Wednesday, March 16, 2011

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - The Wonder Years

ln the Iate 80's there was a television show called "The Wonder Years" starring Fred Savage. It was about a preteen boy and what he thought about and experienced during his teen years. I thought that would be a good title for today's devotional from Luke 2. I wonder what Jesus was like at 12? I remember when my son was 12. Where he was emotionally and in his maturity was not even what I imagine Jesus to be at 12.

The story of Jesus at the temple when he was 12 years old is found in Luke 2:41-52. It reads like this:
41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. 42 When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. 43 After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, 44 because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
45 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. 46 Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. 47 All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. (Above photo is from the Model City in Jerusalem of the Temple during the second Temple period. What it would have looked like when Jesus was there).
48 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
49 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he meant.
51 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
52 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people. (NLT)
I can't even imagine what Mary and Joseph must have felt. The sick feeling of losing him, the guilt they must have felt as parents, not double checking that he was with them, let alone that they didn't even realize he was missing.

I wonder what kind of boy Jesus must have been. He must have been quiet mannered, probably an observer, a gentle spirit, but very confident, intelligent
and obviously mature. I wonder what Mary must have been thinking when she realized he was not with them? That feeling is not a good one. When my son was 12 years old, he would have never done that because he barely lets me go outside of the house without fearing that I've left him alone. He's my homing pigeon. The scripture says it took them 3 days to find him. Probably because the last place they would have expected to find him was in the temple courts with the religious teachers. I'm sure the the average boy may have been playing ball with the neighborhood kids or whatever boys did in those days. The scripture says his parents didn't know what to think or as the NIV translates, they were astonished (Luke 2:48).

As any parent, even though they may have been angry, but probably a bit proud to find their son interacting with these men. Its says that Jesus was listening and asking questions. I wonder what kind of questions he was asking. I do wish the scripture had mentioned that. I wonder if the religious teachers were wondering what a 12 year old boy was doing hanging around them. But I think the key action here that Jesus did, was listen.

When they finally found him, his mother asked him why he did that to them? Jesus responded, "Why did you have to search? Didn't you know I'd be in my Father's house?" It said they didn't understand. Had Joseph and Mary taken so much of the parenting role in Jesus' life that they had forgotten whose son he was? Did they forget that God was ordering every step of Jesus' life? That Jesus was God in the flesh? I also find it interesting that it was three days. Having been to the Old City, it would not have taken three days to find him. If you've been to the Old City you would know that it would not have taken three days. Interesting that it was three days from Jesus' death and resurrection. On the third day he arose and was found by his "family." Jesus at 12 missing for three days was a snapshot of what was to come.

I wonder when they found Jesus at the temple, if his countenance was different after having been in his Father's house? Did they not recognize him?
Maybe they actually passed him up a few times not expecting to find him there. Much like the women in the garden that morning of his resurrection or the men on the road to Emmaus after Jesus had been with his Father in His Heavenly home.

The scripture does not mention anymore about Jesus' teen years or young adult life. Unlike Moses, David and other heroes of the faith, who have biographies of their youth, there is no information on Jesus as a young man other than what the end of this passage says. It says that he grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and people (Luke 2:52).

Let me ask this question? Would you know the difference if Jesus was missing in your own life for a few days? Do you find yourself anxious? Do you find yourself scattered? Do you find yourself searching for something? Maybe you are not convinced that Jesus makes that much of a difference in your life. I sure can tell when I haven't spent time with him. I am anxious, scattered and lost. I don't know if Mary truly understood the 12 year old that she was raising. The scripture says that Mary stored these things in her heart (Luke 2:51). She was his mother. We are the ones who manage to get lost. The truth is Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You never have to wonder about that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt....

In the late 70's the contemporary Christian music took off. I was a big fan. I am so thankful that I had the influence of Christian music during my teen years. Some of my favorite artists then were Benny Hester, Amy Grant, Kelly Willard, Roby Duke, The Archers and 2nd Chapter of Acts to name a few. But there was another up and coming singer that had a song that to this day that often comes to mind when I read the story of the Moses and the children of Israel. The singer is Keith Green and the song is "So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt..." Every time I begin the book of Numbers that song plays in my head. Going back to Egypt was big for the children of Israel.

