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Weekly Biblical encouragement for women through Delighting in the Lord Ministry. A place to find hope, encouragement and God's truth in the midst of life's hard and difficult. Blog contributors are Stacy Davis, Brenda Harris and Hedy Negron. 

 

Bridget's Blog

Brenda Harris

Today I spoke about our precious and beautiful friend Bridget as we began our study on the book of Esther.  I had an overwhelming response from many of our ladies asking for the web address for Bridget's blog.  

Bridget wrote a journal on a site called "Caring Bridge."  Here is the link to her posts however you will need to register your name and e-mail with a password in order to read her blog. 

Here is the link to caring bridge  https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/bridgetmichener.

With much love

Brenda

 

Bridget

Stacy Davis

 

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Praise from the Persecuted Church

Brenda Harris

Today, November 6, 2016, is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.  If you were in study two weeks ago for Acts 7, you will recall that I asked you to begin praying for those who are persecuted because of their faith.  In particular, I requested prayer for those Christians who are living in areas where Islamic extremists are in control, like Syria.   

While driving in the car on Wednesday of this past week, I heard a news report on K-Love regarding what God is doing in Syria. I followed up by going to K-Love's website and reading the full article.  This is one piece from the article:

“In a new church plant, a woman had been coming to the church for a couple months and she was always covered and was obviously Muslim, Sunni. After a couple months, she came to one of the leaders in that church and she told him her story. “She said, ‘I used to be an al-Qaeda fighter. I had an AK-47 and I used to go fight with them and nurse the injured as well. But I came and I heard the Gospel and I started coming and came to know Christ. I was afraid to tell you because I was afraid you would report me and then I would be arrested. Brother Michael remarks, “This is just a beautiful image of what God is doing.”

God is doing great things because of your prayers for those who are under daily attack for their faith.  Please do not grow weary in lifting them before the Lord. Change happens because of prayer!  Don't let the enemy tell you any differently.  

If you would like to read the full article you can click here.

With much love,

Brenda

Pray BIG

Stacy Davis

I often feel like the father in Mark 9. A father brought his son to Jesus. The boy was mute and an evil spirit had overtaken him often bringing harm to the boy. As you can imagine, the father was desperate for his son. Knowing that Jesus' disciples had healed many in Jesus' name, the father asked the disciples to cast out the spirit. They were unable. This day would be different. Seeing Jesus that day, this father cried out to Jesus for help and compassion. Jesus asked for the boy to be brought to Him. Jesus said to this father in verse 23, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Pricked in their hearts, and brought to utter desperation, knowing that nothing they or others could do could help the boy, scripture tells us that "immediately the father and the child cried out with tears, 'Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!" Victory was evidenced that day as God triumphed over Satan. Compassion triumphed over animosity and faith triumphed over doubt. 

Soon after, the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn't heal that boy? His answer, "This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting." 

Why prayer and fasting? Because in prayer and fasting, I believe we show God that our utter dependence is on Him. We don't have the answers to the glaring need staring at us. We need Jesus and we need His power. This father's need was great and even more was the son's. But everyday, I have need. Everyday, I have situations that are far beyond anything I can solve. So why do I try and find solutions? Why do I think I have to? God is the solution giver, the problem solver, the need supplier. All we need to do is go to him in prayer, believing in Him for the answer according to His perfect will. 

Yesterday, my unbelief became belief. My faith was strengthen. You see, the Thursday morning Delighting in the Lord Bible study just got started last week. We are studying Acts and the power of the Holy Spirit. There are three of us that rotate through the teaching; Hedy, Brenda and me (Stacy). Each week, we get on a three way call and pray over the week, the ministry as a whole, the servants and the needs. On Wednesday, our hearts were heavy. The children's ministry that supports the study was in desperate need of help. The week before the children's ministry numbers bloomed to 50 as mommas's brought their kiddos to Bible study, some of whom hadn't preregistered. We are thrilled to have these new kids and mommas, but we didn't have enough servants to adequately manage the classrooms. The Kids in Christ ministry coordinator had contacted me with the need. This isn't a new need. Every year we face this and it can be burdensome. Now, I know this is not anywhere near a child who has an evil spirit like Mark 9. But our God is the same God who healed that boy and our God is the same God who calls on us to believe in Him in every need and situation. Philippians 4:19 tells us this. I stand on that truth. 

So we prayed. As the three of us teachers got on the phone on Wednesday at 11am, we prayed over this need. As I was praying, in my spirit, I wasn't believing God for the answer. I doubted He'd come through.  Even as my words asked Jesus to come into this situation and solve it, my head swirled with ways I could solve it. In that moment, conviction came. How this all happens at once, I don't know. But as I prayed, immediately, my prayer turned to one of repentance. I prayed Mark 9:23 and my ministry partners joined me. I confessed my unbelief. I asked God to give me faith to believe that according to Philippians 4:19 "God will supply all of our need through the riches of Christ Jesus." This isn't my need, the Kid's in Christ's need or anyone's personal need; this is God's need. These kids are His, as is this ministry and this need concerns His work in and through us. And so, with renewed belief, I started to pray BIG. I didn't tell God how to solve this problem, I just gave it to Him trusting that we would come on Thursday with the need filled. Truly, I had no idea how this would all work out but there was no Plan B. We stuck with Plan A and that plan was Jesus. 

On Thursday morning, just before walking out the door, the Kids in Christ coordinator texted me telling me that 2 ladies had come forward to help. There was a huge hallelujah from my heart that morning. When I got to church I learned that at the exact time the three of us were praying on Wednesday, God was solving the problem; people's hearts were pricked, calls were made and yeses given to help. On Thursday, we had just the help we needed. 

Why am I in awe when Jesus demonstrates His power? Why am I in awe when Jesus comes through? When He is true to His character and words? 

Oh, I am a woman sometimes of little faith. But yesterday was a faith builder. God showed me, once again, to pray Big believing. Our God is a BIG God who handles BIG problems with Big solutions. Nothing is impossible with Him. Why don't we pray like it then? When I pray Big in Jesus' power and name, needs are met and answers come at just the right time. He isn't looking for us to solve problems and needs, He is looking for us to pray and ask Him to. Then, we get to step back waiting and believing that He is going to knock our socks off. That's what He did yesterday! 

I don't know what need is staring you in the face or what need is weighing down your heart, but God wants to enter into it with you and give you His answer. It may take time for His answer to come, not everything happens immediately. But just like our need yesterday, God met it at just the right moment. He's never early and He's never late. 

May I encourage you to pray BIG, believe BIG and watch Jesus show up BIG! 

Much love to you,

Stacy

 

Summer Quiet Time and Prayer

Brenda Harris

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest, in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1

As I embark on summer months, I enter a time of rest from the ordinary.   My children rest from going to school each day and my husband will usually take a vacation from work.  These are some of the reasons summer is my most favorite times of the year! I am excited to be home with my family and enjoy a break from school activities and sports.  I also am so happy to see the sunshine and be barefoot!  The warmer temperatures are such a welcome reprieve from the cold we experience most of the year in Pennsylvania.  I hope you too have some rest ahead and are able to get outside and take in God's beautiful creation.

