“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” Matthew 17:5
In the first half of chapter 17 in Matthew’s Gospel we read the magnificent story of the Transfiguration. You would think that after seeing something as indescribably amazing as the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John would never doubt or struggle with trusting the will of God again. I mean really, after seeing what they had just seen how could they ever doubt, question or stray from God again. But in his infinite wisdom I think God knew they would because they were human so as if the events of the day hadn’t been powerful enough, he included a simple and precise verbal statement, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” The key phrase is at the end…listen to him. I don’t know about you but I sure could use that reminder every now and again.
I had a professor in college one time that handed out a test. It was the standard fill in the bubble test that we had seen dozens of times before. As the question and answer sheets circulated around the room he strongly advised waiting until he had finished making announcements and giving directions before beginning. I’m a people pleaser so I sat there listening to him ramble on as I watched everyone around me quickly reading and filling in bubbles. I was just about ready to tune him out and get started when I heard him quietly say, if you’re still listening to my voice, put down your pencil, don’t say a word and in five minutes bring your test forward, you will receive a perfect score on today’s exam. I thought a perfect exam score was awesome but as I read this passage from Matthew, I realized what I could gain from listening to HIM would most certainly blow that right out of the water!
God demonstrates his power and presence in our lives all the time but in our weakness; we often don’t listen to him. Sometimes it’s as if God’s grand workings in our lives make us feel entitled to float along with independent holiness instead of falling to our knees in thanksgiving and submission. I’m famous for taking the “holy glow feeling” that comes from identifying God’s handiwork and using it to plug along on my own instead of truly listening to him. I have to remember to listen and look for Jesus all the time; in times of blessing as well as times of struggle. He knows what’s best, he knows what’s right, and even when I’m in the middle of a hissy fit determined to do it my own way, he just patiently waits for me to listen and do it his way!
A Seed To Plant: When do I find it most difficult to “listen to him?” Father of wisdom, show me where I need to listen and guide me to live my life like I’ve heard your voice.
Blessings on your day!
…behold, I am making all things new…Isaiah 21:5
As the calendar ticks away to the end of July, teachers everywhere are beginning to scurry. The back to school mind is beginning to plan and organize and prepare. I suppose most of the non-teacher world, sees summer for us as a multi week vacation. That would be partly true, but not completely. For me, and most of the other teachers I know, it’s a time to reflect and re-work the parts of our curriculum that didn’t quite reach the students the way we’d hoped. It’s a time to read and prepare for changes and fresh ideas, all targeted at engaging students and helping them grow. It’s also a time to catch up on projects. Today was the day I tackled my last big project for the summer; painting and redecorating the bathroom.
When I got started this morning, I was optimistic because the bathroom is the smallest room in the house so I thought I could have it wrapped up by afternoon. Well, one thing led to another and by the time I re-painted the vanity and spray painted the towel holders and light fixtures and then got to the walls, it was dinnertime. I had such high hopes for a quick and uneventful project. Well, the walls are painted, but the drawers are all out of the vanity and the ladder is still in the bathtub. The room looks like an F2 tornado passed through and there are little bits of toilet paper stuck to the floor where i bumped over my paint pan and when I stood up to wipe things up, I knocked down the toilet paper roll and it of course, rolled right through the paint splatters. I finally just turned off the light and called it a day. Instead of feeling relieved and satisfied with a job well done, I realize I get to rise and shine in the morning and give it another go! I’ll have to hold off on my shiny new bathroom until tomorrow.
As I was standing in the kitchen cooking supper I had to snicker a little. I was all huffy because the day didn’t follow my plan and turn out the way I had organized it in my mind. I had a schedule and I wanted that item checked off my list today! I wanted to look at my pretty new towels and shower curtain and clean, freshly painted walls right now…not tomorrow! I think I’ve been down that road before! It wasn’t good enough for me to realize that at some point tomorrow, I will have everything I wished for. The little toddler in me came peeking out because I didn’t get my way. Then, I felt that tender tug at my heart which was the Father trying to help me understand he had a lesson for me today.
