“Jesus said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turnabout) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this for My sake and in My name receives and accepts and welcomes Me.” Matthew 18:3-5 ->me: Well, isn’t this the perfect set of verses to read after what has transpired over the last 79 hours. Monday afternoon at 1pm, Marianne got a call from Prim’s birth-mom (Brianna) that she had given birth to another baby girl (Prim’s half sister) and wanted to know if we would be open to adopting this new precious little one (Brooklyn). God had been laying on our hearts a desire to adopt another little one (in birth order – younger than Prim) so that Prim and this new little one could grow up in our family having someone in their same life circumstance (being adopted) to lean on….and God answers with something better, a biologically connected sister. Tuesday evening, with the help of our wonderful adoption attorney, received a Power of Attorney and picked up Brooklyn from Valley Medical Center in Renton. To be clear, there are several hurdles – 1) The birth dad has yet to be contacted about this development. It is entirely possible that he will have no interest in putting his new found daughter up for adoption. 2) We do not have the work done on our side (Home Study) by a licensed Social Worker to be approved to adopt. We are however, right on the way with this thanks to our wonderful Social Worker, Gina who did our Home Study for Prim. Having another newborn in our home is so refreshing and draining at the same time, but she is absolutely precious and adorable. God is in control and whatever happens, to know that God provided in such an amazing way grows my faith!
“…For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20b ->me: Wow, I needed this today. There are events that have transpired over the last 24 hours that call on us for the kind of faith Jesus talks about here. I will go more into detail on that, in a different post, but we need to lean on God with a great faith. We are literally watching the hand of God move in several areas of our lives. He is doing something big, not just in Marianne and I, but in the lives of our girls as well. In this passage, the Lord is letting me know that even though what is happening is wrought with craziness from an earthly point of view, He has everything in control. So, my prayer becomes one of strength, endurance, wisdom, and peace. Work is crazy stressful, personal life is transforming by the minute, church life is possibly taking on a new commitment, and our girls start school in 1 week…but God. That is all I need to say…but God. But God has my life in His hands and He is in control. He will provide me what I need each day. This morning, like every morning, His grace is new. We are good because we are IN Him and He is IN us. Would partner with me in praying for our family; that we would not let our human nature get in the way by trying to fix…that we would just sit back in peace and watch God word and provide.
“Lord, do pity and have mercy on my son, for he has epilepsy (is moonstruck) and he suffers terribly; for frequently he falls into the fire and many times into the water. And I brought him to Your disciples, and they were not able to cure him. And Jesus answered, O you unbelieving (warped, wayward, rebellious) and thoroughly perverse generation! How long am I to remain with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” Matthew 17:15-17 ->me: These couple of verses are a rare glimpse into the internal frustration Jesus has with not only His disciples, but also everyone of this generation. What the point here is, is that we should not doubt the power of Jesus when it is made available. God was doing amazing things through the disciples, yet it required their faith for the full power to be unleashed through them. Jesus was frustrated that even with His presence, they had doubts that the Lord’s power through them was enough to heal this little boy. This is totally me…I know that Lord is with me, and I have seen the power of His hand in my life. For me, it is not the fact that I think He doesn’t have the power to do something, it is the doubt on whether He will CHOOSE to do it. THIS is why I am so eager to stay in His Word and draw closer to Him; so that His ways would become my ways and that I would be sensitive in the directions in which He is moving. I know Jesus gets frustrated with me too (a lot), but I hope that His frustrations become less and less prevalent as I fellowship with Him.
“While he [Peter] was still speaking, behold, a shining cloud [composed of light] overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, This is My Son, My Beloved, with Whom I am [and have always been] delighted. Listen to Him!” Matthew 17:5 ->me: As I have been reading about the Transfiguration this morning in my QT, this verse about Peter being interrupted continues press on my mind. What Peter was asking Jesus was if he should make some tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah if they were going to stay awhile…then this verse ‘while he was still speaking…”. The application I take away is this – I need to grasp the gravity and importance of God’s plans and purposes. His plans are always moving forward and He has known what will happen before the earth was formed. We are just along for the ride…but, God wants to include me! But I must be operating in such a way that I God is working in and through many things to bring about what He is going to do. I believe that Jesus brought Peter, James, and John with Him so that they could see that what Christ was about to do (dying on a cross) was bigger than them and God The Father took the opportunity to tell them to “Listen to Jesus” – Who had been telling them about the fact that He would soon die. God wanted the disciples to understand that this process of Jesus being turned over to the Jews and being crucified was part of the greater work of God. He needed their human flesh reactions and ways of operating out of the way. He needed them focused on the true mission and trust that God (Jesus) knows what He is doing. I need to be more aware of the fact that God wants me to be a part of His plan but I must be aligned with Him, He has given me a revealing of Himself so that I might know that He is in control. I need to be listening to Him through His word and prayer so that I will be prepared to trust that He knows what He is doing even when things look dire.
