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Monday, May 14, 2012

More about priorities

Within my circles of friends, Bible study and church, a recurring theme keeps coming up and I thought I would talk a bit about it.  I definitely need the reminder. 

Our children are a top priority in our lives.  When I say this, I'm assuming that our husband is at work and we are spending time in the Word on a daily basis.  Those two things are top priorities as well. 

Here's the problem I'm seeing in my life and I'm hearing in others' lives.  We are so busy and we keep filling up our lives so that there is no room.  Where do our kids fit in?  If you can participate in the busy activities that I have then you fit in, but otherwise, find something to do on your own, I'm busy. 

We, as mothers, are not called to plant gardens, mop floors, vacuum and dust, we are called to raise little ones to love and serve Jesus.  How can I do that when I'm rushing around cleaning up?  Ok., definitely NOT advocating that we allow our houses to become messy and nasty. 

Our children can participate in these things.  They can be a part.  The little nine-month old, that stays with us during the day, rushes over to the dryer as soon as it is opened and tries to help pull things out.  The busyness in me says, "Get out of the way.  I can do it much faster on my own.  I don't need your help."  But as a mom, it is spending time with our baby to allow emptying the dryer to be a game he can enjoy.  Yes, it definitely takes longer.

What about putting said baby in the high chair while you waltz around the kitchen mopping or cleaning up?  Waltzing doesn't happen as easily without music, so put on something fun and give the baby a spoon to beat on his tray for a drum.  Obviously we wouldn't be ignoring baby but interacting with him and laughing and playing while we do.  It really does kill two birds with one stone, just takes a bit longer.  We get our stuff done and baby is thoroughly pleased to have mommy's attention. 

What about when the kids are fighting and fussing with each other?  Maybe a time-out to play alone in separate spots. That works well in my house.  Or gathering all the children to sit for a story. Yes, the dishwater will get cold, but it will keep.  Sometimes all it takes is re-directing. 

Yes, there are times when discipline is necessary, but sometimes our children need help re-directing their emotions.  It may not call for a time-out, but just time away from each other, or time sitting on the couch holding hands.  Usually we can't get past the first few minutes before they are cracking up and laughing with each other. 

We are moms first before housekeepers.  Let's make sure that we don't check off too many things on our to-do list without spending a little time with our precious children.  And let's also do them a favor by making sure that we carve out time for their daddy.  That way they can be sure that Mom and Dad love each other and will always be together for them. 

I usually like to try to get most of the cleaning up done before dh gets home. Obviously we still have dishes and some things left to do, but the majority of it should be done, so that when Daddy gets home, we are ready to do what is on his list - even if it's a movie or a game or nothing at all. 

We have the best job in the world.  We get to teach and train little hearts and help them grow to be more like Jesus every day.  Let's not forget.  To temper this just a bit, as I don't think it's healthy to spend all of our time focusing on our children, a quote I heard went something like this:  Instead of focusing on our children, we should focus our children.  That's our job.  Our job is to teach them to honor, to respect and to love one another.  Not to be at their beck and call. 

I'm afraid though that too often I go the other way and send them off to find something to do, so I can take care of my work - and what is that?  usually busy work, work that is not important, just something to fill my time so that I can say I'm busy.  Yuck! 

Enjoy your kids today.
Steph

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jehoshaphat

Have you ever read the story of Jehoshaphat?  It's in 2 Chronicles 20.  I have known this story for a long time, but last week in Bible study, I really enjoyed it.  I say it's hilarious, but that's not really what I mean.  I don't know how to describe it, but it's a great picture of what happens when we truly trust God with the whole picture.

1 ¶ Now it came about after this that the sons of Moab and the sons of Ammon, together with some of the Meunites, came to make war against Jehoshaphat.



2 Then some came and reported to Jehoshaphat, saying, "A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, out of Aram and behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar (that is Engedi)."

Jehoshaphat was king of Judah.  He was a good king.  What I see in chapter 20 says to me that he was a great leader.  He did make mistakes, but he was human.   He heard that three armies were coming to attack them.  God had ordered them to spare these armies as they came into Canaan, and now they were attacking Judah. 
 
3 Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.



4 So Judah gathered together to seek help from the LORD; they even came from all the cities of Judah to seek the LORD.

I love this!!!!  He doesn't do what I do when something big comes my way.  I try to figure out if I have the resources for such a problem.  Nope, he calls everyone together and they talk to the Lord about it.  What a great leader!  He knows that prayer should be the first thing in our lives and not a last resort.

5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD before the new court,



6 and he said, "O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You.


7 "Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?


8 "They have lived in it, and have built You a sanctuary there for Your name, saying,


9 ‘Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us.’


10 "Now behold, the sons of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom You did not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt (they turned aside from them and did not destroy them),


11 see how they are rewarding us by coming to drive us out from Your possession which You have given us as an inheritance.


12 "O our God, will You not judge them? For we are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You."

This is a long prayer.  I hope you read it all.  There is so much in it.  First, he tells God who He is - worship.  God already knew all that, but sometimes when we say it with our mouths, our hearts remember.  Second, he reminds God of His promise to His people.  Kind of like our kids when we've said we would do something - they don't let us forget.

Then he makes a commitment to God. (vs.9)  Doesn't matter what happens, God,  he says we're staying and sticking it out and we're gonna come and beg you to deliver us.    In other words, he knows the best spot to find the help he needs. 

