Natasha’s Study: SDWSC Chapter 2

 

SDWSC Official Homepage http://www.sdwsc.com/

Scripture Reference: Gospel of John 12: 1-7, Matthew 26: 6-13, Mark 14: 3-9

Mary of Bethany took action; she did something…

Discussion Point 2: “She acted out of her love.  She knew that Jesus loved her, and she loved him back.  She lived loved.  That’s the whole point of the gospel, isn’t it?” Elisa Morgan, page 12

Yes, that is the point of the gospel.  You believe and therefore, you do.  We do not act out of obligation or earning; we do so out of love.  We know that we are loved and blessed, and through us, the world will be blessed.

Mary knew that Jesus loved her, and she seized the opportunity to reciprocate that love by anointing him for burial.  None of us will be able to rub oil on Jesus’ feet.  Then again, I don’t know, there may be spas in Heaven.  On the other hand, we have been given the privilege to express our love for Christ, by the way that we love and treat others.

“Then the righteous will answer him, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King (Jesus) will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the lease of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 37-40 emphasis added, New International Version

We express our love for Christ by the way that we love others.  We have several opportunities (some of which are listed in the above mentioned scriptures) to express our love to God and others.  Sometimes we miss opportunities simply because we don’t seize the moments.  God has already equipped us with every gift and talent needed to respond in a way that would be pleasing to him.  Expressing our love towards God is the very reason that there is a diversity of skills among us.

So, if you are gifted in teaching, then teach well…serving, serve well…cooking, cook well.  Say “Hello.” Smile.  Listen. Care.  Encourage.  Be a Peacemaker.  Don’t miss these small opportunities to express love to another.  One small jester may result in a big change in someone else’s life.

How do we miss this element of the gospel?  What if we each seized our “moments” to express love?

World View: No More Fairy Tales

 

We now know that according to Iran’s Embassy in London, the Iranian government no longer plans to stone Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the forty-three year old woman who was accused of adultery.  Since the time of her arrest under Islamic law in 2006, she was publically flogged and then imprisoned.  Stoning for a woman in this situation requires that she is buried up to her chest, and stones are then thrown at her head until she dies a slow and gruesome death.  According to the Amnesty International Report, “The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.”

CNN link for reference: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/07/05/iran.stoning/index.html?iref=allsearch

Some are encouraged that the culture of the Iranian society is changing, as reflected by the unwavering support that Sakineh has received from the both of her children (most surprising her son, who has been credited for this particular case receiving international support).  The fact is, however, that the situation has not changed, and that is sad.  Of course, this case is not completely resolved, and within the past few years there have been several others like it.

There is much that we could discuss here.  Please allow me to narrow the focus of the discussion a bit.  In reading this horror of today’s reality, I am reminded that this is the same culture of the women that we have come to know, love, and cherish in the bible.  We claim to love them but do not see their situations clearly, and therefore, cannot understand them completely.  The society and culture revealed in the bible does not display a safe place for women.  Somehow we read the bible and conjure false images that, Esther married a king and they lived happily ever after; Ruth married Boaz and they lived happily ever after.

That is simply not the case.  When Esther said, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish (Esther 5: 16B),” she meant that literally.  In the book of Ruth in the bible, the widowed Naomi was bitter because she had a death sentence.  Her husband and two sons (ex. her financial support system) had died, and she was old, therefore, not a prime candidate to marry again.  Had God not intervened in her situation, her best hope would have been to live the remainder of her years as a poor beggar.

Tamar could have shared Sakineh’s death sentence.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, could have also been sentenced to death for her accusation that she had conceived a child of the Holy Spirit.  Thank God that Joseph received a message from the angel and did not accuse her of adultery.  The woman caught in adultery in John 8:3-11 was certainly on her way to a stoning, until Jesus intervened and challenged the person who had never sinned to cast the first stone are her.  It is not until we see the gravity of these situations, that we understand the true significance of the deliverance that comes with God intervenes and when Jesus steps on the scene.

Sakineh’s case has reminded us to pray for God’s deliverance from the injustice that women suffer all across the world.

Will you share your prayers here?

I’ll Trust You

Since my trip home was delayed on yesterday and I had to get on the road this morning, I found myself in the pews of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA on last evening.  In a manner of minutes, the pastor went from a gracious introduction to a full blown authoritative command session.  It was hard to resist I’m sure, since the foundation of his sermon was from 2 Timothy 1:12, where the Apostle Paul writes:

 

“That is why I am suffering as I am.  Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” New International Version

 

Apart from Jesus himself, there was no teacher of the gospel who suffered as much as the Apostle Paul.  When he wrote this passage, he was actually in prison and facing death as a result of his preaching of the gospel.  Paul writes with such authority revealing that he does not mind suffering for that sake of the gospel, nor is he ashamed of the message of Jesus Christ.  He is convinced that God will indeed guard the message, but not only that, Paul is convinced that God will protect his very life!  Then he closes with the same assurance of Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he (God) who began a good work in you will carry it on to the completion until the day (or the return) of Christ Jesus.” Emphasis added 

 

I can’t help but get excited when I read this scripture.  It is one thing to know and be confident of what you believe, but what a blessing it is to be reminded of the truths that are found in the bible.  I get excited because the same God that delivered Paul from that prison cell was the same God that delivered Daniel from the lion’s den, the same God who delivered the three Hebrew boys from the fiery furnace, the same God who brought Noah and his family to the other side of a forty day flood, and the same God who brought Moses and the Israelites out of the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.  He is the same God and he does not change.  If he did “it” (whatever the “it” was) for my brothers and sisters in the Old Testament, and if he did it for believers in the New Testament, which included brother Paul, he most certainly can show up in the midst of the “its” in my life and deliver me. 

 

It’s one thing to watch God show up and work a miracle in someone else’s life, but I will challenge you to write a list of the blessings that he has made in your own life.  I dare you to put that list in your back pocket!  For I know when I get in the midst of storms, challenges, and difficult situations in my own life (as I am presently), I can rest assure that God will deliver me, because he did it for me the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that.  My God is able!  He may not show up in the way that I expect or when I want him to, but he will show up in the midst of my suffering to reveal himself and his purpose for my life.

 

I thank God that I have not placed faith in my job, or my title, or money.  I thank God that I have not placed my faith in friends or family or my spouse.  Certainly, all of these things are important in my life, but my trust is in the Lord!

 

Since I cannot think of a better question to ask, I will ask the same question that Pastor Howard-John Wesley asked the congregation on last night, “Do you trust him?”

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