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Becky's Blog

JULY 21, 2021

Jeremiah 10:19 > Woe is me for my heart and my wound is severe.  But I say, ‘Truly this is an infirmity and I must bear it.’

“The Woe and the Wound in the Waiting”

Who loves to wait?  If you said “I do”, sorry, I am going to flag a foul on that play.   I doubt anyone, who, if asked where waiting is on their list of things desired or hoped for, would even have considered it.  No judgment here – I’m right with you in experiencing an aversion to waiting.  We are impatient by nature, made even more so by the conveniences of today where we’ve been groomed to expect an instantaneous response or use of an app that has whatever we need ordered and waiting on us, not the other way around.  Yes, there is a waiting that comes into play for things like a trip, a gift or perhaps a gathering and in that waiting, we experience pleasure and excitement.  However, it seems like that kind of waiting is pretty much attached to our efforts and actions, quickly comes and goes and usually deals with the temporary aspects of life, doesn’t it?  Not much learned and quickly forgotten.

What about waiting that is attached to fervent prayers lifted up day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year – perhaps decade after decade – knowing that what it is we are waiting for is beyond our control and completely dependent on God?  Jeremiah describes it very specifically in the verse above - a woe and a wound.  Woe is not a common word used anymore but for being only three letters long, it has a lot of meaning.  It means great sorrow, grief or trouble.  A woe that lingers, that is deeply experienced, could become a wound.  You know, those questions that start to creep in – why isn’t something happening, does God even care, how much longer will this go on?  Those are just a few of the common ones.  It’s hard to acknowledge and accept that we are now waiting on God’s purpose with a timetable that doesn’t have our comfort and convenience as a determining factor for duration or scope.  There’s always a temptation, especially one of self-preservation, to put down or walk away from a woeful burden that can’t be quickly removed so as to avoid being uncomfortable or inconvenienced.  In giving in to that temptation, are we also walking away from spiritual maturity and growth that far exceeds the growth we expect to occur from attending church regularly, reading our Bible, doing good deeds and the like?  All good things, yes, but perhaps not the best things.

As I read Jeremiah’s statement, I felt such kinship with him as there’s a particular need that I’ve been praying about for 20 years.  Some times more fervently than others, admittedly; but it is still a prayer that, to my limited human understanding, remains unanswered.  I can definitely relate to the “woe” aspect as there have been innumerable times where I have cried tears of grief over the situation, one such time lasting several hours – an entire sleepless night weeping and mourning and yes, questioning God why it has to be the way it is.  In the end, as Jeremiah did, I  acknowledged that God’s faithfulness and timing is perfect and He would provide the strength needed to continue the wait.  There’s no question in my mind that this prayerful waiting has brought about spiritual maturity for me in ways that nothing else would have as I am drawn back to Him in prayer over and over again.  

I suspect anyone reading this has had, are currently having, or will have a time of waiting with a woe that involves prayer after prayer - sometimes just silence at God’s feet because the words won’t come or don’t even seem to exist.  It’s so important to remember that we are never in that waiting alone, though our enemy would try to deceive us otherwise.  Emmanuel, God with us, is loving, transforming and preparing both the one praying and what is awaiting revelation of His intervention.  God is also prompting so many others to join us in our prayers.  I love the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” and my favorite scene is at the very beginning when as the scenes of a town are shown, prayer after prayer is heard being lifted up to God by people all over town in concern for a man named George Bailey.  That’s how I picture the church praying for one another and I can’t wait for the accounts in heaven for all the times that happened.

So, dear friends, don’t give up or give in to the temptation to lay aside the burden of woe that may be assigned to you.  Thank you for taking on the sacred burden of waiting and faithfully lifting up prayers over and over.  The church is stronger for your faithful and sacrificial obedience.  I’ve heard it said that who we become in the times of waiting is as important, perhaps more so, than what it is we are waiting for.  May what we become as we wait bring honor and glory to God and God alone.  As we pray for the burdens in our care, and come alongside others doing the same, may God mercifully grant us the strength needed to be steadfast and stay the course as we follow in the footsteps of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the greatest woe of all – the penalty of our sin.  
 

Author:  Becky Ely can be contacted at RLELYY@AOL.COM

MARCH 26, 2021

Tithing = Celebration?   It’s a promise from God and He never breaks a promise!

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 

So, how many of you reading that verse found in 1 Cor. 9:7 winced just a little or maybe a lot?  It’s those last 2 words, isn’t it?  “Cheerful giver”.  Almost seems like it expects too much commitment to the process.  Trust me, I am not throwing any stones here – there have been many times over the years that I played with this phrase like the lawyer in Luke 10 who toyed with the idea of just who is a neighbor?  You know, how cheerful does cheerful need to be, really? 

