Bloom Where You’re Planted: Jesus, Part V

Read Matthew 26:47-54

And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands[a] of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

The part I would like to focus on in found in verses 51-52.  One of Jesus’ disciples saw Jesus being arrested and he was going to do something about it!  He grabbed his sword, attacking the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

The disciple’s actions showed a deep love and loyalty to Jesus.  Also anger and indignation over the current events prevailed.  We would probably all think he might have been justified in what he did: he was trying to protect his dear friend and teacher, and one day Savior, Jesus.

Jesus could have been secretly pleased that someone cared enough to help him.  Yet, we see no evidence of that.  Instead, we see in verse 53 that Jesus, in essence told him, ‘I don’t need your help.’ Jesus reminded him, ‘I have legions of angels at my disposal,’.  And in verse 54, he states the reason that he didn’t go there: But if I intervene, how will Scripture, how will God’s plan, be fulfilled?

As painful as it was at the moment, Jesus yielded to God’s plan and gave pride no room in His heart.

Reflections:

1)  How do I allow my pride to get in the way of doing what I am called to do?

2) Do I allow others to intervene for my own purposes, when it’s not necessary and was probably not part of God’s plan?

Thank you for reading!  I love to hear you thoughts, ideas, and comments! Please join the followers by clicking the “Follow” icon or by following on Facebook.

Lord willing, the next post should appear by Tuesday, May 28. Have a wonderful weekend!

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Jesus, Part IV

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39

Read Matthew 26:36-45

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.

Jesus did not want to go to the cross. “My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death.”

Yet, he willingly went.  He surrendered to God’s plan for salvation.

How do we get to that place where we can serve as God is calling is, even when we don’t want to?

Looking back through the passage Jesus gave us some clues:

1) Begin in prayer.  God already knows how you feel, but tell him anyway.  He loves to hear from each one of us!  Communicate your heart, your hopes, your fears.  Things rarely work out as we might envision, so keep in mind God sees the whole picture, you don’t.

2) Surrender your will to his. You may not want to surrender the situation to God. Why? Are you just plain stubborn? (Smile- we can all relate at one point or another!) But pride should have no  place in your heart.  The longer you hold onto pride, you are watering and fertilizing it. Be careful it does not bloom!  Get rid of it like a weed!

Are you not sure God has it?  Remember the story in Luke 24:9?  The man wanted desperately to believe Jesus could heal his son.  His words: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Luke 24:9

We can feel free to pray the same way. I can remember a few years ago, when I was in chemotherapy and I knew God could heal me.  But, I needed to pray for help with that faith, certain moments of the day.  God always supplied that need.

You can honestly ask for more faith, help trusting in him.  He will gladly supply that need, multiple times a day, even multiple times a minute, when necessary.

In verse 42, Jesus prayed a second time.  There is no magic number for how often we ought to pray. Do not be afraid to pray multiple times.

At the end of verse 42, Jesus says, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Jesus outlined his desire: to have the cup taken from him.  Not go through the trial or impending sacrifice.  Yet, if that was what God called him to do, Jesus prayed for God’s will, God’s plan to be fulfilled.

To get to that place of total surrender, we need to move ourselves out-of-the-way.  We need to push aside our desires, our fleeting feelings, and surrender ourselves to God’s plan.

Jesus did surrender to God’s will.  He ultimately gave his life as the perfect sacrifice so all of us sinful humans could be saved from eternal separation from God.

But the story doesn’t end there. The grave could not hold Christ. He was raised from the dead.  And he is still with God in heaven today.

Even when we lack the desire, when we choose to follow God, in the end, God always rewards our obedience, and redeems the situation.

Reflections:

1) What am I clinging to that I need to surrender?

2) Pray, asking God to help you surrender to His plan for your life.

3) Memorize this promise: Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”[Hebrews 13:5, Deut. 31:6

Thank you for reading!  I love to hear your thoughts and comments!  Please feel free to email me at Stefanielynn3@gmail.com if you do not want your thoughts published on this site. Please return tomorrow for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Jesus, Part III

“They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”Matthew 14:16

Please read Matthew 14:13-21

 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Jesus agreed with the assessment that the people needed to eat.  His opinion differed on the how they were to be fed.

Reread Matthew 14:14 “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”

Jesus had compassion on them.  Who do you take compassion on?  Your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends, your co-workers?

When you see a loved one in need, don’t you jump in to assist with whatever that need is?

Jesus knew the crowds of people were capable of caring for their own needs.  Somehow, their needs would be met.

Jesus had compassion on them. He reached out to meet the very real, very physical need for food.

Remember, Jesus was heartbroken over John’s death. Yet, he refused to let his personal pain break the hearts of others. He had the opportunity to, right then, in the midst of his sorrow, reach out spiritually and physically, help over 5,000 men, plus the women and children.

And that is exactly what he chose.

Reflections:

1) When I’m hurt, do I notice opportunities to serve others?

2) How can I overcome my self-centeredness?

3) Reflect on Romans 8:26 and Romans 8:34. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  Romans 8:26

 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Even when we ourselves are distracted from prayer, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are both interceding for all of us.

Do you allow your heart to hear their urging?

