Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Selfish or Selfless?

Treasured friend,

By now, you know this about me. It will come as no surprise to you when I admit that I’m naturally selfish. But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about putting others’ best interests ahead of my own. Not just in caregiving, but in every area of life. 

I suppose it’s the Lord’s prompting that this is an area where He plans to do some reconstruction work--yet again. 

In that frame of mind I read the first chapter of John's Gospel. That’s where four role models of pure selflessness jumped off the page and grabbed my attention:

John the Baptist—he prepares the way for the Christ to enter the scene. Then, when people question him on his feelings about Jesus outshining him, JtB makes the most unselfish statement I could imagine: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 ESV)

Then there’s Andrew. He’s with JtB and hears the proclamation of Jesus as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.” Right away he runs to tell his brother Peter: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41 ESV). We hear Andrew speak for himself in one other scene. He’s the one who brings the loaves and fish to Jesus (John 6). Otherwise, Andrew decreases—while his brother Peter takes over as spokesperson for the disciples.

Then there’s Nathanael and Philip. Philip tells Nathanael, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (1:45). Nathanael scoffs. But the scoffer quickly turns to faith: “Rabbi,” he says to Jesus, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Those are the only words we ever hear from him.

I’m intrigued by the fact that these first confessors of the truth about Christ's deity fade into the background as some of those they bring to Him become a sort of inner circle.

God’s Spirit showed me a lesson in the unselfishness of these who decreased so others, and more importantly, Christ, would receive all the headlines. These early believers trusted Christ, and they each served Him in everyday ways. They told others about Him—through words and obedient actions. We don’t hear of any of these disciples asking for the place of prominence in the kingdom.

Yet, I rather think God takes special notice of these servants of His. Jesus promises those who do a thousand unnoticed tasks in His name a “kingdom prepared for you.” And He calls them, "you who are blessed by My Father."

I think I can be happy trading my selfishness for that.




Blessings and prayers,

Julie

Adapted from an earlier version originally posted at womencareforagingparents.blogspot.com in 2012. This version © 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back In Synch

My dad died. He was godly. He was loving and kind. He was passionate about reaching lost souls. He also was very sick. And he didn’t get well.

He’d been very sick before—many times. Once when his heart was out of synch, God intervened supernaturally and restored his pulse to regularity moments before a scheduled cardioversion (a procedure to shock a heart back into rhythm). Other times God healed him through skilled surgeons.

So, I expected God to do something supernatural for him one more time. The fact that He didn’t, when He could have, shook me.

Most sane people go to the Psalms to find uplift when they have questions of faith. But I’ve never made any claim of sanity. My offbeat self goes to a rather unexpected place in Scripture for rejuvenation: the prophets. Weird, I know. But Isaiah and Jeremiah might as well be my best friends. Their insights astound me with accuracy, relevance and clarity.

So, when my faith crisis hit, I turned to these old friends. As I navigated the treasure map of passages I’d marked before, my eyes rested on Isaiah 56. I’ve always thought this chapter reads like God’s one-on-one response to my private thoughts. I started reading, nodding and agreeing, and kept on until I hit 57:1, which all at once became my personal cardioversion.

“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. … No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die” (Isaiah 57:1-2 NLT).

God’s voice spoke as clearly to my soul’s ears as if He’d spoken to the ears hiding out under my blonde locks. The candor of the passage forced me to listen. This isn’t about you, Julie. It’s about your dad. He deserved peaceful rest. I didn’t fail him. I allowed him to achieve what he’d lived for all those years.

Hmm. Right. So then a lot of things aren’t about me. There’s a news flash I could have lived much longer without facing. The truth is, God has purposes only He knows—not only for me, but for my loved ones. Sometimes He chooses to move them onward and upward.

It’s no surprise to Him, though, that this offbeat, south-of-sane child of His sometimes needs a biblical cardioversion from the ancient prophets to shock me back into rhythm. And He doesn’t hesitate to use their electrically charged paddles on my spiritual heart.



Blessings and prayers,

Julie

Not one to fit neatly into one category, Julie-Allyson Ieron uses her odd assortment of talents in a way that’s all her own. She’s a violinist/author/teacher/caregiver/vocalist/friend who addresses her books and presentations to groups as varied as writers, church women, librarians, caregivers, Bible students and senior citizens. 

© 2014, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: orders@joymediaservices.com