In Love Inside, where you can’t hide, Jesus is walking.
INSIDE, loving you for you.
Although we think we are walking side by side with Jesus, or even distant, in REALITY, Jesus is INSIDE…
LOVE is placed IN US to SHOW.
Love is expressed out for everyone to KNOW.
Love in us is commanded and blessed to GROW.
Be the INsider. Do everything IN LOVE.
1st John 4
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
We love him, because he first loved us.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
People may look at me as weak – or too soft – too lenient – too whatever but not firm… well… maybe… but if you asked my kids (when they were younger) they would probably say that I am demanding with what I want when I want it – like grades like dishes like cleaned rooms… Well, they did get the grades – and they did eventually clean their rooms – and well you could say that is the stuff mom’s ask for – listening doing understanding…
At work – people might say that too – but between being SO BUSY, I am trying best I can – AND I am working the system – not just the work system but THE SYSTEM!!! THE SYSTEM that is God’s System – God’s loving to hear “Here I am Lord, is it I Lord? – Have you placed me here in this situation for YOUR Work?” – YUP – the answer to that ALWAYS is “Yup”… OK – what fish are we frying today… I love that phrase: “don’t sweat the small stuff – there are bigger fish to fry…” And yet there was a situation that I was called upon to be firm and be real and be actionable… My faith for the timing was solidified by Jesus who helped… My words were solidified – for He put the umpfh under my ugh. My love was solidified and the respect that I gave was apparent to me to be the right thing and even if many others didn’t see it – BUT SOME DID… I knew that I would probably be using this situation to tell people that I needed the Lord to help me thru this situation – I did – I do – I will. My weaknesses were made strong by the Jesus listening and Jesus reinforcement to my net-time – I acted in Love – He acted in ALL.
Jesus was Who Jesus IS – a ROCK for us to stand on (even if the waves of opinions were harsh) and Jesus a gentleness who SOLIDIFIED the right thing to do in that situation – like FORGIVE – like teach – like ask – like listening doing understanding… Jesus is not “lenient” but He is “prevenient” – meaning Jesus came before – He came to us to be Jesus – to forgive us – to apply grace and mercy.
To FRY BIG FISH….
Jesus appeared to the disciples many times after He arose – at the Sea of Galilee He was cooking a breakfast for them on the shore when He called out to them – fish and bread. They could not catch anything that morning – of course He was able to tell them where the fish were – of course He knew they could them have so many fish – of course the net DID NOT BREAK – of course they were AMAZED – of course He must have broken that bread with them – of course Jesus was there to teach them – to solidify their faith (“Peter do you love me?“) – of course… of course….
Jesus IS the Fisherman with BIG FISH TO FRY – but actually, He already fried HIS Fish… Jesus already made ready the Way – made the Path – made OUR PATH – in forgiveness Grace Mercy and in Netting us. The disciples had fish yet to fry – and so do we – and we do have bigger fish to fry then our small fish that get squished in our stress and busyness. How do we make our way in this world? By listening doing understanding – and bringing a big net – HIS… Notice how the net will NOT be broken, only the people, including us.
IN weakness, APPLY LOVE
In STRENGTH, apply LOVE
In harm, apply LOVE
In hurt, hold LOVE
In all, love all.
in love, find LOVE….
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
Contend, Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
I don’t have enemies like some, certainly not like King David of Biblical times had, and of which he pleaded about in Psalms 35, 36, 37. And I am NOT in a war zone nor a center metropolis mess of drugs, theft and murders. (God please help those folks) I count my blessings and could remind my children all day to count our blessings that we have a FORTRESS to our fortunate circumstances, by suburbia soothing… Those of our good fortune or even those “day to day” making ends meet, we are reminded there are many worse off. We pray for them.
We must realize God has calmed our storms many times. We must praise Him. We must not gloat in the boat.
Sure, like everyone, I’ve got sticky situations, sure, and a warp of worldly wants and stress in time stretched so thin, but no one I know is “out to get me” like getting King David. Sure, often we are targeted for credit card info, electronic identity, but that’s nothing personal, just worldly want causing crime – but none of these are personal. If anything, crime and turning a blind eye to it is apathy to know better or make it better. Crime also is a disease of a sickened society, sickened by greed of want of money. Sad.
“Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”
David called out to the Lord. He WAS being surrounded. “May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace.”
“There’s never a cop around when you need one.” We say that in traffic. The shoplifting scenes portrayed on social media result in car chases sometimes, but the employees are often trained to not intervene and risk their own lives. Video shaming is the chosen method to vindication. Nobody says No, lest they put themselves in danger… wow…
David put His enemies into God’s Hands. David knew a God of salvation could also judge those in the nation.
“… may they fall into the pit, to their ruin. Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation. My whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them.”
David ALSO knew people were rooting for him. We too should remember we have friends who will help us out of a jam. And we should all praise God who helps us by being in charge of this jelly jar we call earth. “May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” “
Let’s remember even the stickiest situations are washable by Living Water help. Let us call out to the Lord for rescuing and when IN the calmed seas remember that “God did that” – it is not luck and it is not just us… All good things are from God. AND LOOK LONG TERM – GOD HAS HIS DAY OF JUDGEMENT – not us.
Lord, help me praise you too – Don’t Gloat in the Boat.
More from Psalms 35-37
“Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.”
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.
Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.
I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a luxuriant native tree, but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found.
The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
We sometimes put tragic circumstances in the back of our minds, sometimes, but those in them still live them. I often remember that we can’t fix situations but WE CAN PRAY. We are witnesses to when it is time to fill the voids with PRAYERS. And scriptures tremendously remind us that The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. From Psalm 34
We are God’s Placement, our Prayers are His Patches. Even pulling on the patch reminds us He is very close. We are God’s placement to be those prayer partners. Our brokenness to His glory… Someday we will be WHOLE, but now, know our tears are for His touch. We cry a Living Water leak of tears… Jesus please comfort and lift us all.
Our PLACEMENT around others is for making PRAYERS for PATCHING IN His HEALING until that day of full healing…
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.Well, my brain doesn’t shut down at night, but I believe God DOES open up the MANY half-closed folder tabs that are filled with WAY TOO MANY half thoughts (plus a sea of sticky notes) and He starts pulling on the tangled mess, teasing tangled strings to unravel, to re-roll memories into a smooth ball of yarn, so perfectly lined up like ONLY He could do it. Reconciliation really… Saving sanity from a swamp. Swamped brain tabs are like wet soaked strings, needing to dry out before they can be rolled. Rolled before they can be knitted. Swamped is what we can get, no matter if life takes us up to our knees in water or over our heads. SWAMPED.
When I remember snippets of dreams, especially from middle of the sleep cycle wake-ups, it’s jarring and important to know where I was going off the beaten track of thought. And how Genius God is to invent such a saving soothing system!… (Sleep cycles like riding on His Unicycle Bicycle… No, actually we are on God’s Tricycle super steady Three in One, less likely to teeter. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.)
ANYWAY,,,!!! Back on THIS train of thought… When I wake up from a dream, I realize God is like setting His Hands to work out a knot in us, to rescue seedlings of thoughts entrenched in weeds, to pause a moment to unfuzz the unfaithfulness or failing moments that the brain (my brain) could go into. Stop the show. Unravel, Unroll, Unreel and Unreal the tape. Reconcile the raw spots to re-wrap the yarn strings of thoughtful thoughts better and leave the rest on the cutting room floor. (Thanks for Vinedresser pruning)… I believe we sleep because we need to Be Still, and know that He is God over our genius and our garbage. God is God and so Good to NEVER be swamped. God grants a Holy Spirit Hoverboat? No, Jesus jumps right in. Swamp Savior.
Jesus. Thank God for JesusJumping, Your Genius not ours. Please rescue our swamp and our sanity. Reconcile.
Psalm 32 and 33 are written of JOY, but interestingly Psalm 34 is by David, writing after GOD GOT HIM OUT OF A JAM…. Wacky is the Word gone Wild… David had to escape enemies one time by PRETENDING HE WAS INSANE. Really all types of tangled messes of situations are covered in the Bible. “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.”
That Whole story unrolled in 1Samuel 22, So David pretended to be insane in their presence; and while he was in their hands he acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard…. WOW!!! David got out, he knew he was rescued!
We need rescuing, our thoughts and our souls. Not by going wacky but by going to the Word. Jesus jumps in and hands UP our hang-ups. The Holy Spirit intercepts the dropped calls. God’s forgiveness is IN Him forging some good needed rework to recreate His created “Very Good” Work. He takes your clay and reshapes it. He takes the wacky out of your wobble. He is. Let us rejoice and be glad. We have God as a LOVING Dad. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation… 2Cir
REJOICE THE UNJAMMING. GOD’S RECONCILIATION takes fixing Swamped Sanity SERIOUSLY.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth – he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,even as we put our hope in you.
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to blot out their name from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
I have been enjoying the sermon series “Half-truths” that my friend Pastor has been giving… Sayings that we tend to say but are not in the bible, like: “God helps those who help themselves….” that is not in the bible and GOD is the one who helps!!!! God is the ultimate help for things we can not help ourselves do.
IN GOD WE TRUST.
One phrase or concept that I don’t know if Pastor will talk about (or not) is related to our recent flurry of sports activities here in town… The phrases I hear and we tend to say is: “I don’t want to jinx it”… Like we could make the biggest difference in a highly-trained workforce (sports or otherwise) by whether we wash our shirts or not… Playoff beards and lucky socks. Thinking about jinxing is a different phrase than I don’t want to harm you – or I don’t want to disappoint you – or I don’t think you could do it all by yourself. In truth we do think of ourselves as big parts of the “pull” in the universe (as if we could jinx) at the same time that we tend to think of ourselves as “nothing” in the universe… Well we ain’t nothing…
Something – we are at least SOMETHING in the universe or else we wouldn’t be here. And in God’s eyes you’re everything…
How about praying or wishing for snow? None this season yet for us – so how are people going to pass on that tradition of wearing your pjs inside out to get school cancelled the next day… Trust me, we never did that or even heard of that as kids and school DID get cancelled – in my day – but then again we had snow as a norm not a novelty… Do we have a pull on the weather?
And don’t get me started on being lucky or not – the lottery – in love – in winning the big stuffed useless thing at the carnival… There is skill – there are rigged things – there is STATISTICS – In fact, Accuweather said that compared to a 1-in-whatever million odds winning jackpot, “getting struck by lightning would seem like a near certainty! According to the National Weather Service, a person has a 1-in-15,300 chance of getting struck by lightning in their lifetime, 20,000 times higher than hitting the winning numbers for the next jackpot.”
Well, you got to be in it to win it… well…..
What about life? You got to be in it to win it… Well,…. God put you in this life but who has “won it”? God. Who created? Who gave skills? Who uses the lighting and the snow and the sunshine and the earth and even those snowdays to His advantage? God.
The Psalms from David speak of both PRAISE for keeping himself safe – and PRAYER for keeping his enemies at bay – and PAUSE for anytime he doubted. Really his prayers and our prayers are similar – well at least maybe – David both acknowledged God’s POWER and his MERCY… David was reminded and reminds us to fear the Lord and realize He is the one who moves mountains and all that stuff that we tend to think we can have power over… We don’t… THE ONE THING WE DO HAVE IS PRAYER!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE CAN CALL UPON THE POWER OF GOD…
Back to football – there is a mom who has sons on each of the teams – a prime example of letting the game play out.. and perhaps that is what we should do as well – LET GOD PLAY OUT HIS GAME – WHICH IS NO GAME – REALIZE WE ARE needing to be letting OUR MINDS AND HEARTS TRUST GOD over simply letting God Do Something – BECAUSE HE IS GOING TO DO IT OR NOT…
David said in Psalm 31: ” In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; … deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” and “O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.”
Like David – we need to know God – knowing what He does and why He does it will help us ask the questions that we need to – but realize that God does it regardless of us – but also FOR the LOVE of us…. God is Power…
Remember that penny that people put in their pockets or purses for “luck”? (like my aunt who has a 50 year old plus collection of every purse she owned)… Well that penny (those 50 pennies for luck) even say: “IN GOD WE TRUST” !!!
“IN GOD WE TRUST”
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
I should forever be a Gypsy for Jesus. The Lord Himself does not change, so He needs us to be adaptable, flexible and lift-able. Perhaps we are free moving people… actually in Jesus we are already free, but if we are called to be Gypsies for Jesus, then we must NOT move of our own free will but ONLYmove by the Holy Spirit calling us, moving us, pulling us, settling us.
Sure, we are free to move, but we ALWAYS need our roots to be fed by the Lord… the Lord often sinks old roots really quick into a new feeding, where the people actually look thru root collections to learn how and where to connect with you and each other… We often are placed where we can be useful. Simply put, we are planted to bear fruit, planted NOT in the world, but in His Word. Psalm 1.
I am fed so that I can feed.
One day in the middle of the 2 church services, in a church that the Holy Spirit surely moved me to, I sat IN JOY on the back pew nestled between 2 wonderful gentlemen of my father’s age. The first gentleman, Lee, introduced me to Bob – I will call him Mr Whipple because he received a life-saving technique – after pain and medical issues, the doctor found he had pancreatic cancer – a 96% fatal disease – Bob is in the 4% – he survived – he said the Holy Spirit apparently needs him around. Not knowing why, he said that 4 times he was saved from near death. The Holy Spirit saves us because the Holy Spirit needs us. Bob reminded us that even thru pain, God has a plan. I immediately said back to the first gentleman, Lee, “Wow, wasn’t our earlier chat EXACTLY about just that?” He agreed and I said: “Look how the Holy Spirit connects our conversations: Even thru pain, God has a plan”.
Look for the Lord and wait out the storm… Psalm 121
Oh, how blessed I felt when I sat between Lee and Bob, learning just as much as I was talking, listening just as much as I was laughing, being at peace just as much as processing rough edges of life… I lingered… listened… and I loved it…
The Lord often is stirring up His mixing bowl of life. I’m one of those unprocessed clumps of cookie dough stuck to the spoon and I happened to have gotten scraped off into another section of the bowl to meet these new people, to pick up their new chocolate chip bits of praise, to hear new faith stories, AND to put my own issues in perspective. I often pondered on how UNBELIEVABLE it was that I landed where I landed. This church – that church – this place – the next place. It is no doubt because I was placed. We are placed. We are planted NOT in the world, but in His Word. Psalm 1.
I will always TRY to be a Gypsy for Jesus, rather than requesting a place to go, I will try to go where I am called, thru the Holy Spirit’s power, not mine, and both still be still AND be free to linger as long as the Lord needs…
But actually it was working with the TEEN who helped rearrange and CLEAN. (Such is the scheme to plan a football watching party scene).
A mom’s dream,
Could be chasing her own dreams.
But actually it is sending her child off away to their own – then exchanging text messages of beautiful sunsets scenes… and a cooler full of ice creams. (Yum)
A parenting dream is to see children grow and financially succeed.
and yet we don’t want them to be in a rush, nor have worldly success greed.
Surely the only thing FOR our children that we REALLY need,
Is to help them to TRUST God, LOVE Jesus, and understand and FOLLOW the Holy Spirit’s LEAD.
Live in Faith.
Long for God’s embrace.
Pray too to grow in Grace.
Reflect God’s Glorious Face.
For we do wish for our children to understand FORGIVENESS and to grow in their FAITH.
This mom loves to see each child’s face.
This mom longs for each child’s embrace.
This mom’s best dream is to one day see them in Heaven’s Forever Scene… With God, Face to Face…
Face to Face.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [reflecting] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2nd Corinthians 3:17-18
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: FAITH, HOPE and LOVE. But the greatest of these is LOVE. 1st Corinthians 13
A strong night of NOT getting anywhere but still being HERE.
Where? Here. But not there…
In the beginning of the checkers game at the great church “Community Night” FILLED with a sea of happy bustling children around us playing games, we couldn’t even remember WHERE to PLACE the checkers pieces to start…haha… LAME… Dark or light squares? or some of each? We were not embarrassed enough to not google it, so we did – dark squares… and so we started… Stealth checker strategy would win… In the middle of the game we didn’t doubt that I would win, I had many kings. But in the end, we realized there was actually no end to the game at all. We knew it would be a chase around the board, a never ending of 2 minds on equal par. A CAT GAME… but it was NOT a lame game after all, it was time well spent for a while realizing that even in a cat and mouse chase, there is a point where the cat will get bored… but NO cat game is lame because you STILL get to play the game.
We left the game aside. Even aggressive play didn’t win. Even defensive ploys didn’t lose. We just left it and even if my opponent said I won, I really didn’t. But it was OK as it was still a good game. It made us each think… 30 minutes? Yeah, 30 minutes for a checkers game? crazy… crazy not lazy… thinking until almost all was all thought out…
At home, I settled into a perfectly IRREVERENT and touching NETFLIX film, I highly recommend it: “Sr.” – about Bob Downey Sr, who is Robert Downey’s dad – a filmmaker – an IRREVERANT 70’s artistic filmmaker. This documentary movie even Jr asked: Who was documentary-ing whom? Who was framing whom? It was a crazy life lived and a film made for forever – as Parkinsons took Sr’s mobility away but not his humor. He became stuck but not out of the game… He still had laughter and a way to move his eyes along a camera editing frame view… and this movie RE-FRAMED their LIFE IN LOVE… I learned a lot about Robert Downey Jr too and his growing up life, they all irreverently lived interesting lives… (They all regret the drugs)… I HIGHLY recommend this Netflix film, “Sr.“, especially on a Friday night that fades away, there still is love… A tribute to love of a father and a son… LOVE… (and for me it was OK, tomorrow (today) being another day… and especially when the next day is SATURDAY… endless possibilities)…
SO thanks for letting me ramble and rhyme, life is no gamble it’s really fine. We ARE living and talking on God’s dime. You must flow in rhythm and rhyme during one’s lifetime. … Take heed of the past as it won’t last. Take hold of the present, it IS a present. … There is no lame in any life game, NONE. …No cat game is lame, because in life you STILL get to play the game, until it is DONE.
I also will add in Psalm 27 because God DOES rescue us from our mundane, our enemies and our thoughts – and even knows the plan for a dress that doesn’t zip and knows the comfort plan and anything else going on in this game we call LIFE… Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
A cat game has no winners with equal opponents. (remember the movie “War Games” with Matthew Broderick? The computer melted down mentally because it couldn’t win the cat game… Life’s game however? GOD WINS, and therefore we win, because God has NO worthy or equal opponents… GOD WINS…
Let’s get in God’s Game..
Psalm 27 Of David.
The Lord is my light and my salvation
whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,to gaze on the BEAUTY of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of JOY; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.
I remain confident of this: I WILL SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD in the land of the living. WAIT FOR THE LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
One of the many reasons I work at my workplace is that I’ve always had plenty of people to talk out my problems with and had an opportunity to listen to theirs (work or otherwise). We problem solve, we vent, we understand each other, and often we realize things aren’t so bad compared to what others go through. (And we do work at work too, LOTS of work)…
That’s the corner conversation by the coffee machine, the after-meeting mulling over, and the random not random intercept to someone’s rant, ours too. That’s us able to talk it out… And listen…
What about remote working? Call up the people. Reach out… read and write messages in chat conversations. Listen.
That’s us too with the Lord. Talk it out. Be in a place to be honest. Vent. Voice. ConVerse-ation. Prayers are not always or ever needing to be formal PowerPoint presentations, prayers can be an informal cooler conversations of the day with the Lord who wanted you to realize He was orchestrating the day anyway. An attitude of decompression, in prayer, can be like sitting around the table for happyhour and saying “Jesus, did you hear that? Geez, did you see that?”…. and imagine Jesus saying that to you? Jesus saying: “Did you see how your problem was answered? Did you see me intervene here? Did you notice Me in the person coming to ask for your help and friendship today?… With the Lord, we problem solve, we vent, we understand and we realize things aren’t so bad compared to what others go through. Compare any of your uneasiness with Jesus’s treatment by people and He certainly DOES understand.
Talk it out with the Lord.
Prayerful life activities alone can include reading His chat messages to you. From snippets of psalms to colorful stories of how He handled things. Of course our gathering together with his faithful increases our faith. We all realize we ARE God’s remote team on location. Of precious alone time with just us and God are actually suggested by God.
One of the devotions I read this week essentially said: DON’T rehearse your day, just go live it. Encounter things with an attitude of there WILL be challenges and there WILL be joys. Walk WITH me… At each moment: TALK IT OUT or just understand and BE.
…for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him….
Let us approach today (speaking and listening) in a fresh way, His Way, for Jesus is walking WITH us. Let’s talk the Walk. Then walk the Talk.
Jesus instructed (in Matthew 6:6-15):
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
King David had lots of concerns, but He (and we) had a BIGGER God.
We have days, months, years filled with CONCERNS, but God has FOREVER to be FAITHFUL. Everything pales and fades in comparison… Hold on to His promises…
I was holding on tight to the steering wheel last night, rain as intense as I’ve seen plus flash flooding. I would have taken snow over that… i got home safe. I had a LONG day, but I reached to the Lord for energy and organization… I’ll never have nothing to do, but these last few months have been a silly amount on my plate… luckily, blessedly, God helps me sort – what to do – what to wait… Where to REACH? God.
Chocolate… I don’t need chocolate, but wow what a treat God has given… and I left half a dark chocolate bar from Christmas in my car. Maybe even my mom gave it to me, Christmas was one month ago, seemingly feeling forever ago, that’s an example of how fast and far we get… we move fast… we are moved into the future…
Chocolate… I dropped a piece while driving.. I didn’t need it but ugh, can’t waste it! God knows my hands stayed on that wheel, both hands this storm was bad… the distraction mentally of chocolate (5 second rule) was more of a driving force than my fear of driving. My mind was focused visualizing that piece. Within but not safely easily within my reach. But it was preserved and OK.
I think that’s a fraction of how God focuses on us (small correlation), He loves us SO MUCH, that NOTHING can separate us from His Love. His reach? Ha, we are ALREADY in His Hand. He is NEVER distant. We are OK before we even think we are in danger.
I stopped my car, safely on the side, I was APPRECIATIVE of the mental break in my hour rainy 730pm commute from that long day. The chocolate was there, not in a puddle, not melted, not smeared by my driving foot… INTACT! Survived the moment. I reached and brushed it off… YUM… (See I have new weather tech mats, so clean enough!) 20 more minutes home, I was thankful. Safe thus far…
Imagine God being so intense and we are protected in the moment! We are!!!… Imagine God being so loving and we are protected from our enemies and our concerns and our foibles… WE ARE !!! He’s better than weather tech mats, He’s in us and not just around us. He’s better than chocolate, so soooooothing… He’s better than better… He’s saved us…
And ALWAYS GOD IS WITHIN REACH!
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but WE TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OUR GOD.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
Psalm 26 – of David.
Vindicate me, Lord, for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.
Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.
I do not sit with the deceitful, nor do I associate with hypocrites. I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked. I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, Lord, proclaiming aloud your praise and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells. Do not take away my soul along with sinners, my life with those who are bloodthirsty, in whose hands are wicked schemes, whose right hands are full of bribes. I lead a blameless life; deliver me and be merciful to me. My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the Lord.
There’s one BIG scripture of four little words which is sometimes tough to adhere to, but a blessing to remember. A reminder for when we count our blessings: “I SHALL NOT WANT”…
Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I SHALL NOT WANT...”
As David writes and surely sang, is a reminder to get what we need from the Lord and realize He has been providing all along. Worldly possessions won’t forever pacify us. He provides preparations, provisions, protections, purposes, pastures, paths, placements and PEACE. Our cups overflow… (Note there is One PEACE for all, not peaces)…
I’ve not been perfect in realizing this myself because I am human and we tend to get hung up on the small stuff, we clash with people who should be on the same page, or at least resting in the same green pastures of Peace. We wander away from the Shepherd too. We get jealous not just of others and their fortunate circumstances (the grass always seems greener) but we get jealous of the lives we think we SHOULD have had for ourselves. We are jealous of what we want in unbrokenness, frustrated with ourselves sometimes. We should be ambitious but not jealous.
Perhaps (definitely) we need to shift our eyes and REFOCUS ON THE LORD. If we are not so willing to accept hardships as challenges to overcome by ourselves, let’s try doing so WITH the Lord. If we don’t want to walk through these valleys of the “shadow of death”, then don’t stop and sightsee the situation, REFOCUSon the Lord!!! He Leads…
We forget we are not walking alone… We should remember to ride under God’s Wing. We shall not want…
Jealousy of a life without God’s leading is no life at all.
Keep looking at the Lord. FOLLOW. WALK. REST. KNOW.
Psalm 23 – a psalm of David. (KJV and NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,I will fear no evil, FOR YOU ARE WITH ME; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This is the first time in a few years that the Bohemian Czech Crown Jewels were put on display… They are held hidden under 7 pairs of locks and keys distributed to various members of the government and in the church… The re-creations (which I have seen) are beautiful and so these original pieces on video appear exquisite… one of these years I would love seeing the real ones, but the trip itself was even more priceless to me. The amazing St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle is just one of the sights to be seen…
Treasure any time you can take a trip! I sure do… The people who saw the jewels had to wait outside in the cold for a couple house. This year is special for new presidential elections. This is also the 30th anniversary of the separation of Czech from Slovakia. And it was 33 years ago when the velvet revolution got Czech people away from the iron curtain, I bet they waited a LONG time under that regime, behind the curtain. I have to wonder how much prayers were prayed in waiting it out… In a country of Europe, a continent of people losing their faith, many did not. Thank God.
King Charles of Bohemia, 1300’s, was also a man of faith and the Holy Roman Emperor, he had these jewels put together. There is faith in worldly items and then there is faith in God. If riches are as precious on earth, then heaven treasures are priceless! Priceless Heaven – our ticket bought by Jesus. Charles knew he had earthly jewels! And the gold overlays in his castles are unbelievably beautiful. Charles (Karl) also believed that He had hundreds of relics from Jesus’s time, including breast milk from Mary and especially a thorn from the crown Jesus wore. He had that thorn placed inside the cross in the jewels, they have no reason to believe that it is not still there. Charles used earthy riches in decorative art to honor God.
My scriptures this day are from another king, King David, who at times was under much distress and hiding from duress… Psalms 22, 23, 24, 25… What best JEWEL did David find in his heart? THE LOVE OF GOD… David BELIEVED in God’s rescue and he saw it! We should believe too.
There is nothing more precious than what God holds precious: His Love for us. David knew the Precious Love of God in rescue and in respite. (included below is His famous Psalm 23 – such a comfort to know God’s strength)… Even when David felt so distant from God, he knew God was looking for him. I pray we do too…
I pray we know we are PRECIOUS in God’s Hands. WE ARE HIS PRECIOUS TREASURES!
And He is ours.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
Psalm 23 – a psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 24 – of David. A psalm.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – he is the King of glory.
Psalm 25: 1-7 – of David.
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.
I appreciate the brief few years I sang in praise bands. I praise the situation and the unbelievability of it too as a non-trained singer, but mostly I praise the Holy Spirit for putting me where I needed and need to be. The songs were new to me, my praise was given an outlet, and it still is in recordings of those and other songs. Good thing because what was memorized before fades away…
Singing is soothing. My praise pours out loudly splashingly or it sips on His soothing of pain like sipping a cup of tea… in other words the Praise songs as well as life tears include BOTH praise and pain… isn’t that true… True. Pain and praise intertwine.
“There MAY BE pain in the night, but JOY comes in the morning.” That’s a lyric from a modern praise song which comes from old truth in Psalm 30 of David.
And Psalm 19:1-4 is speaking praise without speaking: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
My bandmate friend from many years ago wrote a new song, based on that scripture and others. It’s complex and yet so are we and so are our lives, there’s a mixture of pain and pondering and pure happiness. Joy can be in all, and one’s JOY in the Lord can be deliverance or diversion from pain. In other words when we look big picture, God view, the problems fade away.
