Take a break — with Jesus!

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Have you had your break today? Follow Jesus and be strengthened.

“By the seventh day God had finished his work, and so he rested” (Genesis 2:2).

As we consider the breaks we take in our lives, we can look to our God as an example and guide. We all need to have time away from our routine, refreshment to sustain us, friends to encourage us and rest to give us strength. As we follow Jesus through His days on earth, we can learn how He used His “breaks” to help Him accomplish what He came to do.

Scripture tells us very little about Jesus’ childhood. We know that He was perfect and so He would have obeyed His parents and honoured them in every way. Yet it seems as if Jesus took a break in His normal routine in the only story the Bible tells of His early life.

“After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when His parents saw Him, they were astonished. And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.’ And He said to them, ‘Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?’” (Luke 2:46-49).

Mary’s words “Son, why have you treated us so?” indicate that, in her eyes, there was a break in His routine. Yet what appeared to Mary to be a change, was, for Jesus, the continuing fulfilment of His purpose for coming to earth, to go to the corss for our sins. His “break” was spending time in His Father’s house, listening and talking with the teachers.

Jesus enjoyed breaks with family, friends and new acquaintances. In His human nature He, too, needed time to rest and be refreshed with food and fellowship. Yet in each time of fellowship He remained true to His calling and used the opportunity before Him to teach, to encourage, to forgive.

“On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with His disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’” (John 2:1-4).  

“One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and took His place at the table…And Jesus answering said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ And he answered, ‘Say it, Teacher.’”  (Luke 7:36, 40).

 “He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaeus….And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully.” Luke 19:1-2a, 5-6  

The three years of Jesus’ public ministry are hard for us to imagine. We often say “we’re so busy,” yet as we read of the life of Christ, His mission – His task was always in His thoughts. How can we truly understand the strength and energy He needed? We follow Him as He breaks away to find rest, to pray to His Father for strength. Each time we see Him pulled back to the busy world because of His love for His disciples, His compassion for the crowds, but certainly renewed through prayer.

“Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:22-25).

“Now when Jesus heard this, He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by Himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed Him on foot from the towns. When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:13-14).

“But now even more the report about Him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their infirmities. But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:15-16).

In His state of humility, Jesus received strength and encouragement from His Father for His mission. He took His disciples with Him, those closest friends, for support. As they heard the words of the Father from heaven, they, too, were strengthened in their belief that Jesus truly was the Son of God. When we begin to question our mission, we can turn to God for understanding and strength. We can turn to close Christian friends for support and guidance.

 “And after six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with Him. And Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here. If You wish, I will make three tents here, one for You and one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’” (Matthew 17:1-5).

In Jesus’ final hours He knew that no other human friend, no matter how faithful he or she promised to be, could give Him the strength needed to complete His mission. His break took Him away to be completely alone with His Father and again to receive that firm confirmation that this way to the cross is the only way to redeem mankind. And there in anguish He receives compassion, understanding, power and strength from His Heavenly Father to die that we might live. There may be times in our lives when no one else understands our need for strength, our loneliness. But Jesus understands, He is faithful, He always has compassion for us.

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.’ And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” (Matthew 26:36-39).

Jesus died and rose again and now, just as He and the Father said when the world was created, His work was finished and He could rest. He could return home – mission accomplished!

“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).

Until we are called home we still have work to do.

“I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15-18).

And as we follow Jesus’ example and learn from Him, we know that He will always give us that break we need – rest, restoration, renewal, redemption.

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11-12).

 

Judy Grande,at the time of this writing, was a member of Zion LWMLC, Surrey, B.C. and was serving LWML–Canada as president.

 

This article is taken from Tapestry, publication of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League–Canada. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing. An order form can be found at https://lutheranwomen.ca/publications-and-forms/tapestry. The magazine is published four times a year and is available in print, large print, audio and via download.

©2018 LWML-Canada

 

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God is Good

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WE LISTEN TO THE NEWS, witness life around us, and sometimes wonder if God really is good. Natural disasters—floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires; man’s hatred toward man—wars, rumours of wars, street gangs; personal disasters—illness, addictions, death, divorce—and the list goes on and on, causing us to question the goodness of God.
Think of God’s goodness to you. It is so easy to see the negative; to wonder about God’s goodness. But look and see God’s goodness all around. In the midst of sickness, in the midst of tragedy, in the midst of heartache, in the midst of joyous, happy occasions and celebrations, God is present; He surrounds us with His goodness. See Romans 8:35-39.

Read Psalm 23 and Psalm 121. From these two psalms, what assurance do we receive from God, Himself, that He indeed is good?

