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A Stroll At Leisure With God

Compassion for the People

Yesterday, Marilyn and I started making plans for my mom’s funeral. Don’t worry. She actually seems to be doing well. Marilyn says that she is rather slumped over these days, but as far as pain is concerned, she is faring pretty well.

No, there is no physical reason on her part that we did this. It was just the concern that we wanted to be prepared when she passes away—whenever that may be. And we are in no hurry for this to occur.

I have learned in my ministry as pastor that there are a lot of things to deal with as far as funerals are concerned and when people are grieving, it is a bad time to try to handle everything. So, please continue to pray just as you have been doing for her and for us. None of this is easy, as you all know.

On to the passage for today … In Matthew 15, the Bible records Jesus’ second feeding miracle. This time there are 4,000 people. Notice the preface to this miracle: “And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, ‘I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way’” (Matthew 15:32 NASB).

Jesus was motivated to feed the crowd because he genuinely cared for the people and for their safety. They had been with Jesus and the disciples for three days without eating, and Jesus had compassion on them. He did not want them to faint along the road.

Jesus cares for us on very practical levels. Again, instead of griping about stuff (I’m very good at this), I am continuing to learn to thank Him, even and especially for the little things. I’m glad that Jesus provides food for us. I’m thankful for a roof over my head and walls around me. I’m grateful for clothes and warmth. Many in our society today do not have any of these things.

I could go on and on, but Jesus cares about this “stuff” as well.

Thank You, Jesus, for continuing to take care of my mom and us. Help us as we make preparations to get all these details done so that we can continue to focus on her. Thank You for the help you provide Mother every day. Thank You for Your compassion. Amen.


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Gentile Dogs

We received a very encouraging email from a couple of my mom’s friends who visited with her at the nursing home yesterday. They said that she was doing well, and they had a great conversation with her. We were so glad to hear this. We are deeply thankful for their visit and for the email.

One thing that I forgot to mention the other day when I was talking about Earl. Marilyn did not see Mother lead him to faith in Jesus. Some of the other nurses saw it and told Marilyn. This is even more encouraging. Maybe the Lord can use what happened in their lives. Thanks be to the Lord!

On to the passage of scripture for today and the story of the Gentile woman who came to ask Jesus to hear her demon-possessed daughter. At first, Jesus rebuffed her, claiming that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

“But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’ And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.’ But she said, ‘Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once” (Matthew 15:25-28 NASB).

The woman persisted, calling herself a “dog,” recognizing the rightful mission of Jesus. But I think it was her continual pleas that won the day. She continued to cry out to Jesus, and finally He answered her prayer.

I don’t think it was hesitancy on His part. I believe He was testing her and her faith. Finally, he healed her daughter.

This is a marvelous testimony of the grace and mercy of God. Jesus continues to teach us to ask and keep on asking. I think we are prone to give up way too soon.

Lord, thank You for Jane and Valerie and their visit to my mom. Thank You for answered prayer concerning her. Thank You that she is not in a lot of pain. Thank You for all the answered prayer in our lives and the faithful folk who keep persisting. We are so grateful. Amen
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Not What Comes In, But What Goes Out

After visiting my mom yesterday, Marilyn was discouraged. My mom seems to be doing well at certain times, but more times, she appears to be declining. We feel that she is getting good care. But, overall, she just isn’t doing that well. Thank you all for your sustained prayers for her and for us.

I love the fact that Jesus intentionally operated “outside the box” of the traditions of the Jews. And of course, they attacked Him and the disciples on it. But Jesus continued to call the people back to obedience to the Word of God, not the traditions of men.

For example, they criticized Jesus and the disciples for not washing their hands before they ate. Jesus cited an instance of hypocrisy on their part, quoted from Isaiah, and then made this statement:

“After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, ‘Hear and understand. It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man’” (Matthew 15:10-11 NASB).

Jesus comes back over and over to the issue of the heart. He is concerned about our relationship to Him above and beyond everything else.

