The Stark Reality of the Psalms

Philip Yancey said that when he was feeling sad or stressed, people told him to read the psalms, and he would come across one of the “wintriest” psalms and go away frostily depressed. But then he realized that the psalms were not like the other books in the Bible. Instead of God writing to us, it is if we are reading over the shoulder of the psalmist, peeking at his honest prayer journal. The psalms are the inspired prayer book of the Bible, and because life has both great highs and great lows, so do the psalms.

“Rife with the pathos of praise and the ethos of agony, the book of Psalms captures better than any other corpus of Scripture, the bi-polar life of faith.” (William Brown)

Indeed, ever since paradise was lost, this life is bi-polar, and we need to learn how to trust our ultimate Bridegroom in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and for better or for worse. The same enemy who slithered into the garden to cast doubt on the goodness of God slithers into our thoughts, so we must use the psalms as the sword of the Spirit against that liar.

Record the times when you sense His presence, His mercies, and His answers to prayer.  By storing up these mercies, you have a reservoir for the dry times.

I live on the thumb of Wisconsin that juts into Lake Michigan. This summer, even as I snapped this photo, I thought: “I am going to remember this when the Wisconsin winter seems long! I will look at this and remember God’s mercies in  my daughters’ daughters loving summer, loving this place, and loving each other. 

For now, indeed, it is winter, and this is the same view, though oh so different. And there times are God seems as silent as the snow.

We will begin with just the prologue and then an overall reading of Psalm 78 that tells how the Israelites forgot the great miracles God had done for them and their fathers, and failed to tell the next generation. We need to remember these, and also the way we have experienced God in our own lives, so that we may trust in the silent times and help our children to trust as well. I’m going to tell a story this week I’ve told only in part before, and I’m debating about putting in “The Jesus Who Surprises.” I love the story, but it could also bring pain to some, so I am seeking God on this and your thoughts are so very welcome!

 

Sunday: January 7, 2018

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. When we go on a “God Hunt,” we need to be alert to the little daily mercies and get in the habit of giving thanks. Each time you meet with the Lord this week, look back on the day before and share one mercy from the day before. It could be a sweet time of fellowship with a friend, a child’s joy, a wonderful meal, a beautiful snowfall…What was it for you yesterday?

3. There was a time when C. S. Lewis struggled with the commands to praise God for His mercies, to glorify Him — but then he realized it was not to “build God up,” but for our own hearts. Have you experienced how practicing gratitude can impact your heart? If so, share. 

If you are looking for a winter movie night, if you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend Tender Mercies with Robert DuVall. The whole movie can be found on you-tube and by DVD from Netflix. There is a poignant scene when Robert DuVall’s new bride fears he has returned to drinking, after leaving the house after an argument. She is praying a psalm in bed, and just before she gets to the verse about God’s “tender mercies” she hears him coming home. Here’s the trailer of Tender Mercies:

 

Monday: January 8, 2018

Psalm 78 records the miracles God did for His people over a long span of history: from the exodus from Egypt to the kingship of David. Derek Kidner has put it from “Zoan” (verse 12 – a region in Egypt) to “Zion” (verse 68 – Mt. Zion is in Jerusalem, which is also called “the city of David.’) Today we will look at the opening.

4. As you look back on yesterday, record one mercy from God.

5. Read Psalm 78:1-16

A. Describe the urgency and the tone of the psalm in verses 1-2.

B. A parable is an earthly teaching used to illustrate a spiritual truth. What spiritual truth, for example, does the Exodus (described in verses 12-16 teach us about the character of God?

C. To whom are we to tell God mercies and why, according to verses 3-6?

D. What 3 positive reasons for doing this can be found in verses 7?

E. What negative reason can you find for doing this in verse 8? 

 

6.  The Israelites had many miracles to look back on, but we have far more.

A. What do we have, this side of the cross, that should help to remember, even in His silence, how deeply loved we are?

B. How was the exodus, with its passover lamb and its freedom from slavery a hidden picture of Jesus and what He would make possible? 

Tuesday: Jan. 9

7. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

8. If you are one who grew up in a godly home, can you share one brief story that your father or mother told you of God working in his or her life? How has that impacted you?

9. Read Psalm 78:17-39.

A. What do you learn about the Israelites and how could you avoid this? (Note how their idols did not fulfil them but led to addiction and craving.)

B.What do you learn about God and have you experienced this in your life?

Wednesday: Jan 10

10. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

11. Share one story of God’s intervention in your life that you have or would like to pass on to the next generation — or, if you have children, to your children and your children’s children.

12. Read Psalm 78:40-64 and share any verse that becomes “radioactive” and why.

 

Thursday: Jan 11 

13. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

14. Read the closing of Psalm 78:65-72.

A. How did God still show mercy to his disobedient people?

B. How has He shown mercy to you despite disobedience?

 

Friday: Jan 12 – Dee’s story of One of God’s Tender Mercies She’ll Never Forget (Optional!)

15. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

I have so many stories of God’s mercies to me despite my sin. I have stories of our adoptions, and then, this story of a biological child. This occurred early in my Christian walk. I have a theory that God gives “Red Sea Partings” to the young in faith to encourage them. This happened about 8 years after Steve and I put our faith in Christ.

Steve and I had been blessed with two sons, and the youngest was beginning kindergarten. Though I knew it would be going back to diapers and sleepless nights, I had an overwhelming desire to have a daughter and I was so ready to try. But when I told Steve, he felt differently. He felt our plates were full and we shouldn’t take on more. He also reminded me there was certainly no guarantee that we would have a girl, but that it was actually more probable now, statistically, that we would have a boy, since we had had two.

            I told him I knew that, and I would rejoice over another son, but that we could ask God for a daughter, because, perhaps, God had put that desire in my heart.

            Steve was silent and finally suggested we both pray. He was leaving in the morning for a three-day medical convention. As we had done before when we disagreed, we agreed to endeavor to surrender our own desires (as much as possible, considering the deceitfulness of our hearts) and ask God to show us His desire and thus make us like-minded.

            During those three days I endeavored to surrender my will, but my desire for another baby only seemed to strengthen. But I had an idea. I thought, What if I stop using birth control for three months? If I don’t get pregnant during that time, I will trust that our quiver is only meant to hold two arrows and I’ll go back on birth control.

            When Steve came home from the convention we sat down. He began:

“My heart hasn’t really changed, but I don’t know if that is God’s will or just a lack of faith in taking on another child. But here is my idea: What if you stop using birth control for three months? If God gives us a child, I will trust Him, but if He does not, would you be willing to trust it is not His plan and go back on birth control?”

            The same Spirit had said the same thing! To me, I felt it also meant that God was going to give us a child, indeed, the daughter my heart desired! I went out and bought a pink baby book and asked Steve to help me be specific in prayer, and we’d write down our requests so that we would have a record should God be so merciful.

So we made this list, telling the Lord if He had a better idea, He should trump our ideas. The first request came from both of us, and the rest were just mine, but Steve didn’t veto any of them.

  • For a daughter that had a heart tender toward Him
  • For her to be smart but not so smart she would trust in her wisdom
  • That she would be pretty, but not so pretty that she would trust in her beauty
  • That she would be taller than me
  • That she would look like Steve
  • That she would have some talents she could use for His glory

 

I smile now at my youthful requests, and see my control idol, but God is so gracious, hears us, and will give us what He knows is best – either to delight us or to train us.

