The Natural Result of Knowing the Lord is at Hand

The Natural Result of Knowing the Lord is at Hand

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

People tend to cross stitch “Rejoice in the Lord always” on pillows. We see greeting cards reminding us not to “be anxious about anything, but in everything … give thanks.” And condolences during grief or challenging times often repeat the phrase, “the peace which surpasses all understanding….”

Yet, sometimes the commands to rejoice and not be anxious seem harsh and burdensome.

There is a little phrase in the middle of these verses we leave off of the marketing materials. It’s right there between rejoice and don’t be anxious:

The Lord is at hand.

Why doesn’t that make the pillows, t-shirts, greeting cards, and calendars?

The only way we can rejoice in all circumstances, be reasonable, abandon anxiety, and give thanks as we make our requests known to God is to live in the knowledge that the Lord is at hand. The only way to experience the peace that passes all understanding is to pursue the presence of God. And the only way we have the power to live according to his design is to recognize his presence in our mundane moments.

When we strip the comfort and confidence of knowing the Lord is at hand from the instructions on how to live, we forfeit the peace that passes understanding – the very thing he promises. We accept a burden we were never meant to bear. Rejoicing and freedom from anxiety aren’t so much rules to be obeyed, as they are the natural result of living under the hand of the Lord.

Lets ask ourselves honestly, “How would it change my day today if I live as if ‘the Lord is at hand’?”

This post builds on the theme we’re talking about today over at Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study. If you’d like to join us you can subscribe to that Bible study with daily devotions here: http://eepurl.com/bPCVqn.

Should We Long for the Lord’s Favor or the Lord’s Vengeance?

Should We Long for the Lord’s Favor or the Lord’s Vengeance?

Luke 4:16-22 says, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’ And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?'”

Can you imagine what it must’ve been like to be in the synagogue the day Jesus announced his ministry? I mean, think about that for a minute.

Jesus was a guy everyone there knew well. They’d seen him grow up in Mary & Joseph’s home after they returned from Egypt. He’d been obedient and pretty good natured about doing his chores. He laughed and joked with the other boys and girls when they were young. Some older women there probably remembered him as a toddler, the way he tried to drag pieces of wood to his daddy as they “worked” together in the making things from wood. Of course, everyone thought he’d be a carpenter like Joseph, but he’d left Nazareth & been doing other things – though no one probably really knew what he’d been doing.

It wouldn’t be unusual to ask him be among those who read a text and taught from it. He was an adult male. He was a member in good standing. He was home again. The Jewish practice at this point in history was different than ours: we usually know well in advance what we are to speak about, and we study and prepare in advance, so we are sure we understand the topic thoroughly. In Jesus’ day, the men were expected to know scripture so intimately that they could speak from what was handed to them. Their constant study and application of God’s word was their preparation. Would that we knew scripture so well!

It was unusual, however, for someone (especially someone who you knew when they were potty training), to sit down and declare that the passage that had been predicting some future event for hundreds of years meant here. Now. Me. 

So they “marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”

The year of the Lord’s favor had arrived! And with it the day of the Lord’s vengeance. Thinking about other scripture, I’m not sure which the Jews anticipated most: God’s favor and salvation, or his vengeance and wrath?

As a matter of fact, I’m not sure which I place my hope in most sometimes.

Do I long for the salvation of those who persecute my brothers and sisters as much as I cry out for God’s just wrath to stop them? When I hear the news, does my heart ache for the torment of the soul, the fellow image-bearer, who is so entangled in sin he would behead my brothers in the street? Do I cry out for God’s mercy on the soul of the pre-teen who steals my sisters from their homes to misuse their bodies? Is my hope bound up in God’s grace or his wrath? Do I beg for his mercy on the persecutors as much as I beg for his mercy on the persecuted? But for his grace, I could be in either position.

Praise God, the year of his favor began with Christ in the synagogue that day! And praise God, the day of his vengeance has only dawned! Let’s pray for those who persecute us. Let’s love our enemies into the kingdom, or at least arrive in the kingdom with battle scars from trying to rescue them from the dominion of darkness.