I love how he says in verse 11 "see how they are rewarding us?"  And then verse 12 brings tears to my eyes.  I don't know why exactly, but he's not even sweating it.  Just "our eyes are on You".  Hey, God, we have NO idea how we're gonna get out of this mess, but You do, so we're looking to You. 

My little boy loves the new baby girl that is with us during the day. One day he heard her fussing a bit as she was settling down for her nap.  He started to run to her crib, when I stopped him and told him that I would take care of it.  "You got this, Mom?"  he asked.  Jehoshaphat wasn't asking.  He knew.  God had this.

13 All Judah was standing before the LORD, with their infants, their wives and their children.


Everyone was there - even to the babies.  This was very important.  Their whole world could become dust.

14 ¶ Then in the midst of the assembly the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph;



15 and he said, "Listen, all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.


16 ‘Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel.


17 ‘You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out to face them, for the LORD is with you."

Then the man I'm guessing was a prophet.  Since a prophet speaks to the people for God, in this instance anyway  this man was just that.  I don't recognize the name, but he was telling the people what God had to say.

"The battle is not yours but God's."  Seems like Jehoshaphat understood that and was portraying that before the people.  Now the people hear the words from God that back what Jehoshaphat is saying with his life.
Get up and get yourselves ready, but you won't be fighting. 

Well, what's the use of going out, if we aren't gonna do anything? 

God wanted them to "stand and see the salvation of the Lord". 

18 Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD.



19 The Levites, from the sons of the Kohathites and of the sons of the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

They fall down and worship.  They believe that God has a plan and it's the best.

20 ¶ They rose early in the morning and went out to the wilderness of Tekoa; and when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, put your trust in the LORD your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed."



21 When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the LORD and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army and said, "Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting."


22 When they began singing and praising, the LORD set ambushes against the sons of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; so they were routed.


23 For the sons of Ammon and Moab rose up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir destroying them completely; and when they had finished with the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.


24 When Judah came to the lookout of the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and behold, they were corpses lying on the ground, and no one had escaped.


25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take their spoil, they found much among them, including goods, garments and valuable things which they took for themselves, more than they could carry. And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much.

God's plan ensured that no one of the Israelite army died, but everyone in the other armies did.  They had turned on each other and somehow managed to kill everyone.  I don't know why this story is so wonderful to me.  I guess it's one of the best pictures I remember of turning to the Lord immediately and trusting Him for the whole thing. 

The day we studied that I found out that some things may be working toward something new in our lives.  It's something we've been praying about but have been waiting on some things.  Now all of it may be coming together, I'm not sure yet,  but as I looked at my very full plate, I started to wonder how on earth we'd be able to do it all.  So the timing for me was perfect.  I remember echoing Jehoshaphat's words, "Our eyes are on You."

 I got home and found that due to laws here in our state, I can't take the little boy that is to be born in June.  We can only have two infants in our home.  So God was taking care of it all, and working out all these things for His glory.

Hope you enjoyed the story of this king as much I did.
Steph


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Therefore - what is it there for?

Ha!  I've known that whenever I see a "therefore" in the Bible, I am supposed to check the preceding comments to find out what it is there for.  But today I found a nugget that I've been missing while I've been studying Colossians - and I've been on Chapter 2 for over a month. 

I love it because it particularly applies to me.  One of my favorite kids' stories is one we don't have, "You are Special".   Actually we may have it - in Indonesia - and therefore in my mind we don't own it.   It's a story about not worrying about what the people around us think of us, but being so in tune with the master (in this case the wood carver) that we don't let the stickers that they keep trying to put on us stick.  You'll have to read it to get the whole idea, but for this people-pleaser it's a great reminder.

Now, I think it is a bit of a stretch what I found today, but maybe not.  Maybe someone who sees it differently can let me know. 

Anyway, the first fifteen verses of chapter 2 are all about how we are complete in Christ.  Nothing more must be done to be right with God.  So then, we come to the "therefore".  He tells them, because of all that, no one is to act as your judge.  I mean how cool is that!!!!   I love it.  I don't have to follow everyone else's opinions of how to get to God - I can't, everyone's opinions are different. 

All I have to do is look to Christ. I don't even look at myself to see if I've done enough.  When I worry about whether I have believed enough, I am saying it wasn't finished on the cross.  This changed my life when I understood this.  I struggled all the time with if I had enough faith.  Could I really be saved, since I hadn't really been excited about reading my Bible today?  When my missions teacher mentioned that if anyone worries about if they've done enough, or prayed the right prayer or really believed, that that person is saying that there was more that needs to be done for Christ's work to be complete.  So when Jesus said, "It is finished.", He should have said, "I have finished my part."  Not true.  He did it all.  He did finish it and there is nothing more for me to do.

So I don't need to follow others' ideas of how to pray or worry when others say that you really will feel like a believer if you are.  Before I understood this, I lived in fear.  I worried if I skipped my devotions for a few days.  I looked at myself and wondered, What if I'm not really a believer?  Now I look to the cross when I mess up and remember that He paid it all.  Now, I understand that it does mess with my walk with the Lord, but I don't question any longer if I'm saved.  Salvation was totally and completely Him - Jesus on the cross.  Discipleship is my choice and my commitment to walking with Him and studying His word. 

And thanks for listening to my ramblings about this nugget I found about "therefore". :)
Steph
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