Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jesus Wept

John 11:35 (NIV)
Jesus wept.

Beginning the discussion:

 “Hi, Sheryl.”

“Well, hi, Jay!” I am always happy to hear from my brother who lives several states away.

“There’s going to be a family reunion,” His voice sounded a little strained.

Yes, I know I thought during a pause. The Hilker clan has been planning one for months.

“Yea, uh … ” It sounded like he was about to cry.

“Jay! What’s going on?”

“It’s Matthew. He died this morning in a motorcycle accident when a tire blew out.” Then all I could hear was heartbreaking sobs.

“No!” I felt my throat tightened as tears flooded my eyes. I sat in the nearest chair and cried with my brother.

We all experienced it, or heard of others getting it - and we all definitely fear it: the phone call that changes our immediate priorities; the one that announces a death, or an illness of someone very close to us. And suddenly we’re packing, changing schedules, cancelling appointments, and in the car driving to be part of an unplanned and grieving family reunion - which is what my husband, Bert, and I did this past weekend.

This week we are stepping away from the “Segment-by-Challenging-Segment” series we’re currently memorizing to spend time on John 11:35: Jesus wept.

I’ve heard many interpretations on why Jesus cried at Lazarus’ gravesite. Today, I’m inclined to believe that one of the reasons He wept was because He had compassion for the grieving. I’m thankful God cares deeply about the things we’re going through.

And as we memorize and meditate on this short verse, let’s exercise the practice of showing God’s compassion to the hurting, as we weep with those who weep.

I’d like to offer another verse for Jay and Wendy, their son Trey and his wife Sarah, Jason (Wendy’s brother and close friend of Matthew), my sisters, and Matthew’s friends:

John 14:1-3 (NKJV)

1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

Discussion points for John 11:35: Jesus wept:

• When have you felt Jesus weeping with you?
• How has Jesus’ compassion for you helped you weep with others?
__________

To help you memorize this verse, you can write the scripture out by hand on an index card. Or click on the Biblegate.com link to copy and paste the verse in any Bible translation you choose. The Preparing Scripture Memory Cards” tab may also be helpful.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love is Not Jealous

Part 3 of a “Segment-by-Challenging-Segment” Series of 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:4c
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; … (NASB)

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, … (Amplified)

Beginning the discussion:

“You think leaving your child at school on his first day of kindergarten is tough? You have no idea the pain of being separated from your child!” My words were clearly unsympathetic to my friend when she confided to me how she teared up after leaving her oldest child at school for the first time. I was unable to empathize because I was separated from my small children due to a constant battle with anorexia nervosa, a serious eating disorder. I would have given anything if my children would be returning home after just a few hours of school.

I regret the way I acted towards her. I wish I could take back many words I spoke during those painful years when I wasn’t able to raise my children. It’s not fair! raged within me. Indeed, I was boiling over with jealousy—an emotion that had control over me for years. (I am thankful that God enabled me to maintain a close relationship with my children in spite of my attitude and not raising them.)

This week, we are focusing on overcoming jealousy in our progressive goal of memorizing and obeying 1 Corinthians 13:4-7a. My daughter, Wendy, commented (the first!) on my last post on how God’s love, patience and kindness helps her when her temper is ready to flare. I responded by confessing that due to my meditating that week about responding kindly (see last weeks’ verse), I avoided a confrontation with a friend that weekend.

As you probably guessed by now, God and I have lots of conversations regarding my attitudes and my tongue. I sincerely want to overcome these sinful traits. That is, after all, why I began this blog.

Recently, on the way to Louisiana to see my children (and grandchildren!) I listened to a CD by Terry Workman, the pastor of Victory Harvest Church in Baton Rouge. In that recording he spoke about the time he refused to give into jealousy when a co-worker got the promotion that he was hoping for. He said he spent hours banging pots together while declaring, “I will not be jealous!” God actually helped him to overcome his jealousy to the point that he sought ways to help that co-worker succeed in his new position. I replayed that part of the CD several times! “God, do that in me,” I prayed out loud in my car.

Is that your prayer, too?

Discussion Points for 1 Corinthians 13:4a: Love is patient; love is kind and is not jealous:

• Is jealousy damaging any of your relationships at home, work, or school?
• With God’s help, are you willing to overcome jealousy by at least praying for your rivals to succeed?
• What other ways have you struggled with and overcome jealousy?
__________

To help you memorize this verse, you can write the scripture out by hand on an index card. Or click on the Biblegate.com link to copy and paste the verse in any Bible translation you choose. The “Preparing Scripture Memory Cards” tab may also be helpful.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Striving Towards Kindness

Part 2 of a “Segment-by-Challenging-Segment” Series of 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:4b (NASB)
Love is patient, love is kind ...

