Monday, May 24, 2010

Scenes of Spring

The flowers appear on the earth...
...the time of singing has come...
...and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:12
Photography by Darrell Ezell.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This is the Day

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. --Psalm 118:24.
This week I have been thinking about this scripture a lot. “This is the day...” This day is the now! Not yesterday and not tomorrow but today!

Yesterday has gone and there isn’t anything that we can do about it. We can’t go back and recall anything about it at all. We can’t change it or remake any remarks that we might have made a or any decisions we made. Yesterday is over! Done!
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. Psalm 90: 4
We all talk about tomorrow in some manner or the other. “I going to the store tomorrow. I will call you tomorrow." If we knew how much we use the work tomorrow it might surprise us. But the truth of it is we can’t do anything about tomorrow because it is not here yet. We can’t know anything about tomorrow, we can only think what might happen tomorrow. We can only talk about what we might do tomorrow.
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Proverbs 27:1.
"One day at a time, sweet Jesus,
That's all I'm asking from you. 
Just give me the strength 
To do every day what I have to do. 
Yesterday's gone, sweet Jesus,
And tomorrow may never be mine. 
Lord, help me today, 
show me the way,,
One day at a time." 

We can’t do anything about yesterday, and tomorrow has not come yet so we only have today. I want us to look into this scripture for some thoughts about how to live on this day.

This psalm shows us that there is a relationship with God that is needed today. Let's look at this psalm and see the relationship that the Psalmist had with God.

 Verse 1-4 tell about the mercy of God.
1O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
 2Let Israel [the church] now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 3Let the house of Aaron [the ministry] now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 4Let them now that fear [the people] the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
This word “mercy” simply means God's kindness toward us or His favor.

If we look at Psalm 51:1-12 we find these words from David:
1Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  2Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
 3For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
 4Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
 5Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
 6Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
 7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
 8Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
 9Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
 10Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
 11Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
 12Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
This was the beginning of a great relationship with God. No wonder He said in Psalms 23, “The Lord is my shepherd!”

Now go back to our Scripture in Psalm 118. We will find that the Psalmist finds help in His relationship with the Lord.
5I called upon the LORD...
 6The LORD is on my side...
 7The LORD taketh my part...
 He talks about putting confidence in God rather than man. 
 8It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
 9It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes. 
 We find the Psalmist using the name of the Lord as a help in trouble.
 10All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.
 11They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.
 12They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. 
 Verses 13-16 talk about the right of the Lord:
 13Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.
 14The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
 15The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
 16The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.
 A relationship like the Psalmist had with God in this psalm shows a real relationship. But up until now it seems to be one sided. Let me ask you a question. What part do we have in this relationship?

Let's look at our responsibility to find the Lord as our personal Saviour.
19Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: 
In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Isaiah 26:1-2.
 We have a responsibility to enter the gates of His righteousness.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Hebrews 1:1-3.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? Hebrews 2:1-4
To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Hebrews 4:7.
Not yesterday and not tomorrow but today we need to find His grace in our lives. Without this experience we have no relationship with God.

Another part of our responsibility is to praise and pray to Him. Again, from Psalm 118:
 21I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
 22The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
 23This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
 24This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
 25Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
 26Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.
We will have a reward because of our relationship with Him.
God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light... Psalm 118:27.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. I Peter 2:9-10.
He used a little stronger words for His relationship with God in Psalm 118:28.
Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18.
There is a song that asks a question that all of us should ask about this day.

Do you ever search your heart
As you watch the day depart?
Is there something way down deep
You try to hide?
If this should be the end
And eternity began
When the Book is opened wide,
Would the Lord be satisfied?

Is He satisfied? Is He satisfied?
Is He satisfied with me?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Altogether Lovely

"He is altogether lovely...
...more than all the world to me...
...fairer than the rose of Sharon... Jesus, my Savior, to me."
Photography by Darrell Ezell.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Living in Response to God

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.
I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
--Psalm 32
It would seem natural that we would long to be close to God, our Heavenly Father… for every child wants to know the security of being close to his parents: the familiarity of their faces, the security of their strength, the assurance of their words.

