These words from Fanny Crosby’s song of the same title came to mind this morning after I read the scripture and devotional reading for today. The scripture was Numbers 14:1-4, 31. The Israelites were grumbling (again) about the conditions in the desert and their fear of the future. It didn’t matter that they had seen God’s faithfulness by providing food, water and protection. They had trouble trusting God for their future. They said they were also afraid for their children. It was at this point that God told the parents that the children would “enjoy the land that you have rejected” but they would not. Because of their lack of faith and trust in the words of God the parents lost the opportunity to move into the Promised Land; however, their children lived to experience God’s promises.
It’s natural to put the needs and concerns of our children first. God gave them to us to care for, and to nurture. However, there comes a time when we need to begin the process of letting go, and it comes much sooner than some of us would like. Along with allowing them to make some “controlled” choices at a young age we need to let them experience making mistakes. With this we need to begin to give them the tools to make wise choices. Knowing God’s Word is the best tool they can be equipped with. We don’t want to raise children who become adults not able to live on their own, contribute to society, and make wise biblically-based decisions. There are good books that give suggestions as to how to guide the child through the process of becoming independent. They suggest the types of chores for certain ages, and the types of freedoms and responsibilities that might be appropriate for certain ages.
One area that concerns me is the decline in the importance that we as parents and churches are putting on higher Christian Education. The knowledge that comes from a school and teachers who are well grounded in God’s Word will last a lifetime. The skills to be obtained from “secular” schools can always be added later. The Bible training obtained first will equip the students to face the many attacks that will come against their Christian training and beliefs. They will be much better equipped to deal with important and difficult issues.
The wellbeing of our child is always in our hearts and minds, from infancy and up through adulthood as they take their first steps, enter first grade, obtain their driver’s licences, and go on their first date. They are in our thoughts through sicknesses, job interviews, and career changes. But oh the joy and peace we can have knowing God loves our children infinitely more than we ever could. He has their wellbeing firmly in His care. Our children could never be in a better place than “Safe in the Arms of Jesus”.
Mark 10:16 “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
The first time I viewed the Canadian Rockies it was a cool cloudy day. Friends of mine were driving me from Calgary to Canmore and on to Banff to give me a quick look at some of God’s most beautiful creation. I didn’t realize we were driving between two mountain ranges. All of a sudden the tip of a mountain was visible through the clouds with the sun shining brightly on it. Soon more mountains burst into view. What a sight! I remember feeling overwhelmed. I was glad I was alone in the back seat because I felt I was standing on “Holy Ground.” God felt so very close to me. He and I had an amazing private time as my friends chatted in the front seat, unaware of the affect the moment was having on me.
There are a couple of other places at which I feel I am standing on “Holy Ground;” both are at church campgrounds. Brown City Family camp in Michigan has been a camp I have attended since I was five years old. This camp has been my spiritual retreat for decades and I am so glad that our children feel the same. The other is Stayner Bible Conference Ground in Stayner, Ontario Canada. I hold an annual prayer retreat for women at this special place. It has become another “Holy Ground’ for me and many others. When I step onto the property of these two camps I know that God is there; and with an open heart and mind I expect He will have a special message for me.
The scripture and accompanying reading in my devotions today brought this question to mind; “Do I miss seeing God’s Holy Ground in my everyday living?”
Exodus 3 records the time Moses encountered the “burning bush” and was told to remove his shoes because he was standing on Holy Ground. God then gave Moses the special message that there was a task God wanted Moses to do. We don’t see burning bushes, but we do know that God is with us wherever we are. I realized today that I need to remove my shoes much more often and treat the space I am in as “Holy”. As I think about that, what will change? Hopefully, my conversation with my family, friends, and acquaintances will be more kind and considerate. Will it affect my thought life, and my prayer time? What else needs to change? What task does God have for me to accomplish today?
Have you stepped on “Holy Ground” today? How did it change you? Did you accomplish God’s special plans for you today?
The other evening I realized that if I am not careful I have the tendency to behave like a teenager. How can that be? I have been an adult for many years. Now don’t get me wrong! I love teenagers. We have three grandchildren who are teenagers right now, with eleven more who will journey through those years. They can be fun, engaging, helpful, and great cooks. However, there are moments…
So, what did I realize? Our small group is studying the book of James through the video teaching of Beth Moore and her series, James: Mercy Triumphs. James 5: 8-9 showed me just how immature I tend to be sometimes.
James 5:8-9 (ESV)
You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.
