Summer Sabbath Devotional #4, Being Humble

IMG_0968

by Linda Foster

Matthew18: It was at this time that the disciples came to Jesus with the question, “Who is really greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?”2-4 Jesus called a little child to his side and set him on his feet in the middle of them all. “Believe me,” he said, “unless you change your whole outlook and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is the one who can be as humble as this little child who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

So I look at this passage asking what really jumps out at me? Because that is what the Spirit is drawing my attention towards.

And this question leads me in a series of thoughts:

  1. Jesus knows the truth of my heart, not just who I say I am, or who I hope I am, but He knows my heart. In his gospel, when Mark tells this same story, he says, ‘Jesus knew their thoughts’. If he knows my thoughts, he knows the truth of my heart. And I can’t hide it from Him.
  2. It is clear that humility is a high value to Jesus, and so also to the Father.
  3. So I want to be humble.
  4. I can’t fake humble, God knows who I really am.
  5. Being humble is to know and honor the truth of who I am and who God is and who others are.
  6. Being humble means seeing what Jesus sees in myself and in others.

Being humble is to see Christ in myself and in others. And I’m struck by how hard it is for me. I see many things in myself, but seeing Christ in myself is hard. My tendency is to see how unlike Christ I am, and try to put on Christ’s actions because I want to be like Him. But to let Jesus rule my heart and eyes and ears, and respond to life genuinely as Jesus would…. How do I do that? How do I get there?

So I pray, I ask God how am I to respond to what He’s shown me here? And I know.

  1. I need to spend time with Him. We become like those we spend lots of time with.
  2. I need to know who He is and what He values, through knowing His words in Scripture.
  3. I need to get that my primary role is be His child and to know His love for me.
  4. True humility will come and will be a natural result of knowing I was created to know Him and know His love for me.
  5. See Summer Sabbath Devotional Week #1…. God has a theme going this summer.

Ephesians 3:14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower (us) with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in (our) hearts as (we) trust in him. (Our) roots will grow down into God’s love and keep (us) strong. 18 And may (we) have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May (we) experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then (we) will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Advertisements

Summer Sabbath Devotional #3 – Ask, Search, Knock

by Linda Foster

IMG_6341

Luke 11:9-13 – Jesus says:

“So this is my word to you: ask and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. You see, everyone who asks receives! Everyone who searches finds! Everyone who knocks has the door opened for them! If your child asks you for a fish, is there a parent among you who will give him a snake? Or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? Face it: you are evil. And yet you know how to give good presents to your children. How much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”?

So I read this passage of Jesus’ own words.

And I ask: what is He saying to me right now through these words?

And how am I to, by His grace, respond to His message to me?

For me right now, this says so much.

  1. ask, search, knock. There is a level of shameless audacity, tenacious perseverance, even a quality of respectful desperate commanding in the examples given of these words.
  2. everyone, everyone, everyone.   E V E R Y O N E !?  Jesus says ‘everyone’ three times! This is the holy repetition Jesus uses when He wants us to GET IT!!!!  This requires some pondering!
  3. If my child (or grandchild ♥ ) asks me… will I not desire to move heaven and earth to meet a need and most times even a request of theirs? Uh, yes. My heart jumps for joy to be able to give any good thing to my kids.
  4. How much more.  HOW MUCH MORE? HOW MUCH MORE! More? Wow.
  5. How much more will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to any who ask. Again, WOW!

This is so much! Jesus is saying so much here and emphasizing it by repetition. Jesus WANTS me to understand His heart here, and the heart of the Father, the value of His love, that it is His joy to GIVE ME His Holy Spirit.

This is big.

And how am I, by His grace, going to respond this week?

  1. We sing the song, ‘Break Every Chain’ together on Sundays. And for a while I’ve been thinking I want to list all the chains I desire to see broken around me. So I am going to do just that this week. And I am going to intentionally and persistently, ask, search and knock.
  2. I am going to read this passage everyday this week, so that it really digs down deep in my mind and heart.
  3. I am going to ask again for the Holy Spirit. I leak. I need constant refilling of His Spirit. And I have gotten lax in asking. I am going to ask again for a refilling up of His Spirit. And ask with desperate desire and shameless persistence.
  4. And then I am going to pray that every chain on that list will be broken, to His glory and the good of those He loves.

This ought to keep me busy!

But time well spent.

Amen.

I hope each week, as you read the scripture passage, what God has said to me will encourage you. But my hope is also that you will take a moment to re-read the passage and ask yourself, ‘what is God saying to me? And how am I going to respond?’

So what is Jesus saying to you through this passage, and how, this week, by His grace, are you going to respond?

Vineyard Summer Sabbath Devotional #2 “As Children”

By Linda Foster

Here are the verses from Sunday’s service: Luke 18:15-17

15 People were bringing even tiny babies to Jesus for him to touch them. When the disciples saw this, they forbade them sternly.16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, God’s kingdom belongs to such as these. 17 I’m telling you the truth: anyone who doesn’t receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.”

