Jesus, Chickens and Mothers

mother-and-child-2chickens-1Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
Proverbs 31:28

With this coming Sunday being designated as Mother’s Day, I want to take time to honor our mothers and fulfill Proverbs 31:28. However, I am pondering what qualifies a female to be a mother. I believe any woman who reflects a lifestyle of nurturing and caring for others is a mother. Motherly characteristics are exhibited not only by human beings, buy also by animals and birds. Jesus described His love for Jerusalem (a symbolic representation of all believers) as being like that of a mother hen. I am not saying Jesus or mothers are chickens! However, I think there is a revelation of Jesus’ love and a mother’s love when we look at the life of a chicken. I grew up on a farm and we had chickens, so maybe that is why I am attracted to this image today. Let’s see how we can tie together the hearts of Jesus, chickens, and all women who function in a mother role.

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how often I have longed to gather your children together,
as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,
and you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37

When I read this verse from Matthew, I not only see a mother hen drawing her little chicks close to her body but I also picture Jesus doing the same with each of us as His children. I am reminded of the refrain of the old hymn Safe in the Arms of Jesus by Frances Crosby, “Safe in the arms of Jesus, Safe on His gentle breast; There by His love o’ershaded, Sweetly my soul shall rest.” Psalm 91:4 NLT says, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” This image is similar to a picture of an earthly mother holding a baby in her loving, caring arms. There is a feeling of warmth and security as well as love when a baby chick, a believer in Christ, or a young child is snuggled near to the body of the one emanating love. 

As a young girl, I remember seeing the chickens running around in their open space while I was swinging on my tree swing. One of my recollections is of a mother hen leading her newborn chicks out for a walk. With the mother hen in the lead, five or six fluffy little chicks followed in a parade. The new hatchlings followed their mother wherever she went. They trusted her to lead them along the right path. Mothers of young children also lead and instruct their children. Proverbs 22:6 instructs moms (and everyone else) to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” David says in Psalm 25:4, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.”

While living on the farm, there were occasions when I remember hearing a lot of squawking from the chickens. Usually it meant that some predatory animal, or even another chicken, was trying to attack a brood of young chicks. The one making the most noise was the mother hen who was trying to protect her defenseless chicks. If the attack was instigated by another chicken and her squawking was not enough of a deterrent, she would ruffle her feathers and attack. Psalm 121:7 says, The LORD will keep you from all harm– He will watch over your life.” The Lord watches over our lives, a mother hen watches over the lives of her chicks, and mothers watch over the lives of the children entrusted to them.

Jesus, chickens and mothers are not synonymous words, but it has been fun to search for similarities. While exhibiting love and compassion, mothers are also protective and defensive of their children. Their goal is to help their children grow and mature to be who God created them to be. Any woman who finds herself in the role of a mother is worthy of honor on Mother’s Day and every day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The CONS of Romans 8

bible-studyCON” is a simple three letter prefix, When it is combined with various letters of the alphabet, it creates a variety of words found in Romans 8. Join me in a search and study of these words.

Therefore, there is now no CONdemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:1

To be condemned means to be proven guilty. To separate the syllables of condemn and then combine the meanings of the two syllables produces the meaning to be “with damnation.” Condemnation pronounces a strong negative judgment upon a person that may involve punishment. This first verse of Romans 8 assures us that there is no condemnation if we have a personal relationship with Jesus. John 3:17-18 assures us, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We do not need to worry about being good enough to please God. Since Christ died for us, He will not condemn us as long as we personally embrace John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As I continue reading in Romans, I find confirmation for the promise of no condemnation in Romans 8:34, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

So letting your sinful nature CONtrol your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit
CON
trol your mind leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6 NLT

In this verse, we discover that we have a choice of how our minds are controlled. Our sinful nature leads us down the path of destruction while yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit offers us life. Romans 8:9 gives the assurance, “You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” Only when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit are we be able to please God.

