I've sat the last 24 hours and didn't post on social media. I just sat and watched as people adjusted. Monday was our first full day of no school, many working from home, many are worried. Many are stocking up on household necessities.
The news stations are updating people on how quickly life is changing. Being an American my whole life, I never imagined a day when I couldn't go out. And now there are rumors that we are approaching days when we will be told to stay in our homes, quarantined. I am sitting here trying to come up with a strategy for families and kids to still receive the Gospel, to still dive into His Word, and remain spiritually healthy.
Today, we need to sit on Titus 3. I've been sitting on this chapter for about 2 weeks now. Let's read it together.
Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to mailign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing consideration for all mankind. For we also were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of the deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Christ Jesus our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for mankind: Avoid fooloish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a factious man after a first or second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.
When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend winter there. Dilligently help Zenas the lawyer and Appolos on their way so that nothing lacking for them. Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful. All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. -Titus 3, NASB
At this time, where the government it taking actions to reduce the spread of a virus, they are reducing things that we took as a right and we may have even taken for granted. Church, school, only so many in a grocery store at the same time. I want to remind you as the first verses of this chapter reminds us, be obedient to these authorities. If they say to not be in groups of more than 10, let's follow their lead. If they say to stay in our homes, let's follow their lead. "Let's be ready for every good deed." The good deed today perhaps is to not be a carrier of a virus to those who are vulnerable and to keep it from spreading as much as possible. This isn't about you, it's about community.
In the time when Paul penned this letter to Titus, people were very suspicious about Christians (and they are today!) so Paul emphasizes the need for fruit-filled behavior. He wanted Christians to be the kind of people that people would want to be around, espically in a time of crisis.
Not complaining, but serving.
Not arguing, but submitting.
Not worried, but Hope-filled.
Now is not the time to be spewing your worry, your dislike, your disagreements on social media or in person. Now is the time to be asking, "Do you need anything." "How can I help." "Do you need toilet paper?" Now is the time, to stay away from as many people as you can to prevent the spread as much as you can. It is Lent, I know none of us expected to give up this much up! But perhaps, if we soak in Jesus this next couple of weeks, we may find that what we took for granted... like going to Church... we won't take for granted in the years to come. Perhaps, we will find that our Life Groups are not something we can say, "oh, I will go next week." "I will join one next semester..." Perhaps, we will be more intentional to spread the Gospel and to gather and grow as much as possible. Maybe, we will realize our call like never before and be the Church and the people that others want to be around... and perhaps we will be the people they need because we have Jesus roaring inside of us and I know they NEED HIM.
Be the Church, Church.
The fig tree picture was picked because in Mark 11:12-25, Jesus curses a fig tree because it was all leaves and no fruit. You see, fig trees produce fruit before they produce leaves... the fact that this tree was full of leaves proved it wasn't going to produce fruit. Let's embrace this season of self-pruning, through the Holy Spirit, so we can produce the fruit that He wants us to bear.
Be fruitful, Church, be fruitful.
"Then they left that place and made their way through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know it. For he was teaching his disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after he is killed, he will rise three days later." But they did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask him."
Tomorrow, the church will be kicking off the Lent Season. This season prepares us to go into a time of reflection and growth and we focus on the death and resurrection of Christ. For us, year after year, we embrace Lent knowing the Resurrection story. But in the passage above, those disciples were walking with Jesus before it ever happened. I always wondered what the conversation would have been if they weren't too afraid to ask him.
As we start this Lent journey, our local church is doing a journey through rescue stories. I carefully read each passage, marked what people were being rescued from. From the first pages of Scripture to the end of the Gospels, God's prevenient grace ever went before us to prepare our rescue and redemption. One of the questions my nine-year-old asked me yesterday was, "Mommy, if God knew all that was going to happen. Why would he still create humans?" After journeying through many rescue stories, my answer was this...
The God who created us already created our redemption. He sees the beginning but he also sees the end. And perhaps in the beginning He sees the sin but in the end... He sees us in our final, glorified state. And He wasn't afraid. For he doesn't look at it from our view, He looks at it from His all knowing view.
Jesus was explaining some heavy things to them in Mark 9. He was saying that someone, one of them actually, would betray him. He was saying he was going to die. And he was saying he was going to be risen. From our view, that's some pretty heavy, difficult stuff and let's remember in those last moments, it was really difficult for Jesus, too. But Scripture has a way of pointing out stuff to us.
"...and they were afraid to ask him."
Mary, Jesus' mother, when she didn't understand she asked. She got her answer. She didn't understand how she could give birth to a baby when she was a virgin... so she asked. She didn't doubt but she did wonder how. I'm not sure what the disciples didn't understand about this situation. I am not sure if they doubted it would happen, if they didn't understand who would betray Jesus, who would kill him, why they would kill him... there are many different questions that could come from that short statement. But all I do know is they were too afraid to ask.
