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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Learning From Manna, God's Awesome Provision


In Exodus 16:14-35, we read the story about God’s provision of food for the Israelites after He helped them escape from Egypt. I think you’ll be fascinated by some of the details.

Moses’ group of Israelites must have been between one and two million people. Think of a city of that size. Examples today would include: Bucharest, Caracas, Beirut, and Vienna. How much food—even conservatively—would they eat on a daily basis? With that in mind, let’s read what God did:

And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. (Manna means “what is it.”)*

God told them to collect an omer of manna for every man. (That’s quite a lot, if the experts are right. The estimates are that one omer is three liters.) Moses told them not to leave any manna until the next day. But, as human nature would have it, some of them rebelliously disobeyed. The leftover manna bred worms, and stank. Gross!

It seems the Israelites learned their lesson. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

On the day before the Sabbath, the people were to gather twice as much as on any other day, so they wouldn’t have to work on the Sabbath. They obeyed, and the manna lasted overnight and was absolutely fine for the next day. There was no manna on the ground on the Sabbath. But, some of the people went out anyhow, and God was not happy. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.

Manna was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. So, this bread from heaven was tasty and sweet, and it must have also been nutritious and filling.

Then Moses does something extremely strange, given the fact that we already know the manna melted away each day and didn’t last overnight in a good state, except on Friday nights. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations. As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. This is the omer of manna that was found in the Ark of the Covenant, along with the Ten Commandments and Aaron’s rod. This manna miraculously lasted! It was a testimony of God’s provision for the generations to come.

God fed over a million people every day for forty years! And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.


There are some amazing lessons we can learn from God’s provision of manna. It was a forty-year blessing for God’s people back then, and there’s a lot we can learn from it, today. 
  1. God wants us to learn to depend on Him daily. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays, Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). This day. We rely on the Lord for His provision each day. As the Israelites experienced, God’s provision is there, every morning, every day. We trust Him for each day’s needs. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
  2. God will supply our needs, even miraculously (if we need a miracle). God provides in different ways. He might give us a job that will supply the money we need. He might burden someone else to give us a meal or a bag of foodstuffs. He could prosper our family garden by providing rain and sun. But, sometimes, our need requires a miracle. God is not limited. The psalmist David gave this testimony: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25). Hudson Taylor, George Müller, Silvia Tarniceriu, and many more servants of the Lord watched as God met their needs—even feeding hundreds of orphans—on the day the gift was needed, with gifts that took months to arrive. Notice that God stopped the manna when the Israelites began to possess the Promised Land. Their wanderings were over, and they could plant fields and pasture their cattle. Their daily miracle wasn’t needed any more.
  3. When God leads us, He provides. No way was God going to lead the Israelites out of Egypt just to let them die in the desert! That isn’t His nature. The same principle applies to us, too. If God has called you, He will provide. When we are His people through faith, He will meet our needs. Because we are His children through faith, Our Heavenly Father delights in supplying what we need. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? (Luke 12:24)
  4. Ultimately, God’s powerful provision—for the Israelites then, and for us today—brings glory to God Himself. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 29:5-6). God miraculously provided food for over a million people and caused their clothes to last forty years! If God could do that (no problem!), don’t you think we can trust Him to take care of us? Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27) 

We can fully depend on God. What a blessing! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Woot!

Photo by David Castillo Dominici

I am, admittedly, one of the most technologically non-savvy people in the world. Call me old or slow or mind-boggled, but I’m the last person in the world to “get” some things. (No, I’m not proud of it, and I’m presently taking a computer course. So, I don’t see my condition as hopeless.)

On social media, I keep seeing the word—if it’s a word—WOOT. It’s now become the name of a special feature of Amazon. I decided it was about time I knew what it means.

I Googled it, and guess what? Woot has all kinds of definitions. Woot can be an excited expression meaning hurrah, elation, enthusiasm, or triumph.

Get this: it also stands for the two words wow + loot = woot.

And, the most revealing meaning of all is the acrostic:
                       Want
                       One
                       Of
                       Those.

Wow, loot! Want one of those! Woot!

I finally gave in recently and registered on Pinterest. I keep seeing similar expressions to woot: “I need this in my closet.” “Gotta have one of these.” “Want.” “Need.” “Could definitely wear this.” You get the idea.