I CONsider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:8

When I consider, or think about, suffering, I become uneasy. I do not like the thought of enduring pain of any sort. However, we are not exempt from uncomfortable circumstances even though we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When reading a few more verses we come to the assurance of the benefit of our suffering. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but it does mean that God is able to turn every situation around for His long term good . Another reassuring verse is II Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.” We will all encounter pain of some sort during our lives, so it is beneficial for us to consider how we will handle uncomfortable situations before we are confronted with it.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
CONformed to the image of his Son,
that he might
be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:29

To be conformed means to be made into a similar form or style. When I separate the syllables of the word, I create the definition “to be with formation.” To be conformed to the image of Christ is to be made into His likeness and character. A note in the Life Application Bible points out that as we become more like Christ, we discover our true selves – the person God created each of us to be. I John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

No, in all these things we are more than CONquerors
through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

A conqueror is a person who overcomes such things as weakness or fear successfully. He or she is able to take control and cope with life’s challenges. To conquer often refers to overcoming by the use of military force. With this concept, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The writer of Romans tells us that as Christian soldiers, we are more than conquerors. Looking specifically at Romans 8:31, Paul says, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” This gives us confidence to think of ourselves as conquerors.

For I am CONvinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything
 else in all creation, will be able to separate us from
 the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

To be convinced means to firmly believe in the truth. It is very reassuring to know that when we have a personal relationship with Christ, He will never allow us to again be separated from Him. Going back to the first verse of this chapter, we were told that if we have asked Christ into our lives, we will not be condemned. However, to use another “con” word, Jesus will CONvict us but He will not CONdemn us. We need to be sensitive to conviction so we can repent of any sin and not live in fear of condemnation for the wrong we have done. Romans 2:4 states, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” We need to remember the truth of II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

As we near the end of our study, I remind myself that the prefix CON means “with”. When I combine the promise of Philippians 4:13 with the definition of CON, I realize that with Christ I can do all things. I come to the CONclusion that I can be free of CONdemnation, I can allow my mind to CONtrolled by the Holy Spirit, I can CONsider the reality of suffering, I can be more than a CONqueror, and I can be CONfromed into the image of Christ. All of this is possible when I live my life with Christ! The prefix CON is small but powerful when CONnected with Christ!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Promises! Promises!

 


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PERSONALIZE GOD’S PROMISES

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said,
and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised.
Genesis 21:1
Today as I read this Genesis scripture, the Lord impressed upon me to personalize this verse and replace Sarah’s name with my own name. So I read, “The Lord did for Cheryl what He had promised.” (My Reader, I encourage you to insert your own name.) Yes, I can think of many times that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to me. For those times, I praise the Lord. I will not take time to tell of these positive promises, however, I encourage each of you to take time to personally reflect upon the manifestations of the Lord’s faithfulness to His promises in your life.
1400782535liokaGOD’S PERSPECTIVE OF PROMISES

Promises! Promises! I make promises to others. Others make promises to me. Although I intend to be faithful to my promises at the time of commitment, I do not always succeed. Because of my natural human inability to keep my word, I can be prone to doubt the devotedness of my supernatural God. How foolish of me because God always honors His promises recorded in scripture. I want to reassure myself of God’s faithfulness by reflecting upon scripture verses that declare a positive perspective
of His promises.

He has given us His very great and precious promises.
II Peter 1:4
(What an amazing gift the Lord has given to me!)

being fully persuaded that God had power to do
what He had promised.
Romans 4:21
(My goal is to be completely confident that God will carry out His promises.
He is able to do what He says, but do I wholeheartedly expect Him to do it?)

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises
to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Joshua 21:45
(He is incredible!)

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8
(I can depend upon His faithfulness to carry out His Word for me!) 
1400782535liokaMY PERSPECTIVE OF GOD’S PROMISES

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33
I must embrace the totality of any promise Jesus gives. I cannot hit the delete key for any of the words of the Bible and twist God’s promises to my advantage. Although I like the beginning of this promise in John 16 that Jesus made, I am not quick to want to accept the second part. I cling to the promise of peace but want to push the thought of trouble out of my mind. In reality, I can appreciate the promise of peace more after a trial of trouble. God sees a bigger picture for the fulfillment of His promises than what I perceive.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8
Another thing I need to remember about God’s promises is that they may not be manifested in the way or according to the timeline I might expect. God’s thoughts and ways are so much deeper than mine! Consequently, the way He chooses to do what He declares will be better for how He wants to fulfill His plans and purposes in my life.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