Thank you for reading!  Please return tomorrow, May 21 for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Jesus, Part II

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14

Before reading today’s devotion, please pray: Dear Father, Please open my eyes to what you would have me glean from today’s reading of Your words. Amen

For background, please read Matthew 14:6-14. But when Herod’s birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod.

7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask.

8 And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.

9 And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath’s sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her.

10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison.

11 And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother.

12 And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

13 When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities.

14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Jesus just received the news that John the Baptist, his cousin, his friend, his fellow teacher, had been wickedly killed.

Can you imagine the anguish, the frustration, the anger, Jesus was experiencing?

He obviously felt the need to get away, (verse 13b).  Yet, the crowds heard of this Jesus.  The teacher.  The healer. The Explainer of how life should work.  Desperate to see him for themselves, maybe even wanting to just touch his cloak, they went to where he was.

At a time when he was desperate for some solitude, a time for processing what had happened, a crowd was coming for him. Ever been there? A place where you just need a moment to yourself, and you just can’t seem to get it!

He probably heard them approaching.  From afar, excited exclamations here and there, and then hushed whispers when Jesus himself came into view.

In verse 14, Jesus gazed at the crowd and had compassion on them.  He chose, at that time, to put their needs above his own, and he healed their sick too.

Was Jesus raring to go at that moment, just waiting for a ministry opportunity?  Probably not.  Do all ministry opportunities happened solely when we are well-rested, well-fed, and stress-free.

No.

Yet Jesus knew God could have kept the crowd away, but He didn’t.

Jesus could have said, ‘Father, I am too tired, too distraught, too stressed,’ but he didn’t. Jesus could have turned off his emotions and chose to run on ‘auto-pilot’ to get through his calling, but he didn’t.

In verse 14, we read when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick.

The grieving Jesus, who could have used a bit of compassion himself, a listening ear, a should to cry on, or at the very least, a momentary break from his work, allowed his broken heart to pick up the pieces and he served whole-heartedly with compassion.

Reflections:

1) What ‘allowances’ do I make for myself, to ignore serving opportunities?

2) Do I ever begrudgingly set myself on ‘autopilot’ turning off my emotions, to simply go through the motions of obedience to God?

Thank you for reading!  Please return tomorrow for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Jesus, Part I

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked.  “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49

Read Luke 2:41-52

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

“Why didn’t you pick up my dry cleaning?”

“Why didn’t you make cookies for my class?”

“Why didn’t you play dolly with me?”

These are all questions my family members sometimes ask me.  And, they often want to know where I was and what else consumed my time.

I wonder if my Heavenly Father ever wants to ask me:

“Why didn’t you pick up my word?”

“Why didn’t you make time for me?”

“Why didn’t you take time to praise me and appreciate my creation?”

I wonder if He’d further drive home the point ever so gently by asking, “Why were you so busy searching for me in accomplishments, in words, in relationships?  Didn’t you know I would have to be found in your heart in those quiet moments when you can truly focus on me?

In this passage from Luke, Jesus knew where He needed to be.  Geographically, He needed to be in the temple.  Spiritually, He needed, needed for His soul, He needed to be discussing the Scriptures, needed time to contemplate, and give others something to contemplate.  He needed to focus on His Heavenly Father.

In verse 51, we see Jesus doing what He was also called to do: obey his parents.  He spent some time in the temple worshipping and teaching, and then if was time to fulfill another calling.

How much like our lives today!  We each need to rejuvenate, refresh our souls with time spent with the Lord.  And then we need to get back to the business of living. The difference is living as God calls us to live.

Reflections:

1)What consumes my time and attention, taking my eyes off Christ?

2) Do I REALLY need to complete my to-do list today, or am I better off listening to God’s list? God knows what you need to do today.  He knows about deadlines, needing to cook for your family, needing to go to work for your family, needing to go to school.  He will also help you find time for Him if you ask.  He will help you order what truly needs to be done and what does not need to be tackled today.  In the days I have truly tried to give my time over to God, the day never looked as I would have pictured.  Yet, my family never missed a meal, or had no clean laundry.  And, at the end of the day, I had such a peace that what truly needed to get done, got done.  And, part of what needed to get done, was build a deeper relationship with God.

Thank you for reading! Please let us know what you are thinking!  Feel free to resond to my email if you don’t wish to publish your thoughts here.  You can find me at Stefanielynn#@gmail.com .  Please return tomorrow for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Mary, Part V

Read John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[a] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home

In the culture of that time, a woman rarely worked outside the home.  If a woman’s husband died, her sons were to care for her.

Jesus, her first son, would not physically be there.  Yet Jesus knew Mary would need someone to care for her. While he was on the cross, he took care of that detail, with great detail.

With our focus on Mary at this point, note how Mary had a habit of obeying God.  She really had a love of God in her heart, which sparked God’s choosing her, (Luke 1).

But note, as you read accounts of her life throughout Scripture, even when she may not have completely comprehended a situation, she simply obeyed.  She did what she was told, and even praised God while doing it.

And God never let her down.

He took care of her at every turn.  It may have rarely been easy on her, yet God had her always.

