Monday, February 25, 2013

Knowing is not enough

As I wrote in my previous post, I am reading through the gospel of Luke at the moment. What a delight to read that book word for word once again, and to marvel about the lessons Jesus taught while He was here on earth.

I keep reading chapters and sometimes a single verse that needs more pondering. I will share some of my thoughts and questions with you on this blog, in the hope that it will inspire you to take a fresh look at the old stories. Maybe you can invite someone to read together and meditate on His words.

In Luke 4:38-44 we can read how Jesus healed and delivered many people from diseases and demons. In verse 42 He rebuked the demons and did not allow them to speak. Luke writes that they were silent because they knew He was the Messiah. I had to read that over and over again. If demons know that Jesus is the anointed one, the Christ, the Messiah ... then how is it possible that many people do NOT know this? There are many so called Christians nowadays that have doubts about the identity of Jesus. Was He really the Son of God? Was He the promised Messiah or not?

At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

What I have learned from this passage is that in the unseen world there is no room for doubt: angels know who Jesus is, the devil knows it and the demons know it. In the visible world many people are openly doubting His identity. Well, that is quite a dangerous thing to do, don't you think? One sentence only... and I encountered a question and a point to ponder:

QUESTION: How is it possible that demons know who Jesus is, and many people don't?
POINT TO PONDER: Knowing who Jesus is does not make us a Christian, for the devil and his demons know this too. Knowing who He is, is not the same as walking like He did. In 1 John 2:6 we can read: This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Knowing and doing are two different things.

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)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blessed woman

This past week I decided to read the gospel of Luke once again. I do not follow a certain Bible-reading-plan, but try to mix Old and New Testament as much as I can. And I keep learning new things :)

This time I discovered a beautiful verse that must have skipped my attention during previous reading sessions. Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, is having a conversation with Maria, the mother of Jesus, and she says: Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her! (Luke 1:45). Blessed is she...

Elisabeth spoke those words to Maria and I never noticed the prophetic meaning before. Her words are so much more than a common pleasantry, they are applicable to my own life. Actually, I believe every woman can adapt them: Blessed am I who believes that the Lord will fulfill His promises to me.

We can find many tools and promises for a blessed life throughout the Bible, for example:
  • Psalm 1:1, Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers
  • Psalm 41:1, Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble
  • Romans 4:7, Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered
  • James 1:12, Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him
And of course we have the Beatitudes! But for now I want to leave you all with the words as written in Luke 1:45, Blessed are you who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to you.

PS: Is there a certain promise or word you want and need to hang on to?

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Church homework

Has it ever happened to you? Someone says something really significant and you tell yourself 'gotta remember this' and not even half a day later you don't remember what it was. This is how it often happens with sermons being preached (sorry)...

We speak in different churches and my husband and I are always trying to come up with things to make a sermon practical. We should be doers of the Word after all, not only hearers. Saying how nice and wonderful a message was, means nothing if we don't put the words into practice. First of all we have to learn how to remember things.. The easiest way to do this is through making notes. How do students learn in school or college? By taking notes and going over them again at home. Isn't it logical to learn the same way in church?

A few weeks ago my husband Jan spoke in a church in Holland and the next day all members received an email, it said:

"Jan gave us all some homework to do, so let this email be a reminder! It is important to put into practice what we have learned last Sunday. Grow and develop, seek God and do what you have learned!
  • Read Proverbs 8
  • Listen to the podcast of the sermon again
  • Purchase a journal and start this year with writing down your spiritual adventures
  • Bring this journal to the services and make notes to further study at home
  • Write down what you have learned (about Jesus) in 2012
  • Write down what you want to learn or experience this year, for example: victory in certain things, receiving of spiritual gifts etc.
  • Make sure to write down your questions, disappointments en challenges as well
This way, it will be possible to see within (half) a year or so which prayers have been heard, what longings fulfilled and which questions answered. Spiritual growth becomes more clear."

What is your experience when it comes to putting into practice what you've learned? Do you make notes in church?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Remembering the 1953 flood in Holland

My friend placed some pictures of the flooding that happened here in Holland in 1953 (now sixty years ago) on her quilt blog Sweet Home Ala Marja. One of the pictures shows our house, all the way in the lower left corner.

Our town is situated on a dike that is supposed to keep the water out (remember that most of our country is below sea level). But on January 31st in 1953 the dikes broke in several places and parts of the country flooded and thousands of people were killed. Many survivors remember that horrible day all too well.

Sometimes the water in the river still rises to dangerous levels, especially during a storm and full moon. 

I was born ten years after that national disaster, but I remember looking, together with my brothers, through the book The Battle of the Floods. We were filled with fear and sorrow when we saw the pictures of people in boats, of houses covered in water and of dead animals. We even recognized some parts of 'our dike' in the book. We really hoped nothing like that would ever happen again in Holland.

Natural disasters are not new, they have always happened. Noah witnessed the earth being under water for 150 days. In the Bible we can furthermore read about storms, droughts and earth quakes. The battle between mankind and the elements is a battle of all times. Cold, heat, drought or floods... they come and go, as do the opinions about our climate changes. Too cold, too wet, too warm or  too dry... Do we have to worry?

The Bible says:
As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.
(Genesis 8:22)