Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And What Does the One God Seek? Godly Offspring

"...And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring."                                                                                     Malachi 2:15

Back in the 1980s when my husband and I got married we talked about how to plan out the perfect family.  I did a little informal research asking people how many had been in their family, how they were spaced and how they felt about it growing up.  I watched people and tried to decipher what made for the perfect family.  One friend came from a large family and had loved it.  Her husband also came from a large family and insisted that they have only two children because he had hated it.  No matter how hard I looked there didn't seem to be a discernable ideal number of children and spacing.  As we began our family we waited a couple years until my husband was almost done with school to start having children, so that I could work and make an income.  I found it a hard wait - I was really looking forward to having children of our own.  Our first two naturally spaced about two years apart with nursing.  Sometime around that time I had a spiritual renewal.  I had "asked Jesus into my heart" and sought to follow Him since I was a child of five but reading the book of Luke, I felt the LORD calling me to an intimate daily walk of obedience, of taking up my cross and following Him. Some months later as I was reading through the Old Testament story of Jacob I was struck by the wording in the story of the births of his twelve sons.  Genesis 29:31 says, " And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren." and chapter 30 uses the words,  "and God opened her womb".  At one point Jacob points out that our fertility is in God's hands, (Genesis 30:2 KJV)  "And Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?"  This was a completely new concept to me.  I asked my husband what he thought and we started searching the Bible looking up words in a concordance like woman, women, child, children and womb.  It was a fascinating study and in the end we were convinced that we could trust God to plan our family.  It really was a matter of trust.  We didn't have much money (still don't) and some raised the question of how we would provide for all the children they assumed we'd have.  Interestingly, by God's sometimes miraculous provision, we now own our own home and live debt free with those many wonderful children.  He has proven himself faithful through the years, though we have sometimes had to alter our American ideas of the difference between needs and wants.  Finding physical and emotional energy to do a good job of raising a large family (since that is what God chose for us - we have a friends who trusted God with their fertility and were given two children) has stretched us and  we didn't always do it perfectly.  One thing I have come to believe is that there are no perfect parents.  Only God is perfect and worthy of worship.  Children are amazingly resilient and in a big family there are many relationships ministering to children.  It is wonderful gift to have older children who serve and love their younger siblings.  Raising children in a large family is certainly a group effort.  The comraderie of working together in this way is a blessing.  Now that I am no longer bearing children I sometimes seek out "opportunities" for my younger children because they don't have as many natural opportunities to serve others.  It helps now that Grandchildren are coming and we also seek out ways to serve other families in our home.  
Some years ago several of our children began to rebel against God and live in sin.  The feelings of failure were overwhelming and I began to wonder if we had somehow missed God's will in having all these children and if we had been wrong in trusting God with our family planning.  Would it have "turned out" better if we had had fewer children?  This week I remembered that my parents were wonderful parents and had a small family and yet my sister was partying and pregnant in her late teens.  She walks with the Lord and is in full-time Christian ministry now, but for a few years things didn't look too good.  We idolized my dad!  Her waywardness wasn't because of imperfect parenting.  There are no perfect parents and our parents were some of the best!  Even in a small family children sometimes rebel and reject the LORD.

Consider God's heart for a fruitful marriage as explained in Malachi 2:13-15. (NLT) 

13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. 15 Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring.[a] So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.

The stated reason that God hates divorce is because it interferes with His plan for Godly offspring.  What will we in America answer when we stand before him and answer for all the Godly offspring we don't have because of our own selfishness and sin, because of our rampant divorce rates?!  But then what about all those who  stay married but have lost out on the opportunity to have Godly offspring because of the children they decided NOT to have?  I realize that just having children doesn't guarantee that they will be godly, but if we don't have them there is NOT even the CHANCE for them to be godly.  I think we disappoint the heart of God when we refuse to be fruitful.
Recently I have been pondering the parable of the ten talents as it applies to the issue of family planning.  
Luke 19:12-27KJV  follows:  (If you prefer an easier translation use this link:  Luke 19:12-27 NLT)
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.
17 And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?
24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.
25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)
26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.
27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
I've often asked myself what are my "talents"?  What is it that I have to invest in the kingdom of God?  And I believe that bearing and raising children is a major contribution I as a woman can make to the Kingdom of God. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I've always wondered what the wedding garment signified in the following parable, as one would want to be sure that they had the proper wedding clothes....