            Three months went by and there was no pregnancy. I was shocked and truly grieved, for I had been so sure it would happen. Yet I knew I had to be obedient to God, for clearly, He had given Steve and me the same idea. I went back on birth control and asked God to make me content with the wonderful sons we had.

            Months later, in August, I was visiting with my friend Betsy, sitting on her family’s dock overlooking Green Bay. She asked me if Steve and I planned to have any more children. I remember telling her clearly, “No. We feel this is the family God wants us to have.” What I did not know was that little Sally had already begun growing in me for God gave her to us after I went back on birth control.

            Isn’t that just like Him? He is such a God of surprises.

            In the fall, I began leading an evangelistic Bible study for residents’ wives. A few had come to Christ and I was also endeavoring to teach them how to talk to God. They were too scared to pray out loud, but I got them to write down a request and give it to the woman on their right to pray over that week. But when I saw the requests they were either for someone very distant (their Uncle Eddie’s neighbor) or so general (that God would bless our family) that they wouldn’t even know if God had answered their prayers. I said, “I want you to get personal and specific!” One of the women asked me to illustrate what I meant.

            I decided to tell them the story of my pregnancy, and of how specifically we had prayed for this child. They looked stunned. One said, “Do you really believe you can pray these things into happening?”

            “I honestly don’t know. But I do know that the Bible says “we have not because we ask not.” However, He also tells us to pray according to His will, and we honestly don’t know what His will was in this case, so we asked for what we would like, but we also told Him that if He has a better idea, that’s what we wanted. I told them I wouldn’t want to miss being a chance to be a mother to a Charles Spurgeon or a Deitrich Bonhoeffer!”

            Their eyes were full of wonder, and as the months passed, their faith and excitement seemed to grow until they seemed more convinced than I was that God would answer our prayers. In the beginning of my ninth month, when I walked into the Bible study, they shouted “Surprise!” They were throwing me a baby shower – for a girl! This was before routine ultrasounds, so we still did not know the gender, but they felt certain enough to have made us a pink baby quilt. Each had embroidered a square that had to do with little girls or the promises of God. I thought, What have I done? Will the buds of their new and tender faith shrivel up if I give birth to a boy who looks just like me?

            Steve laughed when I brought home the quilt. “You got yourself into this one!” Then he said, “Since you’ve gone this far out on the limb, you might as well go all the way. They posted the surgery schedule for the week you are due, and I’ll be in surgery every single day except April 27th? So why don’t you ask your friends to pray our baby will arrive on the 27th?”

            I did. They prayed with real faith while I squirmed, hoping the limb I was out on would not break.

            I went into labor in the wee hours of the morning of April 27th. I still remember Steve’s great cry:

GOD GAVE US A GIRL – AND SHE LOOKS JUST LIKE ME!”

            The doctor and the nurses laughed, but indeed, Sally is clearly a clone of her father: his long legs, his fair complexion, and his beautiful blue eyes – but best of all, his wonderful nature. (So though my husband went to heaven early, I still have a strong reminder of him on earth.) The women in my Bible study were beyond excited. Truly, it was a great celebration and our bulletin board was absolutely filled with cards rejoicing over answered pray, exclaiming that “the Lord had done it.” (Psalm 126:3)

           

Dee and Sally

Steve and Sally

When Sally turned 19, she came with me to Chicago where I was giving a large women’s retreat at Moody Bible Institute. Since the retreat was on April 27th, I decided to tell the story of her birth. When I was done, my tall fair blue-eyed daughter came out with the quilt, and the audience thundered their applause. I knew it was for the graciousness of God, who does indeed answer prayer, who “bends down and listens.” (Psalm 116:1 TLB)

            The night before I had almost decided not to tell it, for fear of hurting those who had prayed for daughters and gotten sons, or had prayed for babies, and gotten none. A wise woman who was with me said, “I think you should tell the story for it glorifies God, and gives us all the courage to be specific. Just be sure to say it happened because it was His will, and many times, for reasons we cannot see now, we ask for things that are not His will.” And so I did, and I also prayed for the women who were struggling with infertility, that God would either grant the desires of their hearts or change the desires of their hearts.” I received several letters months later, telling me of babies conceived or adopted. One woman wrote: “After many miscarriages we were told it wasn’t safe to try again, and my heart was truly broken and your story was hard to hear. But when you prayed an unmistakable peace enveloped me. My husband and I are now dreaming and praying about how God might use us in a way that He might not use a couple with children. Perhaps we’ll move to the inner city and minister to children there – perhaps He’ll take us overseas. We are truly excited to see what He will show us!” I loved this letter, for truly it shows how revolutionary Christianity is. In biblical times, and still in many lands today, women are treated so poorly and the widow and the barren woman are at the bottom of the heap. Jesus shocked the men of the Bible by the way he honored women, stopping everything to give a widow’s son back to her, going through Samaria purposely to talk to a woman, telling Martha that Mary should stay at his feet, even though women were not supposed to sit at a Rabbi’s feet. In Isaiah we are told that the barren woman who trusts in Christ will have more childen than the woman who is not barren.

I want to tell this story without reinforcing the idea that somehow those who are blessed with biological children are more valuable than those to whom God leads down another path. Can it be done? I don’t know, but I am trying, and I value your input.

16. I welcome your thoughts, negative or positive, or your ponderings on the above story.

17. And this is a tangent, and an issue over which those who truly love the Lord have different convictions, but what thoughts do you have on family planning and the ethics of various plans to have or not have children?

Saturday:

18. What is your take-a-way from this week and why?

 

           

 

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13.  His tender mercy on Wednesday. I smile and get warm on the inside thinking about His grace to me. I got up by myself and was able to get ready for the day. The iPad, which I won at an event some years ago, was waiting so that I could participate in this blog and communicate easily with far away family. My husband spoils me by driving me to work. The fact that there is a job to go to, something challenging and worthwhile to do, and even get paid for! A warm, dry, safe home to come back to. Available food and water.

Bunny trail…some years ago while traveling, my husband and I started tossing back and forth things to be grateful for. We did that for 90 min til reaching home, and never ran out of things to add. It is nice to think about all His mercies!

 

14.A.  God chose the tribe of Judah for the kingship, and established David as the nation’s shepherd. It was a foreshadow of Jesus, our King and Great Shepherd.

B.  He continues to open His word and His Spirit to me despite my getting fixated on little things.

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    Mary B. I love how you and your husband shared so many things to be grateful for. What a special gift!

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13. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday? 
 

It’s the end of our semester and things are extremely busy! I am trying to cover a lot of material in just 3 days. It is stressful. I haven’t taught the content in about 10 years and because of a huge renovation of our school some ancillary materials are not available because they are packed! I went searching for a lecture power point online and found a basic one I could use for a lower level class and found one to use. I didn’t have time to be truly detailed, but the PowerPoint was just what I needed to do the job. I also got through another lecture in 2 more classes, that was tough, without incident. Thank you Jesus!

 
14. Read the closing of Psalm 78:65-72. 
A. How did God still show mercy to his disobedient people? 
He chose one tribe, Judah, to shepherd and guide.

 
B. How has He shown mercy to you despite disobedience?
 

Although I have sinned so much, I am still blessed beyond measure! I have a sweet life compared to some. I thank God for being my guide and Savior through the very hardest times of my life.