This is a good model for our relationship with God; except to one degree or another the model has been marred a bit. We get wrapped up in our problems rather than our problem solver. We wonder if we really can get close to God.

If we seek, we find a wonderful surprise. If our souls can clear away the debris of life, we find a very present and relentlessly pursuing Father.

Our Father is God whose fatherly love said:
…I’ll create an environment that testifies of my love and care.
…I’ll inspire writers to capture all that is fundamental about myself.
…I’ll come and show you what I’m like in person.
…I’ll even impart my own spirit to be placed in you.

That is a Father who wants relationship. The scripture declares that God’s love longs to listen to our hearts, comfort us, counsel us, and challenge us like a father.

As the Psalmist declared: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18.) “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8.)

Jesus, in presenting the coming role of the Holy Spirit, said, “If anyone loves me they will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you .Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he loves me well be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. --John 14:15-21
Well, do we really loves Jesus? If we really love Jesus then we will do his will!

Then Jesus gives us some promises:
  • I will give you my Holy Spirit...
  • He will be with you forever...
  • He shall dwell with you and shall be in you...
  • Because I live you shall live...
  • You shall know that I am in the Father and You in me and I in you...
  • If you love me My Father will love you, And I will love you, and manifest (Reveal) myself to you!
And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick ? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad . If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:21-23
Through the manifesting of Christ to our hearts and our obeying His word we can know Him!

How can we experience this constant companionship? This morning I simply want to focus on some of the challenges faced in any parent-child relationship. It’s helpful for us to realize that God not only relates to us with all the desire of a parent to a child, but also with all the power of a parent to a child.

Think about this truth. Relationship cannot be forced. God will not force Himself on us! In other words, if we don’t want to take the time to get close to God then He won’t force us to.

With that in mind I believe God would remind us of the parent-child truths that relate to our intimacy with Him. As I’ve reflected upon the Scriptures this week, four truths in particular have stood out to me in regard to our lives:

The first factor involved in God’s fatherly interaction is our mindfulness. God will relate to us according to our attentiveness. Every parent knows the importance of getting a child’s attention. So does God. So it is, He states most simply in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Often times we think of merely the need for a quiet place to be with God, and certainly silence lends itself to stillness. But stillness of soul is more than silence. It refers to quieting the inner activity of our souls. I find this is one of my greatest challenges to enjoying constant closeness with God. Finding a relatively silence place isn’t so difficult, but quieting my soul is. In fact, silence often seems to unveil all the stirrings and voices in my soul.

Have you ever found that to be true? Just as you get quiet, your mind is flooded with competing thoughts and concerns … as you initially try to focus, you find your soul suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder? I might add that I think the things we’re most concerned about may be the hardest because our own thoughts and emotions are so involved; our own desires and reactions fill our attentiveness. At these times, we’re like a wound up child rambling before a parent who waits to really gain our attention. In schools these days if a child has Attention Disorder they give him Ritalen. But God will not use any thing other than His truth. God says “Be still … come let your thoughts and agendas be still before me. Let them rest … get centered … die down.” The full attention of God’s heart is always there for us as our Divine Parent … but we cannot really know His attention until we bring Him ours. What  does God have to do to get your attention, not just silence, but the stillness of your soul? It might be sickness. It might be a child's sickness. It might even be the death of a loved one or friend.