So my question as always is this: 

What is Jesus saying to me through this verse?

And how, by His grace, am I going to respond?

 What I hear Jesus saying to me: Looking at this verse the part that jumps out to me is ‘tiny babies’. Jesus placed VALUE on babies. He gathered little children, and they were drawn to Him.

Young children, babies, can’t do anything, they can’t serve or earn income or help. They can’t converse or be of much ‘use’. They understand so little in the way we value understanding. Their very care is inconvenient and can take us away from that which we deem has real value for our time.

Babies know how to just be. They don’t have much choice. Babies have no agenda. But when you hold one or look into their eyes, you can see what Jesus sees, pure and innocent trust. A trust that knows He is enough. His love and grace are enough. And I want to live every minute knowing that His grace is enough.

There has been so much discussed and written about verse 17, dissecting it and trying to decode all its meaning, hidden and plain. How do we get into God’s Kingdom? What is the secret of being like a little child? What is the hidden code in what Jesus says here? What is the formula, tell me and I will fit it.

But really, and more simply, the shocking and overlooked fact is that Jesus here in this passage and routinely throughout His life placed His time, His love and His value on things and people we quickly overlook because we don’t SEE what they have that is of worth.

Those who are helpless, the dirty, the mentally ill, the inconvenient and annoying, the less-than, the sick, those whose pain makes us want to turn away. He saw beauty. He saw worth. Because He saw with love and grace.

So what is my response to what Jesus is saying to me here? My heart says, my heart yells, ‘I want to see what Jesus sees. I want to value what Jesus values.’ In the faces and the places I may rush past, in the situations and people I don’t usually even slow down for. In my ordinary relationships and things of the day to day. I want eyes to see and ears to hear like He does. I want to live without holding back and without fear. I want to see the little child in every face and I want to be the little child when I look into His. Because really, really, really, His grace IS enough. In every life, in every fear, in every disappointment, in every regret, in every situation, His grace and love are enough. I can’t be thankful enough for this. And life radically changes when we can deeply grasp this.

My prayer this week is two fold, to have the eyes to see and ears to hear my everyday life as Jesus does. And also to pray that I could deeply know that His grace and love are enough, always and in every situation enough. Amen.

Vineyard Summer Sabbath Devotional #1 “You Are My Wonderful Child”

Summer Sabbath Devotional 2013 – Linda Foster

Intro to this summer’s devotional: This year’s Summer Sabbath devotional, I want to take a very simple approach. We all have so much to read and look at during the day. I don’t want this to be one more thing that you only have a chance to glance at because it is just one more thing grabbing your time. To this end, I want to keep it short and simple, but my prayer is that it would still have an impact on your spirit and heart as you quiet your life to hear God.

We have focused on two main questions regarding scripture ‘what is this scripture saying to me?’ and ‘by the grace of God, how am I going to respond?’ So I will look at the scripture verses in light of these questions every week.

“You are my wonderful child whom I love. You make me very glad.” Mark 1:11

To be a true and serious follower of Jesus, I need to wrestle with two questions.

  1. 1.    Who do I say God is?
  2. 2.    And who do I say God says I am?

How I answer these two questions really form the foundation of my identity as I live and breathe it daily.   So looking again at Mark 1:11, what is God saying here and what am I going to do about it?

This verse in Mark makes clear who God says I am.

When God looks at you and me, as His believing children, He sees us, not as our broken selves, but as we are in Jesus Christ.  God looks at us and says, you are my dear, dear child, I love you, and you delight my heart. He sees us through the eyes of Jesus’ sacrifice. It is like seeing a child in rags and filth, but in your mind and heart all you can see it that child fully as they were meant to be: clean, innocent and happy.

So what God says here in this verse is pretty clear.

But is His the only True voice in my heart?

Do the things I say to myself about myself line up with that?

Do I agree with who God says I am?

For me, the answers are:

  • No.
  • No.
  • No, not really.

God is saying He claims me as His child; he loves me with a deeper, purer love than I have for my own children. God is saying He adores me, that I bring joy to His heart. Hopefully, you are farther down this road than I am, but for me, this is hard to fully grasp, let alone live it out.

But too many things compete in my heart for me to fully believe this truth. I want the approval of others, not just God. Then there are the broken ways I see myself, seeing all the ways I constantly fall short of who God says I am. And possibly worst of all are the things I say to myself about myself that contradict God’s word.

So if this is what God is saying to me through His word, what by His grace am I going to do about it?

I want to agree with God. I want to line up my heart and mind with His. So I am going to pray daily, and more than daily, as often as it comes to mind and heart. I am going to pray that I would have His grace to see this ‘too good to be true, can’t comprehend, blows my mind, would change my life if I could grasp’ truth. I am going to pray it until I can believe it with more than just my mind. I am going to pray it until the truth of it begins to impact my life and the life of those I touch. I am going to pray it until the cows come home. Until the day that I can say and know without a doubt that I am His beloved child whom He loves completely and without reservation, and that seeing me God feels joy.