebellious. Even as one who has been saved through the death of Christ I easily revert back to my old nasty habits or self righteousness.  But just as my salvation was wholly of God so is everything else pertaining to my spiritual life. Where I fail, Christ succeeds for me. Where I am proud, Christ is humble. And the best part of all is that when I run in the wrong direction Christ pursues me and lovingly brings me back.

As Francis Thompson wrote, Jesus, “The Hound of Heaven” pursues those who are his with an “unhurrying chase, unperturbed pace, deliberate speed, and majestic urgency”.

We must pray that God would make us aware of where we have filled our lives with “self” instead of Christ. We must pray that God would make us poor in Spirit and fill us “with the graces of his Spirit.” He is faithful, he will hear our prayers. He will change our hearts.

Looking To Jesus,

Learning to Love Your Haters

 

Haters. It’s a slang term for people who dislike you to the point of hate and speak ill about you.

I have them.

I have a massive boatload of haters on-line.

And God is teaching me SO much through them.

Here’s an example of some negative comments I have received on my Women Living Well Youtube Channel:

  • I hate you. You need to be slapped, promoting these erroneous morals that destroy progression in our modern world.
  • Keep this in mind: You make the world a worse place. You are the reason for war. You are the reason for violence. You are the reason for all of the willful ignorance in the world. YOU are the cause of EVERYTHING evil involving gender equality. YOU.
  • How sad that you treat a book that has been rewritten and proven false to be absolute truth. I feel pity that you will never know real life by throwing it away. Stupid doesn’t begin to cover your retarded beliefs. Here’s hoping you grow a brain and are unable to have children to grow up into this self-destroying dogma.
  • Cuckoo! Cuckoo!
  • You are a foolish woman!!!
  • It’s preposterous to claim you follow God’s word literally. You follow what your warped surroundings have ingrained in your twisted mind
  • Crazy that my post didn’t make it! Can’t deal with the true contradictions of your flawed bible, you ignorant creature? you’re an idiot bigot.
  • you want to brain-wash your kids into your silly myth and keep them from the truth
  • I find you Highly annoying and egregiously idealistic…I am pretty sure you are no Provebs 31 woman, and everything you claim that is so amazing to you is actually so far from reach and unattainable that your constant lust for perfection causes you severe emotional break downs
  • God’s word? What bull sh**! What the f*** would you know what god wants?
  • this is retarded. , F*** your ideas , F*** your literal bible translation, and F*** you.

And just this week:

  • Stupid delusional woman. Grow up (?…)

OUCH!!!!!!!

And these are only some of the comments from youtube. I have deleted probably hundreds of hater comments from my blog at WomenLivingWell.org, my WLW facebook page and in my email inbox.

The first time I ever had a “hater” comment on my blog – I was devastated…it was four years ago on a post about my daughter and this woman commented and said ~ “I hope your daughter becomes an atheist and never speaks to you again.”

Total shock! I only had about 50 followers at the time and it came so out of left field that it troubled me for weeks!

But as my blog grew – the volume of haters grew too.

With each new hater comment, I was a little less shocked…then there were these forums that google sent me alerts about. I was being talked about – so I peaked to see what women were saying. Oh my, it was mean. These women not only hated the gospel but they hated my blond hair, my horse teeth, the sound of my voice and on and on it went. OUCH!

Then there were mommy bloggers who wrote really mean things about me - oh my!!! Where does it end? Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, youtube, and emails – everywhere I turn = HATERS!!!

And I cried out to God – how in the world do I respond to these people? Today’s reading has the answer:

Luke 6:27-36 (NIV)

Love your Enemies

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Mercy.

I remember the first time I felt a tinge of compassion for my haters. I thought – this is not natural – I should be angry and crying…but instead I felt sorry for them. Goodness, these angry people must have had someone treat them really horrible in their childhood…that they would grow up and be so mean to others. I bet somone close to them had hurt them deeply with sharp words that cut like a knife…

…they need Jesus!  It was a reality check.

We follow a crucified man…the crowds hated Jesus to the point of death –of course we’re going to have haters!

And while I continued to delete most hater comments, I began attempting to respond from time to time to some of them with mercy, grace and love.

This is NO glory to me but just a testimony of the power of God’s mercy…some of my haters started apologizing and even complementing me!  There was this group of wicca witches who wrote harsh blog posts about me and some of my blogger friends who later came to my blog and left surprisingly kind comments. There was the Christian blogger who has very different doctrinal views who wrote a post attacking me, who later apologized to my face at a conference just this past October.

There was one situation where a non-Christian mega mommy blogger who has over 280,000 twitter followers wrote a blog post and mocked me something terrible! Then over 400 of her commenters said how I made them want to throw up, gag or want to slap me. One even said they voted to kill me. Though I got a boat load of negative traffic during this time, I did not respond. Actually, I started leaving kind comments on her blog. And eventually we were private emailing each other in a friendly manner!

That’s God! That’s the power of his mercy!

***Pause for a moment…is there a person that God is bringing to mind that you need to love.

Be kinder than you feel.

Give mercy.

Luke 6:35 says – “your reward will be great” if you extend mercy.

I have a feeling the Holy Spirit is bringing someone to mind for all of us. Do you feel that nudge?  Don’t ignore it!

