Remembrance

Samara Catherine Noyola 

Down memory Lane


He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:19

I had been wearing a chic new knit cape for a couple of weeks when I noticed a tiny button on the very bottom of a corner of the cape. I thought it odd, but knew if couldn’t be random. I carefully inspected every inch of the cape to see where this button connected to. I found the hole in the corner at the neck, diagonally across from the button. The cape is meant to be worn crossed over the shoulder! It was dashing before, but now it’s on another level of stylish. How advantageous it is to use something to its fullest potential.

This makes me think of Jesus during his last meal with his disciples before the crucifixion. Jesus demonstrates with the breaking of the bread (representing his body) and wine (as his blood)the sacrifice and promise he made for humanity’s redemption.

He instructs his disciples that they too should break bread and have wine in remembrance of him.  Aside from being obedient in fulfilling this sacrament of our Christian faith, do we know the utility of this remembrance? Do we use it to its full potential?

What happens when we remember the Lord?

Let’s look at Psalms 77, we find the author in deep distress. He is feeling unheard by God. He’s an emotional wreck.He reminisces about the good old days–how protected and loved he once felt by God. Things are different now. His joy is gone and he feels that God has turned against him. However, amid his melt down, he pauses, collects himself and begins“remembering God”. He recalls the wonderful and mighty things the Lord has done. The authors focus shifted from himself and onto God’s goodness.

Difficult seasons in our lives can leave us anxious, lonely and distressed. If we make the situation or our feelings the object of our attention, we unintentionally cause them to increase in magnitude, leaving us overwhelmed and vulnerable.

In a similar way, when we use the gift of remembrance to its fullest potential, by focusing on Jesus, we make God greater than the situation.  

What does it look like when we remember Jesus?

Remembering Jesus is recalling the ways you’ve seen him come through for you. It’s bringing to memory and believing the words and promises he’s spoken. For example, when I am feeling alone, I remember Jesus said He will always be with me even to the end of the age. (Matt 28:20). When I focus on this and the times when I know without doubt that he was there with me, I can trust that although I don’t feel Him right now,He’s there.

or

When I pray and don’t see the answers right away, I remember that he’s a way maker and that Jesus said that His Father is always working and so is He (John 5:17). Remembering this truth gives me hope that he is working on my behalf.

or

When I mess up and feel that I cannot approach God, I remember that there is nothing that can separate me from His love. (Romans 8:38-39).

When we use our remembrance of God’s track record as a point of reference in our situations, we have reason to hope and believe that He will see us through again.

Dear God, thank you for all you have done and will do for me. Thank you for the gift of remembrance and its power to provide me the hope and faith that I need to get through rough times. Thank you for the Holy Spirit whose job it is to bring to remembrance all that Jesus has taught.Teach me to write your words on my heart that I may hold near to your promises.In Jesus’s name. Amen.

My Moment: Is there a challenge that you are currently facing where you are more focused on the problem than on God? Can you remember times that has God seen you through other difficult situations?

Comment: God has been calling me to share his message in ways in which I am inexperienced and feel completely unqualified for(writing and speaking). Although I know he’s put a message in my heart, I have been more consumed by my insecurity and self-doubt than on the beautiful message he’s crafted in my heart.  If I’m honest though, I remember the times when I have taken the leap and decided to obey his leading in things that scare me. He’s always proven himself faithful to see me through and I know that I can trust God.

Worth His Wait

 “But when Jesus heard about it he said, ‘Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.’ So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, ‘Let’s go back to Judea.’” John 11:4-7 NLT (emphasis added)

I’m a pretty patient person…at least like to think so, but one thing about me is I really like a quick response. Whether it’s a text, an email or a prayer, I like to know it’s been received and I like acknowledgement—preferably in the form of a speedy response. Basically, that means that I’m a refresh-every-five-minutes, obsessive-package-tracking, online shopper. Whether it’s a book that I’ve found at a discount on Amazon or a birthday gift that I’ve been saving up for, once I place that two-day shipping order, I keep checking for delivery info and tracking it until it reaches my front door! Oftentimes, I find that in other areas of my life, my desire for a quick turnaround looks a lot like this, too. That miracle? I want it immediately. That provision? I’d like it now, please. The trouble is, sometimes things don’t come as soon as we order them. Sometimes, instead of “showing up” right away, Jesus waits.