He always protected her.  Always cared for her.  He never left her.  Never forsook her.

Reflections:

1) Do I trust in God’s promises in the Bible?

2) Reflect on a time when you followed God’s leading.  What blessings followed?

3) Do you know God’s promises in the Bible? A challenge I often make to ladies when I speak is that we record God’s promises in a journal or notebook.  That way, we can refer to them when fear creeps in, or we need specific prayer intervention.  God’s promises are sprinkled throughout God’s word.  Keeping your own list helps you to find them quickly then you need them the most.

If you don’t have one already, start a promise journal!

Thank you for reading!  Please return by Monday, May 20, for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Mary, Part IV

Read Luke 1:50-55

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

In the second half of Mary’s Song, she was still praising the Lord.

Her gaze was fixed on God.  Amidst what her upside-down world must have been like, not only did she keep her eyes glued on God, she praised Him in the midst of it all.  She didn’t lose steam part way through.  She did not tire of God’s plan when her body was exhausted.  She did not throw in the towel when society wanted to throw her out. Her faith sustained her. Her focus forced her to continue. Her eyes were not fixed on her own situation, her own problems.  She knew God was working and she was one part of the plan.

She recalled the promises made to Abraham, and proclaimed how God was indeed keeping those promises.

She spoke of His sovereignty and how God sets all things right, (eventually).

Reflections:

1) When challenges arise and I manage to fix my eyes on Christ, do I still find myself offering praise to God?

2) If not, what is hindering me?

3) Consider: When we praise God, we are promoting someone other than ‘me’.  Praising God helps us to rightfully acknowledge the position where  God is and how He is in control.

When praises to God fill a room, a mind, a heart; fear flees.  Negativity flees.  And, Satan flees.

4) How can I remind myself to praise my heavenly Father in the midst of a worldly storm? Please share your thoughts!

Thank you for reading!  Please return by Friday, May 17 for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Mary, Part III

Read Luke 1:46-49

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49   for the Mighty One has done great things for me—  holy is his name.

Reflect on Mary’s situation for just a moment.

Yes, she had been visited by an angel.

Yes, she had been chosen by God, to bear His Son.

And, she needed to relinquish the future she had planned.  Her baby was not her husband’s.  The rumor mill was probably in overdrive; Mary was not married when she learned she was expecting a child.

Joseph’s family would not open their doors to them when they needed to return to Bethlehem. Although it was the city of his birth, no one would shelter them for the night.

Mary and Joseph had not done wrong.  In fact, Mary was chosen for this (at least to the world, seemingly so wrong situation,) because she had done so much right.  But only God knew her heart, and not so all the others who were watching with human eyes.

In many ways, this good girl, the girl God Himself had chosen, was publicly shunned.

Yet, Mary was not focused on the world’s response or the world’s words.  Instead, she remembered her heavenly father’s words.

In verse 48, “For He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.”

She knew God kept His eyes on her.  Her focus on the Lord loomed so much larger to Mary than anything else on the earth could have.

Reflections:

1) When we are called to something, that calling is rarely without challenges, even roadblocks.  How do I handle those challenges?

2) How should I choose to handle those challenges?

3) Am I willing to give up the visions I have to serve Christ?

Go-To Verse:

 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1b-4

Thank you for reading!  Please return tomorrow, Thursday, May 16 for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Mary, Part II

Read Luke 1:39-45

 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary received a confirmation of all she had been told by Gabriel. How confirmations can be such a gift! They help us reason: ‘No, I am not crazy!’ Or, ‘No, I did indeed understand the Lord correctly!’

I wonder if Mary needed this confirmation.  I wonder is she were sick, both in heart with worry over Joseph’s reaction, and in body as the pregnancy took its toll on her physically.  What a gift for her to be able to see her relative and share in glorifying God as He had worked two miracles between them!  And what a gift, for Mary to hear her aunt’s sweet words, confirming to her what the angel had already told her.

Reflections:

1) When have you received confirmation for something?  Could you identify it as a confirmation then, or did you need some time for hindsight first?

2) Praise God for orchestrating encouragement for you along life’s journey.

3) Take a moment and reflect on those around you.  Identify someone who has a special gift or talent, or maybe you are sensing a call on someone’s life.  Offer that person a form of encouragement: a verbal thank-you or a written note.

Commit to pray for both the gift and the person; and that the Lord will be glorified through use of that gift.

Thank you for reading!  Please return by Wednesday, May 15, for the next post.

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Mary, Part I

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.  “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:38

How many of us receive commands and unquestioningly do as told?

Please read Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

Mary’s entire life was about to change.  She would become a mother.  She might lose her fiance’, and then become an unwed mother, (impossibly socially unacceptable back then!)

I wonder if she wondered if her parents would even believe that this was the Lord’s child.

Yet this young girl, Mary, did not seem to question the Lord’s intent.  She was willing to obey her God.

Reflections:

1) When I am called to obey God, is my spirit willing to drop everything and obey?

2) Reflect on a time you were called to do something which surprised you, maybe possibly unnerved you.  How did you respond?  If given a ‘do-over’, how would you respond now?

Please return tomorrow, Tuesday May 14 for the next post.