How could we not feel pain alongside our praise. Sometimes we fall silent in pondering. Revelation 8 states that heaven goes silent for half an hour between revelations of the seals. Even in heaven there is pondering…
Sometimes we don’t hear the song or it doesn’t lift from the page until notes are added which can be understood musically. We don’t know the tune of these psalms. But our life experiences can make them our own. We travel our own tune.
In other words, music lyrics and song are meant to be together. Life Praise and pain are the same way on earth, intertwined they give completeness to our comprehension. How more intense our praise when pain is stopped.
Remember The Word IS Jesus, Jesus understands the pain and the prayers and the praise. Jesus IS the truth, the Way and the Life… He knows it all… And with Jesus comes forgiveness If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psalm 130:3-4)
Since we are not there yet, we humanly feel that pain still real and raw. Our relief – and our eternal relief – we are still taking hold of. It is a new mix for us remedying pain, pondering, and praise. Let us wait on the Lord – My soul waits on the Lord – He can be the mixing table for our new songs.
Amen and keep singing…
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:1-5
My Soul Waits for the Lord from Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
Simply waking up in the morning, I realize how blessed I am to embrace a new day, even if one doesn’t feel like starting it quite yet on my feet, much to the cat’s disappointment… I like to start my day by embracing our God who gave me rest to be my best. I’ve yet to do many things, but I WILL start with the best morning activity I have in trying to please Him more – SIMPLY TO GET TO KNOW HIM BETTER. In us He WILL give us a new day, so in Him we should PRAISE.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
We tend to think of OUR problems, OUR issues and of course OUR deliverance. Even that great scripture “Be Still” – we think of that as ‘people-centric’ as ‘Be Still and God is working things out FOR US’… And yes, He IS, but in reality read the Psalm 46 full text, it is referring BIGGER than that – it is that God telling us to Be Still, He WILL be EXALTED even by those who didn’t think He was handling everything… He WILL get credit where credit is due. Let’s start that now.
That is another reason to jump on the PRAISE bandwagon, be an optimist of God’s deliverance of the whole situation on earth, and praise of the little things too. Be still knowing – Be still PRAISING.
All in All, have faith in God being Whom He is. This does allow us to ask for help… Yes, we have much company in people who reach out to God to ask for help – and in the asking is also the faith – in the knowledge of deliverance… So, Psalm 18 is yet another great opportunity for David to sing of the Lord’s deliverance and His Victories even to the next generations…
As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?
Remember that God was telling David that He was favored, He would have a whole line of people (including the greatest King, Savior to Jews and Gentiles, Jesus) come after him in his bloodline – David was being told that Jesus would be connected to him, a remnant of Judah even if Judah was just in rags by then (God predicted the ongoing strife and exile). David already knew to speak of the Lord as “my Lord”, and God promised fulfilment…
Psalms 18, 19, 20, 21 all are of God’s Amazing Power deserving of PRAISE. We too should say “My Lord” in appreciation for it is true and for the appreciation that God is good. Psalm 46 is the Be Still psalm… We can find familiar phrases in our psalms of praise. That’s how I’m starting this day… Knowing and PRAISING..
(These psalms below are worth the read!)
(OK, cat has spoken, time to get going and move out the Christmas decorations!)
To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd. You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
The law of the Lord is PERFECT, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but WE TRUST IN THE NAME OF THE LORD OUR GOD.
They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call!
The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give! You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. You came to greet him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked you for life, and you gave it to him— length of days, for ever and ever. Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.
Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes. When you appear for battle, you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace. The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath, and his fire will consume them. You will destroy their descendants from the earth, their posterity from mankind. Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed. You will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow.
Be exalted in your strength, Lord; we will sing and praise your might.
Psalm 46: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee.
I always say: be careful not to major in extracurricular activities (in college or at work). Always get your basic work done. When you work at work, don’t forget to work… That’s life too!!! Being everything you are and want to be, like being a mom, like running a house then setting aside things to be able to get out of that house (laundry WILL WAIT and so will the dishes). Be who you are supposed to be but also know how to focus. Yes, WORK your situation… (and if you can’t get something to work – ask for help)…
When I started working at my near 21 year place of work, I started landing some unique projects and fulfilled unique roles in my department and in my whole building and in my global organization too. I could do the science or the activities or the new hire trainings or the client conversations or the fill in the blank… There is a nice niche of work, cleft for me… set aside… yeah… and sometimes when I do get called upon for my experience and expertise, it IS because I both have knowledge AND I learned how to maneuver within the system and get stuff done. (how can you not learn SOMETHING after 20 years – it is NOT that I am special it is just I never left…) ANYWAY, you have to know the system to work the system. This is NOT unique to me, but I recognize this as a blessing.
If you are fortunate, your niche may make you a “go to” person as needed – but if there’s too much on your plate (or you want to take a vacation) and you don’t know how to get thru your “to do list”, then first do what ONLY your skill set can do, then do the other stuff anyone can do. Work within your niche but also branch out…
Cleft for me. Is this God’s Will? Is this God’s Action Plan? To have the niche and yet branch out from it too?
Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me… So, I only recently truly read and understood this hymn. I woke up and the tune was on the top spinning disk in my head. This DOES pertain to work and to life. Like our cats which sometimes sleep hidden tucked away, remember that they ALSO sometimes sleep WIDE OPEN and sprawled out because they feel safe, they feel comfortable to do so, they TRUST you, they recognize a protective environment. Us too – we much know what to trust – we have niches and we have the opportunity for branching out!
If one knows the Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me old-time 1700s tune, one can easily follow along the words, close the book and leave it there. But if you READ the words, like I recently did, you can get SO MUCH MORE out of it. “Cleft for me” is us being able to hide ourselves in Thee, because the Rock opens a spot to nestle in, to protect us within. To be under God’s Wing. To be safe in a storm. The Rock of Ages is our sturdy foundation. No wonder He sends us out to the world, He knows we are protected and yet given opportunity to work. You have to know the system to work IN the system – and to work FROM the system. God Bless HIS System!
The Rock of Ages tune, whenever it plays in our heads, double reminds us of Jesus’s love AND a niche He carved out for us: to live and to work and to be protected and ALSO to be SAVED… The lyrics proclaim (in verse 1) of a double cure: water and the blood bring guilt relief AND cleansing…
The next two verses speak of Jesus’s actions and our saving thru Him ALONE… He fulfils the Law (Moses’s Law as given by God) as the ultimate sacrifice. Our SALVATION is not from the labor of our own hands, not from our doing, not out of our system. Verse four reminds us of the AMAZING AFTERLIFE… close your eyes and IMAGINE IT then nestle into His niche to really live.
Can we really live now? In God’s system? No matter how broken and bumpy the ride is? Well Yes! Through Jesus, God Almighty and a Living Spirit, we don’t always have to hide under His wing, we can be out sharing in His Joy. But don’t worry – His rock IS cleft for us. He will keep you HIS.
Scars is a song that hit me “just so” this morning… I am grateful for songs that touch your own experience(s). And no matter your original pain and no matter how deep your healing became when Jesus touched you to bring you to Himself, the scars – in Him and in us – are something that make us worthy – because of His Worthy… “Thankful for the scars”… and the scars we bear, and can show bare to Him, can make us remember not just the experience of getting them but especially of the HEALING – HIS HEALING – even if it took a long time – even if it is still ongoing – even if it takes forever…
No scars in Heaven will be as deep and as powerful than those of the Lamb, Jesus… No Healing on earth or in Heaven is done as powerfully and completely as from Jesus’s healing of us. God’s glorification of Jesus for our sake – and for His Ability to Hold His Children blameless and near to Himself. Rescued. Restored. Really…
The “Scars” song is said to be inspired by John 17 (posted below with Jesus’s words to Our Father and His disciples and us). Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Below are the lyrics of “Scars” – a good praise song for thankfulness… “And I’m not who I was before… No, I don’t have to fear anymore”…
lyrics: Waking up to a new sunrise Looking back from the other side I can see now with open eyes
. Darkest water and deepest pain I wouldn’t trade it for anything ‘Cause my brokenness brought me to you And these wounds are a story you’ll use
. So I’m thankful for the scars ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart And I know they’ll always tell of who you are So forever I am thankful for the scars
. Now I’m standing in confidence With the strength of your faithfulness And I’m not who I was before
No, I don’t have to fear anymore
. So I’m thankful for the scars ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart And I know they’ll always tell of who you are So forever I am thankful for the scars
. I can see, I can see How you delivered me In your hands, in your feet
I found my victory
. I’m thankful for your scars ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart And with my life, I’ll tell of who you are So forever I am thankful
. I’m thankful for the scars ‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know your heart And I know they’ll always tell of who you are So forever I am thankful for the scars So forever I am thankful for the scars
John 17 NIV – Jesus Prays to Be Glorified
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus Prays for All Believers “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
In my notes from a Michael Card conference on Hesed (loving kindness, forgiveness, grace, mercy), The Scripture from Luke 6:35 is highlighted – it says “But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High.”
My notes are that of reciprocity but in a paying it forward kind of way. We were given this Hesed first. We were given the opportunity to be those children of God because God loved/loves even the sinners, gives love and does good. God does WANT love from us – and when we realize how good He is, we appreciate it. So we too are to do what is good, even to the bad – to our enemies -a hard pill to swallow sometimes and yet Jesus went to the cross for this. The ultimate sacrifice of good for bad, for forever-sake.
Jesus came to teach us all this in the fulfilment of the One who will cover our sins and missteps. To train us to be like Him. “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.”
David also wrote about being upright and doing what was good. David said one can despise a vile person – but we are to honor others – especially those who fear the Lord. Doing what is good, even to the bad. Jesus still says to love them. Tough love, huh? But David reminds: the person who lives upright will never be shaken.
In today’s world, it is often a murky scene of people – yet we can see clearly if we focus on the love and the forgiveness (no matter how hard) and study the ability to forgive over the sensationalism of sin. And remember Jesus’s REAL DEAL advice: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
We ain’t perfect – let us realize we HAVE the love and grace and Hesed from God and give it to others best we can.
Psalm 15 NIV – A psalm of David.
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
Jesus said: “But to you who are listening I say:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also.
If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.
Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Judging Others 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Had some Great News – with is good news for me – and for us:
God proved very trustworthy – not that I doubted but He pulled thru!
So – I have a praise playlist – better than my words are my praises…
God IS Trustworthy – so Just Trust… Listen… Believe…
What’s the best rescue from God? The ultimate one. What’s the best NEXT rescue? A RESCUE from going it alone…
In anything and everything, just remember that God is going with you, better yet He has gone ahead!
So here’s a playlist of PRAISE I started just then rather than any other explanation… I START with PRAISE before anything else because I was already listening to praise… YES, I’d rather have Jesus than ANYTHING this world affords today (even good or bad news)… I’d RATHER have JESUS… YUP…
The playlist is called RESCUE.
(Now, if my news had gone the other way? It’s still the same playlist. It’s the same PRAISE, because He STILL is there. You Don’t Walk Alone (oh that’s a good song too!))
Thanks God! REALLY!!!
Surround (Fight my Battles) – because This IS the Way we should fight our battles – by noticing His Surround on us.
Goodness of God – because He IS GOOD!
Is He Worthy? – He is!
Word of God Speak – yes let Him talk…
Wonderful Merciful Savior
I’d Rather Have Jesus
You Raise Me Up
Oh Lord, Your Beautiful
The Heart of Worship
Surround (Fight my Battles)
Word of God Speak
I’m finding myself at a loss for words And the funny thing is it’s okay The last thing I need is to be heard But to hear what You would say
Word of God speak Would You pour down like rain Washing my eyes to see Your majesty To be still and know That You’re in this place Please let me stay and rest In Your holiness Word of God speak
I’m finding myself in the midst of You Beyond the music, beyond the noise All that I need is to be with You And in the quiet hear Your voice
Word of God speak Would You pour down like rain Washing my eyes to see Your majesty To be still and know That You’re in this place Please let me stay and rest In Your holiness
Word of God speak Would You pour down like rain Washing my eyes to see Your majesty To be still and know That You’re in this place Please let me stay and rest In Your holiness
I’m finding myself at a loss for words And the funny thing is it’s okay
I have a spiritual reading “to do list” and I’ve held onto some notes for 3 years now – and this packet always is BARELY kept from being completely buried. I wrote part 1 of my notes of going to Michael Card’s conference in 2019, never finished part 2. I will restart. But first, I have a story, I do remember the plain ole cold I had been getting over, the cough drop HESED *grace mercy* when Michael Card HIMSELF gave me a cough drop when I had a huge coughing fit and was stuck, no water, totally landlocked in my seat location by so many round tables and chairs and people staring… I was so embarrassed that I intensely cried outside the church for like half an hour… INTENSE embarrassment. I’m sure Michael and those people don’t remember, I do, the crawl under a rock feeling… Most importantly, I remember the forgiveness in the situation. I remember walking back in… I came back, back from outside and back, out of the field of fear.
Hesed is God’s forgiveness. In hindsight my coughing fit was just 6 months before covid hit, (and imagine the EXTRA stares I would’ve had then?!!!) Well, SO, my long-winded start here brings me to the thought and truth that THANK GOD, that GOD is in charge of Salvation by His actions and not ours. By His Love. Hesed. Loving kindness forgiveness. He’s got the power to forgive (and He does)!!!
This note paper (photo attached) is from that day, and it has the EXACT scripture that was read in my church yesterday. WOW! It’s a parable told by Jesus of a king paying day-laborers a wage whether they were short or long in the field, and his generosity allowed him to pay them all the same, regardless of time in the field. It’s a parable to demonstrate God’s forgiveness, His Hesed, IT’S GOD’S GENEROSITY, IT’S GOD’S MERCY HESED GRACE LOVING KINDNESS… God brings us into Heaven based on His ability. Jesus came to call the sinners…
The Vinyard in this parable can be a place to work, but what about the flip side? (Actually many flipside lessons from this but let me talk about just one angle): What of the “fields of life” that people wander in and around every day? I am going to take a cup of Holy Spirit contemplation within this story, and state that just like me coming back in from my “field of fear” after the coughing incident, we all need to come back out FROM the field to accept that offer, back to the King, back to the One who pays our way into forgiveness… Come back to Jesus, especially when we are feeling lost. Don’t stay out in embarrassment for sins or stupid stuff, or even perceived fear. Especially don’t stay away from fear of others.
Remember Jesus is looking too, looking for you. He’s leaving the 99 behind (whom He knows won’t stray at that moment) to come get you, His lost sheep. Come back from being out in the field of lostness.
(And we also need to extend forgiveness to others so we are also not stuck out in the field)…
God has HESED, loving kindness, grace and mercy to give you peace. Come get your Gift of Him, from Him, no matter how long you were gone. 30 seconds or 30 years, time is meaningless in the face of the Creator of all.
Let’s return to one of the the actual (non-flip sidebars) of the parable of the workers in the vinyard. God is saying “you all come” – and my notes from the conference state that Matthew was writing this story down FOR those former Jews who lost their Jewish identity by following Jesus. Matthew explains this love to those new believers, explaining “you are the salt of the earth, light of the world”… “[YOU ARE PART OF THE KINGDOM. Accept it, you do have an identity.]” We do too.
Remember God’s the One,
giving even His Son,
whose telling you your battle is won. Don’t stay out in the field when the day is done.
There’s many more sidebar learnings, from this parable… just like tilling the soil, we are only scratching the surface of Word, and it’s wealth of understanding… put your roots in deep… here’s the link:
always worth re-signing this song… there is a season…
Ecclesiastes 3 NIV
A Time for Everything
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
I have often wondered why we sleep, maybe we won’t sleep in Heaven, but I bet cat naps will still be available when needed, I mean who wouldn’t need that sleep time for processing Heaven’s Almighty Amazing views. But we will rest assured in Heaven if we don’t need to rest at all… Well, I will take whatever God gives me and say THANK YOU…. MEANWHILE, here on Earth, I appreciate sleep and I bet God does too, He needs it to happen in us (and we need it too) to REPAIR our broken thoughts, to give us FRESH perspective after rest, to RESOLVE muscle aches, to get us simply QUIETER in our world for a third of the day. I think our Guardian Angels must say ‘Whew, THANK YOU! I’ve got that person in just one place to not get into trouble for a while…’ Most of all, us resting restores some order to the System. Order is VERY Godly.
These are my views of sleeps’ benefits, but God’s view IS from His seat. He Knows. I just speculate. I bet He is SO SATISFIED to know that His children (us) are resting peacefully and in one place, just like I am thankful for my two children right now sleeping in my house.
Order is completing life laps around the sun. Following life’s course. Finishing the Race ‘one day at a time’.
Order IS Very Godly. Very Mom-appreciative. Especially teenagers, I get a 6 hour lead time of quiet work around the house on weekends, nowadays still getting woken at 5AM, get to write, sip some tea, then spring into action all while keeping quiet (including not waking up the cat.)
Revelation scriptures by John certainly show us an orderly Heaven. Order. Apostle Paul saw an orderly Heaven. Order. Acts reveals Peter seeing a portion of Heaven – whatever he saw to be there was supposed to be there – so why wouldn’t God have ordered it to be there…
A preacher once mentioned that in Heaven we will have perfect pitch singing, I mean why wouldn’t we?!!! Singing sounds so good to me for something in Heaven. I LOVE SINGING, ESPECIALLY HIS PRAISE! I am always singing (much to the chagrin of my kids). It’s the best calming thing… Singing restores order to my thoughts or at least replaces some of the worries with words of praise or positive vibes or processing pain in potent lyrics. Recently I was singing (humming) a praise song at the work copy machine not thinking anyone would notice, giving myself peace processing. A co-worker later said she loved how I was singing and it reminded her of her mom (who lives back home far away), almost made her cry thinking of her mom. Singing is universal in voices and hearts made by God. GOD MADE SINGING.
In John, Jesus says “in my Father’s House there are many rooms… I go to prepare a place for you…” Surely Jesus, Who can know the clean and unclean in people’s thinkings and cover them with His Blood, and Who can also wash physical dirt off of feet, can prepare rooms in an orderly fashion for us… Surely Jesus, Alpha and Omega, seeing and knowing the desired order can have ordered it organized. Surely God re-ordering the order by sending Jesus means that we are made into a new creation in Him. Surely the leaves of the tree in Heaven planned for “the healing the nations” will provide God His desired outcome then if we can’t make peace now. ORDER comes from the Lord’s Peace, we have to wait for that too..
We have to wait many times for God to reveal His Plan. We have to wait for HIS TIMING… and if there is no revelation yet of something like a medical diagnosis, or a financial situation, or even the dawn to come up, then just WAIT on GOD… He knows the order and DON’T RUSH HIM.
In other words, REST, REST in HIM, take the moment to praise first, pray second, and then continue waiting…
There is an ORDER to everything… Why wouldn’t there be? GOD’S IN CHARGE.
(PS it was dark when I started writing, the cat is now up watching me, the sun is now up welcoming me. The cat is back to cat napping. God gifts a new day – just wait for it… God ‘ordered’ this day, take full advantage of it from His Menu. Double Amen)
One day I was visiting my neighbor, who recently moved to a new place. She was in pain after broken hip surgery, had yet to take her ibuprofen, and so I suggested ice, simple ice… She remembered that she had a bag of frozen peas. She hates peas, but she had them, not for eating but for pain. Frozen peas are the perfect ice pack that contours easily. Yes peas also refreeze. A simple solution to pain. Remember that we have something to reach for. Keep it just in case. Basic pain relief. Ahhhhh…. My neighbor was visibly relieved. Didn’t need the hard medicine stuff quite yet, just frozen peas…
HOPE. Hope is a simple complex thought that we often have. Hope IS what we remember we should tap into and do actively reach for. Hope could be a specific prayer request we have or a general feeling that God will intervene. Hope comes in all sizes, we can keep it in the freezer, refresh it, use it again. Hope is the belief God will act and the witness that He has already, so many times.
We have rough times and we have good times. Before, after, in between all we have God who does not change and is listening. In our remembering of His existence, in our reaching out to Him and in towards Him, we need to remember not just Him but remember how POWERFUL He is. And remember God is the Temple as well as being Whom we praise in the Temple. He is the Owner of both the strong bird wing that we hide under and carries us as well as the still air giving the bird flight.
He is the Hope as well as Whom we hope into. God is All.
David in Psalm 16 remembers our Lord God is the portion AND the cup. God is the Joy AND the One Who fills us with JOY.
We ALWAYS need to remember He IS available. GOD IS. Reaching for God is kinda (well much much more) like remembering the frozen peas, reach for Him, and apply… God IS in the reach as well as the relief.
The application of HOPE is prayer. The result of prayer IS HOPE.
The existence of God is also His Power. The Power of God is He exists.
A bag of peas and a Psalm of “pleas” and “please”
Psalm 16 NIV of David.
Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
The amazing thing (well there are many) about God is that God HAS prepared the Way for His Plan and for His people well before anyone roamed the earth or moaned in pain on the earth. He was preparing the Way for His people, even through a wicked minefield of mayhem. He saw the other side because He MADE the other side. If David could see it and put it to pen, David also must have seen the refuge, felt it, especially since he has so many writings in the Psalms. God is credited with being both ALMIGHTY (slaying the wicked) and being a God of refuge (protection for those seeking His Face). Psalms 10 through 14 are a walk through of both: ‘Why are the wicked so wicked?’ AND ‘You Lord are the Rescuer, Resource, Restorer.’ Yes, everything pales compared to God’s Glory.
For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
We may know trouble here and there, but unless you are in much much more corrupt company, we ALREADY have and know a protective barrier of God’s protection. (That’s why we remind folks to count their blessings!) If you are even having a chance to read this text (and I had time to write it), then we will have already been afforded by God time, precious time, time to rest, time to work, time to reap benefits from working income or rescue financing, and we will likely have moments of remembering when wehave been rescued. Just us whom get to Friday and can say TGIF, Thank God it’s Friday, it is like the week fades away in the face of a weekend. Think especially then how the life wickedness and strife fades away in the Face of Almighty God.
The upright will SEE His Face…
Give LIGHT to my eyes…
So why do we read so much historical prayer in the Psalms about the enemies of God? And the rescue of the innocent? Why do we hear of those enemies whose minds are corrupt “in all his thoughts there is no room for God”? We are told because He has a way to destroy them. IN HIS TIME, not ours. AND, because we are to be aware there are pockets of real wickedness in the world and plain pastures of wicked ways that derail people. And because in the future, others who are oppressed need to hear that GOD WILL PREVAIL!
We are often sheltered from hearing as well as having to face the situations and the people suffering thru them. God hears them. God hears you if you are going through something terrible. God has already made a Way. Trust Him.
This is the month (January) where we recognize that human trafficking is real, is evil, is hidden from our ivory tower lifestyles. (Just do an information search on the big sports events and the increase in trafficking.) God DOES see this. God will bring all the enemies of God to His punishment and justice in due time. Our awareness of situation may make us able to help. If anything, we can pray against the wickedness and praise the protection of God’s shielding to those who escape.
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.…. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.
If we have seen BOTH evil and good, then we can share our witnesses of God taking care of our situation and salvation again the ultimate evil of sin and death. Then we should share that David saw the Lord prevail, we see the Lord prevail, and our future brothers and sisters will ALSO see the Lord prevail. If David waited for salvation, we see salvation, others live in the shadows of death, we must share hope against enemies. God already won, keep hope. Let us hope to see. GIVE LIGHT TO MY EYES
Thank God it’s FRIDAY.
Thank God it’s FINE.
Thank God it’s FINISHED.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
“GIVE LIGHT TO MY EYES“
Psalm 10 NIV
Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord. In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in allhis thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.” His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims; like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”
Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”? But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out.
The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.
Psalm 11 NIV
For the director of music. Of David.
In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.
Psalm 12 NIV
For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.
Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race. Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts. May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them.” And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.
You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked, who freely strut about when what is vile is honored by the human race.
Psalm 13 NIV
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.GIVE LIGHT TO MY EYES, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Psalm 14 NIV
For the director of music. Of David.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. Do all these evildoers know nothing? They devour my people as though eating bread; they never call on the Lord. But there they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
You know, Christmas was over roughly just 2 weeks ago – crazy – seems forever ago and yet it’s not. I still have the tree up, still snacks too. It is nice to sit quiet on the couch now and appreciate the lights and the beauty – the quiet – and appreciate not having to clean up Christmas just yet. So much work – but worth it! I am SO HAPPY to be on THIS SIDE of Christmas – THANK GOD! It was like a jump over an arbitrary dateline. When my daughter goes back to campus, that’s probably when I will start to de-Christmas, but not yet. Enjoy what did happen.
Sounds funny to say but I am speculating that God also says ‘Thank God! Christmas is done’ – and ‘Easter is done’ – not the dates but the actions. Thankful His children (we) who hear are saved from sin and death… and I feel certain that Jesus must have felt that relief to “get the job DONE” – to get people back to God by cleansing them with His blood – however painful and however long it took – Thank God It is Finished! Scripture Fulfilled.
Thanks God for Your Plan.
But unlike Christmas where some get the urge to rid the decorations out of their sight quickly, to clockwork take that tree down at the appointed hour of moving on, GOD DIDN’T. GOD DOESN’T. GOD LINGERS (for now)… God knows everyone doesn’t know. LINGER. Jesus walked the earth for weeks after rising on Easter. He taught, He connected the dots for confused people whose eyes could only see once God unveiled the fog from their heads. Jesus even asked God to send the Holy Spirit (Who is also God) to come at the appointed time to help the disciples and us to be filled with His mission, His motivation, His movements. God wants us to want more Holy Spirit.
So, I am not rushing this post Christmas cleaning until the tree is too dry to keep safely. I’m not rushing the new season in, however I do notice that I don’t notice the old newness of Christmas, that’s because we move forward (we have valentines day next a 5 year old told me! A holiday of love, how fitting)… Each day brings God’s new steps… And each day brings us asking for a fresh filling of Holy Spirit. That’s God’s Walking Working Way.
Now we are waiting again – and creation is groaning waiting – for there will be a time that Jesus comes again. Will it be a surprise? Yes. Only God knows. We just have to be ready – and what does that mean? Endurance – Working – Sharing Peace – Spreading the Word. It means it’s NOT OVER, THANK GOD!
It is Finished, but it is not over, and we WAIT. Keep working. Keep walking. Keep watching. Keep loving!
I’m so happy to be on this side of Christmas. I’m so grateful to be on this side of the Cross. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit to reveal our life IS with God. I’m so blessed we still get to live now. I’m also so grateful to live again…
(We also wait for the jump to over the grave, don’t rush it but hold His Hand before and after. Holy Spirit help us count our days not waste them away.)
Amen in Him
Jesus speaking to the disciples and us before His death (John 14:25-27)
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Jesus speaking to the disciples and us before His death: (John 16:5-15)
…”but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Jesus in Revelation 3:11-13
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
There’s historical artifacts looking through collections from a house lived in from the 1950s. Cool things to show your kids and teach them about the past (and be VERY grateful for modern conveniences). In my neighbor’s house (all our section was built in mid 1950’s), I discovered a nifty real Western Union Telegram. Saved and tucked away and still readable and understandable. It’s a congratulations note from friends – maybe for a wedding or baby’s birth. Nice note! “Congratulations and Best Wishes! Sorry we couldn’t be there.” The extra cool thing about the Telegram is that it’s single line text printed and glued to a paper backing. Vintage versions of “over the wires” text messages, sent to be “fast”… Maybe a novelty then but effective! And a hint at our modern message systems. Imagine every message now over the wires and even wireless. Amazing.
How is this like us? Single messages glued in our heads? Sent wireless?The Telegram paper backing is like a clean slate and God’s Word wants to be laid on our hearts. GOD Himself in Jesus as the Living Word. That’s the ORIGINAL Messaging System for sure! God’s Word spoken to us from others and especially by our own reading. Phrases and advice that we can pull up later. (Interesting enough I am placing this Telegram in a Bible now. The “WORD” is our Heavenly Telegram).