As I think about our situation, I’m finding that is continues to be easy to get discouraged and to be bitter. It is almost unbearable to see or hear that my mom is suffering. We know that the Lord has a plan and purpose in all of this. We just don’t know what it is. But instead of griping, Marilyn and I have to encourage one another to continue to thank God and focus on all the good that He is and that He provides.

My mom is still getting good care, as I said, and she doesn’t seem to be in excruciating pain any longer. This is just the beginning of all that the Lord continues to do. We want this to “come out” instead of the other.

Lord, these are hard days but thank You for continuing to care for us and for my mom. Continue to take care of her in the nursing home. We pray that she would not have to suffer long. Keep our hearts in line with You so that what comes out of us honors You. Thanks again for everyone who is praying. Amen.
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Earl Was Saved and Then Died

I just heard an incredible story about my mom from Marilyn yesterday. There was a guy in my mom’s area of the nursing home. His name was Earl. The story is that my mom led him to Jesus! She talked with him the other day and they prayed together. Then, a couple of days after this, Earl died. We trust he is now in his eternal home with Jesus! Praise God!

Marilyn and I are so thankful to hear this story. It means that whatever has happened to my mom, her essential character has not changed. She is still struggling, however. Her back hurts her and she wants to come home with Marilyn and me. We keep telling her she will be going home soon—not to worry.

This morning, I continue with another awesome story that occurred on a stormy lake 2000 years ago. Yesterday, we looked at the passage that indicated that Peter walked on the water! He did it for a while, at least.

“But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind stopped” (Matthew 14:30-32 NASB).

Peter began to look around and got scared, so he cried out to Jesus. Of course, the Savior was right there and pulled him out of the raging waters. He rebuked Peter for doubting. And I think Peter doubted two things. First, his fear caused him to sink. He placed his faith in Jesus at first but then took his eyes off the Lord. Second, I think he may have even doubted that Jesus could rescue him, but the Son of God came through on both counts.

Here is an interesting fact: when they both got back into the boat, the wind died down—the test was over.

I want to stay on top of the water as long as this test will last. Just like my mom, Marilyn and I want to pass the test without doubting, all the way to end of this trial the Lord has us in.

Lord, only You know if someone is genuinely saved, but we pray for Earl. We trust that he was and is now with you. Thank You for helping my mom to share with him. Thank You for this trial You have us in. Help us all to keep our eyes riveted on the Wave Walker, Jesus. Amen.
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Peter Walked on the Water!

Yesterday, I was glad to be able to spend some time with my mom. Emily, the nurse, wheeled her into the waiting room at the front of the facility. She was hunched over in her chair, but she looked as if she was doing okay. She is still discouraged and wants to leave the resting home. She keeps forgetting what happened to her and why she is is there in the first place.

This may sound bad. I certainly don’t mean it to be so, but sometimes, Marilyn and I confer and agree that memory loss isn’t always that bad. Maybe it is good that she doesn’t remember what happened to her and where she is. Sometimes, I think it makes it easier on her. No one would choose it, for sure. I don’t know …

I love this story in Matthew. It is one thing for Jesus to walk on the water. That is miraculous enough in and of itself. It is quite another thing for Peter to do it. “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus” (Matthew 14:28-29 NASB).

When Peter saw Jesus, he wanted to do the same thing: walk on water. So, Jesus invited him out of the boat and Peter actually did it! He walked on the water toward Jesus.

Sometimes, I think we gloss over this part of the story. Peter actually did it! He reasoned that if Jesus could do it, so could he. And he did. I just can’t get over this.

As Christians, we need the same reasoning. Since we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us, He enables us to do things heretofore impossible. On our own, we can’t do it, but Jesus can through us, if we will step out and let Him. With a focus on Him, we can do anything Jesus can do in us. Praise God!

As I sat there with my mom, all I wanted to do was cry. It is so hard to see her suffer, but I realized that my tears would not help her or me, so Jesus helped me NOT to cry. He did it through me.

Lord, I thank You for the miracle life of Jesus that is in us and we are in You. Thanks for taking care of my mom. She is in Your very good hands. Thanks for helping Marilyn and me through this hard time. Thanks AGAIN for all the prayers for us. I love our prayer warriors and wouldn’t make it without them. Amen.

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