In this passage, we see Mary and Martha in desperate need of a miracle for their brother and they needed it quick, fast and in a hurry, but the Bible says that Jesus stayed where he was. More than that, it says, “although he loved them,” he waited.

As I read these verses, I’m struck by the idea of Jesus waiting or staying although he loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. I think about my own life and the things I’ve been praying for. Things that I’ve cried out to God about, hoping for him to show up in it quickly. How many times do those things reach what seems like the breaking point or the point of no return? That moment when we know the thing that we love, the thing that we so desperately wanted healing for reaches the point of certain and definitive death.

I have moments like that every now and again. When things don’t quite go as planned and I feel like the dream is dying right before my eyes. Moments when the things God has spoken over my life and some of the things in my heart seem so far away. Being in my early thirties, there’s still so much that hasn’t yet happened. I remember on one occasion telling God how I felt about it. I know he loves me, but why hasn’t he shown up yet? Though I didn’t say it out loud, my innermost thought was, God is holding out on me. Mid-prayer/pity-party, God interrupts me to say, “I’m not holding out on you. I make everything beautiful in my time.” I recall verse 15 of this chapter, when Jesus says that he’s glad for the sake of the disciples that he didn’t get to Lazarus sooner, so that they would believe. You see, Jesus was using what seemed like a delay as a teaching moment—as a faith-growing moment.

Sometimes we get caught up in our own plans, thinking that our timing is best. When things don’t go according to our schedules, it hurts, we grieve. Often, we look for the “why” in our pain. Why didn’t God do the thing we “needed” him to do? Why hasn’t he shown up yet? Doesn’t he know we need him, now? We forget that even though sometimes things don’t go as planned, that doesn’t mean they went wrong. In verse 21 of this passage, Martha tells Jesus, “If only you would have been here, my brother would not have died.” But Jesus says to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Friends, I believe Jesus waited because he had a bigger plan and there was a greater purpose to come out of the situation and this required him to stay and wait. His timing was perfect, even though to Mary, Martha and Lazarus, it seemed late. Much too late. However, his timing provided the platform for one of the most memorable miracles ever and it grew the faith of those who heard and saw. At the end of this story, many saw what Jesus had done and were saved—very likely, many more than if Jesus had shown up and healed Lazarus sooner.

I just want to encourage you to know and hold fast to the fact that God loves us; when it seems like he’s waiting and when he’s staying his hand in those moments where we want him to act now, even then, the waiting is done with love and purpose. God doesn’t want to see us in pain–he’s our Father, but because he sees the bigger picture, his timing is always perfect. No tear is wasted, no heartache will go unredeemed. There’s no dead thing he can’t bring back to life. He will reach more people in his timing through your story than you could ever imagine. Trust that the wait is worth it, the growth in your faith is worth it and trust that in the end, it will be beautiful.


Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

What are some areas in your life that you’ve prayed for God to show up in that you are still waiting on a miracle for? Take some time this week to pray over one or two of those areas in your life and ask the Holy Spirit to help you release them and to help grow your faith through the waiting process—trusting that regardless of what it looks like now, his timing will be perfect.

Good, Good Father #BreadNotStones

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 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!

Matthew 7:7-11 (ESV)


I’ve had what I’d call a “recurring theme” in my heart over these past few months. I’ve been thinking about all the ways that it can be difficult sometimes for us as Christians to trust that the will of God for us is better than our own will for ourselves. I don’t think we do it consciously or for lack of faith, nor do I think that it necessarily has to do with rebellion or wanting our own way. Nonetheless, it’s something that I think can be pretty common if we’re not careful.