I’m not criticizing, for sure. This is the way we express ourselves today. I understand that none my fashionista friends really wants or needs all of the designer clothes she pins on her board. It’s only talk, and each girl isn’t really saying she wants, needs, or has to have all of those things in her closet. She isn’t losing sleep over the mug or the sofa or the Kitchenaid mixer in the new tangerine color. She just likes it. She loves the beautiful new kitchen, but she could never afford that kind of a do-over in her own home. I truly understand the rhetoric. I like (and pin) a lot of stuff I don’t need or necessarily want to stick in my own home. They’re ideas and inspiration. Things I might include in a painting someday.

Woot! Want one of those.

Material things. Wanting. Desiring. “Needing.”

Where’s our “wanter”? What do we really and truly “need”?

I know the Best Supplier! But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Here’s what we’re supposed to want: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1).

We need to have the right priorities. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. . . . But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:19-23, 31-32).

Want nice clothes? Trust God.
Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Luke 12:27-28)

Want delicious food? Trust God.
And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things (Luke 12:29-30).

Want to go to heaven? Receive Christ in your heart.
But as many as received him (Jesus), to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

Want God’s blessing? Obey God.
Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day (Deuteronomy 11:26-27).

Want that gorgeous house? Look forward to your mansion.
In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

Woot? Want one of those?

Woot!

My new word.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Answered Prayer, Right Away


God sometimes answered prayer immediately. If you missed the first post, you can scroll down or access it here. 

Here are a few more immediate answers to prayer:

Solomon built the Temple that his father David had envisioned. It was a beautiful, permanent house of worship, similar but much larger to the Tabernacle. For the dedication ceremony, Solomon planned orchestral music, choirs, processions, and for a finale, a large animal sacrifice for the Lord. Before the sacrifice, Solomon prayed a dedication on his knees. Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house (2 Chronicles 7:1). God blessed the Temple and Solomon’s dedication of it with His acceptance of the offering and His presence.

Isaiah prophesied about how God would bless Israel. This promise of God’s anticipating prayer is echoed in the New Testament. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear (Isaías 65:24). Compare this verse with Matthew 6:8, where Jesus said, Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. This verse is for us, teaching us how to pray in faith.

Peter was thrown in jail, chained to guards, and imprisoned behind a network of gates and guards. An angel of the Lord freed Peter, and he walked out without being challenged. He arrived at John Mark’s house, where the brethren were praying for him to be freed. Peter knocked on the door. A young lady named Rhoda answered. And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison (Acts 12:14-17). It’s funny how they didn’t believe their prayers had been answered. They were surprised. Poor Peter, miraculously delivered from prison, is still outside, pounding on the door! (The complete story is in Acts 12:3-19. You can see my post on Rhoda here.) 

God doesn’t always choose to answer prayer with a “yes.” He also doesn’t always answer right away. Sometimes, it’s not His Divine timing. There are reasons He wants us to wait, just as there are reasons that God sometimes answers “no.” He always desires the best for us, and since He knows everything, we need to trust Him for the right answer.

Here are some prayer promises that will strengthen your faith: 
  • Thou shalt make thy prayer unto him, and he shall hear thee (Job 22:27a).
  • The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles (Psalm 34:17).
  • Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:17).
  • The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them (Psalm 145:18-19).
  • He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee (Isaiah 30:19b).
  • Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).
  • And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive (Matthew 21:22).
  • And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14).
  • If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you (John 15:7).
  • Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (John 16:23b-24).
  • And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15).

 Be encouraged. God hears and answers prayer!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Before You Know It: Answered Prayer


I think it’s so fascinating how God sometimes answers prayer immediately, or He even has the answer on the way before the prayer is prayed. I was reading about Abraham, and it impressed me that Abraham’s servant was still speaking when God showed him the answer to his prayer. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these biblical examples of God’s immediate answers: 

Abraham’s servant was praying for a wife for Isaac. He needed a sign. He prayed, Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master (verses 13-14). Before he had done speaking . . . Rebekah came out (verse 14), and of course, she gave him water and volunteered to water his camels. God answered his prayer! (The whole story can be found in Genesis 24:2-67.)