It seems like every time things didn't seem to go the way they had planned or wanted, they began to complain and the first thing out of their mouths was "Why did you take us out of Egypt? Did you bring us into the desert with no food and water so we could die?" You know that old saying, "misery loves company" was a motto for them, I believe. They cried about being slaves in Egypt then God answered their cry and the next thing they know they're free. Then they complained about being free.

As I'm reading through these scriptures, my first reaction is to respond with "can't you be grateful? God answered your prayers by getting you out of Egypt." Then I realize, I'm no different! It is actually too familiar. I too am guilty of crying out to God for freedom in areas of my life and when I get them, I find something else to complain about.

What is really interesting to me is after Moses sends 12 men to spy out the promised land. Ten of the twelve came back with a negative perspective. Numbers 13:31- 33 says "
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” God had already told them that was where He was taking them, but the fear of the people canceled out the promise of God. This was insulting to God that they would believe that man had more authority and power than the One who divided the Red Sea.

Numbers 14:1-9 says, "That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

Those ten guys spoke so negative about the place God had promised to give them that it literally spread like a disease throughout the camp and God was angry. Numbers 14:10-12 says, "But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The LORD said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.” God was so angered by these ten men and the negativity they spread throughout the camp, that God decided to cut them off from their inheritance. He told them that no one from that generation could enter the Promised Land, except Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:29 &30). Wow, I bet that was a shock for those people. Now they will spend forty years wandering around in the desert and will never get to see, let alone live in the Promised Land.

What a wake up call for me! What kind of negative words have I spread throughout my circle of friends and family? Have I caused some to be cut off from God? God has given us His Word so that we can learn from it. They did not get to see the promise of God fulfilled because of their attitudes and disobedience. God was angry because they refused to remember and recognize the miracles He had been doing everyday since they left Egypt.

God has done more miraculous things in my life than I could ever count. The biggest miracle was sending His Son to deliver us from eternal death. Because of what Jesus did for mankind at Calvary, and because I believe and he is my savior, I will get to enter my eternal Promised Land. Yet I still complain. It is not about me. Its about others in my life. Have I said something that might cause someone else to doubt? I hope not, but that is the problem with words, once they are out there, you can't take them back.
Personally, I want to be much more responsible for the words that I speak. I think if the Church were a bit more responsible for our attitudes and what comes out of our mouths, we'd see more people come to Jesus, more healing miracles and more power, in Body of Christ.

I admit, I've wished for the "good ole' days" and wishing things could be like they used to be. Instead, I should remember God's faithfulness in those days and be thankful for today, even though it may seem difficult. Jesus said the last days would be like a woman in labor. The birth pains are getting closer together. We are much closer to the "eternal promised land" than we think. I don't want to complain anymore. I want to change my attitude. I'll start now by saying, "no, I don't wanna go back to Egypt."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Home Sweet Home

Back in January when we began our fast, we as a family committed to do some kind of personal devotional. Jordanne got a new Bible for Christmas and it had a couple different reading plans. One of them is through the Bible in 90 days. The other evening as she was reading her Bible before bed, she came running down stairs to share what the Lord had showed her in His Word. The following "S.O.A.P." is my twelve year old daughter's journal entry.

"Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer" by Jordanne Hamilton

2 Samuel 7:5-11

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’
8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you:
Scripture: "The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:" 2 Samuel 7:11

Observation: David was questioning God about why the Ark of God remained in a tent and he lived in a house of cedar. God told David that He had never expected him to build him a house and that He would make sure His people had homes of their own.

Application: We have been looking for a house since last April. We still haven't found one. We have run into many problems over the last year. For me, it been tough. I want a HOME! Not a house, a HOME! There's a difference . My definition of a house is a physical settlement where it was planned and built up. A home is a place of settling, connection, stress-free, comfortable place that God has prepared. I don't think we have that yet, but I know if we keep our faith in Him, we will prosper and have the perfect home!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, Thank you for blessing our family with the "place you have prepared for us." You have a wonderful house for my family. I pray we keep our faith and not doubt your power. You always come through with your will. You are my only escape from the overwhelming stress. I love you Lord. Amen.