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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Come Home


by Deb Tomlian

Published in the Titus Women’s Ministry eNews
December 12, 2014


When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,
it was like a dream.
We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
What joy!

Restore our fortunes Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Psalm 126


         

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s armies says:
“Return to me, and I will return to you”,
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Zechariah 1:3

The people of Israel had been taken captive by the people of Babylon. The Israelites had been living in exile because their ancestors, whose hearts were as hard as stone, refused to listen and stubbornly turned away from the words of the prophets; they continued with their wicked ways and their evil practices. In chapters 1-7 of the book of Zechariah, the Lord gives Zechariah eight visions. It is a picture of love, restoration and harvest. Each vision is a picture of the Lord’s passionate love fighting for us.

Several years ago our family had the privilege of going to Europe to live for several months. It was the greatest experience of our lives. However, we would not have said that in the first couple months. You see, we did not know the language. Talking with neighbors, buying groceries (esp. deli items) paying bills, getting gas, playing in the park, taking train trips, going to church, getting an auto part, needing medicine or trying to buy something as little as a screw, all seemed foreign. We did not feel like we were taken captive, but we knew we were not home.

Being taken into captivity doesn’t literally mean we have to be taken into  custody by someone else, although that may be the case. It could be the that we allow the world to take our thoughts, our words and our hearts captive which, in fact, could keep us in bondage. Pain, loss of a job, finances, relationships, misunderstandings, death of a loved one, injustices, broken marriages, wayward children, poor health, etc., can put us into captivity. Prosperity can lead to captivity too. In the book of Zechariah, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is calling out for us to return to Him. It doesn’t matter where we are, He is saying, “Come home. I am going to restore Jerusalem. I am going to restore you! I love you with a
passionate love and it is strong!” Walk with me as we see Restoration in the book of Zechariah.

As the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is calling the people back to Jerusalem, the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt, the city will be restored, and its walls will be walls of fire for the Lord Himself is protecting it. He will be the Glory inside the city; the Lord is calling His people back. The presence of the Lord provided a security that the city would be rebuilt. The Lord sees the young man with the measuring tape and He wants him to know that the city will one day be prosperous again, filled with people and livestock. The Lord promises that anyone who tries to harm Israel will be His target for destruction. The Lord desires us to shout and rejoice for He is coming to live among us. Then he states, Be silent before the Lord, all humanity, for he is springing into action from his holy dwelling (Zechariah 2:13). The Lord works on behalf of all his children. The Lord is King! We see Jeshua being appointed as high priest. Satan throws accusations at him and Jesus Himself intercedes, rejecting the accusations from Satan. The Lord rescues Jeshua. He removes his filthy clothes and gives him fine, new clothing. The Lord places a clean priestly turban on his head. (I like to believe that the clean garments not only represent a clean heart but also a clean mind.) Then the Lord spoke solemnly to Jeshua telling him to be very careful to obey the words of the Lord. Jeshua, the high priest, is a symbol of One yet to come, Jesus, the Messiah, our Hope.

The Lord doesn’t just restore our physical being; He restores our spiritual and mental being too. The Lord watches over us, His eyes are searching the earth. When the Lord implements a plan, there is no mountain big enough to stop what the Lord has set in motion, and so it was with the temple. It is neither by force nor by strength, but by my spirit, says the Lord. So very often, the Lord lets us get into predicaments we cannot handle so He alone can be praised, receiving the glory. It is not about us. It is all about Him!

This Christmas season, explore the book of Zechariah; God’s everlasting love, so passionate and strong, God’s mercy so great, His restoration, Eternal and He Himself, our protection. Jesus is calling you today, come home!

Bittersweet Praise

autumn label correctedby Linda Boyette
Published in the Titus Women’s Ministry eNews
December 5, 2014

 Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me…. Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may His name become famous in Israel… Ruth 1: 20; 4:14
You have finished the forty days of praying for the top ten souls Jesus laid on your heart. Now the Christmas Advent Season has begun. Do not stop bringing these souls before Jesus. Advent is the perfect time to again bring them to the throne of grace, this time with grateful praise! Praise Him for hearing your intercession. Praise Him that His Holy Spirit is at work. Praise Him for giving to all who believe, the privilege of knowing Him as their Savior from darkness and sin, their center filled with His love and their source of all that is good.

You and I know how difficult praise can be when we do not see the effects of praying or living in Jesus. Perhaps this is because we pray and live with the incorrect motives and focus. Do we live for Him because of the blessings we receive or do we know the blessing of living In Him? Do we pray to see answers or do we pray to live knowing the One in Who IS the answer! I can truly offer praise when my trust is IN HIM, not for what I am praying.

This week’s reading gives fresh understanding and a great reason to praise. We often think of verbal praise as singing, music, laughter, etc. However this week I am reminded this is only one aspect of “the fruit of our lips.” One Jewish woman demonstrates praise as defined in Hebrews 13: 15(NTL) “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.”

Mara shared her grief; the Almighty had dealt very bitterly with her (Ruth 1: 13,20). There was no singing now! The Word of God does not go into details of sharing the everyday lives of Naomi and Ruth, but we can only imagine it wasn’t an easy road. Yet out of the unrevealed secrets of their hearts we receive a huge revelation when we read the next portion of the story.

Naomi did not, could not, realize that (took comma out) because of her loyalty to YHWH, He would take the taste of bitterness and replace it with eternal sweetness. Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law noticed Naomi’s revered loyalty to God; so much so, it resulted in a clear invitation for her to choose to live and follow the God of her mother-in-law, the God of Israel.

