Noah’s Ark – Part 3

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

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8.  TAKE CARE OF YOUR ANIMALS AS IF THEY WERE THE LAST ONES ON EARTH.

What due diligence Noah must have felt as he cared for the animals. What a weighty responsibility. Future growth depended on it.

Our 21st century animals might include a cat or dog or gerbil. We feed them, walk them, cuddle and play with them. They are our responsibility.

We also have some two-legged “animals” in our homes as well. No matter their age, we are charged with their care. The care list changes through the years but does not diminish. You will always be their mother or father or grandparent or aunt or uncle. Treat them as if they are the last ones on earth. 

“… As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 (That includes family members!)

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9. DON’T FORGET —  WE’RE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT

I’m reminded during this political election season that we all have differing opinions about a myriad of issues. The moral decline, however, has caused our opinions to take frightening actions and verbiage on all sides. 

May we remember who we are in Christ and that, just as He has allowed us to live in the land of the free, it comes with a commensurate amount of responsibility to love and respect our fellow American citizens. We’re all in the same boat (country.)

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

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10. STAY BELOW DECK DURING THE STORM

Oh, to be counted as a righteous person “who walks with God” as Noah did. I can imagine that it was during one of those knee-bending times that God spoke to Noah and gave  the command to build the ark. As we yield to Him, He reveals in numerous ways what He intends for next steps in our lives.

Then, there are times when He intends us to just plain use common sense. If it’s storming, by golly, seek shelter! And there in our protected place, we find Him near, comforting and guiding—all the while encouraging us to trust Him. 

Can’t you just see Noah hunkered down receiving this comfort and encouragement?

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2

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11. REMEMBER THAT THE ARK WAS BUILT BY AMATEURS AND THE TITANIC WAS BUILT BY PROFESSIONALS

Ah yes, and what was the motivation? Noah was motivated by God and the need to preserve man and animal. The Titanic came out of pride to be the biggest and best.

Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends of flesh for his strength… Jeremiah 17:5 But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7

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I find myself back to that word trust again. Trust Him in the storms, depend on Him for our motivation, love our fellow boat friends and family. Good goals as we navigate the waters of life.

~ Joyce ~

 

Noah’s Ark – Part 2

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Let’s contemplate more lessons from the ark.

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4. TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE.

Of course we think of the pairs on the ark, but that was mostly for making more pairs to “replenish the earth.” There are other advantages for more than one head. All of us think in unique ways, relate with different methods, and have distinct gifts.

Perhaps one of Noah’s sons was brawny, able to do a lot of heavy lifting. Maybe another son knew how to think in broad terms—how do we get from this stage to the next and what about the final outcome on down the road? The third son may have had detailed skills to figure out how to make holes and pegs to so that the cypress boards would fit together. 

And, of course, Noah’s job may have been to encourage. He was, after all, the one “who found favor with God.” He would be the one to remind them that this task was given by God.

 Jesus used the “pair” idea as well. In the listings of the disciples names, they are usually listed  in the same sets of twos.

…Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two… Mark 6:6-7

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5. SPEED ISN’T ALWAYS AN ADVANTAGE. THE CHEETAHS WERE ON BOARD, BUT SO WERE THE SNAILS.

Yep, they were tall and small, loud and quiet, demanding and gentle. Sounds like a church, doesn’t it? We are what we are, but there are times when we must get along, whether we’re in a boat or a church or—in a country. Let’s learn from the ark experience that to survive, we must learn to live together.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12

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6. IF YOU CANT FIGHT OR FLEE — FLOAT!

We can’t assume with Noah, three sons, and all the wives plus a barrage of animals that there weren’t times of discord. However, with all the work to be done taking care of the animals and themselves, there was little time to fight and they certainly couldn’t flee. No, they just had to float and make the best of it.

What about your family? Do you have disagreements? Is someone not doing their part? Is someone stepping out of line, causing upset? Fighting doesn’t solve the problem. Fleeing just takes the problems elsewhere. Sometimes, just like the boat or the church or our country, we just have to float and learn to deal with our problems.

Lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6

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So from today’s ark experience, we learn to put our heads together and realize that even though we’re all different, we must find ways to get along while floating the boat of life together.

~ Joyce ~

 

Noah’s Ark – Part 1

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

The blogs have been heavy lately. Let’s have some fun and learn at the same time!

You’ve probably heard of the list from “Everything I need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Well, here’s maybe a new one for you. “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Noah’s Ark.”

I found it in an old children’s leaflet I had saved, source unknown. We’ll cover a few points each week.

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1. PLAN AHEAD. IT WASN’T RAINING WHEN NOAH BUILT THE ARK.

God had told Noah ahead of time that it would rain so he knew what was coming. We’ve all had assignments. We know it’s coming, but it’s easy to put off planning. We think, Oh there’s plenty of time. Or Is that really going to come to fruition? Or Is this really what God told me to do?