The best perspective I can have regarding the Lord’s promises is that He know
s best! He fulfills His promises in the perfect way for me personally. I must not add or subtract from His complete promises and I must have faith in His wisdom and faithfulness. 1400782535liokaPERSONALLY APPLYING GOD’S PROMISES

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8
I began my inserting my name instead of Sarah’s name in Genesis 21:1 and now I conclude by replacing the pronoun me in Psalm 138:8 with my personal name. (My Reader, you can do the same.) I think again about God’s promise to Sarah in Genesis. God was faithful to her having a son even though she had to wait until she was 90 years old. This was the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abram, her husband, back in Genesis 12 when he was 75 years old. It took 25 years for God to do what He promised! When I consider this promise, postponement, and performance, I understand the predictability of my positive God! God never left Abraham and Sarah and He was faithful to His promise even through their son Isaac was not born according to the timeline expected by the couple. If I intend to place my name within this scriptural promise, I must believe that God will fulfill His promise according to His plan and purpose.
God’s promises are wonderful even though the manifestation may not be
according  to my expectations.

The Lord shall not turn back until He has executed
and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind.
Jeremiah 30:24
My Reader, here is one promise I can make to you that I know will not be broken. It is not my promise – it is God’s promise.

Joyfully,
Cheryl,
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Forgiveness – Receive and Give

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Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]
Matthew 6:9-13

lentMy Reader, is it easier for you to receive forgiveness from someone who has offended you or for you to ask someone to forgive you for offending them? Neither act is easy and both acts require humility. I will admit that I find it is easier to say “I forgive you” than to say “please forgive me”. However, it can still be hard for me to fully forgive and forget. Actually, God does not tell us that we have to forget because we can often learn from the offense we have experienced. However, we must not hold the offense against the other person and allow it to hinder our relationship with them. I found the following statement as a notation in the Life Application Bible, “You have to admit you need forgiveness before you can accept it.” That is certainly something for me to ponder!

Let’s immerse ourselves into the concept of forgiveness as we continue our exploration of the paradigm for prayer given to us by Jesus. Each week we are taken deeper into the Lord’s Prayer as we continue our expedition during this Lenten season.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:12

Once again, we will focus upon specific highlighted words as we unpack the meaning of this verse of scripture.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our
debtors.

Debts and debtors are the first words we will study. These are the words used in most translations of the Bible for Matthew 6:12. The Greek word for “debts” is ophelilema and it means “that which is owed.” Opheiletes is the Greek word for debtors and means “one who owes another.” I grew up in a mainline denominational church that prayed the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Why the different choice of words? When I read Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV, it says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.These verses are the basis for the alternate wording of the Lord’s Prayer. No matter what terms one is most familiar with, the concept we are dealing with in Matthew 6:12 concerns the need of our asking for forgiveness and extending forgiveness for our debts or trespasses or sins or mistakes or shortcomings.

And forgive us our debts,
as we also have f
orgiven
our debtors.
I notice the word “forgive” in the first line followed by “forgiven” in the second line of this scripture. Forgiveness is found on a two-way street. One way I travel requires me to ask God to forgive me while the other direction of travel says I am to forgive others. Everyone sins so we all need to seek God’s forgiveness. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, what is the solution for my sinfulness? Jesus is the answer! II Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” One of the names for Jesus I highlighted on February 17 in the blog post What Is in a Name? was Jehovah-tsidkenu that means “The LORD Our Righteousness.” Although Romans 3:10 says, “”There is no one righteous, not even one;” when we cry out to Jesus for forgiveness He restores us into right relationship with Him again. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins (ask for forgiveness), he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (my emphasis) I said earlier that everyone sins. Now I highlight that everyone needs to be forgiven and to forgive others.

