Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Answered Prayer

Treasured Friend,

I want to offer you a glimpse into how the Lord intervened on our family's behalf today--clearly and obviously--and beyond what we expected. First, let me share a portion of the Scripture our pastors Greg and Tim read to Dad (and us) in his hospital room this morning. It's from Psalm 34. When you have time, read the whole Psalm--for it is a faith-builder. But here's a portion of it that rang true for us:

Psalm 34:1-15 (NASB) I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them. O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life And loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry.


And here's what the Lord did for Dad ... as I reported it to my email prayer team just moments ago:

You’re really not going to believe this one … We got to the hospital, went through all the admission, pre-op, our pastors came and prayed with us, and the nurse brought him down for the procedure. They hooked up IV, and put him on the pacemaker monitor and …. his heart had corrected on its own. No procedure!


They came and got Mom and me in the waiting room (I’d read exactly 2 pages of my book) and sent the three of us on our way.

What an answered prayer! I mean no disrespect to our faith here, but we simply can’t believe how God undertook in answer to your prayers and those of each of our loved ones. I have no problem expecting God to heal through doctors and meds, but I’m sure I didn’t have the faith to even ask that He’d intervene on His own without the procedure. Another of God’s special surprises.

May He be with you on your journey today, and show you the surprise of His hand evident and at work in your situation.

Blessings and prayers,

Julie

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hannah: Grace

Treasured Friend,

I've been posting some material in the last few weeks that hasn't quite been devotional--at least not technically. But, while I'm excited to share with you these items of news--I don't want to miss out on the opportunity to open the Word of God with you. So, for this week's devotion, I'm excerpting a chapter from my newly updated ebook (first printed by Moody in 1998; and revised this year for a new millennium), Names of Women of the Bible. I chose this chapter because in it we see how God has compassion on an exhausted, hurting woman who has no recourse but to carry her burden to Him in prayer. So, enjoy this excerpt from one of my favorite chapters. It represents the story of a woman I can relate to on so many levels. I pray you can, too:


HANNAH: GRACE

I am a woman who is deeply troubled. . . . I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:15)

It was to be three weeks of bliss. The trip of a lifetime.


I had been chosen to join a touring choir on a mission to Europe. My dear friend Paul Yerden (our church's minister of music) and his wife, Rita Jo, would lead the tour.


While in Germany, we enjoyed the hospitality of host churches. They served us delicious cold cuts and cheese with heavily buttered hard rolls. Every afternoon we stopped at out-of-the-way bakeries for a stretch break and to enjoy luscious cream-filled pastries.


Soon after our arrival, my stomach began to complain. At first it was just a little discomfort, then the pain increased. I missed several concerts, having to lie down backstage while my friends were out front ministering. Discouragement crept in. It wasn't until five years later that my physician discovered the milk allergy—to cream, cheese, butter —that caused these symptoms. All I knew at the time was that I was missing all the good stuff by being sick.


One afternoon Rita Jo pushed a folded piece of paper into my hand. On it she had handwritten the words to the hymn "He Giveth More Grace." I read and reread those words, contemplating their meaning, desiring the grace they bespoke.


Hannah, whose name means grace, came to know that grace intimately during her deep distress. She experienced the miracle-working grace of God, because she carried her burden right to Him.


Hannah had good reason to be depressed. You and I certainly would have been troubled in her circumstance. Peninnah, her husband's other wife, had many children; Hannah had none. Peninnah, the Scriptures say, tormented her rival for Elkanah's attention: "Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat" (1 Samuel 1:7). In her pain and in utter disregard for anyone who might be watching, Hannah bared her soul to the Lord, begging Him to give her a son, vowing to give that child back to Him for His service.


In response, the Scriptures record a beautiful phrase, "and the Lord remembered her" (1 Samuel 1:19). She touched the Father's heart with her tears and prayers, and He extended His hand to her. God honored Hannah's sincerity and fervency. He granted her not only that baby, but later He also gave her other sons and daughters.