The second factor in any parent-child relationship is our maturity, for God relates to us according to our understanding. Again, every parent understands that they can only relate to a child according to their maturity and understanding. Parents begin with “baby talk” and use simple statements that fit within the child’s conceptual realm. Is it communication? Yes … as real as any other. So it is in our relationship to God, as the apostle Paul described:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. --I Corinthians 13:11-13.
Two important implications in this text: The reality of a distinction of knowledge between ourselves and God
We don’t see the whole picture. Everything God has shown us of Himself is real, but much is still beyond us (… just as a parent’s communication is real, true, valid, but doesn’t attempt to be full). As Paul says, “We are fully known, but we do not yet fully know God.” God sees all, but we don't. Oftentimes we use our perception of needs as the reference point of being close with God, rather than God's perception of our needs. No good parent will respond simply according to their child’s limited perception of their needs. Their response will take into account their greater understanding. “ I need more cookies … to not go to school anymore …” If we make our reference point of need the center of our approach to God, we may not sense his involvement. We must not confuse his agreement and acquiescence to our needs with closeness and intimacy.We must surrender to His higher knowledge.

The second thing Paul notes is the we are to progress in our thinking: Paul recognized that in his own lifetime he had naturally come to think differently … what was natural. Our maturity of understanding must naturally progress in our understanding of God.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. --Romans 12:2.

Are you allowing your mind to mature according to all that your Father has made known to you? Are you learning to take on His perspective rather than demanding your own?

Our motivation. We must recognize that God relates to us in ways that reveal our hearts. We should let the word of God motivate us.
… the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. --Hebrews 4:12
When we think of being close to God, we so often think of God answering our questions. What we find in scripture is that God’s most penetrating interaction came when He asked the question.

The first question God is known to have asked is found in the garden. “Where are you?” … Adam and Eve hiding in their shame. Obviously God knew physically where they were. But it was a question of deeper meaning … a question he asks each of us.

God engaged many with revealing questions:
  • To Cain after killing his brother: “Where is your brother?”
  • To Moses as he went on trying to convince God he was the wrong man to lead the people: “What is that in your hand?”
  • To a man paralyzed for 38 years, He asked, “Do you want to be well?”
  • To His disciples when they shared what others were saying about Him, He asked, “Who do you say I am?”
Today God is still asking questions to reveal the things of our hearts. Many of the real answers for our hearts are found in God’s questions. Are you prepared to find answers in God the Father's questions?

Finally, God relates to us according to our movement. That is, Gold relates to us according to our responsiveness. Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” God is not interested in our academic agreement, only in our active agreement. As James described, “Faith without deeds is dead faith” … belief without action is not meaningful belief. The faith God responds to isn’t an issue of denying our doubts … He honored the one who came saying “We believe, but help us in our unbelief.” It’s not doubt of the mind that’s a problem, but the doubt of the will; the unwillingness to act.

The other night Pallie Sue and I were watching Deal or No Deal. There was a contestant who had been married for 25 years and the contestant's sister said, "They still act like they are on their honeymoon." Many of us are "dating" God but we don’t ever make a commitment to Him! He’s coming back for his bride, not an uncommitted dating relationship.

Are you actively believing what God the Father has shown you?
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? --Mark 3:35-41
The disciples were in the right place when the storm came: close to Jesus! Are you close enough to Jesus, that when the storms come you can reach Him so that he can calm your life?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. Matthew 20:20.
In this lesson today we are going to see a Mother who wanted the best for her sons, but before I start let me share this with you:
Things Mothers Teach Us
  • Mothers teach us about foresight: "Make sure you wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident."
  • Mothers teach us about logic: "If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, don’t come crying to me."
  • Mothers teach us about maturity: "Eat your vegetables or you’ll never grow up."
  • Mothers teach us about religion: "You better pray that comes out of the carpet."
  • Mothers teach us about time travel: "If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
  • Mothers teach us about contradictions: "Shut your mouth and eat your dinner!"
  • Mothers teach us about contortionists: "Will you look at the dirt on the back of your neck?"
  • Mothers teach us about perseverance: "You are going to sit here until you eat every last piece of that broccoli."
  • Mothers teach us about genetics: "You’re just like your father."
  • Mothers teach us about the weather: "It looks like a tornado swept through your room."
  • Mothers teach us about the circle of life: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
When we are young, very few (if any) hold as much influence over children as mom. This morning we have read a scripture which is frequently used to illustrate seemingly negative things and rightly so. The story is of a mom trying to place her boys into the best seats in the house in the Kingdom. I say “the Kingdom” because this mom didn’t perceive that Jesus’ Kingdom would be in heaven, but still thought He was going to overthrow Roman rule. Let's not be too hard on this Mother because she only wanted what she thought was best for her boys. What Mom wouldn’t?