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5. C. To whom are we to tell God’s mercies and why, according to verses 3-6?

 

We are to tell the next generation – our children, our grandchildren (if we have them)….our faith experiences and what we know about God is meant to be passed down to each succeeding generation.

 

D. What 3 positive reasons for doing this can be found in verse 7?

 

1) that they would put their trust in God, 2) and not forget His deeds, 3) that they would keep His commands.

 

E. What negative reason can you find for doing this in verse 8?

 

The psalmist doesn’t want present and future generations to be like their forefathers who were stubborn, rebellious, disloyal to God, and unfaithful to Him.

 

6. The Israelites had many miracles to look back on, but we have far more.

 

A. What do we have, this side of the cross, that should help us to remember, even in His silence, how deeply loved we are?

 

We have the miracle that God came down – a living, real man, the Son of God, Jesus. God invaded our space and time, and not in the form of a cloud or thunder or a pillar of fire, but a living, breathing, human being who was made like us in every way, except for sin. That’s how much He wanted to be with us, and what lengths He was willing to go to, in order to bring back His lost children.

 

B. How was the exodus, with its Passover lamb and its freedom from slavery a hidden picture of Jesus and what He would make possible?

 

The Egyptians were too strong for the Israelites to overcome in their own strength. They needed a Deliverer. When they put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorposts, the angel of death passed over them and they were spared. They were covered, hidden by the blood. God led them out of Egypt and gave them their freedom. Jesus, we know, is our Passover Lamb. John the Baptist revealed this when he said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” We too are covered by His blood and the wrath and judgment of God against sin will not be directed at us because Jesus bore it in our place. We are led out of our slavery to sin and death….the double cure of the gospel. Free from the power of sin.

 

7. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

 

This would have been Monday. Monday was an okay day at work until the end of the day. My co-worker questioned me on something and then a “relative” called me on my way home from work and started an argument with me. By the time I got home I was upset, having worked overtime and tired and hungry. I guess the mercy was that other than telling my husband what happened, God kept my mouth shut. I wanted very much to call someone, anyone – friend, my sister, and tell them about this argument, even if the next day. But, I didn’t. Doing so would’ve added fuel to the fire that is already burning in my family with a broken relationship. And, this person, in a rather unbelieveable way, apologized to me the next day.

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    Susan! You did have wisdom in keeping your mouth shut — and I love how God came through for you with the person apologizing!

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    Susan, that is wonderful. You were rewarded for not adding fuel to the fire. It’s so hard to not call someone and get it off your chest or have someone be a sympathetic ear.

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8. If you are one who grew up in a godly home, can you share one brief story that your father or mother told you of God working in his or her life? How has that impacted you?

 

I did not grow up in a Christian home and we didn’t go to church, so this story occurred when my dad was 82 years old and a brand new Christian. He told me that he was reading Romans, and for the first few chapters, as he read, he started to feel “really, really bad; so bad that I felt like I just might die.” As he kept on reading, this feeling began to lift. I believe that was the Holy Spirit opening the Bible and its truths to him; the first few chapters of Romans are “bad news”, and then, we get the good news.

 

9. Read Psalm 78:17-39

 

A. What do you learn about the Israelites and how could you avoid this? (Note how their idols did not fulfill them but led to addiction and craving.)

 

The Israelites, despite God delivering them from the Egyptians, parting the Red Sea, and being with them in the desert, continued to sin against God, rebelled against Him, willfully tested Him, DEMANDED the food they craved (wow, not asking), spoke against God, and in a taunting, mocking way: “Can God spread a table in the desert? When He struck the rock, water gushed out….but can He also give us food? Can He supply meat for His people?”  They did not believe in God or trust in His deliverance.

 

The craving and addiction to comfort in the form of food: “But before they turned from the food they craved, even while it was still in their mouths, God’s anger rose against them….” (v 30)

 

God killed many of them, yet they kept on sinning and did not believe.

 

“Whenever God slew them, they would seek Him; they eagerly turned to Him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.” (verses 34-35) When I first read this, it sounded positive, like a sincere turning back to God, But, the next two verses reveal that even this was not sincere on their part. They didn’t want God for Himself. They only wanted what He would give to them, and it was never enough. Their seeking was not truthful, it was deceitful:

“But then they would flatter Him with their mouths, lying to Him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to Him, they were not faithful to His covenant.”

 

OH. This is a very pointed and painful description of the depths to which our own hearts can sink to. Lying to God. Flattering Him. Using Him. My heart is capable of this too, if I love my idols more than Him and try to use Him to get my idols. I am thankful for the Spirit to convict me of sin and I hope and pray that I will never be this self-deceived.

 

B. What do you learn about God and have you experienced this in your life?

 

In spite of their idolatry, God fed them. He gave them manna and meat. He did punish them. Yet, He was merciful and forgave them again and again and did not completely wipe them out. “Time after time He restrained His anger and did not stir up His full wrath.” The only thing I can think of is that Jesus bore the FULL, unrestrained anger and wrath of God against sin so that I wouldn’t have to. I sin every day; if I believe I can go even 24 hours without a single sin I’m kidding myself. He continues to be merciful to me and to forgive me again and again.

 

10. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

 

This would be Tuesday. Wouldn’t you know, the “relative” that started an argument with me the night before works at the same place I do, and as I was walking down the hallway coming into work, there she was, walking towards me. I don’t often run into her at work. I had mixed feelings. She stopped me, and first thing she did was to apologize, no excuses. Now we were standing in the hall so not the place for a real heart-to-heart conversation, but she did appear truly sincere, and revealed something to me that was, perhaps, the reason behind what she said, I don’t know; she’s very hard to figure out. Perhaps God has put her in my life (my family) for a reason. I gained a new understanding of the pain she carries.

 

 

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11. Share one story of God’s intervention in your life that you have or would like to pass on to the next generation – or, if you have children, to your children and your children’s children.

 

I think I have told this story to my daughter….shortly after she was born, I was suffering very much from post-partum depression and physical and emotional problems, and fear had a really big grip on me. One day, after having visited a friend at her home, I received a letter from her in the mail and she passed along to me something from a devotional book that she had torn out and carried with her for years, when she had great fear in her life. I had shared some with her, at her home, and that evening, she said that page from the book that she had securely tucked into her purse fell out on the floor, and she just knew God meant for her to give it to me. So, she mailed it along with a short letter. I felt, literally, like I had received a letter in the mail from God Himself, and it was such an encouragement to me!

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    Susan, I had goosebumps when I read the first line here since it is the first line I wrote last night in my answer to same question.

    I thought to myself, “well, the glitz probably got corrected” as I had trouble getting my comment to take and then realized that it was your comment not mine. (smile) Anyway, I will post mine later.

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    Susan, that’s a beautiful story & has the Lord’s fingerprints all over it!!  :)

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Off for a transfusion day but just wanted to quickly say HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!!!!! You are s dearly loved and such a huge GIFT to all of us! Praying especially for you today!

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    Praying for you, Lizzy as life(thank you, Lord for blood!) gets transfused to dear Philip, I presume?

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    Thanks ladies! It’s been a great day so far 🎉

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      Glad to hear you are having a great day on your birthday! Happy Birthday my friend. :)

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      Happy joy-filled B’day Laura!!!! Love u even tho I’ve never met u!!  <3

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      Happy Birthday Laura! We love you, and your steadfast trust in Him encourages us all.