This post builds on the theme we’re talking about today over at Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study. If you’d like to join us you can subscribe to that Bible study with daily devotions here: http://eepurl.com/bPCVqn 

I am SO Sorry!

I am SO Sorry!

Hi friends!

I owe you a huge apology! I messed up… twice.

Today.

And it’s only 5 am.

I’m not off to a very good start!

Earlier today you received TWO emails from The Blog @ JuliaQuillen.com, but neither are actually published on my website. Yet.

I’m not sure how I did it, but somehow incorrect links to a post that’ll come out on Wednesday and another one scheduled for early April ended up in your inboxes this morning.

I am so sorry! Please forgive me.

I’m checking into where I made the mistake now (to make sure it doesn’t happen again!). It may have something to do with the fact that we made the second stop on our gypsy journey to our new (though as yet undisclosed-by-God) home in Upper Darby, PA this weekend. And though the mayhem may explain the error, I know it doesn’t excuse it, or change the fact that you have now received THREE emails from me, two of which don’t work. {Potentially FOUR emails, if you are subscribed to Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study.}

If you are irritated by the number of emails this morning and want to unsubscribe, I understand. Especially if you are new to JuliaQuillen.com (which used to be CultivateGrace.org) and don’t get that this doesn’t usually happen. But please don’t check the “SPAM” option when you unsubscribe. That suggests I got your email unethically and am sending you something to which you never considered subscribing – and it affects how the nether-world treats my emails in general.

Again, I am really sorry. Please accept my apology and let’s still be friends. And, hey, now you have a sneak peek at Wednesday’s post. See you then!

By his grace ~ Julia Q

You Are Invited! {And it’s FREE!}

You Are Invited! {And it’s FREE!}

I don’t know about you, but spring is a busy time and I have spent a lot of years rushing through school activities, yard work, playing outside, and planning & participating in Easter egg hunts only to arrive at Easter Sunday worn out and ready for the whole “event” to be over. But I need Easter! I need the message of Easter every day – and a special reminder at least once per year so I don’t miss it in my day-to-day experience.

I don’t like missing Easter.

Part of my plan to redeem Easter from the “event” it has become is to deliberately focus on Scripture in the weeks preceding Easter. This thought is not original with me – several denominations already observe a season called Lent. I think they are on to something… so this study corresponds exactly to the days in Lent.

Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study is an Advent-of-Easter Bible Study I wrote to focus myself (and my kids) on the gospel through the weeks leading up to Resurrection Day.

I’ve tried a lot of different “Advent traditions” over the years – and it all comes down to one thing: Is it doable? See, with seven kids ranging from four to sixteen, the busyness of the church calendar, the school calendar, the special events calendar, the sports calendar, and all the other things that crowd into the room during spring, if we don’t have something short and simple, it won’t get done.

So, I tried to make it manageable, with 2-5 minute scripture readings, song and hymn suggestions, fun memory tools, and activities to consider doing as a family.

This year you can join us in our quest to redeem Easter from being merely an event on the calendar; a date to mark the passing seasons. This year you can join us as we dig into scripture to understand, in a deeper way, the wonder and mystery of the gospel of grace – a sinless savior crucified and resurrected to redeem us!

I’ve added a Bible Study and devotion for the moms, based from the verses we’ll read as a family each day. I made some cute printables with a couple of ideas for how to create your own advent calendar. I’m still working on including sound files for the hymns and carols so you can sing along if the tunes are not familiar. And in 2016, you are invited to enjoy the whole package for FREE!

Enrollment is happening now!

Redeeming Easter Details

If you subscribe to Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study you’ll get:

Daily email with a brief devotion and directed Bible study for moms to dig into the scripture for the day.
FREE printables and instructions for creating your own Advent of Easter Calendar
Daily Reading Plan for the whole family
Suggested hymn or carol tied to the reading for the day (with YouTube link, just for fun)
Ideas for activities for the kids (and adults!)
Memory verses and principles to learn from the whole counsel of Scripture regarding the Messiah
You’ll also have access to the Facebook group to share ideas, photos, encouragement, and prayers as we study together.

