I went to a National Cemetery for Wreaths across America. Here, 18,000 Wreaths were laid on God’s field of stone markers and healing blessings were laid upon thousands of souls walking, taking photos, reminiscing. The Cemetery was filled with children, boy scouts. ROTC guard, soldiers, congressmen, people. There were soft pretzels and people laughing. There were immense tears and comfort-filled hugging. And the smell of the wreaths was as good as any Christmas tree farm. All were honored.
Much was there to touch my heart, and lots of land to get a good walk in. Old sneakers for mud in the rain, I imagined that the soldiers faced many non-ideal weather days like this…
Walking back to the maintenance entrance where I left my car, I was taken by the sight of new stones ready for placing in section 29, the wreaths on the bare ground. These stones in the shop were mostly October death dates. Truly I saw the beauty and solemnity of a driveway stone laid upon a new headstone not yet in the ground, this rock was surely placed by a loved one. See it’s not where we are laid that the Spirit rests, but the memory that lives on – as well as the Rock of ages who takes up our walk home. The marker can be placed, but the race already won. Our pause remembers sacrifice… when better than at Christmas to remember sacrifice and a walk thru this world to a better one…
This was my poem:
18,000 Wreaths is a sight to see.
Freedom is a gift for you and me.
Sacrifice is a commitment paid militarily.
Hopeful understanding is America’s plea.One country under God, my country ‘Tis of Thee.
The readings in the second half of the book of Joshua are intense name lists of the people, the towns, and the land given to the Israelites from the Lord. The land was conquered by the Lord and now set aside for resettlement by these chosen children.
Children sometimes squabble, and these children of God are no exception. There was a misunderstanding about an altar, the one set of tribes built it and the other set thought it was for purposes not honoring God. How often do we get our noses bent out of place for things we think go against us? How often instead should we want to fight against things that go against God? We struggle everyday to put our own hearts right, how will we take up God’s fight too? Well, we DON’T actually take up God’s fight, we take up GOD’S CAUSE.
Not only did the people want to serve God, the fear was that the whole community would be punished from the disobedience of a few, that’s how historically things came to pass (seems that way today too), and the communities self-policed their people. The Lord instructed thru Joshua that they won’t continue to prevail if they disobey Him and His commands. It’s like a spot that cracks paint and jeopardizes the whole structure because rain and pests can enter and take down the whole house or community. It is that way with us too. We can let our guard down and slip and the small issue becomes big. This is true with everything from temptations to anxious thoughts. This is true when we let our guards down.
One of the most famous Bible quotes is in these chapters: “CHOOSE TODAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE!” Joshua challenged the Israelites, God challenges us, whom will we serve? Will we stop paying attention to distractions and disruptive forces in our lives or worship God? Will we choose today to move forward and not let the little burdens get big? If we serve God, we try to drop our distractions and our burdens. We then stop fighting God’s plan and walk with God to live abundantly.
If we live just for ourselves, we will struggle to even scrape by. If we live for God’s Cause, for which He has already won, we will live an abundant life. Choose today whom you will serve. Please choose to serve Him. Take His Cause.
the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
“Far be it from us to rebel against the Lord and turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offerings, grain offerings and sacrifices, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle.”
“But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”
“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. 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.
Joshua 11:23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.
I was just catching the headlines – more tornados – over 50 dead in one state alone – devastation and wow… so sad… That is one of those questions I (we) have for the Lord: why?
There is no answer that will come in a lifetime of wondering – just a wonder of when that type of devastation won’t happen anymore – and yet I know there will be a time when it will get worse, a time when that type of devastation will be rampant across the globe, even more than now… If you read prophetic scriptures, and many do, you will see that things will get worse before they get better.
What did their spokesman for the state police just now say on TV? When asked how he deals with it, after he and his family emerged from their own hunkering down during the storms, he said: “[We just get to work. You get the call and you just start into your work, to spring into action]”.
Reading Joshua this morning – he spells out a recap of the wars that the God wanted the Israelites to wage. Remember, these wars were ALWAYS for He Lord God Almighty to win. His Ways are above our ways. I have to say this duplicate phrase really stood out: “Then the land had rest from war.” Joshua took his marching orders from God’s power completing Moses’s path. It was not just one battle but so many… There were many kingdoms defeated and in one section 31 kings are listed as defeated – and that includes all the armies too. I am not surprise that it was surely different each time in how God waged the war and in how He won it. He’s God – why wouldn’t He personalize the plan.