Here’s a one great “one-liner” from The Word: “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” That’s from David in Psalm 8. He wrote many songs of praise and many of prayer. One word prayers are also heavenly said, like THANKS!
How EXCELLENT God IS, He is WORTHY of our thanks, and PRAISE to Him is knowing there IS power in His Words, even just in saying His Name.
We can send messages to each other now in modern ways, but will the other person opens the message fully or pick up on the nuances or not?… God does. GOD KNOWS ALL. God not only hears, He KNOWS the PRAISE (or the PRAYER) or even our grunts BEFORE they even go out of our mouths!!!. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. That’s David’s realization, Psalm 139.
I also tell myself again and again: “DON’T FORGET TO SAY THANK YOU TO GOD!”, especially after I know He helped me, and even in waiting I say THANK YOU! It’s good to send that message instantly – pray it – say it – praise it. Our thankfulnesses. Those praises sustain us.
Imagine times when we are in such pain that we can’t get the words out, God already knows the ache in our hearts, God already sees. He knows tears, He knows to send friends to hug us, to listen and understand. He wants us to turn to Him. David in Psalm 9 says: “The Lord shall endure for ever….The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee…Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.”
Let’s keep singing. Let’s keep reading the Word, and incorporating it into our hearts and making it READABLE by our ACTIONS all the time.
If we Listen, we can better know.
If we hear Him, let us follow.
Let us truly be led,
by what the Lord has said!
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. David in Psalm 139
Here are the complete Psalms 8, 9, 139 by David. (Especially I love singing Psalm 139)
Psalm 8 KJV
O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.
When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!
Psalm 9 KJV
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right. Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
Have mercy upon me, O Lord; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death: That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God. For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.
Psalm 139 NIV
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting.
I was thinking about the BACK STORY for 2 recent posts, about the PEACE that I got from me STOPPING OVERTHINKING about a situation and just TRUSTING GOD, to where my doubts changed to my witness of His deliverance. I’m always amazed when He delivers results BIG TIME. Yet He makes everything beautiful in its time.
God knows the know-how that we see as WOW.
Let me mention what we surely learn to know: God IS the Power behind ALL our good circumstances, our good strength, all our good hope. He IS the backing we need to do anything. No wonder King David sang songs/Psalms to God again and again. “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer.” David knew to wait on God, to wait for something good. We need to wait.
Waiting situations… I picked up a pizza, I had to wait a little extra, the owner (such a nice guy) said he did not like how the first pizza came out and was remaking it for me! WOW, weird but wow… Good thinking and his generosity and GOOD that a back up second pizza was already cooking so I wasn’t delayed more than 5 minutes.
Backups… it’s good to wait.
I wished there was back up support at the mini Starbucks too (in the grocery store), as they only had one worker. And a physical makeshift sign (an old receipt taped onto the screen) posted to say “be right back”. Well, hmmmm… I waited over 10 minutes, first world problem of course, but I didn’t have any other way to get the particular sandwich (for my daughter). Even though all of the kiosk was WIDE OPEN for me to walk into, I had no capability to find or make that sandwich anyway. I wouldn’t cross the arbitrary barrier of behind the kiosk. (And I wouldn’t steal anyway). So, I was stuck with no backup! Waiting… I needed them or their backup to make it happen. There’s stage actors have understudys who prep and wait and amazing the young woman working in the regular store saw me wait and stepped in using her previous Starbucks skills and made my sandwich and cashed me out. What’s the chance of that, a backup who intervened for my timelines and for the overworked kiosk worker too.
Backups… The Backing – The Back Story… Jesus, fully God on earth, had God send the Holy Spirit as an Advocate, a Holy backup on earth to help disciples and us after He arose. He told the disciples to WAIT for the Power, the Holy Back up. God is the Back Story (God is the Whole Story).
God IS needed to get stuff done! *Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. *Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.*Psalm 127:1
What about money? Money usually is based upon GOLD backing, giving paper or tin copper zinc coins backup value. Well I found these old bills at my neighbor’s house, from the early 1940s, but they are practically worthless even though looking like collectibles. The “funny money” is real, but it lost its value as soon as it was issued by Japan to pay for items in the Philippines in 1941-1945. Such funny money had no GOLD backing so that they called it “Mickey Mouse money” and used it like paper. Worthless because it had no backing! It’s a souvenir sure, but according to ebay and money exchanges it’s worth less than a fraction of the price of that Starbucks sandwich. And the coins? The souvenir 5 Francs from 1945? With no metal available in WW2, 95 million of these coins were made from aluminum. So light and chipping at the edges that I thought someone ate the chocolate out of it (LOL!), but it WAS real money, just felt so fake, was not made of material worth its weight.
Jesus reminds us about treasures: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The coins and bills are examples of things which could be valuable but are not always. Isn’t that common to “things” in life… Treasures are not always treasures and almost always less of a monetary treasure than the MEMORY treasure. My treasure is the memory of my friendship with my neighbor (who had those coins and bills) and not the money they are worth (or not worth). Blessings that are GOD-backed not gold-backed.
The treasures of life are in Heaven and bringing Heaven on earth, but it IS sometimes work to work out Heaven on Earth. But when you do the Lord’s work, there’s power and JOY and energy behind it all. God is the Back Story for our histories and our mysteries too. My amazement in God power to get things done is related to the recent posts I made: I doubted but He delivered. I doubted the ability and the smooth sailing and the timing – but God coordinated. God got it done over my doubts. Put it in God’s Hands and Vroooooom, He IS in the driver’s seat. Each the moment I doubted and I said ‘it’s up to You Lord’, that’s when I heard the Vroooooom of Him….
God IS the backstory to our motivation and energy. I dream flat tires, but He convinces me of His Power. We (I) should be in awe of God. Putting my knees to the floor. (Good thing the floor is the solid rock of the Lord too.) So that’s the backstory, understory, little story from BIG God.
Amen, I BELIEVE in You Lord!
Here are the 2 recent blogs of my doubt and my witness:
This time of the year and always, let us try to complain less.
Job (see the book of Job) was in BAD STRAIGHTS, he didn’t know he was being sifted by the devil and watched by God. (We on the other hand SHOULD know this). Job’s friends consoled but that only seemed to extend the conversation, even made it worse. (Wow, they went on and on….) … I do wonder why the many many many chapters were given for these conversations (we would too) and its not just that “Job had to get it out of his system”, it’s just Job did not use his wisdom to apply to the system… and Job had LOTS of words seemingly more than almost everyone, except of course, THE WORD. Jesus (the Word) would know this feeling of suffering physically and feeling also… also seemingly separated from God to take our sins away, but never was He nor us nor Job separated from God Almighty. Never separated and always on the same page.
I know it is curious why we suffer, and yet we don’t know the half of it. So many suffer so much that our suffering should pale in comparison and yet we speak in distress, we are but human, it’s natural. Perhaps so much more that we are to reach to the Supreme Hope. We are instructed that we are to fear God, acknowledging both His Power and His compassion.
Reading through the book of Job, I saw a passage that I could discern an answer – Job said the following: “He [God] is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.”
Oh!!!!! I can read between these lines, into the Wisdom of God. He DID create a mediation path, a forgiveness, an advocate. We ARE in life now able to keep safe under God’s Wing because Jesus covers our sins with His blood. Let us apply wisdom and allow Jesus to be our Savior.
We MUST fear God, He really IS all that powerful, yet we must LOVE God, He really IS that compassionate. Love God. Understand that we are human and we are NOT God to understand it all…
God has the power and He uses it! So importantly God has the power to save. He gave us wisdom, unlike some creatures. And God’s wisdom protects His children.
After the trials, the Lord spoke to Job (remember all these Words are Jesus the Living Word that remind us God IS God): The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.” Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? – Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.”
Who IS this RIGHT HAND? (Of God, not Job)
JESUS, that’s Who.
Let us start now with belief… and wisdom to know..
In the end we will all see all, like Job. And we will understand!!! Until then, let us just BELIEVE!!!
We MUST have the WISDOM to WAIT upon GOD.
Here us how the earthly story ends:
Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
One more passage about wisdom:
“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, though they cannot compare with the wings and feathers of the stork.She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand,unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense.”
…the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace…
Joni Mitchell sings “You dream flat tires” and honestly many of us do. I quite often realize that I OVERTHINK! I don’t even give God a chance before I’ve already declared a situation to be a disaster or a problem insurmountable. In other words, dreaming flat tires when things are actually rolling along OK.
“Don’t worry worry before worry worries you!” – “Don’t make a molehill back into a mountain “… Yeah well, good luck with that.
Trust me, don’t dream flat tires because it is like you are already saying to Almighty God that you don’t think He can prevent a disaster nor fix a situation. You’ve reduced God, at least I have, to the backseat if you even let Him in the car. Trust me and trust your own experiences that God IS in control. Let Him Drive.
Don’t dream flat tires (hey and I’ve had plenty of flat tires and the situation was always fixable! Plus there has ALWAYS been a spare. And aren’t we HAPPY when we actually see the nail as opposed to not know what made our tire flat?!)
My latest over-stress-ings have been over something that HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET (and actually NOT even an earthshattering situation, so I won’t waste the time explaining) and yet my stress has been real and yet my worry surely has been and will be matched and overcome by God telling me to TRUST His Guidance. No, He’s not pulling off a miracle (yet) both because the situation hasn’t even happened and because God IS saying: ‘Haven’t I told you to let tomorrow worry about itself? Focus on today!’ Yup. Plus God HAS given me tools and people skills and people helpers and perspective. Our perspective can be: what can I do, rather than later say: how have I failed to prepare. We do have options in life, God just wants us to talk them out with Him. Start talking and better yet, start listening!
And so I opened today’s devotion book and sure enough God’s repeated this advice to me (to us): “Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish.” Yes, that scripture is based upon Isaiah 40 and other passages. That Way of life is knowing: GOD is in control!
So, I will stop dreaming THIS flat tire of fear and actually put right thoughts first, both because I know God is in control, AND Jesus helps me walk (roll along) AND yes, God provided A SPARE TIRE in my trunk because the life helper IS the Holy Spirit – IS Whom Jesus had God send to us to move us along in His Work. A spare in the air… Holy Spirit gifts us air in our tires and breath in our lungs.
Today’s problem is not a problem (yet) if you let God give you the answer, which is: “Trust Him!” God is the Answer (and was the answer before anyone even had a question).
PS – today Jan 6th is Ephiphany – so those Kings traveling for so very long must have TRUSTED GOD to get them to where they were going – to get them to see the King – to survive along the way and not feel their travel was in vain… did they have flat tires? who knows – but even camels carry extra water with them!
The whole devotion for Jan 6th by Sarah Young’s book “Jesus Calling”:
“I am able to do far beyond all that you ask or imagine. Come to Me with positive expectations, knowing that there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Ask My Spirit to control your mind, so that you can think great thoughts of Me. Do not be discouraged by the fact that many of your prayers are yet unanswered. Time is a trainer, teaching you to wait upon Me, to trust Me in the dark. The more extreme your circumstances, the more likely you are to see My Power and Glory at work in the situation. Instead of letting difficulties draw you into worrying, try to view them as setting the scene for My glorious intervention. Keep your eyes and your mind wide open to all that I am doing in your life.”
… the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. (David in Psalm 3)We all have enemies, maybe not always physical ones but mental enemies too, like fears, like dividing forces, like Satan himself. We all have various ways to deal or not deal, to ignore, to pray away too… There’s certainties in life, death, taxes and yes the enemy of sinful ways which we simply can not avoid because we are human. The last commandment against jealousy will be our downfall in the law. That’s why we needed and need Jesus. Forgiveness… We need God’s Shield.
(And what makes people war against us, even if only in their hearts?… Jealousy… yeah… that age old division of evil, we need to shun that in ourselves too.)
Enemies… Psalm 3 is written by King David trying to escape from a big enemy, his own son Absalom. Wow, going back to the books of Kings, Chronicles we learn that keeping enemies at bay (with God giving the victory) fills hundreds of years of history which the Chronicler (likely Ezra) wrote down to give courage to the current population fighting enemies. So that they would look to God. Written down for us too.
From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
God’s Word is written down so we pick IT up and pick UP on it. You will have enemies, but even better: YOU WILL HAVE GOD TO FIGHT YOUR BATTLES. AND God to comfort.
Psalms 3, 4, 5 of David (God’s annointed son and leader) help us know that even God’s most beloved were fighting enemies. David was, Jesus certainly was. And God Himself was fighting the enemy of sin in the people’s lives, and God won.
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
… let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
God gives us the ability to chose right vs wrong. God looks for us to look to Him and shake off malice, malaise and mistakes. God will be our shield, but we must choose Him as our God. Jesus will be our Savior but we must recognize that we need saving. We must recognize enemies are around us, but God is around it all. And let God work in His Time frame, not yours.
Be at peace with a God who saves!
…for the Lord sustained me…
…I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety….
The 1st 3 verses of Psalm 5 are a song I would sing in my old band:
“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”
FYI the Psalms are divided into 5 books – here’s some info: “Except for Psalms 10 and 33, the remaining psalms of Book 1 are psalms of David. Most of them are prayers of distress. Others are statements of confidence in the God who alone can save…” https://www.esv.org/resources /esv-global-study-bible/chart-19-03/
PSALMS 3, 4, 5 by David, in KJV
Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord. There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.
But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
There is great comfort, consolation and direction by staying the course and living by God’s Word, mediating on it, reading it like the best advice you will ever get… Never separated from God, He knows the Way. Both not doing wrong but striving to do right. Listening to stay on course is watching (actually feeling) His Peace light the way.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who MEDITATES on HIS LAW day and night. Psalm 1:1-2
MEDITATION, not on mindlessness or mind emptying, but ON GOD’S WORD over worldliness. Not living with intent of sinning or mocking but MEDITATION on God’s Law, on Jesus’s fulfillment, and on His Holy Spirit Scripture Song in your heart. Moving forward WITH GOD is every day’s best game play.
We can stay on course in life by listening to God’s Way. Stay out of the rough, just like the willing golfer to pick up the clubs and walk through the game. The woods are not where you want your ball to land, and yet the wood club is the tool for getting your ball up into play and farthest down the course. More golf references: The Wood of the cross, by Jesus’s death gets us all farthest to Heaven. Irons are strong clubs to get the middle of the game going. The irons of scripture are sharp to help each other – helping us stay on course. And the puttering around on the green help us all finish the game. Life is no game, but know that God already won it for us.
It’s no wonder that the Psalms were written as songs… How comforting they must have been to face the world with the song of scripture. We too may sing our way into comfort with a hymn or pick me up song. King David wrote at least half, 75 of the 150 Psalms. And after reading his adventures, triumphs and failures, it’s a blessing to learn that keeping one’s heart towards God is the best course of life. God loved David for it. God kept David’s family line alive to deliver Jesus into it. God’s Son Jesus is the King to Whom all earthly kings will bow down to. God even told Samuel, the prophet who announced David as God’s anointed, that earthly kings will make slaves of the people and be fallable. God wanted the people to follow Him, keeping the Law. God knew to send His Son Jesus. His earthly son David was inspired to write: Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.Psalm 2
Yes, let’s take refuge today.
God knows the Way.
Iron sharpens, God’s Word cuts thru the course of the day and makes our steps work. God’s Will, Way, Word, don’t leave home without it!
Psalm 2 of David
Why do the nations conspire land the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.”
I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
A friend brought me a new juicy-looking orange for 2023 on New Year’s Day all while reminding me to hunt for that old one lost in my purse that I wrote about yesterday (https://debbieupper.blog/2023/01/02/happy-new-year-one-day-and-one-step-at-a-time/ ). I did find it, still tempted to eat it because it’s not TOO old. But now that I have a new orange, should it be “out with the old” everything? Well not too sure about that, and certainly not before I took a photo… Carrying over old into a new year is not necessarily bad… I can at least try the juicy old fruit that took so long to develop, if not I’ll compost it back to the soil.
Another example of good stuff from “old” last year is a “new to me” almost vintage mug gifted from my neighbor who is moving soon. She let me make a cup of tea in it from her keurig when I visited weekend mornings these last few weeks. How BLESSED to embrace some time together in person, steeped in love, and now take our memories of visits with us in our hearts. Old friends are super best to carry into the new year, even if they themselves move forward into their own new experiences. God wants us ALL to be fruitful in life.
BLESSED is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.Psalm 1
The best “old” thing (which is hard to call a “thing”) to bring in and ring in the new year with IS the best old thing there ever was and is: LOVE. Love is timeless. Love conquers all. Love fufills one ultimate request commandment of God, to love Him back.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
If we listen to Psalm 1, knowing Jesus fulfilled the Law (a sacrifice of all time) and He fulfilled the prophecy of the Prophets, and if we do know how GOD IS LOVE, then we really do know that “Blessed is the one who delights”… Delights in LOVE, shares LOVE, appreciates God’s LOVE, and performs acts in LOVE.
Love wins. And fruits of the Spirit become ripe for harvest.
Let us make a NEW resolution EVERY DAY this year to find how TIMELESS LOVE applies to EVERYTHING. Every resolution of peace, get that from God. Every step we wait upon God to take, let it be stepped and steeped with LOVE. Pray Holy Spirit, please fill us all up. Let us love comfortably like a beloved old cup, fill us up and serve fresh love each day. Let us love uncomfortably too and fulfill and delight in the law of the Lord.
Happy 2023 to you and me!
Delight in God and LOVE will set you free.
PS, what a delight to step into the new year with reading and writing about a “new to me” book chapter of the Bible, I finished Job in 2022 now in Psalms for 2023… what a delight of meditation on God’s Word. It’s also the lyrics of one of my favorite songs to sing from my old band, which I have framed. “I will delight in the Law of the Lord. I will mediate day and night. And like a tree firmly planted I’ll be, grounded in the Word.” – “Blessed is the one who follows the Way of the Lord. Blessed is the one.”
So much new – new to you but known to God, so why not let Him direct our paths.
I woke up with gratefulness, a dream slipping away in my forgetful wakeness (was something about clear vintage glassware pink and clear, awesome vintage shapes), and a devotion to write: a message of the New Year is not yet walked so don’t race through it. Take each new step with the Lord’s Direction.
Yes, the new steps are so new to you that a new year is either scary or exciting. But honestly it’s not a different message of how to live because we ALWAYS should be looking for the Lord’s guidance. That’s our best resolution, to actually listen.
There are old memories and missions that we must finish up and even nagging feelings too of things we forgot in 2022 – like I woke up to remember that 31DEC devotion I fell asleep writing AND woke up to remember that I think I have an orange at the bottom of my purse from a week ago, yikes. I’ll have to look, but surely the Holy Spirit of watching out is helping me and intends me to clean up my act in so many ways… that’s the new year resolution, not the cleaning but the LISTENING.
And so, before I look for that orange, let me finish these thought – we must be willing to work for God – we really are in this together. One big thing we can do in 2023 (gee it rhymed better in 2022, “can do 2022” becomes “let’s see 2023”)… But seriously, one thing for me in 2023 (and maybe big thing to do for you too) is TEACH – teach the children because you also were taught – teach the children who grew up not getting taught because you have the wisdom and knowledge to share. TEACH, REACH, PREACH, embrace your walk… SHARE… and don’t dare to go anywhere on your own, go with God!
The scripture: “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” MUST have extra meaning referring to my VERY dusty house (I’ve been deep cleaning dust I haven’t seen in years)… We have the sin of Adam therefore we always have to work for our food and till the soil (see Genesis 3 for the fall from grace), AND forever since then, we have lots of cleaning to do because since Adam, LOTS of dust has been created and recreated… Farming, cleaning and dusting is sweat of the brow work given to Adam that surely we WON’T have to do in Heaven, RIGHT?… And who knows but God where all this dust came from… So if I needed, if you need, yet another reminder that we AIN’T in Heaven, start dusting… DUST…
Seriously, since we are made by God’s Hand as our Potter, He would surely gently and firmly purposefully make us STRONG yet delicately weak unless filled with Him – His Spirit. In Jesus, our Grace from God is corrective action. Yet sometimes we are in the need of rework here and now, especially when we don’t listen. The slip of the clay is like dust plus water, therefore directed living dust (us) plus Jesus (directed Living Water) is the makings not of just MUD but MAN. Surely God is rendering us alive. And fresh filling of the Spirit restarts us every day.
In Heaven, we rise again in Spirit and in Jesus’s Power and Victory. His Spirit-indwelling within us gives LIFE. Our life will be risen from the dust here on earth.
“The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”
God knows how to organize His dust. Adam was dust, I have dusting (seemingly of dust gifted unto me), and IN Jesus we all have VICTORY.
Heaven is Dust-free Dust-freeing victory… Death (and dust) has beenswallowed up in victory.”
Amen [Thank God]
1 Corinthians 15:35-58 NIV
The Resurrection Body
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” – “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
It was a little interesting to see this scene in my yard: the baby Jesus Christmas light had figure fallen face forward between Mary and Joseph from the big winter storm. But it’s a reminder to think… Think about Jesus STILL SHINING, no matter what… and since Jesus NEVER changes. NEVER WOULD HIS LIGHT GO OUT. NEVER.
We could say Jesus especially GLOWS when IN us He GROWS.
He is the Sight of Light Upright.
It was a big windstorm with rain and I must have put the decoration on non-solid ground, simply collapse of the hinge, they are sturdy enough to survive. Would Jesus really do a Faceplant or even make an audible “ugh” from a misstep? Probably surely not. There is not something Jesus would be caught in by surprise. NEVER. Jesus KNOWS His Steps (and ours). Jesus IS the solid rock ground we stand on. Jesus is the One who holds us. He loves before we leap.
The interesting thing about this scene is that when the baby Jesus is glowing (upright or on the ground), He looks the SAME from the front or the back. You might say Jesus can SEE OUT THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. Yet we must realize Jesus KNOWS over seeing, like when the woman touched his robe hem secretly, He knows not only our coming and going, He knew us before we were born.
A FaceSmack hand to head in disbelief is something I envision Jesus doing in response to my often missteps – giving Him a grimace or a surprised face. But a FaceSmack from Jesus is highly unlikely since Jesus KNOWS our weaknesses already AND He uses BOTH hands to hold us in COMPASSION. Nope, Nothing surprises Jesus. Not ever. NEVER.
Consider the plight of Job, Satan getting a chance to test Him, the chapters of conversations of “WHY?” between Job and his friends, in similarities to God letting and making the placement of His Son into the World (*a path of the Light determined from the beginning*). In the world, Jesus had to illuminate the darkness. Job says of God: “He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light.” In His crucifixion suffering, Jesus never turned away from God even though He stated His questions: ‘My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?’ AND “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done.” God’s Will was fulfilled and Jesus carried all the weight of our sins upon Himself. God shunned the sin but loved the Son. God made the Light burn bright enough to know how to send Jesus on this mission to remove our sin, and bring Jesus back with us, never to leave again. The Light NEVER goes out.
Jesus is the Word made flesh, a Light, a hope…
Will Jesus change? Never. Not a chance. Nope.
Look for the Light.
Be the Light.
Job’s friend Zophar said of God: “if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” Job 11:13-18
It was a special extra Christmas eve night and church message, a LOVELY real message of Christmas, of God’s Love in Jesus, a Son Given, that I and others absorbed from being at Christmas Eve services. There was also a funny site as we saw the teenage drummer decked out in fine Santa attire with Grinch pants and yes a Grinch mask too… (it’s a great “come as you are church – pajamas even allowed! Love it!)… don’t worry the Grinch mask did come off, must have been too hot… lots of enthusiastic great music!
Our Pastor spoke about the LOVE of God wrapped around us like cloth, like a surfers wet suit for protection and warmth, like the warm sheets at night, like a blanket which she received made by the Sunday school kids… And here I was dressed not so warmly but more “fancy” in a colorful christmas skirt with stockings on a bitter COLD night. I could have used a few more layers riding up and down our external elevator lift to unlock and lock it, brrrrr. I wished then I was wearing those Grinch fuzzy pants!
Well, I WAS (for years) a Grinch at Christmas, not because I stole anything but because I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND what Christmas really TRULY meant. Everyday a blinded Grinch not FULLY understanding past the glitz of the world to see humble Jesus. I WAS clueless that Jesus was INSIDE of me. INSIDE!!! Yes, I could see others expressing the love of Jesus, but I did not interpret the growth came from inside of them. I knew the stories of Jesus, but never watered those seeds, frozen in place. Then one Christmas season, few years back, over the course of weeks, God started filling in the data that my brain lacked – warmed my soil – made me like that expression on the Grinch’s face when he hears Whoville singing in the REAL spirit of Christmas, even though they had no “material” possessions of Christmas… BELIEF and understanding grew and my heart started to EXPAND with Jesus being born IN ME, OHHHHH….. Jesus as our (my!) Lord and Savior INSIDE US and like the Grinch: “GREW THREE SIZES THAT DAY”…
Christmas comes to us, we can open It, and we then can become “THE GRINCH WHO EXPLAINS CHRISTMAS”. That’s why God EQUIPS the CALLED, to demonstrate, to teach, to REACH!!!
Within my cute “little church with a BIG impact” the people ask for and tap into the HOLY SPIRIT. The Christmas present celebrated by each at Christmas is that Jesus, God incarnate, was big enough to humble Himself enough to come to Earth as a baby. God with us. Jesus came to connect and grow LOVE’S flow.
The cutest of sights and sounds that I felt “in the Spirit” this Christmas eve night was from the energy of those authentic Sunday School kids and I remembered our littlest Sunday schooler helping by handing out the candles for us to light during singing Silent Night. I handed the candles to her and she shared. She gave one to an elderly woman who was having trouble walking but was supported by her daughter. The littlest one shared with the oldest one there, and I saw both their Spirits smiling BIG at that moment, a transfer Gift of Light from the Holy Spirit into the Christmas scene, yes, Spirit to share.
So, now I pray us each who werea former “Grinch” who didn’t fully understand Christmas, to be one who loves to EXPLAIN Christmas, to look for OPPORTUNITIES… Opportunities abound (Like at work opportunities last week while wearing my Santa suit),let us take a few minutes to EXPLAIN the HOPE gift in Jesus to someone – SHINE and SHARE the LIGHT.
God, with these gifts of His Spirit, at somepoint WILL (Lord-willing) make it Christmas morning for those folks to open and KNOW and BELIEVE in the GIFT of JESUS.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Reflect for Christmas and New Years on our blessings over our burdens. Then walk that lighted path remembering God’s provisions. Remember we DO have God WITH us, Emmanuel.
Let us remember to count our blessings and live more in tune through applying the Word of God in our lives now and next year. Bless because we are blessed. Forgive because we are forgiven. Let us also turn to God for our troubles and reap His rewards for He is faithful to us.
If you are struggling this Christmas, I suggest this advice from those counseling Job, in the Book of Job chapters 4 and 5. Job was afflicted by the Devil like a demonstration sport during a time God was demonstrating His strength INSIDE Job. The disaster devil could do external damage, but God strengthed Job’s ability to look big picture. God gives strengthening to each of us from the inside too. Jesus, God with us, also brought God to bring us the Holy Spirit. We need insight of the inside Holy Spirit.
Job’s counselor friend, Eliphaz, reminded him of God’s strengthening even though Job was suffering such pain. He reminded that the innocent survive, that God wants to hear us, wants to bless us.
“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”… “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”
I pray us all this season and everyday to remember to align with God’s Way. Number our days and make the most of them.
I have learned these things too… God provides. Reflect on that…
Job 4:4-9, 5:1-27
Eliphaz told Job (who was sitting troubled):“Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and yourblameless ways your hope?
“Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more.
“Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender.
The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth. For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
“But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
“He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night.
He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
“From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the wild animals. For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing. You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season.
“We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.”
