Monthly Archives: March 2014

Week Four Lent Devotional

This week we have a guest devotional post from Elizabeth Robison, a family nurse practitioner who spent six months in Kenya with Michelle last year.IMG_0073b

For you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19b

This Lenten Season is an opportunity for us to look with expectancy towards Easter morning- to prepare our hearts for the celebration of what God has done for us. It is also a time for us to acknowledge our humanity, our frailty- our desperate and dire need for salvation.

The truth is, on our own we don’t amount to much. The psalmist reminds us of this often: in Psalm 103 he proclaims:

As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16 ESV)

Our lives are short. Like Adam we come from the same organic material that is found in the soil. When we die we will return to that same ground. And the time in between is but a blink of an eye in the span of all eternity.

Our GOD is everlasting. His name is eternal. He is a strong foundation, a sure tower. Our GOD is loving, merciful, slow to anger and full of compassion. He sees our weakness. He knows our frailty. Psalm 103:14 states “For he knows our frame, he remembers that we are but dust.” (ESV) Yet in his mercy, God gave us a gift, his very best gift. He gave us his Son. He gave us Jesus.

On our own we are nothing. On our own we are plagued with a universally fatal illness- humanity. Yet just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and the Israelites that looked upon it were healed, so also Jesus was raised up on a cross so that we also might look upon Him and be saved. We were all born under the curse proclaimed on Adam in Genesis 3. We all are dust, and return to dust. Jesus came into this dusty world of people and took on our humanity so that we might celebrate with Him for all eternity in Heaven.

So how do we live right now, in the in between? How do we live here on earth acknowledging that we are all human, while simultaneously recognizing that we are living for an everlasting Kingdom, a Kingdom that will never end?

IMG_8518I spent 6 months last year in Kipkaren, Kenya, a small community where just about every one you meet is a subsistence farmer. I arrived in April, and everywhere I went I would see whole families out on their small plots of land; tilling, plowing, preparing the soil. The seeds were planted. Time passed, we prayed for rain when there were dry spells, and the stalks of maize sprouted up from the ground. As the months passed by those stalks grew up above my head, and ears of maize peaked out from the eaves. The time came to harvest. Oh that fresh roasted maize tasted so so sweet.

We may be dust, but we are also soil. God wants to plant himself in us. He wants His Spirit to produce amazing fruit, Kingdom fruit in us. But first we must allow Him to. We must let ourselves recognize our desperate need for Him, and recognize that Him in us is the only way for our life to matter. Our lives may be brief, but God’s work, God’s harvest lasts for eternity. Take a moment. Allow your heart to be good soil. And ask that God might work in you- to allow His kingdom work to be done through you.

Third Week of Lent

 

IMG_9798“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

Spending time with small children of Kenya has taught me a lot about God’s grace and mystery. Children have such a different take on life than us more jaded adults tend to have. I love seeing the eyes of a child light up in delight often by the simple things. My two-and-a-half year old son teaches me about both giving and receiving grace every day.

I think there is a reason Jesus emphasized the importance of approaching God the Father as a little child. It doesn’t matter if a child is born in the most deluxe hospital in NY city or a mud hut in Kenya, to a little child the world is a place of wonder and excitement ready to be explored. When a child has a good father, he/she will run and even leap straight into daddy’s arms. We don’t just have a good daddy, we have the best father ever. And this perfect daddy absolutely longs for us to throw all abandon to the side and leap into his arms of safety and assurance. He wants us to share our secret hopes and dreams with him. Our ugly scars and sins won’t scare him away. In fact he wants to heal those festering hurts and ugly things that we hold on to.

This Lent season I’m attempting to stop and remember what it was like to be a child. I’m trying to lay down the parts of myself that tend to make life so complicated and to fall into the grace-giving, loving, arms of my heavenly father. Would you join me?

Second Week of Lent

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This week we have a special guest post from Rachel Whitfield. She and her husband Steve both have huge hearts for Africa and spent 2013 living in Kenya. They are currently living in Steve’s homeland of England.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. but Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked “lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38 – 42

Time, that is what the Lord requires of me this Lenten season. What does he require of you?