22 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.”’ But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’ 10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The following quote from Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, suddenly made this clear for me -
"Jin looked up, 'We are his church.  We are that bride!  We are dressed in the righteousness of Yesu.  We wear the spotless wedding gown of his holiness."  (Safely Home pg 136)

We don't get in on our own righteousness, but only clothed in His righteousness.  I don't know how someone can be in the faith so long and not really understand simple truths like this - it all makes so much sense but somehow even though other Scriptures speak of being dressed in His righteousness and many hymns, it had never clicked for me before in this particular parable until I read the above quote. 
I recently read Safely Home by Randy Alcorn and I can't recommend it highly enough.  Following are a few of the many quotes I copied into my commonplace book of quotes:

"China is my place of service.  It is the battlefield where LiQuan has been dispatched as Yesus' soldier.  But this is not my home.  Heaven is my home, my true country.  I know that now.  But it was a hard lesson to learn."  Pg 88

""Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare composed poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great sweeeper who did his job well.'"  pg 89

"...Many students hoped they could change society and find meaning without God.  That day, hope was dahsed (Tianamen Square) and no matter how painful, it is always good when false hopes are dashed.  Since then, many have learned to trust not in man but in God.  That evening as he wept in my arms because of what happened I led my nephew Li Yue to Yesu.  He was only eighteen.  I hope you will meet him.  When men know they  cannot hope in a country, in a political belief, or in themselves, they become free to hope in God."   Pg 94

"...Who am I supposed to blame (for his mother's painful cancer death)?  If I was all-powerful, I wouldn't let people suffer like that.
    You do not see the end from the beginning.  You do not understand God's ability to use suffering for higher purposes.
     All I know is, I trusted God and He let me down.  And you don't know the half of it....

..."I know something of suffering, Ben Fielding.  I have learned God is not my servant.  Did you think he was like the story of Aladdin?  That he was your genie?  That he is safe and tame, at your call to do tricks and entertain you?  That is an American way to think, perhaps.  But it is not true to Shegjing (Scripture).  You cannot rub a magic lamp and comand God to do your will.  You accepted blessing from his hand, and still you do--yet you reject him because of adversity?

..."Are we not the clay, and God the potter?  When He refuses to conform to our wills, do we discard him?  If you are looking for a religion centered around yourself, Ben, I must agree that Christianity is a poor choice."                   Pages 108-109

"An obedient man is free when in prison," Quan said, "A disobedient man is imprisoned when free." Ben didn't like the way Quan looked at him.           Pg 119

"No.  But it is not that the communists wish there were a God and have been convinced by the evidence there is none.  It is that they fear there is a God and therefore reject the evidence for him.  Believers comfort each other in their suffering by the truth that there is a God.  Communists comfort each other in their prosperity by the myth that there is no God.  So atheism is the real wishful thinking."  Pg 107

"Did you not feel the forces today when we gathered and when we scattered?  Are you so blind that you do not realize earth is the battlefield where two kingdoms wage a savage war for the souls of men?"   Pg 158

"God is entitled to pass judgement -  he is the judge.  You think him judgemental?  I do not think he cowers in fear of your opinion.  He will not stand before you in judgement.  You will stand before him."   Pg 161

"The King sighed, 'Too quickly do they summon providence to the court of reason.  The night will only last so long before it is swallowed whole by the morning.  The longer their night lasts, the more they dream of the dawn.'  He looked at Michael, 'This I whisper to my servants in their sleep.'"  pg. 315

"They don't understand that I am not only working here, preparing a place for them, but I am at work there, preparing them for that place."   Pg 315

"out of whose control?  Ben Fielding's? Li Quan's?  Of course.  But Yesu does not cower before strutting dictators.  He does not bow before petty warlords like Mao and Stalin and Hitler.  Mao is responsible for his evil.  But Shengjing(Scripture) says, 'The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he please.  'Mao could not thwart God.  In a hundred ways he prepared the way for the spread of the gospel like no missionary could."  pg 325

"Remember the most common cause of stumbling is the fear of man.  It is God we must fear, not men, you must learn to stand boldly for your LORD, regardless of what men may think of you."  Pg 352

"'You sound like you think you're going to die', Ben said.
'Of course I am going to die, Ben Fielding. As are you.  The only question is 'Is this the day I die  If it is, we should both be ready, should we not?"
 'Yes.'       pg 354-355