For Noah, it took a powerful lot of trust to launch out into the unknown, but he trusted God with what seemed impossible. There’s that “trust” word again!

Blessed are they who put their trust in Him. Psalm 2:12

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2. STAY FIT. WHEN YOU’RE 600 YEARS OLD, SOMEONE MIGHT ASK YOU TO DO SOMETHING REALLY BIG.

We tend to think that the middle years are our productive time of life, but following God’s will doesn’t end when you’ve chosen the right school, married the right person, or landed the perfect job. The Lord often uses years of experience and trial to bring us to greater tasks for Him.

The Lord may lead us into challenging tasks at any given age.

Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

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3. DON’T LISTEN TO CRITICS; DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE.

Whoa, that’s a hard one. Not only was it a challenge to build a monstrous ark when there was no water, but it would have been doubly hard to work day in and day out with critics nipping at your heels.

Instead, we’re to dig in and get the job done in spite of criticism. As we practice with little things, He prepares us for the bigger tasks. 

Be strong and of good courage. Joshua 1:6

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4. FOR SAFETY SAKE, TRAVEL IN PAIRS.

In the case of Noah, he was to take seven pairs of each of the clean animals which would be used for food and later for sacrifices. The pairs of unclean animals would only have to reproduce themselves.

For us, it’s always good to have a friend along, to give and receive, to share ideas, and yes, for safety sake, looking out for each other. In those hard times, we find true friends.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17 

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And so, I say thank you again, dear friends, for helping me float my boat during this season.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

Trust and Assurance

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Thank you once again for your many comments and encouragements. I will take one more blog to share things learned in this six-week ordeal. 

I had gone several days to be with mother in the hospital from breakfast to supper, then it was suddenly time to make a decision about rehab. The hospital lady gave us a list of places within reasonable proximity of our house.

With minimal time to check, I chose three possibilities. One had no bed available. Within half an hour, here came a representative from each of the other two places with brochure in hand. The brochures were turned over with the reps’ phone numbers on the back. I studied each, not really looking at the front.

I felt like I was at a crossroad, not knowing which way to turn.

Just then I got a text from the memory care director at the place where mom had been living. She strongly recommended one the the two places I held in my hands.

Just to be sure I got the message, the Lord had me turn over to the front of that brochure. There was the smiling face of Art Boone, a family friend from our days in Somerset. It was as though the Lord said, “This is the place!”

Fast forward another three weeks. Since this was another transition, I was going everyday to help mother adjust and do what I feared the aides weren’t doing for her. I began to wean myself away slowly as I tried to discern what might be next steps for her. Many of you offered advice and encouragement through prayer. 

One comment lingered with me. “Perhaps discernment is more about trust.”

On Oct. 1, the devotional book I’ve been using said (as though Jesus is speaking), “I want you to relax today. It’s easy for you to get so focused on your goals that you push yourself too hard—and neglect your need for rest.”

On Oct. 3, (stroke day) my devotion started out, “My judgments are unsearchable, and my paths are beyond searching out. This is why trusting me is your best response.

Oct. 5 began, “I want you to have no fear of bad news. The only way to accomplish this feat is to have steadfast trust in Me.”

Oct. 10, “A troublesome problem can become a idol in your mind. If you constantly think about something—pleasant or unpleasant—more than you think about me, you are practicing a subtle form of idolatry.”

…we take every thought and make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 

Ouch! Do you know how humbling it is for the queen of worry to come to grips with the idea that this worry is idolatry?

The Lord has given me so many lessons in trust through my life, but every now and then He has to give me refresher courses. Thankfully, He turns right around and gives assurances.

We had one more decision to make as rehab was coming to an end—where to go next. It was possible to stay in the place where she presently had rehab though it was 25 minutes from our house. Other places closer had no rooms available. But watch God work.

On a Saturday morning, we were on our way to gather box loads of things from where she had lived earlier to bring to the rehab place when a director called from a place eight minutes away from our house. They had a room open up! We had literally just pulled out of the driveway. So we drove first to the new facility. By Thursday, we moved all the furniture and Friday we moved mother.

We have more days of adjustment ahead in yet another new place, but God calls us to trust and to look for His assurances (and not to worry!)

~ Joyce ~

Act FAST!

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Thank you, dear friends, for your many words of encouragement, care, and prayer. (See Hospital) So much has happened that I haven’t been able to respond to all your comments, but know that I have read each one more than once and received great comfort in them.

So many have asked questions about how I knew the signs and what to do. I started to title this blog, “Public Service Announcement!” I will share with you my experience in the hope that should anything like this happen to you, you will have some thoughts in your head.

