Tuesday, March 03, 2015

God's Promises - Weeks 7,8,9

Well, I'm obviously a little behind on sharing a promise of God that I'm thankful for every week!  But our schedule hasn't been normal recently, so I'll use this time to catch up on my promises and fill in some of the amazing things God has been doing.

A couple weeks ago I was privileged to attend a Thrive retreat in Thailand.  Thrive is an organization that supports women serving around the world.  It was an absolutely incredible time - resting, refreshing, and I really feel some of the reflections God brought were life-changing for me.  So the first promise I'm thankful for comes from the scripture our speaker used at the retreat...

I Peter 1:6-9:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

There are so many great things in these verses, but I am so thankful for the joy that comes from God. Peter writes about this inexpressible joy as he is talking about trials... difficult trials and tests.  And as I reflect on the past year of my life, it has been filled with a variety of trials and tests.  One thing our speaker challenged us with is to remember that trials are temporary.  Joy doesn't come from our circumstances, it comes from our standing with Jesus.  It comes from Jesus himself, no matter what is going on around us.  And I am so thankful for that joy - I need to remember this in many aspects of my life... joy does not come from my circumstances, it comes from Jesus.  And I am so thankful for His joy!
view from my room at the retreat
Mangos!!! This brought back wonderful memories from the Philippines. :)

The second promise I'm thankful for is God's gift of community.  Last week we studied community in our church women's Bible study, and we were looking at the relationship of the trinity in John 17.  But as we read these verses, they suddenly took on a new meaning for me.

John 17:20-26

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I have studied these verses numerous times and still feel challenged and inspired by how Jesus talks about unity and what it means to be one with each other.  But I think it can also refer to the unexplainable bond that is found among followers of Jesus.  At the retreat we were put in small groups and we met each day to reflect, share, and pray together.  I was simply in awe of the incredible bonds that God brought the women in my group after only knowing each other for four days.  And there is no other way to explain it except that God brought us together, helped us be open with each other, and created relationships that will extend far beyond the time we were physically together.  I am so thankful for God's gift of community and gift of 'oneness' with those who love and follow him.

 And, speaking of God's gifts... I am so thankful for gifts that God gives us.
Matthew 7:11 - If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Tomorrow morning our family is flying to Tokyo to see friends we haven't seen in almost 6 years!  These friends are another example of incredible community that happens in Christ.  We were together in the Philippines and I don't know how we would have survived seminary without them. :)  We have meetings in Osaka this weekend but decided to take an extra couple days to spend time with friends.
At our seminary graduation 6 years ago!
 So I'm thankful for God's gifts of community, connections, refreshment, friendship, and of course, my incredible family... Brian and the boys had lots of fun while I was gone, but it was very special to come home and be greeted by these... :)