Moses had led the Israelites across the Red Sea on dry land, but once in the desert, the people were thirsty. They’d been three days without water, and when they arrived at a place called Marah, the water was bitter. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them (Exodus 15:24-25). Immediately, God showed Moses what to do. God would supply potable water for thousands of thirsty people.

Again, the Israelites complained to Moses about their lack of water. Moses, the great man of God cried to the Lord, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel (verses 4b-6). As soon as Moses asked God what to do, God answered and provided the solution. (The whole story is in Exodus 17:1-7.)

Moses went up on Mount Sinai and communed with God. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18). The Ten Commandments were an extension of the fellowship between God and Man.

Elijah challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to meet him on Mount Carmel. They did, and they prayed to their gods, cutting themselves, and crying out. Nothing happened to their offering. It was Elijah’s turn. He prepared the offering and wet it down with repeated soakings of water. Then he prayed, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God (1 Kings 18:36-39). (The whole story is in 1 Kings 18:19-39.)

Elisha was in Dothan. The king of Syria decided to surround the city with troops. Elisha’s servant was very upset when he saw horses and chariots all around the city. But Elisha knew they were not defenseless. He told his servant, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (2 Kings 6:16-17). As soon as Elisha prayed, his servant saw. (2 Kings 6:11-17 for complete story)

Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer. One day, the king noticed that Nehemiah looked sad, and he asked Nehemiah why. Nehemiah was terrified, as the king had the power to kill him for looking sad in his presence. But Nehemiah answered that Jerusalem’s walls were down and the gates had been burned. Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it. And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time (verses 4-6). Nehemiah prayed to God for favor in the king’s eyes, and he was immediately granted his petition. (Nehemiah 2:1-6)

There are more! Watch for my next post.
  

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Glued" to Good



A somewhat surprising idea is expressed in Romans 12:9b where the Bible tells us to hate. Here it is: Abhor that which is evil. Okay, that makes sense. We’re to hate what God hates.

The next part of the verse balances out the hatred of evil with this instruction: cleave to that which is good. I think it is very interesting that God chose the word “cleave” instead of “love” (as opposed to “hate”). Cleave sounds much stronger. It means to hold onto, cling to, hang onto, be bonded to. I think of the verses on marriage where the word “cleave” describes the marriage bond—a permanent commitment. It’s sounds like we’re supposed to be “glued” to good. An interesting concept!

This passage elaborates on this teaching by showing us examples of how we can cleave to that which is good. (They’re all from Romans 12; the verse is in parentheses.)
  • Have brotherly love for one another. (10)
  • Put others first. (10)
  • Don’t be lazy. (11)
  • Be fervent in serving the Lord. (11)
  • Rejoice in hope. (12)
  • Be patient in trials. (12)
  • Pray easily and all the time. (12)
  • Help other Christians. (13)
  • Be hospitable. (13)
  • Bless, instead of curse, those who treat you badly for Christ’s sake. (14)
  • Accompany others in their joys and sorrows. (15)
  • Treat others as equals. (16)
  • Don’t exact vengeance. (17)
  • Be honest. (17)
  • Live peaceably, if possible. (18)
  • Let God exact vengeance. (19-20) This is the only topic addressed twice. 

Then comes the verse that sums up the whole passage: Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (21)


See how Bible teaching is practical? 
  • Hate evil. 
  • Be glued to good. 
  • Overcome evil with good.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Resurrection Day!




 He is not here: for he is risen, 
as he said. 
Come, see the place 
where the Lord lay. 

(Matthew 28:6)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Were You There?



The old Easter spiritual asks, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” It’s a soulful song. Another verse asks, “Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?” Then, “Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?”

I don’t like thinking about all that Jesus suffered for our sin. He didn’t deserve to be tortured like that. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

I can’t comprehend that kind of love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).

I stand in awe at the foot of the cross. I am amazed that Jesus, the Son of God, would do this for me. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

The stone is rolled away, so that I can gaze inside . . . the empty tomb. A man in a long white garment says, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him (Mark 16:6).

I run with the other women to tell the disciples. I am so afraid I’m trembling . . . and the disciples don’t want to believe us! They think we’re crazy! So, Peter and John run to the tomb for themselves. Now, they believe. (John 20:3-8)

And as they (the women) were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth,
they (the angels) said unto them,
Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen:
remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men,
and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
And they remembered his words (Luke 24:5-8).

