Our Reward

Genesis 15:1

After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” (KJV)

Abram had just won a great victory and rescued his brother Lot from captivity. God fought with him and made him successful in battle. Following this God speaks to him in a vision saying, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

Uppermost in Abram’s mind was the thought that one day he would die and all of this would mean nothing if he did not have an heir to whom he could pass on his inheritance. In response to his concern God promised him an heir. He promised to make him the father of many nations and he promised to give them their own land as an inheritance.

Photo Courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

God is concerned about our concerns. He is interested in our future. He desires to be our God. He wants us to be his people, for He is our “exceeding great reward.”

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Prayer – Father in Heaven, you are our reward. All good gifts come from you. Abraham believed you and it was counted to him as righteousness. May we do the same. Amen.

Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

Romans 12:15

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (NIV)

We seem to have grasped what it is to mourn with those who mourn. Our hearts are touched by tragedy and we respond by comforting people, praying for them, and sometimes by giving to meet needs.

This is not specifically a Christian response. People of all backgrounds are moved to compassion by tragic events. We think of recent outpourings of generosity in response to catastrophic natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes. When people’s lives are shattered by tragic accidents, violence, disease or death we want to reach out and help.

ID-10094660But do we rejoice with those who rejoice? Can we share in another person’s elation when they succeed, when it goes well with them? Or does their success only magnify our need and stir up feelings of resentment or envy?

True generosity rejoices with those who rejoice and can say with sincerity, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 1 John 3:2 (NKJV)

Prayer–“Father in Heaven, give us a genuine heart of love that can rejoice with those who rejoice. Amen.”

Train Up a Child

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV)

As women we have the primary responsibility to care for and train our children. We train our children firstly by setting a godly example. For instance, we can model respect by being respectful towards our husbands. We want to train our children in the way of respect and obedience.

As our children grow they learn that certain behaviors are acceptable while others are not. It is up to the parents to determine appropriate consequences that will encourage obedience. This may require some creativity and experimentation. When children know in advance what to expect the next time they are disrespectful or disobedient then they can make an informed choice and be held accountable. The key to parenting success is understanding and anticipating your child’s behaviour.

Tina Friesen Photography

Tina Friesen Photography

A child will learn self-control and kindness when a parent is consistently considerate and thoughtful. Children should never hear derogatory words directed at them by their parents. Labelling children as lazy or stupid or calling a child a brat or worse is injurious to the child’s self-concept. It can cause resentment towards parents and even turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy when the child begins to believe and act out what he hears about himself.

As parents we cannot expect to be perfect, but we can apologize to our children if we are in the wrong. It is encouraging for them to see that we too are learning how to be respectful and obedient.

“Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” Proverbs 29:17 (NIV)

Prayer–Heavenly Father, help us to be loving and patient with our children, and to train them humbly and consistently in the way the way of respect and obedience as you direct us. Amen.

“Angela is With Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13,14

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” (NRSV)

DSC00631This week a very dear young woman, a wife and mother of two young children, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Many prayed for her healing. We all wanted her to watch her children grow up. We wanted the children to have their mother with them. But this is not how it turned out.

In times of tragedy we cannot always make sense out of life. The answers to the questions we ask do not seem apparent this side of heaven. We grieve.

Even Jesus wept as he stood by the tomb of a man who had died, a friend. We read that Jesus “was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Here we find the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

Jesus was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but first he wept. He identified with the sorrow of humanity. I’m sure he thought of how many times this scene of grief would be repeated, times when he would not be there to raise the deceased from the dead.

As Christians we have hope of eternal life with Christ and this helps to lessen the pain. Shared sorrow brings comfort too. No one can comfort the husband of this dear woman the way another man can who also lost his wife too early in life. Our own sorrow teaches us how to share in the sorrow of others.

DSC00633“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (NIV)

Prayer–Heavenly Father, although we do not understand why people have to suffer or lose loved ones, we thank you that we have an eternal hope and that you promise to comfort us. Bring comfort today to those who are grieving. Amen.

Extravagant Giving

Matthew 25:40

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (KJV)

Artist unknown

Artist unknown

There is a woman in the Bible who did a very unusual thing. She poured perfume on the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.

The people present were indignant, insisting the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus responded, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” He was moved by her loving gesture.