Love endures long, and is patient is kind … (Amplified)

Beginning the discussion:

As a private caregiver for the elderly, family members will often interview me to see if I’m the right person for the job. When answering their questions regarding my training, I often say, “Well, I’m not a CNA (certified nursing assistant), or a RN (registered nurse), but I’m an ANP.” I pause slightly to allow them to search through their memory banks trying to “remember” what ANP stood for. Then I solve the riddle, “a nice person.”

They chuckle with relief because that’s what they’re always looking for—a nice person to care for their loved one. And although I actually have Sheryl H. Boldt, ANP on my name tag, it’s much more of an ice breaker than a true testimony of my personality trait. Because you see, if it wasn’t for the work of God in my heart (and His kindness towards me), I would indeed be a NANP (not a nice person).

If you read my previous post, you will remember that we are slowly working our way (segment-by-challenging segment) to memorize and incorporate 1 Corinthians 13:4-7a into our lives. Last time, we began with, “Love is patient.” How are you doing with that? Memorized it yet? More importantly, are you behaving in a more loving way?

This time, we’re pushing on and adding “love is kind.” Hopefully, we’ll pray to allow God to change us to reflect His loving kindness even when those around us aren’t. And that God will help us be kind after someone insults us, or respond kindly when our hair is cut too short, or when we are charged for three tubes of toothpaste rather than two or when our spouse or children forget to thank us for any of the endless deeds we do for them.

Kindness is a step added to patience, isn’t it? I can perhaps accomplish the appearance of being patient (which is a feat in itself); but to stretch further and respond kindly takes a more obvious effort. And of course, I pray our goal will be that we are truly changed from within.

By the way, while I wear the ANP next to my name, I do humbly admit that I know several ENP’s (even nicer people).

I hope to hear from you.

Discussion points for 1 Corinthians 13:4a: Love is patient; love is kind:
  • How do you normally respond when people treat you unfairly?
  • Do you know any ENP’s? How does their example of showing kindness influence you?
__________

To help you memorize this verse, you can write the scripture out by hand on an index card. Or click on the Biblegate.com link to copy and paste the verse in any Bible translation you choose. The “Preparing Scripture Memory Cards” tab may also be helpful.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Striving Towards Patience

Part 1 of a “Segment-by-Challenging-Segment” Series of 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13:4a (NASB)
Love is patient,….

Beginning the discussion:

 “It’s about time!”

Immediately my face burned with embarrassment from my rudeness. True, I wasn’t the only one in line frustrated with the store cashier’s laughing and chatting with a coworker between customers.

However, I knew my tone wasn’t what Jesus’ would have been. And I wish I could say that it was rare for me to show impatience, but I want to keep my communications with you honest.

The memory verse above is only part of 1 Corinthians 13:4. In its entirety, it reads:
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
And in the Amplified:
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy; is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
I was going to post the whole verse. However, the purpose of this blog isn’t only to commit Scripture to memory; but it is also for us to practice the verses’ meaning in our everyday lives.

To be honest, I’m challenged by each virtue listed in verse 4, not to mention the others listed in the following verses of 1 Corinthians 13 (:5 - :8a). Therefore, I decided to take one segment at a time, and will continue segment-by-segment until we complete the whole section. Just think how much nicer we’ll be! I’m sure our husbands, friends, and cashiers worldwide will be glad we spent time in the love chapter.

So this time we are asking God to help us to behave patiently. I’m hoping that as I think about God’s patience (and mercy) towards me, I can behave more patiently with my husband, fellow drivers (even when I’m in a hurry), phone systems that keep me on hold—and yes, even with inconsiderate store cashiers. With God’s help, I want to live, speak, and think with the same kind of patience God extends towards me.

Let’s pray for one another as we strive towards being more patient.

Here’s a little bit of how the next (several) memory verses will look:
The next verse will be: 1Cor13:4a: Love is patient, love is kind. The following one will have “and is not jealous;” added onto it, and so on.

What do you think? Will breaking these verses into small sections help you to memorize and put into practice this beautiful and challenging section of scripture?

Discussion points for 1Corinthians 13:4a:

• In what situations do you find yourself behaving impatiently most often?
• What changes will you have to make in your expectations of people/events to make practicing patience easier?
__________

To help you memorize this verse, you can write the scripture out by hand on an index card. Or click on the Biblegate.com link to copy and paste the verse in any Bible translation you choose. The “Preparing Scripture Memory Cards” tab may also be helpful.
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