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6-7 For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Luke 2:8-14 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a Baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
Matthew 2:10-12 When they [the wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
John 1:14 (NKJV) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Romans 10:9-13 (NIV) If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in Him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I appreciate this special gift of this 3D printed night light with switch from a work friend, appreciate this gift for many reasons. It illuminates nicely and then you can see the details. It’s a cool use of 3D technology, decorative, even if not a glamorous world-changing use to print machine parts etc. The gift of work holiday parties was also awesome this week for getting me in the mood of being APPRECIATIVE this season. Other than that, I’ve got miles to go for Christmas. But I’ll get there. Lord willing. (At least the village is set.)There’s Christmas gifts, Christmas readiness, Christmas overload and never enough time. A working mom has to make the money, find time to spend the money (whew that hour on my phone Saturday shopping Amazingzon paid off), get sleep enough to wrap everything, and to create the desired ambiance and result Christmas morning – all with the stress of: will they like it? Will they have years from now complaining first world problems of not getting the best legos, the latest trends, and that classic girl complaint of “why did he get games and I got lotions shampoos frilly girl things (oh that’s MY 1st world complaint)…sorry… I’m just as human in my expectations at Christmas and always…. human in the need of DIVINE intervention… something needs to change in me…
The Christmas Gift we should personally ask for is a FRESH FILLING of the Holy Spirit. Accept this Gift, over and over. It’s like this 3D printed night light, someONE needs to turn on the Light switch in us so that we can be internally back-illuminated by Jesus’s Light. Be filled with His Purposes and Shine Him through!
And forever freshly we need Jesus again and again to illuminate our actions to detail the fruits of the Spirit brought to the surface… Fruit to help others in LIFE and Fruit of feeling blessed. The Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control.
Now because SO many ask me “are you ready for Christmas?” I can mentally answer “that’s COMPLICATED”. But my best self-controlled non-whining response would be “I will be… Lord Willing…”.
I love Jesus lighting the Way from WITHIN. That’s the Light we need.
We NEED the Holy Spirit to follow a star to where we MENTALLY need to be. We NEED to come to see and celebrate Jesus as the Gift.
SHINE the Spirit within you. Lord, turn on Your Light! Jesus come quickly.
5 years ago I was adopted as the caregiver to Christmas the Crab… I don’t do much – but change water and food, occasionally a carrot and a new stick… Hermit crabs who live in the woods adapt to eating sticks… who knew?!
Here is the original story of finding Christmas…. We are lost and found – and we are ALWAYS CHERISHED!
Christmas is Waiting
How long was Christmas waiting, we don’t know… Maybe he wasn’t waiting at all, he just existed doing the best he could in a strange region and climate – cold October – and it was up to us to find him. Maybe our instinctual guidance directed us that way on our walk. We didn’t know it, but apparently God knew we needed to find Christmas. Maybe we just never figure out all the little nuances of life, maybe it’s just fun to listen and watch for God.
A friend and I really enjoyed the walking parts of the retreat – both in the spiritual walking and also in the chance to hit the trails of Camp. A few of us walkers took quiet time to enjoy this exercise which keeps us young physically and young in marvelous appreciation of being spiritually out in God’s great creation.
Camp is an old friend, a compact oasis of retreat facilities and woods in a sheltered setting. Up the hilly trails, a friend and I took off, a chance to talk. We climbed past the frisbee golf trail, up to where I’ve only traversed on a hay wagon ride during an open house… A fork in the road? Which way to go? She and I discussed and we listened to our instincts and we took a right… Grassy trail towards the road… of course we didn’t want to be late for dinner!
Christmas… What was a Christmas ornament doing out here? I looked and then it MOVED!!! WHAT? The Christmas ornament was no ornament, it was a hermit crab!. How in the world did this floral-painted shiny but muddy hermit crab get out here? In these woods? We could speculate all we want about the camp setting, and who might have thought this crab would be okay in the woods and apparently he was okay for the unknown amount of time…. We even put him back on the trail and let him be. We marveled that we saw this hermit crab but for some reason we didn’t take him with us. We kept walking…
We told the others, who were excited!!! But then we started to think maybe we should have taken him. It was starting to dip in temperatures at night to a seasonal cool, although it had been unusually warm this autumn. We thought he’s not going to survive the winter. We need to go back the next day. Could we find Christmas?
Beautiful Saturday – another spiritual gift of morning and we knew we had just a certain little amount of time before lunch, so we teamed up immediately and up the hill we went. Took a left into that grassy trail covered in gorgeous woods… could we find him? Did he run off? My companion immediately spotted him, like a good grandmother would. Christmas! We found Christmas! Oh YES still alive, still near the same chilly spot… Didn’t want to move? Hunkered down for the cold? Still there, yup, seemingly dropped from the sky.
The people back at camp we’re shocked – half cringed and half clamored to hold the crab – but we all agreed how unusual that the crab was there… how unusual we found the crab (twice)!!! We cherished him, fed him, loved him. Camp crab!
How NOT unusual was the JOY that this little crab brought in an already cherished retreat situation… How NOT unusual was that we, who had been focusing on God’s direction for our lives all weekend, knew it was more than just luck that we had been led to find Christmas the crab. There are no accidents… Why us? Why then? Why not??? It’s just normal for God to tweak the system… God provided us for this crab, and God provides all of creation, including crabs, for us to LOVE and nurture… Scripture tells us to nurture nature, watch over and protect.
In hindsight, it connects to the scripture “If we did not praise, the rocks would cry out”, and this little painted rock moved!
Scripture tells us to walk… And reminds us to always be aware of those around us, we are walking with Jesus even if we don’t know it. God could have walked us right over Christmas the crab too and we could have been distracted and wrapped up in our own problems but it was up to us to notice him. And he moved! Not exactly the same, but similar is how God has placed Jesus in the world for us!!! Jesus came and He is still here for us to notice him. Listening to the Holy Spirit guidance is another gift from God – for us to keep walking as we work for our Father – and are called by the Great Commission to spread the Good News. Jesus came for us – we must pick up on the clues that God puts right in front of us – it is up to each person to accept the gift of Jesus – the kingdom of God is the kingdom of the heart. We can do our gifted job to point Jesus out to others. We can share His LOVE. We pick up the tools that God has given us and we use them with our spiritual gifts for reaching His Children to know Him better in this world.
A Christmas ornament fell from the hook and I didn’t hear a crash but instead the branches of the tree caught it, just in time… I found it resting and nestled, safe but precarious and ready to fall. I grabbed it gently, and hooked it securely on the tree.
That’s Christianity right there.
How more plainly can I explain that God has a plan for each of us, but to fully embrace His plan, you have to be hooked in by Jesus. Jesus secures our safety salvation security sensibilities and souls. God wants us forever with Him.
The tree branches are like a net, the sturdy and weak branches must be studied before heavy or light ornaments are tested against their strength. Even the heaviest weight can be anchored by the strong enough hook – that’s Jesus for us – our heaviest burdens can still be lifted, our deepest sorrows embraced. Jesus rescues!
An ornament without a hook, resting in the tree, might be protected for a while, but it is not truly safe if the tree is shaken, if a storm of life brews, or simply if a brush of an innocent unknowing hand shakes it up… If the tree dries up and the needles fall then the ornament will fall crash and smash, no longer hidden or protected. The ornament could be fragile – itself delicately made and beautiful… Blessedly we pray the decorator’s hand to guide the hook to secure it. We and our loved ones are delicately made, beautiful in His eye. Can we reflect His light in our lives like the ornaments’ beautiful shine. We are called to recognize the beauty in all people, to pray for all people, pray for them to Be Still and let God’s Hand guide them.
Jesus – ask Him to hook you safely in God’s plans.
What is it going to happen to the ornaments when the needles fall off the tree? – it may look dry and sad – because the trunk got clogged, the transport of life-giving water no longer flows to the branches… will the ornament be OK? Yes if it they are hooked. At the end of our earthly lives, our souls hooked by Jesus will be removed and embraced by His love to be stored in Heaven. How many beautiful saints are resting in Heaven? Oh, can you imagine that glow!
We are not just ornaments for the Lord, we are even more intrinsic to Him – we are branches in His tree of life.
In God’s tree of life, some dead branches will be pruned, some cast off into the fire, but those branches asking Jesus to clean out the clogs, to clean our hearts, to help shed darkness and fill lives with light will bring us to be branches bearing fruit and make us alive with faith – we will be able to support even more life in support of His plan – we will look forward to living forever in HIS LOVE. But today we can be fruitful for Him!
If you are an ornament, be grateful for your hook – HOLD ON.
If you are a child of God, be grateful for the hand of Jesus – HOLD ON.
If you want to fully live as a branch of the Lord – filled with life – you must go to the vine of Jesus and drink in His Living Water – LIVE ON.
If you want to bear fruit for Him, share it and He will give you more.
Merry Christmas – God is with us.
Jesus is the Word made flesh – we have Security in a Savior, therefore know your strength comes from Him. Be fruitful.
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
Jesus said to his disciples: I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1
Protective Purification Parenting while Satan is on the Prowl. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
The best parenting skill is PRAISING GOD.
The Book of Job has many deep stories to tell – especially about PARENTING. Job made provisions for his children, not just raising them but also in worshiping God by doing what he could as a servant for God and his fellow family by providing purification prayers and sacrifices for his family. He took the opportunity to praise God’s faithfulness and the prescribed way to forgiveness. Job took on the job. So can we.
‘Job would make arrangements for them [his children after celebration times] to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.’
My dear friend would and does always “Pray the Blood of Jesus” over each person we were praying for. She essentially was carrying out Job’s prayer of purification with acknowledging the now true process of Jesus’s Blood covering our sins. We don’t make purification rituals anymore as Jesus took on the ultimate substitute for atonement. But we must go to Him in asking forgiveness. There has to be a realization that we are human and He is Divine. His blood shed covers our sin-caused dread. We also do have this opportunity to pray this purification for anyone good or bad, everyone human, each child or family member we have. ASK for FORGIVENESS for them…
Why? Satan is on the prowl, not just to trip you up from acting right but from believing that God loves you and has forgiven you. (A preacher I know says it’s not big satan whose attacking you but his little “helpers” who you COULD pray against by calling upon God.) Yes. It’s like the little temptations which eat away slowly at the foundations of faith… Don’t crumble and stumble. Worship and thank God, even for trials. Seek God and Satan will flee (see James 4).
And let us provide this guidance and act for our children. God certainly did by providing His Action Plan of sending Jesus. We act by asking His forgiveness of others and doing this forgiveness ourselves. We must act by praising. We ourselves cannot be forgiven without us forgiving.
Much befell Job, yet specifically in the first chapter, losing his children, Job did not fail to praise God. Job did not BLAME God, as that would be a sin. Job praised God, as should also be the first words out of our mouths. We should not become so bitter as not to praise.
Job said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Jesus taught his brothers and sisters, making them Word-filled and Worthy… Jesus’s brother James reminds us to: Submit Yourselves to God. Job did not curse God, nor shall should we.
Our Way is to be the Way of praise, petition, peace.
GOD “gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
ThisIS the greatest job of parenting, praising God who gave us all LIFE.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Job 1. Prologe
In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.
His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.
One day the angels [sons of God in the Hebrew] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
1While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Not a surprise but HOW GOOD this past week that my neighbor LOVED her visit to the nice assisted living facility where she “interviewed” for suitability for placement. So so GLAD that she is relieved that it is a good place! Her kids essentially said: Mom, we wouldn’t have picked anything less than a good place for you.!!!! THAT’S REASSURANCE!
Now it’s just less than a month until she moves in. My neighbor is excited because she now knows where she is going! NO SURPRISES!
The director was so nice and told her “All we do is eat!”, LOL … And said the staff is so nice and they wait on you, bring your medicine, take you on senior field trips, and have many pre-scheduled activities! BINGO! SOUNDS HEAVENLY!!!
My neighbor told her daughter: “make sure I get cash for the trips!” LOL.
My first favorite sight on the example menu was sweet potato fries! [Yummy spiritual-level food for me, VERY MUCH SO!] Then I also saw: “DIRT PUDDING WITH WORMS” – now that made me LAUGH OUT LOUD!!! It’s candy gummy worms in whipped cream and cream cheese pudding mix and crumbled Oreo cookies, layered and looks like dirt! All sugar but when I’ve made a version of it, people were laughingly confused! The worms are supposed to be a SURPRISE! How interesting that this menu gives away the Surprises… NO SURPRISES.
Is that part of what Heaven will be? A surprise or no surprise? Knowing our path to Heaven is through Jesus, we should not be surprised on HOW to get there (don’t need cash for that forever field trip). He Knows the Way (because He IS the Way). A surprise might come to some who haven’t heard, not knowing Jesus, yet for us who HAVE READ THE STORY, the BIBLE STORIES, it should not be a surprise.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened”. Matthew 7:7-8
BINGO! I am sure that Heaven will be filled with justified surprises, like when you get to meet your great great great grand-generations who went before… I mean what’s it like when you meet Moses? Mary and Joseph? And your own kin again.
Now, as for my neighbor, I pray her a great experience with moving. What’s maybe surprising to some is the willingness of someone whose lived 55 years in her house to go so easily, (isn’t better all around to live each day without whining) – but if you KNOW where you are going, and you TRUST the Way there, and you adjust your expectations and even plan your steps, won’t that make life MUCH easier all around? Pray and God will give you the strength to move forward. NO SURPRISES THERE!
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13
I found today’s “Jesus Calling” entry so fitting to the no whining clause in scripture – based on a few passages including Isaiah 30:18-21. We do have good teachers who show us the Way and the Walk without the whine.. including especially JESUS… No Surprises there!
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
2nd Corinthians 4: 3-18
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
It was not lost on me that waiting to enter and park for the Wreath laying at National Cemetery, that the radio “randomly” played the Snoopy and Red Baron Christmas song while I was next to a house’s Peanuts Display… That song is about a Christmas truce and PEACE, even between enemies.
This beautiful wreath display, the solemn scene of gravestones and the hubbub of very active families all reminded me that the true meaning of Christmas is the REALIZATION of the Peace Prayer, the time for us to no longer treat enemies like enemies, and KNOW how ultimate PEACE comes from our Prince of Peace, Jesus.
I was so happy to see so many families visiting their family stones… Soldiers and scouts were here too. We are all better for remembering these are the Christmas days when we count our blessings for freedom by other’s service. The valiant missions, the struggles in war, all are now at rest here…
Sleep in Heavenly PEACE…
Snoopy’s Christmas lyrics
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum Do kannst mir sehr gefallen!
The news had come out in the First World War The bloody Red Baron was flying once more The Allied command ignored all of its men And called on Snoopy to do it again
Was the night before Christmas, 40 below When Snoopy went up in search of his foe He spied the Red Baron, fiercely they fought With ice on his wings Snoopy knew he was caught
Christmas bells those Christmas bells Ring out from the land Asking peace of all the world And good will to man
The Baron had Snoopy dead in his sights He reached for the trigger to pull it up tight Why he didn’t shoot, well, we’ll never know Or was it the bells from the village below?
Christmas bells those Christmas bells Ringing through the land Bringing peace to all the world And good will to man
The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine And forced him to land behind the enemy lines Snoopy was certain that this was the end When the Baron cried out, “Merry Christmas, mein friend!”
The Baron then offered a holiday toast And Snoopy, our hero, saluted his host And then with a roar they were both on their way Each knowing they’d meet on some other day
Christmas bells those Christmas bells Ringing through the land Bringing peace to all the world And good will to man
Christmas bells those Christmas bells Ringing through the land Bringing peace to all the world And good will to man
Christmas bells those Christmas bells Ringing through the land
Songwriters: George David Weiss / Hugo Peretti / Luigi Creatore
I’ve been talking to a neighbor who will be moving to an assisted living facility, I’ve really had those conversations of “you can’t take it with you!”… and sometimes people get to an age where their children take over, so you both can’t take it with you and you can’t give it all away either without some hurt feelings. It’s tough to be in a situation where hurt feelings cloud relationships. I was cautious when my neighbor said: “take whatever you want”. I didn’t, I don’t even know her kids, but I know it’s not good to hurt feelings of others who have more claim than I, if they don’t take it, I’ll see it in the trash anyway… I only took a lawn chair that I had actually lent her. I only asked for one bowl because she had lots and this one matched another bowl I had. And she gave me 2 knickknack statues because she thought I would like them. The knickknacks reminded her of her grandparents. I like that she gave me her memory …And I’m MOST thankful that she has given me her friendship all these years and her trust. I can sit at the kitchen table and we talk about life without fear or anything hindering frank conversations… it’s better to air our life issues privately with a friend and let them go than put them in heavy baggage that we DON’T want to take with us. Don’t make your misery into a museum.
I also don’t need anything from her because not only do I have a house filled with “treasures”, oh my how my own family’s houses are museum-level collections, from statues to butter churns, Elvis bubblegum cards to too many beanie babies. My mom’s friend gives stickynotes to people and says label what you want when I go… I am sure I best preserve my “collection” as memories over the many moths in our attics… I found perfectly preserved 1976 bicentennial napkins in one hidden closet. My one aunt (i have 9 aunts) collected those coupons off the peanut butter cups to mail in for more peanut butter cups… Oh hundreds of points she cataloged still in a box… I remember them, that was the 1970s her cutting them and us eating that free candy… fun… yet now surely both coupons and the candy company are expired. The memory remains.
And then there’s DISHES… oh so many dishes… My Aunt (other side of the family) gave me some treasures of hers because she said “my kids will just roll up a dumpster”… That’s tough that day when the treasures (with the boxes they came in) will not be saved… But isn’t it MORE valuable to have the ability to sit with someone for a cup of tea rather than dust fancy tea cups that never get used? My Aunt also gave me my grandmother’s dishes since I was “closer” physically and in timeframe visiting her. I love them but I appreciate my memories more. I would give away all the dishes just to have one more cup of tea with my aunt, one more conversation with my Grandmothers and Grandfathers, my aunts uncles, all my family and my friends who are gone.
In Queen Esther’s time, she was able to see the Jews survive and thrive and be granted VICTORY over their enemies, after exposing a plot to kill them, and as the king granted her everything she wanted. But an interesting part of this story is that THREE TIMES the scriptures state: “But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.” I don’t know if this was a custom, an edict, or just a frame of mind, be thankful for your lives and livelihood but don’t overdue your victory dance… perhaps leave these earthly treasures because others will need them and you as exiled people will be leaving this land anyway someday, not taking plunder with them… happy to escape and celebrate life…
That sounds like good advice for us. We WILL be leaving this land of our temporary stay. We WILL be granted the real Kings Kingdom some day. Don’t plan to take anything with us but our lives. Don’t plan on leaving too much behind except great memories. Best to smooth the way for our children to cherish us over having anguish in us. Teach them what really to value.
Since we do live in our own splendor, raised as Americans who started collecting stuff in post-war shortage surpluses, let us enjoy our lots in life but be ready to let them go… As one of my elderly friends used to say: “You don’t know what day Jesus puches our train ticket”… I am certain on that day, Jesus will pickup and LEAVE your baggage at the station, ALL of it… His Fare pays for ONLY what God’s Image is in us. He leaves our sin baggage behind… we will live free in Him.
In Heaven (and Heaven on earth):
Our PRAISE is required.
Our PRAYERS are desired.
Baggage becomes expired.
Let us look for Jesus and His “plunder” in Heaven. Jesus’s “plunder” is collecting all of us for God.
God’s Memories are of making us. Our souls He seeks. Let’s keep our treasures in Heaven.
Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:19-27
If you need a moment to realize that God IS in charge (lest we forget) and need a humbling shock that we DON’T know or see everything in this world let alone the Heavens – then take a Milky Way Moment – go out and see the stars. Not just any stars but ALL of them, if you can…
I took a moment driving up home to park my car (safely) on a very very dark road, open the moonroof, shut off my car headlights and then take a moment to adjust my eyes. I was in the “boonies” meaning the far far backwoods where NO light pollution can obscure the starlight that God put into our sights. I’ve been here before. God NEVER disappoints.
Of course you absolutely HAVE to ADJUST YOUR EYES to see better deeper and brighter.
Feeling the REAL cold is a wake-up gift from God too because you feel more alive. It was 19 degrees, snow on the ground, I stepped outside and my breath was taken away – but that was by the STARS not just due to the cold… That level of intricate light, placed just right, is SO AMAZING… And we miss it everyday, don’t we?… We miss it in the sunshine as well as in the light pollution. We miss A LOT of what God wants to show us.
It is an overwhelming AWE in seeing so many stars because there are MORE light spaces than dark spaces. And the depths are deep… I am also in awe that this view is much closer to the skies that Abraham saw, Jacob, Moses, John the Baptist saw… yes to what Jesus saw… A view to what God placed there to guide the Way of Wonder…
If you can appreciate your ability to have appreciation of everything and anything as a gift from God, you might appreciate the stars even more. But first you must adjust your attitude. That is MORE important than adjusting your eyes.
There’s a famous quote by Charles Stanley which says “The shortest distance between our problems and their answers is the distance between our knees and the floor.”
Yes, God delivers and is Deliverer. We must listen, act, trust. And He knows the solutions more that we know even what the problems really are.
Perhaps God wants to hear us praise Him before we even bring up problems.
It’s all in the ask. It’s “what” we ask, “when” we ask, it’s in “how” we ask, and it’s in “why” we ask… and in our follow up, it’s then in how we DO what is asked of us… Will we trust? Can we have faith? I HOPE SO!
Prayer… Petition… Putting ourselves out there…
Many warrior kings won the battles by fierce fighting. But Queen Esther won the lives of a whole generation of people by prayer, fasting, asking, and sticking her neck out to ask the King a question without the normal chain of events, to identify that she was Jewish, that her people were in death’s danger by decree, and to be in that dinner WITH the person who wanted her dead before even knowing who she was. Hmmm…. (that last part is so Jesus-like, having dinner with Haman then accusing him like Jesus accuses Judas. Haman and Judas wanting the death of someone before knowing their true identity. Esther and Jesus going up against governing rulers to set their people free, Esther to life and Jesus to death)…
Esther did an unusual thing, she asked the king Xerxes and Haman to come to dinner twice, she put a pause in the middle. Meanwhile king Xerxes couldn’t sleep and while reading his history found out or refreshed his memory that Mordecai previously had saved him. Meanwhile Haman, all puffed up and pompous saw Mordecai and wanted to kill him. But the tables were turned and Haman’s downfall started. And the Queen waiting until that 3rd opportunity to ask (original approach plus 2 dinner banquets) got to both save her people and see that Haman was incriminated. The TRUTH set them free with the king’s NEW decree.
Esther’s TIMING was key, the time was given for the king to process all that was going on. God knew how to bring down a bad man and save a people. God’s continued motivation to save the Jews was to keep David’s line, the root of Jesse, as a Light in the Darkness, from where Jesus earthly family paved the way to the Way.
Esther’s ask and save becomes celebrated in the Jewish feast of Purim, which usually lands in February or March. We all should celebrate joyfully the triumph of courage and how we all know God is a God who saves. A strong woman and brave, Esther reminds us to ask God and give God time to work on the situation. We must be willing to do what God needs. If He asks us? You know He has a plan! King Xerxes would have given Esther half the Persian kingdom. God’s son Jesus held onto the WHOLE of the HEAVENLY KINGDOM and DELIVERED.
Mordecai reminds Esther that if she doesn’t act, God would still get His Plan accomplished in another manner, but how awesome it is for her (and for us) to be a member, a doer, an instrument of God’s Peace.
God’s BIG ASK for us is to resist the devil and to be a part of His Peace.
As for me and my peace, I will ASK the Lord.
Esther’s Request to the King
On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king’s hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.
Then the king asked, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you.”
“If it pleases the king,” replied Esther, “let the king, together with Haman, come today to a banquet I have prepared for him.”
“Bring Haman at once,” the king said, “so that we may do what Esther asks.”
So the king and Haman went to the banquet Esther had prepared. As they were drinking wine, the king again asked Esther, “Now what is your petition? It will be given you. And what is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
Esther replied, “My petition and my request is this: If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”
Haman’s Rage Against Mordecai
Haman went out that day happy and in high spirits. But when he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate and observed that he neither rose nor showed fear in his presence, he was filled with rage against Mordecai. Nevertheless, Haman restrained himself and went home.
Calling together his friends and Zeresh, his wife, Haman boasted to them about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials. “And that’s not all,” Haman added. “I’m the only person Queen Esther invited to accompany the king to the banquet she gave. And she has invited me along with the king tomorrow. But all this gives me no satisfaction as long as I see that Jew Mordecai sitting at the king’s gate.”
His wife Zeresh and all his friends said to him, “Have a pole set up, reaching to a height of fifty cubits, and ask the king in the morning to have Mordecai impaled on it. Then go with the king to the banquet and enjoy yourself.” This suggestion delighted Haman, and he had the pole set up.
That night the king could not sleep; so he ordered the book of the chronicles, the record of his reign, to be brought in and read to him. It was found recorded there that Mordecai had exposed Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, who had conspired to assassinate King Xerxes.
“What honor and recognition has Mordecai received for this?” the king asked.
“Nothing has been done for him,” his attendants answered.
The king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the palace to speak to the king about impaling Mordecai on the pole he had set up for him.
His attendants answered, “Haman is standing in the court.”
“Bring him in,” the king ordered.
When Haman entered, the king asked him, “What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?”
Now Haman thought to himself, “Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?” So he answered the king, “For the man the king delights to honor, have them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, ‘This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!’”
“Go at once,” the king commanded Haman. “Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.”
So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”
Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate. But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief, and told Zeresh his wife and all his friends everything that had happened to him.
His advisers and his wife Zeresh said to him, “Since Mordecai, before whom your downfall has started, is of Jewish origin, you cannot stand against him—you will surely come to ruin!” While they were still talking with him, the king’s eunuchs arrived and hurried Haman away to the banquet Esther had prepared.
So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”
Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”
King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”
Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”
Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.
Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.
The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”
As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”
The king said, “Impale him on it!” So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.
The king who decreed punishment to the Jewish people (king Xerxes) during “the Persian Period” did so by giving up his signet ring to another (Haman). Took it OFF and let another take some control. King Xerxes was letting someone else seal a deal without full knowledge of the people’s plight or character, including his own wife, Queen Esther. Esther was able to stop this plot of extermination, as it became her TIME to reveal her identity as a Jew, a daughter of God, one who hoped in a mighty King promised in David’s lineage to save generations and restore God’s Kingdom. Esther’s intervention unsealed the earthly kings seal. A new edict (after the plot was revealed) sealed the king’s order to save the Jews. God’s plan prevailed.
No one can unsealed God’s Holy Spirit Seal on your soul. “When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.” This is what was revealed to us by the Spirit Himself in the Word.
God who created us in His Image does mark us as His, and He makes this mark Himself. God brings us to Jesus. And remember this means Jesus is coming back to redeem us. Redemption is not like a small coupon to save money, but an unfair unforgettable exchange of Jesus’s Life for ours. He ransomed Himself to redeem the price for our freedom. He gave us the Holy Spirit to show that we are His. He moves us thru the Holy Spirit now to spread this Good News.
Haman would have paid in silver for killing a generation of Jewish people because one (Mordecai) failed to respect him. King Jesus paid in full for saving all, not just Jews, but ALL. And ALL will respect Jesus when He returns.
Esther approached king Xerxes and he said he would have given her upto half his kingdom if she asked. King Jesus redeems ALL of the Kingdom. Jesus asks us to remember that and share that news.
Esther revealed that plot by Haman. Mordecai was saved and so were all the Jewish people. King Xerxes took back his ring from Haman (who was impaled by the torture he had intended for Mordecai). King Xerxes gave the ring instead to Mordecai, whom had previously saved his life. We too will live, and have the marks of the Heavenly King Jesus’s seal. We too are saved…. Sealed by the Spirit.
We know the end of this story BECAUSE it IS the Holy Spirit who reveals it as TRUTH to us, to those who believe in Jesus. Let us pray for those who have yet to find their way and learn their identity too. We ask God to open their eyes to both the plots of the devil and to seeing the saving Grace of His mercy. We know that we are scattered in the Kingdom, but You know when to call us.