Before I talk about this Mother I want us to see something about this family: This family made a decision to follow Jesus. I don’t know how, nor do we know where, but if we follow this family’s life we will see that they made a choice to follow the Lord. If we look closer we will find out that this mother was the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus, so that made her the aunt of Jesus. Zebedee, the father of James and John, was a fishermen and had a thriving business on the Sea of Galilee . It is interesting to me that they were in partnership with two more men that became followers of the Lord, Peter and Andrew. This fishing business was so good that they had to hire other men to work with them. So members of this family that chose to follow the Lord were very successful people. In a perfect world that is the kind of family that God desires. But we don’t live in the perfect world do we? Most of the time in today’s world it’s the lady of the household that has to take the lead in spiritual life of the household.

Let's meet this mother, Salome. She was a mother with a determination. This scripture says that she was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James and John. Her name, Salome, means “peaceful.” As we already know, she was a follower of the Lord Jesus the Christ! She was at the crucifixion of Jesus. She was among those who brought spices to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She was with the other women who saw that Jesus was gone from the tomb.

In Matthew 20:18 the Lord took His disciples apart in the way and said, "We are going to Jerusalem and the Son of man shall be betrayed and they shall condemn him to death." This was a very important lesson that His disciples needed to understand. The time had come for Jesus to drive home the truth of His kingdom work. He had taught them and they had not caught on to what he was saying. So Jesus said to them, "Come over here away from the other people and let me tell you again what is about to happen. Now here is what is going to happen..."

"Excuse me, excuse me, please."

Now I don’t know for sure but I think the boys were embarrassed that their mother would do this. Maybe they were they said, “Mother, what are you doing? The Lord is trying to tell us something! Mother, please don’t!"

But their mother was on a mission. So she went right up to the Lord and said, "James and John, come up here so the Lord can see you." And then she turned to the Lord and said, “I have a request. Let my sons sit with you on your throne, one on the right and one on the left.”

This sounds like a school mom when it comes to sports in this day. Have you ever been to a Little League game? Every parent thinks their child is the best. “Put my child in, Coach! He should be the starting. He is really good." You know, even though they may have no talent. It’s one thing when a dad has something to say to the coach but when a mother starts in, boy, you can feel for the coach.

We all want our children to be the best and we want what’s best for them. Mother Zebedee had heard Jesus say something about the kingdom. Jesus had just told them in Matthew 19:27-3: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

Let's not be too hard on Mother Zebedee. In her mother’s heart she just heard that her boys would be on a throne! So she just wanted her boys to be first. After all, she is just a mother!

What lessons can we learn from her about the destination for her and family?

1. The Approach to Jesus.

First, she obviously knew that to get the best life had to offer that Jesus was the One, so she made it a point to come to Him. We see a mom’s influence is immeasurable. She teaches us to approach Jesus with both our needs and our desires and for a part in the kingdom of God.

Next, she brought her children to the feet of Jesus. Perhaps one of the outstanding positive lessons we can learn from such a questionable story is the importance of having our offspring with us when we approach our Lord. And think about this: her kids were grown! Whether or not her motives were pure matters little for what we can learn from her. She brings herself, her kids, and her requests to Jesus. The Bible tells us to bring our needs, families, and even wants to Jesus. The message of Jesus is always the same. It is, “Come to Me” or “Bring it to me.”

Mothers teach us all kinds of lessons but one of the greatest is to “bring all your cares to Jesus.”

2. The Attitude toward Jesus.

It is very interesting to watch children and discover that they carry the attitude of their parents. If a parent carries prideful, arrogant, or negative attitude, the kid(s) will pick up on that and, as a general, will project the same attitude as their parent. If a parent carries a positive, happy, and caring attitude, then the child will pick up on that. Mother Zebedee had a right desire but she had the wrong attitude when it came to her boys. We could say that she was very selfish. In fact, this attitude carried over to the boys. Look in Mark 10:32-40. We see the same scripture only this time it was the boys who ask.