Last Wednesday morning, while making the bed, I suddenly felt something like a growing high frequency or pressure in my head. It built in volume for maybe 10 seconds. I walked around the bed and realized I could hardly walk; my right leg felt numb and floppy. Jim was in the bathroom and I called out to him, but realized I had trouble getting my words out; they were slurred. I managed to get on around the bed to lay on my pillow. As I went down, I was aware that I felt dizzy.

All of this transpired in a matter of about two minutes—bam, bam, bam!

As I lay there, I thought pressure in my head, numbness in my leg, slurred speech, dizziness—sounds like a stroke to me.

Jim thought the same. We decided that this was too many symptoms to think it would pass. Jim went straight to the internet. Isn’t that where we go to find answers? I said, “What did it say?” He said, “Take an aspirin and call 911.” So that’s exactly what he did.

Within ten minutes I was in a surreal world of four men clad in dark navy, asking many questions and checking vitals. They whisked me off to the hospital where more busy activity took place all around me. Not what I had planned for my Wednesday.

By that time, I was actually feeling okay. I was able to walk to the bathroom. From that point I had a series of tests. The MRI declared it a mini-stroke. I do think the fast action of my sweet husband was vital, thus my title, “Act FAST!”

So here’s my public service announcement; when you feel the signs act quickly. Take an aspirin and dial 911.

The word fast is self-explanatory, but it also helps with an acronym of many possible symptoms. 

F – face (Face drawn, can’t smile, vision gone?)

A – Arm (Arms or legs numb)

S – Speech (Slurred speech, unable to communicate, dizzy)

T – time (Time is of essence. Get help quickly. Make a mental note of the time it happened.)

I am praising God that this all happened at home when Jim was there, that I was close to the bed, and that he called right away (better safe than sorry.) I’m thankful for first-responders, those working in ER, medicines and tests to aid us. I’m particularly grateful that I have no paralysis.

For I, the Lord, your God, will hold your right hand, saying unto you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 Thank you, Lord.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

Discernment

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

It is Sunday, the day I usually begin to write my blog. I’m sitting here, staring at my screen, trying to discern how to write about discernment. “Discernment in the Kingdom” happened to be the next lesson in our Sunday School study guide this morning and I was the teacher.

It’s easy to teach on things when they’re not too close to home, but I’ve been struggling for the past three weeks about being discerning when it comes to my mother’s health. I’ve been with her a week in the hospital and almost three weeks in rehab, nearly every day, all day until supper. 

My mother—a bright, energetic, creative woman—has 95 years under her belt. She is “Mimi” to her two grandchildren and seven great grandkids. Old age has been settling in the last few years. Imagine that! But, up until three weeks ago in her assisted living facility, she still enjoyed playing cards, Bingo, Corn Hole, WII Bowling, balloon games, and even playing the piano while the others sang hymns.

Mimi has had a few falls and this is her third time in the hospital in the last two years with pneumonia and congestive heart failure. She’s just not bouncing back this time. She is weak and seems to have lost her will to try, just wants to stay in bed. PT and OT are making great efforts to get her up and going. Reluctantly she tries, but not without a fuss.

My dilemma—when do you stop pushing? That’s why I’m praying for discernment. When is it encouragement and when is it time to let go?

And so, dear blog friends, I reach out to you for your prayers this week as we try to make decisions about where she needs to be and how much to push. To add to the mix, I’m the only child.

 Please be specific in your prayers as you feel led. Scripture verses are welcomed. Thank you, friends.

~ Joyce ~  

Feeding the 5000 – Why?

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We have come to the end of this series on feeding the 5000, but I want us to consider one last thought—why does Jesus do this particular miracle?

Of course, after a day of healing and teaching, it creates quite a spectacular ending. In fact, so spectacular that Jesus has to do some crowd control.

When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself. John 6:14-15

He had come to save them, but not as a king with an army to take on the Roman empire. No, he wants to save them spiritually, not politically.

Can it be that this great sign with the feeding is as much, if not more, for the twelve disciples?

Remember that they had just come from an experience of going out two by two to the villages bearing the name of Jesus, sharing what they had been taught so far. They had retreated to the sea in a boat with Jesus, only to be met with a growing crowd when they landed back on shore. They must learn endurance and continuous ministry.

Toward the end of the busy day, the disciples suggest that the people need to leave to find food. First lesson—think outside the box.

Jesus said, “You feed them.” Mark 6:37

Jesus prompts them to check things out, but they are still “in the box.”

Andrew spoke up, “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd? John 6:8

Jesus teaches them how to deal with a big crowd. Prepare! Organize! 

“Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” Luke 9:14b

They become close eye witnesses of the miracle when Jesus multiplies the bread. They participate in the disbursement of the food and come back for more and more. How delightful!

Then to top things off, they realize their cups, er, their baskets overfloweth. They collect exactly twelve baskets of leftovers. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are twelve—one for each disciple.