PLEASE NOTE:

Subscribing to the Redeeming Easter Study is different than subscribing to The Blog at JuliaQuillen.com. If you subscribe to the study you’ll receive daily emails from February 10 – March 28, 2016, and then they’ll stop. It will not interrupt or replace your JuliaQuillen.com subscription. You’ll continue to get my blog posts as scheduled, year round, if you are subscribed to The Blog at JuliaQuillen.com. You will not get the Redeeming Easter Study emails unless you subscribe to the study itself.

Enrollment opens today, Monday, February 8, 2016. The printables and instructions for creating your advent calendar will come in the Welcome email after you confirm your subscription.  This gives you *a little* time to prepare before the study begins on February 10. Links to all printables will be included at the bottom of each daily email, too, in case you join late! Please feel free to join any time! It’s never too late to jump in. 🙂

I also encourage you to share this study with others! Share on Facebook, forward the email, pin it on Pinterest! Let’s get busy Redeeming Easter!

To subscribe to Redeeming Easter: A Resurrection Day Study, click here.

To subscribe to The Blog at JuliaQuillen.com, click here.

Hospitality is Not Always Convenient

Hospitality is Not Always Convenient

Have you ever heard the funny story where the kid says he wishes he was born in a barn so that when his mom asks, “Were you born in a barn?” he can say “Yes!”? That always makes me laugh, but it occurred to me recently that Jesus was born in a barn… or the first century equivalent of one.

I’d hazard a guess that Mary and Joseph did what they could to push back the chaos of a barnyard to make a sweet haven for their precious bundle – even though the only cradle they could offer was a manger and their arms. There, in the midst of stable stench and their own ruined reputations, they held tightly to God.

Literally.

You realize, of course, before the angel appeared to each of them, Mary and Joseph had other plans. Plans for a safe, comfortable, ordinary life. Plans to fashion furniture and oxen yokes from wood. Plans to bake bread, to make goat cheese, and to help with the harvest. Plans to love God and their neighbors. Plans to await the coming Messiah as generations before them had done. But God interrupted their expectations with the extraordinary.

And they were willing to accept his plan, even when it wasn’t convenient.

That first Christmas, they gazed at his precious face and felt his tiny fingers wrap around theirs. Their hearts swelled with a love for God that met them in their mess and helped them see beyond the mess to the mightiness of God. In that moment, they held tightly to him. Then they shared him with all those who looked on with wonder. They were willing to sacrifice their expectation of ordinary.

That’s convicting.

I don’t live in a barn. As a matter of fact, I don’t live anywhere right now. Our house is in Tennessee. Our ministry is in Pennsylvania. We’re staying in Delaware with my mother-in-law (who is super awesome, I might add! NINE extra people for who knows how long?!?!).

So I have to ask myself, will I hold tightly to God or to my plans in the midst of all these not-my-plan circumstances? Will I gaze into his adoring eyes for courage when I struggle to find my way? What about during the times when people believe the worst about me simply because I am following God?

There’s that verse in Hebrews that talks about not neglecting to show hospitality because you could find yourself entertaining angels. Mary and Joseph showed hospitality to a baby and entertained God in the flesh.

They didn’t wait until their house was clean enough, big enough, or pretty enough, either. They understood hospitality is not always convenient, so they opened their arms and the stable they were borrowing not only to Jesus, but to all who would travel to meet him there.

Am I willing to offer my arms as a haven of rest, even when I don’t have a home? What about months from now when, Lord willing, I have a home strewn with today’s equivalent of manure and hay? Will I set aside the desire to have a place for everything to make a place for people? Will I push back the chaos of our culture to make a sweet haven in my home? In my heart?

What about you? Will you open your heart and home – even on the days you don’t get to the crumbs under the table? I wouldn’t rule out developing habits to keep from needing to name the dust bunnies, but you can begin. Right where you are. The question is: Will you?