Monday, May 21, 2018
The crooked cripple waited outside the temple gate called Beautiful. Peter and John came along. It was time for a prayer meeting. It would have been easy to walk right on by, but the man looked at them expectantly so they stopped. His expectation wasn’t very high. A mite or two would do – Peter and John didn’t appear to be flush. What a shock he got! What a glorious, fabulous, stupendous shock! After 40 years of immobility the man walked – leapt up and down for joy. He asked for alms – but God gave him legs! (My husband’s line!) Peter and John saw their program work!
It’s a sad commentary on the church that people don’t expect much from us. Just a mite or two. A handout – the usual meager token – the nothing-very-much-giving they’ve grown to expect. But to receive ‘life more abundant’ – to be straight instead of crooked, to stand tall instead of groveling on the ground, and to be independent instead of dependent – now there’s a story! It got everyone’s attention of course, as such a miracle should, and more and more people asked to join the program.
Peter and John’s program worked because it wasn’t theirs, it was His. It was the living, loving, healing, resurrected Jesus’ idea.
What sort of people is the Lord Jesus looking for to run His program of gospel-telling and radical life change? People like Peter and John. Now before you begin the killing game of comparisons – wait! Peter and John are described in the narrative as “unschooled and ordinary men.” Well now, that’s good news for those of us (me included) who have never had the chance to go to Bible school or seminary. (Some of us were too busy putting our partners through.)
Many of us women qualify as “unschooled” – no Master of Divinity for us. The leaders of Israel (schooled men) took note of the fact “that they (the disciples) had been with Jesus!” (Acts 4:13). Ah, so they didn’t need a Master of Divinity – they had been with the Master of Divinity! Now that’s very good news for those of us unschooled and ordinary women who feel inadequate and less than ideally equipped to make our programs work. And of course, it’s obvious to me, the more ordinary we are the more extraordinary He will be seen to be. That way we can make sure that He gets all the credit. Incidentally, you can accomplish anything if you don’t have to take the credit!
So far as I can see from this incident, God can use poor, unschooled, and ordinary people to lend a hand to help this crooked, crippled world up onto its feet for the glory of God! And, after all, that’s what His program is all about. What a joy to be a part!
In His Love,
Just Between Us Magazine
Thursday, May 10, 2018
I recalled that when Joseph’s second son was born, he named him Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:52). God can make us fruitful when He carries us into a place of affliction, but how?
He can surely use the pain, if we cooperate, to grow some of the fruit of the spirit in us – love, joy, peace, patience, and self control. I think it begins when we accept trouble with a why not? instead of why me? attitude, and when we submit to His timing, not with a why now but a thy will be done. As we learn to grow through suffering we will begin to know God, ourselves, and others better through it all, and might even develop hidden gifts of mercy and grace that will only flower in the land of our suffering.
It’s easier said than done, of course, but for those of us who seek to serve the Lord, we will discover that at such painful times, like Joseph, we have a choice. We can become fruitful or barren, become overcomers or overcome. We can allow pain to drive us to God, letting the prison show us His face. While Joseph was in the pit, God showed him His mercy – in the prison of His kindness (Genesis 39:21) and in the palace of His grace.
Sometimes we can preach the most effective sermons of our lives from the prison or the pit, simply by responding rightly to people who are responsible for bringing us into the “land of suffering.”
When our turn comes, may He help all of us to be fruitful – for His sake.
In His Joy,
Just Between Us Magazine
Monday, April 30, 2018
Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia saying, “Come over and help us.” So Paul, Timothy, and Luke went. They scrapped their planned evangelistic tour and just went because someone needed them to come over and help them.
I think of this man every time Stuart and I take off around the world again. The man of Macedonia still calls! Ahead there are meetings galore, airplanes to catch, and people to help, teach, and listen to. We will “weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh.” There will be much to learn about cultures, the church around the world, evangelism, mission, Jesus, and myself!
The main thing I am learning is just to go. When I get to wherever we have been invited to be, we are most times met with the same words. In many different languages we hear, “You came! You came! You didn’t send a book, or tapes, clothes, or medicine, not even money or Bibles – you came to us!” I have learned this is a ministry called a ministry of presence. There’s a real need and an invitation to go over and help someone. So, if it’s possible, you just go. And you know all of us can do this! You don’t have to do it abroad. The man of Macedonia may well live across the street. I’ve been practicing the ministry of presence for years. First in the United Kingdom and then in the United States. Just go.
Once I get there, I need to have a ministry of silence. Yes, I’ve gone to talk; that’s what they have invited me to do, but in between, before and after the sessions, over breakfast, lunch, tea, and supper, and sometimes far into the night, I will need to have a ministry of silence. And you know all of us can do this! We talkers, counselors, and teachers need to listen before we lecture, advise, or hand out our biblical anything! By listening, the one talking realizes we are interested in them. In fact, that is the way they will believe we love them. Then after having a ministry of listening they will be willing to listen to us!
I am also learning to have a ministry of tears. And do you know something, that’s not hard! How much sorrow and trouble there is in our hurting world. How could we not be reduced to tears? We would need to have a swinging brick inside of us instead of a heart. If we set ourselves to listen without lecturing, we will find wise and comforting words of instruction when it’s time to use them and our words will find a ready resting place.
It doesn’t mean there will be no teaching and training. I will be teaching “Ministry in the Life of Jesus,” Philippians, plus Ecclesiastes. I’ll tackle “How to Discern, Discover, and Do the Will of God,” “Women in the Life of Jesus,” and “How to Go Deeper with God,” and lots of other Scriptures too. But none of this will be as effective if I haven’t had a ministry of presence, silence, and tears first.
And so, friends, as you pray for God to allow these incredible opportunities of ministry presence and compassion to abound in your life, lean on the Holy Spirit to empower you with a heart full of His love so that you can truly listen, weep, and respond in His strength. Then those you are ministering to will be able to go out and do the same!
Just Between Us Magazine