That must be true of us too – why wouldn’t it be God winning the wars we are fighting – and why wouldn’t God have a personalized attack strategy for each of our problems. And why wouldn’t God have a Plan that we are just to accept and start on. The constant here is: “[we just get to work. You get the call and you just start into your work, to spring into action.]” YES –
Like Caleb as an example of a loyal servant in Moses’s and Joshua’s time, God will reward us for our commitment to HIM and to LOVE HIM WHOLEHEARTEDLY and to LOVE HIS PEOPLE.
I believe we will truly see a time when the land [has] rest from war. BUT NOT YET… We still have a battle today… We must keep fighting by listening and follow God’s Ways above ours – if we are in a moment of rest, then we must absorb that rest for our next steps when we are called into battle again.
I know it is Advent, Christmas-time HOPE LOVE PEACE JOY, and we must think of Whom sprung into action, a battle of His Own to be known and make Our Father be known. Jesus is the ultimate action and result of Love. and yes, as end times on earth prophesies state: Jesus will come again – that is when we will see a phase of “the land will have rest from war.” – then a phase of God’s ultimate victorious war – and after that? a WHOLE NEW BEGINNING…
Keep marching into God’s Rest. Follow His Lead.
Joshua 11:23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.
these were kings defeated:
the king of Jericho one
the king of Ai (near Bethel) one
the king of Jerusalem one
the king of Hebron one
the king of Jarmuth one
the king of Lachish one
the king of Eglon one
the king of Gezer one
the king of Debir one
the king of Geder one
the king of Hormah one
the king of Arad one
the king of Libnah one
the king of Adullam one
the king of Makkedah one
the king of Bethel one
the king of Tappuah one
the king of Hepher one
the king of Aphek one
the king of Lasharon one
the king of Madon one
the king of Hazor one
the king of Shimron Meron one
the king of Akshaph one
the king of Taanach one
the king of Megiddo one
the king of Kedesh one
the king of Jokneam in Carmel one
the king of Dor (in Naphoth Dor) one
the king of Goyim in Gilgal one
the king of Tirzah one
Allotment for Caleb
Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’
“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)
The battle is the Lord’s… don’t even look at your Goliath.
(in this bible study, the preacher also speaks about marching around Jericho, the duplicate scriptures of the week!!!)
1 Samuel 17:40, 45-50
Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
Re-sharing A turning point in my faith, captured by my writing early on in awakening – I went into describing what was happening to me as a teaching tool for others… I guess I am still doing that…
Be open this Christmas to knowing and teaching the true deep down meaning of Christmas…
A Poinsettia Prayer, 23DEC2014
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.
I would ask each of you to look for people this Christmas who are questioning – look for the encouragement you can be by simply showing love at Christmas… Hope for an epiphany that lasts – for the wisdom of the wise – for the wisdom to take the baby home.
I was a questioning soul 7 years ago, wondering on a star, wondering to take Jesus home with me because I knew I was not quite right… I did not know that I needed Him IN my heart – I always had him OUTSIDE in his stable… I had no idea – I do now…
Be open. Be open to the Lord if you also are questioning. Please know that the Lord IS strengthening your faith by moving the Holy Spirit – not by people knowing where you are – but by ONLY HIM knowing the right stars to shine in your eyes…
This writing was halfway thru my awakening month – oh how deep the Spirit dips to get each of us… He met me where I was – you can see and I can see my hesitation of heart and mind – my Lord knew to keep pulling and keep lighting the way – He knew I had to know that I CHOSE Him – not an offhanded yes I believe – but I had to know that I knew… one month later I KNEW – I would never be the same. I was His and He is mine…
Yes God says we are worth His time… give Him your pondering time this Christmas and always…
An Epiphany, 2015
[editing note] I can see that this writing was strong mental processing when I jotted down ideas then had to write them out. I had written over the course of nearly one month and this was #17 – wow. I never asked to write these – but felt compelled – a new way of therapy for me and my questions.. 16 items written – I printed, folded them and dated them and have them in a now special box – I don’t know what to do with them – but I know what they have done for me – so I am grateful… and I am gladly out of this vacuum – I only shared with a few to start thinking someday maybe I will find the right audience – one piece and one person a time.