I have been praying that your summer months bring deep rest as well as usher in a unique quiet time with the Lord.   I have heard from many of you that the routine of Thursday Bible study helped you to stay in God's Word but when study ends, you have to find a new routine for the summer months.  I want to encourage you to pick a book of the Bible you have always wanted to read and go through it slowly this summer.  Savor each verse and dig deeply into the things the Lord shows you.   Maybe choose the book of Ruth or Esther?  Maybe choose a Gospel?  Or what about the less talked about books like Habakkuk or Obadiah?   No matter what you choose, I know God will meet you on the pages of His Word and feed you daily.  Feel free to drop me, Stacy or Hedy an e-mail and let us know what you are studying, we always love to hear from you!  

As you close out your quiet time in prayer each day with the Lord, please remember us at Delighting In the Lord.  We have several specific requests we would appreciate you covering in your prayer time.

  • Brenda and Stacy leave to write our upcoming study on the book of Acts.  We will be away May 15-18. May God speak to our hearts and put onto the pages what He wants written.  Protection as us we travel, our families and three days we are away.
  • Please pray for Meg Horst, our worship leader.  Meg, her husband Nelson, and their children are headed to the country of Swaziland in Africa sometime in mid to late July.  They are going on what is known as a "survey trip" for 10 days.  While there, they will be meeting with the staff already in place as well as seeking the Lord to confirm their commitment  to being full-time missionaries in Swaziland for two years. If you would, please pray over these specifics:
    • Preparations to leave (passports, time off from work, vaccinations, financial provisions)
    • General health, wellness and safety in their travels
    • Meg and Nelson's three children (new culture, time change, vision of living there full-time)
    • Confirmation of their calling and unity with the staff already in place
    • Divine opportunities to bless the missionaries and the people of Swaziland.
    • If you feel led, you may make a contribution of any size to the Horst's at:  
      • Calvary Chapel Chester Springs, PO Box 595, Eagle, PA  19341.  (Please indicate on your check that the donation is for the Horst's trip to Swaziland.)
  • Stacy and Ben Davis are headed to Papua New Guinea July 8-22.  Please cover them in the following ways:
    • Travel (four airplane trips and 26 hours of travel and the 15 hour time change)
    • Physical safety and health
    • Opportunities to share the gospel
    • Women's retreat Stacy is teaching July 15-16 on Joshua 1:9
    • Ben's safety while helping with construction and ministering to the children

Stacy will be sending updates through this blog while she and Ben are away by giving us updates on how to pray as well as what God is doing in and through them.  It will be exciting to watch this trip unfold!  

I will miss seeing each of you regularly on Thursday's but please know you are not far from my thoughts and prayers.  You are precious and very dearly loved.  Enjoy the summer!!

Much love,  

Brenda

 

 

John 18 - Fiery Trials Often Have Miraculous Outcomes

Brenda Harris

 

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear.  The servant’s name was Malchus.” (John 18:10) “But Jesus answered and said, ‘Permit even this.’ And He touched his ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:51)

 

On the night that Jesus was arrested, John 18 records Peter’s attempt to defend Jesus by cutting off Malchus’ ear. But, Jesus tells Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath.  Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me.” Luke 22:51 then records Jesus healing Malchus’ ear.

 

There are several lessons in this small portion of scripture that teach us about difficult trials, the choices we make, and miracles God often orchestrates when we face trials.

 

Just before Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested, He begged God to remove the fiery trial He was facing.  As He cried out earnestly to His Father He experienced such anguish that His sweat was like droplets of blood.  Yet, His loving Father did not remove the fiery trial.

 

Have you ever been there?  Ever begged God to remove or change something with great earnestness and pleading, only to find that the fiery trial remains? When this happens, there are many ways to respond.  Many years ago, the Lord allowed a fiery trial in my life and I responded in unproductive ways.

 

·      I fought against God.

I raged against God and my circumstances.  I was angry and I felt I had     been served up a huge plate of injustice and I wanted to let God know about it. 

 

·      I ran away from God.

This was my second response after anger.  I turned my back on Him and severed my relationship with Him.  No church, no Bible reading, no fellowship with other believers.  I cut all ties that were in any way associated with the Lord.

 

·      I lashed out at those around me.

Like Peter in our passage today, I pulled out my “sword,” figuratively speaking, and struck the people who were standing closest to me.  My “sword” was often my mouth and the cutting words I spoke. 

 

I engaged in other detrimental behaviors during this fiery trial, but instead of discussing those I would like to tell you about my present trial and how I am following Jesus’ behaviors which are found in John 18.

 

·      Jesus was obedient.

God had plans for Jesus and Jesus chose to obey God’s plan; a plan Jesus did not desire.  Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested and bound.  He could have fought this very easily. As John 18:6 records, all He literally had to do was say His name “I AM” and everyone would have fallen over.  But He did not, He accepted God’s plan.  This must have been immensely difficult.  No one wants to sign up for what appears to be a bad and painful road. I get it.  But what if the only way to receive the blessings, is to walk down the road we do not want?  What if this is the only way to see the good God has planned?  

 

·      Jesus wasn’t powerless.

Jesus wasn’t powerless during His fiery trial - His power was sheathed.  He allowed Himself to appear weak, but inside His strength was still the same.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, you and I have the same Holy Spirit power within us to experience victory on our toughest days.  Our circumstances may look bad and we may appear physically weak, but we must not underestimate God’s power living within us!  Tap into God’s replenishing source, the Bible.  Get into it and keep reading until your Spirit is renewed.  It is your never ending power supply.  Also spend time in prayer, worship Him and enjoy fellowship with other believers.

 

·      Jesus was at peace.

Jesus remained at peace throughout His trial.  Hebrews 12:2 takes Jesus’ disposition a step beyond peace and indicates that there was even joy. “For the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right had of the throne of God.”  Jesus had joy in His trial.  Wow.  In John 15 we learned that having joy means we experience a calm delight.  We can have a calm delight on our darkest days because we know who is in control and He knows what is best for us. 

On my nightstand, beside my bed, I have a little plaque that says this,

“I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”

I begin and end each day knowing this truth is real.  We have no idea what each day holds, but praise God we know who is holding our day and gratefully it isn’t us!

As I move into the weeks ahead, I do not know what will unfold regarding my present trial, but since February (when the trial began) I have seen three incredible, earth moving, answers to prayer.  They are nothing short of miraculous to me.  Just as Jesus astonishingly restored Malchus’ ear, Jesus is restoring things in my life as well.  Things I have prayed for more than 10 years are being answered in the midst of this trial. Tears spring to my eyes even as I type this because I am amazed by God’s goodness and faithfulness.  As Stacy taught us in John 11 about Lazarus being raised from the dead, things I truly thought were dead, are coming to life.  This is our God.  The mighty, holy, awesome, loving, perfect, life giving, infinite, sovereign, wonderful, Lord Jesus. You are not alone, He stands with you, holding you and all of your circumstances. 

If you are in a fiery trial and are not yet aware of any miracles, remember He is at work even when we cannot see Him moving.   Sometimes our obedience, our peace and the power of the Holy Spirit are the miracles.   I encourage you to be on the look out for mighty things to come in the midst of your fiery trial.

 

Much love to you,

Brenda 

John 15 - I am the vine

Brenda Harris

 

When I was in 8th grade I was given the opportunity to take a day off from school to explore a job that interested me.  I knew exactly what I wanted to explore - the career of journalism.  I jumped at the chance to go to an actual newspaper and spend the day with a “real” journalist. My Dad knew a writer at the Bucks County Courier Times and she graciously allowed me to shadow her for a day.  I was enthralled from the moment I walked into the newspaper building.  As the day unfolded, I became even more enchanted with the possibility of a career in journalism.  There was just something about it that captivated me and it became my dream to research, interview and report the news. 

