Friday, October 20, 2017

“Empty Nest verses Fulfilling Next”

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
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) 

I now enjoy that my chicks have flown the coop.  However, that wasn’t always the case.  I mourned for my first son when he left home.  His empty seat haunted me from across the dinner table.  I dreaded it when my daughter graduated and moved to California.  I bawled when my youngest son joined his older brother in Minnesota, a mere 1,700 miles away from me.

But now?  Although I love my children dearly, I am glad they are competent and independent grown adults.  I will always be their mother but now I can be their friend too.  I realize that when certain seasons of life pass, such as raising children, then God provides pathways to new adventures.  Because He promises, “He plans to prosper us… and to give us a hope and future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).  Life is not over when our children leave home, it’s just a new beginning.

An exciting and unknown journey begins each time we enter a new phase in our spiritual life.  We should look back where we have been and what we have been through during the years.  Henry Blackaby calls these spiritual markers.  He writes in Experiencing God, “God works in sequence to accomplish His divine purposes, What He did in the past was done with a Kingdom purpose in mind.  What He is doing in the present is in the sequence with the past with the same Kingdom purpose in mind.  Every act of God builds on the past with a view toward the future. . . A spiritual marker identifies a time of transition, decision, or direction.”

So, the “empty nest” is a time to transition to the “fulfilling next”.  What’s in your past that you can use to fulfill your future?  What dusty dreams do you still hope to achieve? 

For example, I recently spoke at a Mothers of Preschoolers Event.  I met a woman who was on a brand new adventure.  Her children were grown up and long gone from her home. Yet, she held a darling foster daughter in her arms.  My new friend told me she had always wanted to nurture abused and neglected children in her home.  However, she did not have enough room until her own children went to college.  This motivated woman had now transitioned her home into a foster care and loved every minute of it.  

Next with a smile and chuckle, she introduced me to her married daughter.  This daughter sat beside her bouncing a cooing baby on her lap.  Yes - Grandma, foster daughter, grown daughter and granddaughter all attended the same MOPS group. 

So have your kids flown the nest?  If yes, it’s your time to fulfill the next spiritual marker God places in your life.  Let your imagination and dreams soar.  Write your book.  Finish your nursing degree.  Volunteer at church.  It’s your turn to fly!

Father, thank you for this new opportunity to soar into your eternal purpose for my life.  Help me to review my past and discover my new purpose beyond raising my children.  Give me the courage to step out into the new adventure that awaits me beyond the empty nest.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application steps: 
Spend some time reviewing your life.  Make a list of past spiritual markers in your life and consider what they have prepared you to do now.  Jot down a few dreams that you would like to accomplish.  Then determine to step out in faith to achieve what God’s purpose is for you in the future. 

Refection points:
Do I believe God has a plan for my life beyond motherhood?

What spiritual markers make me who I am today and what I could become?

Where do I see myself in ten years?

What can I do that would make my children proud of me?

Power verses: 
Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (NIV) 

Proverbs 24:14, “Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. (NIV) 

Proverbs 16:3, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (NIV)  

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) 

Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands. (NIV) 

 © 2006 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Harvest of Fruit

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:  
 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law,” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV).
Autumn harvests laden our table with fresh fruits and vegetables. We decorate our homes with the cornucopia, also known as the “Horn of Plenty,” a hollow, horn-shaped wicker basket. Apples, oranges, bright gourds, and multi-colored Indian corn spill from the basket as reminders of the abundance of God’s blessings in our lives. 

The apostle Paul speaks of another kind of fruit—the fruit of the Spirit. He writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).” Against such there is no law. We do not need to worry about over indulging this type of fruit. God desires us to be so full that we absolutely overflow with His Spirit. 

However, in order to obtain the fruit of Spirit we must harvest it in our lives. Galatians 5:25 gives us a tip on how to begin to reap this crop, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” As a farmer labors to produce his crop, so we must work hard, too. When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, we react in a godly manner when people annoy us and circumstances move beyond our control. We must determine to keep in step with the Holy Spirit rather than allow our human nature to overtake us. Think about the following circumstances in which we could allow the Spirit to take control of our attitudes and emotions. 

