November 30, 2012

Let the children of the kingdom first be filled.

It is easy to serve others before my family.  When life gets fast, it is easy to run from deadline to deadline and to give to those who are looking when your own hidden life is neglected.  Often those you love the most are the last on your list.  I remember as a younger mother, many evenings where I would plan grand events at church or PTA and leave my own family with mac n cheese and a house in disarray.  Often after a long day of smiling and consoling and being a happy, hopeful leader, I would return to my own family and give them the cranky, tired, lazy leftovers.  I remember wondering if my children even knew the funny, happy, girls camp leader person I was?

I have come to recognize that Satan knows he can not usually get good people to do bad things, so he tries two more deceptive attacks.  1)He gets us to feel guilty for the good that we do and the list of good that we haven't done.  2)He distracts us with good things so that we neglect the better things.  Often, even daily, we have to firmly choose the better part and neglect many good things.  We must discern and prioritize.

It is hard for good people to prioritize.  Good people know that service is rarely ever easy.  We are always sacrificing something good for something better.  (I use the term sacrifice temporarily.  We all know that when you sacrifice for goodness, you are blessed and ultimately it is no sacrifice at all.)

It is not always best to say no to an opportunity to serve outside the home and it is not always best to focus all your time and energy on your home.  I love the song "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief"... it is full of examples of a man who serves amidst his own need.  I know this principle and I believe this principle.  We must give but there must be a divine order in our giving.  I feel this in my soul. 

I feel prompted to share with you something that I learned in my scripture study recently.  I'm hesitant to do this, because it references a scripture that I don't love.  Honestly, this scripture rings in my ears and makes me cringe!  It has stuck with me for years because it bugs me so much.  It seems to go against everything that Christ teaches.  And yet, with His help, I have learned to LOVE this verse.  
Here goes...  

Christ was with his disciples and a Greek woman from Canaan approached him asking for Christ to heal her daughter who was possessed of a devil.  "But Jesus said unto her, Let the children of the kingdom first be filled:  for it is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it unto the dogs."  Mark 7:27
And she said, "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which that fall from their masters' the master's table.
Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.
And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.  Matthew 15:27-28

(Joseph Smith translate the bible and made some minor edits.  I love that he changed their masters' to the master's.  I think he is pointing out that this woman did not serve the master to whom she was requesting a miracle.  I think his initial response was more a reflection on her heart than her lineage.)

I have felt God telling me over and over recently to "Let the children of the kingdom first be filled:  for it is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it unto the dogs."  Christ challenged the woman at first... but He did heal her daughter eventually.  He discerned and then blessed.

It is good to feed my family first.  It is good to give my gifts, my talents, my power, my blessings... to my family.  This is not natural to me, but it is good.  I do not want to be someone who is cranky with my family and then kind when I answer the phone.  I want to give my family my BEST wine.  I want to give my husband my best, not my worst.  If I love and nurture my own children, if i am temporally and spiritually self reliant, then I can serve others honestly.

My favorite part of this lesson I'm learning came later on in Mark.  

Christ is with his disciples on a ship and they are worried that they only have one loaf of bread.  They didn't plan ahead and they are worried.  Christ reminds them of the AMAZING miracles they had just witnessed!! He asks, "Why reason ye, because ye have no bread?  Perceive ye not yet, neither understand ye?  are your hearts yet hardened?  Having eyes, see ye not?  and having ears, hear ye not?  and DO YE NOT REMEMBER?
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, HOW MANY BASKETS FULL OF FRAGMENTS TOOK YE UP?
They said unto him, Twelve.
And when the seven among the four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.
And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

I am those disciples!!  So many times I find myself at sea with one loaf of bread and a multitude at my feet.  I think-- How did I get here AGAIN?!  I worry that I didn't plan better.  I wonder what I did that was wrong?  I don't need to worry.  I DON'T NEED TO WORRY!  Because, Christ is in my boat!!  He is with us. We can just have faith and know that He wants to bless us-- again and again and again.

God, is a God of miracles.
He is real.  
He blesses us.  He feeds us.  He clothes us.  He takes our burdens.  He makes us enough.
He is always enough... with leftovers!!
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 
He is the master at our table.  We just feast upon the power and bounty that He gives us.

Grace- (as defined in the LDS Bible dictionary) It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

God endows us with HIS power to accomplish all that He wants us to do for good.  All we need to do is give him our list of possibilities and let HIM pick the order.
I purpose to you, that God's order will be, Feed the children of the kingdom FIRST... and then use the baskets FULL of fragments to feed others.  

Christ's first miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding.  I love John 2:10-- When the ruler at the feast tastes Christ's wine and says in surprise, "Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now."

I absolutely know something about the Savior-- He can and will turn your water into wine.  Give your BEST wine first and then watch and see what He can do with your fragments.

Isn't that a beautiful, beautiful lesson?!!  

Right now I am going to go prepare a simple, worshipful, Christmas feast for my family, I am going to give them my best wine.  I'm going to do this all month long and I am going to watch as Christ helps me to feed others with our bountiful, blessed baskets of heavenly crumbs. Let the children of the kingdom first be filled... and praise God for the fragments!! 

My mother-in-law reminded me of this beautiful talk about the Savior's grace.
Brad Wilcox, "His Grace is Sufficient"- watch it here. read it here
It is so good.  Watch it with your families!  Remember Him!!  

When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, HOW MANY BASKETS FULL OF FRAGMENTS TOOK YE UP?

How many times in your life has He already blessed you... with fragments left over?
Faith in His love and His grace and His mercy is not even hard... it has been proven again and again.  
I can wait three days for more heavenly bread. 
I can endure some waves before the miraculous calming of the storm. 
I can wait on the Lord, because He will never forsake me.

As I feed my family, He will multiply my few loaves and fishes and will make them enough for us and to share. 
This is HIS way.  He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and even in the month of December!!
CHRIST is real.  He is a God of miracles and He loves you, your family, those around you, and even the dogs!!

O Come, Let Us Behold Him.  
Merry Christmas friends!!


Catherine Andrews said...

Thank you! You always write what I need to hear! Love this lesson!

Catherine from Wyoming

The Wife said...

I've been thinking a lot about your post and the idea of leaving the leftovers for may family. No one likes leftovers (at least not every day!). I'm trying to realign my priorities - thanks for the gentle reminder.

valerie in TX said...

"I can wait three days for more heavenly bread.
I can endure some waves before the miraculous calming of the storm.
I can wait on the Lord, because He will never forsake me."

Thanks, Jen. I needed to hear this exact thing today. Miss you, friend.

valerie in TX said...

P.S. I was driving down Frankford last week and saw the sign for the nativity display, and it made me miss you!

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