February 28, 2016

Scripture Scrapbook-Q and R

MEANS: The amount or number of a material or immaterial thing not usually estimated by spatial measurement.; a certain, usually specified, amount or number of something.
FROM:  Middle English: from Old French quantite, from Latin quantitas (translating Greek posotēs), from quantus ‘how great, how much.’

BIBLE VERSE: "Throw the net in on the right hand side," He said, "and you will find fish." So they threw the net in, and now they could scarcely drag it along for the quantity of fish". John 21:6 (also Luke 5:6)

THOUGHTS: The word quantity comes from a root meaning ‘how great or how much’. The quantity of God’s love is certainly greater than we can imagine. In more than one instance this love and care is demonstrated to the disciples in Jesus’ directions about where to fish. When they obeyed him, they were amazed at the quantity of the catch.
Shakespeare says ‘the quality of mercy is not strained’, but I think we could equally say the ‘quantity of mercy is unending’. The amount of grace, mercy, and love from God doesn’t end. It can be easy to fall into the cultural trap of trying to measure ‘how much’ Love God has for me, or for you, or for the person you dislike, or the murderer, or the terrorist. God doesn’t weight out Love-it just is and goes on and on!

PRAYER: Father God, there is no end to your Love. Too often I try to measure it and set a quantity on it. Instead, help me to rest in the knowledge that you are always beside me.


MEANS: depend on with full trust or confidence.
FROM:  Middle English: from Old French relier-‘bind together,’ from Latin religare, from re-(expressing intensive force) + ligare-‘bind.’

BIBLE VERSE: Commit thy way unto Jehovah, and rely upon him: he will bring it to pass;
Psalms 37:5

THOUGHTS: The word rely meant to ‘depend on’ and comes from words meaning to ‘bind together’. For me, this makes me reconsider what I mean when I say ‘I rely on God’… To rely on God is to trust God. More than that, it is tightly binding me to the One who loves me.
If I am binding myself to the Creator of the Universe, it will be a much deeper assurance than when I rely on a friend or computer or car. All of those can fail, but God binds God to us when we rely on God! Amazing thought.

PRAYER: Help me to rely on you, remembering that you bind me to yourself with ropes of Love and will never fail.

 You might take time to journal about the times when you have felt the endless quantity of God’s Love.
Does the idea that when you rely on God, you are binding yourself to God change your concept of relying on or trusting God?

You might find an image that shows how you would express the quantity of God’s love, or how you rely on God.

February 21, 2016

Scripture Scrapbooking-O and P


MEANS: compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority
FROM: Middle English: via Old French from Latin oboedientia, from the verb oboedire; from ob- ‘in the direction of’ + audire ‘hear.’
BIBLE VERSE: And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. (2 John 1:6)

THOUGHTS: Obedience can seem demanding. It might even seem to be controlling. After all, we put ourselves in submission to another’s law or direction. The derivation tells us that when we are obedient we are hearing what is said. The Second Letter to John notes that Love is walking in obedience to God. Do you think of Love when you think of ‘obedience’?
Perhaps we would do well to rethink the idea that obedience demands us to do something we might not want to do-like a puppy learning to walk on a leash during obedience training. Rather obedience is a response to Love that calls us to hear and come into relationship. After the puppy learns that the leash is not her enemy, she can happily walk next to her owner without pulling. If we understand obedience to God as a response to Love, we might be more willing to walk in relationship with God…

The contemporary Christian artist, Matthew West has a song Grace Wins that says, in part:
But, in the shadow of that shame
Beat down by all the blame
I hear you call my name sayin’ it's not over
And my heart starts to beat
So loud now, drowning out the doubt
I'm down but I'm not out

There's a war between guilt and grace
And they're fighting for a sacred space
But I'm living proof
Grace wins every time

And that is the way Obedience to God works-"For always and forever, grace wins". 

PRAYER: Living Master, let me be willing to offer obedience out of a response to your Love's Grace rather than compulsion.


MEANS: [person or thing] existing or occurring in a place or thing; existing or occurring now; now being considered or discussed; expressing an action now going on or habitually performed or a condition now existing; the period of time now occurring
FROM: via Old French from Latin praesent- ‘being at hand,’ present participle of praeesse, from prae ‘before’ + esse ‘be.’
BIBLE VERSE: Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

THOUGHTS: This word can have many connotations depending on use. For instance, we can present (offer) a present (gift) to a person in the present (now) moment. In our citation from 2 Timothy, we are encouraged to present (offer) ourselves to God. 
In the Old Testament there are many admonishments to present the proper sacrifice in order to be ‘make right’ with God. In the New Testament, the physical offering shifts to the giving of ourselves to God in relationship.
Lent is a good time to consider what we each Present to God. The citation from the Letter to Timothy suggests that we present ourselves as one who correctly handles the word of truth. The New Living Translation says “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” We are encouraged to work to receive approval from God as one who is not ashamed of the way they explain ‘the word of truth’, which is the Gospel.

PRAYER: Father, you give us different ways to present the Gospel. Let me be a good worker and present it fully and correctly.

Do you have an image in your mind of obedience? A child, a puppy, something else? Add it to your journal and jot down why that is your idea of obedience, and how it relates to being obedient to God.
Draw a picture of a Gift. Inside is what you present to God. What will God find inside?

Is there a connection between obedience to God and what we present to God? 