 

As I look back on the last 32 years from 8th grade and now, I realize that God had other plans for me and the dream of becoming a professional journalist did not materialize.  Yet, what I realized this past week was that my innate desire to research, interview and report still flows strongly through my veins.  This insight came to me as I drove home from a trip to a local vineyard.  I had gone there in order to better understand Jesus’ teaching in John 15.

 

“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.”

“I am the vine, you are the branches.”

 

Jesus is likely referring to a grapevine in this chapter. I know very little about grapevines so I began researching vineyards on-line and planned to visit one.  It was a little adventure for me.  Although I was unable to contact the vineyard owner ahead of time, I decided I’d make the trip even if it meant only getting a photo of the estate and grapevines.  I was pleasantly surprised when upon arrival I was greeted by the owner.  He spent over 35 minutes answering all my questions and giving me details I could not gain through my research on-line. I cannot wait to share with you what I learned this Thursday!  

 

As I drove home quite pleased with the outcome of my visit, God reminded me of Philippians 1:6 which says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  This means that until Jesus either calls me home or He returns, my story is not over (and neither is yours).  I have often regretted having not pursued journalism and yet God reminded me that I am doing the work of a journalist for His glory. It is not how I initially I envisioned it; it is far better than I could have dreamed.

 

You see, God (the vinedresser) created me (His branch) to bear much fruit.  The desire to research, interview and report is a gift the Lord has given me for His purposes.   When I allow God to use the gifts He has given me, He brings forth fruit and I experience joy.  I was truly filled with joy while I was driving home because I was doing what the “journalist” in me was created to do.  I was putting together a story.  Not a story about about a local current event but rather, something so much better, a story about my Savior.  That filled my heart to overflowing with joy. In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of John 15,  I also had the great privilege of sharing my faith with the owner of the vineyard.

 

When I see God orchestrating the circumstances in my life in ways like this, I am so encouraged. They remind me of the personal nature of God and how much He loves me.  Grapevines need year round attention and care by the vinedresser in order to produce good fruit.  God most certainly gives year round attention to us.  He desires that we use our abilities and talents for His glory. 

 

May the Lord remind you this week of His attentiveness toward you and that your story is not finished yet.  He desires that “you bear much fruit” (John 15:8) “and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).  

 

Much love,

Brenda

 

 

The Door Of Life

Hedy Sylvia

Have you had the honor, the privilege, the blessing of being present when a lost sheep is found?  When the enormity of salvation sweeps over a soul the joy is electric, and your spirit rejoices along with the angels in heaven.  Oh, how glorious an occasion it truly is!  I wanted to bust out noise makers, balloons, bake a cake, dance, whatever, when a dear loved one recently received the free gift of eternal salvation!  We certainly prayed and worshipped!  And cried tears of joy!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened...”  Matt.7:7-8

The process was a joy, a nail biting one to be sure.  I waited as through the course of time he knocked, and knocked: reading the Word, attending church services and Bible studies, asking questions, reading Christian books and growing closer day-by-day.  In my heart I had a peace because I know my Lord is ever truthful and ever faithful.  He will never close the door to someone who is truly seeking.  Never.  It was a matter of time, not my time, but the Father’s.  

When I plant a garden the germination process seems the longest - watering, feeding, waiting... tick-tock.. water some more, wait some more, and then eventually a sprout appears.  A beautiful little sprout that holds the promise of growth and life.  And a delicious harvest.  Recently I planted an indoor garden with my very excited grand daughters and the first seedling has just sprouted.  Now I’m the one excited to show them the new life springing forth.  And so it is when we sow seeds of salvation through the good shepherd Jesus, but the length of the germination process until new life is sprouted is unknown to us.  But He knows and we can rest in that truth.  The time spent patiently praying and keeping hope alive through the Word is a wise investment.  I have prayed for some loved ones for over thirty years and have learned to never give up hope, for today may be the day they walk through the door, the door that is Jesus.

“I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.”  John 10: 9

Jesus tells us that He is the door.  The door.  Not a door, but the door of the sheep.  The door of salvation.  He is the only way to reconciliation with God.  And His promise is that we, his beloved sheep, will be saved from eternal separation from Him.  Additionally, He will lead us to green pastures.  The metaphor is heartwarmingly beautiful as I envision the serenity of sheep grazing on a rolling hill enveloped in green pastures.  The symbolism vividly portrays a life of provision and peace.  The abundant life!  Am I blind to the pain, the suffering, the trials this world brings?  No.  But through it, our Shepherd walks with us, never forsaking or abandoning the sheep of His flock.  He protects us when we wander, when we’re sick, when trials come, and when evil pervades. We’re wise to stay close to His side, abiding in Him and following His lead.

The Lord demonstrated His protection of His people when he closed Noah, his wife, his sons, and their wives in the ark by shutting the door for them.  This door was used to separate His people from the destruction that surrounded them.  Many generations later, the Lord once again demonstrated His protection to His people while they were enslaved in Egypt by providing a door of protection, a foreshadowing of the Messiah to come.

For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.  Ex.12:23

Jump forward a few thousand years, and we have another door, one which could not hold our Lord back - it was the stone covering the tomb.  The victory over death was demonstrated as Jesus walked triumphantly through this door just as planned.

And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.  Matt.28:2

Jesus is the door.  When we hear His voice and enter in to the green pastures it’s glorious.  But what happens when we wander?  When we choose to abandon the green pastures and graze on dried weeds?  The weeds of deception, the weeds of compromise, and the weeds that lead to destruction are an ever present danger.  Like sheep we go astray.  What then?  Will we ever find our way back to the green pastures?  Does our Shepherd beat us with his staff and abandon us?  Does He disown His sheep?  Never!  Whatever the sin that has gripped and entangled, our Jesus’ blood has covered it, casting it as far as the east is from the west - gone!  He gently wipes the tears of repentance, draws us up into His strong arms, and tells us, 

“Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  John 8:11

We have so much more to learn of our beloved Shepherd, the good Shepherd in John 10 this week.  I’m looking forward to the time with all of you with great joy!  Shalom!

Hedy

 

 

 

Light Will Either Blind You or Make You See - John 9

Brenda Harris

Think back to the last time you had to get up early.  Barely awake, you turned on a light.   Do you remember that feeling? When the light flooded your eyes, you were blinded temporarily.  Did feel like turning the light off and going back to the darkness of your sleep?   But because you knew you needed to get up, you allowed your eyes to adjust to the light and began your morning routine.

 

Monday through Friday this happens to me as I rise before it is daylight to get my children off to school.  My bed calls me to return to my slumber, but my brain chooses to get up and turn on the light because I know my children need my help.

 

This daily occurrence, provides a helpful spiritual analogy as it relates to John 9.  At the beginning of this chapter we meet a man who is born blind and has not yet put his faith in Jesus.  Jesus heals him on the Sabbath and the Jewish leadership is very unhappy about this breech of their law.  They miss entirely that no healing like this has ever occurred before and yet, all they seem to want to do is discredit Jesus and His miracle.  They refuse to accept Jesus as their long awaited Messiah and therefore reject the miracle He performed.  In addition, they also excommunicate the formerly blind man.   Jesus meets up with this man who can now see after the man has been expelled from the synagogue.   At this point, the man chooses to put his faith in Christ. This is a powerful story with deep significance. 

