Reaching for Jesus

Ever have a song jump our and grab you? Many of us have. Last summer I was listening to some of my favorite southern gospel when a song by KarenPeck and New River stopped me in my tracks. Who Touched Me gives the simple narrative of the woman who pushed through the crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. The second verse tells all of us that we can have hope in Christ.

Listening to that song reawakened my heart to a call that I have felt often in my Christian walk, to encourage women. We can ALL  encourage one another on a daily basis, but God & I have periodically discussed my longing to do more. His answer has mostly been to sit and listen and wait. That day, however the words starting flowing from my pen. It was time to step out and let God use my voice and remind my friends or maybe show for the first time how this nameless, hopeless woman in a tiny bit of scripture battled her fear and disappointment along with physical distress and was made whole by the only One who can heal. Jesus himself.

We meet our sister in both the book of Matthew chapter 9 and Luke chapter 8. We learn back in Matthew chapter 4 v 17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'”. He was traveling the country side, teaching about the Kingdom of God and healing those who came to him. Word was spreading. Crowds followed Him. Some followed because they believed He was the Messiah, but many others followed because they wanted to see what He would do next. They didn’t want to miss a miracle. So we arrive at Matthew 9:18-21

While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her and she shall live.

And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

I have read over those few verses so quickly so many times. I have even caught myself thinking if I would only try a little harder. But that is not the point here. The point is, she believed what she heard. Let’s look at what she was living through. There is not much detail here but with a little research I realized she was an outcast. Levitical law stated that a menstruating woman was unclean. (Leviticus 15:19-31) I don’t believe God’s intent was to belittle the woman, but to give her space for 7 days. Not a bad plan. This woman however, had a medical condition for 12 years. Despite the obvious difference in normal body function and a serious problem, humankind’s corruption of God’s law left her isolated, outcast and poor, (see Luke 8:43). If she were ever married, her husband could not even affectionately touch her with out being considered unclean. I have to wonder if people stayed away even thinking she was cursed or had some sort of “secret sin”.

Isolated, lonely, desperate, broken; have you ever been there? It really doesn’t matter how we got there. It may be a physical or mental ailment, or choices on our part that turned out to be wrong. Maybe we don’t even know what caused the circumstances we are in, we just know we are exhausted and the end of the rope is in sight. Those you considered close have given up and left and even the gentle souls who have stayed by your side do not have the answers. This is why the Holy Spirit put this woman’s story in the Bible. We see how she reacts to her circumstances in her darkest hour; we can see how her story applies to our lives. How did she hear of Jesus? Was she tiptoeing into the marketplace at the last hour to beg for some rotten food overhearing vendors discussing this man who performed miracles? Did she still have a loving friend who told her of this man who cast out demons and forgave sin and spoke in authority of God’s word? We don’t know. But what she did with the information she had we do know. She did not give up and wallow in self pity. She moved her dying body from her home and in her weakness pushed through crowds. She did not shout or beg or make a show. She most likely felt too unworthy. Not wanting to be seen for fear of chastisement she came up behind Jesus. She believed just touching his garment would heal her body. She just wanted to feel better. Let’s pick up in Luke 8:44

Came behind Him, and touched the border of  His garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with Him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched they?

And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched Him, and how she was healed immediately.

And He said unto her, daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

Again, I can only speculate that her intention was only to be physically healed; however I do also think she believed with all her heart that Jesus could do it. It must have taken such great effort to get to Him it had to been more that a “last ditch effort”. She had already tried physicians that probably told that could clear this problem right up; they failed her. She had to fully put her trust in Jesus and no one else. What she gained because of that belief is the true miracle. Jesus, of course, called her out on purpose. Would she speak the truth or deny Him? Scared and trembling, still in that “unworthy” mindset she testified! She gave the unpleasant details and announced to all who could hear that Jesus was the only one who could heal her. At that point Jesus really performs the miracle. Think about His words. “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made they whole; go in peace.” He healed her soul. He acknowledged that her faith was real and she had put it in the right place and He can do so much more that heal are physical bodies that will rot anyways. He can heal our soul, He can call us into His family. And He can give us HIS peace.

I also do not want to miss the point here, that Jesus cared enough to stop what He was doing and minister to this woman. He cares. We mistakenly think if we are going through tough times that God does not care. Nothing could be further from the truth. Reach out to Him.