Let us step out in faith. Lord, we are blessed to know You in us.
Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain people dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom who keep themselves separate. Their customs are different from those of all other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws; it is not in the king’s best interest to tolerate them. If it pleases the king, let a decree be issued to destroy them, and I will give ten thousand talents of silver to the king’s administrators for the royal treasury.”
So the king took his signet ring from his finger and gave it to Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. “Keep the money,” the king said to Haman, “and do with the people as you please.”
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
The King’s Edict in Behalf of the Jews
That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.
Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold scepter to Esther and she arose and stood before him.
“If it pleases the king,” she said, “and if he regards me with favor and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?”
King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, “Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring—for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.”
At once the royal secretaries were summoned—on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king. The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves;…
You might think it’s unusual that a flat tire reminds me of how life is FILLED WITH GOD’S CALLING ON OUR LIVES, and especially to remember His timing and Ways are bigger than our ways, but every bump in the road is a moment to SHINE OUR FAITH. And if life is smooth sailing, we best credit God for that! Moments in time are all a gift, make the most of them. In all, we must reveal our identity: One who TRUSTS in God.
Queen Esther had to acknowledge her MOMENT IN TIME TO TRUST GOD. Yes, TRUST GOD, step out in faith and approach the king, Xerxes, and expose and stop a plot to kill all the Jews. She had to take a risk revealing her identity too. That king did not know Esther also was a Jew, because her cousin/counselor Mordecai requested that she keep it a secret the whole time due to the many dangers they faced as foreigners. The exiles from Jerusalem were taken by a plundering conquest and the prophesies said their people would return to Jerusalem and a mighty KING would rise from their ranks (the House of David) – of course we all know the prophesies were of Jesus.
Certainly nowadays our bumps in the road are nothing in comparison and how we handle them are not as dramatic as this, but we are ALSO called for MANY actions in our faith FOR THE BENEFIT OF OTHERS. “You were called for just a TIME as this.”… and sometimes (often) ALWAYS we are to embrace GOD’S TIMING in how it all plays out. If we rant and rave in anger over small things – how do we demonstrate that we trust God? Well, it wasn’t just my flat tire’s “timing” but it was also when I knocked down the squash and salsa and cheese glass lunch container that next morning that I REMEMBERED a connection to patience and petition to God. I thought about Esther and TIMING. A sticky situation needing attention immediately. These delays in my life surely are when I KNOW I am being paced by God, slowing me down from multi-tasking, resetting “my agenda schedule” – maybe even preventing me from a car crash or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. God moves us to bless us AND to be with others in His timing for them too. You must realize that we ARE God’s Hands and Feet… See, this is why I consider the flat tire A BLESSING IN DISGUISE, that dealing with small things as well as big, are in God’s plans. We must TRUST HIM. We must change our attitude FASTER than it takes to change a tire.
I knew I had a slow leak, discovered just that day, so when I saw the actual flat I was forced to pause, well sort of, because God lined up the day in HIS Way…. There actually was a yellow truck actually idling right next to me, WHAT TIMING! Even if he “randomly” was there at my workplace for a broken down big rig, I chatted with the driver about my own tire, talked about getting to a holiday event with friends. He DID have an air pump and he DID fill me up with air without complaining or asking for anything AND also he filled me with cautiousness while we discussed how perhaps I should call roadside service AAA anyway. He cared. He was a counselor placed in God’s timing to me. I already pay for roadside service so I called them anyway just because I had a long trip, better to not get stuck on the turnpike itself then I would NEVER make it to my friends’ event on time. It was then I saw the nail, perfectly placed inside the treads making it plug-fixable in the future. Yup, not God’s nail but a reminder to NOT be mad, just be GLAD I had options AND had roadside service on the way and especially God to rely on.
My spare donut was on within record speed by a AAA driver grateful for my call (and for my tip since this was only his 4th call all day). Meanwhile I watched the yellow big rig tow driver on the ground hooking up that stranded truck, such hard work! I went back over to thank him for his help and advice, tell him I had a safe tire on now, and wish him Merry Christmas. He was grateful I said Christmas not holidays and I was grateful to give God praise in that moment WITH someone.
Yes, I made the get together with my friends, and we donned our festive lighted headbands and were grateful to SHINE. I ran into dozens of girl scout and church friends. Their love SHINED God’s Love to me and to all… I saw “God’s Miracles in Motion” (my friends who are medical miracles). And I met a new person whom helped put on that holiday event, we have mutual church friend connections, so AT THAT MOMENT I knew God must have wanted me to meet her, chat with her, make her feel more welcome to our community. All these interactions brought to me – connected by God’s TIMING. Whom am I not to LET HIS LIGHT SHINE. One flat tire becomes 10 opportunities for GRATITUDE. So imagine what we could PRAISE for every time we DON’T have a flat. Praise for every time we see friends.
It always helps our attitude by giving God gratitude. Got out on a limb like Esther for God’s mission. Go out with a LIGHT to share God’s Love.
I thank my friends for their friendship, for putting the shine into my smile – and I thank the Lord for putting HIS batteries in our LIGHT. He IS this SHINE of mine. I’m going to let HIMSHINE.
PS, I did not fix my tire yet, I am riding on my “spare”… going to see how that nail in the tire gives God’s opportunity to praise Him today! God Bless TODAY!
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS?”
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions.
Happy Early Merry Christmas – a good time for reflection and hope.
I decided to revisit some of my original writings… This one was #8 Dec 24th 2014…
I speak of 4 miracles in this piece – and you probably know people like them – amazing miracle survivors – all around us every day. Which means that our prayers are often answered – so let us keep praying them for today’s people who need miracles.
Reflect on the past miracles, reflect on the hugs, reflect on the real meanings of Christmas including that HOPE that God gives. Then be ready to see some more good things – because God is good ALL YEAR…
Got Santa to pause to sit down for a cup of tea after the gifts were placed under the tree – I appreciate this year – I appreciate the time now to sit and have a cup of tea and bask in the glow from the lighted tree – an undecorated tree – but lighted – and so fragrant and soothing. It’s almost midnight now – all is still and quiet – I am going to work hard this next year to keep this Christmas spirit alive in me all year round.
I did the most important things at Christmas – but not all the things you normally want to do… the tree is up but barely ten ornaments? I did hang one this year – one of my kids together as babes in arms – really that is the only ornament I need to hang on my tree – they ARE my life – my tree is rooted in loving family and I never want my kids to forget how much their family loves them and how much I love them.
My God sightings for today are a selection of miracles – earthy miracles that I have witnessed with my own eyes:
1) I delivered a poinsettia to a woman who has been battling an incurable disease – on her second liver and no one is more of a fighter than her. Today when I brought the plant to her and her family, she was cleaning her oven… last time a similar situation, I visited her one week out of the hospital with doctors baffled at her recovery off her deathbed – after a moving prayer service for her – well, I visited her and when I recounted her condition later to friends, they gravely asked “how is she?” – I said: “she’s doing laundry!!!”… up and kicking… laundry, cleaning the oven – preparing Christmas dinner for a family who needs her so much…she is my hero…
2) I sat right behind another medical miracle in church today – a survivor of a rare heart surgery – only very few have had it done – his whole family was together for Christmas – pure, pure joy to see them all together!
3) I sat near another miracle near me in the church service – a young man who survived a life-threatening infection just months earlier – such a scary time for his family. Today, the joy of seeing him – a miracle.
4) Another miracle at the living nativity – I met a young man recovered from a terrible accident… a man on “Bonus time” as he puts it.
There were likely so many other miracles right around me that didn’t occur to me to notice today – miracles so commonplace that we forget they are miracles, but they are…
I so appreciate the miracle of laughter and love – the bonding in families and in our church families. we are truly blessed in how we feel so much a part of THE family – especially this time of year when we see so many friends. I even had real sit down conversations with some great friends over the last few days – that feels like a miracle – to pause and talk. I so appreciated the hugs – I must have had at least 25 tonight alone – plus the hugs from the whole week – I had hugs at work – hugs at church – hugs with friends – hugs at home. If a picture can speak a thousand words, then a hug – placed at the right time can speak a thousand pictures – that’s a million words. Hugs of hello – hugs of love – hugs of understanding – hugs of sorrow – hugs of good bye…
Thanks for allowing me to share my God sightings and I am sending a virtual hug to you all!
FAITH – and processing an awakening – This writing mirrors me starting to believe in Jesus – I didn’t think it was silly – but my heart was not yet believing until I was seeing… AND THANK GOD – He Himself opened my eyes to be seeing HIM. It is none other than Jesus Himself thru the Word thru the Holy Spirit who is trying to get you to see Him for REAL. God brings us to Jesus – drives us right to Him – open your eyes and be ready to see!
I was on the list of the lost in my faith – truly now I can see why Jesus is trying so hard to wake us. We are dead in our fatih so often – at least I was… Jesus knows when we are sleeping – He awakes us – God brings us right to Him – and when we are in Jesus’s Hand, He will NEVER let us go.
Why is this important? To be awake in your faith? because Jesus is the ONLY WAY to be covered in Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:35-36
For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. John 5:20
Below is my devotion with the unbelieving becoming believing – just have to keep looking!
Miracle on 34th Street – “I Believe, I Believe, it’s Silly but I Believe”
My favorite movie – not just Christmas movie – but all time movie – is Miracle on 34th Street. Not the ’70’s version, not the colorized version but the original 1947 version – Edwin Gwynn as Kris Kringle – Maureen O’Hara, Natalie Wood as mom and daughter… and Fred Gailey the lawyer (John Payne) who was an early believer in Santa, in Christmas and all that Christmas stands for. Yes, my favorite movie of all time – ever since I was young…
Little Susie says “I believe, I believe, it’s silly but I believe”. She was talking about Santa Claus – but the movie goes much deeper than that – see Santa (Kris Kringle) was looking for belief in people – in everyone who didn’t believe – looking for hope to continue in his line of work – to continue hoping for the world. Fred was asking Doris (Maureen O’Hara) to believe – to believe in him – to believe in anything – she swore off fairy tales, swore off any belief in what she wasn’t in control of. she suffered from too much reality check – “should be realistic and completely truthful with our children and not have them growing up believing in a lot of legends and myths” … “And by filling them full of fairy tales they grow up considering life a fantasy instead of a reality.” Fred will work on Doris – Kris Kringle work on Susie too – together they can make this happen – it is a movie after all – together we will see how it all unfolds…
At the pinnacle of the movie – Doris is upset that Fred throws away his career by taking on the seemingly win-less case of proving that Kris Kringle is indeed Santa Claus – the one and only Santa Claus… Fred urges her “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to. It’s not just Kris that’s on trial. It’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness, joy, love, and all other intangibles.” “Someday, you’re going to find out that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover they’re the only things that are worthwhile.”
Fast forward to Doris trying to reassure Susie that Mr Kringle will be ok – Doris is not sure she yet believes what she is telling her daughter – but Doris tells little Susie that she has to have faith – Doris even adds to Susie’s letter that “I believe in you too” – win – Kris Kringle gets the letter and all the other dead letters at the post office and Fred wins the case – Kris is recognized by the federal government to be the “One and Only Santa Claus” – WIN!
Susie has asked Mr Kringle for something big – bigger than a normal present – she asks for a house – one of those Long Island cape cod’s – similar to the suburb house that I live in today quaint, quiet and family friendly… Susie expects Mr Kringle to deliver – big time – expects a miracle – expects that snap and she will have this house – puts it as a test to him… No – she doesn’t get it at the Christmas morning party – Doris has to say – “You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep right on doing it. You must have faith in him.” … “you’ve still got to believe in people. I found that out.”
“I believe. I believe. It’s silly but I believe” – Kris has orchestrated a car ride home with Fred – down a quaint quiet street – in a family neighborhood. “I believe. I believe. It’s silly but I believe” – Susie repeats and repeats – and then – oh snap! there it is – the house – on a quaint and quiet street – the perfect house – it’s for sale – it’s unlocked – with a swing in the back – WIN.
Fred learns from Susie that Doris told her “Mommy said if things don’t turn out right at first, you’ve still got to believe. You were right Mommy!” – WIN – Doris to Fred “I never really doubted you. It was just my silly common sense.” WIN – BIG WIN. Kiss – realization that believing is seeing – believing came first – then seeing Kris Kringle’s cane in the house – hmmm….
Believe – it was and is that belief has to be there first – the rest follows – you have to believe – to have faith when common sense tells you not to… BELIEVE
Be open this Christmas to knowing and teaching the true deep down meaning of Christmas…
God opened my ears and eyes but most importantly opened my heart in a Christmas season… Allow the Lord to be born in You – and Lion and a Lamb – this Christmas and always. My prayer is for all to be open, be opened, be opening…
A Poinsettia Prayer
A beautiful showy poinsettia is often misunderstood… botanically-speaking. Its big flowers a beautiful splash of red. Christmas red with the evergreen brings cheer.
But, those big red flowers or white pink speckled – they are not flowers at all.
No, they are leaves (botanically speaking they are bracts). The flowers are barely noticed – if they are present at all – they are divided into yellow stamens and a nearly invisible pistil deep down below lip-shaped stigma – which is in the shape of a smile.
At the base of the invisible overlooked flower, nestled in the center of showy colorful bracts, is the place where the flower will bear even tinier seeds. The seeds will be enveloped, embraced and provided food to nurture the next generation of baby plants.
Christmas time is full of showy colorful splashes – but its real meaning is often misunderstood – it is really about a tiny baby – a hope for peace not brought on by a giant clashing war to end all wars – but instead by a non-showy tiny sweet baby – who will grow into our hearts and bring peace when enveloped, embraced and provided nourishment.
So look closely this Christmas – not at the showy leaf bracts, but at the tiny flowers – look for the tiny baby – and look for the true meaning of Christmas deep down in the middle of your heart.
We could read LOTS into the backdrop to the story of Esther and the King Xerxes. We could marvel at the opulence of his “royal treatment” for the nobles and officials, allowing them liberal activities in a 7 day party after a whole 180 days of showing off his treasures… The GARDEN party locale had hangings of white and blue linen, couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones, plus had wine served in goblets of GOLD… wow… WOW!
The Queen Vashti also gave a party but we know nothing about that. And it doesn’t say WHY the Queen didn’t attend her husband’s party when CALLED to bring her to Him, but the text DOES say he was inebriated and in a drunken state when demanding her to come with the crown to show off her beauty, such a surface living worldly want… WELL! (and she didn’t go – so eventually they banished her to set an example – and we never hear her side of the story).
Well, it’s TOO EASY to put our opinions into the Word, finish the story, to suppose… SO we NEED TO BE CAREFUL anytime we guess (and I am NO scholar). We should ask “WHY” God’s Word is mentioning certain details and it IS good to know the backdrop to the story. The king sending one queen away made room for another – becoming the open opportunity for Esther to step into the palace. And it IS good to know the personality of this king, and how their society exists (outside in an area where Jewish people were exiled), and how impressed he and everyone was that Esther wasn’t demanding, was smart in addition to having beauty, and the fact that she exposed a plot to kill the king… But let me give yet another couple big picture thoughts:
1) Queen Vashti didn’t choose to join the garden party of a drunken man with opulence and a show, even if he was a king… Wouldn’t this party be a big contrast to the REAL garden gathering with our REAL King, God in all HIS glory? People of faith are looking for the Real Deal . When God in his Good State CALLS, He is doing so to bless us. We will be willing to OBEY our King, we will know His voice as His sheep.
2) The earthly king and earthly followers thought that when the king’s edict was “proclaimed throughout all his vast realm” that all the women will “respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.” – because they would be motivated by punishment… Well, hmmmm…. Even if that was “customary” in a different era, it seems if the queen and king were in a BETTER position to BLESS each other, to RESPECT each other, and not fight by proxy, that the relationship may have MUCH BETTER chance… This is a good way to remember that Jesus as our GOOD King motivates us by His MERCY, His sacrifice and His elevation of us to the Kingdom, not using punishment. He is both our Lord AND our God as well as a Servant to Save.
3) The earthly king had to consult the law and counselors and then banished Queen Vashti. In contrast our real King Jesus came to FULFILL the law and save us. We need to consult Him. God did tell prophet and counselor Samuel (serving Saul and David) that the people were MUCH better off to serve God and NOT ask for an earthly king… well, they still asked to be controlled and that sent whole communities down wrong paths from then on. Let us Serve God.
4) Esther gained favor to this earthly king Xerxes, by being honest and also using sometimes clever ways that God gave her, for her mission was for her people, the Jews, and she was called by God to use her position for good, not for entertainment in a drunken state of worldly wants. She had to think about what God was CALLING her to do and work within her system, given thru advice by her cousin father-figure Mordecai. She willing OBEYED. She was prepared for THIS Heavenly King’s command.
Jesus came and is here now, and now through our Holy Spirit we are being made new, given the tools for work, we are to be a “bride prepared for her groom” as the church, not a surface clean but a deep desire in us must grow. To know our King is to love Him and know His Ways… To be prepared is to allow the fruits of the Spirit to develop in us.
Aren’t we ALL looking for God’s BETTER Garden? Let us appreciate Our King.
Queen Vashti Deposed
This is what happened during the time of Xerxes, the Xerxes who ruled over 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. At that time King Xerxes reigned from his royal throne in the citadel of Susa, and in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his nobles and officials. The military leaders of Persia and Media, the princes, and the nobles of the provinces were present.
For a full 180 days he displayed the vast wealth of his kingdom and the splendor and glory of his majesty. When these days were over, the king gave a banquet, lasting seven days, in the enclosed garden of the king’s palace, for all the people from the least to the greatest who were in the citadel of Susa. The garden had hangings of white and blue linen, fastened with cords of white linen and purple material to silver rings on marble pillars. There were couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and other costly stones. Wine was served in goblets of gold, each one different from the other, and the royal wine was abundant, in keeping with the king’s liberality. By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.
Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.
Since it was customary for the king to consult experts in matters of law and justice, he spoke with the wise men who understood the times and were closest to the king—Karshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena and Memukan, the seven nobles of Persia and Media who had special access to the king and were highest in the kingdom.
“According to law, what must be done to Queen Vashti?” he asked. “She has not obeyed the command of King Xerxes that the eunuchs have taken to her.”
Then Memukan replied in the presence of the king and the nobles, “Queen Vashti has done wrong, not only against the king but also against all the nobles and the peoples of all the provinces of King Xerxes. For the queen’s conduct will become known to all the women, and so they will despise their husbands and say, ‘King Xerxes commanded Queen Vashti to be brought before him, but she would not come.’ This very day the Persian and Median women of the nobility who have heard about the queen’s conduct will respond to all the king’s nobles in the same way. There will be no end of disrespect and discord.
“Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she. Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”
The king and his nobles were pleased with this advice, so the king did as Memukan proposed. He sent dispatches to all parts of the kingdom, to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, proclaiming that every man should be ruler over his own household, using his native tongue.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes long SILENCES scream in processing and people’s SPIRITUAL thoughts… Who knew how silence is the stronghold of the Spirit. God does.
I was at a BEAUTIFUL precious memorial service, a celebration of life, a huddle of hungry spirits holding onto hope even more strongly than what we could and can hold onto on earth… a support sea of people… a place I HAD the privilege of being present even if none of us wanted it under those circumstances. The stories shared were tremendous, and so was the silence… yes the silence…
When the young man stood up to speak about his dad, he looked both broken and determined… He sighed… He stood silent… He cried… We sat watching and trust me the people absorbed the silence… We surely needed to see what we knew, the sudden death of a dad, of a loved one, is a horrible shock to the system – there is NO sugar coating. The REALNESS is in the RAWNESS and God KNOWS THAT. If the widow could give her last mites to the service of the Lord, surely we could sit for a moment in silence to let this young man let God work him thru his grief.
We waited in prayers and I watched the pastor pray across the room, physically pray without ceasing while still in his chair, his hands directed towards the young man and even though he was silent to us, his lips were moving mightly, he sent the Spirit SuperSpeed soaring across that room – in soul moving style. I saw it. The young man sighed again, he needed that. We prayed for him. We didn’t need to fret, and he DID make it thru, speaking softly and mostly saying he was grateful, thankful for the time with his Dad… Even later I saw the young man smiling at the luncheon later – he made it thru. But during that tearful tense time, I felt the awkward silence that I should have felt as a human, AND I felt the tearfulness of brokenness of the Spirit… I felt the tearful moment was a time when Jesus cries with us.
So for the silent time I felt to be transported to be standing on the hill across from Jesus’s crucifixion, WAITING. Then another wait – like with the women with anointing spices but unable to perform their duty because it was the Sabbath, they WAITED (Luke 23:49, 55-56). We were being made to WAIT upon the situation. God’s timing, not ours, not mine. WAIT in obedience for the processing. We did.
I was also transported to be in the post-crucifixion room, listening to the processing of the disciples, oh how that long-night and day-long Sabbath must have been! The set aside time to be with the Lord. The brother of Jesus DID later write “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – I wonder how many people he told that to, over and over again, in his own immediate processing after his big brother passed… If James was in that secreted away room, scared and shaken about his brother’s death, surely we could let him process.
But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.…The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
We were watching and being witness. And later the sister DID get up and help coordinate the situation with ease, as any of the women coming with the spices would have found that courage to serve. That Spirit which processes while we are still walking…
Why did Jesus spend SO MUCH time in the absence of the earthly view of Him? Not for Himself but for His people to process, that’s what I’ve heard from a former pastor of mine, that the awkward silence of Jesus gone gives EXTRA appreciation for Jesus being present.
Jesus never goes anywhere in our times of silence, it just takes a moment of stillness to find where to look.
Silence is STILL STILLNESS in the Spirit.
Like those Jesus tears poured out at the tomb of Lazarus for his friends who felt so broken and not knowing death is a window to forever life. Jesus also needs us to know death is NOT final…
God bless that son, that daughter, that family… God bless that Pastor who KNEW to put God’s Power over the situation FIRST… and God bless my friend who lost her husband, when she saw me she gripped my hands so tight I KNEW that God needed me there to be witness to Him holding His people. We hold what He holds dear, each other, often in silent tears. I bet we will fall silent in the moment we meet our Maker in Heaven, in processing. And then not be able to stop Spiriting our JOY of HIM in our PRAISE.
I love love love this Bible teaching about Martha *the former complainer to Jesus about her sister Mary*…
I love the mention that Martha is serving again but NOT complaining (fast forward to the 27 minute mark of the link) – Pastor Joe mentions that if your brother was raised from the dead and was now sitting at the table, you would serve the group (including your brother) quite differently!!! If you think about your gratitude, you would live and work in a whole new attitude! AND Pastor Joe reminds us that we ALL have a brother who is raised from the dead, Jesus, and shouldn’t we be charged and serve in a new attitude?!
I love it when I learn a new angle of Martha, when she teaches us about us… and I appreciate the teaching about the color and smell of the oil that Mary pours on Jesus (red) must have stained and permeated his scent for days, likely even carrying with Him through that week… to the garden… to the cross… Mary knew and paid attention and understood unlike most others that Jesus WAS headed to death. That’s why she anointed Him “until His burial “…
It’s ok to be Mary and ok to be Martha, BOTH were LOVED by Jesus and were also His friends… Jesus was blessed by them too because they were really real with Him. Let’s also be real too.
Here is the link: whole devotion is great, and starting at 27 minute mark starts discussion about Martha..
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
TRUST – HAHA you actually have to LET God work things out in HIS WAY when you TRUST Him…. it’s NOT that in trusting Him that He will do YOUR things in YOUR way in YOUR plan. NOPE!
Let Him lead, and follow, ESPECIALLY if He is keeping you in the dark ON PURPOSE.
I have been KEPT in the DARK purposefully by Him a few times, well LOTS of times, especially now on ISSUES which are HEAVEN’S battle AND minor issues too, which are buffering my steps in each day… That’s why God is keeping my life cards especially close as secrets in HIS HANDS, especially because I am an OVERTHINKER.
Overthinker-er… You too? I am ever reminded that God thinks MUCH longerterm than I. God is all about His OWN business for us, day and night, not just when we remember to consult the Lord. He who wrote the Book knows what page He wants us to be on.
Two problem things I am see resolving these days, slowly, after me working on them while being led, are instances where Jesus says “Take My Yoke” – it is lighter and yet I need you still work plowing ahead… Jesus knows where we are going. I am reminded that this IS the better Way, because God works in HIS timing and in the right season… Yup, after me wondering the “HOW?”, being prayerfully vocal in the “WHY?”, I STILL have to let HIM choose the WHEN for then I can find my WAY aligns in His Way… I just have to TRUST God, and past experience tells me that He did, He does, He will.
I have seen new problems pop up for new challenges – and I am hoping I see how two negatives make a positive? Or maybe I won’t see this yet. Maybe I will see two negatives make lined edges of a path to follow again under His pull of “we are walking this way”… I once again have to TRUST. Either way, God told me these issues late in the day yesterday, so that I would shelve them for tomorrow (today) and just get rest. (I can tell you all my mishmash details, some SERIOUS some SILLY some $LIPPERY SLOPE$, but you’ve got enough of your own life mishmashes and hiccups and harrowing instances I’m sure (I pray you the best), SO better for me to mention that GETTING REST was the most important step I could take before the REST (of the steps). TAKE the REST (sleep), and let God handle ALL the rest (everything). He will involve you, DON’T YOU WORRY, so plow ahead WITH Him. ONE DAY AT A TIME.
In the time of John the Baptist, Jesus said John was THE Prophet, and Jesus was/IS the Prophecy fulfilled. The people should have known that He was here for fighting the battles in the realms of the Kingdom on earth, yet they didn’t. Do we? If we believe in Jesus, shouldn’t we also believe in His Way? I pray for doing that today. It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey.
For ALL of us, He says: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.“
When you do something in God’s Name – pray in Jesus’s Name – it is because you believe in God’s Fame – DO THIS SO THAT others will know what you are doing and what you are talking about… We are called to educate – don’t assume others have heard anything of the bible except a movie reference here and there…. When other’s have heard some – then have a conversation with them about how it makes them feel… the key first is to TALK ABOUT IT… Yes, let other’s know where God has blessed you – how God has gotten you out of a jam – where you have found solace in God – how He is your ALL IN ALL…. and of course – explain what it means to say He is your Lord and Savior – perhaps others need to hear what that really means in your life… Perhaps others need to hear that you are devoted… Perhaps others need to see your life CHANGED by this devotion.
Explain “In God’s Name” – and that will “help” His Fame.
Now, God doesn’t REALLY need our help with anything – He is God for God’s Sake… but does He WANT our help? YES!!!!!!!!!! The Great Commission does tell us to go out and teach whole nations for Him – that always starts with one person – and it starts with you.
And our living good lives will also explain/show how He is someone we SHOULD listen to…
Let us WORK in God’s Name…
Let us recognize Him in our Frame…
Let us be grateful for God’s Fame…
Let us know that He takes away our Shame…
Thank you Lord how we can pray in Your Holy Name.
Letter of Paul to the Colossians 3:1-2, 8-10, 12-17
Living as Those Made Alive in Christ
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
There’s much richness in the stories of Queen Esther including the keen eye of her “uncle-fatherlike” cousin Mordecai, who adopted her and took care of her. His EAGLE EYE saw both an opportunity to get her into the king’s favor and saw opportunity for her to serve her people (their ancestry being Jewish from exiled Judah) but for which she had NOT revealed to the king or his attendants that she was of the Jews. Mordecai knew best, keep it a secret for now… We must guard our hearts. (But be totally in conversation WITH God about everything, but guard our hearts.) They kept it a secret most likely because of the many people (outside the king) who were not favorable to the Jews as a captured people.
Mordecai kept an eye on Esther’s position and on God’s fruitfulness in her life. Mordecai also knew of God’s promises to their people, even in exile.
