Friday, November 17, 2017

Jehovah-Jireh Part 2

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
Psalm 126:6, “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” (NIV) 

In yesterday’s devotion, we learned about my friend, Monika, and the troubles she experienced within a short period of time—a move to a new state, the loss of her faithful dog, the death of her beloved husband.  Unbelievably, yet another crisis lurked around the corner.  Within a year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  The destructive cancer dictated aggressive treatments: surgery, chemo and radiation. 

She struggled with physical pain. However, in her heart she knew her God, Jehovah-Jireh, provided and cared for her.  The pain in her body could not dampen the comfort in her soul. She no longer questioned God’s trustworthiness in her life.  Her heart now cried out to Him, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10 NIV)

Even though she felt like Job in the Old Testament, who lost everything including her health, Monika also knew that in the end God blessed him.  For Scriptures states, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. (Job 42:12 NIV)

Now Monika didn’t receive fourteen thousand sheep.  (Of which she is very grateful!)  But the Jehovah-Jireh did pour out a few surprise blessings.

She fully recovered physically.  No trace of cancer lingers in her body after four years. She feels wonderful physically, mentally and spiritually.  Monika bubbles enthusiasm for life and boasts in the trustworthy hand of Jehovah-Jireh.

But wait there is more. Her youngest son, unbeknownst to her, entered her name in a national horse food contest.  Can you guess who won the grand prize of a two-week equestrian vacation to the countryside of France?  Monika!

Then she wrote an essay about cancer survivors, which won her a three-day trip to an ultra exclusive spa in Arizona. (Oprah visits there.)  The list goes on and on of God’s faithfulness in her life.  Sometimes with a grin across her face, she calls Him, Jehovah-Surpriso.  For her life truly reflects our key verse, Psalm 126:6, “He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. (NIV) 

You see, despite the trouble and crisis that hit Monika’s life, God never left her.  He stood beside her in the darkest of moments. Then He changed her tears of sorrow, to the joy of laughter.

And now, she wants to share that joyful knowledge with other people whose lives are hit with a tidal wave of despair.  She is the living fulfillment of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (NIV)

Take heart my friend, Jehovah-Jireh, our God, is there to provide for you no matter how dark your days may be. Take heart joy will come again.  Take heart and share with other’s how God’ provides for you.

Lord, I thank you that You are always by my side to comfort me.  Allow me the privilege to share Your goodness with others.  Give me the correct words to comfort the hurting people that I meet.  Thank you for the joy that comes after the weeping.  I love You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Journal your thoughts about the different sorrows and joys you have encountered in your life.  If you know someone who is going through a similar circumstance, give him or her a call to encourage or to rejoice with them.  Remind them that God will provide in their time of heartache and their times of joy.

Refection points:      
Can you think of different times God has surprised you with a blessing?

Did you recognize them from the hand of God?

Do you share with others the provision of Jehovah-Jireh in your life?

Power verses: 
John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” (KJV) 

Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (NIV) 

Acts 2:28, “‘You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'” (NIV) 

© 2006 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Jehovah-Jireh Part 1

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key verse:
Genesis 22:14, “So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided."  (NIV) 

Death, doom and depression stalked my friend, Monika.  She had just moved to Las Vegas. (Not many women really want to move here.)  She knew no one.  Her children were scattered across the United States. The desert landscape depressed her.   The summer heat of 110 degrees moved her to tears.  Her faithful dog died of cancer shortly after the move.  It seemed like things couldn’t get much worse.

Yet, they did.  Her beloved husband of forty years developed terminal cancer.   Monika felt like Job.  Although, a Christian for most of her life, she felt completely abandoned by God. She questioned God’s trustworthiness in her life.  Her heart cried out to Him,

My face is red with weeping,
deep shadows ring my eyes. (Job 16:16 NIV)

Why do you hide your face
and consider me your enemy? (Job 13:24 NIV)

Even as her faith stumbled, God heard her and the answers were on the way. Just as Scripture assures us, “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear (Isaiah 65:24 NIV),” the Lord responded.

Monika dropped by a Bible study I was teaching on the Names of God.  The day’s lesson happened to be on Jehovah-Jireh—God will provide. I read “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22:13-14 KJV)  

 Although familiar with the Bible, Monika listened carefully as I taught on the Lord as our Provider.  God whispered comfort to her aching heart, “Monika, I will be Jehovah-Jireh to you.  I will provide for you.”

