Invitation to the Family of God

Today’s prompt for Five Minute Friday is complete. My thoughts went to the first epistle of John. My Wednesday morning Bible study just reviewed the first chapter.  And we are writing these things that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:4

John, the beloved disciple, gave us the gospel of John and three epistles. He spent three years with Jesus, following him, listening to him teach and sharing meals. He was at the cross when Jesus was crucified. 

John gave the reason for his gospel. These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

In 1 John 1 the disciple refers again to the time he spent with Jesus. 

That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:3-4 

Across the years John is reaching out to us, extending an invitation to community. He gives us guidelines. We need to believe in Jesus, confess our sins and walk in the light. We must live in truth. This is the way to fellowship with God the Father, Jesus and other believers, even those who have gone before us. In this way our joy is made complete.

Eventually John was exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community.

Family: A Blessed Purpose

Family is a gift from God. My husband and I have been blessed with four children—one with the Lord, and three that are adults with their own children. We have nine grandchildren and one more on the way.

As I spend time with the grandchildren, I see their individual strengths and weaknesses. I am reminded of the joy and exhaustion of parenting. Providing the guidance and discipline that prepares children to find faith and truth, to develop skills, to meet the challenges of our world, is work! A good and blessed work.

In the life work of family, we need God’s help. He invites us to come to him in prayer. God is refining us all. 

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

This post is linked to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt today is: PURPOSE

Notable Women in the Bible

The last sentence in the book of Judges points to a time of disarray. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. There was no accountability.

At critical moments in Israel’s history, women’s faithful prayers and actions made an impact on the future. During the period of the judges, the story of a family was recorded. Ruth was a young woman of Moab, who married a man from Israel. After her husband and father-in-law died, she made a commitment to her mother-in-law. She promised: For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Ruth 1:16b

Ruth kept her promise and was blessed to become the mother of Obed and the great-grandmother of King David. 

Following the book of Ruth, Hannah is introduced in the first two chapters of 1 Samuel. In sorrow over her barrenness, she made a vow. She asked God for a son and promised to give him to the Lord. After Samuel was born and weaned, she kept her promise and brought him to serve in the temple.

Hannah’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving is recorded. Here is a portion:

My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.

There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none beside you; there is no rock like our God.

Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; For the Lord is a God of knowledge and by him actions are weighed

The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. 1 Samuel 2: 1-4

I am inspired by Ruth and Hannah, also Esther, Elizabeth and Mary. There is blessing in being faithful.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s word for today is: ACCOUNTABILITY

Strong Women: Midwives and Nurses

As we look back through history, we come across women who demonstrated faith and courage. Their actions were based on convictions. Some are midwives, and some are nurses.

The first book of Exodus records the confrontation between Pharoah and two midwives. Shiprah and Puah did not carry out the Pharoah’s orders. They saved the lives of Hebrew babies. I wrote about these two midwives in a 2019 blog post (click here).

Raquel Levy served as a midwife for Jewish survivors of WWII that were refused entry into Palestine. She went to the refugee camps to attend the Holocaust survivors. You can read my review of her biography here.

Florence Nightingale supervised a hospital for soldiers during the Crimean War. She made sanitary conditions and nutrition a priority. She led the way for health care standards in hospitals.

Edith Cavell was a director of a nursing school. During WWI she treated soldiers on both sides of the conflict in Brussels. She held fast to her faith, even as she was escorted to her execution. You can read more about these two nurses here.

Each of these strong women is an inspiration. 

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: STRONG

Pause to Pray

A small group in our church is reading and discussing the book, How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Grieg. Grieg introduces the acronym P.R.A.Y. Pause, Rejoice, Ask, Yield.

Why do we need to pause? Perhaps that is a silly question when we consider our hectic lives and the issues that we are currently confronting. Grieg writes:

The best way to start praying, therefore is actually to stop praying. To pause. To be still. To put down your prayer list and surrender your personal agenda. To stop talking at God long enough to focus on the wonder of who he actually is. To be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Our discussion was stimulating. I wondered about the pressure in our society to achieve, to accomplish goals. What if our prayers are about getting to know God? Is it more important to grow our relationship with Him than achieve goals?

The time that we are living in is challenging. I desire to grow my prayer life. Perhaps you do too.

The prayer course that is a supplement to the book is available online: https://prayercourse.org/sessions/

Linking this post to the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt is: QUIET Also sharing this post with Legacy Link-up and with Anita’s Inspire Me Monday .

Timeless Truth

The Bible has books that praise God, record His interaction in the world and report the words of Jesus. The Psalms have both praise and lament and I feel that I am in the company of people who have struggled with their faith.

The gospel of John gives me a close-up view of Jesus ministry on earth and the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. Paul’s letters to the churches provide instruction.

And then there is the book of the prophet, Amos. God’s judgement. God is holy and He will judge sin. The book details the judgement that God has for the nations that have come against Israel and also Israel.

As I have studied Amos, the description of the decline of God’s people has weighed heavily on me. What can I take away from this book?

God brings about judgement, but His purpose is to call people to repentance. 

Seek the Lord and live . . . Seek good, and not evil that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts will be with you, as you have said. Amos 5: 4b, 14

As I noted the direction offered by Amos, I began to look for additional verses in scripture with the word, seek. There are many references. Here are some.

But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:9

Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16: 10-11

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Luke 11:9

John records the words of Jesus. “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

Amazing Microbiome

This is great encouragement to me. God knows our human nature and proclivity to sin. He has prepared a way for us to live in relationship with Him. He asks us to seek Him. Even Jesus was seeking the will of God the Father.

It helps my prayer life in this unusual time. Will you join me in praying for the people of the United States, Israel, Gaza, India and all around the world? Is there a person or nation that God has put on your heart?

