February 22, 2021

Good From This?

 Devotion for the Week...

Here in Newfoundland we are a little more than a week into a second lockdown. When it was announced, it was scheduled to last two weeks, but I have a suspicion it will be extended. I would be happy to be wrong about that, but I don't think I will be 😊 When I shared about the lockdown on Instagram, Kata commented to say, "Hate to say it, but a lockdown, properly done, works." She's absolutely right, of course. If we're going to stop the spread of the virus, we have to stop moving around and interacting with so many people. A lockdown is the most efficient way to make that happen.

Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that a lockdown is brutally hard on businesses, on students and teachers who have to pivot to online learning, on people living in longterm care facilities and on people for whom home is not a safe place. All we can do is hope that people obey the lockdown rules, that the surge in cases can be dealt with and that we can then return to the pandemic version of 'normal' we have been in for the past while.

Kata's comment really stuck in my mind and as I mulled it over, I thought of Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." That is such a good verse, but such a hard one at the same time. 

Some people misinterpret the verse as saying that everything will always be good if you're a believer. That's not what it says at all! God never promised that we would avoid all sadness and all hardship. In fact, Jesus specifically said "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows" (John 16:33).

Romans 8:28 actually means that God will use even the bad parts of our lives to create good for us. This is a beautiful promise! However, I've also found it to be hard to really grasp it because there are so many times we can't see how God could possibly make anything good come from bad situations. How does good come from chronic illness? How does good come from losing a child? How does good come from domestic abuse? Or substance abuse? I have no answers for any of those situations and so many more.

But it's not me (or you) who has promised to make good come from these things. Thankfully, God is not limited by our understanding or our perspective. Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." He can do infinitely more than we might ask or think. That's reassuring, isn't it? The fact that I can't see how good can come of a hard situation, doesn't mean that God can't.

God has promised to bring good from the hard things we face | DevotedQuilter.com

We will deal with hard things. That's just a fact of life. But when those hard things come, we can cling to God's promise that He will somehow bring good from them.

February 15, 2021

A Show of Faith

Before I get into today's devotion, I want to be sure you know registration is open for Grace in the Meadow. The QAL and Easter devotional journey starts on Wednesday 😊

Devotion for the Week...

My husband is a Blue Jays baseball fan. He enjoys watching the new players brought to the team from the minor leagues and seeing how they perform as they adjust to the big leagues. Some live up to the hype they arrived with, others don't and still others come with very little hype and surprise everyone by playing consistently well. It's hard to know how they'll do until they're on the team for a while and have opportunities to show their skills.

There was an old man named Simeon living in Jerusalem when Jesus was born. This is how Luke describes him: "At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah" (Luke 2:25-26). 

When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple, Simeon saw the young family and he came over and took the child into his arms. He then said, "Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!" (vv. 29-32).

What strikes me about Simeon's reaction is that Jesus hadn't done anything yet. He was an infant! The only things he was capable of doing were maybe cooing in Simeon's arms or screeching as this stranger took him from his mother (because we know Jesus did cry, right?). What He did or didn't do in that moment didn't matter to Simeon, though. Simeon believed.

In the little baby he held, Simeon saw the fulfillment of everything God had promised. Once he knew that Jesus had been born, even though Jesus hadn't done anything noteworthy yet, Simeon was content to die, fully confident that God would finish what He had started.

What if we had that same confidence in God? There are times we see little glimmers that something we're waiting for may someday come to pass, like rookie baseball players who make a good play in their first game. But then we get impatient because we want what we want right now and those glimmers just show us how far we are from getting it. We want to see the end result immediately.
What if we trusted God to finish what He started? | DevotedQuilter.com
What if, instead, we be like Simeon and see those glimmers as the beginning of God's work, then trust that He will finish what He started?

February 08, 2021

Wide Ranging

 Before we dive into this week's devotion, did you see that registration is open for the Grace in the Meadow quilt along? You can register here.

Devotion for the Week...

I don't remember the context of the conversation, but I remember my dad once saying to a much younger me, "You should know everything about something and something about everything." That life philosophy really appeals to me, since I've always been curious about a lot of subjects. I love to read a little about this and a little about that, but sometimes I also love to really immerse myself in a subject.

Growing up, I wanted to be a writer. I spent hours reading about the art of writing well and more hours reading about the writing habits of writers I admired. I could talk to you about the importance of varying sentence length and structure, the value of using simple, everyday words rather than fancy-sounding ones (I despise the word utilize. Just say use!) and countless tips for getting started or powering through writer's block. Though I'm not the bestselling fantasy novelist I once envisioned, I do think those hours learning about writing have served me well in this space 😊

I'm sure I questioned the value of things I had to learn in school, echoing so many others who have asked, "When will I need this in real life?" I've heard it from my own boys, too, and not actually been able to give them an example of when they would need whatever it was they were complaining about. Even so, I don't think I've ever regretted learning something. 

All of that is to explain why I smiled when I read recently about King Solomon's wide ranging knowledge. King Solomon is said to have been the wisest man who ever lived, but I've always associated his wisdom with being about kingly things. How to run a kingdom, how to judge fairly, how to lead others...that sort of thing. Then I read 1 Kings 4:29-33:

"God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore. In fact, his wisdom exceeded that of all the wise men of the East and the wise men of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite and the sons of Mahol—Heman, Calcol, and Darda. His fame spread throughout all the surrounding nations. He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish."

As king, Solomon probably didn't need to know about the tiny hyssop plant. He probably didn't need to know much about animals, birds and fish, either. And yet we're told that he could speak with authority about these things. That means he had a deep, working knowledge of them, not that he could spout a couple of random facts while pretending he knew what he was talking about. It sounds to me like God gave Solomon wisdom and a healthy desire to keep learning about the world around him. It also sounds remarkably like Solomon followed the same advice my dad gave me!
God gave us the ability to think and learn. Are we using it? | DevotedQuilter.com
God gave us the ability to think and learn. He also created a wondrous, complex and fascinating world, which ensures we will never run out of things to learn. Are we using our God-given ability to learn? Are we cultivating a wide ranging knowledge? On what subjects could you speak with authority? What subjects capture your attention so you want to delve deeper into them, spending hours soaking up every tidbit you can?