As I’ve been going over this recurring theme and as it’s been taking shape in my heart, I’ve realized how I, in some ways, have this underlying and oftentimes disguised distrust of the will of God for certain areas of my life. This sounds weird, but hear me out, I think it’s more common than we realize. In fact, I can think of two recent conversations that can be traced back to this fear, albeit on opposite ends of the spectrum. A couple of months ago, at Evening College, someone asked about knowing how to discern that what we pray for isn’t going against the will of God. Just a few weeks ago, a wonderful friend of mine asked me if I believe in the Law of Attraction or speaking the things we desire into existence. Both these questions are valid, but I think that the underlying common denominator that may not be so obvious, is fear of praying: “not my will, but yours be done.” In the first, we pray and hope that our prayers don’t somehow fly past the mark of what God is willing for us and in the second, we skip the prayer/surrender and asking part altogether and depend on a sort of forceful, cosmic, wishful thinking to propel our dreams into reality.

Not long ago, I woke up with this verse in mind about the child asking his father for bread and I thought about how so often we are afraid to ask not our will but God’s will be done because somewhere deep down in our minds and in our hearts we fear that our Heavenly Father may just be the kind of father who when asked for bread gives a stone. We know he loves us and we’ve experienced him come through for us in ways we never could have even imagined, but somehow this fear creeps up in us that his will for us is in some way less than our wills for ourselves; that somehow in the great exchange of our will for his, we’ll get the short end of the stick. We get scared of surrendering our will or saying, “Here’s what’s in my heart, Father, but do as you will.” We fear losing out–afraid that trusting or surrendering the desires of our heart to God will leave us empty-handed or disappointed. We fear that his will may just cost us too much.

Afraid to let go

I’m reminded of the rich man in Mark 10:17-31 who comes to Jesus and asks what he needs to do to be saved. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments and afterwards he also tells him to sell all he has and give it to the poor and to come follow Jesus. The man, unable to fathom giving up what he had in exchange for what Jesus said, went away dejected. This passage teaches us about the things that have a grip on our hearts and we usually look at it in the context of the love of money, but I’ve found that there are other things that we have in our hearts and in our hands that we are just as afraid to give up as this man was with his possessions and money. What the man unfortunately didn’t understand was that what Jesus was telling him to give up paled in comparison (by far) to what Jesus was actually offering him. What he didn’t understand, and what we all can miss sometimes, is that a trade with Jesus is never a downgrade…ever! With him we always get more than we bargained for. How much more? Let’s look at Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think. Exceedingly. Abundantly. Above. All. That sounds like a pretty good deal when we think about it, hey?! We have to remember when it comes to Jesus, our trade-in is always a trade-up. And who doesn’t like an upgrade?! He wants us to ask, he wants us to aim high and dream big, because he’s ready and able to exceed our biggest ask and our greatest dream!

I love this verse and I find myself clinging to it very often, but I think it’s worth mentioning that the verse says something else besides the part we frequently emphasize…it says he is “able to do”. Are you wondering to yourself, What are you getting at, Karen? I’ll tell you. God is able to do more than we ask or think, but I think that sometimes we get stuck on what we want and how we want it. We pray our prayers and hope that Father gives us exactly the bread we ask for, exactly as we want it and hope to  not get a stone. But here’s the thing: we focus so much on what to us may seem good (and is good) that we don’t always get to the place where we trust enough to release it to God to do the “exceedingly, abundantly above” part. The part that he’s actually wanting to do and able to do! Guess what? His bread is better than what we ask for! He can blow our minds–it’s what he does! It’s what he’s always done! But somehow, we can forget how good he is, how kind he is, how generous and gracious he is and desires to be towards us, his children. His is always the better thing and he can always do more with our lives than we could even think up on our own.

Afraid to lose out

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:13

Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing. Psalm 34:10

I am a firm believer that as Christ-followers, God gives us the desires of our hearts in more ways than one. I believe he gives us the desires of our hearts when we delight in him (i.e. he grants them to us), but I also believe that he places those God-desires in us. Not our tainted, selfish ambitions or vain desires to chase after fleeting things, but those things in our heart that stem from a place of pure desire to honor and please him. Those God-dreams that you just can’t shake. The passion that burns in our heart. The ideas and flow of creativity that is so much greater than us. Those things in us that point to our creative, compassionate and wise Father in whose image we were made. Oftentimes, though, we treat those things like they are ours and like they must be protected like a coveted toy on the playground—fearing that God, like the big playground bully, will take it from us leaving us empty-handed. We may think that giving him what’s in our hand will leave us losing out, but just the opposite is true: trusting in God and not in our own strength never leaves us with less, it makes room for more. Our surrender and our trust in him makes room for the supernatural, because what he’s wanted all along is for us to be lacking no good thing.