God says “behold I make things new”. He does that with his perfectly timed answers to our prayers but we get impatient like I did with the bathroom project. If I would have rushed and re-hung everything, I wouldn’t have given the paint the proper time to dry and cure in this humid weather. I would have ended up ruining something in my haste. I realized how many times I try to rush the Father and jump to the end before I’ve allowed him the time to work things for his purpose. I will be patient and tomorrow, probably before lunchtime, I will behold a new bathroom and I will be happy. As I finish up tomorrow, you can bet I’ll take my time and do careful work knowing that the Father who loves me will be doing exactly the same thing.
A Seed To Plant: Be like Jesus, take some time to go off alone and pray. Offer your list of places you’d like to invite the Father to make you new and then patiently wait for his intercession!
Blessings on your day!
…and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins. Wisdom 12:19
What are some of the things in this life that you can just count on? Many things in life are fluid but there certainly are things that always stay the same; it gets light in the morning, little kid giggles evaporate a bad mood and snakes scare the snot out of me are a few of my constants! We can count on lots of things and one of those “sure things” I find great comfort in is the never-ending mercy of Jesus. He will always love us and forgive us…his mercy is so much bigger than our sin; no two ways about it. We all love that thought but there is a little something that goes with his mercy that we sometimes breeze by; repentance.
Repentance isn’t a word we toss around over coffee or a cocktail too often but it’s sure an important word. The definition of repentance is “ sincere regret or remorse”. It can make us a little uncomfortable because in order to repent, we have to really stop and process what we’ve done wrong and thats really NO fun at all. We do everything fast, including this step of the forgiveness process. Sometimes the word regret is used jokingly, like when we refer to wearing a half a can of Aqua Net hair spray on our hair in the 80’s or shoulder pads that made us look like we were headed for a tryout with the Detroit Lions in our teal green rayon dress. But when we’re talking about regret, repentance and the mercy of Jesus, it takes on a whole new meaning.
Last spring I had a bouquet of flowers in the prayer corner. They were arranged in a pretty glass vase that I’ve had for a long time. It was the end of the day and one of the middle lovelies accidentally hit the vase of flowers with his backpack. He set it back up on the shelf and we moved on like nothing happened. The next morning the flowers looked a little wilted so I got a pitcher to add water to the vase and I was shocked when the water came pouring out of the vase as fast as I could pour it in. It seemed that there was a big chunk missing from the back of the vase so the water just went right from the top through the hole in the back. I laughed and found the piece of glass under the edge of the carpet. It wasn’t until recently that I realized what a great lesson that vase had to teach.
Mercy is like the water I was pouring from the pitcher. It comes without measure, without end and without cost. Jesus just loves us so much he showers us with his mercy endlessly. We are like that vase with the missing chunk. I could have stood there and poured water all day but it would have done the flowers no good because they were not prepared to hold on to and receive the benefits of the water as long as they were in that broken vase. In order for that water to be nourishing and life giving, it had to have a vessel ready to receive it. When we sin, and are in need of the Fathers mercy, we have to be ready to receive it in order to be blessed by it’s life giving benefits. If we don’t repent, we can’t fully receive mercy. If we demand the Fathers mercy but don’t express regret or sorrow and a desire to change we can’t experience the mercy that helps us grow in holiness. It took time, energy and money to purchase all the different flowers that I put in that arrangement, I sure didn’t want them to wither and die without trying to care for them. Jesus feels the same way about us times a million! I had to get my container right. It took time and I got hurt when I cut my finger on the jagged glass, but it was worth it when I saw those flowers perked up and restored to their original beauty. Truly repenting about our sinfulness can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful but it’s the only way to prepare our hearts to receive. I hope you’ll find a few quiet minutes this week to get your container right so you can receive the life-giving mercy of Jesus.
A Seed To Plant: Ask the Father to help you make a list of the things in your life that require repentance on your part. After you’ve prayed about that list, ask him to show you how to prepare your heart to fully receive his mercy.
Blessings on your day!
Click on the items below to expand the options available to you to explore the Joyful Words blog.