Linking this post with Heart Encouragement .

Return to Me

In the middle of the week, I have a women’s Bible study. During the week each of us spends time reading a couple chapters and looking up cross references. On Wednesday morning we meet and discuss what we have learned.

Currently we are studying the book of Amos, having already gone through Obadiah and Joel. These books gave a warning to Israel. The prophets were warning that God’s judgement was coming, because they were no longer obeying God’s commands, they were no longer honoring God with their lives.

Judgement would come in the form of famine, natural disasters, pestilence and attacks by other nations. In the book of Numbers and Deuteronomy, God promised to bless Israel if they followed his ways and to judge them if they disobeyed. He had chosen them to be an example of life lived in relationship with Him.

The phrase, yet you did not return to me, is repeated throughout chapter 4 of Amos.

Amos was giving voice to God’s purpose in judgement. God was hoping that his people would return to Him. 

God’s steadfast desire is that we return to Him, live obediently and honor Him. 

For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16 

5/16 I am adding a note in consideration of the events taking place in Israel. Throughout the book of Amos, God also judged the nations that attacked Israel. Some nations were utterly destroyed, but God always preserved a remnant in Israel. God has kept his covenant with Israel throughout the ages. In this time of unrest and the barrage of rockets, pray for Israel. Pray for the people, for the salvation of Jews, Arabs and Palestinians. Pray for God’s name to be exalted.

This post in linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Heart Encouragement

Broken Cisterns

As I read through the Old Testament of the Bible, the words tell me about God’s holiness and justice. He has made a way for us to dwell with Him. God has given us precepts for living; his laws are good. But it is human nature to disobey. 

The prophet Jeremiah was directed by God to warn Israel. 

for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13

Currently my women’s Bible study is using a study guide titled, Discovering the God of Second Chances. Our nation needs a second chance. God is merciful and patient.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Join me in praying for revival.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community .

Words of Gentleness

During the years of Jesus ministry on earth there was political turmoil—not so different from our world today. There was division among the Jews: Pharisees, Sadducees, zealots and followers of Jesus. And they were ruled by the Romans. 

Jesus didn’t offer a political solution. He was focused on turning the hearts and minds of the people to God, to forgive sins. He healed people spiritually

Last Sunday we sang a hymn that you might associate with Christmas. Who Is He in Yonder Stall gives snapshots of Jesus’ life. It is a beautiful description of our Savior.

Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall? Who is He is deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

Who is He the people bless for his words of gentleness? Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He who stands and weeps at the grave where Laz’rus sleeps? Who is He the gath’ring throng greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo, at midnight, who is He, prays in dark Gethsemane? Who is He on yonder tree, dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave comes to heal and help and save? Who is He that from His throne rules through all the world alone?

‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story! ‘Tis the Lord! The King of glory!At his feet we humbly fall, Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all! 

Benjamin Hanby (1833 – 1867)

May we follow Jesus’ example, engaging our culture with gentleness. May we obediently follow our Lord and Savior.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

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The Gospel in Guatemala

After completing a year of employment as a nurse in a Detroit hospital I went on a mission trip. I served as a guest helper for Wycliffe Bible translators in Guatemala. I went to a little village, two hours or more from Guatemala City.

The village of Cubulco was surrounded by mountains. I remember unpaved streets and adobe type houses. Early in the morning the roosters were crowing. Some nights I could hear the sound of a marimba.

Mary Shaw and Helen Neuenswander were translating the New Testament into the Achi language. Helen was a nurse, also providing health care to the Mayan Indians at a clinic—the Indians had no other place to get help for health problems.  I assisted at the clinic.

Whenever Helen was in the village men, women and children began lining up at the clinic early in the morning. They came on foot from the surrounding area. Helen continued to see patients until dark.

I helped with medications, talked with patients in my limited Spanish (and their limited Spanish) and did whatever Helen asked. The days were long and exhausting.

For a couple of weeks, a midwife and I stayed at the clinic open while Helen was away. We did not see nearly as many people at the clinic, but we were called out to a house in the mountains where a woman had been in labor a long time. Eventually she had to be carried down from the mountain on a stretcher and transported to a hospital.

After four months I returned home and made plans to attend the Summer Institute of Linguistics to prepare for work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I completed the first summer of training, but then family needs took me on a different life path. 

Recently I heard a speaker who stimulated memories of Guatemala. The Ambassador to the United Nations from Guatemala, Luis Lam, was talking about a bit of history. In 1948 the United States was the first country to recognize the provisional government of Israel, Guatemala was next. During the previous administration the United States moved our embassy to Jerusalem. Under President Morales, Guatemala followed our lead. The Ambassador is a man of faith and he alluded to others in the government. You can hear his message on the World Prayer Network. The growing Christian movement in Guatemala warms my heart. 

There is some fascinating history in Guatemala. Cameron Townsend was the founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators. His initial translation of the New Testament into an Indian language (Cakchiquel) took place in Guatemala during the 1920s. Townsend believed that when people had the Bible in their own language it would lead them to faith in God. You can read about Cameron Townsend’s vision here.

What is the effect of God’s Word on a community? On a country?

I wondered what had happened to the clinic in Cubulco. I did an internet search and found several articles written by Mary Shaw on a blog. In 1984 the Achi New Testament was completed and printed. The town held a great celebration. In 1990 a hospital was opened in Cubulco, Centro Medico Christiano, La Senorita Elena (as Helen was known in the village). 

This week is Holy Week. The New Testament records the Passover, Jesus’ crucifixion, His sacrifice for our sin and His resurrection. The gospel is a message for all people. God loves us and offers to redeem us through Jesus.

Sharing this post with Heart Encouragement.