The American Heritage Dictionary defines grace as "A favor rendered by one who need not do so." God acted graciously on Hannah's behalf, not because He was obligated to do so, but because He chose to do so. Moreover, He displayed His graciousness through her, by using her firstborn son (whom she named Samuel, which means, "heard of God") to rule His people in justice and honor. In his old age, long after his mother was gone, Samuel had the privilege of anointing Israel's greatest king, David.


Hannah's response to the Lord's provision was as exemplary as her request. First, she did as she had promised. She gave the child Samuel to minister in the Lord's temple to become a blessing back to the Lord. Second, she gave all the glory to God, her heart overflowing into a poetic prayer of acknowledgment and thanks. "My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. . . . There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:1–2).


In some obvious ways, we are unlike Hannah. In few of our homes do two wives of the same man live together (although if they did, feuding would not be unthinkable). And in our culture, inability to have children is not thought to be a curse from God, as it was in Hannah's day.


But in the ways that count, we are very much alike. Our needs, our heavy burdens, the demands of life, and our tormentors and problems too often threaten to overwhelm us. Like I did on my college bus trip, we often suffer alone, when with just a prayer we can call upon the one who will "remember us" as He remembered Hannah all those centuries ago.


The writer of Proverbs noted that God "mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble" (3:34). It is a truth James quotes in his epistle (4:6).


It was in humbly pouring out her heart to God that Hannah found her burden lifted. Her life can be an example to us of what God can do—if we do our part. We are told in Scripture what that part is: "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).


It has been many years since Rita Jo handed me that paper, but I'll never forget its effect upon me. Those words reminded me that God, through His only Son Jesus whom He graciously sacrificed to meet the ultimate need of humanity, stands ready to provide for all my needs through His abundant, overflowing supply. And He does this not because of any obligation, but because He chooses to do so.

My dear, loving Father, I need a portion of that overflowing supply of grace today, and I know so many others around me have that same need. Please provide for me, and equip me to be a conduit of Your grace in the lives of those I love. Amen.


Blessings and prayers, Julie

© 1998, 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. Excerpted by permission from Names of Women of the Bible. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Hey Detroit, Windsor -- and Internet Radio Listeners

Hi friends,

I'll be live on WMUZ, Radio, on Wednesday, September 29 -- doing a call-in show on caring for aging parents with Dr. Kenya, Prescriptions for Hope.


I hope you'll tune in--either on air, or by internet. WMUZ is 103.5 in Detroit. http://www.wmuz.com/. Local time for the broadcast is: 9:45-11 a.m. (8:45 Central).

Hope to talk with you on Wednesday!
 
 
Blessings and prayers, Julie © 2010, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm a Guest Blogger at WordSearch Bible Software Blog

As you've probably noticed by reading the sidebar we put up on this page late last week, my new Bible software collaboration with WORDsearch Bible Software--marking the launch of WS's Women's product line--is in stock and ready for release. To coincide with the launch of this fabulous collection of more than 75 Bible reference resources for only $50, they've invited me to be a guest blogger on their website.

Here's the url: http://www.wordsearchbible.com/blog/

Check it out. Oh, and the free ebook invite in the blog entry goes for you, too.

This is software I've used both devotionally and as an invaluable reference tool in my writing. If you've benefited from what I've written over the years, it's in part due to the research capabilities of WORDsearch. It's a product you'll love, too. I'm both thrilled and humbled to see this particular package of resources (including 9 of my own books) launch.

Just in case you want to place an order, here's where you can learn more about it: http://www.joymediaservices.com/28212.html

Or you can email me at orders@joymediaservices.com


Blessings and prayers, Julie

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hefty Price to Pay

Treasured friend,


Please permit me a bit of musing today—as I work through something that’s been troubling me. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in my dilemma.

One of the most bothersome biblical commands for me has always been the Sabbath rest command.

