Sunday, May 15, 2016

God Will Always Take Care of You

God Will Always Take Care of You

In the book of Genesis we read the story of Jacob who left his father’s home because he feared the anger of his brother Esau. As you may recall, Esau regretfully had sold his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of “soup,” and subsequently Jacob had cheated Esau out of his father’s blessing. So at this point, Jacob most likely feared for his life. Genesis 28:10 takes up the story:

 10. Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God we
re ascending and descending on it.  13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

I think it is good to recall that Jacob was not a perfect man, and had not always acted uprightly. God knew all of this and could have reminded Jacob of his many shortcomings. But, He didn’t. Instead, He pronounces phenomenal blessings on him. Then, He leaves him with the promise that He will never leave him until He has done all that He has promised. Jacob ruminated on all that had occurred in this encounter with God and then he responded with a vow of his own. If God would be with him
 and take care of all of his physical needs and safely lead him back to his father’s country, then he promised to give to God a tenth of all that he obtained. Then we are told that Jacob proceeded on his journey . . .(29:10).  One commentator stated that he proceeded cheerfully and briskly on his journey.

To proceed on his journey meant that he had 400 miles of unknown terrain ahead of him. He faced unknown challenges such as sore and blistered feet, bad weather, wild animals, robbers, intense loneliness, hunger/thirst, and sickness. Yet, he could face them cheerfully and briskly because of his personal encounter with God and the promises his sovereign God had made to him.

I believe there are lessons for each of us as God’s children in this story, but perhaps especially for you widows. You see, with the death of your husband, you too began a journey to a new life. Your journey has been, and perhaps continues to be, no less arduous than was Jacob’s. Unlike his journey of 400 miles, yours may be a journey lasting a lifetime, and one filled with perils and hardships that sometimes almost overwhelm you. Let me assure you that, just like Jacob, God has made some phenomenal promises to you. Let me share a few of them:
 Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they will cry out, I will certainly hear their cry. Exodus 22:22-23

He executes justice for the orphan and the widow . . . . Deuteronomy 10:18

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27

The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked. Psalm 146:9

. . . and let your widows trust in Me. Jeremiah 49:11

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. I Timothy 5:16

The Bible is full of such admonitions to treat widows well and speaks of God’s judgment on those who take advantage of them. His love and concern is spoken to you personally and you are never ever out of His love and compassion. Your tears, your frustrations, your loneliness and/or sense of isolation, your fears, and your constant juggling of finances are all seen by your loving heavenly Father. He longs to have you share everything with Him and put your life totally into His care and keeping. And, just like He was for Jacob, God will be with you and watch over you wherever you go. Therefore, I encourage you to walk cheerfully and briskly as you continue on your life’s journey.
Lastly, did you notice that Jacob made sure that he showed his appreciation to God by giving back a tenth of all that God blessed him with? Even the smallest amount of money or the most ordinary deeds done for others doesn’t escape His notice. Even in your widowhood, you are extending love back to your heavenly Father who so tenderly loves and cares for you. 

Message by Shari Hervold
God Will Take Care of You by the Oak Ridge Boys
God Will Make A Way by Don Moen

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Future Shaping Faith of Mothers and Grandmothers

 The Future Shaping Faith
 of Mothers and Grandmothers
 Lois and Eunice

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

Lois and Eunice were known by the Apostle Paul for their true faith in God. The faith they possessed overflowed from their lives into the heart of a child that would one day be commended and appointed to shepherd a flock of disciples. By their word and deeds, these Jewish women prepared young Timothy, Eunice’s son, to receive and reflect the same kind of exemplary faith in God that they shared with him.

We get some important background information about Timothy’s family from Luke’s record of Paul’s travels in Acts… “He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1). Eunice is a Greek name that is a derivative of the name Nike, the Greek goddess of victory. Her name means conquering well. Eunice was left a widow who had to earn the family’s living while Lois, Timothy’s grandmother took care of him. Single parenthood is not easy and this family was cut off from both Jews and Gentiles who could help them. This family learned to trust God by relying upon his promise to care for the widow and the fatherless...

“The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin” (Psalm 146:9).

Imagine how comforting the gospel was to this isolated family. Through faith in Christ they could receive the new birth and the Holy Spirit. Although they were women, widows, and not accepted by either Jews or Greeks, they were accepted by God! They and Timothy, though half Greek, could become heirs of the promises to Abraham. Through the new birth all three now had a new family… 

“God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6).

Timothy, Eunice, and Lois were probably converted under Paul's ministry but Timothy was immersed in the faith through teaching and personal example, by his mother and grandmother. As Paul noted above, they began teaching the Scriptures to Timothy while he was still a young child. Timothy's father was a Greek, so Timothy was not circumcised as a baby, leaving him excluded from Jewish religious life. But his Eunice and Lois made sure that Timothy knew God through the Scriptures and their daily lives.
 The instruction these two widows gave Timothy provided him with a foundation of Bible knowledge that prepared him to receive advanced training from Paul. Timothy was then entrusted with the responsibility of training others… “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,  and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

The faithfulness of the widows Lois and Eunice to pour their lives and God’s Word into the heart and mind of Timothy bore God-glorifying fruit for generations to come. They are an inspiration to widows young and old to shape the future by sharing the faith in word and deed with children and grandchildren today. 

We can hear the Lord’s voice echoing… “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

                                                    Message by Pastor Bob Barber 
Thank you for being a friend of "Friends Needing Friends"

Music by Chris Tomlin

I love You Lord by Laurie Klein