Wherever you are at in life, pursue Jesus. Do not be discouraged. Your wait may seem like forever, but it is in His timing. Look to His word for your peace and for examples of those who have gone before us and persevered. And if you are in that place of peace right now, look for those who need encouragement and need to hear about what Jesus desires to do for them.

James 5:1 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

~Blessings

Bonnie

 

 

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Seeing Ourselves in His Kingdom

My heart breaks when I see lives falling apart. Sometimes we make willful choices that lead to self destruction and damage to the lives around us. Those choices are sin, though we may not be aware of it depending on our relationship with Jesus. Other times we have no control of the circumstances that enter our lives. Very few of us make it far into adulthood without being touched by death, financial trouble or other events that can lead to emotional turmoil. This is life in our broken world. I am not saying anything new here, but can we concede that as we collectively as human beings grow farther and farther from God we are less equipped to handle these circumstances?  Which leads me back to the beginning; my heart breaks when I see lives falling apart.

When we don’t truly know God’s love for us, the choices we make to fill the void only He can fill can lead us to dark places we never thought we would end up. It happens so subtly we rarely see it coming. Over the years I have found that women tend to fall into the belief that we are second hand in God’s eyes. We come by these feelings a number of ways, more than what I could recite here. Often though, it’s due to our environment. If we are treated second hand repeatedly whether it has to do with our sex or not, we will project that behavior onto God; i.e. “Everyone around me treats me as if I am worthless, therefore God must think I am worthless too.” When we are, or perceive we are,  treated poorly because of who we are, where we live, how much money we make etc. it becomes difficult to believe God would treat us any other way. Others of us may not have known such extreme circumstances; but there seem to be subversive ways that doubt sneaks in. I don’t think many of us are immune to that.

Somehow,  our minds make conclusions about God that are not true. We are imperfect humans. We look at the grand histories of Abraham, Moses, David, Paul and many others and we overlook the equally grand stories of Hannah, Tamar, Deborah and Anna. Again, the list goes on. God loved and guided these women the same way that He guided the men.  I believe God designed and uses men and women differently; this is His order. But He loves us the same.

So, how do we allow God into the places in our lives where we are suffering? The dark places where we may be destroying ourselves with sin or self pity. How do we allow Him into the places we have no control, and really, how much can we control in our lives?

This is the way short version of salvation. Way short. If you have any questions please, please, please contact me and we can discuss it further.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Once you have acknowledged that Jesus Christ is God who came to us in the flesh, paid the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross, then rose again and walked on the earth, thus defeating death; you want to know Him. We do this by reading the Bible for ourselves, finding a Bible teaching church and taking time to study and grow relationships with other believers. There is a great healing that will begin in your life from that moment on. I do stress that there is still life on this earth, and it can still be very hurtful, but our reactions to these situations can change. We can have God’s peace.

In the weeks ahead I intend to look at the lives of women in the Bible. Every word in the Bible is true. Every history that the Holy Spirit instructed the author to write is there to teach and encourage us. Even one scripture about a nameless figure has a purpose. There is plenty here to keep us busy, busy with a purpose to know God better by looking at the women that trusted Him or chose not to. Again, I share with you, I am nervous about this, it’s been done before by more qualified people. I do however feel that He has brought us together for a reason. We are here to travel this part of our journey together. I believe the right people will find me here, just like at our church women’s study. By “right” people I mean you. The one that can read this and hear God’s voice, not because I am eloquent, but because it’s His plan. He knows how to connect the right people together.

I am glad you are here. I intended to start with an actual study today. God had different plans today. I pray His words lead you to grow closer, to pick up your Bible and start seeing God’s love. Don’t compare it to what you think love is or isn’t, let Him teach you afresh.

~Blessings

Bonnie

 

 

 

 

 

Why Am I Doing This?

Why am I starting a blog again. Why do I think I have something  to say, or that I can even write? Of course the answer is so status quo that it makes me cringe, but I continue anyhow. I, like so many others, believe it’s a God ordained calling.

I’ve been miserable with the desire to put words on paper, to encourage, to connect. I have notebooks that date back to fifth grade with the beginnings of numerous fiction. I stopped somewhere in high school, too busy feeling put off because the teachers hurt my feelings paying more attention to the “it crowd”. So I cut off my nose to spite my face and followed my heart. Does that break enough writing rules for you? It matches that period of my life perfectly, maybe someday we will visit there. For now we will fast forward to the time where God settled me down with two young children, a second marriage, and salvation. I’m still in my twenties at this point! The quietness in my soul allows me to revisit my love for reading and writing. My focus shifted to the Lord and bringing Him Glory. Again, discouragement found me. I am not equipped to do this. There are too many out there writing that are educated and more gifted. The notebooks were tucked away.