He wants to do amazing things in and through our lives; he’s put those desires in us and he wants us to trust him with them. He wants us to delight in him as he outworks his will in our lives in ways we couldn’t even imagine and in ways we couldn’t do ourselves, but that comes with surrendering our will to him and trusting him with our most intimate and precious dreams. That comes with trusting that everything we have, we’ve been given by him and for him and there’s no greater place for our will and desires to be than surrendered to the hands of the one who grants them to us. It comes with seeking first the kingdom of God, seeking his righteousness, his ways and knowing he’ll grant and add on the rest.

James 1:16-17 says:

Do not be deceived my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

We’re not going to lose out and he’s not going to disappoint us. Every good and perfect gift comes from him. His thoughts towards us are good. His plans for us are good. His will is perfect. We don’t have to be afraid that we’ll lose out–with him we lack nothing!

I’d be remiss to say this is all some easy exchange. Living a “not my will, but your will be done”  life never comes without a cost. We see it best in our greatest example: Jesus. On the night of his betrayal before his arrest, through tears and sweat, he prayed those words. His cost was suffering, pain, death, but the reward he saw (Hebrews 12:2) was greater: the power of sin and death defeated once and for all, humanity reconciled to the Father, the future of the world changed forever. The process from our will to his costs us to stretch, it costs us obedience, it costs our pride, it costs our faith. The good news is there is no cost that he hasn’t graced us for. There’s no stretch he won’t see us through. We have the empowerment of God within us, pushing us forward into what he’s already actually prepared for us. Things that are greater than anything we could plan for ourselves.

So, friends, my questions for us to think on this week are these: What have we been afraid to ask for? Not realizing that we’re never going to lose out. What things in our hearts and in our hands have we been afraid to release to God? Not realizing that surrender is the best position to be in for God to do something great. Are there any areas of our lives that we have been afraid that God just won’t show up in–areas that perhaps we’ve been fearful of receiving stones instead of bread? Friends, can I just encourage you that whether or not our plans for us look like his plan for us, we can rest assured that whatever he’s got for us will always be the better thing. There is nothing we can’t trust our Father with. There’s no area we can out-dream him in. His dreams are bigger, fuller and more far reaching. There’s nothing we can out-plan him in. His plans are more perfect, more wise, more creative, more impactful. We can ask and we can surrender, because he’s ready to do exceedingly, abundantly above our wildest dreams. So, surrender that dream. Ask for that thing. Don’t be afraid. Our Father never gives out stones for bread.

 

 

The Proverbs Project: Day 31 – Finale

Oh, the Proverbs 31 woman…the model woman! Ultimate goals, right? She’s long been held as the standard of a Godly woman: the perfect wife, she wakes up early, makes a full breakfast, cleans the house before anyone’s awake, irons her husbands shirts, sends the kids off to school with a three-course lunch, goes to work at her high-stress job (of which she is the CEO), CRUSHES IT, comes home before the school bus and manages to make a five-course dinner while helping the kids do their homework. She meets her husband at the door (in stilettos and a full face of make up, of course), puts the kids to bed, finishes up conference calls to finalize acquisitions, washes the dishes and has time to spend QT with her handsome husband. I’m sure she meal preps, maintains a wax/mani/pedi schedule and does kickboxing classes at the gym every couple of days, too. Easy breezy.

I’m being silly, but I do think that sometimes we look at this total bossbabe with our full-schedule, comparison-prone point-of-view and think to ourselves: how am supposed to be that? I’m a single woman living in NYC, I don’t even have kids and I feel like I’m nowhere as productive as she is! But what I’ve learned reading through the book of Proverbs this month, is that this stunning, hard-working, brilliant Proverbs 31 woman isn’t some ruler by which to measure myself.

Being a Proverbs 31 woman isn’t about doing it all, but rather doing all things with wisdom.