·      A fight with our husband
·      Parenting teens
·      Neighbors who annoy us
·      An unappreciative boss
·      A fender-bender in a parking lot
·      The dishwasher overflows
·      An uncaring doctor

What would you add to the list? Whatever creates irritability, impatience, or discontent could be added to the list. Of course, the key to any type of adversity is to remember the words of Jesus, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7 NASB).” The Helper is the Holy Spirit. He will help us produce the fruit of righteousness if we allow it. With the Spirit’s help, we can obtain an overflowing abundance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness  
and of course, self-control.

Will you join me in a harvesting the fruit of the Spirit this autumn?

Dear Lord, teach me to walk in Your Spirit. I want to harvest all the aspects of Your Spirit. Infuse me with Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I find myself in adverse circumstances, remind me to keep in step with Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
Place a cornucopia on your kitchen table during this harvest season as a reminder to yourself to pursue the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Allow yourself to overflow with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and, of course, self-control. Make a mental note to keep in step with the Spirit throughout your day.

Which traits of the fruit of the Spirit do I need the most?

Am I willing to pay the cost to obtain a harvest of righteousness?

In what circumstances do I need to call on the Holy Spirit as my Helper?

Power verses: 
Galatians 5:25, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (NIV) 

John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (NASB) 

Ephesians 5:8-10, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (NIV) 

© 2008 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Biting the Back

By Susanne Scheppmann

Key Verse:
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.
Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG)
Suddenly, we heard a screech from my three-year-old granddaughter. Bawling like a newborn calf quickly followed. My daughter-in-law and I rushed to find a purplish-red oval on Emily’s back. Ouch! It seems her younger sister took to gnawing on her back as they struggled for possession of a toy.

This childish episode caused me to imagine God gazing down on our behavior, shaking His holy head and saying, “Stop talking badly about one another. You’re hurting her. Stop backbiting over such silly things.”

Unfortunately, backbiting comes easily for us, doesn’t it? We become put out over a co-worker, a neighbor, or even a sister in Christ, and we begin to speak with negative words spewing from our mouth. Our tongues wag and we injure people—sometimes the ones we love the most.
Remember the childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Ha! That is a false statement. Hurtful words can damage and leave bite marks for a lifetime.
So why do we do this? We backbite because our words are the most difficult thing for us to control. The Bible states in James 3:2, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way (NLT). We need to pray that the Holy Spirit will nudge us each time we are ready to fling a few disparaging words.
In addition, if we are the recipient of a bite on the back, we must learn to forgive quickly. Our key verse advises us to, “Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.” This isn’t as hard as it may seem. Realize that things are said that may be misspoken, and not meant to hurt as much as they do. Understand that if you hold bitterness in your heart about the unkind words, the bitterness affects you, not the other person.
I witnessed this forgiveness in action with my granddaughters. The younger one, the backbiter looked defiant, then confused, then sad. “She said, “Sworry.” They hugged.
Later in the day Emily, the granddaughter who had been bitten, said, “It hurt real bad, but now it’s not.” Yes, there are two lessons to be learned from our key verse and two toddlers—don’t backbite—and forgive.”
Dear Lord, I ask the Holy Spirit to nudge me the next time I begin to backbite someone. Give me the sense and control to shut my mouth before anything hurtful hurls itself off my tongue. Also, help me to forgive those who hurt me with their words. Mold me into your image of grace and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Application steps: 
 Read James 3:1-12. Ponder what James compares the tongue to in these verses. Consider if your tongue is a “restful evil, full of deadly poison.” Determine today not to backbite anyone—no matter how aggravating. Decide to use your tongue for the encouragement of others and to praise our God.

In what situations do I most like to use my tongue in a negative manner?

Why do I backbite? Is it jealousy, bitterness, or a power struggle?

 Power verses:
Proverbs 21:23, “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” (NLT)
1 Peter 3:10, “For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” (NIV)
James 3:5, “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” (NIV)

© 2010 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.