On my way to Emmaus, talking with my friend about the crucifixion, a Man joined us. He explained about the Messiah from the Scriptures. We invited Him to eat with us. He took the bread and blessed it. Then, we knew! It was the Lord!

He vanished.

Even though it was late, we had to go back to Jerusalem and tell the disciples, The Lord is risen indeed.

As we were there, Jesus appeared in our midst, and He said, Peace be unto you. Everyone was frightened, thinking He was a ghost. But, He said, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And He ate! Right there in front of us! Then, He said, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

And ye are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:14-48)

Was I there?

Oh yes, I was there!

My sin nailed Jesus to the cross. I witnessed His torment as He redeemed my soul. I was there at the empty tomb and then saw Him alive as He revealed Himself as the Messiah.

I was there through faith.

I believe.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;
but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16-17).

Were you there?

Have you believed in Jesus? Have you accepted His payment for your sin, on the cross? Do you have eternal life?

Blessed are they that have not seen,
and yet have believed (John 20:29).

Jesus Lives!

HAPPY EASTER!
  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Elisabeth Elliot Gren is One of My Heroes

Elisabeth Elliot Gren

Elisabeth Howard was born December 21, 1926 in Belgium. Soon afterwards, her family moved to Pennsylvania, and she grew up in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She attended Wheaton College, where she met and fell in love with Jim Elliot. Her studies were in Greek, with an eye towards translation. She dreamed of writing a language for people without a written tongue.

Elisabeth went to do missionary work in Ecuador. She married Jim in Quito a year later. Together, they worked with the Quichua tribe. Jim and the other missionaries had a burden to reach the hostile Auca tribe. After several friendly contacts, the five missionaries were speared to death.

Elisabeth and Jim’s daughter Valerie was just ten months old when her father died.

Elisabeth remained in Ecuador, working with the Quichuas. Providentially, she met two Auca women, who lived with her for a year. Through them, Elisabeth and Valerie went to live with the Aucas—the same people who had killed her husband. She worked with them for two years, writing their language from the sounds they spoke.

Then, Elisabeth and Valerie returned to the United States, where Elisabeth began writing books and speaking.

In 1969, she married Addison Leitch, who died of cancer in 1973.

Elisabeth married Lars Gren in 1977.

Elisabeth Elliot has written many books. Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty, and The Savage, My Kinsman describe the Elliots’ ministry among the Quichuas and Aucas. She has also written: Keep a Quiet Heart; Path of Loneliness; Let Me Be A Woman; A Path Through Suffering; Passion and Purity; Be Still My Soul; Discipline: The Glad Surrender; Quest for Love; Secure in the Everlasting Arms; God’s Guidance: Finding His Will for Your Life; A Chance to Die (a biography of Amy Carmichael); The Shaping of a Christian Family: How My Parents Nurtured My Faith; These Strange Ashes; No Graven Image (her only novel); and she compiled The Journals of Jim Elliot.

Her radio broadcast “Gateway to Joy” always started with this: “You are loved with an everlasting love. And underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Loosely based on Deuteronomy 33:27.) These inspirational programs aired from 1988-2001.

Today, Elisabeth resides with her husband Lars Gren and is cared for by him and two caregivers.

She quit speaking publicly in 2004 as her health began to fail.* “When she realized she was losing her memory, she put into practice what she had long preached, ‘From acceptance comes peace.’ Her husband said she turned to the Bible for comfort, especially Isaiah 43:2: ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.’ Gren says Elliot has handled dementia just as she did the deaths of her husbands. ‘She accepted those things, knowing they were no surprise to God,’ Gren said. ‘It was something she would rather not have experienced, but she received it.’”**
__________________________________________

Why is Elisabeth Elliot one of my heroes?

