Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gleaning from Gideon

I must admit, I'm behind on my bible reading. I'm supposed to be through 2 Samuel and ready to start 1 Kings, but I'm in the middle of Judges. I've never read through the whole book of Judges (ashamedly I've never read through the whole bible-but that's my goal this year) and I find the book of Judges very fascinating. I recently was reading about Gideon and how God used him to free the people of Israel from the Midianites. I've read this story many times. I've even taught this in my Sunday School class many times. I know the story very well. I thought I had known it so well that I had gotten all that I would get from it. I was wrong. This last time I read the story of Gideon I saw a few things that I had never noticed before, and I love the lessons that I have learned from his story.

Lessons Gideon can teach us:

1: I have learned that God will call whom He wills, regardless of status. Gideon was not only the youngest son in his family, but his family was the least of the tribe of Manasseh (6:15). The youngest son was not the most respected in biblical times. He was often given the menial tasks that the others didn't want to do. Gideon was truly a "least of these" man, but God called him anyway.

2: Gideon doubted that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and was given the opportunity to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the angel of God (6:17-24)

3: Gideon had fear, but faced it. He was told to tear down the alter of Baal and the Asherah (a grove or pole) beside the alter. He did this at night for fear of the people. When day came and people saw what had been done, it was Joash, Gideon's father, who stood up for Gideon telling the people that if Baal was a god, let him take retribution over Gideon (6:28-31).

4: Gideon also had trust issues. He asked God twice to show that God was with him, and both times God granted the request (6:36-40).

5: But the biggest thing to learn from Gideon is that he DID trust God and obeyed Him, even when the odds were against him. God had Gideon dwindle the army down from 32,000 soldiers to 300 (7:1-8). Think about that for a minute. Huge Midian army, and only 300 men to fight them. Odds were definitely against Gideon, but he persevered and overcame and defeated the Midianites, with only the 300 men.

What I took away from reading about Gideon this time was that we are all human, but God is God and He is with us. We will have doubts, we will have fears, we may even have some trust issues, but if we put all of that aside and continually seek God and His will, we will overcome, even if you are one of the "least of these".

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Excursion into Single Savviness

For  a while know I've been wondering something. I've been wrestling with the fact that I'm in my 30's and never been married. I don't mind the never been married part much, but what I've been wondering about is how a single woman fits into the church. Throughout history, women have been married at young ages with the primary role of being a wife and mother. Though the role of wife and mother is sacred (what better way to shape the world than to be a mother?), there has to be something for us too. Something for those who have either never been called to marriage, or have yet to be blessed in marriage. The resources for us are slim, almost none, when it comes to how a single christian woman can fulfill a place in the body of Christ. Most of the books and websites out there are about how to find a spouse, or how to be fulfilled while you wait for a husband. But what about us who may never marry? What is our role? Are we to just sit on the sidelines and be forgotten? Sometimes that's how it feels. That we are the last ones picked for the team, that we are the forgotten or overlooked, or even, dare I type it, defective. Don't worry, we are none of those. God is out constant companion. We are to get our fulfillment from Him no matter what stage in life or circumstances we are in. I have been called on a spiritual journey to find out how I, a single christian woman, can make a difference. Hopefully my journey will help other women, and even men, who are in the same boat as me.

For a while I have had God telling me to look into this. For some time I have been putting it off. It is kind of frightening, breaking through the overgrowth of a path long forgotten to get to the truth that has been put aside. I had almost given up on going on this journey until I was talking to my sister about how discouraging it was to not have any places of encouragement for people like me. How that in and of itself is extremely discouraging. I was telling her of all the blogs I've come across that are written by christian women are geared to being a wife and mother. Once again, don't get me wrong, those two roles are extremely sacred and wonderful roles to be in. But once again I felt...forgotten. My sister looked my straight in the eyes and said "Why don't you do something about it?" Wow. Yeah. Me? No way I can do that.

Then God laughed. He has such a good sense of humor. He giggled and told me "My daughter, what does Philipians 4:10-13 say?" Oh boy. Of course, one of my favorite bible passages. Paul, a single man who devoted his life to teaching the gentiles about Jesus, wrote that in every situation he is in, he knows how to be content. He knows how to be content because God gives him the strength. So my worrying over what I come across in my studies, how to write what I learn, how to encourage people along the way, it's all really me not trusting God to be faithful to complete the work He began in me (that is also from Philipian, but in chapter 1).

So now with the knowledge that I indeed can do all things through Christ because He gives me the strength my journey begins.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Laodicea, a city that was neither "hot nor cold", a city that God Himself threatened to vomit out (spew out) if they did not repent. They depended on their own wealth, not seeing how in need they were. Sound familiar? I thought so too. Western Culture fits this description to a T. I'm someone right in the middle of Western Culture, fortunate enough to be in a place where people are still fighting for God. I'm also in a place where I see the struggle, I feel the struggle, sometimes I am the struggle between God and myself. We are Laodicea

In Revelation 3:14-22 Laodicea is given a letter:

 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”  (NASB)

This letter seems bleak. After all, being spit out of God's mouth is not the way I'd choose to be remembered. Being lackadaisical, not producing fruit, not showing people who God is, that's what this church was being chastised for. They forgot God! They decided to not depend on Him. They relied on their own abilities thinking that they were good, they were fine, maybe even starting to think that God was not needed or no longer there? Just maybe?