"He looked not at others who turned their heads from the children, too busy to share a meal, a blanket, or a paycheck.  They did little or nothing to help the children, and he (Jesus)  regarded their failure to help as the inflicting of harm.  'To you who look the other way, saying my children are not your concern: Repent!  For it is I you have turned away from.  I will not forget."   Pg 359

"I await you, loyal servant, In my presence is fulness of joy.  At my right hand are pleasures forever more.   I am the happiness you have always hungered for, the pleasure you have thirsted after, the peace you have sought in long shadowy nights.  The darkness is nearly done.  Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."   Pg 369

"Every one of them realized something with undiminesed clarity in that instant.  They wondered why they had not seen it all along.  What they knew in that moment, in every fiber of the beings, was that this Person and this Place were all they had ever longed for...and ever would."  Pg 395

Friday, May 10, 2013 of my Dad's favorite authors was George MacDonald.  When Dad passed away I inherited quite a few volumes of his works.  Recently I read The Laird's Inheritance.  Following are some beautiful quotes from this book that I thought worthy to put in my commonplace book.

"If men's wishes are not always for what the kingdom of heaven would bring them, their miseries at least are all for the lack of that kingdom."

"...But generally, the rich do not have the same opportunity of knowing God-nor the same conscious need of him--that the poor man has.
   And when, so far as things to have and to hld are concerned, everyone is poor alike, and so far as any need of them is concerned, everyone is poor alike, and so far as any need of them is concerned, all are rich alike, the advantage will be all on the side of such as, neigher having nor needing, do not desire them.  In the meantime, the rich man who, without pitying his friend that he is not rich also, cheerfully helps him over a stone where he cannot carry him up the hill of his difficulty rejoicing to do for him what God allows, is like God himself.  The great lover of his children gives infinitely, though he will not take from man his suffering until strength is perfected in his weakness."

"Let us hold by our hopes; all colors are shreds of the rainbow.  There is the rainbow of the waterfall, of teh paddle wheel, of the falling wave: none of them is the rainbow, yet they are all of it.  But even should they vanish and even should the rainbow in the sky vanish, that hope which set it there, and will set it there again, will never vanish.  By our hopes are we saved.  There is many a thing we could do better without than hope, for our hopes ever point beyond the thing hoped for, the bow is the damask flower on the woven teardrops of the world; hope is the shimmer on the dingy warp of trouble, shot with the golden woof of God's intent."

"...Those who will not be taught through eye or ear must be taught through the skin, and that is generally a long as well as a painful process."

"To say that anything is too small to matter is of the devil; to say anything is too great to forgive is not of God."

"Cosmo had changed since first he sat behind such horses on his way to the university seven years earlier.  It was the change of growth, but to him at this moment it felt like the growth of decay--as if he had been young then and was old now.  Little could he yet imagine at twenty-three, what age means! Devout youth as he was, he little understood how much more than he his father felt his dependence on God, though his faith was real, many years had yet to pass before his faith knew the silent depths of his father's.  It is the strength of God that gives life to every muscle and skill of the youth.  But it looks so natural to him, seems so much his own, that in the glory of its possession, he does not feel it as the presence of the life-giving God.  But when weakness begins to show itself--a shadow-background against which the strength is known and outlined--and the earthly begins to press against not only its own part but also upon the spirit within, then indeed a man must believe in God with an entireness independent of feeling.  In the growing feebleness of old age, weakness is the matrix of divine strength, from which a great gladness shall before long be born--the life which it is God's intent to share with his children."

There were many more wonderful passages, these are the ones I happened to record.  Lot's for deep reflection!  Maybe you'd like to read George MacDonald's The Laird's Inheritance.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Worshiping the Golden Calf

My devotions this morning started with this passage from Exodus 32:1-33:23, "When Moses failed to come back down the mountain right away, the people went to Aaron. 'Look,' they said, 'make us some gods who can lead us.  This man Moses, who brought us here from Egypt, has disappeared.  We don't know what has happened to him.' "  Then Aaron went on to make them a golden calf to worship.  So often we think WE would never worship a golden calf!  But in the stillness this morning I felt the Spirit warning me that in the disillusionment and instability I am feeling in many relationships, the temptation is to stop waiting for God and turn to my own devices to fill the aching void.  Instead I must look up and quietly wait for God to reveal himself.  We long for security and often find it in various places.  When God allows those "props" to be pulled out in our lives, it is critical what we choose to fill the gap.    People are good and necessary in our lives, but they are not our security.  Security is found in God alone.