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    Lizzy, praying for philip today-so so happy God is providing what he needs through your family and praying for you dear sis. We love you!

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Yes, happy birthday, Laura and may the Lord send you a special mail today like He did to Susan many years ago in that she shared here. “You’ve got mail!” Hugs, sis!

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    Happy birthday, Laura. You inspire me with your determination..

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11. Share one story of God’s intervention in your life that you have or would like to pass on to the next generation — or, if you have children, to your children and your children’s children.
I think I shared this story with my daughter before but may do so again as she is getting to a point in her life where she is considering a serious relationship.
When I was in nursing school, I was in a serious relationship with a classmate. He was all I thought a girl could ask for-smart, attractive, musically inclined and church going at least. I begged and bargained with God to keep him for me as after graduation from nursing school, we will be separated by distance for a little while. We did break up but got back together after a few years. I thought I had him for keeps, broke up again and then he met someone else! I prayed and prayed that it was not true. Then one day, a gracious friend told me he was getting married. Then to confirm the news, he came by and told me himself. He told me he did not want to hurt me but that I deserved to hear it from him. I thought I would die! But I wished him well though my heart was like being shattered to pieces. After this heartbreak, I decided I will never open my heart to someone to be rejected and hurt again. BUT God…intervened.
Two years after, Richard became a friend. Although we were close as friends, I never saw him as more than that. But God brought a change in my heart, filled me with love for this godly man (not just a church goer) and now I can say with Nanci, that my former boyfriend’s rejection was a blessing in disguise. It would be 30 years of marriage for us come August.
12. Read Psalm 78:40-64 and share any verse that becomes “radioactive” and why.
42 They did not remember his power[a]     or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, 43 when he performed his signs in Egypt     and his marvels in the fields of Zoan.
The word REMEMBER is a very powerful word. I am going through a rough season in my professional life right now. Add a few family circumstances and I often find myself being overwhelmed. The word REMEMBER is a comforting balm-remembering the faithfulness of God in the past and His undeserving grace. This quiets my soul and raises my spirit from the dumps and away from the hisses of the enemy.
 
 

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    How blessed you are to have your Richard, Bing!

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      Thanks, Susan! He is God’s grace for me in more ways than one.

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    Oh Ernema, you know what I mean about those devastating experiences that end up being a blessing…:)  Yay God!

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    Story was new to me, Bing — and I love it.

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Tuesday: Jan. 9
7. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?
My oldest son smiling at me and laughing with me. :)

9. Read Psalm 78:17-39.
A. What do you learn about the Israelites and how could you avoid this? (Note how their idols did not fulfil them but led to addiction and craving.)
WOW..This Psalm parallels with what I am reading in my yearly bible reading plan, so it is fresh in Numbers. :) Something that really stood out was in regard to Korah-the tribe of Levi and what happened because of their idolatry.  Their idol may have been control and their craving was power-or position- for they were upset that God placed Moses above them leading them and their people. What stood out was what Moses said to them. “Hear now, you sons of Levi:  is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you?  Beautiful! It struck me, that is the crux! Not really what Idolatry will do to me rather how it will press my heart away from Him. He wants me near to Him. Is that not enough? Is it too small a thing for me that He has taken on my wrath to set me apart from this world and bring me near to Himself?

How could I avoid this? Memorizing and meditating on God’s word-not in an attempt to gain knowledge but to draw nearer to Him that He would change my heart, my thought life-well change my life. So as my bad thoughts occur-which is hourly, daily-He would bring His word to mind to  change my thoughts to His. Believe me I have thoughts like the Levites! I have thoughts that explode into grumbling like the Isrealites who complained even after tasting His mercy and goodness.

 

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    Rebecca, hugs for your answer to 7. I’m so glad you had a happy moment with your oldest son! This makes me smile! God is always at work!

    Also, I am trying to read through the entire Bible this year and keep memorizing Scripture for the same reason as you. “not in an attempt to gain knowledge but to draw nearer to Him that He would change my heart, my thought life-well change my life.” Yes, we are not the first ones whose hearts stray to our idols! We need to draw near to God so much!

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12. Psalm 78:58 is a powerful “radioactive ” verse: God’s anger at his people who built shrines to other

gods and made him jealous with their idols. This sinfulness makes me sad and I see it repeated. Only Jesus’  blood could atone  for our sins. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe…

The tender mercy from yesterday. Reading our devotional together(Our daily Bread) with my husband and our granddaughter. The reading from Luke 22- The leader should be a servant..

And praying together. thank you, Father , for this precious time.

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    “Reading our devotional together(Our daily Bread) with my husband and our granddaughter.”
    This is SO great…what a precious gift you and your husband are giving to your g’daughter.

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14. Read the closing of Psalm 78:65-72.
A. How did God still show mercy to his disobedient people?

In spite of their disobedience and failure to keep the covenant He had made with their forefathers he kept His part and eventually routed their enemies the Philistines completely then placed Israel his people in Judah with their temple being built by Solomon on Mt. Zion as He promised them.  There He gave them David as a Christ type of King who led them and cared for them. A man after his own heart. 

B. How has He shown mercy to you despite disobedience?

What a personal question that evokes thoughts of disobedience in very small measure to larger more painful memories of sin long covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. His greatest mercy to me is the Cross of Christ. I shudder at the thought of where my life would be today if it weren’t for Jesus. I am completely undeserving but yet He saved my soul and has brought deep peace and joy to my life over many years time. I frequently say it is all because of The Cross. 
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;”
 
Lamentations 3:22 ESV
 

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Thursday: Jan 11 
13. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?
My answer to Question 12-radioactive verse on vs 42-43
14. Read the closing of Psalm 78:65-72.
A. How did God still show mercy to his disobedient people?
He routed the enemies and gave His people a new king in David.
B. How has He shown mercy to you despite disobedience?
I said words that I shouldn’t have even though I had the prompting to be quiet and to trust God. He was merciful in the sense that He brought my sin (pride) to the surface and waited patiently until I stopped rationalizing my actions.
I have been doing yoga with Adriene to help me with my neck and shoulder pain. At the end of one of her sessions, she mentioned something to the effect that often these physical problems are manifestations of not seeing another person’s point of view. I am not sure Adriene is a Christian but she has a point. I know I have physical issues but her point is well taken as I identify my stressors lately.
 
 

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Getting caught up! So many tender mercies the last few days…coffee with a friend from church before work yesterday, & time to encourage each other & recount what God has been doing. Today: Meeting to catch up & pray with a friend/neighbor   :)

Wed: 11. One story I’d like to share with next generation at the appropriate time would be my pregnancy with my 3rd son. Unexpected & not welcomed by all, but he has been such a joy. God has shown me how He preserves our lives & does everything for a purpose.

12. Ps 78 :40-64: radioactive verse for me was “They remembered not His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy”. How quickly I forget…it saddens me to see how fickle I am. Holy Spirit please remind me & keep me aware of all You have done & are doing in my life. Keep me full of thanks & praise!

Thurs; tender mercy when I read story of Abraham & Isaac again, & how God provided the ram. Abraham didn’t have to make the sacrifice of his son, cause God made it for him, & me. Was so touched afresh…reminded that He is my Shepherd & my Provider.