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” Deuteronomy 5:12-15 (ESV).
Rest for me, one day in seven. Yeah, right, God, rest? Really? A whole day? Sounds like a luxury, a pipe dream.

Dad’s shots and meds don’t take a rest. Logging his vital signs doesn’t take a rest. The need to get his food to him—the right kind at the right time intervals—none of that rests. The need to make a living so I can, let me see, keep the roof over my head and pay my exorbitant health insurance costs every month—that doesn’t take a rest. So, how can I afford to lose an entire day to something as nonessential as rest? When I have the odd moment to actually get some paying work done, I can’t be bothered worrying about whether that moment comes around on some other day of the week, or on the day of rest set aside for worshipping the Lord and letting my mind reorder and refresh.

Surely, God, You aren’t asking me to rest. Not now! Must be someone else You’re talking to about this.

Perhaps that line of thinking sounds familiar. I know it’s a practiced and oft-repeated monologue I’ve given ad nauseum, in case God is listening. (I suspect He’s not only been listening, but counting the times I’ve defied the command.)

I was giving that monologue, quite by rote, this morning, as I read the Scripture in my devotions—who says I can’t talk and listen at the same time? I’d just completed writing a booklet on the life of one of the last of Judah’s kings, Josiah—so my Bible was still open to his story in 2 Chronicles 34. I read past it to the rest of the chronicler's account, where I found a fast-forward report of what happened to Israel’s monarchy as Josiah’s kids and grandkids, and the people they ruled, ignored God’s commands. And I came across this passage that I can’t recall ever having noticed quite this way before:

The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. … And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years (2 Chronicles 36:15-21; ESV).

And here’s what jumped out at me:

• Sabbath wasn’t a punishment, but a privilege. Like all God’s commands, it was given because of His compassion for His people.

• Failure to keep Sabbath had consequences. Maybe it wasn’t only ignoring Sabbath, but breaking other commands, as well, that caused the people’s exile. But surely flouting God’s expressed direction, no matter which command, meant breaking the whole of the law.

• And look at that last verse—the land had to enjoy its Sabbaths. God would see to it. No one would or could live on the land (witness the utter destruction: the wall, the palaces, the precious vessels, even the very house of God all burned, broken down, uninhabitable.) The Lord would see to it that the land got its Sabbath—down to the last year that it had endured the transgression of ignored Sabbaths.

• This fulfilled a promise God had made through Moses back in Leviticus, which I found when I used my ESV’s cross-reference: “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it" (Leviticus 26:34-35; ESV).

Now, the only conclusion we can draw from seeing this truth from God’s Word is that for some reason the provision of a one-in-seven (days and years) rest is of vital importance to Him. It’s something He built into creation. And it’s something that—while it doesn’t come to us naturally, lay itself out for us for the easy taking—we can't risk ignoring.

It won't surprise you that I’m not ready to shut down my computer and give it a Sabbath year (actually, it would have to be a couple of Sabbath years—I’ve been in the writing ministry for 25 years without one; mathematicians, help me out here, that would be how many Sabbath years missed?). But I’m ready to commit to taking a day a week completely out of the office—away from voicemail, email, blogging, Facebook, Microsoft Office, the whole lot of it. Maybe it’ll be Sunday, traditionally the day of worship for those who celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. Maybe Saturday, as the Israelites celebrated it back in the chronicler’s day. Maybe another day—gasp—when clients may be in their offices and clamoring for my attention.

But it seems to me I’ve been playing with fire by ignoring this command. And I’d be well advised (after seeing the enormity of the price His people paid for ignoring any or all of His commands) to repent, to agree to change my ways, and to do it—as Christ gives me the strength to comply.

Does any of this self-correcting musing ring true for you? If it does, will you take up the challenge to do something about it? And ... if you don't mind, could I ask you to help hold me accountable to do what I've promised? I'm willing to do the same for you, if you ask.

