Feb 26 2023 - What God has been Teaching a few of us


Suzanne – Mike has asked that some of us share what God has been teaching us.

Henry was supposed to be here, but was unexpectedly called to NY to help unclog some sewage pipes.

We had planned to have a nice relaxing weekend. I have been short-tempered, short on patience, and discouraged lately – not a great example of my Savior. But I have been meditating on Matthew 12:18-20

18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,

the one I love, in whom I delight;

I will put my Spirit on him,

and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

19 He will not quarrel or cry out;

no one will hear his voice in the streets.

I look at this description and I think – that is surely not me! I have the Holy Spirit, but I have not been proclaiming justice. And I have been overly critical of things, and people. Just last week, I provoked an argument with my daughter. It was one of those situations where my mind was shouting, don’t say it! But my mouth was open and the words came out, and I shouldn’t have.

I was feeling hopeless and ashamed of myself. I was not behaving as God’s beloved.

20 A bruised reed he will not break,

and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,

till he has brought justice through to victory.

He will be a bruised reed, but won’t extinguish a wick. That is more like me. In God’s mercy – He has chosen to not extinguish me – He lifts me up and blows on my faith to keep it alive – it is enough for Him for now that I am not completely broken, but a light that will burn brighter.

Patty – That was really good – I get to spend some time with Suzanne and it so good to hear her honesty.

There have been a lot of sad occurrences that have happened these past few months for a lot of people – many within our church family. The Lord has been showing me the importance of coming alongside people who need a kind word or just someone to listen. We don’t always have the right words to say, but just being there is a big help.

Sometimes it is appropriate to share a verse – sometimes not. The Lord can lead you – He can prompt you when you are comforting someone, but sometimes words aren’t needed.

We all have the ability to share compassion – for anyone who needs a hug.

Sometimes it is not easy to know what to say – but being there is all you need to do.

Here is a verse I read this week and have been thinking about – the words of Jesus: Matthew 11;28 – Come to me, all you who are heavy laden – and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls – for My yoke is easy – and My load is light.

Sue – These things are so good – but we are going to switch gears now – we are coming back from California. There are both sides of life – grief, and joy -and grief needs to be felt.

But God blessed Dick and me recently with a trip to San Diego. I can’t help but smile when I say that. It was amazing.

There is so much beauty here – and there is a different beauty in California! And it has expanded my view of God. It is the same God who has created and is doing it all. And I have never been to the Rockies, or Alaska, or the Caribbean – but the world is so much bigger than what our neighborhood is, but it is the same God who created it all.

Being in California – look at this! I’ve never seen a plant like this! And the sunshine coming in the window with power and warmth! Every day I would watch the sun come up and it was like the transfiguration or when Jesus rose or flashing like lightning! Too bright to look at! There was so much we marveled at. It was amazing!

We hiked mountains – walked the sandy beaches and walking trails – and everywhere – different plants and animals – little lizards.

On our last day – we went to Coronado Island – a perfect day – sunny blue sky – picked our destination for our google map - Now traffic in San Diego is not great – too many people – they were all polite drivers, but just too many of them. So, driving was challenging – and I appreciate Dick doing it. Target to the visitor center – we got there and the parking lot was full, we turned down a street - found someone leaving – pulled in – walked to the town and beach – everything was beautiful. Beautiful buildings – people happy, the beach and everything! We had our lunch at a creatively remodeled auto-repair place. We went and got our souvenirs (Mission accomplished there!) – and our gelato (Necessary!) – and it was time to head back home.

We got up – and Dick said – I don’t remember where we parked! And I thought, well, I certainly don’t remember where you parked! He said - I know the street had parking on both sides – He is looking at Google and trying to see… I was getting antsy, let’s just start walking – I knew we needed to head toward the visitor center… and we started remembering things along the way – I remember that house with the courtyard! I remember that circle of plants! Isn’t that where that cute dog barked at us? – Then we got to an intersection – which way to go? Oh! I remember that cute little flower delivery truck – and all along – we were guided by all these things I had marveled at – beauty that I had noticed – and we ended up at the car!

Although, not a great way to find cars in general – but a way to live life – noticing the things that are lovely, and good, and special!

Philippians 4:8 – true, honorable, lovely, worthy of praise – remembering these things. In the Old Testament, God said to Remember what the Lord has done for you! Put them into the file of your mind of God’s goodness in our lives.

Psalm 136 - The lovingkindness of the Lord is everlasting – certain psalms that is every other line! I think it is redundant – but the concept, that it is not too much to remember constantly.

Although it is not a great way to find your car, it is a great way to live!

To avoid legalism – like Mike said – don’t think of the pink elephant, you can’t walk a path on that – but if you are noticing the goodness of God – that is a guide along the way.

Jeff: I’m going to take a little bit of time with Scripture this morning. I was reading one of my favorite sections of scripture this week – after the resurrection where the disciples are on the road to Emmaus – I’ll read that and expongulate on a couple thoughts (no, that’s really not a word!)

Luke 24 (NLT): 13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

I find that to be so interesting – like being prevented from seeing God in Creation – I appreciate Sue’s marvel as she walked down the street and saw these different things. I think we need to ask God to open our eyes as to how He is walking and working in and through our lives.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

19 “What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.

22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

If anyone ever asks, is there a conversation in history you would have liked to sit in on – this would be it for me.

When I was young in my faith, I came across a list of prophecies fulfilled in Christ in the back of my neighbor’s Bible – things like, not a bone would be broken (Ps. 34), He would be pierced in His hands and His feet (Ps. 22), and then, if you look at Isaiah 53 – and say – How is this not written AFTER those things took place? Isaiah 53 says “My servant will suffer” and that He would take our iniquities upon Himself – and by His stripes we are healed. And that, in my early Christian life, strengthened my faith. Whenever that doubt comes in – and we all experience that doubt – God, are you really out there? Is this all true? Is this WORTH it? – So, when that doubt comes in, we can look at the fulfillment and say, Yes! Yes, it is worth it!

28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

Talk about frustrating!

32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”

I hadn’t noticed this in all the other times I had read this:

33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem.

Emmaus was about 7 miles from Jerusalem – they had already made the journey, had dinner – and were basically settled in for the night, and they turn and head back 7 miles to Jerusalem.

33b There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, 34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. 36 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 37 But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? 39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” 40 As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41 Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he ate it as they watched.

44 Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

And just like we need to ask Jesus to open our eyes to see when He is in our midst, we need to ask Him to help us to understand the Scriptures.

46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.

49 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

He also says – Will I not give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

We need to ask Him to open our eyes; We need to ask Him to help us understand the Scriptures; and we need to ask Him – and anyone who has put their faith in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit when they believe – that’s the beauty of it – but it doesn’t hurt to ask for Him to fill us with His power to make us even more bold witnesses of all that He has done. So let’s sing together the last song proclaiming His goodness in our lives.

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