OK, I understand how I can receive God’s forgiveness when I ask Him to forgive me for the ways I have hurt or offended Him. This requires humility but I can do it! However, I notice that in order for God to fully forgive me, He asks that I forgive others who have hurt me. I may not want to do this, but I remind myself of my analogy of forgiveness being a two-way street. I must ask, “How can I expect my Heavenly Father to forgive my sins if I am not willing to forgive those who sin against me?” A note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible says, “Prayer for forgiveness is qualified by a readiness to forgive personal injury.” This is what makes forgiveness hard! No one likes to be hurt. And, if I am hurt, I often like to keep the wound open by replaying in my mind what happened to cause the injury. This really is not a healthy thing for me to do. One of the reasons the Lord asks us to forgive others is that forgiveness frees us from the bondage of our hurts. Healing comes after forgiveness. Our extension of forgiveness to the one who has hurt us also frees the Lord to work in the life of the person who sinned against us in the first place. We are to let go and let God do His work of restoration in the lives of everyone involved. When I have trouble forgiving another person, I often find it helpful for me to pray the prayer Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him. Jesus simply prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they doin Luke 23:34. In this verse, I notice that Jesus asked His Heavenly Father to forgive them. This allows me to ask the Holy Spirit to help me forgive others when I am not able to do so on my own.

And forgive us our debts,
as
we also have forgiven our
debtors.
The use of three little pronouns four times is significant. All of these words are plural. When I consider that Jesus used the words “Forgive us our debts,” I believe that He was emphasizing that all of us have a need for giving and receiving forgiveness. I agree! However, I think that each of us also should pray this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer on a more personal level. I need to examine my heart to see what sins I have committed for which I may need to specifically ask forgiveness. I also need to ask myself if there is any person I need to forgive. My Reader, I encourage you this week to pray this prayer guideline as follows, “Forgive me my debts, as I also have forgiven my debtors.” You might also like to study on your own the Parable on Forgiveness found in Matthew 18:21-35. I like the words that conclude of this parable, “forgive your brother from your heart.” Will you follow these words of Jesus?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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March Winds Are Blowing

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According to the calendar, spring will begin in two days. I will be glad when the weather feels like spring, but the calendar usually tells me it is spring before the weather feels like it. However, we can count on one weather factor during the month of March – it will be windy!

As I meditate upon the word “wind”, I perceive it from both natural and supernatural perspectives. Naturally speaking, wind occurs when air flows from high pressure to low pressure. This results in a change in the atmosphere and in the temperature. Although this weather phenomenon happens year round, we are often more aware of it in March as the weather fluctuates during this change of seasons. Turning my thoughts toward the supernatural realm, the wind is revealed as the Holy Spirit. The word “spirit” in both Hebrew and Greek means “breath” or “wind.” I experience different seasons in my life and it is during these shifts and changes that I rely most heavily upon the Holy Spirit to help me through the adjustments in my atmosphere and temperament. Let’s look at scripture for validation of this comparison.

“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it,
but you do not know where it comes from and where it is
going;
so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

In this scripture, Jesus makes a comparison between the wind and the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus points out a similarity, I feel there is some validity for what I want to share. An online article by Dr. Donald B. DeYoung of Creation Research Society has helped me articulate the following four comparisons between wind and the Holy Spirit.

8636119077_57dbabe649_qFirst, wind is moving air, and fresh air is needed for life. Regarding the Holy Spirit, the Hebrew word for spirit is ruach, and it means “air in motion.” This word can also be interpreted “breath” or “life.” I am reminded of Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” I see definite similarities!

8636119077_57dbabe649_qSecondly, there is no material shape to the wind. Although we cannot see it with our eyes, we do experience the effects of wind. Neither is there is a visible shape to the third person of the Trinity. However, I experience the effects of the Holy Spirit as my life is being transformed and sanctified. Just as a gentle breeze can be invigorating, so can it be energizing for me to feel the work of the Holy Spirit. Listen to the words of Acts 2:2&5, And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting….and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”

8636119077_57dbabe649_qThirdly, there is a force involved in both cases. Wind is a powerful force that we cannot stop or control. The moving of the Holy Spirit is the work of God and neither is it subject to human control. Zechariah 4:6 assures me that what is done is “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” The power of the wind can make it easier or more difficult for us to move depending upon which direction the wind is blowing and in what direction we desire to travel. We can apply this same statement to the power of the Holy Spirit. We can either obey His leading or oppose it. I pray I choose to yield to the power of God’s Spirit.