Notice this mom’s attitude toward Jesus. This has been translated to say, "She knelt down before Jesus." The KJV says she came worshiping Him. Candidly, for all we may see that she did wrong, she taught her adult boys how to show respect to the Lord. The word worship literally means to kiss or lick the hand. This is a far different display of attitude than seems to be the norm today. Somehow, the respect for Jesus seems to be almost lost, even among believers. Do we truly feel the need to kneel before Him? Do we present an attitude of ultimate respect, or treat Him like one of us? A right decision will bring a right determination that will bring us to a right destination.

3. The Appeal for Jesus.

Matthew 20:21 gives us several visuals which we need to take to heart. Notice that when she comes to Jesus He asks her,“What do you want?” Think about how wonderful this is. The Son of God, the Messiah, the Deliverer, the Sacrifice for our sins, is concerned about what “we want.” To me this is nothing shy of amazing!
Jesus was truly interested in what this mom wanted.

Here’s the point; He didn’t have to ask her because, in His divinity, He knew what the request would be.
Yet, He asked. What a great reminder that when we come to Jesus, He is interested in our needs, wants, and desires; additionally, He wants us to tell Him our heart (whether good or bad)

For this mom, perhaps she was attempting to get her boys a “leg up” or maybe she was attempting to make sure they would be taken care of after she and dad were gone, but don’t miss this; she was honest with the Lord Jesus. God desires for us to be transparent with Him. This mom was transparent with the Lord.

4.The Awareness about Jesus

When Jesus speaks in Matthew 20:22, Mom is silenced. Why? Could it be that maybe, for the first time, she realized the seriousness of her boys walking with Christ. Maybe for the first time she caught on to the cost as she was looking into the eyes of the Lord ... and heard that those seats required the ultimate commitment.
Perhaps, when she heard His words, she wished she could take back her request. Think about this conversation. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you’re asking and how difficult this journey will be mom” and mom went silent.

When I close my eyes and see this picture, I see a mom who was attempting to get the cushy jobs for her boys and found herself in amazement at what she had done. Perhaps when Jesus turned to the boys and asked them, “Are you up for this job?” she had already changed her mind because, for the first time, she became aware of who Jesus was and what it was that He required.

I wonder how many times, people think they know what it means to follow Jesus and then through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit, they become aware that what they thought was not entirely accurate. Some people think that following Jesus is only about a one-time decision that is made and left at the altar. Others think it’s only about being baptized. Others think other “things” (i.e. church membership, church jobs, etc). To become aware of what it is actually required of one who follows Jesus can range from surprise to shock.

5. The Acceptance of Jesus

As we read verse 23 and get the divine design for the Kingdom, we notice one important thing: Mom didn’t argue, discuss, or try to debate with the Lord Jesus, she accepted His words as truth. What a legacy! To have a face to face with the Lord of Glory is to walk away a changed person. While the scripture doesn’t track in details the wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John, this lady known as Salomé, we do see her at the cross and at the tomb of Jesus along with her boys! For me, this is conclusive that her encounter with Jesus led to her acceptance of Jesus and that of her Sons.

Of all a mother can do, giving her life totally and completed to our Lord Christ will have the greatest impact on her children. Here’s why: A mom sold out to the Lord Jesus is a mom who will display a life that demonstrates everything good and right. Because of this she will instill in her children a need to love the Lord, to walk in His way, and fulfill His calling. This brings me to a scripture that I read sometime when I think about my mothers. For you see I have had two wonderful mothers: my own mother and my mother-in-law and I loved them both very much.
“Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellent them all. Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” Proverbs 31:28-31
Happy Mother’s Day, Mother!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Springtime in the Ozarks

Pictures taken by Darrell Ezell.