I started to blog when my children were in middle school. They were more self sufficient and I was working part time at the school. This led to plenty of time to follow my interests. I was learning to sew and quilt and was thrilled to find women on line with the same interests. As a thirty something stay mostly at home mom I didn’t know anyone locally at the time that enjoyed staying at home and raising their family and delving into traditional arts and crafts. Though I was skittish at first I found  true community of like minded ladies. So as many of them did, I blogged also. It began mostly to showcase current projects or silly pet photos; a sort of pre face book vehicle. However, I eventually started sharing my thoughts as I grew in my Christian faith. I wasn’t trying to write anything brilliant. And then I stopped. Again. Full time job. Death of a parent. Kids’ college hell. (Sorry it just was. On the other hand I grew closer to Jesus…)

I kinda get turned off by Christian writers that are so polished it feels like they are just trying to sell another book. There was a lot of that then, there probably still is now. I do see the trend shifting more to allowing the reality of life show through. That is tricky for the author. Allowing bits and pieces of real life and real family members show through. How do I know if this is His will?

I have been born again since September of 1999. The first years I experienced earth shaking, life changing growth. I met the Savior of the world! It by far was not always easy or comfortable, but I for sure knew the freedom I was experiencing was from Christ alone. The last five years to date have been the next most significant years in my journey. Some of the best and definitely the most difficult. And I can honestly say they have been the best because of the hardships. I wish it weren’t so. I really do. I hate pain. I hate worrying about my family. I abhor when an event blindsides me and those around me.  The unimaginable barges in your door. However it is true, truer than true, that God is faithful. After one life altering event six years ago He plucked me out of one church of thousands, and lovingly planted me in a tiny group of believers right in my town. The pastor teaches line by line directly from the Bible and we sing sweet healing hymns. I have needed these people to walk beside me in a big way and they are faithful and point me to Christ. He knows our needs before we do; might sound cliche but it’s true. I am not saying one way or the other is the right way to worship. I am saying He knew what I needed which was small, simple and faithful to His word. We ALL need a church faithful to the Bible, and you’ll know if that is the case by reading your Bible at home for yourself. Daily.

I love my church. And if you ask me Sunday morning I will tell you I love my church because our pastor teaches the Word straight from the Source, never afraid to challenge us, and every hymn  we sing is my favorite. But if you ask me about our ladies Bible study, I am over the moon for this group. Real, authentic women, coming out of all sorts of situations. We have had as few as two or three ladies to now about ten to fifteen on a consistent basis. I’ll be honest, a few years ago all I could do was attend on a Monday night and bawl and ask for prayer. Our Pastor’s wife generally leads, but always leaves the door open for other ladies to lead. We work our way through books of the Bible often with attendees who have never read the Bible before. Occasionally we will use a Bible study that seems to teach on something we need to hear. It’s a good balance. Last year I was led to do a study on women in the Word. I heard a song about the woman who reached for the hem of Jesus’ garment and thought about the determination and need she must have had to step out. I knew we needed to study this and other women in the Bible. Not because of fairness and equality but because women, especially those with little experience with God, need to see how God loves them. Young, old, faithful, faithless, those “outside” the group, and those that are already included-God loves us all. We don’t have to sit in the background waiting to see if He will choose us, we can and should pursue Him. When we do that, He pursues even more. My desire is to fine tune what the Lord and I began last year. Though the voices in my mind say it’s been done, way better all ready, I believe like me, there is someone out there that desires to leave the crowded places and get back to the small, and the simple and I will try my best to be faithful to the word of God.

Some housekeeping before I go:

This was harder to set up than I thought (it’s me not WordPress), so please excuse the mess!

My intent is to keep this blog as an encouraging/study/testimonial arena. My photos of current projects and silly animals are on Instagram and all other nonsense is on Facebook. If the Lord wills and I figure this out I will get links up to at least Instagram.

I was not intentionally secretive about the messy/excruciating events in my life. They just did not fit in today’s post. If and when they fit, I’ll share.

I am not a counselor. Just a girl in love with Jesus who is The Wonderful Counselor.

2  Corinthians 1:3,4  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

May you grow closer to the One Who loves you more than you’ll ever know.

~Blessings,

Bonnie