There are lots of reasons: 
  1. As a single woman, she went to Ecuador, knowing God had called her. She was not with the man she loved, but she went anyhow.
  2. Her book, These Strange Ashes, tells the story of that first year. It shook me. It taught me about God’s perspective—and how it’s not the same as ours.
  3. After Jim’s death, and with a baby daughter, she stayed where God had put them. I admire her for that! I can’t imagine the fear she must have felt when she first moved to the Auca village. I cannot imagine living where everything you do is observed, including sleeping, bathing, and dressing. I also think the nakedness of the people would have taken some getting used to.
  4. I admire her brilliance. Elisabeth was very accomplished, perfect for the task of writing an alphabet, dictionary, and a language. More than that, she was a Bible student all her life.
  5. Having read eight of her books, I admire her as an author. She writes plainly. She doesn’t sugarcoat or romanticize. The facts are the facts, and she serves up the unvarnished truth, warts and all. I appreciate that! Especially in Christian books, we sometimes get a rosy posy version of Christianity, and we come away thinking that we’re entitled to an easy life. Elisabeth Elliot understands taking up her cross daily. Her books reflect that.
  6. Elisabeth Elliot understood her role as a woman and as a wife and mother. Let Me Be a Woman is written to her young daughter about womanhood. Passion and Purity advocates purity in romance, putting the physical out of the picture until marriage.
  7. Elisabeth kept working for her Lord. She wrote about Jim and the other missionaries and about their deaths. She wrote about the widows’ reactions and about the rainbow over the graves on the beach. She told about her ministry to previously unreached peoples, and she shared those experiences with groups all over the country.
  8. All her life, Elisabeth Elliot served the Lord. She used what God had given her—talents and experiences—to honor Him.
  9. Now, she has accepted her memory loss as God’s sovereign will, and she is content.

Elisabeth Elliot could have lashed out against God and gotten bitter. Can you imagine losing your young husband, along with four other friends—speared to death by the people they were trying to reach? And, she was left with a baby!

Her second husband suffered and died. They only had four years together. She could have gotten very bitter and railed at God, “You’ve taken away both my husbands! It’s not fair! I find love, and You take him from me.” But she didn’t. (She also didn’t “find love.” Mr. Leitch found her.)

Several years later, another man pursued her. She brushed him off. He came back—to shovel her driveway, to help around the house, and he kept loving her. Elisabeth finally responded and married Lars Gren. They’ve had a long marriage, and now, he is her mouthpiece.

So, I admire Elisabeth Elliot. She has been graceful (in every meaning of the word) through death, difficulties, disappointments, and trials. Her books challenge every woman to rethink her perspective. Her radio broadcasts and speeches encouraged many. She has glorified God all of her life, and now, in its final chapter, she gracefully embraces what God has chosen for her.

I pray I will do the same.

Post script: Elisabeth Elliot passed through the "gates of splendor" June 15, 2015. Heaven is richer.


Biographical information is from: www.elisabethelliot.org and http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2013/october/elisabeth-elliot-pioneer-and-prayer-warrior.html. The booklist is from Amazon.com, books by Elisabeth Elliot. (Be careful. There is an author named EliZabeth Elliot. She is not the same lady!)
* This last part of Elisabeth’s story is from World Magazine, March 8, 2014, pages 57-58, “Walking Through Fire” by Tiffany Owens.
** “Walking Through Fire,” above.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Easter: The Culmination of the Gospel


First, let’s look at the Bible definition of gospel. Paul is speaking. Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The gospel of Jesus Christ contains three elements: 
  1. Jesus died for our sins.
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus rose again on the third day.

Sometimes one part is emphasized over the others. For instance, there are many, many artworks that depict Christ on the cross. Jesus’ crucifixion is true and very important. Without Jesus’ death on the cross, shedding His blood for our sin, there would be no satisfaction of the high price of redemption. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).

Sometimes, there’s debate over whether Jesus only swooned and didn’t die, that He looked dead but wasn’t, etc. The Bible clearly says He died and was buried. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost (Mark 15:37). Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already (John 19:32-33).

Quite a few religions acknowledge Jesus’ death and burial, but only true Christianity tells the very good news (gospel) that Jesus rose from the grave, that He lives!

Did you know that, for a historical fact to be established, it only takes two eyewitnesses? We know that many people saw Jesus after He rose. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles (1 Corinthians 15: 5-7). If this count had been all—which it isn’t—there would be 514 witnesses. We know we can add Mary Magdalene, the Apostle Paul, the men on the way to Emmaus, and quite possibly more.

By my calculations, at the very most conservative estimates, that is two hundred fifty nine times the eyewitnesses needed to make Jesus’ resurrection a fact of history. Very few other historical facts have been so well established.

The resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of the gospel. Jesus paid for our redemption by His death. He was buried.  On the third day, Jesus rose from the tomb.

One of the most interesting passages about what happened after the resurrection is this: Now when they (the disciples, after seeing Jesus) were going, behold, some of the watch (those guarding the tomb) came into the city, and showed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day (Matthew 28:11-15).

The guards were actually paid off to say that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body—while they slept! They admitted falsely that they were all sleeping (a capital offense), but it was “worth it” to them because of the money. The Bible indicates it was a large amount. So, they all lied!

Jesus was indeed alive. The guards knew it, and the disciples had seen Him. Later, many more people saw Him.

The good news (gospel) has to include the resurrection. Without the resurrection, there is no eternal life. Jesus said, Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again (John 10:17). And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).

The gospel: Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Share it!

Jesus says, I am he that liveth, and was dead;
and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen;
and have the keys of hell and of death.
(Revelation 1:18)
  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Telling God What to Do

Photo by: David Castillo Dominici

I’ve done it, and if you’re a praying person, you probably have, too. I’ve told God what to do.

You see, I believe in the power of prayer. I mean, I believe that God can do anything. 
  • God is omnipotent (all powerful). I am the Almighty God (from Genesis 17:1). I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee (Job 42:2).
  • God has no limitations. And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27)
  • God spoke the world into being. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (Hebrews 11:3).
  • Everything belongs to God. The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24:1, a Psalm of David).


So, I pray in faith, and I expect God to answer. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

Sometimes, I pray for others, like this: “God, please heal Mrs. Z.* I know You can make her well.” And, then, I tell God all about her. “You know, Dear Lord, Mrs. Z has a large family, and they depend on her.” Then, I tell God how much we need Mrs. Z. “We would all miss her, were she to pass away.” I end my prayer with an impassioned repetition, “Please, God, heal Mrs. Z.”

Now, there’s not much wrong with my prayer for Mrs. Z. It’s prayed sincerely, out of true concern, and in faith. But I forgot something.

And, I was telling God what to do: heal Mrs. Z.

Sometimes I pray telling God how to answer my prayer. “Lord, please cause the company to accept Suzie’s paperwork.” Or “Dear God, help Junior do well on his exam.” “Lord, keep the Jones family safe on their long trip this weekend.” But these prayers as well forgot something.

And, I was telling God how to do His work: have the company do this, help Junior ace his exam, and protect the Jones family.

God might choose to answer just as I asked. But He might not.

What was wrong with my prayers? What did I forget?

I forgot to ask that God’s will be done.

How can we tell if a matter is God’s will or not? 
  1. What does the Bible say? If the Word of God clearly states God’s will about it, you can confidently pray.
  2. Pray before praying. You can ask God to reveal His will to you. Then, when you know what God wants, you can pray for that outcome. (You might want to read the fascinating book about a lady who always prayed this way. My review of The Prayer That Makes a Difference is here.) 
  3. When you don’t know what God wills, pray “if it's Your will.” We simply do not know how God will be glorified. Is it best in God’s eyes for Mrs. Z to get well, or is it better for her to never have pain again and be with Him in heaven? God knows if her nephew will have a softened heart towards Him, should she pass away. God knows, and we don’t. In the cases of Suzie’s paperwork, Junior’s exam, and the Jones family’s safety, we don’t have any Bible revelation of God’s will on those matters. Maybe it’s not God’s will for Suzie to work at that company. Maybe Junior can learn a lesson if he gets a D on his exam, since he neglected to put much time into studying. Maybe God would be glorified with the death of one of the Joneses, or He will give them an opportunity to be a witness, were they hospitalized or involved in a fender bender.


God absolutely knows what is best.

Our lives touch other people, and God can use us in many different ways.

He is also in the business of sanctifying us—making us more and more like Christ—working in us to help us grow.

No one would be so cocky as to think he could tell God what to do. God is, after all, perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful, present everywhere. No way could we tell Him what to do and how to do it.

So, the next time we pray, it would be wise to acknowledge His sovereignty (that He is totally in charge) and ask Him to do His will . . . in His way.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that,
if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us,
whatsoever we ask,
we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
(1 John 5:14-15)

* All illustrations are completely fictitious.