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Archive for October, 2015

Last week I wrote about a recognition in my life, an owning so to speak, of a part of my life that paralleled that of the woman at the well. This week I would like to expand upon that in a bit of a different way. There was another woman whose sin was very great and who was changed by heart and by action through the life changing grace and love shown to her by our Lord Jesus Christ. She was known as a sinner, and yet, as she walked through the door where He was, she wept so that her tears streamed heavily down her face. She brought with her one of her belongings, an alabaster flask of ointment, possibly one of the only things she had in her possession that had any value at all. She came to Jesus as a repented sinner to show him how deeply sorry she was, and how very much she loved him! (Luke 7:37-38) She displayed her heart in such a way that the Pharisee, Simon, was astonished. She covered him with tears to wash his feet, wiped them with her hair and kissed them in a sincere affection of love, then anointed his feet with ointment. It was her way to say, “Please forgive me, I Love You!”

Just like Simon, many people today who have known someone who has lived in a manner of some type of sin, maybe multiple sins, have a hard time with forgiveness…with accepting the new found change of a Christian life. We must remember the story Jesus shared with Simon in the form of a parable. (Luke 7:41-43). Simply put, it is about sinners with little sin and sinners with great and deep sin, portrayed by Jesus as debtors. If both debts are cancelled, if both sins are forgiven upon repentance, who would love the person who cancelled the debt or forgives the sinner more? Simon replies, “the one with the larger debt.” Jesus acknowledges his answer with a positive statement and a description of what he, Simon, did not do; and then He shares a very important lesson for us all by stating, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven-for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

Luke 7:36-50 are words of wisdom in one of the most heartfelt dilemmas within life’s journeys at any given time since creation. Forgiveness means we let something go. Something that has offended or been seen as so very wrong. It means we don’t bring it back up…ever. It means we do not hold it against the sinner any longer. It means we forgive. How great is the gift of forgiveness and the love that shines through it! What a blessing that Jesus was our Teacher and that he helps us to know the blessings of that kind of love.

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Probably every woman born on this earth can relate to at least one woman in the Bible. With the exception that I am now married to a wonderful Christian man, one of the most familiar women to me is the woman at the well (John 4:7-30). My life parallels hers in the arena of marriages with all the emotions and heartache that comes with it, in the effort of wanting desperately to be loved and to feel the security that came with it.

As I pondered the reading of John 4:7-30, the absolute unconditional love of Jesus to this woman, without condemnation, touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. Not only a Samaritan woman, she was a woman with “a past” having relationships with 6 different men, 5 stated as her husbands. Jesus knew all that, and yet in his array of perfection, revealed his great love for her despite his knowledge of her sin and lifestyle. He shared with her the when, the who, and the what of true worship. He also shared the who and the why of the Spirit of God, and for the first time openly revealed himself to her as the true Messiah! And she became the first evangelist to her village as she told her people about a man who knew all she ever did. She was broken, and Jesus saw through her. She was ignorant in knowledge, and Jesus taught her. She was faithless, and Jesus initiated her faith. She was hopeless, and Jesus gave her hope!

Just like the woman at the well, Jesus did the same for me and He can do the same for you! Brokenness is a way of life for so many of us. Many of us resemble the woman at the well, and many of us resemble the other multitudes of brokenness displayed in the Bible. Whether it is physical, mental, or emotional there is a way to healing. It is through the arms and heart of our Messiah, our Jesus. I am so glad, just as the woman at the well, Jesus revealed himself to me and gave me the living water only He could give! It is my turn now. My turn to evangelize. My turn to disciple. My turn to share His love, and His hope! So shine Jesus…Shine through our cracks!!

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A Helping Hand?

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Phil. 4:2-4

Last week we considered the personal call for unity found in the story of Euodia and Syntyche.  We know little about the circumstances surrounding their disagreement, but that is ok.  The fact we know so few details makes it very easy to lay our own personal challenges to unity against this verse and recognize that we personally have some work to do to personally achieve the harmony God calls us to personally enjoy.

Today, I am considering also what this verse might mean to me if I am the “true companion” that is being urged “to help these women” live in harmony.  Yes, we all know fellow believing sisters and brothers who are living in discord with one another.  But where does my responsibility begin and end in helping them find unity?  Is it my place to interfere?  Will I help the situation or will I actually stir up further contention?

In this particular situation with Euodia and Syntyche, it was clear that the Lord was asking the friend of these women to engage, to help…but to what extent?  What did that exactly look like?

I look, I analyze, and I think about it some more, and I still have no firm answers.  All I know to do is to welcome the Lord’s wisdom in to the particular situation through prayer, embrace the Power of the Gospel, and be willing to obey His leading even when it is hard.

Philippians 1:9-10 – “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ…”

Proverbs 27:6 – “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”

Ephesians 4:15-16 – “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

 

 

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I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Phil. 4:2-4

How many times have we heard a call for unity, and have determined that the message is meant for someone else in the church, as we continue on the same path of doing and seeing things only in our way of doing and seeing things? Perhaps we have had our reasons, and perhaps they have been good reasons. But the fact remains, a desire for unity is not going to change our stance. We refuse to find a place of agreement! And that means there is no harmony. Euodia and Syntyche were in this exact dilemma.

The question isn’t IF we are going to encounter lack of harmony, but it is when! As a believing woman who engages with other women, in both leadership and in life, I am going to find myself in a position where what I think differs from what you think, and we will both have good reasons for feeling the way we feel. And for the sake of harmony, a choice will need to be made by both of us, the choice to find a place of agreement for the sake of unity and for the cause of Christ.

These two women were well loved. They were leaders. Euodia and Syntyche were known as fellow workers in the church, they were partners with the Apostle Paul in the cause of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But they hit a roadblock in their ministry over something that caused disruption in their relationship, obviously to the extent that it was negatively affecting those around them.

So when this lack of harmony is revealed to us, what choices will we make? Will we follow the path of human understanding and dig in and fight for our way, or will we lay down our own agenda and find unity?  This choice is NOT easy, it makes us feel vulnerable, it takes work and time to bring about, it is humbling, and it is really only truly accomplished through the power of God.  But, it is a choice that is worth it in the end because it will absolutely bring glory to the Lord!

“How good and pleasing it is when brothers live together in unity.” Psalm 133:1

 “…Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name-the name you gave me-so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11b

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