8636119077_57dbabe649_qLast, we can experience both the wind and the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways. Some days we may feel a gentle breeze upon our faces while on other days we may experience wind with the force of a tornado or hurricane. We also can encounter the presence of the Holy Spirit in various ways. At times, I sense His presence simply through a quiet sensation within my spirit while at other times His presence may be so strong upon me that I literally feel myself shaking. It is interesting to note that within the single chapter of Acts 16, the Holy Spirit chooses to move in two unique ways. First, let’s read a few words that describe how the Holy Spirit worked quietly within Lydia’s heart. we (Paul and Silas) were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking …a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her (Lydia’s) heart to respond to the things spoken.” – Acts 16:13-14 Later, the Holy Spirit reveals Himself more violently through an earthquake to a jailer. Listen to some selected phrases: “Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake …. When the jailer awoke…he said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?‘ …They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’”Acts 16:26-31.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 150:6

My Reader, it is March and the winds of nature are blowing. I pray the wind of the Holy Spirit is also moving upon your life. No matter which wind we are experiencing, one thing remains constant – God is in control. Colossians 1:16 says, “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” May I conclude by encouraging you to do as the Psalmist suggests in Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath (that includes you!) praise the Lord!” As you feel the breeze of a March wind blow upon your face, let your breath praise the Lord today!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Bible Study – Preparing Change

 LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY involves CHANGE…..embrace CHANGE in your LIFE…..LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY involves CHANGE….. in your LIFE…..LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a

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Bible Study
Preparing Change
“Pitch, Pack and Ponder”

Definition of Preparing Change: making things ready for change – constructing a plan to carry out necessary actions for a transition

Master Key Verse: Prepare the way of the Lord. – Isaiah 40:3 NKJV

In the context that this verse was written in the Old Testament, Isaiah was referring to God’s presence returning to the nation of Israel after a time of chastisement.
When John the Baptist speaks of preparing the way for the first coming of Jesus, he quoted these words of Isaiah. They are recorded in all four gospels (Matt. 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4 and John 1:23).

The NIV translation of the Bible states Isaiah 40:3 as “prepare the way for the Lord” while the NKJV says “prepare the way of the Lord. We are to prepare the way for the Lord in our lives by living and preparing our lives according to the way of the Lord.

I had to “Pitch, Pack and Ponder” in order for me to prepare the way for the Lord to move in my life the way He desired as we moved into a new home. I had to prepare myself physically, emotionally ad spiritually in order to live according to the way the Lord had planned for me. I searched for a Bible story that would give me an example of pitching, packing and pondering during a move. I was reminded of the Israelites as they began their Life-Journey-Change experience of moving from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. Join me in a scripture study of the Israelites as they prepared to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

The Israelites Leave Egypt

Read Exodus 11 and 12
Chapter 11
The Lord tells Moses how He will bring upon the Egyptians the plague causing the death of their firstborn sons. Finally the Pharaoh will drive the Israelites out completely. (v. 1)

In chapter 11, the Lord informs Moses and the people that soon they will be pitching their past and packing to leave Egypt.

Chapter 12
The Lord relates to Moses how to prepare for change that will result in their exodus from Egypt and slavery.

*Verses 1-11 gives the instructions for the preparation and eating of the Passover meal. (Later they will ponder the significance of what they were told to do as the Passover is still commemorated today.)
***In verses 6-8, they are told to slaughter a lamb on the first day of the month. Then they are to put blood upon the door frame and eat the lamb.
***In verse 8, they are to eat bitter herbs that were symbolic of the bitterness of slavery they were going to pitch.
***In verse 8, their bread is to be made without yeast. (I think they were pitching things they would not take with them as they were packing for their journey from slavery.)
***In verse 11, they are to eat with their cloak tucked into their belt, sandals on their feet and their staff in their hand. (They were packed!)

*Verses 12-23 instructs the Israelites that they are to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread because it commemorates their release from Egypt. Instructions are given for how to celebrate it.
***In verse 17, they are to celebrate Passover as a lasting ordinance and in verse 20, they are told to eat the unleavened bread wherever they live. (They will ponder!)

*Verses 24-28 elaborates that these instructions are a lasting ordinance that will give the people a reason to share with their children the meaning of this ceremony. They did as they were told.(v. 28)

*Verses 31-32 Pharaoh tells the people to GO worship the Lord as requested and to take flocks and herds with them.

*Verses 34-36 tells of the dough the Israelites took with them along with silver and gold and anything else they requested that had belonged to the Egyptians.
***In verse 36, they plundered the Egyptians. (They packed while they plundered.)