 

Read Genesis 1, the recounting of God’s creation. Think of this chapter in regard to the meaning of the First Article of the Creed.

FIRST ARTICLE – Creation

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
What does this mean?
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that |I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

Why is God’s goodness, as shown in His creation, so beneficial to us still today? See as well, Acts 14:17; Matthew 5:45.

 

How is God’s goodness revealed to us in times of discouragement, despair, heartache? See Psalm 46; Isaiah 40:28-31; John 1:4-5; Hebrews 13:5-6.

 

Read John 2:1-11. What is the need in these verses?

Running out of wine at the wedding feast would have been a great embarrassment for the bridal party; a social blunder that would not have been easily forgotten. How did Jesus meet the need, sparing the family from gossip and ridicule?

 

See Philippians 4:19. What does Paul tell us about God’s goodness? What does James tell us in James 1:17?

 

Read Mark 2:14-17. Matthew/Levi is a Jew, a tax collector for the Roman government, hated and despised by his own people. Jesus doesn’t see Matthew, the tax collector; He sees a man He can use to serve Him. How does Matthew respond to Jesus’ goodness and mercy shown to him? According to Jewish standards, showing up at Matthew’s house was not a socially acceptable thing for Jesus to do, but how is God’s goodness, grace and mercy different from that of society? Think also about Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).

 

Read John 19:26-27. Jesus is dying on the cross; He is in great pain and anguish as He bears the sins of the whole world. Yet in His last minutes of life, how is His goodness revealed to His mother?

 

How is God’s goodness revealed to Thomas, who expressed great doubts concerning Jesus’ resurrection? See John 20:24-29.

 

How is God’s goodness revealed to all mankind? See John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; 2 Peter 3:9.

 

Review the meaning of the second and third articles of the creed in our catechism in relation to God’s goodness to us (see below).

As long as earth remains, there will be trials and tribulations, but of what can we be sure? Psalm 31:19-20; Psalm 86:5; Nahum 1:7; Zechariah 9:14-17; Habukkuk 3:17-19; John 6:33; John 14:1-7; Acts 1:6-11.

 

Oh give thanks to the Lord,
for He is good;
for His steadfast love
endures forever.
(1 Chronicles 16:34)

Anne Taylor is a member of St. Luke LWMLC, Ottawa and the former Bible study editor for Tapestry.

 

SECOND ARTICLE OF THE CREED – Redemption
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean?
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

 

THIRD ARTICLE OF THE CREED – Sanctification
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

 

This study is taken from Tapestry, publication of Lutheran Women’s Missionary League–Canada. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing. An order form can be found at https://lutheranwomen.ca/publications-and-forms/tapestry. The magazine is published four times a year and is available in print, large print, audio and via download.

©2018 LWML-Canada

Coffee Break—it’s all in the interpretation!

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“Coffee Break” – where did the expression come from?

                                    …and what does it mean to us, as Christian women?

Every now and again I get a list of sentences called Humour for Lexophiles [lovers of words] from a gentleman in our congregation. Generally, I spend the next while laughing—although I often have to read the words/sentences more than once before I really “get it.” I have learned that words don’t always make sense—that I have to really think about their context before the fuller meaning of the sentence becomes apparent.

Coffee break—two words that, when used together, convey a meaning or message most over the age of ten understand!  Continue reading “Coffee Break—it’s all in the interpretation!”

Meandering Through Simple Pleasures

study graphic-sm     Meandering through simple pleasures-study

If you log on to the Internet and “google” the phrase simple pleasures, you will get 12,300,000 hits (as of July 2006). In contrast, googling the phrase complex pleasures only garners 5,240,000 hits. Can you draw any conclusions from this?

High-tech toys and “gadgets” are the desire of many hearts and hands. They are “simple to use” and “easy to handle.” Have we moved away from appreciating life’s simpler pleasures?

Continue reading “Meandering Through Simple Pleasures”

The devotional life of a non-reader

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by Patricia Lach Kreutzwieser

Warning: To literary purists, the following may be disturbing.

Coffee Break

I do not enjoy reading. I said it. The endorphins of many people break the scale when talking about the latest book, but my eyes glaze over when discussing even a best seller. My secret had been shared with only a trusted few until one fateful afternoon about 15 years ago.   Continue reading “The devotional life of a non-reader”

I had no idea what came next

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by Laurie Schaeffer

I was sitting in my favourite spot toward the end of the service—on the organ bench. We were using that new service that I really liked, “Prayer and Preaching.” We’d come to the part, before the sermon, where everyone recited the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed… I close my eyes to concentrate and start reciting from memory. Continue reading “I had no idea what came next”