Category: devotional thoughts

We heard a wonderful message at church this morning and I just have to share some of it here – partly for anyone who missed it, and partly for myself to come back and be reminded.

And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if [he ask] a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall [your] heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? Luke 11:5-13, KJV

There are books and videos and preachers out there, telling us they have the secret to “more successful” prayer. “More effective” prayer. There is this screwed-up understanding of what an effective prayer really is. Is a prayer only “effective” if you get what you selfishly want from God?

God has not called us to be successful as defined by the world. Instead we are called to be faithful.

We have come to expect a very narrow definition of what is “good” from God. We expect that if we pray for health and wealth and worldly success, we’ll get it. We forget that we’re already healthier, wealthier, and far more fortunate, than millions of other people around the globe. Does that mean we are more loved? Does that mean that North Americans are better pray-ers? Hardly! We need to change our attitudes and expectations about prayer.

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

We just don’t get it. How many of us think that if we “seek first the kingdom,” we then have gained license to pursue whatever it is we really want from God. If we really understood what it means to seek first the kingdom… we’d be trying to love what (and who) God loves. Value what He values. We’d be trying to follow His will for our lives. If

Share with a friend!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

My child,

You are never alone. My hand is on yours, my arm is around your shoulders. You are never alone.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you
nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I know that you are tired, that your body is weary. Your rest is in Me – the truest renewal and refreshing comes from My Spirit.

but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar
on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and
not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

You can sleep tonight because I am watching over you and your household. You are my beloved child, and I will keep you from harm.

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O Lord,
make me
dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

Share with a friend!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

When Chris and I got married, my mom passed on a book that we used in our family at this time of year. Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration, by James Dobson, Charles Swindoll, James Montgomery Boice, and R.C. Sproul is a slender book that contains a wealth of wisdom. It is broken down into the weeks of Advent, with a Scripture reading, song, prayer, and meditation for Sundays and a shorter Scripture passage and reflection for each weekday. Right now, Jonas is too young to sit and listen, but I have enjoyed reading through the book myself and looking forward to the time a few years from now that we can celebrate with an Advent wreath and these passages as a family tradition.

…Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart”
[Luke 2:19]. What Mary did went beyond mere amazement, though she marveled too. This wonderful woman also made an attempt to remember everything that was
happening to her in those days and then to figure out what each of these things
meant. That is, she took time to think about spiritual things, just as we should
do. Christmas is a very busy time. But our time is badly spent if we allow the
business of Christmas to keep us from reading the Christmas story again and
again, and thinking about it.

As a mom, I find myself trying to save up the moments and the memories too. I keep a detailed scrapbook and a journal, as well as this blog. I can go back and read the letter I wrote to Jonas when he was just a few weeks old, and it brings the sights and sounds and emotions of those days flooding back to me.

How much more desperately must Mary have clung to her memories of Jesus? Without a camera, a computer, a baby book… she knew that she was witnessing miraculous days, and I’m sure her mother’s heart was full to bursting as she tried to keep each moment fresh in her mind.

I like that this author points out that an important part of what Mary did was reflection on what those daily miracles meant. Of course it is important for us to reflect on the miracle of Christmas – but I think it’s important for us to carry the practice of reflection throughout our year. If you have young children, you know that each day is a small miracle of growth, change, and wonderful discovery. If you aren’t around children, there are still miracles happening in your daily grind – you just might have to keep your eyes open a little wider to see what you’ve been missing.

God is in the details. If we take care not to get so wrapped up in the “have to,” “need to,” “must do” lists of this busy season, we can see His hand all over our lives. When you reflect on the miracle of a Holy Birth this Christmas, why not quietly look

Share with a friend!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

When a lifelong Southern Baptist girl joins the United Methodist Church, you can bet your bottom dollar that she spends a lot of time in research and prayer on the matter of baptism. If you’ve been curious…

What do United Methodists believe about baptism?

“Understanding the practice as an authentic expression of how God works in our lives, The United Methodist Church strongly advocates the baptism of infants within the faith community: “Because the redeeming love of God, revealed in Jesus Christ, extends to all persons and because Jesus explicitly included the children in his kingdom, the pastor of each charge shall earnestly exhort all Christian parents or guardians to present their children to the Lord in Baptism at an early age” (1992 Book of Discipline, par. 221)” (para. 226 in the 2004 Book of Discipline).

While baptism is understood primarily as a means of God’s grace toward the child, By Water and the Spirit also states: “If a parent or sponsor (godparent) cannot or will not nurture the child in the faith, then baptism is to be postponed until Christian nurture is available.”

Baptism is, among other things, incorporation into the body of Christ. The questions asked in the baptism of infants are asked not of the parents and sponsors to answer on behalf of the infant, but on behalf of themselves. Those who cannot or will not answer these questions affirmatively for themselves in good faith are not yet ready to support another in a journey toward discipleship to Jesus Christ, and so are not able to enter the covenant relationship entailed in baptism.

In infant baptism, God claims the child with divine grace. Clearly the child can do nothing to save himself or herself, but is totally dependent on God’s grace, as we all are — whatever our age. In believer’s baptism, the person being baptized is publicly professing her or his own decision to accept Christ. Believer’s baptism is an ordinance, not a sacrament. United Methodists baptize people of all ages who have not previously received the sacrament. Even when the people being baptized are believing adults and are ready to profess their faith, our emphasis is upon the gracious action of God rather than upon the individual’s decision.

Source: http://archives.umc.org

Share with a friend!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

Our pastor Sara preached a wonderful, appropriate, timely, wise, passionate sermon this morning about the importance of taking a Sabbath rest. She pointed out scriptures that instruct us to do so, and reflected on the Jewish Shabbat rituals, and made a beautiful analogy. She pulled a bottle of water from behind the pulpit. (You must imagine a tall, slender, curly haired woman speaking in a light Scottish accent here for the full beauty of the moment.) “This water is from a river. {notice, gentle reader, the turgid muddy brownness of this water in the bottle} The current is so busy, moving constantly, that the muck and the mud is always stirred up.” She set the bottle on the lectern and moved about the front of the church, and at the end of her sermon moved back to the lectern. “When we take time for a Sabbath rest, when we stop our hurrying and doing and going and working {now, gentle reader, allow your eye to fall upon the bottle again: mud and silt lodged at the bottom, and clear sparkling water from there to the top of the bottle} all of the muck and mud in our lives settles, and we reclaim the clear, pure beauty our souls were meant to have.”

That sentiment captures so well the essence of what I’m trying to do this cycle: I’m simply going to stop. And surrender. Let the current of life swirl around me, but I am going to settle all my sediment for a while, and enjoy the peace and serenity of a Sabbath.


(By the way, for anyone still counting along ~not unlike a Sesame Street game, eh?~ I’m 13 days past ovulation and my period is due tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.)

Share with a friend!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

subscribe

Categories

Categories

Archives

Archives

Latest tweets