Sheepishly and prayerfully,

Julie


A personal note:
Next week I’ll be guest blogger on the WORDsearch website’s blog, as part of the roll-out of my brand new Bible software package: The Julie-Allyson Ieron Bible Reference Collection, powered by WORDsearch 9.0. Please visit my website to learn more about this fantastic product that could revolutionize and energize your reading of God’s Word. Here’s the link to find out more: http://www.joymediaservices.com/28212.html

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

Friday, September 3, 2010

Apt Accompaniment to Work

Treasured friend,


I’ve often noticed that the quality of my work (often the quantity, too) is enhanced by what I’m hearing while I’m at work. For example, when I write, I listen to instrumental praise, jazz, blues or symphonic music—with tunes I recognize, but few words to distract me.

Then there is the music I save for tasks I hate—scrubbing the bathroom, vacuuming, dusting, anything that requires the wafting fragrance of bleach, detergents or ammonia. For those moments when I can’t procrastinate those tasks any longer, I have a selection of music on my MP3 player and a station on my Pandora favorites, both of which feature music to clean by. It’s all upbeat, energetic, pulsing and thrumming; and it moves me right along with it. It’s music that makes me smile. It engages my attention so that, instead of grumbling about what I have to do, I’m swinging and bopping and (forgive me for saying it) even dancing to it.

The same goes for my three-times-weekly workout. If I hate cleaning, well, there’s no word in the English language strong enough to describe how I feel about sweating. But the music DVDs on our workout room TV (including Michael W. Smith’s Worship) so capture my attention, that I nearly (I did say nearly) forget about the drudgery of pacing mile after mile on the black rubber belt of the treadmill, “passing” the same scenery. Doing what’s good for me, what’s expedient, is easier because of music.

I hadn’t realized it until today, but as I was reading 2 Chronicles 34 in preparation for a writing project (related to the upcoming release of my new software package, The Julie-Allyson Ieron Bible Reference Collection on WORDsearch 9), I came across a passage that makes my practice of matching music to my daily tasks positively biblical.

The setting is that King Josiah has collected money to repair God’s house, after it had been defiled and profaned by a string of godless kings who preceded him. (The “it” in the passage, is this money earmarked for the repairs):

Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the LORD's temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple. They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin. The men did the work faithfully. Over them to direct them were Jahath and Obadiah, Levites descended from Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam, descended from Kohath. The Levites--all who were skilled in playing musical instruments-- had charge of the laborers and supervised all the workers from job to job (2 Chronicles 34:10-13a, NIV).
The passage connects the faithful work (other translations add the concept of working with integrity)¸ with the leadership offered by skilled musicians. Music to work by. To hoist joists and beams; to dress the stones, to polish the door knobs, whatever needed to be done. These folks composed and played music appropriate to the tasks. God gifted them with music to accompany the work.

I suppose that translates well to the difficult tasks related to caregiving. Dispensing meds. Cleaning up messes. Bathing wounds. Holding someone’s hand while softly humming away the pain. This music probably won’t be the boisterous tune I dance my way through as I vacuum. It may be a soothing instrumental, passionate blues, or—perhaps best of all—inspiring worship that leads us to lift our eyes, minds, and hearts to the Creator and Sustainer, Who offers us the hope that this aging process, this physical pain or deterioration, isn’t all there is. There is a reality clouded for us now, but it’s more real than anything that touches us here—and it’s more lasting than anything we see or hear or feel in this realm. It’s a world with no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow, no more good-byes at all. A place of all joy, health, companionship, and “hellos.” A place of endless music to make work fulfilling and energized.

Even if it’s music heard only by you, in the privacy of your own heart, I encourage you to sing to the Lord today—from a worshipping heart, as you go about your caregiving tasks. I promise it’ll help you do your work with faithfulness, energy—even God-pleasing integrity—as it did for the workers in God’s house during Josiah’s reign.

My prayer for you is a song in your heart all day long.


Blessings and prayers, Julie

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