*Verses 37-42 The Israelites began their journey that would last 430 years.

In chapter 12, the Israelites are preparing the way for the Lord to move in their circumstances by preparing the Passover meal according to the way of the Lord.

The Israelites packed and pitched. They did all of this without pondering or questioning what they were asked to do. However, they were also given instructions as to how they were to ponder in the future.

I Leave Webster

While we were preparing for change, I was so busy pitching what we did not need and packing what we did need that I forgot to do any pondering! Only after the physical move did I read an article by Elizabeth Sherrill in Guideposts that helped me see my need to do some emotional and spiritual pondering.

I needed to ponder some spiritual milestones and sort through some family events that transpired in our Webster home. I finally took time to mentally walk through each room of our former home and ponder the special events I wanted to remember. In the family room I saw the Christmas tree and the personalized stockings hung by the fireplace each year. The bedrooms of our children were special because in these rooms they both progressed from sleeping in cribs to regular beds to sharing their beds with their spouses. It was also in their rooms that each of them prayed the prayer of salvation asking Jesus into their hearts. Family, friends, holidays, graduations, weddings, etc. etc. etc. This exercise helped me pack away many memories in my mind. I also came to realize that I could unpack these thoughts any time I wanted and that I could ponder the memories no matter where we might be living. Some things were probably better off being pitched (not remembered) but many treasures would always be only a thought away. The best thing I realized while I pondered was that God had orchestrated all the happenings of my life in the past and that He would continue to do so in the present and future.

I was like the Israelites! I pitched and packed before I pondered! God was always with the Israelites and He would always be with me no matter what change occurred during my life’s journey. Moses told the Israelites in the last part of Deuteronomy 31:6, “The Lord your God goes with you; He will ever leave you nor forsake you.” Then Jesus concludes Matthew 28:20 by saying to His disciples and me, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

For me, change did not just happen when we actually moved all our boxes and possessions to a new house. It was happening each time I pondered whether to pitch or pack a specific item or a special thought. So many boxes! So many changes! “Life-Journey-Change.”

Biblical Summary of Pitch, Pack and Ponder

The concept of each one of these P words is developed in various scriptures throughout the Bible. Let’s look at a few examples of spiritual pitching, packing and pondering.

Pitch sin
I John 1:9 – “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

You may want to read Psalm 31 that was written by David after he had sinned with Bathsheba. Especially note verse 10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” You can pray this prayer to pitch sin from your life just as David did.

Pack lessons learned in life
Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

God wastes nothing so do not forget what you have experienced.

Ponder what Jesus did for you
Read I Corinthians 11:23-29

Paul reminds the Corinthians not only about the sacredness of the Lord Supper that was instituted by Jesus but he also quotes the words Jesus used when He first shared the bread and the cup with His disciples. Paul points out to us not only the most important thing for us to ponder and remember, but how to do it. 

Do this in remembrance of Me” is the command given by Jesus recorded in Matthew 36:26-30 and Mark 14:22-25 regarding the Lord’s Supper.

No matter at what point we are in our life’s journey, the most vital thing we are to remember and ponder is the fact that Jesus died for each and every one of us. Always take time to partake in communion so that you can “come into union” with the Lord through all the changes you encounter on your journey of life. After all, is not our Christian communion foreshadowed in the Passover Feast of the Jewish people? Think back to Exodus 11 and 12 that we studied earlier. The Israelites put the blood of a lamb over their doors so that the angel of death would pass over them when it struck the Egyptians. Now Jesus is the Lamb of God who shed His blood for us so that we may live and not die. The Israelites remembered and so must we remember.

Conclusion

Today we have been “Pitching, Packing and Pondering” regarding our physical lives and our spiritual lives. We have found examples for both the natural and spiritual in the Bible. I have shared how these words applied to me when we moved to our new home. Now it is your turn to act upon these words regarding your own life. Please feel free to send me any responses you would like to share. Just as I could not move from one house to another without doing some pitching and packing and pondering, neither can you or I move from one spiritual level of understanding to another without doing some pitching, packing and pondering.

God says that He makes all things new in Revelation 21:5, so get ready for change. How do you get ready for change? Our master key verse of Isaiah 40:3 says to prepare the way of the Lord. So, prepare the way for the new thing God has for you by pitching, packing and pondering things that are currently part of your life.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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For further study:  You might enjoy applying the concept of Pitching, Packing and Pondering” to the parable of the prodigal son as recorded in Luke 15:11-32.