An Epiphany, 05JAN
It’s epiphany, the three wise men are coming. It’s AN epiphany and THE epiphany. The three kings – the scholars – the astronomers – they see the star – not just any star – but THE star. History would say it might be a comet, but regardless it was something in the sky that they knew was new, it was different, it was a sign… The wisemen found a star to a new king – finding that king that has been a personal epiphany for many. But by the time the kings arrived, this baby was perhaps three years old (that’s the trouble with history, we try to force our Hallmark-guided, rigid, mathematical calendars to describe a tremendous amount of unwritten history – that which was passed by word of mouth. We have to remember that if it wasn’t written down then who are we to say what exactly happened and what time it happened…).
I long to be one of the Kings, well not exactly a king – and not exactly a queen – but I certainly would like to be a wiseman – a wise woman that is (sometimes I’m even a wiseguy). I try to be very learnered, I try to seek the truth, to understand the science, to get it, to establish why and how. I try to bring the universe into my sphere of understanding.
After bestowing their gifts, the wisemen left the child to return home. An angel came to them, gave advice to return by another route to their homeland, skip King Herod – don’t tell him where the child was – spare the child’s life. Wise as they were, they probably never saw an angel before… but this angel must have been beyond disbelief. unexplainable by science, divine intervention, the Word of God. Luckily the wise men were wise enough to listen…and traveled home in a new direction.
I wonder… Perhaps I am not wise but just full of factual info – without the wisdom to apply it. Have I seen the star? maybe… but have I actually followed it? Am I still looking? Perhaps…
Perhaps I have seen the star and perhaps I have followed it.
Perhaps I am just not sure of the way home yet.
Perhaps I am not sure of the direction to take.
Perhaps I am still depending on my learnered state without applying the wisdom and perhaps I want the easy way out and am waiting for an angel to make it clear for me – to show me the way.
Perhaps I am waiting for an epiphany – a “EUREKA” moment – perhaps I will not get that moment…
Perhaps I am waiting for an angel rather than simply taking in the spirit of Christmas here and now – I know I should not wait for this baby epiphany – but I should take heed of the child before the baby is grown.
Christmas is like an “open enrollment” for Christians – get in while there is a 12 day open window – get in to Christianity while it is easy to love and seek a baby – and there is a big ole star shining your way, you can’t miss it… Perhaps it is not a problem for many Christians to get “into” Christmas – but perhaps it is harder for them to find their way home afterwards – they are waiting for that angel to tell them their path – when really they need to chart it for themselves.
As much as I want it to happen, it is not going to be an angel who is going to tell me how to act – where to go – or to tell me who to share my new found beliefs with – and who NOT to share them with… just as the wise man had to avoid telling King Herod, who would have done the baby harm, I have to pick and choose who is open to my tale of my spiritual Christmas gift – I have to discern what are the Holy Spirit’s words and what are just leftover words from this Christmas’ flood of emotions…
Yes I/we must discern how we share our faith, those blessings of God’s effects on our lives. We must find the right audience, must find the people who will believe us, who can consider us “genuine” . We need to find the people who don’t think we’re spouting blasphemy – we need to find the people whom we already have a personal relationship with – and to whom we can connect. When we are bold enough to speak, we pray the Holy Spirit will gives us the right words for the right audience at the right time.
So – it’s epiphany – its baby Jesus revelation to the world – hoping Christians will stop by, and be wise enough to find their way home with grown up Jesus in their hearts and in their minds. I hope for an epiphany that lasts – for the wisdom of the wise – for the wisdom to take the baby home.
Merry Christmas! What a wonderful entrance of Jesus to Earth, leading to Him giving us entrance to Heaven.
I was taken by the wording on this present from my Mom, a plaque showing festive holly and holly berries and mentioning them as symbols for Jesus on the cross. The wording says “tis the season” … “for giving” which I read immediately as one word not just two, I read “for giving” as “forgiving”… oh… cool…
For giving is true, this is the season for giving gifts, so much holiday cheer, and LOVE! AND how amazing not just in word play that the action of forgiving IS giving the GIFT we have received at Christmas from God. Forgiving IS giving mercy, grace, and love from God passing through us. Jesus gave us forgiveness – He gave us forgiving not just for us but for us for giving to others, He did. He does. He wants us to pass it on. Who are we to keep this gift only for ourselves? We can’t – we must forgive if we are to be forgiven. God said so.
