Week 25 – Summoned

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No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. Joshua 1:5

The book of Joshua tells an incredible story. Just like the book of Exodus tells the story of redemption that began when the Israelites left Egypt, the book of Joshua tells the story of redemption that leads them into the Promised Land.

Joshua’s story resonates with me. He was just an average guy who became this amazing leader of the church. He didn’t receive his calling from an angel messenger, flaming bush or other divine and miraculous sign. He just knew this man (Moses), who knew the Lord. That man knew Joshua’s heart and called him to be a leader for God.

I wonder what was going through Joshua’s mind the day he was summoned by Moses. It would be like being summoned by the President of the United States or your bosses boss.

Moses then summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you will go with this people into the land the Lord swore to give to their fathers. You will enable them to take possession of it. The Lord is the One who will go before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8

It seems like Moses knew right away what would be going on in his head and heart because he reminded Joshua of several things:

  1. Be strong and courageous
  2. God is always with you. He has your back.
  3. Do not be afraid
  4. Do not be discouraged

When faced with new challenges that take us out of our comfort zone or a problem that seems as if it’s growing faster than we can climb, these reminders can bring strength and comfort. In fact, as I study this verse it’s a “right on time” reminder for me as I work to tackle the challenges of aging parents and the battle within myself of being torn between two cities. The need to be with my mom and dad and here with my husband and kids. However, when I’m still and quiet I can hear God whisper softly, “Allison, I’m with you and your parents. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Be strong and have courage. I am in every detail and working all things out for good. Trust in me. Lean on me and do not rely on your own strength, but on mine.”

We serve a God who uses sinners day after day to complete His perfect plan. He takes our imperfections and uses them to weave His story of love, redemption, and grace through this broken planet. Now that is an amazing God!

Do you find yourself in a place of fear or discouragement this week? If so, I’ll pray you are able to lean into God’s promise that He will never leave you or forsake you. That you will feel and grasp His great strength and courage for the situation you face. Please pray the same for me.

Week 24 – A Grand Story To Tell

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Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

First things first, I think it’s important to define what the Great Commission is? It’s the instruction from our resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ, to His disciples to go out and spread His teachings to all the nations of the world.

This Great Commission in the last chapter of the book of Matthew was as relevant when Jesus spoke these words centuries ago as they are to each of us today. As Christians, we have a grand mission to share the Gospel with those in our lives and those we encounter along the way. As moms, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends I think we often feel that our sharing has to look a certain way. We think we have to establish a ministry to disciple others and share the Gospel. We feel we don’t know enough to share the Gospel so we don’t speak or we are afraid of rejection or judgment from those we desire to share with.

Sometimes, our greatest and most important ministry field is right in front of us. Our children, neighbors, and friends are just as important as any structured ministry. Every action, word, and deed can lead those around us closer to Christ or farther away. You don’t need to establish a ministry to share the gospel (unless God is calling you to do that, of course).  You already have one and if you know God and He has worked in your life in any way – you have a story to share that can make the gospel come alive for someone else. No one can argue with your experiences and feelings. They are yours. If they reject or judge you, that is OK! That’s on them, not you. All you have to do is share and let God do the rest.

Sharing the gospel may look different every single day or even every hour. From a kind word, a sacrificial offering or an e-mail to answer the questions of a sweet child. In fact, I have a dear friend with two amazing young girls who send me the most amazing and challenging questions about God. They have lived on the other side of the world and now live on the other side of the United States, but we stay in touch. I pray they never stop asking and learning about God.

Here is a portion of the e-mail I sent to them in response to one of their questions:

Kate, I love your questions. You ask better questions than most adults. Maybe adults want to ask, but they are too afraid. Never be afraid to ask questions. It’s the only way to learn.

How many times have I read the Bible? Well, two years ago I read the entire Bible in one year. I had never done that before. I read the Bible almost every day, or at least several times a week. The Bible is full of instruction on how we should live our lives, it offers us encouragement and direction for our actions and words so that when we go out and live our lives each day we are reflecting God. It also reminds us of how much we are loved and adored by God. That He is always with us, even when we are having a “yucky” day and everything seems to be going wrong. The Bible tells us all about who God is. I know that because when we know someone, we can recognize them when we see them. We won’t actually see God with our eyes, but when you know His character and how much He loves you, it will be easier to see Him at work in your life and sense His quiet presence.

This is one of my favorite explanations of what the Bible is. This is the introduction of “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I like it a lot and will read it often when I’m teaching other women.

“Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you’ll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose), they get afraid and run away. At times, they’re downright mean.

No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the ones he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!

It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in the puzzle – the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”

If you are ever uncertain, need courage, direction or wisdom in how to share the gospel and continue to make disciples of all nations, just open the Word of God. His Word is for us all and He desires for each and every one of us who believe in Him to share with any and all who are still wandering or struggling to find Him, trust Him and have faith in Him.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16

Week 23 – Are you Tired? Worn Out?

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“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30  

We see and hear this verse many places. Hospitals, cards, wall art, posters, and jewelry. As I think about how these words Jesus spoke touch the lives and comfort believers all over the world, my heart can’t help but sink and feel sadness rising up in it. A sadness that arises for those who don’t believe, can’t trust, who turn on faith, don’t feel worthy of His mighty love, or may have not even heard about His great love for them.

I think about all the people I know in my life right now who are facing HUGE challenges. Those with little or no faith at all. How will my friend who just lost her dad to cancer make it through her grief without the strength and courage of God? How will the young boy we know make it in a foster care home and heal from the abuse of his parents without God? What about the young couple who just had a child out-of-wedlock? Our friends whose marriage is being tested by betrayal?

I adore how The Message translation puts these verses. And Jesus said,

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

Even when we have strong faith in our Lord and Savior, we get tired and worn out! We cry out and beg Him to show up, carry us and give us strength. And He does! Maybe not in the way we imagined or hoped, but He comes and He provides, protects, carries, loves and teaches us along the way.

This week in our journey, my desire is for all of us to join together and pray for those around us who are still searching, still trying to find the courage to be loved by the Creator, still doubting and still searching for faith.  Let’s pray their hearts soften and they turn their lives over to Christ. Let’s pray for those who are still relying on their own strength, courage, and wisdom to conquer their sins, trials, and heartbreak. I have no doubt they are tired and weary. I pray God will open their eyes and they will understand that God wants to come to Him weary, broken and sinful. That He doesn’t ask for anything but belief in Him. He created us and adores us all.

His burden and yoke really are light. He doesn’t ask for anything but belief in Him. He created us and adores us more than we can ever imagine. Each of us, despite our circumstances and level of faith, are loved, cherished and treasured by the Creator of the Universe.

May God open the eyes of those who still need to find Him and may they experience all He has to offer – including rest. And may God use those of use who believe and rely on Him to shine a light on the path for others that lead them straight to our Mighty Savior. Amen.