Bible Study – Pursuing Change

LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY involves CHANGE…..embrace CHANGE in your LIFE…..LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a JOURNEY involves CHANGE….. in your LIFE…..LIFE is a JOURNEY…..a  

bible-for-study-mfBible Study
Pursuing Change

Definition of Pursuing Change: proceeding along a specified course for change – continuing along or following a path with a goal in mind

Master Key Verse: Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. – Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

After it has been confirmed to you that your perceptions were not only your own ideas but were desires planted in your heart by the Lord, you are ready to take the next step of pursuing change.

The first step in our journey of life leading to change was Perceiving Change and now we are ready to take the next step of Pursuing Change. With this new step, we need to be aware of the differences between expectations and expectancy.

 “Expectations or Expectancy”

How do you differentiate between the terms “expectations” and “expectancy”?

Expectations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Expectancy
Limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No limitations
Certainty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Uncertainty
Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Relationship
Responsibility . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Ability to respond

Let me give you a personal example of how I let expectations overtake my original expectancy. We were at a very nice dinner that had included appetizers, salad and a complete entrée.  When it was time for dessert, we were told that something sweet was coming. We waited with expectancy for what was to come. The waitresses came around and removed all unused silverware. We were left with a spoon. I had always heard that if a person was given a spoon for dessert it would not be as decadent as if one had a fork. My expectancy was limited by my expectations of probably being served ice cream. (However, that would not have been bad after all we had already eaten!) I was soon proven wrong as we each were served an individual dish of delicious chocolate mousse. As if this were not enough, we were then served plates of warm fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies! At that time we were introduced to the chef and were told the reason he had not come out earlier was because he was baking the cookies so they would be as fresh as possible for us. My expectations were far exceeded and expectancy certainly should have been my mindset from the beginning!

We set boundaries with expectations.

Expectancy gives God permission to do what He desires.

Master Key Verse: Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. – Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

Expectancy goes beyond any imaginable expectations.

What do you think?
How do you live out your life’s journey – by expectations or with expectancy?
How do you handle changes – by expectations or with expectancy?

Let us look at the importance of expectations and expectancy in the lives of three women recorded in scripture.

Lives of Three Women in the Bible
Sarah
(Genesis 12:1-5; 16-18; 21:1-7)

I believe expectancy was in the hearts of Abram and Sarai when God called them to a journey out of their homeland and into an unknown country where God promised to make them a new nation. (Gen. 12:1-5)
I believe expectancy was in their hearts for the children to be born who would become this great nation.
However, expectations took over Sarai’s heart when many years went by without her bearing children.
She developed expectations of how and when the promise of a son would be fulfilled.

 Expectations led to Hagar bearing a son, Ishmael, through Abram. (Gen. 16)
Expectancy led to Sarah giving birth to Isaac through Abraham. (Gen. 18; 21:1-7)

 Expectations led to jealousy and hurt, and eventually the Islamic religion of today. (rejection) (Gen. 21:1,2)
Expectancy led to the covenant family of God through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the basis of the Jewish and Christian faiths. This began with the covenant God made with Abraham. (Gen. 17:7)

Expectations by Sarah were based on what could be seen in the natural.
Expectancy in Sarah’s life was beyond the natural; it was supernatural.

Genesis 18:10-15 records the story of 3 visitors a year later. Sarah laughs because expectancy for a son was beyond what her expectations could comprehend or imagine. Compare this to Gen. 21:6,7 when her laughter is joy as expectancy became a reality. It is interesting to note that she names her son Isaac that means ‘to laugh.”
 
Key Bible verse for Sarah:
My God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
Sarah lived in the time of the Old Testament rather than the New Testament. However, this verse would have been very good for her to rely upon. Be sure to claim it for yourself because we have it recorded in our scriptures today.

What do you think?
Sarah had times of both expectations and expectancy in her life. The same will be true for us. In your daily life, do you tend to rely more on expectations or do you live more with expectancy?
What do we hinder in our lives when we take things into our own hands and do not wait for God or do not allow Him to do it His way?