After that, God confirmed His message to my friend.  Within a week, Monika received a postcard from a local card store inviting her to come and select a gift.  As she strolled over to the designated table, she could tell most of the offerings were junk.  Left over broken candles, mismatched cups and saucers.  Her eyes swept the table expecting to find nothing she would bother to take home and then her eyes landed on a small devotional book, titled Jehovah-Jireh.  Ah ha!   A token of love sent straight from heaven through a retailer’s promotional event. On that day, Monika realized that although her troubles abounded God knew all the details and He cared for her.  She acknowledged she needed to rest in His love and His plan for her life.

Indeed, sometimes it is hard to trust God, especially when everything seems to go wrong.  But God is faithful even when we feel otherwise.  Babbie Mason sings a beautiful song titled, “When You Can’t Trust His Hand, Trust His Heart.”  The song explains even when we can’t understand all the problems of life, we can trust in the goodness of God—our Jehovah-Jireh.

My dear friend, Monika, soon learned that God would not only provide for her every need, but would surpass her greatest expectation for provision with bountiful blessings. Tomorrow we’ll see just how Jehovah-Jireh blessed her.

My Jehovah-Jireh, help me to trust Your heart when I do not understand my circumstances.  Open my eyes to Your love and care even in the small details of life such as a store promotion.  Reveal Yourself to me as my personal Jehovah-Jireh. In Jesus’ Sweet Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
On a piece of paper write down how you interpret “If You Can’t Trust His Hand, Trust His Heart.”  List the areas that you have the most difficulty in trusting God and then, pray for Jehovah-Jireh to provide for you in those areas.

Refection points:
Do I believe in God’s goodness?

Do I trust God even in the most difficult circumstances?

What can I do to enable myself to trust God more?

Power verses: 
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV) 

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  (NIV)

Psalm 27:3, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.”  (NIV) 

Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (NIV) 

© 2006 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Rolls Instead of Roles

By Susanne Scheppmann
Key Verse
  “You have many workmen: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as men skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron--craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.” (1 Chronicles. 22:15-16 NIV)
Consider these usually common why’s of the holidays:

Why do women usually mail back the RSVPs to parties?

Why do dads usually put together the multi-million piece toys?

Why do men usually string the lights on the Christmas trees?

Why do women usually determine the dinner menus?

We perform some of our whys because they need to be handled by the most competent person. Other whys are done because they are roles we want to assume—the tasks come naturally. Sometimes we perform certain roles because of expectations from others. Or perhaps, we do them out of habit. Or worse, we do them to impress others with our ability to do everything.

I find this need to impress others especially prevalent in myself during the holidays. I want to be considered by family and friends to be the superhero holiday hostess. The Thanksgiving table needs turkey and ham. Buttered rolls, green bean casserole, potatoes, and homemade gravy are arrayed on a linen tablecloth. Then pecan, pumpkin, and apple pies with a dollop of homemade whip cream must follow. That’s only Thanksgiving, but it will give you a preview of my “Christmas superwoman complex.”

However, last month I discovered something very interesting. My husband is a great cook. He has hidden this talent away for twenty-three years. It wasn’t his role. But, the secret is out. From scratch, he baked a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake could have won an award at the local state fair. At first, I was shocked—pleasantly. As I devoured my portion of the tasty dessert, I began to think about the upcoming Thanksgiving menu. “Maybe he could make a carrot cake instead of one of the pies. Perhaps, he could create a new vegetable casserole. He just might be able to roast the turkey. I could carve it! Well, maybe not. But I do think I will attempt to switch one or two of our family’s holiday cooking roles.” 

Honestly, it might be fun to start a new tradition. We could share kitchen tasks and teach each other our “specialized skills.” I need to learn to release a few of the holiday traditions to others who are just as capable as I am at creating a delightful dinner. For beginners, we’ll have carrot cake instead of pecan pie. And, I think my husband can take over the dinner rolls, too. We will try on a couple of role/roll reversals for this year’s festivities. 

However, I will send out the party RSVPs. Why? I guess because it’s my role and it needs to be done.

Dear Lord, reveal to me the roles that I tend to control because of my own perfectionist tendencies or other’s expectations. Teach me to release the control I hold in all our family’s holiday traditions. Teach me to share the work, the time, and the joy. Help us as a family to work together and enjoy each other’s company. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Ask your friends and family what new “role” they would like to try during the holiday season. Allow them the privilege of sharing in the traditions. Remind yourself to assume the role of an encourager. Don’t allow yourself to nitpick about the results of someone else’s effort.   

What role do I always assume in the family festivities?

Do I aspire to the role of superhero holiday hostess?

Am I willing to let others share their talents in my holiday traditions?

Power verses:
Deuteronomy 16:15, “For seven days celebrate the Feast to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” (NIV) 

Ecclesiastes 10:15, “A fool's work wearies him; he does not know the way to town.” (NIV) 

Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (NIV) 

© 2007 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.