The Holly berries plaque came with a saying: “An old legend says that holly grew under the footsteps of Jesus Christ and the thorny leaves and red berries symbolize His suffering on the cross.”
Although we don’t know the truth of this legend of what grew under His feet, we DO know IN TRUTH that with every footstep Jesus took, He took us one step closer to Heaven.
Forgiveness from sin IS a gift this season and forever. A Season Forgiving. Forgiving for Giving. Let us accept this forgiveness and extend forgiveness to others. It is truly a gift this Christmas and always, to walk in Jesus’s footsteps, to be more like Him.
Immanuel, God IS with us.
Here is a google-giving garden of forgiving grace-filled verses:
Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more …”
Isaiah 1: 18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'”
Micah 7:18-19 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Jeremiah 31: 34 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Luke 5: 20 “When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’”
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Matthew 18: 21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”
Matthew 6: 14-15 “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
My neighbor said, you FINALLY decorated one of your cars! She was serious, for people don’t think I’m strange for decorating cars, they wonder what took me so long! This car got the weather-tolerant treatment of wrapping paper and ribbon, plastic ornaments, candy cane and even a bough of floral festive beauty… However this car is not mine, I am storing it, it is to be moved whenever red tape (bright Christmas red) resolves and allows…
Meanwhile, that car has become VERY purposeful as a spare decoy situated in my extra parking spot all year. I was thankful for “the visual” that it looked like someone was home, the house not empty. Instead of “nobody’s home”, somebody was and IS home. In all this, I knew the TRUTH that this car’s driver, like many of our loved ones, had passed away and GONE HOME. Whether a short or long time that our loved ones have gone home, we miss them. We can remember, especially at Christmas that even though they are NOT earthly home, they are ALREADY HOME, Eternally Home. HEAVEN holds them dear.
This car belonged to a cherished son of a friend of a friend who tragically passed. My friend (and I) hope for her friends that these photos of the car perhaps bring a smile, knowledge that one of the last objects their loved one touched is cared for. This is a good time, Christmas time, to remember that the last human tangible and touchable thing our loved ones actually DID touch is none other than the Hand of Jesus.
For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.
We remember at Christmas that our Savior Jesus came to earth, came to us DIRECTLY for the business of SAVING US. As the Son of man, fully God and fully human, Jesus IS God with us, Immanuel. He IS the Shepherd who looks for each of us wandering sheep. Surely, He looks for each and every lost soul until they are found. He OPENS the eyes of our hearts so that each knows the Spiritual Sound of his Master’s voice.
Jesus is fully God and takes full control and command over our destiny. Jesus became fully human. May we all allow JESUS to TAKE THE WHEEL. He cut all the red tape of sin and death with the red blood of His sacrifice. We ARE now white as snow, forgiven in Him.
For all our loved ones whom we miss tearfully this Christmas, let us add a prayer for all to know this deeper meaning of Christmas. We are to blessedly know and enthusiastically share that THRU JESUS, God’s PURPOSE has been and is ongoingly FULFILLED. We are held by Heaven’s Hope.
With HIS guiding STAR that still SHINES in our hearts, we remember all who are already WITH Jesus.
WITH and IN CHRIST. They are Already Home for CHRISTmas.
God Bless you all this Christmas.
[Please pray for this particular family for closure in dealing with the tangible leftovers, for their paperwork and their PEACE. Please pray them PEACE in knowing Jesus has their son in HIS loving arms. Thank you.]
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14
Jesus 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. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30
In addition to this new slogan I wrote in 2015, “Give Christ at Christmas”, I now have yet another good slogan: “Give Christ a Home in your Heart this Christmas“… heed in your head and home in your heart… We are to mend the fences of anger in our hearts and be open to being open… Open forgiveness is always in open enrollment.
It is not just that we give Christ a home in our hearts but we also give Him a Home Base – like a Basecamp – to venture HIM out to share with others… To allow Him to guide us out into the new adventures of life.
Give Him a Home- a Home Base – a Home in your Heart – He will bring the warmth and light…
Just got back from the dollar store and unlike every other store this clerk actually said “Merry Christmas”…WOW… now I don’t want to get her in trouble, because you know how politically correct these stores are trying to be – they don’t want to say MERRY CHRISTMAS, even though they ARE pushing red and green Christmas merchandise out the wazoo… But even if the clerks are not supposed to say it, I know plenty of non-Christians who are NOT offended by someone wishing them the BEST of whichever holiday they celebrate… And saying happy holidays is perfectly fine to say as well, in my opinion, because that does not offend me.