 Hannah
(I Samuel 1 – 2:11)

Expectations were prominent in that society which expected a wife to bear children. This was personified by Peninnah who had children. (I Sam. 1:2)
Expectancy was shown by Hannah in that she turned to the Lord in prayer requesting a son. (I Sam. 1:10-16)
She vowed that if she were to bear a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life.

Expectations crept into Hannah’s life as we read that year after year she was in great sorrow because of Peninnah. (I Sam. 1:7)
Expectancy allowed Hannah to receive peace pronounced over her by Eli the priest who prayed that God would grant her request. (I Sam. 1:17)

Expectations of attending the annual sacrifice at Shiloh of the Jewish religion could have required Hannah to go with Elkanah the following year after Samuel was born. (I Sam. 1;21,22)
Expectancy allowed her to follow God’s leading for her to wait until Samuel was weaned and then for her to take him to Shiloh and present him to the Lord for the rest of his life. (I Sam. 1:24-28)

Expectancy overruled expectations in Hannah’s life. In I Samuel 1:20, scripture says that she named her son Samuel meaning “because I asked the Lord for him.”

I Samuel 2:1-10 records Hannah’s prayer beginning with “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord, my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delighted in your deliverance.”
Her whole prayer reveals the fulfillment of her expectancy.

Key Bible verse for Hannah:
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. – II Chronicles 16:9
I believe Hannah was one of the people fully committed to the Lord.

What do you think?
Hannah felt the influence of expectations from society and her religion; she overcame them by relying upon God with expectancy. How are your decisions influenced by society or religious rules?
How are you able to overcome these expectations and live with expectancy for what the Lord has for you?
Will God find you as one who is faithful when He looks for those whose hearts are fully committed to Him?

 Esther
(complete book of Esther)

As a girl, Esther most likely had expectations of growing up with her parents, but these expectations were crushed when her parents died. (Esther 2:7) We see she grew up to be a woman of great faith who surrendered to the Lord with great expectancy. (Esther 3:14) This whole story is told through her experiences to become the new queen for King Xerxes.

King Xerxes desires a new queen and Esther 2:1-4 explains how the girls were prepared to be presented to the King in order for him to choose a queen.

Expectations of the girls desiring to be queen could be carried out by choices they could make of what to take with them when they went before the king. (Esther 3:13)
Expectancy is shown by Esther when she asked for nothing other than what the king’s eunuch suggested. (Esther 2:15) I believe she saw the spiritual significance of the 6 months beauty treatments with the oil of myrrh and the 6 months with perfumes. (Esther 2:12)

In Esther 2:17, Esther is made queen. In chapters 3 and 4 there are encounters between Mordecai and Haman that led to Esther being asked to approach the king on behalf of her people, the Jews.

Expectations are stated by Esther herself in Esther 4:11 saying that anyone who approached the king without being summoned could be put to death.
Expectancy empowers Esther, after a time of fasting, to approach the king in spite of her expectations. The gold scepter is extended to her and the king grants her every request and more. (Esther 5:2)

In Esther 3:6-15, Haman issues an edict against the Jewish people and in Esther 8:5-17 Mordecai issues another edict in favor of the Jews.

Expectations were that the Jewish people would be destroyed because of Mordecai’s actions that infuriated Haman (Esther 3:7-15)

Expectancy resulted in Esther being given Haman’s position later and the Jewish people given the right to assemble and protect themselves and kill any armed forces from any nation who might attach them. (Esther 8-10)

Key Bible verse for Esther:
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. – I Corinthians 2:9
This scripture is fulfilled in Esther’s life.

What do you think?
In Esther 4:14, Mordecai says, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this.” Is there a situation in your life that you feel God has ordained you to be in a specific place for a special purpose?
Esther was able to respond to the statement quoted above by saying she will go and “if I perish, I perish.” Can you daily live each day with this kind of expectancy?
Although you do not fully know all that God has planned for your life, can you rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to walk with expectancy?

Conclusion

A Key Bible verse for us:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3: 5,6

  “To the degree that you resort to expectations and responsibilities, to that degree you neither know God nor trust God.” – from The Shack by Wm. Paul Young

Master Key Verse: Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. – Ephesians 3:20 NKJV

Do not live by the expectations of what you want God to do.
Live with the expectancy of what God wants to do for you.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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