 

So let’s go back to our spiritual analogy.  When I am awakened from my sleep, I have a choice to make.  I can either go back to bed and hope that my kids will magically get to school on their own or I can get up and turn on the light and start the day.  Likewise, in a spiritual sense, the enemy would love for me to go back to sleep.  He encourages me to turn off the conviction of the Holy Spirit, hit the snooze button on the confession of my sin and delay waking to the deliverance and freedom God offers me.

 

God desires that we walk in the newness of light He provides day after day.  The light that He sheds on our circumstances can either offend us (like the Pharisees) and make us retreat into the darkness or we can allow it to make us see (like the formerly blind man).  If we allow the light to come on, it might hurt our eyes a bit initially but eventually it will make us see and like the blind man we can say, “though I was blind, now I see.” 

 

Spiritual blindness is real.   But God offers us His unique light so that we can see His truth and receive the healing He provides. When we do there is amazing freedom.  This is where we are headed this week in our time together on Thursday and I cannot wait to see each of you. 

 

Much love

Brenda

 

PS – This is our last meeting until January 28, 2015.

Facing Fear - John 7

Stacy Davis

Fear.  We’ve all experienced it.  At times we’ve imagined reasons to be fearful.  Maybe we’ve wrestled with it.  We might have run from it.  We might have met it head on. One thing is certain, fear is real.  It can be debilitating, causing physical ailments of all sorts and preventing us from living in the fulness of Christ.

Recently I had the joy of witnessing my granddaughters, ages 3 and 1, meet a real fear head on; touching the leg of a Daddy Long Leg spider.  Oh my!  Oh the chatter as the older was encouraging the younger to be “brave,” assuring her that the spider won’t bite, going so far as to tap the leg to prove her point as the younger watched with awe.  Then, slowly, she advanced toward the dreaded, yet fascinating spider with long, skinny legs.  Another step.  Hesitation, with fingers in the mouth as toddlers do.  After repeating the pattern; a few steps forward, pause, reassurance from big sister, fingers in the mouth, finally, with great trepidation her adventurous spirit won out.  Quickly, with lightning speed, she touched a long, skinny leg!  Oh my!

Her elation was evident in her coy smile as she retreated back to safety while the 3 year old commended her with, “Good job!  I’m so surprised!  You are so brave!”  The victory was hers!  She had conquered her fear!  Moments later, when the spider fell, overcome by fear both girls screamed, “He comin’!” as they retreated in leaps and bounds.  This routine repeated several times.  As adults we often approach our fears likewise - three steps forward, pause, two steps back, shriek, repeat.

Some fears can be healthy - poisonous critters, huge waves, dark alleys, and roller coaters are a few of mine.  For me, they are best to avoid.  You can fill in your own list of things or places that command what I like to call a ‘healthy respect’ in your life.

But there is a fear, as believers, we must conquer - the fear of man.  Specifically, the fear of sharing the love of Christ with the lost.  We read in John 7:13, “But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews.”  The people were silenced by fear of the venomous, self-righteous religious leaders.  Some were drawn to Him, yet they remained quiet.  They had much to learn of the Messiah and the cost of discipleship, as do all of His followers.

A missionary friend who served in a war torn land had the opportunity to bring his family along on one such journey.  One of the indigenous men remarked that he shouldn’t have taken his children to their dangerous land.  His reply knocked my socks off!  “Does Jesus love my children more than He loves yours?”  No, no He doesn’t.  In my small faith I hadn’t thought of it that way.  I knew I had much to learn.

In 1989 I had the opportunity to return with my mother to her homeland for the first time in almost 50 years since her escape.  Still under Soviet communist rule, fear overwhelmed me as I stepped past the security officer who was glaring with an ominous gaze.  Silently I prayed “Oh God, You did lead me here, please protect us.”  Immediately the fear vanished and peace replaced it.  We traveled the countryside and visited relatives.  We went to observe her childhood home (from the outside) that had been remodeled into apartments.  Upon seeing the window to what was her bedroom where she tucked in her one and only doll, as she packed only food and clothing for their escape, I sensed how great the pain and fear of departure to the unknown had been.  We met people whose lives were ruled by fear of the great power of the government.  I had much more to learn.

And then it happened.  One evening as about sixteen of us sat in the living room I (reluctantly - due to fear) began a conversation about the Lord.  These dear people whose churches had been burned and Bibles forbidden for nearly 50 years were thirsty.  They were parched for the truth.  An old, well hidden Bible was brought forth.  I did my best to answer their questions and explain the plan of salvation articulately in the language I first learned as a child.  Then something remarkable happened - the entire room quieted and everyone was inquisitively listening.  Never had I experienced such an audience, especially amongst relatives!  The time had come for the Bible to be opened again.  Several years later I learned that one who confessed Christ during my visit was killed in a tragic accident.  God’s time, although unknown to us, is perfect.

We can’t assume on the hearers response.  We aren’t responsible for that.  We are to tell and pray and trust that the Lord’s will will be done.  And then to rest in that truth, trusting Him, trusting His time, trusting fear to be abated for the next time we have the opportunity to witness of the Christ.  In this chapter more will be revealed about His time, His relatives, His audience, His Father, and His Spirit.  We have much to learn.

I’m honored and privileged to be a part of the DITL team.

Much love and peace to all,

Hedy

John 6 - A Mountaintop Prayer Time

Brenda Harris

Nestled into Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6 you will find similar accounts regarding Jesus’ miracle of walking on water.  However, right before that wondrous walk, something took place that is subtly written about, yet powerful to ponder.   Let’s take a closer look at what transpired right before Jesus met up with His disciples on the Sea of Galilee from three of the gospel accounts.

In Matthew 14:23 it says, “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.”  Mark records it this way, “And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray” (Mark 6:46).  While John says, “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone” (John 6:15).  

I personally, am partial to the way John states the events over the other authors for several reasons.  First, because we see that Jesus would not be controlled by the multitude.  They wanted their will for Jesus and as soon as He realized what they wanted, He immediately departed for the mountains to pray, alone.  The second thing I see is Jesus wanted to be with His Heavenly Father, more than anyone else, including His disciples. Third, John includes the word “again.”  That word, “again,” is noteworthy.  Jesus who was fully man, yet fully God, went “again” to pray.  

As believers, there are some important principles we can learn from this event.  We all know prayer is a powerful and necessary aspect in our walk with the Lord but sadly it seems nothing gets us to our knees faster than when we “perceive” something has gone wrong.  Jesus modeled for us in this verse where to turn in our time of need.  I’m confident that Jesus was constantly in communication with His Father but this situation needed some immediate prayer.  Jesus knew where to turn and so should we.

When was your last quality prayer time?
Do you wait to pray until there is something urgent? Why?

Praying with others is encouraged in the Bible but there are times that we should also pray alone.  Jesus demonstrated that He prayed alone many times. Jesus needed clear direction and so He sent the multitudes away as well as His disciples.  Do you ever wonder what Jesus and God discussed that night on the hilltop overlooking the Sea of Galilee?  My guess would be that Jesus was confirming God’s plans for Him as well as what was coming for the disciples on the lake below.  When we pray, God can give us insights we would never get on our own.  He desires that we come and speak with Him alone so He can share with us what only He knows. 

Why is prayer alone important?  
How does Jesus’ example encourage you to spend one on one time with God in prayer?

I don’t know if the word “again” in John 6:15, struck you like it did me, but I cannot help but state the obvious.  The word “again” means that it was not a one-time event for Jesus.  He went again.  If Jesus needed to go multiple times to God in prayer, what does that say about our need for prayer since we are mere mortals?  