Esther not only was already beautiful, she gained favor to become Queen, especially since she didn’t OVER demand anything. Importantly she listened to Mordecai’s “instructions” and even got word of a plot to kill the king… you guessed it, because of Mordecai and his sharp eye (and ears). God put Mordecai in the right place at the right time.
Sometimes we get a glimpse of something that God intends to use for His purposes by just you seeing it – sometimes we are to act upon it, or just know to keep it quietly. Always we are to ask God “why?”.
When can we be a Mordecai? Looking out for kings and others foreign to us except that we live in this exiled land. When can we be satisfied with our status, even hide certain things when necessary for the GREATER good of God’s people and plan? When can we trust in His Plan when we only see one step ahead of us. What if our heritage as God’s children is to be HIS in a humble way – and watch what we say?
And who are the earthly Mordecai’s with discerning eyes in our lives? Who is looking out in front of us, keeping tabs on us, giving us advice? And when God gives us advice, looks out for us, goes before us, do we listen then act in Esther-like fashion? Can we be brave in a situation new to us? One we asked for or even didn’t… Can we also give credit where credit is due (to God) when it works out?
Perhaps Esther only knew piecemeal steps of God’s plan for her, and for her people. God only tells us bit by bit so that we rely upon Him more and more. Gratefully He knows the future for us and His Kingdom… Let us trust Him! One step at a time.
Trust the eye of Mordecai.
And for the benefit of all – trust the Lord most of all.
Esther Made Queen
Later when King Xerxes’ fury had subsided, he remembered [former deposed Queen] Vashti and what she had done [not come when he called] and what he had decreed about her [to be banished].
Then the king’s personal attendants proposed, “Let a search be made for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint commissioners in every province of his realm to bring all these beautiful young women into the harem at the citadel of Susa. Let them be placed under the care of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women; and let beauty treatments be given to them. Then let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.” This advice appealed to the king, and he followed it.
Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin king of Judah. Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.
When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.
Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.
Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.
When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.
Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.
Mordecai Uncovers a Conspiracy
When the virgins were assembled a second time, Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate. But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.
During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai. And when the report was investigated and found to be true, the two officials were impaled on poles. All this was recorded in the book of the annals in the presence of the king.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
It’s Monday morning and sometimes we just don’t want to get up and go. (Nothing bad but sometimes the gears back to the grind need oil – however we need to count our blessings and get over it)….
Sometimes, well always, God wants us to PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD to move thru our day, and a day like today our Monday morning mushy movement is MUCH more manageable because this Armor of God is ALSO an EXOSKELETON of EXCELLENT strength and mobility. LET’S MOVE! (we not until we get our marching orders)
And whether you actually feel mush-like or just perceive of the “Meh” yuck feelings, God IS going to be our MOTIVATION in His method of having us move forward. Making mountains into molehills. Mostly for knowing today is another great day to let Him lead and share how He is our Maker and Shaker… My my how we must count our blessings that He has a plan ALREADY… We may move when He says “move” in the Power of His Might. And throughout we can Be Still and Know that He is God.
He made us from dust, let Him mold and motivate us. We are to look beyond our mush towards His lush life everafter, then know we may make today a GOOD DAY for GOD.
Our Monday morning motivation is demonstrating we WILL trust God to bring us thru…
He will. He does. He wouldn’t want you running ahead anyway. Let Him make the moves on YOU.
“… my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the POWER OF HIS MIGHT.
Put on the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;: And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel…”
Paul’s letter of encouragement to the Ephesians 6:10-19
At the end of the book of Nehemiah, he writes in first person: “Remember me with favor, my God.”
God certainly remembered Nehemiah’s dedication and faithfulness, and we know this because we are still learning about Nehemiah today, and Jerusalem was restored enough for the next so many years. Nehemiah acted where God inspired him, for BOTH the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall and it’s gates to make it a city again around the temple, AND because he also brought about the peoples’ rededication of FAITH. Nehemiah knew God wanted to build faith, not just a wall.
With JOYFUL MUSIC, choirs and musical instruments as prescribed by David the man of God, they transversed the wall and entered the temple. “The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”
Now, did everyone’s dedication/rededication last? Sadly no, and Nehemiah (chapter 13 when he left and came back) he heard about even the leaders going off-book again, not following God’s prescribed laws and desires for their people, especially not honoring the Sabbath or the distribution of harvest to the temple workers. And this eroding of their dedication caused others to stray.
Nehemiah cleared and purified temple rooms dedicated to God’s service. Once just building up the outside, he restored the inside again and again… sounds like Jesus to our souls! Reinvigorate us with the Holy Spirit, we pray.
We also now know that God still supported the people and lineage as promised to David, so that a remnant of the root of the tree of Jesse (David’s father), would survive and from Judah a Savior was born.
It was clear that Nehemiah cared, and also knew he was “on loan” to tend Jerusalem from working in Persia for the king there. He did not reject his obligations and others in Jerusalem would have had to continue on. We too must remember our earthly commitments all while knowing our true king. And we serve working hard as if for the Lord. Let us let God take care of our situations too…
Let us be rededicated and be THANKFUL. God remembers Nehemiah with favor. God knew to blesd us with Jesus and His Holy Spirit before we were even born. Jesus will come again with a New Jerusalem. Now that’s Restoration Really!!!
Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.
I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph, and his associates—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani—with musical instruments prescribed by David the man of God. Ezra the teacher of the Law led the procession. At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the site of David’s palace to the Water Gate on the east.
The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people—past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.
The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, as well as the priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets— and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.
At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites. They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the musicians and gatekeepers, according to the commands of David and his son Solomon. For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the musicians and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.
Nehemiah 13:17-18, when Nehemiah came back… I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them: “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”
Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.
You have no idea how good this cranberry relish is! Well maybe you do! Oh I really really hope you do!
Hey you can’t blame me in my past for when I said I didn’t appreciate cranberries, I mean as a child not many people could explain to me WHY they were good to try. I saw canned icky looking attempts, but every once in a while I saw recipes and real explanations for walking the road of trying it yourself. No one jammed it down my throat and of course we would NOT want to do that. If we want anyone to try, we simply best ask and most importantly demonstrate our joy in it. We must put our munching where our mouth is.
And funny thing, the cranberries to open need a little bit of water applied and a little bit of heating, not long but a miracle appears in that they come alive and open up and the fruit is ready to try… Sometimes in the relish you can have sweetness (orange juice and zest) and sometimes a sharpness (strong balsamic vinegar). Life is like that too. Always you have to taste it to believe it!
But you can’t blame me for not trying to understand this before I did – and I can’t blame myself, but THANK GOODNESS I was awakened to the goodness… an opportunity to grow…
If you think I’m talking just about cranberry relish, I’m not. When I speak of awakening and accepting, and all the above, I’m actually writing about FAITH IN JESUS. YES!
There may be people at your table today and over the holidays who simply haven’t TASTED AND SEEN OF THE SWEETEST OF LOVE. Don’t jam it down their throat, you wouldn’t do that with a “new to them” food, DON’T criticize or exclude… just be GENTLE and be ready to let the Holy Spirit act upon the scene.
It IS GOOD to be encouraging, and perhaps they might try a little on their plate after seeing your enthusiasm. Maybe they never had YOUR RECIPE and no one presented faith in such a way that opens it up to them. You know that many simply haven’t heard the stories or been exposed to comprehending the connections between head and heart. There’s an OPPORTUNITY to open conversations but don’t “wow them” with biblical factoids, instead “wow them” with your Spiritual TRUST.
I was exposed to faith stories and connective faith as a child and grownup, actually knew people who TRUSTED the Lord to see them thru…. yet, I realize that there’s a whole generation who got canned varieties of packaged and never tasted the fresh berries… offer this now, don’t overprepare your messages.
And there is no ONE recipe that works for everyone. Like each berry, the uniqueness is God-made. Faith is unlocked by the Holder of the key, God Himself.
There’s a whole generation of catholics that had masses in Latin as children, if they even got to mass, and if there was no translation or presentation nor physical Bible given, how could they learn? Like the cranberry, not much water or warming heat was applied by people. There are berries that fell out of the pan.
Let us be that gatherer and preparer today. Let us ask for Living Water and Warm Love to permeate the party. The harvest is many but the workers few…
Gratefully the Lord Himself brings the blessings of our thankfulness in Him. The Holy Spirit moves and awakens ready and willing souls in God’s Time… Let’s make time to gather and hear… Let’s open our tables, hearts, mouths to PRAISE Him… Let’s show our faith by showing THANKFULNESS… No one wants to hear or taste sour grapes… let’s add salty savory sweetness to our conversations today.
And try faith in every stressful situation too. Focus on servanthood over stalemates. They is pain often in those not gathering with others… bring them a plate prepared specially for them. God’s Word is STILL good tomorrow….
CranberryCraze – JesusJoy – ThankfulGiving…
May you have a blessed day.
This cranberry recipe:
Boil one bag cranberries with half cup water and half cup maple syrup and zest of one orange. Boil until they open, about 5 minutes, few minutes more and use gentle persuasion with a fork to open the resistant ones… Toast a cup of pecans dry in a skillet. Add the pecans and juice of one orange. Enjoy! Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate extra. YUM!
A friend of mine said they thought reading the Old Testament was going to be daunting… I thought that too, but then I simply started to start through it. No time frame, but a hunger of needing to know what I didn’t know… God has given me the time to learn.
It’s the names that get tough, but the MESSAGE in it was clear ONCE I realized Who was telling this story… GOD!!! The Word… and the Messenger made sense to me because HE WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND.
This Messenger of the Word is a true-tales storyteller thru the experiences of His faithful servants, even if they also were flawed as people. If anything, they themselves could tell you when they drifted from God and what the consequences were… like David… No matter his messups, David kept humbly returning to God for help.
In the Old Testament’s Word, we see Jesus’s earthly roots that are laid bare for us to see. We can trace a root to the fruit or lack thereof. The Word is telling stories of full faithfulness, of sometimes fading faith, and sadly of fully flawed faith… This IS full Truth: Humans are fallable, GOD IS Divine. God forgives and gathers.
So importantly the Old and New Testaments are: of God by God for God, we hear the Promises directly from God and then learn how they got fulfilled. We learn that we can ALSO return when we go astray.
What a GIFT, every once in a while reading along, that there’s a WHOLE RECAP! The story from the beginning is condensed into a mini taproots into the truth version (ch 9-12)… Nehemiah explains to listeners and readers (both those of his time AND us now) the stretch from making the Heavens to present times… Nehemiah speaks of God’s covenant with Abraham then God’s help in Moses’s leadership of the people out of Egypt… the wandering and wondering… the stiff-necked people and His Forgiveness… Nehemiah speaks of God’s warning about turning one’s back to God’s law (which happens time after time)… and we see God’s warnings come true that choosing an earthly king over God will just be trouble – and whole kingdoms will be turned over to enemies… Nehemiah acknowledged that this generation of people were slaves in their own God-given land and potentially could drift again. God had been gracious to restore them again and again. (The ultimate restart comes when Jesus arrives and the ultimate restoration will be when Jesus comes again.)
Nehemiah witnessed this repromise of people to follow (Nehemiah was governor of the land and wall rebuilding for a time) and he recorded a re-pledge to the covenant with God. New dedication and re-centering their lives to God. They built the city back and brought people back in… They dedicated themselves to His service and sacrifices required to atone for human flaws against God’s Laws. Yes, Time after Time, God forgives and recollects His fold.
There’s a lot of names again here in this section of the Old Testament, but surely God wanted them included, He likes to hear them… just like He loves to hear praises.
Time after time, people will go astray again – but “on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy.”
Let us remember, Time after Time, GOD FORGIVES and GIVES US GREAT JOY.
We can approach God because He is already reaching to us. We can trace His fruit back to His roots in our past. We can bloom again.
A friend of mine was talking about her husband in the hospital, and her statement pertains to our every day to day situations as well… She said: “I know God is in control and nothing happens to us without His knowledge or consent. God loves us. He hasn’t lost control. And I can trust Him.“
Trust… and one step at a time…
This means if good things happen, He is giving them to us on purpose, and He wants to use them for greater good. ALL GOOD THINGS ARE FROM GOD. Perhaps the good things give us relief or joy or awareness of Him. Trust God.
This means if bad things happen, He knows that we will handle them and He asks us to trust Him even more and not lash out in sin. Perhaps the bad things make us realize how to better handle ourselves and our expectations or force us to REALLY TRUST HIM.
This means if we don’t know what to do, ASK Him. Take only one step at a time IF you can only see one step in front of you. If you can KNOW Jesus is telling you to TRUST HIM to get out of your comfort zone, like Peter from the boat, GO FURTHER- but DON’T LOSE THE FIXATION OF YOUR EYES ON JESUS.
I am THANKFUL for TRUST.
(And if Jesus is not beckoning you to go out on the water, don’t let someone bully you to go out there. Don’t let scare tactics move you in haste either. Put your “anchor behind the veil”. TRUST GOD because He gave Jesus to us to anchor us into God’s grace. He is the sacrifice required and the sacrificer all in One.
Yesterday, I finally had a particular piece of mail envelop in my hand from seeing my “informed delivery” email from the postoffice. I got the email Saturday, however the piece of mail didn’t come until Monday. I didn’t know what was inside, but saw the envelop’s outside and my mind started RACING a hundred miles an hour. Then I said to myself “STOP”, there is a reason why I don’t have it yet, tomorrow’s worry, God wants me to TRUST today and not get off track. God doesn’t want us to sink before we even swim. God does not want us to worry about TOMORROW’S worries. Focus on TODAY… Focus on Him!!! I opened it and the result was different than I had feared or conjured up in my head, and I was OK. No plans were derailed. No lesson was more learned than TRUST. God’s got this.
Amazing Grace lyrics:
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come.
This grace that brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home“
Have a TRUSTING THANKFUL DAY.
Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.
“…yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” says the Lord.It is often QUIET in my house, but I have little to complain about. It’s just different being quiet, it’s both a blessing and an awareness… NOT a problem. Trust me, I’m not complaining even in a slight sadness. Sometimes sorrow and longing lead us in roads of resting in His Presence and Promise. Accept awareness.
See, I am not alone, my son is upstairs and the cat is here, she is sitting next to me right now, patient and paying attention. The cat would like attention but seems to know half her job is just to be a companion. She is a watcher, she has an awareness. I have a soul to talk to, and she knows when I am talking to her. She knows also fear, loud noises, uneasiness. But also and of course joy, comfort, contentment. She has been sent as a blessing. (She will be most happy when her favorite cat mom comes home at Thanksgiving, she will feel her soul-worth in serving)…
See, in a bigger sense and in mini-minutia circumstances, we ALWAYS need to remember WE ARE NOT ALONE. And being completely alone is NOT something we really will ever find out. The Lord is here, ALWAYS.
You don’t have to find out the hard way, God IS Here, find out the easy Way. We can seek Him in truth and talk to Him in Spirit. Worship Him, He ia always working.
No, not like a cat companion but a constant conscious companion, captain coach, curious curtailer to concerns. The Lord is here, talk to Him. God draws us closer to calm us and remind us to depend upon Him.
Sometimes I can’t find the cat (she hides in thunderstorms and smoke detector alarms from kitchen overcooking, oops). But we can always find the Lord. Sometimes the presence of quiet peace, sometimes the blockage of knowing more than we should, and ALWAYS the time we can have in His Word… The Lord is never further than one minute part of a molecule away. Actually He is IN my dust holding me into a person, able to pull apart or rejoin any molecules as needed to heal me back to earth or to help me along to Heaven. God holds us ALWAYS.
God knows our days. We are to number them and make the most of them.
The cat wakes me up from daydreaming… The Lord? He IS my DAY – no dreaming – we are never alone. He is our Sword and Shield in this world. He was is and will be our LIGHT in the darkness – we will never be without Him.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.
“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
There is nothing like a crisp winter-ish morning in late fall, it reminds you that you are ALIVE. CRISP, but and CLEAR… Bless every cold blessedness.
COLD and CRISP.
CRISP and COLD!
It’s 20 degrees something, and you can smell AWARENESS, feel STILLNESS, and accept REALNESS… and know BLESSEDNESS!
I stepped out and it was like: I SMELLED the GOODNESS of GOD. Awareness awakened, I can KNOW how God blesses us, blessed me, and watches each step.
Of course it’s better walking with a real good winter coat! It’s better good with a place to be warm to go back to, and super good with realizing all the other thankfulnesses of a free morning. For me this day (a Saturday), it “hit me” in cold crispness stepping out in pitch black with super highlighted BRIGHTNESS of the stars and the moon, and remembering years ago in my awakening when the BRILLIANCE of the stars heightened my awareness of God directly… I know God was reminding me. It’s smelling God, because unlike “I smell a rat”, it’s like: “I smell a goodness, strength, and total control of the world AND the Heavens”. I smell God…
Nehemiah and Ezra were writing about their ancestors, Moses to David to Jehoshaphat and with advice up to “modern times”, around 400 years before Jesus, to INSPIRE the people to LISTEN and OBEY GOD. Isn’t it cool that the SAME moon, same stars, same crisp mornings welcomed Jesus, welcomed Moses, welcomed all God believers and non-believers alike. If you can smell God’s influence in your AWARENESS and HIS HAND in this AWESOMENESS, count your blessings that He put you in this day, this moment, these times. And since the multitudes of Heaven worship God, we should too.
“Blessed be your glorious NAME, and may it be EXALTED above all BLESSING and PRAISE. YOU ALONE are the LORD. You made the HEAVENS, even the highest HEAVENS, and all their STARY HOST, the EARTH and ALL that is on it, the SEAS and ALL that is in them. You give LIFE to EVERYTHING, and the MULTITUDES of HEAVEN WORSHIP YOU.“ Nehemiah 9:5-6
Don’t get pulled offsides, we know this in football, but real life we also need to see the schemers and detractors, the potholes of life… but instead we need to KEEP ON TRACK…
STRENGTHEN, pray the Lord to strengthen you against loosing your cool. Strengthen the hold on our tongues when we want to snap at someone. Keep our resolve to LISTEN and obey and look beyond the fray of today… Don’t get pulled offsides.
Nehemiah (rebuilder of the walls and gates of Jerusalem after the exile) had detractors who nipped at his toes, angered his foes, and made stinky lies right under his nose. Nehemiah resisted and kept on working. God told him to do the work to bring back the city of Jerusalem and God’s Hand was on them…. Why should he stop? Why should he let the bad guy get the best of him when God Himself had given him a job to do. These enemies wanted to lure him to where they could hurt him, but worse hurt his reputation and cause him to sin.
Nehemiah saw the smoke screen which IS the devil’s scheme… smoke but no fire… a blinding predicament, but we are to focus above…
We all need to remember to keep our cool and not retaliate for it causes us to sin. Turn the other cheek. Put yourself into your work. Nehemiah finished the wall in 52 days. Imagine what God can do with just one day of you listening and working thru issues…
Whether you are building a wall, reaching God’s people, or quiety winning a war of words, let God fight your battle. When it is “realized that this work had been done with the help of our God”, who can stand against God?!!!! No one.
Lord I pray, strengthen my resolve, hold onto my tongue, and strengthen my hands to complete my work FOR You.
When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.
Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written:
“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”
I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”
They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”
But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”
One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”
But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.
Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.
When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24
What a beautiful plate, Potters Mark 1993, nice but that’s not just why I like it…
What a beautiful plate, fits PERFECT in my big kitchen hutch, but that’s not just why I like it…
What a beautiful plate from a beautiful friend… That’s what I like about it… What a beautiful plate with a beautiful message… That’s what I LOVE about it.
What will I do with this plate? Talk about it. Share and break bread for meals on it. Cherish it then pass it along… Pray it doesn’t break… but realize it’s just a temporary earth thing anyway… I appreciate someone cared enough to make it WITH that scripture. I appreciate people of faith who serve the Lord.
Because without this particular friend’s faith, mine may not have bloomed yet… I would not be at the table. Now I am. Jesus’s table. When I sit at Jesus’s Supper of the Lamb, the Heavenly Banquet – I bet the plate will look GREAT!
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
This is an active choice, every day a new day to serve.
Say it if you mean it.
Mean it if you say it.
I pray Lord to obey it.
Forgive me if I don’t.
Find me if I won’t.
Thank You Lord for serving us with Your Life.
Let us serve You with ours.
Psalm 139 – a psalm of David
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
The Covenant Renewed at Shechem Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
“‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”
Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”
Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”
“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.
“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”
On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord. “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”
Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.
Buried in the Promised Land After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah[c] in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.
Listen, it’s LISTENING that God hears. It may seem convoluted but it’s not. God wants to hear His JOY from His Spirit inside of us returned to Him in JOY. If we praise, God hears praises and knows His people understand all He has done – on the big scale and little scale. If the people are weeping, there’s probably very good reason and God collects their tears, and there IS pain in the world, sorrow… And yet there is HOPE. Hope is in Him. The Spirit knows that not all people understand that God is in control. We can point to times He has guided us. We can teach the hope of forever. Imagine that day when we realize will be with Him forever – then realize that now – start living with that attitude and keep going day by day… Our HOPE is both seeing God work here and now and ultimately for forever… we know Jesus will be returning – a LIGHT out of the clouds… So we must teach to encourage and explain to keep HOPE.
When Nehemiah’s contemporaries rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem – day by day – brick by brick – they then welcomed back exiled Jewish families, to the city and Solomon restored Temple. They knew it ONLY was accomplished because God’s Hand was on them, therefore they ENCOURAGED the people !!! God waited and wanted them to listen. They had to teach and explain, so do we.
Walls completed, the people were assembled one Sabbath say and Ezra the priest was able to read Law from the book of Moses. And after reading, the knowledgable ones explained it to them, the people cried in repentance but their weeping was to be replaced by JOY. “…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the JOY of the LORD is your STRENGTH.”
This is a lesson for them and for us: they made it that far with God’s Hand – THEY FINISHED THE WALL – over 40,000 Jews returned. The Lord surely wanted to hear REJOICING, especially on the day He set aside for His people to be with Him. Us too – we made it this far – and our Kingdom has been rebuilt in Heaven… Also our Sunday plus everydays are set aside for remembering His Hand in our lives – knowing it is the best “thing” He can give us. Our strength can be realized from the Hand of God on our lives, and this helps us believe even more. There are TOUGH days, but our Lord IS even STRONGER. The JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH because we have opportunity to look beyond our broken world and PRAISE Him.
And not just praising His Hand on us, but His whole self-sacrifice FOR us. Jesus was/IS fulfillment of the law by His sacrifice – Jesus was/IS fulfillement of the prophecies of the prophets with His coming into the world and being sacrificed and being raised again. Our Hope continues into His return. Our TRUE JOY is in remembering that He conquered death not just for Himself but for us, and ALL for God our Father bringing His children Home.
Nehemiah survived such opposition to rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem, even last ditch attempts to probably kill or defame him…. As they were finishing (see chapter 6), wow real threats and blackmail – but gratefully the attempts looked SO OBVIOUS that Nehemiah knew they were traps. Nehemiah knew it was better to walk in the Light and keep working.
The walls of Jerusalem had gates to OPEN in the daylight, not traps to close. That’s how we are to approach our devotion to the Lord. He has OPEN gates not closing traps. We can walk freely, but each night in the dark, come back into His Light. Come to His security over our lives. Sheep to our Shepherd. Security in sin’s defeat. A gaze to hold us and Hand to rescue us, just like Peter on the water… keep watching Him!
The JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH. Rejoice in the Rebuilding like Nehemiah. Praise in the possibilities of each day by walking in Jesus’s Way
And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.
And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.
Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
“But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. “
I wonder thoughtfully this Thanksgiving season about the many messages God has intended for us in chapter 5 of Nehemiah – a chapter written in first person by the cup-bearer of the foreign king and allowed to return to rebuild gates and walls of Jerusalem. Now for this temporary time he is the governor helping the people and doing God’s work as he oversees the rebuilding and keeps tabs on the detractors.
Nehemiah realizes that we should not be our own enemies. Nehemiah speaks to the fellow noblemen about taking care of the poor – he acknowledges the complaints that the poor have registered – he speaks about the wrong practices of the rich and how they are getting richer off their own people by selling them into slavery (but foolishly then buying them back to work their own fields)…
Nehemiah speaks of being generous and not taking a salary for himself – and he speaks of feeding all those under his care. Most importantly, Nehemiah speaks in a warning tone about WALKING IN THE FEAR OF GOD.
“…ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?“
God often uses enemies to sharpen our own resolve to LISTEN and obey His intentions MORE. God may sometimes allow us to be boxed into a corner so that the only way is thru GOD’S ABILITY to find a way where there was no way. If we are not listening, this is a good time to start listening. God does have answers. Praying is imperative. Listen and obey.
The people gone wrong in old testament scriptures (as well as modern day) often get carried away by greed. No wonder Jesus overturned the tables at the temple. The sellers were greedy for profit when they should have been offering a service to the poor of convenience for purchasing animals for sacrifice for atonement according to the Law of Moses. Greed is an all-consuming sin and overwhelms the world. Pray against us also being blinded by greed and not knowing how to deal with the money or blessings of richness of family connections either. Sad. God’s provisions are for His purposes. There are many without. Often our problems are good problems. Our issues would be blessings to other’s emptiness.
THANKFULLY, the people of this community listened and agreed with Nehemiah. And they continued building and living.
“But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.” Nehemiah was a role model and did not lord over the poor. Nehemiah spoke plainly to the rulers in a warning demonstration of shaking out the folds of his robe: “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”
Let us this Thanksgiving realize that we are working on rebuilding not just a wall but also a gate TO OPEN and bring more in… We are helping God gathering more people to a KINGDOM. We must take heed to warnings against greed. We must share. We must be thankful. (It’s also a commandment too: Don’t be jealous!)
And the Restoration of the KINGDOM? God delivered on His Promises: in a few hundred years after Nehemiah, Jesus, God with us, was born out of Judah, from the remnant of the line of King David. PROMISE delivered. Savior, Christ, Messiah, King.
Be BLESSED this Thanksgiving and Christmas and EVERY DAY because Jesus DID come and will come again. We just need to use these days to help others on their Way.
Nehemiah Helps the Poor
Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”
When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.
So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”
“We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”
Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”
At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.
Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.
Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.
Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.
God saw me, I really didn’t need to post my day on Facebook, but I’m human and sharing (and sometimes boasting) is both self-gratifying and a form of built-in brokenness and yet also a pouring out of my JOY of my counting of blessings and wanting to bring a Facebook full of CHEERFULNESS not whining. The boast however SHOULD be NOT in me but in God, in what God allows us to do, in what God forces us to do, in what we could have not achieved without Him. A boast means God did it Himself, and He did!
My boast this day? RAKING LEAVES, eating Butternut squash pizza for only $5, having freetime on a Saturday, talking, even taking a selfie with Santa. Later I posted about making a crepe, yum…SILLY BUT SOOTHING TO SHARE. Sure, this is all my BROKENNESS, me having to share, YEAH! That’s why we see both whines and wistfulness on Facebook. Yes, we rant rave cheer and jeer…. Often speak and squeal and process good times, especially when I have no one else as “captive an audience” to squeal too except the cat who really DOESN’T care, but is a good listener anyway. Now that’s a BOAST in God’s gifts, not mine, is that He gifted us this cat to love, to entertain, cajole us and be there, even wake me up and sit next to me as I write….
These brokenness bits are not all bad, for my social nature and the good weather got me outside all week and to craft fairs and events that were designed for social people like me who like to see things and support good causes. It WAS good to be there. And I saw friends from years ago, TWICE, once at one craft show then again at the outdoor event. TWICE after 15 years not seeing them, however we do see each other on Facebook, lol.
Here I will pause for the IMPORTANT boast in the Lord (that I must take minimal credit in) – it is LIVING !!! God gives us breath one more day, no matter what troubles come our way. My old friends at the event are a great couple, sweet people, however the wife has developed dementia, early dementia in her 60s… I somehow did not know but I could see it in her, she was like taking all of the scene in, processing slower, she knows what she sees, she remembers things, but she is NOT the super talkative person she used to be to verbally share it all back to people… God bless them both. I remember her rattling on about things – now she looks beyond.