I have learned to not be afraid to ask Jesus when I don't understand, when I am afraid, when I am doubting. Because I've learned that He will illuminate what I cannot understand, He will ease the fears, and He can help my unbelief. I just have to bring it to Him.
During this Lent Season, I urge you to bring those questions and ask Him. He is still journeying through this life with us. He is Risen (I'm not afraid to claim that early in the Lent Season!)!!! He is Risen and we have to be willing to enter into this process with Him.
My heart has hurt for 7 weeks now. Our last baby was born still 7 weeks ago. The mountains of my life came crashing down again, the waters raged around me.. I have felt like I was drowning. Emotions, feelings, physical pain has been intense. I tried my best to just keep going.
Psalm 46 has been my cling to passage during this season.
"God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
though the waters roar and foams
and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah
There is a river-
its streams delight the city of God,
the holy dwelling place of the Most High.
God is within her; she will not be toppled.
God will help her when the morning dawns.
Nations rage, kingdoms topple;
the earth melts when he lifts his voice.
The LORD of Armies is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
Come, see the works of the LORD,
who brings devastation on the earth.
He makes wars cease throughout the earth.
He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces;
he sets wagons ablaze.
"Be still and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations,
exalted on the earth."
The LORD of Armies is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah"
Last night, I wailed myself back to sleep. I woke up because I had a dream the baby was crying and I needed to go feed him. But when I woke up to feed him, reality hit and it was just a dream. My emotions stormed, my world trembled. And the lover of my soul whispered, "Be Still and know I am Your God."
He isn't just God. He is my God. He is your God. Jesus made it personal. From the very beginning He was never okay with death being our ending. But from the fall, He had a passion and a love for us that drove Him from the Highest place to the cross. It drove Him to the grave. But it also is what propelled Him to Victory in Resurrection. One thing grief has taught me is love never ever dies though people do. Our God is Love.
Love is fighting for us. Be Still.
He is NOT DONE, Be Still.
He is Coming, Be Still.
He is Making All Things New, Be Still.
Death does NOT have the final say, Be Still.
Love never gives up, Be Still.
That Trumpet will Sound, Be Still.
HE IS RISEN, Be Still.
Be Still. He is God!
Be Still. Love conquers all things.
But my heart remembers His weeping at the grave of Lazarus. Even knowing what was coming next, a resurrection, Jesus wept. In the stillness, emotions allow us to become aware that things are not as they should be. In the stillness... I am reminded that in the time we are still, we are standing on Holy Ground where we have to focus our mind on Him. If we are not still we could look around and get overwhelmed by the waves, like Peter. Being still has nothing to do with not feeling, it has everything to do with even though we feel... we stand firm. We stand still on the Rock of the Church.
He is the Christ. Be Still, Church, Be Still.
I've been sitting here all day. My husband has cleaned the house, done the laundry, meal prepped for the next week for me... I sit here and watch my kids play in the backyard. I'm 14 weeks pregnant. High-risk pregnant. I've been told to "take it easy" but I am not on bed rest...
Shots, a cerclage, and the uncertainty of the outcome are in the future for us. We have been here before. We have had successful pregnancies, we have had preterm deliveries, we have had miscarriages... there is no way to know what the outcome will be at this moment. We planned to never be in this position again. We were tired of losing babies but we find ourselves here again.
I find myself soaking in the story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35. Simeon was promised by the Holy Spirit the he would see the Messiah before his death. I am always shocked that Simeon recognizes the Messiah in a heartbeat. He is so in-tuned with the Holy Spirit that he recognized his Messiah instantly. Simeon takes Jesus into his arms. Even though Jesus was a baby, Simeon still recognized his messiah. Simeon probably had to rearrange how he saw to see what the Holy Spirit had for him that day. So many things happen in this life and we do not recognize Jesus in the moments. We scream out, "why do you let this happen?" But death and sin and worry do not come from God... it isn't His fault. We have to rearrange how we see.
Simeon was a regular believer in his day, a laymen, but He was so filled with the guidance of the Spirit that he knew exactly what to be looking for.
Are you looking for what He has for you today?
As I sit here, I am learning a lot from the Holy Spirit and what he wants me to learn through these days. I don't think He planned this to "teach me a lesson" but I know through every experience, that there is something we can learn through everything. Though, I am not ready to share the things that He is illuminating to me... I want to sit still with Him on these things in prayer for a few more days before sharing.
I know he has taught me to rearrange how I see so that I can see His salvation in everything. No matter the outcome of this pregnancy He is my/our Salvation and the only miracle we need.
Jesus is the only miracle I need.
Because Christ Lives,