Do you hesitate to go “again” to God in prayer? 
If so, take a look at Luke 18:1-8

As Jesus concluded His time in prayer, He headed down the mountain and was ready to do all that God was calling Him to do including a really awesome miracle.  Prayer empowers us to do what God is asking of us.  We need to be diligently carving out time in our day to meet with the Lord so we are ready for whatever is coming ahead.  Don’t allow the enemy to rob you of this blessing.  Make the time today to sit with the Lord and talk together.

 

An Invitation - John 5

Stacy Davis

In August, our oldest son, Ben, flew the nest called home and entered the beauty of God’s next for him on Indiana soil at Taylor University. He flew far from home entering into a life of newness; new opportunity, new friends, new location, new classes, new football team, new guys to share a room with, new everything. It has been two months of transition for our boy, as it is for most college students. But being far from home, brings a whole different element to the college transition.  

Home isn’t within reach beyond a phone call, FaceTime or text. As Ben has found, it can, at times be lonely especially when the majority of students come from Indiana or the states that border it. Given the opportunity in their schedule and feeling the tug of home, those who live close by are able to leave for the weekend entering back into the familiar. It isn’t the case for Ben and a handful of others on the Taylor campus. 

A few weeks ago, the football team had their first away game. Many of the freshman football players don’t travel with the football team to away games unless they are 2nd string or play special teams. Ben’s two roommates were given the opportunity to travel with the team which meant Ben had his dorm room all to himself. With four siblings at home, his own room was never a possibility and Ben was ok with that. He likes to be surrounded by people. He takes after his mother in that area. Given the choice, I’d choose people over no people. I’d choose conversation over silence. Ben is cut from my cloth. As the reality of a weekend alone began setting in, Ben struggled. The majority of his other freshman football friends decided to go home for the weekend. His friends down the hall were busy with their team sports. And when he called over to friends in another dorm, they said they were hanging out with their floor. 

No invitation was given to Ben. No one invited him in. Silence began to set in and with the silence came doubt, a little pity, and general loneliness….all unbeknownst to me until I called Sunday afternoon to check in. As Ben shared his weekend struggle and I dug a little deeper with questions, I saw something held him back. You see, Ben is a gatherer. He is so good at it. I saw it in high school with his friends. I saw it with the football team. I saw it with the little children he taught in Sunday School. I saw it with his siblings and in our relationship. 

He reaches out and draws you in. 

He gives the invite. This time though, he didn’t do that. He waited for the invite to come to him and it never did. We all want the invite, don’t we? 

In John 5, we see Jesus as the greatest invitation giver there is. The chapter opens with Jesus entering Jerusalem during feast time. As Jesus passed by the Sheep’s Gate, there He saw the pool of Bethesda, in Greek known as the “house of mercy.” There were two pools and five porches and multitudes of people; sick people. Scripture tells us that at certain times the water in the pool was stirred and the first person to enter the water was healed of their infirmity. Can you imagine the groans and pushing that must have taken place when someone hinted that the water was stirring, each person trying as hard as they could to get to the water first desperately desiring healing. 

Jesus saw a certain man that day lying by the pool. He knew this man. As the God of the universe, He knew everything about this man from the inside out. He knew he had been in his helpless condition for 38 years. 38 years is a long time to have an illness especially one that restricts movement. Jesus saw him. Jesus knew him and Jesus gives him the invitation that surpasses every invitation he probably had ever received. 

“Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6)

You would think this man would have been overjoyed with this invitation. Here was his opportunity.  He didn’t have to try to get to the water. He didn’t have to wait for someone to help him as no had in the past. This man, Jesus, standing in front of him was offering him what he couldn’t do for himself. The chance to be made well. 

And the man hesitates. His response is one of excuses. His response shows his helplessness and his despair. It shows his unbelief; no man will put me in that water. 

What Jesus had was so much better. Jesus was the God-Man whose invitation held the very tentacles of life, healing and freedom. 

Jesus invites again. 

“Rise, take up your bed and walk.” (John 5:8)

Immediately, we are told, the man was made well. He took up his mat and walked out of Bethesda a new man. Can you picture the scene? The invitation of all invitations offered. A hand extended to one in great need. And faith that received the invitation and responded. Faith that believed that in fact, what this man offered, was desired, was needed, was real. In that belief,   legs that for 38 years didn’t work, now were healed. 

This man will leave those pools and go to the temple. On his way, the Jewish leaders stopped him. It was the Sabbath and this man was carrying his mat. According to man-made Jewish rules, this Jewish man was not to be carrying anything on the Sabbath. The Jewish rulers called it a burden. This man was carrying a burden on the day set aside for rest. I would imagine this man was so confused thinking, “A burden, you have no idea the burden I carried for 38 years. This mat is nothing. In fact, this mat represents freedom!” But the Jews couldn’t look at the man and rejoice in his healing, they were more concerned with the matters of the law. 

Jesus will enter the scene and offer a harsh rebuke to the Jewish leaders. He will make this a teachable moment as He does with most everything in our lives, if we let Him. In that rebuke, He will tell the Jews exactly who He is giving proof to His deity and then offer them an invitation.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come int judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)

He gives them the same invitation He gave the lame man. “Rise, take your mat, and walk.” The difference is, they didn’t see their need. Their body wasn’t lame, but their spiritual condition was as paralyzed and decrepit as the man was in his physical condition. In their eyes, they were good. Their Jewish rules and traditions, their knowledge of God, their own righteousness, their birthright made them good enough. 

But it wasn’t. 

It isn’t for any of us. 

We are all like that man laying next to the pool of water. We need Jesus. 

We need the invitation. The invitation is there. You just have to see it and then believe it. 

As Jesus knew that man laying next to the pool, He knows you. 

As Jesus looked upon that man; that certain man on that certain day, He looks upon you and says, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 

The invitation is received when faith is the response. 

This past weekend, my son Ben had another weekend alone. The team had another away game. This time, I knew it going into the weekend. On top of it, it was also fall break. The campus was even quieter than before.  I called Ben early in the weekend to check in on him. Again, no invitation from those around him. Even three of his close friends down the hall were all going home to one of the boy’s houses. Even if he was invited, he couldn’t go because of Friday football practice. But there wasn’t even that invitation. He was even more alone this time. I encouraged him to reach out to others; be the inviter. He assured me he was ok. 

You see, he did have an invitation. I just didn’t see it. Ben saw it though. 

The invitation that weekend came from Jesus. 

When we talked on Sunday night and I asked him how his weekend went and did anyone ever invite him to hang out? His reply was, “No mom, it was a quiet weekend. But I’m good with it all. I feel that God is making me rely on him when most of the people around me are gone. So I feel good about it.” 

You see, Jesus had an invitation for Ben. An invitation for Ben to look to Him, rely on Him and rest in Him. That is what my boy did. Here I was encouraging him to look with his eyes. Jesus was encouraging him to look with his heart toward Him. 

That invitation, my friends, is one that Jesus has for each of us. 

I don’t know your circumstances? Maybe you’ve been dealing with something for 38 years and you are weary? Maybe you are lonely? Maybe you are tired? Maybe your eyes tell you it will never get better? 

But here’s Jesus who is “the way, the Truth and the Life” and His invitation is one that opens the door to spiritual healing, everlasting life and a relationship with God through Jesus. (John 14:6).

 He says to you, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 

Will you do it? 

Much love,
Stacy

 

Enough

Stacy Davis

It began when I was a young girl. Call it circumstances. Call it words spoken or even words not spoken. 

