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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Think On These Wondrous Things!

"But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)

Mary Had a Mindset Beyond Her Difficulties
Regardless of the stigma society placed on Mary for having been pregnant out of wedlock, and the shame that others connected to her as the babe grew within her, regardless of the scorn she received from onlookers, she choose not to think on those things. 

Rather Mary treasured in her heart what was true - she had given birth to Messiah and was now seeing God confirm for her, through the shepherds, that it was indeed so. She was thrilled at what God was bringing to pass. She thought on these miraculous and marvelous happenings which were unfolding before her very eyes.

What About Me?
Should it be any different in my own life? Should I not ponder and treasure how God is at work within me to sanctify me, to change me daily into the image of His Beloved Son? Every day, every moment, Christ is abiding in me. The Holy Spirit teaches me the things of God and comforts me in any affliction. Every day, my Triune God speaks truth into my life. Everyday He walks with me and tells me that I am His own. He is actually my Father; Jesus is my friend, brother, Savior and Lord; the Holy Spirit dwells in me and reveals these glorious details to me. Every day He is proving Himself to be more than I ever dreamed or imagined.
A Mindset That Leads to Worship
These are the things that I should be thinking on and when they are, worship just happens. With every thought that Mary treasured, her mind was taken upward to behold her amazing God. This is worship. This is adoration. This is pure delight in the Lord's presence!

A Mindset That Reveres Scripture
And this treasuring of the things of God as they unfold in my life is exactly what I am commanded to think on in Philippians 4:8. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is just, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Certainly, we can say, "God is truth (John 14:6). He is just, Who died for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). He is right and righteous altogether (1 John 3:7). He is pure and holy without any taint of sin (Habakkuk 1:13), (1Peter 1:15-16). He is the loveliest of ten thousand and more (Psalm 135:3). He is of the most glorious repute, having been bestowed with the Name which is above every name (Philippians 2:9). He is excellent in greatness (Psalm 150:2) and in name (Hebrews 1:4). And is there anyone or anything more worthy of praise than our gracious and kind God (Psalm 146:1)? Absolutely not!

A Mindset That Becomes a Way of Life
The command in Philippians tells us to dwell on these things, to let our minds be governed by what is true, etc. So when are we to think in this way? Is it to be just at Christmas time? We see Mary dwelling on these things at her Son and Savior's birth, but did that mindset change once Jesus was walking, growing older, becoming a man? 

In Luke 2:51-52 we see Jesus at the age of 12. He had grown and was now considered a man by Jewish culture. He had gone with His parents to Jerusalem for Passover. When they left to go back home to Nazareth, He stayed behind at the temple, unbeknownst to them. Luke 2:46 tells us, "...after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions." 

After finding their Son, they left with Him to travel back home. Once more in Luke we read, "And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

Twelve years after His birth, we find Mary still pondering on the wonderful workings of her God as they unfolded in her life. This mindset had become her habit. 

This mindset would be the very thing that would enable Mary to face the crucifixion of her Son and continue to trust God when her life would otherwise have fallen apart.

A Mindset That Speaks of the Very Heart Of Christmas
And so it should be for me and anyone else who knows the Savior. He is so very personal to His beloved ones, to those who trust and revere Him. How can we fail to let our minds think on those things He shows us? And then how can we not worship this precious One who came, as a lowly babe in human flesh, the Just One, Who died for the unjust so that we might know and love Him and be loved by Him?

Surely this is the true meaning, the very heart and essence of Christmas!

"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth." (Colossians 3:2)

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Think On These Wondrous Things!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

God is Not Only Able, He is Also Willing

"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness." 
A. W. Pink
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Matthew 15:21-28, is an account of a woman who refused to give up asking Jesus to rescue her daughter, who suffered greatly. We read, 

"And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.' 

But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, 'Send her away, for she is crying out after us.' He answered, 'I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'  

But she came and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, help me.' 

And he answered, 'It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.' 

She said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.' 

Then Jesus answered her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.' 

And her daughter was healed instantly."

Who was this woman?

This woman was not a Jew. In fact, she was a Canaanite, a people who, historically in the Old Testament, were bitter enemies with the Jews. These gentile people were idolaters, known, in the Old Testament, for sacrificing their children to their gods. But this woman was pleading for her child to be made whole.

How and what did she know about Jesus?

It is quite amazing then that she would even approach Jesus. In reading the story, Jesus seems to be very reluctant to respond favorably to her and her request. She seems to be a bother to Him, in fact. But this is simply not the case, as we shall see.

Somehow this woman knew some very basic facts about Jesus. She must have seen Him healing others and heard the many accounts about Him that swirled about the region - accounts of those who had not been refused by Him. 

She knew He was the "Son of David", a title that acknowledged Him as the Messiah, for she cried out to Him by that name. She also called Him "Lord" indicating that she regarded Him as her master. She implored Him for His mercy, knowing that she needed that for her soul and for her life. She knelt before Him in worship, recognizing Him as One who was sovereign over her.

What made this woman so confident in approaching Jesus?

This woman knew who Jesus was. And in knowing who He was, she also knew His character. She knew He never refused those who came to Him. She knew and believed that He would not refuse her either, even though she was a gentile of the vilest reputation (being a Canaanite) and even though she was a woman (regarded by men at this time as mere chattel with no rights whatsoever). Above all else, she knew and believed that Jesus delighted in giving to those who loved Him the deep longings of their hearts. She knew how very good and willing He was and so she approached Him with great confidence.