How often do we forget that God is here? That we do need Him? That life not worshiping God is no life at all. We try to fulfill our lives with stuff. We live in a society that promotes materialism as being the path to happiness. But does it truly? No, it does not. I've worked retail, and I work currently in a retentions department for a cell phone company. I see and hear every day how only the latest and greatest new technological device is the only thing that will make people happy. I honesty feel sorry for them. They will be as miserable with their new toy as they were before. Oh there's a period where they are happier, but the honeymoon is soon over. We rely on our wealth to save us, just like Laodicea.

There's good news here though: if we start relying on God, like the church in China or Korea, or any other country where it's illegal to be a Christian, we can see ourselves for what we are. We are poor, we are unable to provide anything without God providing it for us. We are blind to the needs of those around us. I love what verses 21 and 22 state: God knocking, requesting to be a part of your life. Waiting for us to hear Him, wanting to not only dine with us, but to be with Him in Heaven. Are you willing to open the door, heed His voice? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Prayers Squared: The Twelve Tribes of Israel

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

yarn: 4 ply ww yarn
hook: I/9
tapestry needle to weave in ends
Special Stitches: Bullion (BN8): wrap yarn around hook 8 times, insert hook in sp indicated, yo, pull up a loop, yo pull through 8 loops, yo, pull through remaining 2 loops.

Finished size: 6x6” square

rnd 1: Start with a magic loop, ch 3, 11 dc in loop, sl st to top of ch-3, pull tail to tighten loop (12 dc)

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in next st *(2dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, dc in next 2 sts* repeat from * to * 2 more times, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, sl st to top of ch-3 (24 dc)

Rnd 3: Ch 3, BN8 in next st, ch 2, sk 2 sts, *(2 BN8, ch 2, 2 BN8) in ch-2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 sts**, BN8 in next 2 sts, ch 2, sk 2 sts* repeat from * to * 2 more times, and to ** once more, BN8 in same sp as beginning ch-3 sl st to top of first BN8 (24 BN8, 8 ch-2 sps, not counting the corner sps)

Rnd 4: Ch 1, sc in same st, 3 sc in ch-2 sp, sc in next 2 sts *(3 sc, ch 2, 3 sc) in ch-2 sp, [sc in next 2 sts, 3 sc in ch-2 sp] twice, sc in next 2 sts* repeat from * to * 2 more times, (3 sc, ch 2, 3 sc) in ch-2 sp, sc in next 2 sts, 3 sc in ch-2 sp, sc in nect st, sl st to first sc (72 sc)

Rnd 5: Ch 2, hdc in the next 8 sts * (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in ch-2 sp, hdc in the next 18 sts * repeat from * to * 2 more times, (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in ch-2 sp, hdc in next 9 sts, sl st to top of ch-2 (88 hdc).

Fasten off, weave in ends.

© Copyright May 2013 by JM Jones, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying—without the written permission of JM Jones. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit JM Jones as the designer.

I sat down at my computer today wanting to write about the twelve tribes of Israel, and how they were important during key times in the history of Israel, and all I did was sit. I had a little research done, had some information on the importance of the number 12 in the bible, but there I sat. No words of wisdom, no stories of strength, no enlightening encouragement to be had. So I went and got a glass of milk-my current favorite beverage-and finish cleaning up dinner to just give me a few minutes to collect my thought. It did not work. So I sit here once again trying to come up with something to say about the tribes, like how there is no tribe of Joseph, but instead his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, have the tribal status. How, In the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, Gad, Reuben, and half of the tribe of Manasseh requested to have land west of the Jordan River, and was granted the land, but still were required to help the other tribes conquer Canaan. Or how still having only twelve tribes, though there are 13 titles tribes (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Asher, Issachar, Gad, Zebulun, Dan, Judah, Naphtali, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh) only 12 were given land, The tribe of Levi was not given land because they were the priests and all over the area (the distribution of the land is in Numbers 34 and starting in Joshua 13). the tribes were separate, yet worked and fought together to conquer the Promise Land. They were not a perfect people, they wandered the desert for 40 years while a generation died off after only 2 of 12 men reported truth about the land (Numbers 13:23-33). They were God's chosen people who are yet to have 144,000 sealed, 12,000 from each tribe according to Revelation 7:4-8. Israel as a whole has been through captivity, destruction, terror from rulers, yet were given blessings from God when they remembered Him and obeyed His commandments. That's a great lesson to learn from Israel: When God is your focus, you have plenty of blessings. Take your eyes off of God at your own peril, turn back to Him when you see you are not focused on Him.