But a belief was formed. 

In those very difficult and confusing childhood circumstances, in the things done to me and the things not done for me, in the ache of my heart to be cared for, valued, known and loved…..everything around me whispered, “You aren’t enough.” 

It was a belief that grew deeper over the years, seemingly being reproduced time and again. This ugliness formed in me. It became my perceived reality. It was a lie that I made my reality. Notice I said, “my perceived reality” because that is what we do, don’t we? We take our lens and look through life. We look at how we feel about something. What we think about our circumstances, sometimes the things done to us and then vroom……we form a belief about it all. Usually that belief shapes how we think about ourself and others.  

My belief said, “Stacy, you aren’t enough.” You aren’t pretty enough. You aren’t likable enough. You aren’t funny enough, friendly enough, good enough, strong enough, deserving enough. ” Fill in the blank. I’ve put many things in that blank space over the years. 

It became a lens of comparison. And I always ended up on the less than side. The side where I felt invisible and easily discarded, undeserving of anyone’s love. 

When a belief forms behavior follows. 

My go to behavior became; ‘work harder.” Call it a coping mechanism. I just thought if I worked harder, did more, got good grades, put on a stronger face, was a good girl then I’b be enough. Then I’d be deserving of love. That was the crux of my issue. I wasn’t enough for people so I wasn’t deserving of their love. It is painful writing that. 

But it didn’t quite work out that way. 1 plus 2 did not equal 3. 

It didn’t stop me from trying because that is how badly I wanted to be loved and accepted. I became a people pleaser. So wanting to hear “well done.” Wanting to hear “good job.” Wanting to be invited in and be accepted. Wanting to be chosen and loved. 

I remember years ago in a conversation about friendship, someone said this to me about them self, “I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want to be my friend.” When she said it I think my mouth dropped to the floor and my eyes squinted into a puzzled look. You see, my reality was, “Why would anyone want to be my friend?”  I operated from such a self-deprecating place thinking I had very little to offer other people. It was no wonder I often am treated the way I am. 

It is a miserable place to live, in this perceived reality. It creates insecurity and builds walls. It’s not pretty. 

And yet, for 43 years, it has been a subtle piece of real estate in my heart. One that hid in the background often laying dormant as my close relationships speak differently to me now, but since the old belief was never dealt with it would often rear its ugly head sending me on a tailspin.  

Through some events that happened these past six months, the whisper came back carrying the weight of a loud voice. “You aren’t enough.” 

And then, the whisper carried into ministry as I heard the words of unloving criticism from the past year echo again and again. I felt almost paralyzed; afraid to write, afraid to teach Bible study, afraid of rejection, of not being “enough.”  I even questioned the gifts God has given. I felt like the joy of God’s calling was slowly evaporating. 

“Lord, why is this so hard?  I’ve done what you asked me to do. I’ve tried my hardest. Done my best. And yet, I arrive at the same place.” 

And this is where God met me. I had just started the book of Galatians for my daily quiet time; the time when I seek God’s truth in the Bible and then share my heart with Him in prayer. This time is our conversation with each other. He speaks to me and I to Him.  

 It is as if He said to me, “Stacy, enough is enough” 

“For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10

“Having begun in the Spirit are you now being made perfect in the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

“But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements to which you desire again to be in bondage?” Galatians 4:9

This is what the maker of the Universe does. He brings Truth to our lies if we let Him. He gently reveals the lie we’ve believed and replaces it with His Truth. Then we choose. Do we continue believing the lie or do we repent and walk in God’s Truth? The lie creates bondage and the truth sets us free. 

I was in bondage and didn’t even realize it. 

If I am seeking to please people then I am making them my master. I am giving them control over me and in my case, the ministry that God has called me to. That control is God’s. He is my Lord and my Savior. Why in the world am I looking to people to fill the place that is God’s? Why am I looking to people to validate or authenticate what God has called me to do? It truly is bondage. It is a stronghold. 

In the stronghold, I’m the one being held and oh did this lie hold me tightly from God’s freedom. That perceived reality was a “me” focused reality. I thought I put people’s opinions about me first. No, I actually put me ahead of it all. I was letting people define my “enough.” It all was so twisted when the truth that I knew in my heart of hearts is this:

God is enough. That is the indisputable truth. 

I won’t ever be enough. But God is and in Him, I find all that I seek. 

I had been looking in the wrong places. 

All these years, I’d been believing and acting on a lie. The lie was that I could earn love and be enough. 

But in fact, love that is earned isn’t love at all. It’s a counterfeit. True love is freely given.

This is the truth of the matter. In Christ we find the only true love that fills permanently. 

In Him, I was loved from the beginning of time. I am His creation. 

In Him, I am called. I am chosen.

In Him, my joy if filled permanently. 

In Him, my looks don’t matter. He looks at the heart. 

In Him, love is secure. So secure that it nailed Him to a cross. 

In Him, I am accepted. I am invited. 

In Him, I am found worthy. 

In Him, is my eternity. 

And His “Well done” is all I seek. 

He is enough.

“And you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free” John 8:32.

Is He your enough? 

As the Lord was working this all out in my heart, I was also preparing my first Bible study lesson from John 2. God used that chapter to reinforce all He taught me in Galatians. Out of my mess, came His message. I pray you are encouraged in your own “not enoughs.” You can watch my teaching on John 2  here, if you desire. 

Much love,
Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born Again - John 3

Brenda Harris

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  John 3:36

In 2005, my Mom gave me two monarch chrysalises she found while on vacation.  They were not exactly the souvenirs I was expecting. I came to realize though that an overused yet beautiful allegory in the Christian faith was about to become a reality in my home.  She told me to put them in a place away from direct sunlight and not to bump them as that would disturb them while they completed their metamorphic process.  I felt the best place for them would be my office since it would give them the optimal environment she had described.  

Each day I went into my office and looked at the green orbs that had traces of gold around them.  They were beautiful works of art and it was hard to imagine a worm was inside. I sincerely hoped they would not hatch in the night because I didn’t want to miss their grand arrival.  Fortunately, that did not happen because my little chrysalis friends gave me plenty of time to prepare. Becoming a butterfly is a very gradual process.  As time passed, the green orbs became more translucent and I started to see the outline of bright orange and black butterflies developing just inside their chrysalis.  It was incredible to watch and I found myself enthralled in their development.  Then one day, the first one hatched.  I called the kids and we watched as the first monarch pushed its way out and spread its wings for the first time.  It was an awesome sight to behold.  We took it outside to release it and I felt happy that my office mate was heading out on its new adventure, no longer a worm but an incredible butterfly with newfound freedom.  

I expected that the other chrysalis would soon follow his friend’s path.  So I continued my hatching vigil day after day.  There were signs that this chrysalis would hatch just the one prior. There were some gentle movements and some pushing but then nothing.  After a month of waiting, I realized that this chrysalis was never going to hatch, it had died.  I was, strangely, so sad.  I had stood by it and watched and waited, even once talking to it when it was struggling and said, “Come on buddy, you can do it!”  But it never was reborn into the butterfly God had intended.  

When I finally put the chrysalis in the trash, the spiritual analogy struck me.  The joy I felt was so intense as I watched the first butterfly finish its transformation. Conversely, I was so disturbed when the second one did not do the same thing.  I desperately wanted him to be free like the first.  If I could have opened the chrysalis, I would have, but as we all know that would not have worked because it had to open its casing on its own. 