This Canaanite woman knew Christ was willing and therefore would not give up asking of Him even when it appeared that He was refusing her. She was not seeking to overcome His perceived reluctance but was undertaking to lay hold of His gracious willingness. 

Am I as confident and persistent as the Canaanite woman?

Our understanding of the Lord's willingness is crucial to actually receive what we ask for. In this story, it is a foregone conclusion that if this woman had not persisted in her asking, had she walked away dejected because of what seemed to be a refusal by Jesus, she would not have been commended for her faith, nor would her daughter have been healed. 

So, how willing are we to persist in prayer? Are we as determined as this woman? Are we as desperate for Christ as was this tenacious mother? We must not give up asking what we know God is willing to give, which is just another way of thinking about what it means to pray according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). He is able and willing to give when we pray in this way. 

Moving Mountains

We don't believe You're able.
We don't believe You would.
We don't think You are willing.
Don't think that You're that good.
"All things are possible", said Christ.
"Through Me, so just believe."
"A mountain moves because you ask
And know that you'll receive."

So why do we not ask of You?
Your promise to fulfill;
We think, "Yes, God is able,
But is this thing His will?"
We might think You are able.
But we don't believe You would.
We don't think You are willing.
Don't think that You're that good.

Today, like every yesterday,
Lord Jesus, You're the same.
You preached Good News, healed all the sick
Who called upon Your name.
Of those who came and asked of You,
Not one was turned away.
Is mountain moving harder now?
Is God not good today?

Yes, we believe You're able.
We think You surely could.
But we don't think You are willing.
Don't know that You're that good.
Our God moves mountains with great ease.
He's done it from the start.
He moves a mountain every time
He tames a rebel heart.

No, mountain moving is not hard;
It causes God no grief.
The thing that's hard is my own heart.
Lord, help my unbelief!
O, I believe You're able.
And I want to know You would.
I want to know You're willing -
To know that You're that good.

O, move this mountain in my heart -
This mount of unbelief.
Through You all things are possible.
Please, Lord, help me believe.
O Savior, may I from this day,
Yes, from this very hour
Trust fully and completely in
Your mountain-moving power.

O, yes, I know You're able.
And I know You surely would.
You are so very willing.
You are so very good.
If I could simply comprehend
The goodness of the Lord.
I'd understand His willingness
And prayer would be out-poured.

He'd answer each petition
For His glory, then I would
See that He is so willing,
That He is so very good!
It's not that You are willing, Lord;
Nor even that You would.
But that You do move mounts each day
For Your glory and my good.


Posted by Sharon Kaufman

God is Not Only Able, He is Also Willing

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

About Me - Just Some Random Particulars

Just some random particulars about my life:

I've been in church from the time I was conceived.

Robert, my husband for 43 years, is still telling stories about his "pre-Sharon" days that I've never before heard (how can that be?).

Of the best gifts that the Lord has given me, four are my children, now grown with their own children (more gifts).

At the present time, my "grand-gifts" number 10.

And there are the "great-grand-gifts" - three darling little girls.

When it comes to doing laundry, I am an accomplished procrastinator.

This is what my husband and I would like to see accomplished in our marriage: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7

For me, organic gardening is an avenue to observe - with my eyes, my ears, my sense of touch, my tastebuds, and my nose - the Creator's magnificent designs fashioned to delight me.

Amazingly, at 70 years of age, I am still kept in the love of God because of my Savior. Though I sin, His love rules our relationship and He continues to forgive and cleanse me daily (1 John 1:5-7).

The books I read convict me to get off my comfort zone to love and serve God more fervently. I need this!

"Garage sale-ing" and "thrift-store-hopping" are two of my favorite pastimes.

A serious goal for me is that my home will emulate the body of Christ - the church - in miniature. May Jesus be found here, welcoming, comforting, delivering and providing both physical and spiritual refreshment and sustenance, even when the house it is a bit or even a lot messy.

The Bible Project videos fascinate me and so effortlessly teach me about the Bible.

My little dog Tucker makes me laugh with his crazy-horse antics. I see in him God's wonderful sense of humor.

 A favorite pursuit is to share a meal around the table with whoever the Lord brings our way - our homeless neighbors, a friend that is ill or a daughter that God just snatched from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of His beloved Son.

Listening to John Piper consistently moves me to pursue a more surrendered life to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The YouVersion Bible provides Bible reading plans that put me at Jesus’ feet daily, gazing on His beauty.

About the time I was conceived, my great grandmother, Franziska, went to live with Jesus, leaving behind a legacy of love for her Savior. I discovered this treasure 17 years ago in a family history book. Read about this inspiring woman of God here!

Five years of my early Christian were lived as a legalist, yielding an “inside-out righteousness”, with my "legal lists" of dos and don'ts. Unmitigated pride was the fruit. BUT God delivered me and showered on me His love. A book, "A Legal Night" was born as I “unlearned” all I had erroneously believed and discovered again God’s amazing grace and Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.

Jamin' is one way I preserve the fruit harvested here on our little farm, The Yarden of Feedin'. Find my recipes here on my food blog.

How encouraged I am by City Alight! The Lord used their song lyrics, rich with precious doctrinal truths, to transcend my physical pain while recuperating from a very tough surgery earlier this year.

How thankful I am that God loves and forgives sinners. I can get pretty messy at times. And here on "Grace, Greater than My Sin", you can read about my struggle to bring God glory.  

It's my hope that you will be encouraged through the truth of God's word, which includes the very relevant and soothing promise found in 1 John 1:9: "If we confess ours sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". 

My, oh, my! Where would I be without His grace?!

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

About Me - Just Some Random Particulars