Wednesday, January 16, 2013

God's Mighty Acts of Salvation

Sitting on the linoleum floor at my parent's house with a hot cup of coffee, I surveyed my sleepy girls.  One was in her tiny rocking chair, the other semi-squatting on a stool.  Cheerfully I announced, "So we're going to be doing morning devos.  See, Mom got a new book."  (I am still guilty of referring to myself in the third person, despite the fact that my girls are four and eleven!) Two pairs of sleepy eyes looked at me incredulously.  The oldest one barely suppressed an eye roll.  I'm sorry to say that  regular family devos have been tried before at our house and are generally given up after a week or two.  It is probably related to Mom's inability to finish what she starts!

I pulled out God's Mighty Acts in Salvation by Starr Meade, an author I had never heard of.  One day while surfing the internet I commented on a blog post without reading the fine print.  Then I got an email alerting me that I had won a contest for the book.  I was shocked.  I didn't even know I had entered by commenting!   I was able to pick it up when I made it back to my parents' house.  I devoured it in the first 24 hours.  

The book is organized into a series of 40 five-minute readings on Galatians.  First comes a short Bible reading, usually 1-5 verses, then the devotional, and finally an at home section.  I will admit that Mrs. Meade comes from quite a different tradition than I do, and her take on the issue of how  faith is developed (whether it is an act of free will or itself one of the gifts of God) is something I cannot agree with.  However, as I would with anything I read or watch with the girls, we will talk honestly about places where we disagree with the author and take away from the reading all the wonderful  things that are there.  

I was especially struck by the section on the gifts of the Holy Spirit since that has been an important focus with us at Maidservants of Christ since the beginning of the new year.  She tells three delightful stories. The first is the tale of a lady who has an orange tree.  Since she wants an apple tree she keeps cutting down the orange tree but it keeps growing back and she has no apples.  This is the parable of a woman who is trying to eliminate sin by her own power, but it keeps growing back. Not only that but she doesn't have the power to produce the fruit she does want.  The second story is the parable of a little boy who ties 5 apples a day on to his ordinary tree in order to get apples.  This tree looks beautiful, like an apple tree ripe with fruit, but is in fact pointless.  No harvest of apples here.  The third day she tells our story.  She says we plant an apple tree, we cultivate it carefully and wait and then surprise, surprise, we get apples.  

You can see her point can't you?  I bet my girls will see it too.  It's pointless to try on our own to eliminate sin.  We need Jesus to wipe our sins away, tear it up by the roots.  It's hard to try as a non-Christian to produce more love, joy, peace or patience.  If those things are not coming out of a life indwelt by the Spirit, they're pretty but superficial.  The only useful thing to do is submit to God in obedience, and while we diligently work trust that the Spirit is working too!

The book is a little old for my youngest one, but each lesson has had something she could hang on to, like the meaning of apostle or the idea that Jesus came to rescue us.  My older daughter has read and studied through Galatians before, but we have especially enjoyed the "As for me and my house" sections.  Each one has an application or question to answer.  Once we looked up the qualifications for being an apostle.  Another time we talked over cases we knew of people abandoning or adding to the gospel.  

We managed to read together 4 mornings out of the first week.  For us that's a great record especially since we're away from home, and our schedule can be erratic.  We'll see what happens this week; we're going to try.  I want to start my girls' days off right, with breakfast for the belly and breakfast for the heart as well!


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