For this last entry of The Proverbs Project, I’d like to highlight a few ways that this Proverbs 31 woman has applied wisdom to her life and how we can, too. You see, we’re all meant to be Proverbs 31 women—wise women, women who embody all that God has called us to in whichever stage of life we find ourselves in.


Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.

Proverbs 31:10

House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the LORD. Proverbs 19:14

 

Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

Proverbs 31:11-12

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones. Proverbs 12:4

 

She finds wool and flax and busily spins it. She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar. She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls. 

Proverbs 31:13-15

I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. Proverbs 24:30-34

 

She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard. She is energetic and strong, a hard worker. She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.

Proverbs 31:16-18

A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty. The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble. Proverbs 28:19-20

 

She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.

Proverbs 31:20

The rich and poor have this in common: The Lord made them both. Proverbs 22:2

Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor. Proverbs 22:9 

Don’t rob the poor just because you can, or exploit the needy in court. For the Lord is their defender. He will ruin anyone who ruins them. Proverbs 22:22-23

 

She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. She makes her own bedspreads. She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns. Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders. She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her:

Proverbs 31:21-18

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6

 

“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Proverbs 31:29-31

She’s a woman of virtue and competence. She’s trustworthy and looks to enrich the lives of others. She’s a diligent worker. She cares for and serves others, she also leads others and makes a way for them. She’s someone who not only sees potential, but invests in bringing it to fruition. She’s lively and not afraid of doing the tough stuff. She’s wise about her finances—considering the best way to maximize them. She creates margin in her life to generously help those in need and to make sure that her family has what they need in the rough seasons. She cares for her home and for herself. She chooses well in a spouse—he’s wise and respectable; a leader. She’s strong and fully aware of her God-given dignity–she can enjoy her life with no fear because she know’s who he is and who she is in him. She’s kind and wise; she gives good advice thoroughly seasoned with love. She’s vigilant, watching over her home and those in it. She’s not a lazy mother, but raises her children with wisdom that they will enjoy the benefits of in the years to come.

Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you that you highlight this woman, not as an impossible standard, but as an example of what living a life rooted in Godly wisdom can look like. Thank you that you’ve called us all, irrespective of our marital status, financial status, ethnicity, race, etc., to be a Proverbs 31, real-life example of what walking with you looks like. Holy Spirit, I pray that you bring your word to life in our hearts and minds. That you would remind our hearts to lean on you and not on our own understanding. Help us to live so dependent on you, that like this Proverbs 31 woman, we can laugh without fear of the future. In Jesus’s name, amen.

The Proverbs Project: Day 30

Shanelle C

S: Proverbs 30:5

“Every word of God is flawless…”

O: God’s Word is without flaw. It is perfect. It is truth.

A: Honestly, this verse reminds me of Beyoncé. When I think of her song, I think of a strong and seemingly perfect woman. I think of other women (the “BeyHive”) finding their true selves in and set free by this empowering woman.

But the truth is, Beyoncé is also a human who isn’t flawless. She is flawed and she cannot make my life strong and perfect. Beyoncé cannot set me free from death. She cannot save my soul.

But there is one who can – Jesus. Jesus IS the Word. And Jesus is flawless. He took on OUR flaws and died on the cross so that we can be set free and saved.

In Jesus there is life, truth, hope, and freedom. In Jesus there is eternity. And when God the Father looks at me he sees Jesus and I’m flawless and righteous before Him.

P: Jesus you are perfect. You are love. You are truth. You are life. You are everything good. In you I have access to all of this and more.

The Proverbs Project: Day 29

Quenesha L

Proverbs 29:8, 11

Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn away anger.

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.


The thing that stands out to me in these verses is that they both deal with the expression of emotion. The mocker’s smugness in v8 and the fools rage in v11 both lead to bad outcomes not only for them, but for those around them. This is in contrast with the positive outcomes (peace in v8 and calm in v11). How we handle our emotions has implications to not only us, but those around us. We all have to deal with negative emotions, but it is important that we remain in control of our emotions, and not the other way around.

Father, thank you for being patient with me. I want to be a source of positivity to those around me, but sometimes I fail. Help me to reflect the wisdom of these verses in my daily life. Amen.