Ps 78:65-72   “The Lord awakened as from sleep”; He smote His enemies. He built His sanctuary, & He chose David to shepherd His people, His inheritance. God didn’t abandon His people & continued His faithfulness.

How has He shown mercy to me? Tho I walked away from him yrs ago & married an unbeliever, He has brought His encouragers  to me all along the way. He has been my tender Shepherd & drawn me back to Himself over & over & over again…… :)

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    “Unexpected & not welcomed by all, but he has been such a joy.”
    The Lord is so good…He can bring joy out of circumstances where our expectations are anything but joy.  

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13. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?
My husband’s support of my revelation wellness program; his willingness to make an exercise tool for me.

14.A. how did God still show mercy to His disobedient people?
God remained faithful to them, not leaving them, providing a leader of integrity, skill, and wisdom, a leader with devoted heart to the Lord.

14.B. How has He shown mercy to you despite disobedience?
The Lord remains faithful; He is my God and I am His Nanci.  I am redeemed, Jesus set me free, I’m not who I used to be…”Redeemed,” Big Daddy Weave…www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzGAYNKDyIU.

15. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?
Safe travel home in wet/icy/snowy conditions.

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15. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?

 

Oh! how sweet it was yesterday for so many to wish me a Happy Birthday through texts, on the blog, phone calls, and in person! I had people I hadn’t thought of for years who wished me a good day, including my brother who I hadn’t heard from in months although I had tried to contact him many times. I thought he was mad at me for something. One of my best friends offered to come baby sit so I could go running (we had beautiful weather yesterday; 50 degrees! It was an 80 degree difference from last week’s weather here in NH).  Such a sweet, sweet day it was 😊.

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    We also had a balmy spring-like day yesterday here in Ohio. My outdoor activities were to hose out the garage and take down Christmas lights! However, we are now awaiting freezing rain and snow….

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16. I welcome your thoughts, negative or positive, or your ponderings on the above story.

 

I cried through this story; it is touching and needs to be told. I want to ponder it today and come back with thoughts for you on your putting it in the book though. Sometimes I struggle seeing others’ points of view. I will think, put myself in others’ shoes (mentally), and he back with more comments.

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    Thanks, Laura.

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Tender mercies to me:

Fresh new insight for me on a book I felt I knew completely (Ruth) and am putting it in Sunday’s study.

First Bible study of 2018 and sweet chemistry in the group plus some who may not know Him. Always exciting.

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First of all, Happy Belated Birthday Laura!! So sweet to hear of your good day.  May there be many more!

 

15.  Tender mercy from Thursday. Last night there was flowing conversation and laughter at our table with our small group. I cannot thank God enough for allowing us this privilege. We’ve led numerous groups over the years, but this is by far the most interactive group, and they stay on topic!! It is a huge blessing. Thank You Jesus, for your tender mercy!

 

16.  Thoughts and pondering on Dee’s story.  It is important to be considerate of other people, but it is impossible to keep from hurting some. It is also important to speak of God and what He has done, even though some will be offended. We would never tell of the God who reaches into our lives and does the impossible and unexplainable if we were determined never to be misunderstood. Jesus didn’t go out of His way to hurt people, but He didn’t tiptoe around them either. He called people to see God, and I think that is what your story does. By saying at the outset you don’t want to offend or hurt, you warn that some may want to take it that way but it is not your intention. Jesus said that when we lift Him up, He draws people to Himself. I know He was primarily speaking of the cross, but when we magnify Him, He does draw people to Himself.  If your purpose was to boast or to give people a formula to get what they want from God, that would be wrong. But you are careful to point out that our asking does not obligate the Sovereign. Our asking makes room for Him to show what He can do, if He so chooses to in that setting.

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    Amen to everything you so wisely said Mary B!! :)

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    Thanks, Mary. I appreciate your good input.

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14. God showed mercy to his disobedient children.

He chose David and made him shepherd of “God’s own  people, Israel.” He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands.

How does God show mercy to you? He assures me of His love and protects me through  the wilderness

of my life. Whenever I am afraid I will trust in Him. Yes, Father I do not know the future, but I know you are Sovereign. You have my back.

15. The tender mercy from yesterday: my husband’s help- to remove ice from our walks, to do my floors for me and  helped me when I had a toe injury-yes, it does my heart good to think about how God gives tender mercies in ways I am apt to take for granted.

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16. Dee’s story is a very very special story. I know God hears and answers my prayers, but this specificity is seeming hard for me. I love the story and the pictures, and know that God has given you this beautiful reminder, Dee, of Steve.

I need to ponder this and remember that God works in mysterious ways and what is for one person is different from others.

 

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    Thanks, Shirley! And I like your comment on how thinking of God’s tender mercies keeps you from taking Him for granted.

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I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s daily reports of God’s mercies and of ways He has intervened in your lives!

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Dee, I was really touched by your story. It reinforces to me that the Lord is so personal & intimate with us as we open to Him. He treats all of us uniquely & He alone knows what we really need. I loved your child like faith & that you & Steve were united & submissive to each other & God’s plan. So like the Lord to bless abundantly, even more than you could’ve hoped for. I agree with Mary B. that we need to talk about what God has done as we feel led. He will take care of all the details & He will be glorified.  :)

 

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    Thanks, Jenny!

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16. Pondering on Dee’s story.
I think you/Dee can “tell this story without reinforcing the idea that somehow those who are blessed with biological children are more valuable than those to whom God leads down another path”…and I think you have done it!  Unfortunately, there will always be those who are unduly offended; I would be willing to bet that the vast (VAST) majority will be blessed by your sharing, I know I was.  It is a wonderful example of specific prayer while keeping God’s will in the forefront.  I would encourage you to include it.

17. What thoughts do you have on family planning
I believe that once conception occurs life has begun, therefore I cannot support intrauterine devices, the morning after pill, etc. which expel the human beginning.  I can support use of other forms of contraception that have a high probability rate for preventing conception.  I firmly believe that if the Lord wills a child to be conceived, with or without birth control, conception will occur (as you and Steve experienced with Sally).  Abstinence is the only 100% guarantee for not getting pregnant.

 and the ethics of various plans to have or not have children?
I think it unethical for a nation to dictate the number of children a couple may have and to force abortions for pregnancies beyond the maximum number.  I thought of Genesis 1:28/be fruitful and multiply, but after researching this text, I think that it applies specifically to Adam and Eve, and for children being conceived/born/raised in the context of a marital relationship.  I think to have or not have children is a decision for each individual married couple.  I also believe that if the Lord wills a child, a child will be.

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    Good thoughts on conception and birth control, Nanci. At least I think so — I just cross-county skied with a mother of 12 (all adopted) who feels you should not refuse any gift from God and children are a gift. I don’t agree but it is a Romans 14 issue, I believe.

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15. I welcome your thoughts, negative or positive, or your ponderings on the above story.
I love your story of Sally, Dee! What precious memories of answer to prayer and the Jesus who surprises us, indeed! I echo what the wise woman advised you and I think you should write this story in to your upcoming book: “I think you should tell the story for it glorifies God, and gives us all the courage to be specific. Just be sure to say it happened because it was His will, and many times, for reasons we cannot see now, we ask for things that are not His will.”
 