I had such an amazing shift in my understanding when it comes to the aspect of tithing recently as I was studying Deuteronomy in my quiet time with the Lord.  I will admit that tithing had become something that I did as part of paying my bills and I had become rather pleased with myself that I was obeying the Lord so faithfully.  Who would have thought there was more to this than an act of obedience?  I thought that was pretty big, actually.  Oh, dear friends, I should have known that when it comes to God, there’s always so much more!

“You shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you and put it in a basket….And you shall go the one who is priest in those days and say to him ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the country which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us’.  Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.  And you shall answer and say….”   Deuteronomy. 26:2-5

“Say…..” what?   I encourage you to read for yourself through to verse 11.  The detailed description of God’s amazing faithfulness in verses 5-9 that the individual was to give voice to reveal quite decisively that what was in hand was nothing compared to what God was recounted to have done for them.  Verse 11 even goes on to say that a celebration is expected to follow.   Suffice it to say, NOT the usual course of events in our time.

As I read and prayed through those verses, I saw the tithing experience very differently than I ever had before.  God’s people weren’t told to file past the altar, drop off their offering and move on to the next aspect of the ‘service’.  His Word describes intentionality, a thoughtfulness designed to draw the one offering closer to the One receiving by means of personal appreciation.  

I was convicted as I pondered this passage.  I saw that what I thought was my act of tithing obedience was in actuality a pretty sad attempt at an experience that God designed to be powerful and transformative for me.  He doesn’t need anything from me; His command to tithe isn’t meant to take away anything but instead just the opposite - to fill me up further by enriching my relationship with Him in every way possible.  

So with this week’s tithe I did something different.  I prepared my tithe and I stood up – holding it in my hand – and asked Jesus, the eternal High Priest, to accompany me as I went from room to room in my house and began to pray out loud all the ways God had blessed me.  It started with the provision of the room and all that was in it but then memories flooded into my mind. Priceless memories of family, friends, and experiences - it was almost overwhelming to give voice to them and certainly far more valuable than any tithe amount I could think of.  It was an incredibly moving and very sacred time of preparation.  By the time I was done, there was NO doubt in mind about the privilege of presenting this offering back to the Lord. 

Deut. 26:11 “Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household….”  

Dear brothers & sisters, I can assure you that when I put the tithe “at the altar” that morning at church, I was ready to celebrate.  What a difference – no thoughts of anxiety or worry or doubt…just joy!    I can’t wait until it’s time to do it again.  I pray to see you all soon at the celebration!

 

JANUARY 30, 2021

A Celebration is At Hand!                                                                                                
Exodus 28:41 “Clothe your brother, Aaron, and his sons with these garments and then anoint and ordain them.  Consecrate them so they can serve as my priests.” 
 
On January 30, 2021, the families at Rice Memorial were blessed to celebrate a sacred event, the ordination of our brother, John Ols.  I don’t think it was any coincidence that my devotion time that morning fell in Exodus 28-29 telling of God’s directives to Moses on the ordination and anointing of Aaron and his sons into the new priesthood of God’s chosen nation – a nation that was called to be priests to the world itself. 
 
I know that there are so many people today who struggle to stay faithful to the reading and study of Exodus once the people are through the Red Sea and about the business of waiting on God’s timing and instructions.  However, there is much treasure to be found and I was blessed to come across some of it as it was also being lived out in our church that same day. 
 
God takes the process of ordination of those called to shepherd His people most seriously – He devoted two entire chapters to it!  It was written out in such detail, the care & attention for design of the clothing, where they were to stand, how they were to be washed in readiness for the new clothing they would wear that would set them apart and that was even before the consecration process began that involved sacrifices for their sins, sacrifices for their service and sacrifices for their obedience. 
 
Because of Jesus serving as the final sacrifice for our sins, those physical sacrifices are no longer necessary but I don’t think that the ordination of one who is humbly presenting himself before the living altar of Jesus Christ for service in His Name has lost any sacredness or holiness in the eyes of the Most High God. 
 
We are so very blessed to be part of John’s journey in his desire and hunger to serve God as a minister of His Word to us and all peoples.  As John underwent rigorous testing by a counsel of godly men to confirm His calling to the pastoral ministry, let us not be careless in our own responsibility as God’s people and as John’s church family.  God’s Word gives us some very specific commands as well in how we are to come alongside John and his family, how we are to be in holding him up in prayer and thanksgiving.  Make no mistake, the enemy was paying close attention, closer even than us.  We must surround our brother and his family in diligent and fervent prayer, not fearing the enemy but fearing any apathy or carelessness of our own that would keep us from seeing the wonder of this moment and experiencing the beauty of God’s faithfulness to us.
 
Welcome Pastor Ols.  May God bless you and shine His countenance on you with His gracious favor.  May we, your congregation and your brothers and sisters in Christ, be faithful to celebrate God’s ever present faithfulness to you and through you.