Today we can give to the poor and Jesus will accept it as an offering to him. When we give to others lovingly, generously and whole-heartedly, without expecting anything in return, we are doing what this woman did. She, figuratively, poured out her love for Christ.

” And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Col 3:22,23 (NKJV)

Prayer–Jesus, we want to love you with total abandon. Help us to see how we can show the world our love for you. Amen.

Thy Will Be Done

Matthew 6:9-10

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

This is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It is only the first part, but the rest is explanation–asking for provision, for forgiveness, for deliverance from evil and temptation.

Tina Friesen Pholtography

Tina Friesen Pholtography

When I become overwhelmed with all there is to learn and all that is expected in the Christian life, I go back to this prayer. It condenses what the Bible is about.

In creation God spoke his word and his will was done and the earth was formed. People strayed from his will and God sent Jesus Christ to bring us back into his will. Ultimately it is God’s will that we be reunited with Christ for eternity.

God’s will is for us on earth is that we forgive one another and live in harmony. His desires that we have our daily needs met. He wants us to stay clear of evil and temptation. Those are the basics of Christianity.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Prayer–Heavenly Father, we desire your will to be done on earth as you planned it in heaven. Help us to trust you, to love one another and to forgive quickly. Deliver us from the evil and temptation that would hinder us. Amen.

They Surround Us

Tina Friesen PhotographyHebrews 12:1-2

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Women of honor surround us. I am sure you can think of a few you have met, maybe a school teacher, or a friend, or someone in your family.

Every woman desires and is deserving of honor. A woman can bring dishonor on herself and end up misunderstood and rejected. She may have a past of abuse or betrayal but in the sight of God she never loses her worth.

When I took this photograph I was going through a difficult time. Looking up at the clouds I felt the reassurance of God’s presence in my life. I felt his love overflow me and a renewed sense of purpose fill me, although my circumstances had not changed. This is what God does for us. We are surrounded by his love. We are also surrounded by those who have witnessed his faithfulness in centuries gone by.

“For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God” (John 16:28).

Prayer–Heavenly Father, thank you for the honor you bestow on us in calling us your children. Help us to bring honor to your name in all that we do. Amen

Honor

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Deuteronomy 5:16

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

As a child I took this verse seriously. I wanted it to be well with me. I tried my best to honor my parents.

Honor is about respect. I think learning obedience is the first step toward becoming a person who is worthy of honor.

Honor is also about self-respect. As a young teen I recall reading a book a friend had loaned me alone in my bedroom. As I read I imagined my mother coming in the room and asking me what the book was about. I had never before read a book that had such passionate sex scenes and my cheeks warmed at the thought of being discovered.

My friend had many other such books but I refused to ask her for them. Not only did I not want my mind consumed with the content of the book, but I did not want to feel embarrassed to talk about what I was reading.

I could probably have kept reading my books in secret, but I chose a life of transparency. Someone has written, “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.”

If you have something in your life that you are ashamed to admit to, please remember that Jesus is willing to help you be the person he created you to be. He offers you forgiveness and a new, abundant life of joy and peace.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Prayer–Heavenly Father, continue to instruct us in those things that are true, honorable, just and pure. May our lives bring glory to your name each day. Amen.

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A High Calling

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Esther 4:14

“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

Mordecai was speaking to his cousin Esther, an orphan he had raised, who became a queen, the wife of King Xerxes, ruler over Persia and Media. Mordecai wanted Esther to intercede to the king on their behalf. She was in a position to avert disaster for her people. Haman, a high official in the king’s court, had obtained permission from the king to annihilate the Jews.

As women I venture to say few of us have an understanding of our high calling. No, we may never be a queen like Esther, but our words and actions carry a far influence. There are moments when we come into situations that require from us a response that can affect the destiny of others.

The story of Esther is one of faith and courage. Esther risked her life in approaching the king, but the king extended his royal sceptre to her and later granted her request at a banquet she prepared for him. Her noble actions spared her people.

Before Esther became queen she went through a year of purification along with all of the other women who wanted to be chosen as queen. During this time Esther won the favor of all who saw her and ultimately the king desired her above all of the other women.

We also have a King whose favor we desire. “Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention: Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be entrhalled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.” Psalm 45:11,12

Prayer–Our Father in heaven, we ask for your favor. Prepare us for the time when we will be called upon to represent your will on earth as it is in heaven. May we be wise and courageous, like Esther. Amen.