In fact at this very moment, I am getting out my prayer notebook for Ruth Ann and will write some specific things to pray for her in regards to an important issue in her life. “Not my will but yours be done, O Lord! I hope sometime in the future, I can also confidently say, “the Lord had done it!” Psalm 126:3 

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Tender mercies yesterday:

We had a snow day from school and both Richard and I were able to catch up on much needed sleep and then phone calls to make without interruptions from students.

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Bing — yay — love snow days. Thank you for the ways you encourage me in so many ways!

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Dee,

I think you must share the story. It’s uplifting and inspirational. It points to surrender of personal wills, prayer and contentment. I think God waited on answering to see how you would respond. Your response of continued TRUST and FAITH was assurance that you wanted God more than a daughter.  So He could give you one.

I believe God opens and closes the womb and we have to trust Him  either way. In John 15:7, the focus is not on the asking God for things, but on the remaining in Him and His Words remaining in us THEN we can ask for whatever we want because we have aligned our desires with God’s.

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16. I welcome your thoughts, negative or positive, or your ponderings on the above story. 
 

I have spent a little time thinking of this and have come to the conclusion that it is a good story to tell. However, I do think some will be hurt unless you begin with a “disclaimer” that humbly says you realize that some might be hurt and because of that you were not going to tell the story, but felt that it was also a good reminder that God provides each of us (the faithful) just what we need at precisely the right time. In other words, tell them just what you told us. How you were afraid you would hurt; you do this so well Dee. You rarely, if ever (we are human), make us feel like you are “better” or “more blessed” than us.  Not only does God provide what we need at just the right time, but your faith in that, in this story, is beautiful. It’s a beautiful reminder that if we are faithful, so is He.

 
17. And this is a tangent, and an issue over which those who truly love the Lord have different convictions, but what thoughts do you have on family planning and the ethics of various plans to have or not have children?
 

I have never liked birth control (pills) because I would gain weight and having sex was never as important to me as how much I weighed (!); did I just say that out loud?? That is, unless it was time to grow a baby. My husband would just look at me and I would be pregnant! It was a family joke. The other forms were not very comfortable to me either. I never had the choice of the shot, and am shocked at the number of different types of contraceptions available these days (there is an interactive website!). When Sarah had her second baby I spoke to the doctor and asked her to encourage Sarah to get on a long range contraception so she wouldn’t have to be beholden to taking a pill everyday. I always thought it was confusing too; what if I missed a day? How do I get back on track? Too much to think about for my pea brain. I don’t really like the human aspect of birth control (being in control of how many babies you have), however I also feel people should be reasonable and responsible in their having children due to resources on earth, monetary issues, and their own personal ability to raise children. I am saddened by the many millinials who have decided to not have children too. My 2 grandchildren may be the only ones I ever have. This means there is a generation where few are here to carry on our ideas such as Christianity.

 

Regarding the idea of birth control, I agree with Nanci in that abstinence is the best form. My husband had a vasectomy after our last child was born (we had 3 together and I have a step son I raised). That made things a bit easier, although again, not sure how I feel about the human control of this. Later in life I chose to have a hysterectomy (just the uterus) due to some extreme bleeding issues with respect to a huge cyst that was not able to be surgically removed. Again, human control, but I didn’t know what else to do since my quality of life was being horribly effected (I would be in front of the class with blood streaming down my leg after a normal period, and thinking I was finished for that cycle wasn’t prepared. It was awful.)

 

Here is my side tangent to all of this (sorry so long);   a sad but true story about life. I am a sinner. I have repented and tried to do better. God has still blessed me and I do believe He has forgiven me. I hope you will too. I have wrestled with whether I should tell this blog this story, and have not up to this point. However, I now have strong convictions that people need to know. When I was 18 I went away to college in another state. I was a freshman dating a senior. I got pregnant and was mortified. I could never tell my mom this and I could never have the baby. This was all because my mom would have been so hurt (our relationship was not close and she came from a generation that sent women away to have babies due to embarrassment of having out of wedlock sex), and I was only concerned with myself; how it would change my life forever. I chose to have an abortion. I am a murderer. The poor guy I was dating tried to be there for me but I wanted nothing more to do with him. I was childish and couldn’t see my part in the situation. I blamed him solely. Later in my college days I was married. My ex-husband and I never planned when or if we would have kids. We were kind of se la vie (?) about children. I didn’t know I was pregnant and very early along had a miscarriage. The reason I have chosen to tell this story is because it has dawned on me recently that I am so blessed. The two children I should have had, I now have. So you see, I am not some great person raising my grandkids, no complaints, so pious and all. I am raising two kids I should have raised a long, long time ago (in my mind). God has given me a chance to repent and in my own way I am doing that. Also, a side note to the side note….Sarah actually called me and told me she was pregnant the first time. She was much braver and less selfish than I was, and our relationship was closer than mine with my mother. The second pregnancy she and her boyfriend had decided to have an abortion unbeknownst to me. God gave me a second sense and I figured it out. I confronted them and argued many points to talk them off the ledge. Grace was born thank the Lord! My repentance over the years has included changing my views on abortion (I am pro-life no matter the circumstances; life is precious), giving money to organizations that defend pro-life issues as well as asking others for money to do so, and talking to people who I cross paths with on a day to day basis (especially young ladies) about the issue (in context) – like Sarah.

 

I am saddened by my life choices, but I do believe God has taken care of me and loves me. I do believe He forgives me and I keep this in the back of my mind with respect to my daughter. I need to forgive her as well. I also am thinking about when Dee brought up confession here; that we should confess publically to one another or something like that? I forget, but I’m pretty sure that’s when I began thinking about telling this story.

 

Dear Lord, thank You for helping me tell this story. You bless me over and over and I thank You for that! I am sorry I have disappointed You over the years. This world is painful and draws us to it; we get caught up in it. I love You Lord. Thank You for Dee and the blog ladies. I know You wanted them to know the whole story of Sarah and me, no matter the pain. It is a story of You and Your goodness. In Your Holy Name. Amen.

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    Laura, God bless you for sharing your history and your very painful past.  It is a powerful testimony  and I trust God to use your transparency to encourage others. Your prayer is beautiful. I am in tears.

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    Laura, you know what? I love you even more because you told your story. I think of Big Daddy Weave’s song, “Redeemed” that I posted on our FB page. Jesus is our great Redeemer who turns our ashes into beauty into and our mourning into joy! Hallelujah, indeed!

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    Laura, what a beautiful way to honor God by looking at raising Cooper and Grace as an opportunity instead of a burden. Your other 2 children are in heaven waiting for you. God makes all things good.

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    Laura, I am sending you a big hug, and if you need them, Kleenex. In our young and foolish state, we often sin and are much ashamed and embarrassed. All of us as women are keepers of the stories of others, who in confidence have confessed to us. I understand the feeling that you are atoning for it now, with raising the grand babies. I think I would look at it differently. You have been given the opportunity and blessing despite the sin because God loves you and desired this experience for you. I pray continued healing and balm for your spirit.

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      Mary B, I was struck by the word “atone” in your response to Laura’s story. And this: You have been given the opportunity and blessing despite the sin because God loves you and desired this experience for you.

      For me: a good reminder that I can not atone for any sin I have committed; only Jesus can do that. It is already finished. Despite my sins, God loves me and called me to Himself!