They have been immersed from beginning to end in this spectacular sign. However, Jesus doesn’t want them to get caught up in the “king-making” crowd.

Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. John 6:45

After Jesus goes off by himself for a time of prayer, the disciples will get another big dose of who their master is when He walks on water!

How attentive are you to what the master is doing in your life? Is He telling you to think outside the box? Does He want you to check something out? Prepare? Organize? Disperse something? Gather the overflow of His miraculous work in your life? Is He grooming you for greater things? Deeper things? I hope so.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

Feeding the 5000 – The Miracle

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

The people sit on the grassy slope, organized into groups of 50. (See Feeding the 5000 – Let’s Get Organized)

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven and blessed them. Mark 6:41a

I like to savor this line as I picture the Son of God lifting these meager offerings to the Father. He looks up to heaven, gives thanks, and gathers in God’s majestic power for what He is about to do. It is a high and holy moment. I imagine a hush falls over the people.

Then breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. Mark 6:41 b

Forgive me, but I tend to wonder about insignificant things and this is one of those times. Do we assume there were twelve baskets, one for each disciple? If so, where did the baskets come from? The disciples had previously been on the sea. Surely they didn’t have room for twelve baskets plus all the men in the boat.

Perhaps we can assume they borrowed some from the crowd. Pardon my need to know all the details! It does help us, though, to immerse ourselves in the setting. 

Jesus busily breaks bread into the baskets. The disciples move through the crowd feeding this group of fifty and the next group. I imagine little paths of grass around each group so the disciples can get to everyone and see who has been fed and who hasn’t.

Once again, this all takes time.

What do we hear from those in the crowd? Maybe—”Where did all the bread come from?” “It seems like He is multiplying the pieces!”

And from the back of the crowd—”Will they run out before they get to us?”

“The disciples are running back to get more and more.”

“It is almost like his miracles of healing, but to feed this many, how can it be?”

He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted. Mark 6:41-42

How are the disciples themselves responding to all of this? Maybe they are wide-eyed with wonder as they watch the baskets filling again and again. They may be the only ones who know that Jesus started with just five loaves and two fish. Perhaps they look at each other in amazement and laugh out loud with delight.

After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers so nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people. John 6:11-13

One day Jesus would say,

I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

Indeed He is the one who nourishes us, the one who sustains us and supplies our every need.

But, why did Jesus perform this miracle? Let’s explore that question next week.

~ Joyce ~

 

Feeding the 5000 – Let’s Get Organized

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Okay, now we have something to work with to feed 5000+ people—five barley loaves of bread and two fish. (See Feeding the 5000 – Time to Eat) Not a lot to go on, but then it wouldn’t be a miracle if the food was already plentiful, now would it?

Being an organized person, I love the next scene in this power-packed day. Jesus saw the need for getting things organized and he asked the disciples to help Him. We have hind sight. We know what’s going to take place, but they didn’t.

Jesus gives two instructions. Pretty simple.

Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each.” Luke 9:15

Sit on the grass (the” grassy slopes” John says)—in groups of 50. Easy breezy, you say? But look at the crowd! We discover they are 5000 strong.

I’m going to give you a little sneak preview of how I plan to construct this scene in my next book about Matthew.

Peter stood straight up, hands on hips. “He wants us to do what?”

Matthew turned to Peter, “He wants the people to sit in groups of 50 or so.”

Gesturing to the crowd of thousands, Peter complains, “You mean we have to count off to 50 that many times?” 

“Peter, can you usually get about ten men in a boat?”

“A big boat.”

“Just think five boatloads in each group.”

“Oh, I see.” So Peter shouts over to some of the other fishermen disciples and repeats the plan.

Matthew smiles and quickly sums up a group of ten men. “The master wants you to sit on the grass,” he tells them. As they sit, he motions another group of ten to join them. Then another ten, “Will you join this group, please?” And so forth for five tens—fifty!

Then he turns to another group of ten. “Please form a new group by sitting here.” To another ten, “Please join this new group.” And on and on.

Keep in mind that they’re going to need 100 groups of 50. That means each disciple must organize about eight groups of 50. As you can see, it’s a mammoth task, but with each disciple helping, it is do-able. It will take time, however. 

No doubt some in the back begin sitting when they see others sit. Then you have the problem of asking some to get up and move to form separate groups. Nothing is easy when you’re dealing with massive groups of people.

I imagine the disciples have been so busy with the “project” that they haven’t considered what’s coming next. They will eventually realize that all this preparation will serve them well. They will be able to move around the people and know who has been served and who hasn’t. Much more orderly! A great lesson for us in the value of planning ahead.

Next week is the big climax. How amazed the disciples and the people will be when Jesus feeds them all with just five loads of bread and two fish.

~ Joyce ~