We have a direct command from Jesus –”Pray for those who mistreat you.”

Go heap kindness on your enemy! You will be blessed!

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
~Romans 12:20,21

Walk with the King,

,WomenLivingWell.org

 ***Special note to those who responded to the Mentoring Option.  Please check your junk or bulk mail folders for Amanda’s response.  Thank you! ;)

Luke {Week 6} How Should We Practice the Sabbath?

 

Below is a picture of my mom as a little girl with her brothers wearing their Sunday best.  Life was different back in the 50′s. In Ohio, there was a Blue Law that required stores and most places of work and business to be closed. This made it possible for most people to be in church.

My father says almost everyone went to church. This social expectation even crossed into the classroom. My father recalls his public school 5th grade teacher asking on Monday mornings who went to church and they had to raise their hands. His family sometimes missed and he was a little embarrassed he couldn’t raise his hand – could you imagine that now in our schools?

My grandmother usually spent her Saturdays preparing for her Sunday day of rest. This meant that she cooked her Saturday meals (usually simple hamburgers) plus her Sunday meal (usually a roast and sheet cake). After attending church on Sundays, she merely reheated the prepared food and served it.
Following the meal they spent time with friends and relatives. They would talk and visit all afternoon and then return back to Sunday evening church. My father’s family would often go on a Sunday drive to look at the countryside or skip rocks in a lake.
Sunday dress was very different. Men would not even consider going to church without a suit jacket and tie. Even the little boys (as pictured above) wore suit coats. And on 90+ degree days, in churches with no air-conditioning, the men just sat there sweating. The women also wore their best dresses and shoes and hats too.
I remember my mother telling me about a time when she was sad on a Sunday because her father would not allow her to cut out her paper dolls.  He said that cutting was work –and so she’d be sinning on Sunday to play in that manner.
And so that brings us to today’s passage.  Jesus broke the Sabbath day rest…let’s see what happens.

 (if you cannot view this video – click here to view it)
5 points we can take from Exodus 20:8-11 about the Sabbath:
1.  Remember the Sabbath DaySabbath means rest. Remember that you are human – not a machine – do not neglect rest. God WANTS you to rest.
2. Keep it holy – our day of rest is not for going boating and to amusement parks –it’s to be a holy day.  Remember to go to church.
3.  Work 6 days and then rest 1 – in the 10 commandments God does not designate which day is to be the day of rest.  It only gives us the pattern of working 6 days and resting 1.  In the Old Testament the Sabbath fell on Saturday.  Then in Acts, whe see the Christian church meeting on the first day of the week for communion – which would have been Sunday.
4.  We are not to make others work on the Sabbath – the commandment states that our sons and daughters, servants and oxen are also not to work.
5.  This is all based on God’s example in creation – God created the earth and everything on it in 6 days and then he blessed the 7th day, called it holy and rested.  He didn’t rest because he was tired.  He rested because He was setting the example that we are to follow.  Work 6 days and then on the 7th – call it holy, be blessed and rest.
In today’s passage, Jesus did not abolish the Sabbath – he merely put his foot down against legalism and rules and regulations that are heartless.  Some professions such as doctors or police will have to work on Sundays –we are not to judge.  We will be tempted to try to put rules on this special day – like no cutting paper dolls or no cooking (note today’s passage when Jesus rubbed the kernals to eat and the Pharisees attacked him ) –but that misses the heart of what God meant in creation for our Sabbath rest to be.
The Sabbath rest is a gift.  We must humble ourselves and acknowledge that we need it.  We need a day to worship.  We need a day to rest.  We need a day where there’s time for extended prayer and  Bible reading.  Put your feet up and read a good spiritual book –guilt free friends!!!!  And trust –we must trust that the work load we have – God will help us accomplish in the 6 days we’ve been given to work.
**Chime In: How do you and your family practice the Sabbath rest?  Is this a challenge for you?
Walk with the King,
Further Resources for study this week - Verse by verse commentary from John MacArthur:
Luke 6:1-5 Jesus: The Divine Truth Teller
Luke 6:6-11 Divine Truth Confronts Human Tradition
Luke 6:12-13 Common Men, Uncommon Calling
Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Peter, Part 1
Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Peter, Part 2
Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Peter, Part 3
Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Andrew and James
Luke 6:14 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: John
Luke 6:15 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Matthew and Thomas
Luke 6:16 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Judas Iscariot, Part 1

Luke 6:16 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Judas Iscariot, Part 2
Luke 6:15-16 Common Men, Uncommon Calling: James, Simon, and Judas
Luke 6:17-19 The Popularity and Power of Jesus
Luke 6:20-23 The Character of a True Christian-1
Luke 6:23-26 The Character of a True Christian- 2

Luke 6:27-28 The Commands of Kingdom Love

Luke 6:29-30 The Actions of Kingdom Love
Luke 6:31-38 The Content of Kingdom Love

Luke 6:39-45 The Danger of Following the Wrong Spiritual Teacher

Luke 6:46-49 The Ultimate Religious Decision
Week 6 Memory Verse: Higher resolution download links:
We also have the image saved in a “web-friendly” format for you to save and share with your friends in your GMG groups.
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