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    Dear Laura, how courageous of you to share your story.  I think that if we all are really honest, everyone of us could relay past circumstances that we are ashamed of and fill us with regret, I know that I could.  Ernema referenced one of my most favorite songs, a great reminder of the most important truth in life…I am redeemed, Christ set me free, … I’m not who I used to be … I am redeemed. (Big Daddy Weave, “Redeemed”)  You may not have met your two kids this side of heaven, but as Dawn said, you will…:)  Love to you friend.

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    Dear Laura, I always LOVE & respect your honesty & I thank you for sharing this story with us. What a privilege for us!!! I was an inch away from having an abortion myself, as I felt I had no other choice at the time. By God’s grace I didn’t go through with it, but only by His grace & intervention. Do not bash yourself cause we are all sinners & need our Savior. Jesus never condemns us. He redeems us & draws us to Himself.

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    Laura

    First of all Happy Belated Birthday.  I was scanning what I missed here last week and thankfully saw this post. I too thank you for your sharing about your abortion. As you I believe know I too had an abortion and have a mission as the opportunities have arrived to speak in public about it. So many women are sitting in shame in our churches who have made that choice. The enemy loves to hold us down in shame. I am forever grateful for the Bible study I was able to go thru at our local Pregnancy Care center and the freedom that came. What JOY to be FORGIVEN and set FREE.   And my theme song is “Redeemed” Big Daddy Weave as some have already mentioned. Forever grateful

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Thursday: Jan 11 
13. What tender mercy can you record from yesterday?
I read a post from Audrey Assad yesterday that stirred me in regard to her newest song, Drawn to You, and I was able to listen this morning. His Mercy to me. yesterday and this morning. It is simple, but how i feel about Him…and to think He gave me that desire for Him-that is not from me..melt..Here are the words:

All my devotion is like sinking sand I’ve nothing to cling to but Your sweet hand No clear emotions keeping me safe at night Only Your presence, like a candle lightAfter everything I’ve hadAfter everything I’ve lostLord, I know this much is trueI’m still drawn to YouI pour out my sorrows just like a precious oilI kiss Your feet, Lord, with a holy joy My tears an offering of my highest praise!Your eyes say “Welcome,” and I receive Your gaze ‘Cause after everything I’ve had And after everything I’ve lost Lord, I know this much is true I’m still drawn to You! After everything’s been said After everything love costs Lord, I know this much is true I’m still drawn to You

 

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    Beautiful!  Thanks for sharing it.

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    Thank you, Rebecca for sharing this. I will listen as Audrey is one of my favorites.

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Question 16. 
I shared my perspective earlier this week definitely in favor of this story being told.  It’s a story that brings glory to God.  Lizzy put that in perspective with her comments earlier in the week.
 
Question 17. This is a very lenthy answer as I am prone to. But after waiting on posting it I kmdecided to go ahead and share.   

I have lived the birth control issue beginning in 1967 when I was married. The Pill had just come out a few years before  and was seemingly the answer. Little did we know some of it’s negative affects on our bodies as women. It was a time when pharmacology seemed to have all the answers to all our ills and needs.  Years later I learned in those early days dosages were 10 times the needed amounts to be effective.  My sister, sister-in-law, several of my close friends and myself all had miscarriages of our first pregnancies. I began to feel uncomfortable taking it and chose not to after that.  We had our first daughter and a little over 2 yrs later our first son. From then on we decided to not use the pill. We were open to having more children but it just didn’t happen for 9 years.  During that time a young intern asked me what we were using for birth control.  I told him we were leaving it up to God and in a very snide voice he said “Lady if you leave it up to God you’ll have a dozen!”  Interestingly enough as a happily married couple with an active sex life in good health from the age of 23 to 32 we didn’t get pregnant.  Then God gave us our second son and a little over 2 years later our second daughter.   It was clearly God’s plan and a good one.  
 
I have become convinced of God’s sovereignty in this issue of life.  I personally believe we don’t control conception and the giving of life but that God does.  For good or for bad what ever the circumstances every life is precious to God and He knows each one. There are no “mistakes” with God.   I have observed over the years women try hard to become pregnant and can’t. Others try hard to prevent it and do get pregnant. I know of babies born after vasectomies, tubal ligation, and had friends who were on the pill get pregnant.  Ultimately God is in control.  Am I opposed to trying to prevent pregnancy?  No. For a few years we practiced natural family planning that we learned from our Catholic friends then eventually my husband felt he should have a vasectomy. 
I agree with Nanci J and am opposed to any form of abortifacient. 
So what is our responsibility in this whole issue.  I believe it is to seek God and submit to His leading.  He will be faithful either way to those practicing some form of birth control and to those who dont. It isnt about us. It is about Him! 
 

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17. And this is a tangent, and an issue over which those who truly love the Lord have different convictions, but what thoughts do you have on family planning and the ethics of various plans to have or not have children?

 

This is such a touchy subject because it’s easy for me to say my thoughts on it (which are different than when I was in my 20’s) now that my child bearing days are behind me and we made a permanent family planning decision almost 25 years ago.

 

I am 100% against any form of birth control that takes place after conception. I had read many reports that said that birth control pills make the uterus a hostile environment for egg implantation so that if an egg was fertilized, it would not be implanted and would pass out of the mother so I didn’t use the pill. My husband and I were not in agreement with how many children to have, I wanted to have as many as possible he didn’t so we did use other methods and eventually my husband got permanently sterilized.

 

The decision for permanent sterilization was made while I was still pregnant with my fourth child and deathly ill. With each pregnancy I got more sick and I had come to the point of thinking even if I had a miscarriage,  I wouldn’t try for another child anyway. At that moment, I just didn’t want to go through it again especially if it could possibly get worse. This decision was totally emotional without much prayer or waiting to see what God’s will was. My husband was more than happy to let this be the limit to our family size.  Later I regretted the decision and I knew that God could reconnect things and make it possible to conceive again and I prayed for that to happen, but I also knew that I would have to live with the consequences of our decision if it didn’t happen and be content with what we had.

 

Having recently read the autobiography of George Mueller I have been giving a lot of thought about how much I trust God to provide for me in every way, physically, mentally, financially. All of Mueller’s reasons for handling his finances the way that he did could apply to family planning. His argument is how can you say that you trust God to provide for you daily and then you put money aside in savings, investments, land, retirement, and inheritance for your family. He lived a life where he spent every penny he had every day providing for others and God gave him more and more. The more he spent, the more he got to spend. Great things were accomplished through him. He wanted to show to God’s glory that He will provide every single need if we are continually in prayer and obedient to His will. And he truly believed that he wasn’t special and that all Christians are called to live like this. It is a very remarkable story. All of the intellectual arguments for limiting your family size are pretty much the same as the arguments for storing up for yourself financially and you look foolish to the world if you do otherwise. It all boils down to ‘What if God fails me? I’ll look like a fool’.

I don’t believe that it’s a salvation issue if you try to plan your family and I don’t think that you are foolish if you have as many children as you can (in my opinion, that may be the better route).  I think it is most important that both parents are in agreement as to whether or not to use birth control and if you cannot agree, the “no” (as in no children or more children) wins because it is cruel to the child and selfish to bring them into that situation.