“For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it [life everlasting]. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] life [in the kingdom of God]?” Matthew 16:25-26 ->me: This week has been crazy! Not only has it been my first week back from a 2 week vacation but it is also the week before a HUGE event between Microsoft and this super important customer. I have been helping to land a Software build and testing every day. I think I put in close to 70 hours of work. Why am I telling you this? Because even in this place the Lord gave me so much of Himself. When I read this passage, all I can think is “please Lord come!”. One poignant moment this week was during a meeting I was having with several people on the telemetry and data we would collect next week during this event. I was praying that I would somehow be an encouragement to these people in the room who were looking to me for my input (one of them being a direct report). While I was talking, all of these things were coming to my mind that flowed together in such a way that it lent huge contribution to what this team needed. I am serious when I say that it was not me. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not an articulate person; I ramble. But in this case the Lord came down and answered my prayer in such an amazing way – He was telling me “I got you and I am here with you”. In the meeting I teared up with gratitude and worship of my God Who would chose to meet my needs in this way. I am sure the 3 people in the room were wondering if my allergies were acting up. I have no interest in saving my life for this crazy planet and time…I really enjoy my job and I love my family but man, am I anxious to be with my Savior…
“From that time forth Jesus began [clearly] to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and the high priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised from death. Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men.” Matthew 16:21-23 ->me: Back from vacation (and the memorial service), I am now back into the swing of writing out and sending my Quiet Time applications and insights God continues to give me in my life. This one today is a passage that, every time I read it, I cringe for Peter. Remember, Peter had just received the amazing blessing from Jesus for his declaration of Jesus as the Messiah. Peter, nor the rest of the disciples, could comprehend that Jesus’ mission and God’s plan were for Jesus to come and suffer and ultimately die on a cross. Jesus needed to make an example of Peter and drive home that Messiahship is not about what THEY wanted. In fact, what they wanted, was actually a stumbling block to the purpose of ‘the coming of the Son of God’. When I think of how I apply this to my life today, I realize that I try to wrap myself in the wonderful love and blessing God has given me, rather than see that there is work to do. I can easily keep myself in the little comfy bubble God has allowed me to have here on earth, but I must consistently remind myself that the real life has yet to begin; and there are preparations to be made and lives that need to hear the wonderful news of Jesus. So, today I reflect on what God’s mission is for me. I definitely don’t want to be a stumbling block.
“He said to them, But who do you [yourselves] say that I am? Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven.” Matthew 16:15-17 ->me: How awesome is God to prepare this passage with an amazing conversation had on the phone yesterday!!! There are so many things that people today will say about Who Jesus is. A prophet like Joseph Smith, Buddha, or even Mohammad. Some would say He was an angel and others would say He was a crazy deranged man. So, who do you say Jesus is? This simple question will let you know right were someone’s relationship with God stands. Who do I say that Jesus is? The Son of the Living God. God the Son Who knew me before this earthly time began. God in the form of a perfect man Who out of love for me, gave up His heavenly home to come to this cursed earth to provide a way back to the Father. A Loving Savior Who even though He knew me as a wretched sinner, still gave Himself as a perfect and lasting sacrifice for my Salvation. A Loving Intercessor Who, TODAY, sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven to represent me, my requests, and my needs before the Holy Father. Much, much more!! When a recognition of Who Jesus is, is deeply embraced in one’s bones, it has been revealed by God the Father Himself; not by anything or anyone her on earth. So, when you see someone who has fallen away from the faith, we must ask ourselves whether Who Jesus is was ever revealed to that person by God the Father in the first place.
“When the disciples reached the other side of the sea, they found that they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, Be careful and on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves about it, saying, It is because we did not bring any bread. But Jesus, aware of this, asked, Why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? O you of little faith! Do you not yet discern? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Nor the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up? How is it that you fail to understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:5-11 ->me: Hello all! No, I did not fall off the face of the earth nor have I been taken up to heaven on a flaming chariot. I have been in Southern California for a little vacation and Marianne’s Grandma’s Memorial Service (This coming Monday). I have been in the word a couple of days but took a break from my little writeups. I have really struggled with my ‘worry’ about work. Being away at this time is brutal. So much is happening on things I have been working on and I am not there. More than that, decisions are being made and I am not being included on outcomes. I know I am supposed to be here with my family but I have been worrying about why God would provide this opportunity on this project only for this to happen. When I read these few verses I just had to chuckle to myself feeling like Jesus is saying the same thing to me. “Ben, haven’t you seen all that I have done in your life; how I have put things together for your good? You think I am allowing bad things to happen in your job and all I am really teaching you, is to stay patient; to beware of the doubt that can creep in when things are not going the way you think they should be going.”