Different cultures place different sets of value on Time… and there are different strengths and weaknesses associated with each. But I want to focus our attention on two points: time as a service vs. time as a gift.

In the West, we tend to focus on keeping time. We keep schedules, calendars, set our watches, make plans upon plans. We are expected to be on time to things and we expect others to do the same. We get bent out of shape if people are late or things don’t match up the way they’re supposed to. We’re conscientious about keeping other people over time. Time is like a service… it’s more about what we’re getting from it.

In Kenya, well, Time isn’t so much about keeping it as about who you’re keeping it with. The present-tense of time is the most important thing… so stopping along the roadside to catch up with your neighbor is important, no matter what your destination might be (or how late you may be running in getting there). Remaining in the company of those gathered is more important than going to the next thing you may have ‘planned’, sometimes even if someone is expecting or depending on you. Time is like a gift… it’s more about what we’re giving than necessarily what we’re getting.

This Lenten season, I want to focus my thoughts and yours not on how much we’re keeping time, but who we’re keeping it with. I want to keep time with Jesus. Keep it sacred, not replacing it with something else; keep it focused, all distractions set aside; keep it real, as Jesus wants a real, honest, intimate relationship with each one of us. And as we give this gift of Time to our Redeemer… I’m sure he’ll be giving so much more back!

Lent Devotional Week 1

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I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:16-19

That is exactly my prayer for you during this Lent season. Lent is meant to be a time to prepare our hearts for Easter. To meditate on what Christ did for us when he went to the cross and paid the penalty for every big and little sin that we ever have, or ever will, commit. To rejoice in the fact that it did not end at the cross, but that we serve a risen and living king. It’s a time to turn our hearts to the Father and to seek His will in our lives.

Traditionally there are three aspects of Lent, giving something up, taking something on and almsgiving (or giving to the poor). In my introduction to this devotional series I talked a bit about giving something. Whatever it is, the point is to in the absence of that thing/item/concept, to turn your heart to the Father. Here are a few ideas of things you might want to consider taking on: scripture memorization, volunteering some time to help someone in your life or area who has needs, or perhaps adding some dedicated time for prayer each day. There are tons of possibilities. I’d love to hear what you are doing this Lent season. And the final aspect is almsgiving, I also mentioned in the intro that we would love to have you financially support the ministry of Hope Matters during this season.

However you choose to honor Lent, my prayer is that it will bring you closer to the heart of Christ and that you truly will experience His unconditional love for you in a whole new way. Thanks for joining us in the journey. Each weekend we will share one short devotional. Some will come straight from me, but others will be from special guests. Thanks for reading! We at Hope Matters are praying for each of you during this Lenten season.

*Photo by Sarah Ackerly

 

Prayer Points for March

Here are some prayer points for March:

  • This month we are giving thanks for God’s provision of a vehicle for Hope Matters. William went to Nairobi to purchase a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado to be used for both community health work and as an ambulance to transport sick patients when needed.
  • Pray for wisdom and energy as we continue the comparison study of jigger treatments. This month we will wrap up at the first school and then prepare to begin a different treatment intervention at a different school next month. Pray that lives will be touch both spiritually and emotionally as well as physically through our work with these jigger patients.
  • Give thanks with us for the many people who are standing with Hope Matters financially. Pray that God will continue to provide for each need as it arises.
  • William is seriously searching for land to build the future hospital on. Please pray for wisdom as he narrows down a piece of property and for direction as negotiations for that property begin.
  • This Month Michelle will be attending an international nursing symposium for medical missionaries in the Middle East and Africa. She’s blessed that she doesn’t have far to travel as the conference is here in Kenya, in Nairobi. She will be teaching two sessions. Pray for her to be encouraged as she interacts with other medical missionaries, and that she might learn many new things to benefit our work here in Kenya. Pray for her to have peace and clarity also as she teaches.