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16. And this is a tangent, and an issue over which those who truly love the Lord have different convictions, but what thoughts do you have on family planning and the ethics of various plans to have or not have children?
Deep down I believe we should let our natural bodies take care of whether we have children or not and not worry about family planning methods. By this I mean, using contraceptives. I married kind of late in life, was in a foreign land the first year of our marriage and getting use to a different culture-my heart says I want a baby quick (!) but my practical mind and my husband said wait and we agreed to use birth control pills. I am not sure if we prayed together about this decision but I know we talked about it and used the following verse as a principle? We might have been naïve then. And I know we should not take 1 verse in a pick-and-chose-what-apply type of thing but this was a verse that spoke to both of us.
Deuteronomy 24:5 If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.
I did have a miscarriage after I got off the pill and a year later got pregnant with Ruth Ann. Then another miscarriage (even without the pill). We tried for several years thereafter but never got pregnant again. And then, I had a hysterectomy due to copious bleeding each month caused by endometriosis.
At this point, I believe each one has to come before God and pray about the issues of family planning and number of children (quiver full of 6?). In the end, even amidst our mistakes or wrong decisions, God is sovereign. Romans 8:28 balanced by Proverbs 3:5-6 and other biblical principles on guidance, wisdom and direction and the question-would this bring glory to God? (thanks, Lizzy!)
 
And also when we get to heaven, would God be asking why we use contraceptives or didn’t?(Smile) Isn’t it about what did we do with Jesus?

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My thoughts on specific prayer requests: though I believe that we should pray specific prayer requests I guess I have been somewhat negligent because I have had disappointment over big prayer requests. I pondered this through the night and felt very melancholy about this. However this morning a scripture that was read was Romans 8:26-27. Yes the Spirit intercedes and I will trust God that He knows what is best for me. I tend to feel that I may be suffering the consequences for my willful ways.

So that is  my thought. Additionally my comment is about Joni who shared that when she prayed for healing and God did not answer, that she grew spiritually and the end result was so much greater because of her faith journey and how many have been blessed through her ministry.

I do not have a testimony like that but I hope I may reach others through my growth journey.

As far as birth control, well it was my field of nursing for a time and it is such a benefit in many ways. I do like to know couples pray for this responsibility of being parents. I was not at that point when I became pregnant. Once was an unplanned surprise, twice with a planned attempt, but I am so thankful for healthy pregnancies and births. God is faithful in many ways. The key to each situation is to learn to be content, whatever state I am in…

My tender mercy from yesterday is a dinner shared with  friends, and the fact that he had recovered from 2 heart attacks this year. Life is short, we must consider every day of life a tender mercy.

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    Shirley-from dinner with friends to recovery from 2 heart attacks! Small and big-God is a God of tender mercies, indeed!

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Dee as far as telling your baby story, of course you should. Every story of God’s answer to prayer is a prospective hurt to someone who had a similar prayer that was answered differently. That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be told. How it is told is what matters. If you were to tell it in a way that made women who had different outcomes feel as though they are “less” or out of favor with God or aren’t spiritual enough, it would be wrong, but you are telling it in a way that totally gives honor to God alone.

I know for my sister every time she hears or reads comments from people who have had accidents that they walked away from like “God was watching out for me today” or “Someone up there must love me” her thoughts are always, so God wasn’t watching out for my daughter? God didn’t love her? Those are unintentionally hurtful comments.

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17.  Family planning. This is purely personal. I think anything that works after conception is wrong. But to try and prevent conception is not wrong. He gave us the knowledge and medicine to choose. As long as the couple are seeking His face and will, whatever plan they have will work out to God’s glory.

I joke and say that God sent our two sixteen months apart and both colicky to convince me to quit.

I had three miscarriages before the babies, and so in the span of four years had all those pregnancies and the crying babies. I went two and a half years with only four nights of uninterrupted sleep. My husband was rightfully concerned I would have a nervous breakdown. I know I had the capacity and desire to abuse. I remember being on my knees in one room pleading with God to not let me hurt the baby while they cried in another. I am not proud of those years and they still bring tears to my eyes. I say all this to share that not everyone should have all the children they can. Some of us need to stop before the unthinkable happens.

tender mercy from Friday. Having lunch with a couple friends and realizing how much one of them needed that time. And then my mentoring time, and having her tell me that our meetings are helping her so much. It is nice to be included in God’s work.

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My take-away:

To remember daily the tender mercies of God.

The love we have here for God and for each other

I love this from R.C. Sproul, thanks to our dear Jackie R. who introduced me awhile back to Ligonier’s.  “Coram Deo: before the presence of God. ” Whatever I do, decide on, think upon, I do/live before the presence of God.  https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-coram-deo-mean/

 

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    Ernema, can I say ditto?…well said “take away,” and thank you for the Coram Deo link.

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    Yes, Ernema. I also say ditto to daily remember the tender mercies of God.

    Thanks for everyone’s open sharing; it  benefits all of us to share these stories. thank you, Laura.

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We want to do the “God of All Comfort” 10-week Bible Study but are having trouble locating workbooks/study guides for our group.

We are a group of 3-4 women from Island’s Community Church in Friday Harbor, WA 98250.

Is this something we can do totally online?

Kelley

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    I wrote you an e-mail Kelley — let me know if you received!

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My take away: To remember all God has done for me & that He is faithful. He will continue to show me His tender mercy. May my eyes be open & looking for Him every day! His ways are always Higher…I need to trust Him.

I’d like to ask for prayer dear blog sisters. I’ve been really struggling the last few days to be free from entanglement with my daughter, & respond in healthy ways. Set healthy boundaries & truly love her, not just placate her or tip toe around her. We had a phone conversation 2 days ago & I gently set a boundary. She took offense at something I said & asked me not to contact her anymore. We are very close, probably too close, so this has been really hard for me. Please pray that I will have wisdom & be motivated by love. Thanks so much!!

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    Oh, jenny, what similar struggles we have with our daughters! Yes I will pray with u as I pray for my daughter.

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Dear Bing, thank you! A kindred spirit. I have sensed God’s peace tonight so I thank you for your prayers & understanding. I will pray for u & Ruth Ann too. Being a mom can be so hard at times, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world! The Lord knows our hearts & He is watching over our girls.

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16. I welcome your thoughts, negative or positive, or your ponderings on the above story.
This story encouraged me and I absolutely LOVED it. I agree that God shows Himself via red sea miracles to young believers and Dee and Steve’s miracle was a way God showed Himself to the believers around Dee. Such a moving and powerful story. Funny moment: I thought, What have I done? Will the buds of their new and tender faith shrivel up if I give birth to a boy who looks just like me?    This made me laugh out loud but my next thought was how beautiful I think Dee is! :)

Steve’s exclamation of “We have a daughter, and she looks like me!” was beyond beautiful!! WONDER!
17. And this is a tangent, and an issue over which those who truly love the Lord have different convictions, but what thoughts do you have on family planning and the ethics of various plans to have or not have children?
I have evolved over time in what I think about this. As a young believer I believed contraception wasn’t un-biblical, but there was a part of me that thought family planning with b.c. pills, tying tubes, or vasectomy was taking too much control. Yet over time God changed my heart completely. I think it is important to wisely consider what you can and can’t take on and put that all before God and trust Him with whatever your hearts desires are and decisions become as Dee so beautifully illustrates in her story. For He may change our path and desires, or give us the desires of our hearts even if it means we need to sacrifice more. I think of Lizzy’s story in adopting her children and her newest, Philip. :)

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