So this butterfly story, as I see it, is a representation of the happy and sad reality of John 3:36. We, like the caterpillars, have the opportunity to be born again.  If you have taken that step in faith, praise God for your salvation!  You are a whole new creature and will live eternally.  However, maybe you have not?  Jesus tells us that we must be born again if we want to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). If you would like to profess your faith in Jesus Christ, please go to the link under “Delighting In The Lord” and click on “Steps of Salvation.”  There you will find all that you need to start a new life in Christ.

Blessings to you,
With Love,
Brenda

"My Hour Has Not Yet Come" - John 2

Stacy Davis

“My Hour Has Not Yet Come” 
John 2:4b

A date on the calendar. Something coming and yet still off in the distance. For some, that distant marker is a glorious occasion. One that is greatly anticipated holding great joy and excitement. 

For a little child, Christmas holds this anticipation. This date stamped on the calendar with games that count down each day. 25 pieces of chocolate. 25 little cardboard windows opened until the window that gives view to Jesus. In our home, it is a a quilted calendar with a Christmas tree and small velcro pieces waiting in dated pockets. Each day, one velcro piece comes out of its little pocket and is eagerly placed on the quilted Christmas tree marking one day closer. One day closer….

And yet, there are those far off dates that are wrapped not with what looks like beauty and excitement, but a sense of dread and fearful unknown. I’ve had some of those days, maybe you have too. The date of my son’s scheduled c-section. August 14, 2002. The date when my fragile little boy diagnosed in utero with a fatal genetic condition that doctors said would take his life would enter this world. A date that should hold joy, but held the fragrance of death. A calendar that I didn’t want to mark off. Wishing time would stand still. And the date when my cancer would take my womanly parts. July 15, 2010. A double mastectomy, reconstruction and the start of the fight of my life against a disease waging war inside of me. As much as I wanted it all behind me, I didn’t want to face the pain of what those hours would hold. I wanted to be insulated from the pain. I wanted to escape it. Slip through the back door. 

Each date on the calendar, whether one holding great joy or one holding great sorrow, is purposeful to God. It is an opportunity. An opportunity for God to work. An opportunity to point others to Jesus. 

Jesus knew what it felt like to have a date on the calendar. He stepped into time fully God, wrapped in human flesh and the days on the calendar began to be peeled away as His hour approached. There was much to be accomplished before the final hour came. An hour that would bring agony, rejection, immense pain, loneliness and then death. He knew in his infinite knowledge what that day would look like. No secrets. No unknowns. He knew it from the foundation of the world. He knew that day was on the horizon. The day, the hour when He would take the sin of the world, my sin, your sin, upon His shoulders on the cross and win victory over sin.  A victory that would only come through death so we could have life. 

And yet, as much pain and agony that encompassed that day, it was a day of great joy for Jesus. “…who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross… Hebrews 12:2b.” So hard to wrap our human minds around. We want to escape pain and Jesus submitted to it with joy. Joy because salvation would be accomplished that day for anyone who believes in Jesus. Joy because through the cross we could spend eternity with God. The worst day and the best day wrapped together. A day Jesus anticipated knowing it would be filled with great pain and yet great joy. It would be a day of purpose. Godly purpose. 

In the waiting, Jesus kept His focus and purpose in mind. Until the hour came, Jesus would give signs of His identity. He would give reasons to prove His identity causing many to believe that He is the Messiah. He would heal, restore, teach and love. He would make every minute useful for God’s glory.

This day, just days after His baptism in the Jordan and His entrance into public ministry, He is invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. The very thing He created in joining together a man and a woman. The very example He set forth for us to understand His relationship to us. There He stood as a guest with his mother, Mary and His disciples. His mother, Mary, knowing that her son was the Son of God, that He would be great, and would be called the Son of the Highest. That He would be given the throne of His father David and reign eternally, waited for over 30 years to see Him claim what was promised. She waited for Him to show the world who He was. 

Having known of His baptism and seeing these men following Him, was the time now? Was the date on the calendar coming more clearly into view? 

“The hour had not yet come” (John 2:4). 

No one, including Mary knew of what was to come. They didn’t fully understand. But Jesus did. Seven times in John Jesus will tell people that "his hour has not come." Then when he prays to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest and crucifixtion, He will say, "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son also may glorify You" John 17:1b. His final hours were not yet, but the hours in between gave way to opportunity. And seeing an opportunity before Him, He seized it. The hour had come for His glory to be made known to a select few. 

Jesus never deterred from His purpose and never lost an opportunity.  

Mary tells Jesus there is a problem. The wine had run out. A travesty in a Jewish wedding feast. Wine, in Jewish culture, was also a symbol of joy. The wine wasn’t just depleted, so was the joy of Israel. Jesus gave commands to the servants as Mary and the disciples looked on and had the servants fill six waterpots to the brim with water. Then without a word, He turned the water into the most delicious wine for all the guests to enjoy. He gave joy. Joy in its fullest measure. 

There wasn’t fanfare or hype. A large crowd didn’t gather around. Mary, the disciples and some servants gathered around and Jesus showed them a sign of who He was. He is the One who can without a word make water into wine. He is the One who will take the old cleansing waterpots fill them with life giving water and make something new. From those waterpots many would draw out, receive and be filled.  

The hour of the cross had not yet come. But in the hours leading up to it, hours that would cover almost three and a half years, Jesus would take those hours as opportunity, never losing sight of what would be accomplished in “the final hour;” an hour of dread, but great joy. His purpose? That many would believe in Him. 

What hours has the Lord given you as opportunity to display His glory to others? Are you using them or are you looking for the back door, a way to slip out and escape what may be difficult or uncomfortable? The hours are short before our Lord returns again. May we all make the most of the time He has given us knowing that many need to know of Jesus so that they, too, may believe in Him. 

Can’t wait to dig into John 2 with you this Thursday. 

Much love,

Stacy

 

"Simply Believe" - A study on the gospel of John

Stacy Davis

Welcome to the Delighting in the Lord study on the gospel of John. Last Thursday, we gathered together at Calvary Chapel Chester Springs in Exton, PA as a group of women saying "yes" to God and all He wants to teach each of us this year. Together, we opened the gospel of John and were introduced to this year's study, "Simply Believe" a simple, inductive style study on John. It's a new format called "Simply R.E.A.D" following the inductive format of reading, observing/interpreting, and applying God's Word to our lives. You can watch the intro session by clicking on the "Current Study" link on this website. Just a side note, the video picks up at the end of announcements just before the study format is introduced and a sample lesson presented. Sorry about that. We had some technical difficulties on the first day. If you go to the "current study" link,  you will also find the printable study pages. These are here for those joining us online, from afar and anyone needing to print the pages. Anyone is welcome! If you live close by, join us on Thursday mornings from 9:30-11:30 or 7:00-9:00PM. We have a children's ministry program for the AM session. If you live far away, join us online. Local directions can be found under the "Contact" link on this website. 

We invite you to meet us here at the start of the week and one of the teachers (Stacy, Brenda or Hedy) will be giving you an intro to the week's chapter. Some of you will have already jumped into the chapter for that week while others may just be beginning. Our hope is that the intro will give you a glimpse of what is to come, a snapshot of Jesus' teaching and topics He touches on. We also hope it will open the door as you step into the pages of Scripture and see all God has for you as you walk with Him. We hope you will join us. As John said in John 1, "Come and See!" 

Hedy will be sharing the lesson with us this week. May you soak in God's Truths as Hedy opens John 1 to us. 