We know the rest of the story. The feather curtain of God was pulled back enough to allow Naomi to see what was to be only the beginning of His sweetness to this family; Ruth is given a hope-filled future. But Naomi never knew that out of her loyalty to follow His ways, Ruth was divinely chosen to be the next participant in the lineage of Jesus: our kinsman redeemer!

Am I willing to give praise, the fruit of my lips in confessing His name even if I’m unable to sing? We may never see how Jesus will make a miracle out of our delays, disappointments or pain, but when we give Him our allegiance through praise-empowered obedience in the midst of the pain, we can believe Him for a miracle – just remember Naomi and Ruth.

The following are verses and quotes sent from a dear sister in Christ who invited me and others to take the challenge to make each of the 31 days of December filled with praise! I hope you’ll join me. What better way to sum up our forty-days of intercession and live this wonderful Advent Season. There is no greater evidence of grateful praise than to follow His voice and obey His Word.

Hebrews 13:15 – “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name!”

“It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Him. Thanksgiving and Praise put us in proper relationship with Him, opening the way for His riches to flow into us. As we thank Him, we appropriate His richest gifts…His Peace & Presence! All else is surplus.”  

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (KJV) “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

“The practice of thanking Him frequently throughout each day makes it possible to pray without ceasing. This is the kind of constant prayer coverage we need in these final days of 2014!”

What Is Our Response?

autumn label correctedby Kelly Hallahan
Published in the Titus Women’s Ministry eNews
November 28, 2014

As we gather with family and friends around the table this week to give thanks, the irony of Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday in America is not lost on us.  America has seen great prosperity. Even if we don’t feel wealthy, the truth is we are among the world’s richest nations. We are so privileged and yet so dissatisfied. In Deuteronomy this week, Moses warns God’s people about the dangers of prosperity:

He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so the Lord alone led him, and there was no foreign god among them… But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; you grew fat, you grew thick, you are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation…Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you. Deuteronomy 32:10-12, 15, 18 NKJV

What a harsh word! But one I believe we need to hear. We have been given so much. We can echo the Psalmist who says: You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. Psalm 65:11

His paths drip with abundance. As we walk in His ways, the channels are open for Him to bless us. Deuteronomy reminded us there is blessing for obedience and curse reserved for disobedience. Certainly there are days when we don’t see the immediate blessing; we walk in obedience and still have trouble. Perhaps in those days God is testing us, refining us as silver… but in the end He promises to bring us out to rich fulfillment in this life or the life to come (see Psalm 66:10-12).

What is our response to all these blessings? Do we, like the Israelites, take and take, become fat and forget God? Or do we learn from their mistakes and heed the Psalmist who prays:
 God be merciful to us and bless us and cause His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. Let the peoples praise You, O God. Let all the peoples praise You. Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy… God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him” Psalm 67:1-4, 7

We ask for blessings, not to line our pockets, but that His way may be known on the earth! We are blessed so that we can be a blessing.

This week as we recount His blessings in our lives, let us ask Him how He would have us use those blessings to bless the nations. Let’s join our hearts in lifting up our strong God this week. May this song by Meredith Andrews enrich your worship this week. Strong God by Meredith Andrews


Kelly lives in Kampala, Uganda with her husband Josh, and her children, Caleb, Seth and Elizabeth. She works with World Gospel Mission, Uganda focusing on the University Discipleship Ministry and making her home a place of rest and refreshment for others.

Following the God of Gleaning

Posted on

autumn label correctedby Fiona Richardson

Published in the Titus Women’s Ministry eNews
November 21. 2014

Never take advantage of poor and destitute laborers, whether they are fellow Israelites or foreigners living in your towns. You must pay them their wages each day before sunset because they are poor and are counting on it. If you don’t, they might cry out to the Lord against you, and it would be counted against you as sin.
Deuteronomy 24:14-15  (NLT)
What does this word tell me about God’s heart? We live in the self- centered world with a mindset that says “I deserve everything and I want it cheap.” We often have no thought for those who have farmed it, made it or served it. From child slaves on cocoa farms in West Africa to factory workers in Bangladesh, barely paid and working in dangerous conditions, to local, exploited workers, there are many who are taken advantage of in the systems we support by the way we shop and use services. Maybe they are trafficked workers in the nail bars and restaurants we visit? I need to pray about what I am buying; what were the conditions of the people who farmed or made it or how the people serving us are treated? If I share God’s compassion I will take time to find out. These verses speak the uncomfortable truth that the destitute, unfairly treated laborers cry out and the Lord hears their cry. This is about God’s character and we are hispeople who want to be filled with his Spirit so this word is for us.

When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the Lord your God will bless you in all you do. When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Deuteronomy 24:19-20 (NLT)

Do you hear God calling for a radical attitude to our work, resources and possessions? If we gratefully recognize that everything we earn and possess is from His gracious hand, we cannot cling on to every last part of it with clenched fists. This is a picture of a heart that is holding it all with open hands and making it available to the Lord who calls us to the widows, orphans and strangers over 50 times in scripture. Blessing is promised. Maybe we need to pray about what we give overseas, but there is a lifestyle commanded here to be mindful of those all around us who are heavy on God’s heart. Who are the hurting children with no secure family to nurture them or teach them? Who are the vulnerable women, struggling, looked down upon by others? How is Jesus calling us to those who are broken, abused, alone, poor and neglected in our communities? Let’s pray that God’s heart of compassion and justice will overflow in our working, spending, giving, praying, interacting, serving and our loving with the mind of Christ.


Fiona lives in Wilmore with her husband and two adopted daughters. She works with Titus women and for ministry to young women in Africa and she is passionate about connecting the word of God with the real issues in our hearts and our world.