I am patient, well at least most of the time. Verse eight wasn’t my problem. It was when Beth pointed out the meaning of the original word for “grumble” that showed me how much I still behave like a teenager. She explained that in the original Greek, the word grumble actually means a “deep sigh” or “groan.”
To quote her:
“The key word grumble is especially captured in the ‘unexpressed feeling of bitterness or the smothered resentment that may express itself in a groan or a sigh.” (The Expositor’s Commentary, vol. 12, Hebrew-Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981) 202
Oh, my! Can you picture the quiet, or not so quiet sigh and rolling of the eyes of a teenager when they don’t like the guidance and instructions their parents give? I had to stop and ask myself if I don’t I have the same attitude sometimes. What do I do when another driver makes a stupid move? What about when my husband and I don’t agree? And I am embarrassed to admit that I must keep my attitude in check when confronted with a sales clerk that is not as efficient as my busy schedule needs them to be. At these times my impatient “groan” can be not so quiet.
There are many times that I may not verbally express my feelings of bitterness. There are times when I try to smother my resentment and groan or sigh inwardly. However, my face probably shows all too well what is going on in my mind and heart.
Then I think of the unending grace that God gives to me daily. Through His grace He sent His only Son to die in my place to take the punishment for my sin. It was through God’s grace that He will forgive me of that sin if I only believe that Jesus died, and I ask for that forgiveness.
Acts 15:11 (HCSB)
“…we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.”
Romans 3:24 (ESV)
“and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”
It is through His grace that He guides me each day as I pay attention to His divine leading and resist the daily temptations.
2 Corinthians 8:7
But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
1 Peter 4:1
[ Stewards of God's Grace ] Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
In preparation for my annual spring ladies prayer retreat I have also been studying verses that speak about “grace”. The theme this year is ‘Be Still and Know…God’s Grace’. The theme was chosen a year ago. Are you seeing the pattern? I think God saw an area in my life that needed work! He brought the study in James and my study about God’s grace together at the same time. He has done this before, and I am sure He will do it again. I learned long ago, that I am not able to share God’s lessons until I have learned them myself.
Lord, help me to show others the same grace you have shown me. Help me to lean on you for patience and understanding when it does not come naturally. Forgive me for the groaning I have done, and the rolling of the eyes when I don’t want to follow your lead. Thank you for your continuous love and patience.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Valentine’s Day is a great time to reevaluate our relationships, whether they be with our spouse, significant other, or friends in general. This past week I was studying Acts 18:24-28 for another writing project and was re-introduced to an amazing ministry couple, Aquila, and Pricilla. This couple is mentioned in the New Testament six times, but each time the passages are very short. You don’t see one mentioned without seeing the other mentioned shortly after. Pricilla and Aquila are a good example of how God sees men and women as equals. Aquila is mentioned first, three times, as is Pricilla. Remember, women were not given a place of honour during that time in history.
I encourage you to read these passages several times and be sure to include the surrounding verses during one of your readings.
One of the first things I noticed is that this couple loved to travel together. They were not afraid of adventure. We are not told where Pricilla was born, but Aquila was born in Pontus, on the south shore of the Black Sea. We are not told when he met and married Pricilla, but it seems that she was with him when he made all of his moves: Rome, Corinth, Syria, and Ephesus. Many of these travels were made as they accompanied the Apostle Paul.
Aquila and Pricilla were tentmakers together. They worked together. Some of you might be thinking “How could they work together every day?” My husband Weyburn has been self-employed for many years, and I have worked part-time until my retirement recently. I must say, I really enjoy our time together. We do make sure that the other knows what we are planning for the day. I try to schedule my writing and creative time either early in the morning, or for when he will be out of the house.
They ministered and mentored together as a couple. We are not told what they did as they ministered with Paul, but through Paul’s words, we understand that they were deeply loved and appreciated. As mentors, they must have been kind and gentle. It is usually very awkward to offer to be a mentor to someone. The person being asked may wonder why we think they need a mentor, or what we think we know that they don’t know. But Apollos, a very knowledgeable and gifted teacher and preacher, accepted their offer of help willingly and quickly. He must have seen God’s Spirit and wisdom in them and wanted to learn all he could from them.
Pricilla and Aquila were risk takers together for Christ. We read:
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Romans 16: 3,4 ESV (Prisca is the Greek variation of Pricilla)
We are not given the details of this event, but I sure wish we had been. It must have been quite the experience. Notice, it was not just strong and tall (maybe, maybe not) Aquila coming to the rescue of Paul, Pricilla did her part. We are not told the ages of this couple, but age did not seem to matter. They were willing and able.
Debi Snider... more
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