February 14, 2016

Scripture Scrapbook-M and N

MEANS: a member of the clergy, head of a government department, attend to the needs, act as a minister of religion.
FROM:  from Old French minister (noun), minister (verb), from Latin minister ‘servant,’ from minus ‘less.’
BIBLE VERSE: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10 KJV)
THOUGHTS: Interestingly there were many more uses of the word ‘minister’ in the King James Version than in other translations of the Bible. In fact, this verse in the RSV (Revised Standard Version), is translated “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” I wonder if that is because we don’t think of being ministers to each other as regularly as in times past. Or have we relegated the word ‘minister’ to an occupation rather than an action? You’ll notice that the word derives from servant and from ‘less’. To minister to someone, either as an occupation or action, is to serve. In serving another we make ourselves vulnerable and become, in sense, less than the one we are serving.
There were many times when Jesus reminded his disciples that they were supposed to serve, including Matthew 23:11 where he says, “The greatest among you will be your servant.” This could also be translated “the greatest among you will minister.” Maybe we need to rediscover what it means to minister to each other. Peter notes that everyone has ‘received a gift [to] minister…as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’ When we minister, we are offering God’s love to one another!
PRAYER: Lord let me minister to those I come in contact with each day, so that they may receive your grace and love through me.

MEANS: provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition, enhance the fertility of (soil), keep (a feeling or belief) in one's mind
FROM: Middle English: from Old French noriss-, lengthened stem of norir, from Latin nutrire ‘feed, cherish.’
BIBLE VERSE: The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense. (Proverbs 10: 21)
THOUGHTS: It is easy to think of things like foods that nourish our bodies. It is not as simple to consider how words nourish others. The citation from Proverbs notes that the ‘righteous nourish many’. We don’t have to look far to see that words that don’t nourish can have detrimental effects. Bullies use words to tease and harass. Politicians, and others, spout anger, hatred, and prejudice. The media focuses, it often seems, on the negative things. Even social media, like Facebook, can become a forum for spewing, and sharing, un-nourishing words.
As the Hawk Nelson song says "Words can build you up, words can tear you down". 

It might seem easier to go along with the crowd and say mean things. Consider the difference it could make if we each consciously tried to nourish others with our words and actions.  "Let my words be Life. Let my words be Truth. I don't want to say a word unless it points the world back to you." (Hawk Nelson)
PRAYER: Loving Father, help me to look for things that nourish my relationship with You each day.

Can I consciously think of ways to minister in my day to day life?
Is there a way I can combat negativity and offer nourishment in my contact with others-in person and via social media?

If an image comes to mind about either word, draw it or find a picture somewhere that shows it. 

February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday

I invite you to follow Lent Lines on either Facebook or the Women's Ministry website this Lent. There will be a series of inspirational postings. Some prayers, some special sayings or poetry, maybe just a picture. Sometimes it will be a combination like this prayer for Ash Wednesday.

February 7, 2016

Scripture Scrapbook- K and L


MEANS: strike a surface noisily to attract attention, collide with (someone or something), demolish the barriers between
FROM:  Old English cnocian, of imitative origin

BIBLE VERSE: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9)

THOUGHTS: We all know what it means to ‘knock’. This citation is also very familiar. Another citation using the word ‘knock’ is from Revelation 3:20--“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” In the Gospel verses we hear that God will open the door to us when we knock and ask for what we need. The converse is true, as well. Jesus is knocking and waiting for our response. In both cases, the barrier between us and God is being taken away. I think it is interesting to thing that this is a two-way interaction. We knock and ask God, who in return won’t barge into our lives without our invitation.
Having said that, it is also true that God will not give up on us and will continue to knock and pursue us. Francis Thompson in his famous work The Hound of Heaven pictures this pursuit clearly
I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days;
 I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
 Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
 Up vistaed hopes I sped;
 And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
 From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
 But with unhurrying chase,
 And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
 They beat—and a Voice beat
 More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’
 I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
 Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
 Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside)…
(Read the whole poem.) 
As Thompson points out, we often try to run away from God’s gentle and insistent knocking because we are afraid For, though I knew His love Who followèd, Yet was I sore adread Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.” Yes, it is Love Who knocks, and who answers our knock. However, when we knock and seek we find that we are not as self-sufficient as we might hope. Equally, when we open the door to God’s knock, we are changed and discover that we may not get things our own way. Are you ready to open the door?

PRAYER: Loving God, you invite me to ask you for what I need and you wait for me to open the door of my heart to you. Help me to let go of the fear and the control that keeps me from opening to your Love.

MEANS: cause (a person or animal) to go with one by holding them by the hand, a halter, a rope, etc., while moving forward, show (someone or something) the way to a destination by going in front of or beside them, be a reason or motive for (someone), be in charge or command of, set (a process) in motion, have the first place in (a competition); be ahead of (competitors)
FROM:  Old English lǣdan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leiden and German leiten

BIBLE VERSE: I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

THOUGHTS: Lead means to move someone forward by being in command of the situation or process. In the citation from Isaiah, God is promising that even the blind will be lead along paths “they have not known”. For someone who is blind, this could be a frightening situation. You have to believe that the one who is leading you is trustworthy and won’t let you fall or trip. God promises to turn the darkness to light and make the rough places smooth. God promises not to forsake the blind, or us.
In truth we are each blind in one way or another. We might say we have a ’blind spot’ about this or that aspect of our lives. God wants to shine a light on that and lead us out of the darkness so that we are no longer blind. Are you willing to let God do that?

PRAYER: Living God, shine a light on my blind spots and lead me into the new paths of your way and truth and life.

You might want to draw a door that shows your response to God’s knocking and asking to enter.
Think about what you might have a blind spot about. Is it something you want to journal about, or find a picture of, to help you visualize more clearly how to let it go?

God knocks and asks to be let in, so that God can then lead us along new paths. Perhaps you would like to draw a picture of what that path looks like.