Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jesus, the Caregiver

Treasured friend,

Jesus is sad, grieving, exhausted. He has received word that His forerunner and cousin John the Baptist was brutally beheaded by Herod. In His grief he tries to go away privately to a solitary place, so He boards a boat. And yet the crowd won't let Him go. They are needy. They are demanding. They are persistent. They are quick--for they follow on foot, by land, arriving as He does by boat. They number into the many thousands (five thousand men, alone, not to mention women and children).

If you or I had been in that situation, I wonder whether we'd have stayed on the boat and put out to another place-- even to the middle of the lake -- anywhere to get away and lick our wounds.

But not our Lord. Listen for the way eyewitness Matthew records His response:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14; NIV).

He saw their need and set aside His human weakness to serve them--to meet their needs. All because of His compassion. Imagine the depth of love that would allow Him to transcend His grief to reach out to the people who trudged through the sands and dust to the solitary place--just to be near Him. It's a love I confess I don't understand. For when I'm grieving, I understand the drive to get to the solitary place--to that point, I'm with my Lord. But unlike His gracious, loving response--woe to anyone who gets in the way of my private moments of sorrow--I demand the right of indulging in a protracted season of sulky depression.

But not our Lord. He heals. He teaches. He touches. Because of that overflowing heart of compassion for His desperate creatures.

The next surprise comes that He keeps on healing and teaching and touching late into the evening. Far past His own meal time -- and theirs. The disciples, ever practical, see it, although the Lord seems to ignore the obvious. Finally, after trying to signal Him from their perches around the perimeter, they come up close. They stage-whisper to Him, "Send the people away. They need food -- and the village shops around here will be closing soon." Their own stomachs are growling--and they know just what resources they have--just enough food for them to have a bite each. A little to share with the Master and the inner circle. But it would be rude to eat in front of the crowd.

Imagine their shock when Jesus commands them, "You, give them something to eat" (v. 16).

What? We have barely enough for a bit each for ourselves! What are you thinking?

Jesus, the compassionate is also Jesus, the Master. And in His role as Master of the Universe, He takes charge (probably with a disappointed shake of His head at the doltish responses of those who have walked closest to Him all these months). "Bring them to me," He tells the disciples when they show Him a teensy supply of loaves and fishes. You know the story, Jesus taps into the resources of Heaven to multiply five loaves and two fish to meet and surpass the need--for after everyone is full to capacity, twelve baskets full remain (one for each disciple, ironically).

It's not the supply that makes this story, though. It is the heart of the Master that is so willing to provide for the needs of those who seek Him out. He's still the same, today. Although the food and healing touch may come to us in different forms, all the provision of resources we so desperately need as we care for our loved ones, all of it comes from His willing, compassionate, gracious hand.

Yet (I speak only for myself, now; take from it what you will for your own life) as I receive those resources from Him, I am tempted to hoard them like the disciples, rather than giving them away like Christ did. I see only the limits of my abilities--of my resources--and seeing the limits, I'm miserly in releasing them, lest I run out and starve myself. Again, like the disciples. Be reasonable, Jesus! You can't expect me to give them what I don't have.

His response echoes down the hall to my office this morning, Bring what you do have to Me. That's when He will bless it and multiply it and make it more than enough to meet the need around me. But I have to be willing to share. I have to be willing to take on the selfless compassion of the heart of our Heavenly Caregiver -- only then will I be the conduit for the Lord's miraculous provision to those around me who desperately need a touch, a word of kindness, and many acts of loving service.

Jesus, the Caregiver of Matthew 14, has much to teach me -- and perhaps you, as well. Today, it was a lesson about selflessness I guess I needed most.

Take a moment to read the entire passage, Matthew 14:13-21, and see what He has to offer you today.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Father's Favorite Scripture

Treasured Friend,

I'd like to share with you once again a post I originally issued on Father's Day 2010. It centers around my dad's life-Scripture. When I was a child, we used to sing it as a chorus in our church. In fact, I learned it that way before I ever knew it was straight out of the Word. When I wanted to do something nice for Daddy on Sunday evening, I'd summon my courage during the song and testimony service and with all the effort my little introverted heart could muster I'd call out the number of the chorus -- Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace. The congregation would sing it (Mom would be beaming away at the piano!), and Daddy would snuggle me close under his arm.

The Scripture in the old King James version says this:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)

I, of course, prefer a contemporary translation ... but the truth remains unchanged. These days, I really enjoy reading the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) -- because its fresh turn of phrase attracts and holds my attention -- leaving me less likely to gloss over what I've read so often, leaving me less sure that I already know what the Word has to say to me. Here is the way HCSB translates this timeless truth:

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.

A mind in perfect peace -- made possible through child-like trust in the dependable Creator/Savior/Father/Friend.

In our household, we've appropriated that Scripture in countless ways. In pre-op wards, when we didn't know whether we'd see each other again this side of eternity. In times of financial challenge. In times of physical separation due to work-related travel or (in days gone by) when miles separated us while I was away getting my education.

What a testimony of a life lived for Christ -- sure trouble and trials and challenges come, but the mind doesn't need to be in turmoil. It can stay in peace -- even perfect peace -- because of well-placed trust. Trust in the only One worthy of our dependence.

I can't think of a more appropriate life verse -- or one with a greater legacy attached to it. God is faithful. Not only does He provide His presence in us and with us, His direction, His love and grace and forgiveness -- but He offers us the sure dependability of His peace guarding our hearts and minds -- through Christ Jesus our Lord.

May the truth here in Isaiah's prophecy about God's unchanging nature be a source of comfort -- and especially of peace -- to you no matter what challenges face you today.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Brief Prayer of Faith

Treasured friend,


Sometimes all there is to say, as you approach the God of the universe in prayer, is:

I love You, Lord—and because I love You, I trust You.

I’m having one of those moments this morning, as I write. Fatigue (after weeks and months of overtime work), relief (over a deadline met, at last), frenetic activity (in the midst of a long, wearisome, but productive business trip), worry (about Dad’s health, and now his elder sister’s, especially while I'm such a distance from them), more questions than answers (about decisions to make and next steps to take).

Perhaps this Lord’s Day finds you, too, in a time when it’s hard to form the words to a single prayer of more than those two sentences. Wanting to pray in God’s will for our loved ones, our work, our ministries—and having no idea what’s best for them, what God’s good and acceptable and perfect will is for them. Asking, even desperately so, to hear from the Lord--and yet hearing only the sounds of waiting and waiting alone, the sounds of silence. Yet, there are decisions to be made—and somewhere we need to find the wisdom to make them.

That’s when we need to make an affirmation of faith, to which we may well ascent with our minds, and tremble before with our hearts: This one thing I know, God is faithful. The Psalmist had much the same experience—and yet he penned these faith-filled words,

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." …

Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. …

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! Psalm 27:7-8, 11, 13-14 (ESV)


I, too, believe that when we seek His face, He will answer—in fact, He relishes the moments when His beloved children come to the point where they must seek His face; they can do nothing else.

As I approach worship this morning, I’ll be seeking His face. And I’ll listen for His voice inviting:

Let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

My prayer for you is that you’ll do the same.



Blessings to you today!

Julie




© 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com