John 1: Who is Jesus

The Roman Procurator of Judea during the time of Christ delivered perhaps one of the most somber questions of all time, at least it has always struck me so.  The following exchange took place the morning after Jesus was arrested and brought before the high priest: Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”  John 18:37-38

Truth.  What is truth?  Truth was standing before him, but Pilate didn’t recognize truth; he was hardened and blinded by a life ruled by deception and corruption as a government official for Rome. We see evidence of the humanistic worldview daily that says truth is relative, not absolute, that it depends on circumstances or opinions.   Webster’s defines truth as; reality, actual existence, an established fact.  Jesus tells us that He is the truth, the way, and the life.  His very character is truth.  As we draw nearer to Him through the Word and prayer, we become more astute at recognizing the deceptions that abound in the world.  

A sea captain named Hendrik returned to his homeland from America in the 1940‘s just as the Red Army of the USSR victoriously conquered his land.  He subsequently spent the last years of his life in a communist prison, more like a dungeon, that was strategically placed near the shores of the sea he loved.  He heard the crashing waves, but no longer saw them.  He endured relentless interrogations and beatings. Why?  Because he spoke truth to a fellow citizen.  Truth regarding the $7.00 weekly income (quite high at the time) of Americans he had met while in New York harbor.  This was an offense in the newly conquered land because everyone was to proclaim that communism, with its foundation as atheism, was the more virtuous and superior way of life.  After months of the beatings and interrogations, in full blown sarcasm (which I may have inherited as he was my grandfather) he claimed the facts were incorrect - No, no, Americans actually can earn $28.00 weekly!  Take that you brutes! The Americans have a far superior lifestyle.   All that abuse over an economic statement.  Were his captors seeking truth?  Certainly not. 

As followers of Christ, we must seek THE truth, then stand firmly on the eternal truths of His Word. I’ve learned that I can surprise myself by the thoughts, actions and attitudes I’ve possessed.  Remaining quiet when an opportunity to share truth arises is denial.  Inaction becomes action.  Can you relate?  Do you, like me, so often fail?  That’s where grace comes in.  Amazing grace!  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14Grace and truth - a perfect blend enveloped in Christ’s love.

I have great excitement for this study as we delve into studying the divine nature of God and how He relates to the world and answer the most important question, “Who is Jesus?”  We will surely impact the darkness in the world with His light as we reach the lost, the broken, the deceived with truth.  So, ladies, put on your armor, prepare your weapon (the sword of the Spirit), andlet’s lunge into this study with great expectations.

In His grace, truth and love,

Hedy

A Seed

Stacy Davis

This spring my daughter, Faith, turned nine. In her little girl imagination and romanticized ideals, she shared her birthday desires; she wanted to plant a garden. She wanted her own tools, her own gardening bag, a watering can, and some seeds. Oh and a sunhat. I mean you can't garden without a wide brimmed sunhat. She's into the details. What can I say? I was a little skeptical, at first. I mean not really what a nine year old usually asks for. So I pressed in. Her resolve was steadfast. Maybe because she saw her grandmother, who lives with us, passionately plant, tend, water and gaze at her garden beds. Gaze at the beauty that came from those seeds. The diligence she saw in the tending. I never really got to the bottom of the why's but her request didn't change. 

As a parent often does when the request is heartfelt and innocent, we granted her request. She opened her presents that late spring day with pure delight and joy. A gardening trowel, a shovel, a little carrying bag, gardening gloves, a bright blue watering can, of course the straw hat and little packets of Zinnia seeds displaying pictures of bright colors, vibrant blooms and masses of flowers on the outside of the package.  With eagerness and anticipation, a few weeks later, we set to work. She picked the spot. She watched the sun each day to see where it shone the brightest and the longest. She walked the yard examining the patches of ground and then choose the area around the mailbox. The expectant blooms something others could cherish, as well. A beauty that would greet whoever drove by. We set to work. As the seeds fell into the soft, toiled earth they were brown, tiny and hard resembling no life or vibrancy. The breeze that day effortlessly trying to carry them away. Into the ground they went covered by moist dirt and a sprinkling of water. 

We waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing. No sign of life. Week after week. Day after day she would check. Then one day mid-summer what appeared to be soft, tiny, very tender green sprouts appeared. Not many, but a sign of life. Oh the joy she felt that day as she saw a glimpse of what was to come. It should be soon now as visions of fields flooded with flowers filled her head. 

A few days later, that joy quickly turned to sadness. One of her older brothers is our lawn boy. With mowing comes weed whacking. You probably can guess where this story is going. That's right. The tender shoots peaking around the mailbox looked almost like weeds in his 16 year old mind. He was set on a mission weed whacker in hand moving his way around the yard. You guessed it, those tender shoots were in fact whacked. Lopped off and cut down. 

Some tears later, an apology from her brother and gentle words of encouragement and her heart was mended. I tried as I could to speak hope into her heart. That even though those shoots were weed whacked something still could come. They would regrow. The seed was there. I think her resolve and vision was a little marred but she kept to watering and waiting. 

A few weeks ago, we saw our first bud. The shoots had reappeared. The stem grew sturdy and the most beautiful yellow blossom appeared. I can't begin to tell you the glee and delight that came from my little girl the moment she laid eyes on that bloom. 

It has been many months since those seeds were gently placed in the soil. The packet said the waiting period would be 30-60 days. It has been more like 90-120. But this is what I captured this morning. 

It isn't a bountiful harvest or a field of zinnias, but it the product of a love, a heartfelt desire, tender care, waiting and a hope that never died even in the whacking and the sight of barrenness.  It is faith. It is beautiful, steadfast faith evidences a harvest after the seed is planted. 

This very website that you come to today is very much my (our) patch of Zinnia's. It is evidence of the faith seed planted by God many years ago into my heart and that of Brenda Harris. You can read our individual stories and our collective ministry story in the navigation bar on top. God saw what was to come. What He would bring forth. He asked us to be faithful in the planting, the tending and the waiting. It hasn't always been easy. Over the years, the weed whacker has come in our direction and to the work of the ministry. At times, it seemed there might not be a going forward and yet God, in His mercy, would give a glimpse of a tender shoot peaking through. 

"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6

This website isn't the completed work but it is evidence of the work deep in the soil of my and Brenda's heart. It was a seed of desire and faith to bring the gospel to women. Women needing Jesus. Women needing God's truth in a world of lies and deceit. Women needing hope. Women needing healing. Women needing fellowship, prayer and support. Women needing to know they are loved and cared for first by the God of the universe and secondly by others. Women desperate for answers to the why's of this crazy world and time we live in. Women needing a sure footing and encouragement for each day. Jesus is the answer to the cries of our hearts. As the Lord brought forth the Delighting in the Lord ministry step by step, bit by bit, He has now brought forth this place for us to declare His name and share of His great love for each of you. 

Welcome. We are so glad to meet you. May this be a resting spot for you along life's hard steps, along life's joyful leaps, along life's mundane. May you find encouragement, hope and God's love for each step. 

I don't know what season you find yourself today? I don't know what seed has been planted deep in your heart and you're in the waiting. You are in the tending. You are in the whacking. You are in the harvest. Whatever season it is, God is working behind the scenes deep in that soil and through that seed. Don't give up. Keep pressing into the greatest Tender of that seed, Jesus. Keep looking for the sun. Keep watering. And don't stop looking for the harvest. It's coming, my friend. It's coming. He alone is faithful. 

Much love to you,

Stacy (and Brenda!)