When we can live “normally” or best we can under the circumstances, we must COUNT OUR BLESSINGS. All of us must “look beyond…”
Our HOPE in our brokenness that He fills us in with better bits than we can. My goal of using my forever brokenness is of wanting to connect with people for His sake… I want it purposeful for both me and God. Because a big hole in me HE FILLS. I have a hunger for Him, I also want to help serve “a helping of Him” to others who hunger – even if just me smiling is part of His appetizer to His Supper… I know only He satisfies my soul. ONLY HE GAVE US OUR SMILES…. So my next boast in Him was/IS: He makes me write and share – like smiles on paper – like tears on paper – like my brokeness down to start repairing. Now crossing over 1600 writings, I am blessed in posting them and printing them in paper format (2 copies for my kids) which will look like an obsessive pile of curated boxes in my house. I’m not proud of anything but keeping up! These writings and postings being something I just feel I need to do.
So what about this boasting of our earthly skills and situations? It can’t last forever, NOPE. We will all pass away. So if we boast in Jesus’s Sacrafice and Save, boast in Christ alone, then someday we will be present for when even all our heavenly-awarded crowns of earthly achievements “FOR GOD” will be something we throw down AT THE FEET of Jesus.
They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11
God’s got dibs on the goodness in this world. Today it’s rainy and cold, but we are still here, INSIDE, LOL. (Glad I did those leaves yesterday with a repaired shoulder that worked perfectly fine 5 years later, thank You God)
Today we are still able to praise, still be the children of our God.
Our God is a Living God, our living HOPE.
Let us Boast only in Him. AND LET US SHARE THAT ON FACEBOOK….
The old testament is filled with stories of veterans defending, building, working for God’s TRUTH.
Nehemiah recognized the dangers of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. He defended against the detractors just as much as any protective army. He had real weapons, having the servant builders and noblemen and guards watch for the enemy. Men fully armed AND even the material carriers or builders had a weapon in one hand or by their side, and building materials in the other. REAL swords meaning real business! Real protection. A trumpeter stayed with Nehemiah for any sounding of the alarm. They even had their swords at their sides when they went for water. They kept building. We have an ability to keep building too, ourselves, our families, our communities, all under God’s direction.
Nehemiah was armed with a Sword of Truth himself, his ability to speak God’s Word was laid on his heart, just like we have THE Sword of Truth of scripture to speak into a situation. Nehemiah said: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…” We also in these days have ashield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Jesus is the Living Word, and Truth will defend and protect. Jesus came to rebuild God’s Kingdom. Nehemiah restated that the detractors said: “Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” Well. YES. God can! We work for the miracle maker, earth-shaker. As Jesus died and took all sin upon Himself to the end, He also ROSE, a stone, a ROCK back to LIFE.
We must keep working, sometimes we forget our journey is not supposed to be easy, but it’s worth it. When we enter a tough situation, we too must listen to our Foreman, take action where the building is threatened, be awake and aware of the situation. We can enter situations equipped WITH the Lord who readies us “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace“
Nehemiah listed the groups of workers repairing each gate and wall section. His people. We have a God who saves. We are God’s people and we ARE fitted for His Work. We are co-laborors. We CAN work with the sword of truth in one hand and building materials in the other.... to be the people who worked with all their heart.
The Word Himself reminds us: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”... “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6 excerpts
Nehemiah 4: 1-2, 6-23
Opposition to the Rebuilding
When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
6 So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.
Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”
Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”
Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”
When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.
Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”
So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”
See chapter 3 for the names of the people here:
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.“
Fruits of His Spirit grow on you. Use what He gives and shine on through. Jesus is the Vine in you: Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control and LOVE too.
We are the branches and He is the Vine. Jesus said: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.”
IT’S JESUS FRUIT WE ARE TO SHINE!
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we be JOYFUL FOR the Lord’s benefit? Bear fruit on our branch for nourishing His future harvest? Will you be JOYFUL for the benefit of His people?
Peace is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we share PEACE? Will you look for inner PEACE branching from that special place where the Lord indwells in you?
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we be PATIENT as His branches grow in us? Taking their time each growing season to work and each winter season to rest? Will you demonstrate listening to the Lord before you act?
Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we branch off His Vine of being KIND? Will you be KIND even if others are not kind to you?
Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit. Can we find an opportunity to share means that are truly is gifted by the Lord? Including His generous Spirit? Will you give from not just your excesses but willingly extend your branch so His Vine can bless others?
Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Can we FAITHFULLY trust and then FAITHFULLY act? Will you let the Lord grow your branch stronger? Will you step out a little further in faith because He makes you strong?
Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we flow His gentle touch to those who need compassion and help? Will you prepare the fruit of your vine to bite-sized pieces? Make it more shareable with all?
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we calmly show His strength without overbearance or flaunting? Will you take a step back to listen before charging forward blindly, even if “for Him”? Will you be an example of self-control?
Love is a fruit of the Spirit.
Can we SHINE JESUS LOVE? Will you both LOVE until it hurts and LOVE until it helps? Will you Love because Jesus loves? Will we recognize Love even in correction by God?
“Apart from me you can do nothing.”
In YOU Jesus, we can do ALL these things.
From YOU Jesus, we can achieve great things.
With YOU Jesus, we will branch out Your Vine.
Yes Jesus, we can and will polish our fruit with YOUR SHINE.
Jesus says: You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:3-5
THE HAND OF GOD WAS ON NEHEMIAH. But he WAITED to tell people and did the legwork first to prepare.
Nehemiah wanted to go back to his ancestral homeland from his exiled location – he was granted “the king’s ear” and asked the king’s permission and help. He knew the Lord’s desire to bring back Jerusalem, His temple and city, for the purposes of HOPE… and Nehemiah knew it was in the prophecies for the remnant of King David’s people to return… but when he got to Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to stay quiet for a bit until he really had a chance to evaluate the situation. He didn’t have to tell everyone all at once of his grand plans or of the plans that the Lord had for him and for them… NEITHER DO WE. First, Nehemiah had to INSPECT what was going on around him, he had to ERECT a plan and a wall, and he had to PROTECT the plan and the city. Restoration requires resurrection. Resurrection means we move forward in God’s Way.
There were detractors, there were skeptics and naysayers, and nearly saboteurs by wagging tongues. Imagine if you were going into battle, you wouldn’t broadcast it and wouldn’t disturb your focus. If God’s Hand is on you, He is close enough to listen to your whispers. So, Nehemiah went QUIETLY to inspect the walls of Jerusalem around the city of David’s remnants, then Nehemiah set out to repair the damage. Did he tell the local leaders? Not until he first told the servants.
We encounter detractors and people who aren’t even thinking about us but mostly their own life and gain. Most of the time when we think we are being scrutinized, even getting ourselves paranoid, we are likely just in the way of someone else’s inadequacy feelings. Let’s remember God wants us to lean on Him, take actions in a bigger sense of good. Be the servant to God’s Big Restoration.
Jesus came in quiety in Bethlehem but to the servants of the King, they knew what a big deal this was. The shepherds saw angels and wisemen a star. A remnant of David’s people, his family kept the Way set forth from Moses’s time for sacrifice and dedication. Jesus came to inspect, erect, protect God’s Kingdom and told the servants first. Jesus and God the Father knew of the detractors. An angel told the wisemen to not go back to scheming Herod. An angel told Joseph to get out of Herod’s fury, killing baby boys. Jesus Himself started His ministry only when the time was right.
Let us be like Nehemiah and do our legwork and calmly sometimes quietly do our work for God and because we have His protection, let us satisfy the Lord who needs us in the right time and the right place. We have the King’s ear, let’s make sure He has ours.
It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.
When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.
By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.
Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.
But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”
I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”
Nehemiah was an Israelite in the service of the king in the area where they (southern divided kingdom) had been swept away to another exile after Babylon conquered Judah. (God allowed this defeat because His people in Judah had turned away, the sins of the nation but the Grace of God to keep them as His People)… Many years passed, there were some faithful in the flock, Nehemiah was one. This remnant was allowed to return to their “homeland” because God made the heart of Cyrus, Persian King, gentle towards this people. And there was record of the promise to these people that was passed on to future kings who held these Israelites as servants. God knew how to place His servants in the right place at the right time.
Nehemiah heard of what had happened to Jerusalem, the walls crumbled and gates burned. He wept in tears and prayed in petition to the Lord, acknowledging all the many sins of his nation. It wasn’t a political blamegame left and right, but a clear cry: “God, we ALL drifted.” … “God, you said You would scatter your people and You did!”
Nehemiah recognized that the Israelites were God’s chosen people from Jacob their forefather, but that they were brought down by their own sinfulness and disobedience. He also knew that God promised to keep a remnant alive, and reassemble the people if they came back to Him. Nehemiah realized his opportunity as cupbearer to the king of his exiled home away from home, and he was prayerful to do his part in restoration of David’s city and Solomon’s temple for God’s mission.
It’s a constant theme of the Old Testament scriptures: Come back to God. Repent, Return, Restore, Resurrect. A temple for worship was brought back AFTER the WILL TO WORSHIP was reestablished.
Nehemiah’s prayer was for the Hand of God to be on him when he spoke openly to the king. After appearing so sad, he was asked about his sadness, then Nehemiah was able to realize this window of opportunity. Nehemiah asked for time to travel to Jerusalem, safe passage to and from with official documents, and the timber resources for restoration of the gates and walls of Jerusalem, the city of his ancestors. Nehemiah recognized that the Hand of God must have been on him, allowing this success. Nehemiah praised and KNEW.
God gave a focal point for His people, Jerusalem. Jesus was the answer for these people, even if they did not realize. God still has a New Jerusalem coming for His People who include us as repented people who want to return to Him. In this second coming of Jesus, Jesus once again comes for us. Repent Return Restore Resurrect.
Jesus’s forgiveness from God’s mercy. Jesus a remnant of Hope for the line of David and a King above all kings. Jesus is the King of Resurrection and not just a Temple for God’s name, but for being God Himself. Jesus, the Name above all names.
OUR BROKENNESS IS USED BY GOD FOR GOD. OUR SADNESS CAN BE IMPORTANT IN MAKING US ACT TO REBUILD.
Because Nehemiah realized this opportunity to speak out of his sadness, God used his tears for triumph. Let’s ask Him to use our tears as well. God’s Hand collects our tears. Let us all PRAY for the Nations and all God’s children. Let us be motivated and moved to act for God’s mission.
Jesus came and will come again. Restoration. Spread the Word.
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ …”
In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”
I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”
The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the Godof heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.
Oh!!!! I made it! I’m in one of the last chronological chapters of the Old Testament! I made it! Nehemiah! I’m excited where before I was daunted by the inches!!! But even being near the end, I am only 2/3 of the way in paper? How? and why? Well, for they “Why”, ask Jesus when you see Him, for all those whys, but I CAN tell you HOW I got here, and I can tell you that there’s a WEAVING of these stories in a repetitive deep way, in parallel books, by different authors at different times, written for different audiences! YEAH!
Wait! So, whoda thunk what is all true for the New Testament, parallel writings of different witnesses and writers for different audiences, us ALSO true for the Old Testament. Whoda set up the Word in this Way… Ah WEAVING waves of the Way into our day… Jesus…
The Old Testament is an alive Living Word. The New Testament too, of course. Perhaps the myriad of people in Heaven are currently merging what they did not know with what IS known now, about Jesus coming and having come… What if we too are to be looking and merging what we knew and learn to know? WHAT IF EXCHANGING KNOWLEDGE of the WORD is like blue non-oxygenated blood that gives up carbon dioxide then gets oxygen to make it red. And the cells themselves, at the living breathing lung exchange area, are chatting away to each other about what they’ve seen throughout the whole body… what if…
Breathing thru the Living Word. What amazing WEAVING has Jesus done of the Word in our brain waves.
Trust me, I’ve only scratched the surface of the Old Testament and have another third to assimilate into what I’ve barely learned. If you look at timelines as if they are like colorful Lego maps, one starts with the basic green underlaying foundation, then gets big big blocks down like Adam Noah Moses David Solomon. There are themes of exile, rebuilding, exiles, and always wars. Then add another layer of bricks of more stories in Joshua, Saul, Sampson, Elijah, Ezra. Then another layer of bricks – those stories (I have not yet read in page progression) of Jonah, Ester, Nehemiah and Malachi. Little embellishments too. Nothing too big or little, every detail with purpose.
Don’t try building this LEGO set without instructions! Getyourself Bible timelines and teachers!!! (and even the cat will wonder what you are doing, so get plastic-coated ones in case she walks all over them)…
There’s SO much to learn and yet remember start with God’s big points. Love, life, living… sending a Savior for salvation. The Old Testament is just that: a testament of obeying and worshiping God, a testament of God’s faithfulness and mercy, a testament of the beginning love, the middle love and the end love – but wait: the end is a new beginning! Life won’t end, ever! Love it!
What will eternity will be like in the new Jerusalem? I bet we will walk thru these old timelines WITH the people. I think each person can sit down with Noah and ask him the tough questions. Imagine singing WITH David. Pause for a moment to imagine Mary in front of you. And Jesus? WOW…
JESUS… Someday, to you and to me, I think Jesus will say: Remember studying those timelines? Now you are placed IN Mine…. Yes Jesus, You put us IN Your Line and Your Timeline,,,
“For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”
I’m not a sports fanatic, but I am a fan of many. Mostly I like the teams my brother didn’t like, back in our pre-teen rivalry years.
Often we like local teams, but mostly everyone just wants to see a good game. I love to sit at a hockey game, right behind the boards, I love constant action.
Even if I’m a fair-weather fan of some adopted local teams, supporting my die-hard friends who are fanatics, I do feel their pain and joy… Ah, suffering servants of sports, they are LOYAL. They are True.
Football is a team sport – offense and defense and special teams are unique lines, but BASEBALL uses everyone on both “offense” and “defense” (pinch-hitters aside). Baseball is a team sport of individuals and requires coordination of single plays. The team, with different pitchers and lineups, even mid-season trades, could be a different team each game but they are aTEAM right in that moment.
A TEAM. We are individuals and we also fall under logistics collections of teams or countries or jurisdictions. Often we are free agents IF we have mobility, money, motivation, and freedom to choose. Family decisions make the decision easy or hard, because wewant to be with our crew.
FYI, God does too, His crew is me and you. We are on God’s Team!
Life games and life GAINS. God wants us on His Team. God wants to be with us. God already picked us for His team, but sadly some trade themselves away to be devoted to other games. God picked us to be called up for the life-forever-league and places us on these current teams to make a difference as workers in the field. With a priceless payment of Jesus’s blood, God paid our way to secure the best team too. He chose us before we chose Him! God only has us on the scoring side, on the offense, in the line that gains ground. God is ALREADY our best defense, we only need to hide under His wings.
Jesus was able to tell His disciples (72 sent out as workers) about the benefits of living under all Godly authority, and even having an opportunity in seeing evil demons submit. Jesus, having seen Satan fall from the sky, said the disciples (and we) should rejoice MORE that their/our names were WRITTEN IN HEAVEN (see Luke 10).
When we come to a saving faith in Jesus, we now have an “open door that no one can shut”. (See Revelation 3)
We are on earthly teams, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. But FOREVER we are on God’s Team – and He already won, so we just need to play through…
He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame.
He won us! He picked us!
We ARE God’s Team!!!
Jesus sent out 72 disciples in pairs to share the Word (Luke 10:16-21): “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
“They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;…
I’m knowing God has a plan, but that doesn’t mean I understand all parts of how we got from there to here. He reminds us we are on a “needs to know basis” – meaning we will learn and discern only more and more closely walking with Him.
I’m reading through the old testament and God clearly called individuals but also whole communities. One part that Ezra, priest and organizer for returning to Jerusalem, brought to everyone’s attention was how they disobeyed God. And he wept SO LOUD that the ones gathering around him wept too. They promised to work together to REPENT and REPAIR the disobedience. And they sat in the RAIN. And because of that rain, they asked to organize how their local officials and household heads, could take the time to do this sorting out in an organization fashion…
The crowd (in the rain) was urged COURAGE to do what was right in God’s eyes. God had asked Israelites to worship Him, and not marry into pagen, false idol worshiping families. There was not a bloodline issue as much as a drifting issue, if God’s people started to worship other gods, they couldn’t walk so close to God. And God wanted them (AND US) to walk CLOSE…
AMAZING, but not surprised that my little Bible devotion book (Jesus Calling) for today’s date states scriptures about WALKING WITH GOD.
“But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God…”
The people told Ezra what Ezra was telling them, that there was a HOPE, that God in His mercy (not leniency) would bring forth an answer to the unfaithfulness issue, a Savior, One from the line of David to restore the Kingdom. THE PEOPLE PRAYED TOGETHER about this and renewed their covenant and sacrifices. The people took the issue into their workload rather than Ezra having to do an impossible job so quickly. (We also need to pray together and support our leaders: priest and pastors, teachers and each other. Witnesses with workers. Hope in hopeful hearts).
The people had a tough time sticking with the old covenant and so do we (all those 10 commandments and more) thus God raised a NEW COVENANT for them and for us, a NEW Promise. Not leniency but grace and mercy.
The end of Ezra’s chapter says they are going to work on reorganizing and repenting. We don’t know yet in this part of the story how it turned out for each family but we do know for us, because we have read ahead and we have lived ahead into that Promise that Ezra hoped for… We know that the Promise did come, out of Judah from the line of King David… That Promise WAS and IS Jesus.
Ezra, Ezra, What’s to know ?
Jesus was coming. He came.
Walk with Him.
That’s a TRUTH we know.
While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”
So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath. Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.
A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.
Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say. But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.” Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.
So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases, and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.
Oh poor Ezra. He had such a great mission to bring back the remnant Israelites to Jerusalem – so they could worship and sacrifice to the Lord as He requested – AND so He could return a remnant of David’s line of kings into the coming of the Savior, Light of the world…. Oh Ezra, he such prayers in praise to the Lord (for His Hand was on them) and THEN, Ezra found out the unfortunate truth that some of the people returned to Jerusalem had drifted in unfortunate unfaithfulness… This was not new for these people whom were often led by unruly rulers. But Ezra in his/His mission for his/His people wanted to get them all back on track…
The leaders reported back to priest leader Ezra (himself a multi-great grandson of Aaron, Moses’s brother): “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices… …And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”
Ezra KNEW that the Lord had been MORE faithful to His people than they had been to Him. THAT IS TRUE TODAY TOO, for sll times the Lord is more faithful, more patient… Ezra said: Lord, You have been so faithful and granted us this gift to return to you. Ezra fell on his face in prayer and tried to understand it. He concluded: our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved“…
This both acknowledged guilt and acknowledged that the Lord is the ONLY way out of our brokenness. This is true for us today too – when we are sitting in a world of brokenness or a sea of selfishness, we must realize that God is the Way. When we think of salvation, know Jesus came as ultimate sacrifice, and because we are not able to come up to God’s standards as broken humans, therefore GOD CAME DOWN TO US.
Ezra wept but then ROSE to keep going, to help the people by asking the Lord said WHY He was Good… Ezra remembered the prophecy and taught that there was a REMNANT, a LIGHT, a HOPE, coming to the world.
Ezra knew and taught HISTORIC HOPE. That’s a benefit of being a chronicler, that’s why we too should record our experiences and tell others of God’s faithfulness.
Hope… a light in the darkness. Thanks Ezra for sharing what you knew!
Ezra 9 excerpts
“When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today…But now,for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.
*** ...our God, you have punished us LESS than our sins deserved…***
I saw today my neighbor with a repaired broken hip,
No one likes hospitals but seeing her BIG BIG smile was well worth my trip…
I Saw Today, I Was OK.
I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.
I felt cold today from frozen toes,
But the cat begged and then was SO con-tent outside, so you know how that goes…
I Saw Today, I Was OK.
I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.
I walked today slowly politely behind a man with a crutch.
He had just one leg, a loss I can’t even dream as having such.
I Saw Today, I Was OK.
I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.
I held today cash to pay some bills.
I can make plans. I can even plan some frills and thrills.
I Saw Today, I Was OK.
I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.
I heard today recorded 911 calls from a school shooting, a voice crying.
A brave 10 year old begging help for the dying.
I Saw Today, in vast comparison, I Was OK, my own children were OK.
I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.
I consulted the Lord today.
There is so much UGH in life’s fray.
There’s cruddy ads on the airways.
Friends turned foes these strifeful days.
To debate is an opportunity, to mudsling distracts, we are not countries that fall under dictator ways. We must rise above the crud TODAY. We must choose LOVE today.
I consulted the Lord today.
A broken world can not heal in any human way.
So there ARE prayers,
There ARE HOPEFUL prayers.
Why don’t we pray for others today.
Accept our own blessings and say: “I am OK.”
When I have called upon the Lord, He gave me peace, He showed me love.
He gave me action or inaction with pondering. He sheltered my day.
He responded to my past jams with His amazing plans. I must believe Him now, He told me He will resolve all my troubles, our troubles, in HIS WAY.
I Saw Today, I Was OK.
I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.
Let us wait on the Lord and pray.
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”
What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord— in your midst, Jerusalem.
Too embarrassed to ask a king, but never too embarrassed to ask God.
Ezra was the chronicler of old testament kings and a leader of the exiled Israelites on their eventual journey back to Jerusalem, city of David and temple of Solomon to rebuild. Ezra was writing about God’s faithfulness and the people who honored God (and those who didn’t). This helped teach the people of his time all about their history and especially the importance of worshiping God, and LISTENING. This helps teach us too. And Ezra was there when the king of his time was told and shown that God’s Hand was on those blessed chosen traveling Israelites. So now, after being conquered and taken away to the Babylon area (which God allowed because of their disobedience), it was time to travel back and get back to worship. “You as well as these articles are consecrated to the Lord”…
Ezra was afraid to be embarrassed to look like he didn’t trust God. Afraid a king may say “put your money where your mouth is”… I’ve been there, many times, afraid to be embarrassed. Yet, God needs us dependent upon Him, so that we DO take the right steps. Ezra told that king that God’s Hand was on them (and it was), so he was not going to go back to the king to ask for warriors to escort them in safety back to Jerusalem. How do you say “God’s got this” then not TRUST that He actually does? How wishy-washy would it look to human kings and non-believers? This is a lesson in trust and also an urging to ALWAYS go back to God, make prayers of courage and protection. Ask God to get you through. Ask God for help, trust that He will.
Ezra asked for a fast, a serious prayer of humbling oneself, Ezra was from a long line of Israelites descended from Aaron, Moses’s brother and first priest. Ezra asked and looked for some of the Levites to join them, set aside servants of God with skills, God gave them. He looked for provisions, God granted those too. He looked for all his group to depend upon God, he urged and he asked them. Then the ultimate ask: EZRA ASKED GOD FOR SAFE TRAVELS. We too need to humble ourselves – we will find God has a better plan than ones that are not working for us.
Too embarrassed to ask earthly kings, NEVER embarrassed to ask God. God would prefer that we would ASK!
We must ask God, in prayer and a humble spirit of praise: You ARE sovereign God. Our ask is not just for getting us out of something but for getting through something and getting us towards something. We must ASK – and often we will see that God already went ahead, we just needed to trust. “Ye though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Ezra said and witnessed to the people: The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.
Think of ourselves as Peter walking upon the water, he trusted Jesus enough for Jesus called to him, he kept his eyes upon Jesus and walked. He shifted his view to the problem over the answer (Jesus is the answer) and Peter started to sink. Where was Jesus? RIGHT THERE, right close to grab Peter as he reached up. Peter physically saw the Hand of God, and God in Jesus said: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?“
Let us today fix our sights on God, let’s ask and believe, let’s trust. Why does God pull us in different ways and sometimes difficult situations? Is it testing us or simply using us to show others that we do indeed trust God. Life is NO picnic without ants, roads DO have bandits, waters ARE choppy. SO, WE MUST DEPEND UPON GOD.
And walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Walk with the Lord.
Ezra 8:15-32 excerpts
The Return to Jerusalem When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. So I summoned … men of learning, and I ordered them to go to Iddo, the leader in Kasiphia… so that they might bring attendants to us for the house of our God. …
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and HE ANSWERED OUR PRAYER.
Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests, namely, Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their brothers, and I weighed out to them the offering of silver and gold and the articles that the king, his advisers, his officials and all Israel present there had donated for the house of our God. I weighed out to them 650 talents of silver, silver articles weighing 100 talents, 100 talents of gold, 20 bowls of gold valued at 1,000 darics, and two fine articles of polished bronze, as precious as gold.
I said to them, “You as well as these articles are consecrated to the Lord. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Guard them carefully until you weigh them out in the chambers of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem before the leading priests and the Levites and the family heads of Israel.” Then the priests and Levites received the silver and gold and sacred articles that had been weighed out to be taken to the house of our God in Jerusalem.
On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.
Tonight it started raining 35 minutes into “my Halloween” – meaning that golden hour and a half or so that kids trick or treat in dusk to show up at your house. It’s a precious narrow window of time that parents get out with their little ones. And trust me it’s so unreal that my little kids are so grown up now. Oh how I would take a Halloween stroll with them again if I could… the evening used to last longer with double the numbers, but us “old-folks” now with grown kids take up more and more of the community. Still 35 minutes of greeting time was better than none. “I got an eyeball” I can hear one princess exclaim! Excited and sweet. Later a teenager was directed to go back to house 24 as the nice old lady gave out full-size KitKat. It was well worth the price of candy.
And it was warm out, and the cat enjoyed it in her tent, except then it started to rain. This cat doesn’t appreciate rain.
I was well dresses and a wig too, i didn’t feel the rain but thought well let me grab an umbrella, and so I sat 10 minutes in the rain and walked down to the sidewalk to get the last kids. This was too short a time not to reach out and enjoy. I survived the rain.
This is how I imagine God is, waiting with treats ready to give, better than what I was giving, better than house 24 KitKat better than anything on earth or in the sky. God’s giving out the best in life WITH Him, and going door to door, that’s ALL FULL SIZE GOD, in God. Jesus and the Holy Spirit. WAITING, WALKING, WOW-ING. In the rain, with JOY. In the wait with hope (yes worth it). In the wait with longing. In the wait with loss too. There are kids of God who won’t accept His gift. Sad. It is like raining on God’s treat. His treat to be with us.
Jesus understood the SHORT window of physical time – did question why – did realize sadly in tears riding into Jerusalem that the parade was of people not understanding a Heavenly King, on the sugar rise of the moment for another conquering king but not convinced of the Forever King. Jesus rode in anyway.
Jesus understands the price paid is worth it, worth us. The Holy Spirit extends the Window of gathering. God waits like the Father of the prodigal son, ready to lavish His returned children with His blessings.
Someday the candy and the day of God’s opportunities to be collected off the earth will stop. Let’s help give out our hope to others in the meantime, and appreciate umbrellas. Now IS the window of opportunity. Someday these kids (God’s kids) will not venture out, but God WILL still come to them. Someday the night will be broken with Jesus returning, and we will all be on our eternal way.
Because the Hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage… Ezra 7
Was Ezra, in chapter seven,
Walking into Heaven?
No, he had much to do,
He needed God to help him through.
The Hand of God
Is Light’s direction rod.
The path we talk,
We must also walk.
Ezra had the king’s blessings,
Gold, silver and all the dressings.
Ezra was Aaron’s 16th generation son,
Brother of Moses when priesthood had begun.
A teacher in the Law of Moses too,
Sacrifice was what Ezra really knew.
Leadership is courageous servant-hood,
To help the people who want to be good.
When we walk with God,
We must not plod or sleepily nod.
We like Ezra have work to do.
We ask God to get us through.
Pray the Hand of God to be on me and on you.
Pray courage that we walk true.
Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia,
Ezra son of Seraiah,
the son of Azariah,
the son of Hilkiah,
the son of Shallum,
the son of Zadok,
the son of Ahitub,
the son of Amariah,
the son of Azariah,
the son of Meraioth,
the son of Zerahiah,
the son of Uzzi,
the son of Bukki,
the son of Abishua,
the son of Phinehas,
the son of Eleazar,
the son of Aaron the chief priest—
this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the Lord his God was on him.
Some of the Israelites, including priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers and temple servants, also came up to Jerusalem in the seventh year of King Artaxerxes. Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.
King Artaxerxes’ Letter to Ezra
This is a copy of the letter King Artaxerxes had given to Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law, a man learned in matters concerning the commands and decrees of the Lord for Israel:
Artaxerxes, king of kings,
To Ezra the priest, teacher of the Law of the God of heaven:
Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who volunteer to go to Jerusalem with you, may go. You are sent by the king and his seven advisers to inquire about Judah and Jerusalem with regard to the Law of your God, which is in your hand. Moreover, you are to take with you the silver and gold that the king and his advisers have freely given to the God of Israel, whose dwelling is in Jerusalem, together with all the silver and gold you may obtain from the province of Babylon, as well as the freewill offerings of the people and priests for the temple of their God in Jerusalem. With this money be sure to buy bulls, rams and male lambs, together with their grain offerings and drink offerings, and sacrifice them on the altar of the temple of your God in Jerusalem.
You and your fellow Israelites may then do whatever seems best with the rest of the silver and gold, in accordance with the will of your God. Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple of your God. And anything else needed for the temple of your God that you are responsible to supply, you may provide from the royal treasury.
Now I, King Artaxerxes, decree that all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates are to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you— up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths[c] of wine, a hundred baths [that’s 600 gallons] of olive oil, and salt without limit. Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven. Why should his wrath fall on the realm of the king and of his sons? You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.
And you, Ezra, in accordance with the wisdom of your God, which you possess, appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice to all the people of Trans-Euphrates—all who know the laws of your God. And you are to teach any who do not know them. Whoever does not obey the law of your God and the law of the king must surely be punished by death, banishment, confiscation of property, or imprisonment.
Praise be to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who has put it into the king’s heart to bring honor to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in this way and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king’s powerful officials. Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13 I am appreciative of this little book “Jesus Calling ” by Sarah Young. It is scripture written in the person view of Jesus speaking it. I am also very appreciative of a crew of 3 Bible study companions for this book that I’ve joined in my “little church with a big impact” and we take the verses day by day… That’s the Jesus Way, DAY BY DAY…
“It’s not fair”, this one reading struck me strongly… Jesus reminds us, that we are NOT to look at human opinion of us, but of Jesus’s Light guiding us, how we act, how we help. It’s not fair how we are treated sometimes in this life as we do His work, sacrificing for His sake, the sake of loving each other and the sake of giving up our own will. But then again, Jesus losing His life for our sins was also not seemingly fair. Well, that’s life. And yeah that’s LIFE because Jesus gives us LIFE forever.
Walking this week, I saw this verse in action, a writing in a visual WAY while I was walking. Under the canopy of an off-road, there was a fallen tree, deadwood in the making, and yet it had not fallen, it was caught leaning on wires. DANGEROUS, I thought, but low wires so they are probably not electricity which are usually higher. DANGEROUS for falling, I thought, but this is a road rarely traveled. INCONVENIENT I thought because it was going to be a LOT of work to remove it, requiring shutting down that wire’s feed anyway. And INCONVENIENT for an overworked workforce? Probably. What was the holdup? Time, manpower, resources, urgency.
What was holding up this tree from breaking those wires? I looked more. ANOTHER TREE! I looked further up and the two higher branches were being held by another set of limbs. Secured (for now), HELD! So, was it a strain on that other tree? Maybe. Somewhat. But it held its ground. A delicate STRONG hold.
A delicate strong HOLD. Was it fair? Not for the second tree, but it WAS helping and keeping order in the forest. It was keeping chaos from breaking out. It was HOLDING THE PEACE.
JESUS, holding up the people, keeping order in the kingdom and the hope to get people there. Jesus holding the peace. Not just dying for our sins, but LIVING for the opportunities that others could so LIVE. Not fair? Nope, but faithful devotion. Jesus Saves. Find peace in His Presence.
Have you ever been in a situation you did NOT want to be in? Maybe you are like that second tree, holding its ground and supporting structures, people, even seemingly deadweight? However we have to look to what Jesus wants us to be and do. I was stuck somewhere recently, I didn’t want to deal with the strife, and wondered really “WHY AM I HERE, LORD?“. Asking why I was positioned, questioning my struggles with “do I worry what people think of me for acting a certain way, or do I sacrifice to do the right thing in a bigger sense?”… I PRAYED… I’ve been in this situation before in different scenes, it’s like another act in God’s stage production but I’m not the star, never was, Jesus IS. Not my place to say “it’s not fair”, because it’s not, but we are on His mission. His helping is our crosses to bear. I PRAYED and asked for a sign. I had access to the web in front of me and could look up secretly a scripture. “LUKE” was laid into my brain. “15” was laid into my brain. Click, Click, Click: Luke 15, ahhhhh… the parable of the LOST SHEEP, the LOST COIN, the LOST son… SO CLEARLY GOD ANSWERED ME (especially since I asked into His Word)… Go after the one lost sheep… be the support… be that tree holding it’s ground supporting the whole scene… be HIS HANDS AND FEET, no matter the cost to you. FORGIVE because we ARE a broken people. Jesus is the only Way.
No matter what, we are to pay the price of time, energy, work because Jesus already paid for us… Let’s keep working for Him.
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
I have to remember that I was once deadweight but He rebirthed me to LIFE, He put me to Work. I was and still am a sinner saved by HIS grace. I was (and am) one sheep of our Shepherd. I was lost, Jesus came for me…
NOT FAIR, but Jesus came to save us anyway. Our brokenness is nothing compared to His Healing. Hold us Lord, Help us Lord, Heaven-us Lord.
Ephesians 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,
PS…. 8 years now this upcoming winter is when I awoke from being dead in my faith, as if Jesus said “eh, she’s only sleeping”, like when He awoke Jarius’s daughter. It was also 10 years ago now that when I was teaching Sunday school (yes I was teaching Luke 15) that I out-loud said these parables were “Jesus’s great teaching stories” and “God sent Jesus to make the Word of God spread faster“, SNAP… yes, just like the fun hands-on foaming catalyst experiment I was demonstrating at the time, of hydrogen peroxide, dishsoap and yeast (Jesus being represented by living yeast as a catalyst), this was Jesus spreading the Word… Ah, this action is Jesus finding us… thus was JESUS finding me… I’m grateful to tears… amazed to awe… challenged to action… blessed to further bless… My job? Our job? Great Commission to go out and be the workers, FIND THE SHEEP and feed them the Word! AMEN!!!
Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I have been Positioned into a family of faith and a fulfilled future, therefore I CAN start this day. Start this day in God’s Way: Praise, Position, Proceed, Protect, Process, Praise. Jesus came and He will come again. I just need to get through today in God’s Way. New challenges and old issues, same God.
“…while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven GENUINENESS of your FAITH – ofgreater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined –may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
I have been given FAITH resources and scripture readings to prepare me for my day. I can BOTH put on the Armor of God for protection but most importantly pick up the Sword of Truth – Jesus’s Word – to bring into my day and cut to the chase, cut thru the day, and most importantly create an atmosphere of teaching thru living. I can demonstrate that I have a Living Hope.
Refueling often in the day IN FAITH is SO IMPORTANT. Proceeding when small things stand in the way may mean you have to reflect on the Way, the Word, the Wonder, to get you thru, around, out of, and back into the day. The reason why Jesus walked on earth was so that He could walkWITHyou, then, now, and forever. Guard your heart, walk in faith and Proceed. Proceed Protected
At the end of the day, reflect and see what went best in God’s Way. What went wrong in attitude or expectation? What went right in listening or learning? What is unresolved and what is unresolvable? Therefore what will be set down for God to handle in His Time. Time to rest.
God help me Process and then Rest. Lord, You have said: Tomorrow is another day. You have shown me that today was best proceeded in Your Way. You have shown me that LISTENING to the Word was Your Best Way encouragement for me to Prepare for the day. . .
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. “The word of the Lord endures forever.”
Prepare Proceed Process,
Praise Praise Praise
AMEN Amen and amen…
Praise to God for a Living Hope
1Peter 1:3-9, 13-16, 22-25
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
It’s not just scary stuff at Halloween, but there’s scary stuff all year round. Yet if we think nowadays is bad, I am pretty sure God’s seen worse, He has seen worse tragedies and strife, horror and human failings. I’m God-fearful to say He could even inflict harsh punishment if He chose to.
My friend made some photoshopped images as artwork – and gave as giveaways for a fundraiser. Couple video game character grim reaper types and illuminati-ish symbols were in some. They were “scary” if you allowed yourself to be scared, but fake. Really nice photoshop work, but not my cup of tea. I think however scary-like, God has seen worse. Actually I am certain God has seen worse. And future revelations show its just going to get worse too for masses of people who don’t know God and let Him lead.
From my friend’s artwork, I chose an image of lightning strikes, photoshopped to add extra strikes on a water scene. Real and not unnatural scary powerful stuff. Lightning is real in our interesting and intricate world. I thought, accepting that photo, if God can make things that are scary but God IS in control, then He MUST have infinitely more power than ANYTHING, over evil influences allowed to work in the world, over all. Our job is to believe God’s power not just of scary things, but that God’s power of love is MUCH stronger. God REALLY is in control and LOVE is MOST powerful. LOVE NEVER FAILS.
We must believe God’s power is supreme, surpassing all evil, already putting us on the winning side. In old testament histories, God gave real life prophets to help the people thru. We now have written prophecy and witness, we can be encouraged as well.
If stuck in a rut, let’s ask God to move the ground around us. Love never fails.
If stuck in a bad scene, let God change the plot. Love never fails.
If stuck in being enslaved, kept down, or simply fighting bad paperwork, red tape, weird scenarios, remember God’s Sovereignty. Love never fails.
God’s lifetime is infinite, our memories are not. When we get through hard times, we are allowed to forget the level of pain, that’s how we can walk forward into victory as well as new battles. When we are battling pain now, may we also remember that God will get us through this.
Bible stories and demonstrations of God’s power are written for us to learn from. God has got this, He always did.
God’s love will never fail.
PS… I just read quickly thru Ezra 4-6, WOW, opposition to rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. If you think we have opposition now, or sticky scenes in conference rooms or wherever, BE PATIENT… Let’s let God stick it out with us... read ahead and I will tell this story soon: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ezra%204-6&version=NIV
I know it is the “boys of summer” in this October World Series time, and tickets are now at a premium. But I was at that SAME ballpark in the summertime and it was EMPTY… except ALL the employees and some vendors and some of the faithful were there (like 2 raincoat clad people behind home plate that never gave up)… and then others like us were actually there as “foodies”… yum crabfries… (This was NOT the house that Ruth built, but certainly the whole place was built really nice for the fans… fair-weather fans and all…)
So now there is EXCITEMENT, now eyes are FOCUSED and hearts are strung higher. The fair-weather fans now wear raincoats for a change and actually show up for thousands of dollars, whereas they could have seen the SAME team for a fraction of the price before they were winning it all. One nosebleed seat in summertime cost equal to a serving of crabfries, REALLY it did.
The sports radio commentators recently were mentioning the last World Series win, almost 15 years ago, and laughed again at the statement someone made back then, when a diehard fan said after the win: “now I can die in peace”… FUNNY… of course my ears picked up instantly on the scripture reminder of Simeon who was told by the Lord God that he would see the Savior, the Salvation of the nation and the world. Simeon WAS in the temple that day as God beckoned him to go and Simeon held baby Jesus in his arms, brought by Mary and Joseph for dedication, circumcision and prayer. “I can now die in peace.”
The Temple, that Simeon sought was not just the building but the Body, the Temple was Jesus in his arms and was Jesus the stone Rock under his feet and was Jesus born a perfect lamb as the sacrifice required of God. So much praise and tears were realized in that building – as the chosen people were building in anticipation – embracing building up FOCUS on Salvation – of Kingdom restoration. THIS WAS WHAT THEY WERE WAITING FOR. The tears were tears of realization, God DID deliver. God showed him, specifically him prophet Simeon and prophetess Anna, the PROMISE, for the RESTORATION of the Kingdom. Simeon said: “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
In this physical temple, built and rebuilt, there was a history of crying and of sacrifice. Tears of joy and tears of sadness and tears of all emotions. This temple was built in the location where David made an altar sacrifice after he called for a census against God’s wishes and had to repent to stop a plague of an angel of death. Solomon built the actual temple, but we must see the pattern that the sacrifice came first, then the altar, then the foundation walls and roof. Worship first, woodwork after.
In the book of Ezra, that temple was described as being rebuilt after destruction. And the weeping of tears and shouts of joy were indistinguishable from each other and SO LOUD that all could hear. Those old souls saw restoration of HOPE. This rebuilding, re-laying of the foundation of the “second temple”, restored the first building by Solomon. The first temple was destroyed by Babylonians, sweeping Judah’s people of Jerusalem away to second exile (50-70 years). Cyrus of Persia defeated Babylon and allowed the exiled people to return, thousands trekked 4 months (see Ezra 2). The temple was rebuilt by the altar first, then the foundation poured underneath.
Praise then Prayers
We too must praise and worship first, our altar of sacrifice comes from acknowledging God’s Sovereignty and also His Goodness. First we must seek His Plan and not balk at its complexity or severity. David saw God’s Power, so can we. That existed first. We also must see God’s Sacrifice and realize it is so we can be with Him forever. Yes, He sacrificed FOR the benefit of us because He loves us.
Jesus as Alpha and Omega came to lay the bricks of Himself a Temple to be torn down and rebuilt. He is the Kingdom’s Prince of Peace, the Lamb Slain. May we all NOT be fair-weather fans of His flame, but blessed to stand (kneel) and cry weeping and restore SHOUTS OF JOY for our Temple HAS been rebuilt. WE HAVE SEEN THE SALVATION.
This IS the House that God Built.
There are no cheap seats but they all ARE paid for. He is good, for his mercy endureth forever! Jesus IS Alive.
We can now prepare for the Temple is coming again. Celebrate His Win, Praise His Name, then Worship and Work in sacrifice for more people need to come to Jesus still.He is still building His fan base, brick by brick. We are in the kingdom that God has built.
And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David king of Israel. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy: So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
The Prophecy of Simeon
At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
The Prophecy of Anna
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
Did you ever wonder why you might be going thru a hardship? an illness? a slowdown? a missed event? a less lined pocket of change? a time where God blocks a door or something? Maybe this is a “pass-over”, maybe you are supposed to stay inside – maybe you are supposed to find a new thing to do – maybe (DEFINITELY) you are to find God’s opportunity to PRAISE HIM first (praise first, complain later)…
Maybe you will never know in this lifetime.
Maybe you won’t know the reason – but as long as you know that you are still going to be OK, that’s OK. God’s got this… God has you on other duties, especially on prayer duties.
When king Josiah (old testament divided kingdom, many years after Moses) realized that they had not been honoring God the way God had prescribed according to the Law of Moses, he also realized they were not celebrating/remembering the Passover… The Passover in Moses’s time was tremendous and a fear-filled night, it was when death came to the first born in the households except for those in the Israelites (held captive as slaves by Pharoh). Israelites then were slaves after traveling to Egypt, during the time of Joseph, and were to be led out of captivity by Moses.Slaves who listened to Moses were knowledgeable to “the word of mouth” instruction to place lamb’s blood on the door frame. Instead of death inside of the first born, the death of a lamb as a sacrifice was placed as an outward sign. Truly this foretold of the sacrifice and death of first born, alpha and omega, Jesus as the lamb who became the replacement for all our sinful deaths. The outward sign on our individual frames so that God accepts us as His people who are saved.
Saved. Spared. Shared. The passover meal in the times of king Josiah was shared – the priests and gatekeepers and musicians had no time to cook – so the rest of the people did extra sacrifices for them. The priests – the gatekeepers – the musicians – were all working on God’s scheduled tasks. The community shared and the good fraction were spared.
What about us – are we spared? We are now that Jesus came for our sins – He IS and was and will be our own passover Lamb, His blood shown up on our death’s door. He will take up our pleas, He took them so we could pass into Heaven free. All it takes on our end is belief from you and me. It takes a plea: “I’m guilty Lord of my sins, PLEASE set me FREE.”
2 Chronicles 35:10-18 The service was arranged and the priests stood in their places with the Levites in their divisions as the king had ordered. The Passover lambs were slaughtered, and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them, while the Levites skinned the animals. They set aside the burnt offerings to give them to the subdivisions of the families of the people to offer to the Lord, as it is written in the Book of Moses. They did the same with the cattle. They roasted the Passover animals over the fire as prescribed, and boiled the holy offerings in pots, caldrons and pans and served them quickly to all the people. After this, they made preparations for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were sacrificing the burnt offerings and the fat portions until nightfall. So the Levites made preparations for themselves and for the Aaronic priests. The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, were in the places prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun the king’s seer. The gatekeepers at each gate did not need to leave their posts, because their fellow Levites made the preparations for them. So at that time the entire service of the Lord was carried out for the celebration of the Passover and the offering of burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had ordered. The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem.
“Ask Uncle Ezra” – was an advice column in online format at my university for years. The letters were reposted anonymously for people to both get information and advice. It obviously was a take-off from “Dear Abby”, but super focused on the college community. It was SO useful, especially for stressed college kids. Ezra founded the school in a time that was indicative of how the close knit community combined laborers and scholars. It still does. Ezra wanted a place where anyone could get an education on anything. These people thrive on the desire to educate and be educated.
Ezra in the Bible, from the old testament, ALSO participated in education, and was said to be author of the book of Chronicles as well as his own chapter “Ezra”… Ask “Chronicler Ezra” and he could tell you that the people were devoted because God made them that way. And having been reading methodically thru the old testament Chronicles, I can now see that in this chapter that we have entered a time where both regular ancient scholars and biblical scholars have info, and they are talking about great superpower rises and falls. This section of the Bible is about 500 years before Jesus came to earth. There are references for scholars and ruins for archeologists. They support God’s Word. There is real stuff we can touch and especially real Word we can understand. Jesus walked into a scene of people losing their way. Some found it in Him.
God, from Moses’s time was either ignored or praised – just like now – and this often depended upon the kings who led their people, urging them to give devotions of praise and sacrificial offerings. (Samuel the prophet warned that if people made kings rather than devote themselves to God, they would be treated badly. Yeah, they were). Unfortunately not enough people nor the kings of the divided kingdom “asked prophets” or listened to the prophecy, and got swept away to Babylon. They DID have the “reposts” records of the previous kings and prophets but did not head to what they heard. Then 400 years before Jesus, the prophets grew silent.
In Ezra’s writings, the remnants of King David’s line got taken away by the invading Babylon armies of King Nebuchadnezzar. When Cyrus, the Persian king, came to power, and conquered Babylon, the Lord placed it on his heart to help them return to Jerusalem. Not everyone did, but some went to re-set up the temple, Solomon’s temple. I am amazed that I will read more into these times again in the next chapters, I didn’t know the old testament were really testaments! Over and over we get the Word weaved into a deeper story, always about God’s Promises and provisions.
I was intrigued that the end of Chronicles 36 had the exact writing of the beginning of Ezra: ” In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the Lord their God be with them.’”
Why rebuild the temple? Because God placed His Name in it… Because the Light of the world was going to come from David’s descendants… Because God said so… (read back to Solomon’s time)
Ask “Chronicler Ezra” and he could tell you that the people who were devoted were: “everyone whose heart God had moved“... Can you imagine if WE ACTIVELY SEARCHED OUT GOD IN OUR HEARTS how much more advice we would get?!!! If we humbled ourselves in prayer and said “I don’t know Lord, I need help.” Or “Lord, open up the eyes of my heart to see Your Purpose over mine.”… Imagine…
As for HIGHER education, let us “Ask the Lord”… Let’s search Him where and when He can be found (and yes, His re-posts are all ONLINE too)
2nd Chronicles 7:12-20
And the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
And as for thee, if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, and do according to all that I have commanded thee, and shalt observe my statutes and my judgments; Then will I stablish the throne of thy kingdom, according as I have covenanted with David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man to be ruler in Israel. But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.
Cyrus Helps the Exiles to Return
In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:
“This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. And in any locality where survivors may now be living, the people are to provide them with silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with freewill offerings for the temple of God in Jerusalem.’”
Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites—everyone whose heart God had moved—prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings.
Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god. Cyrus king of Persia had them brought by Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah.
This was the inventory:
gold dishes 30
silver dishes 1,000
silver pans 29
gold bowls 30
matching silver bowls 410
other articles 1,000
In all, there were 5,400 articles of gold and of silver. Sheshbazzar brought all these along with the exiles when they came up from Babylon to Jerusalem.
Matthew 7:7-20, Jesus said:
Ask, Seek, Knock
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
True and False Prophets
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Went to take this photo of the last of the tomatoes from a garden… then I saw this great scripture reminder on my bracelet: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
I am thankful for the reminder to NOT be anxious about the winter coming or the loss of summer (just mowed the grass yesterday too)… Soon we will have pumpkin soups and sweet potato pie… move over summer, fall is about to fall into play…
My fresh tomatoes are minimal compared to my cans of tomatoes, from who knows when, which are actually at their expiration date. Funny how we FORGET to praise stockpiles of yesterday, all those supplies we put into place for ourselves, our rainy days, and that we even had the extra money then to plan ahead… and we (dare I say it) FORGET that the Lord provided them in the first place… Yes we (I) do often forget to retro-praise the Lord – we get so busy and keep going…
But I want to praise the Lord for more that just these tomatoes – canned and fresh. I want to praise Him for NEARLY EXPIRED canned goods, because I got them in the beginning of the pandemic when I didn’t know what would happen – well He did, and I NEVER needed them – but today am making chili just to use them up…
I want to praise the Lord for all folks who DID get thru a turbulent time and have the abundant supplies of canned goods, TP, and everything now. I praise Him for thousands of sticky situations He won for us.
I want to praise the Lord for the whole house that kept us safe and sane – in pandemics to snowstorms to thunderstorms to stinky skunks… I praise the heat and the A/C. I praise the bed and the rest.
I want to praise Him for a quiet house because there were times where there was not as much peace here as there is now.
I want to praise Him for a cat companion even if she is sleeping – she just gives extra spirit to the house.
I want to praise Him for the fridge that almost died 3 times but didn’t, the dryer that I fixed twice, the razor blade to scrape the stove clean, the rug to sweep under in an attempt to clean, and the broom itself.
I want to praise Him for the seed packets for next spring and for the poinsettias I just pulled from the garden – they were last years proof that they can survive year after year and so can we. And a praise for mums, which ease us into poinsettia season once again.
I want to praise the Lord for telling us to take it one day at a time and to give Him our worries – He already knows how to sort the seasons, surely He can sort our schedules and our sillyness too…
Can tomatoes or fresh, I want to praise the Lord for being a CAN-DO God. Praise God whom we CAN give thanks to… and CAN He tackle tomorrow’s problems? You CAN bet He CAN and will and already went ahead.
Soon we will will be in Thanksgiving season – that is a season we can have everyday… I thank you Lord for You!
And on that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.” Praise the LORD in song, for He has done glorious things; let this be known throughout the earth.
I’ve reached the end of 2nd Chronicles – and I have taken a moment to sit outside in the chilly October night air. It’s not just exile from summer’s warmth but reconnecting and reconciling myself to accepting these changing seasons. The crisp will soon become cold and there will be days of staying inside. But there will ALSO be brilliant sunshine and HOPE, as we are longing for springtime and summer once again. Meanwhile, the soil rests.
So now in this season, we reflect and lament the last of the warm days. We stargaze and see the stars twinkle. They twinkle because their light beams bounce around and get distorted by the earth’s atmosphere. It’s a bumpy ride, even for Light. Our bumpy ride of life still has the Light, therefore we hold onto HOPE.
At the end of 2nd Chronicles, we learn of an end of an era, the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah has crumbled enough to be swept into a time of Exile. All that work and riches, all those kings (good and bad), all that time restoring the temple and the people’s worship, including Josiah’s Passover feast. Then this good king Josiah was killed, and all the people mourned him. Prophet Jeremiah wrote laments for them all to sing their heart sorrows. Josiah’s son ruled only a few months on the throne, then was overthrown and the whole southern divided kingdom of Judah saw a progression of bad foreign kings and multiple overthrows. This was a bumpy ride for sure, washing away everything as their lives had known, they were thrown into exile, God gave them another chance but they refused to listen and they became servants in exile.
Did the exiled remnant of the peoples of the divided kingdom of Judah have any hope? I hope so… God pre-told their destiny as the prophet Jeremiah spoke of it. God also told them (from the time of David) that He would raise up THE HOPE from their remnants. And their land went to rest, the many years was their winter of life. The people surely longed for their old way of life. The ride was bumpy, I hope they held onto hope.
I also have been thinking of the many people in our war-torn areas presently, where does their hope lie? They too have laments, and the light is seen so tumbled in their atmosphere of strife… Their lands have been torn apart and people displaced. They are in need of prayers as there is no quick fix and return to their homeland. These are times of lament, an atmosphere of lament, but pray they hold onto hope.
The Light of Hope is the coming of the Lord, and the shining of His Spirit throughout their and our lives. One person recently asked a few of us how we suffer – when Jesus gives such hope – and we lives such blessed lives. So I do believe these are the people from whom we are to learn what suffering means – and to see what joy they can muster in the midst of tragedy . These are the people who are lamenting and we should mourn with them as well as give them hope. For them we keep reminding ourselves and others that there is Light in the darkness, brighter than the stars that twinkle, the Hope of Jesus remains bright.
Let us keep praying for all to see the Light. Until Jesus comes again – there will be bumpy rides. When His Light lights the night, we will have no doubt that He Lives.
2nd Chronicles 34:20-27
After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”
Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.
Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him.
Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.
The other events of Josiah’s reign and his acts of devotion in accordance with what is written in the Law of the Lord— all the events, from beginning to end, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
2 Chronicles 36:1-21
And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in Jerusalem in place of his father.
Jehoahaz King of Judah
Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. The king of Egypt dethroned him in Jerusalem and imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. The king of Egypt made Eliakim, a brother of Jehoahaz, king over Judah and Jerusalem and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But Necho took Eliakim’s brother Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt.
Jehoiakim King of Judah
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God. Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked him and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also took to Babylon articles from the temple of the Lord and put them in his temple there.
The other events of Jehoiakim’s reign, the detestable things he did and all that was found against him, are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son succeeded him as king.
Jehoiachin King of Judah
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. In the spring, King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon, together with articles of value from the temple of the Lord, and he made Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, king over Judah and Jerusalem.
Zedekiah King of Judah
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
The Fall of Jerusalem
The Lord, the God of their ancestors, sent word to them through his messengers again and again, because he had pity on his people and on his dwelling place. But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy. He brought up against them the king of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and did not spare young men or young women, the elderly or the infirm. God gave them all into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the Lord’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.
He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.
We rush the seasons, there’s Halloween candy in August, Christmas merchandise in October, and deep discounts to get rid of all of “it” from stores before we have even opened half the gifts we paid full price for (and probably don’t need anyway).
We need Jesus SHINE over a new bottle of wine.
There’s a good chance that we ALSO often rush in saying: “Merry Christmas” both without thinking fully WHY we are wishing it, and rushing our PRONUNCIATION so much that we say “Merry Chrissssmas”. We skip the T. Well, we don’t need to include the “t” from a pronunciation perspective just because, but because it is a lowercase letter “t” REPRESENTS the symbol of the CROSS. Say the t in Chris”t”mas. Christ-mas, a celebration of Christ.
With Jesus entering the world, He knew and predicting prophets fortold that there was one important Way to accomplish God’s Will: death on the cross, a Savior rising after being slaughtered as an innocent lamb.