So yes, it’s nice to hear Merry Christmas, and this year I REALLY mean it! and to hear Christmas music in the stores is awesome, nobody faults you for singing along (except your own kids who are embarrassed to be with you regardless if you’re singing or not..)… Christmas music for Christians is a good excuse to celebrate faith without people thinking you’re overly weird or pushy…
You see a lot of signs these days to combat the politically correct push of the holiday season… the signs say “Keep Christ in Christmas”… I don’t know, it kind of sounds a little threatening… a little “bad cop-ish”… Like “Keep Christ in Christmas OR ELSE!”… I know it is for good intentions but remember I’m not the “bad cop”, I’m the “good cop”… so I think I would prefer a sign that instead said: “Give Christ for Christmas” … Yeah, that’s the sentiment I like!
When we GIVE Christ, it means we are giving to others the BEST of us… it means we are not keeping Christ for ourselves for our own salvation but we want to share HIM to help God’s action plan… because God wants to be with ALL of us.
So that sign you could leave up all year round because we should give Christ not JUST at Christmas, but every day. We give Christ by being Christ-like… there’s another sign floating around the internet that says “people can tell your faith not by your religion, but by your actions…” yup, that’s true because the best Christ-like behavior is to LOVE…
I bet You, Christ, would have walked around with Your OWN T-shirt that said “Smile, I LOVE you”… We should too… That’s the sign of the times, time to show our inner Jesus, it’s time to give the LOVE…
A classic from my first writings that I put into my Hallmark card category – seemingly light and it was of LIGHT but not “light” of a flippant nature – my brain was really searching for whether I believed in Jesus – for me. I know exactly how I was questioning and the last sentence here is crucial… I know that within one month time, I tearfully said YES to Jesus. I pray we are seed planters of LIGHT. God will grow our faith at the right time.
God lights a Christmas Bug Light for us! Come Home bugs!
God bugs us until we listen and learn – be bugged – be HIS.
Christmas Bug, 31Dec2014
I caught a bug this Christmas But NOT the viral kind I caught a bug this Christmas Of a LIGHT that always shines.
I assembled a manger scene, one in my mind, Filled with friends that fit the bill, of every shape and kind.
Here is my Joseph, adoptive loving Dad who took pause, raised a very fine lad.
Here is my Mary, labored a King. but she will lose Him come 33 spring.
Angels came excitedly from all around, flutteringly exclaiming: “Go to the baby, He must be found”
Shepherds watched by night And all day…they saw the LIGHT.
Kings, scholars all brought him gifts Broken families healed their rifts.
Here came a woman sick with fear A comfort healing we pray is near.
In my own manger, my friends are near So many I hold so very dear.
Praying for such pain relief Praying for superhero eternal peace.
That first manger scene now moves on Discipled masses soon caught on.
Temple scholars would find pause, a young Savior tests His cause.
The fish, the loaves, water into wine. fishing for men time after time.
Healing, teaching, demons quiver, Sinners schooled – they’ve found favor.
So later came the mobs, the mobs who tore him down, Tried to rob him of his holy crown.
“Crucify him” they all would cry Scoff at him, beat him And watch him die.
Dark clouds overhead A worldly dread.
How could they know His death a GIFT. A rainbow PROMISE fulfilled, An Easter people thrilled.
That God gave his only Son, so our sins would be undone.
Some praise Him, some shun Him, some cast him out some witnesses still have doubt.
Disappearing sickness and strife, heaven-bound hearts set free… But still we doubt, we cannot see.
It’s an understatement to say the Lord was batting 1000 and rolling all strikes in my brain readjusting it to an awakened state 7 years ago. There was lots of dust to blow off my spiritual eyes.
This is my favorite Christmas paper theme forever now, I have small swatches still in special locations. Yes, doves mean so much in the scriptures: peace doves, doves from Noah’s hope of finding land, doves offered as sacrifice to the Lord for the poorest people, and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove upon Jesus. White doves of peace mean much to us, as we want peace.
I’ve been rereading my old writing at Christmas in 2014, this is a couple days after my pre-awakening-faith-questioning-diatribe. This is so early it predates any blog or sharing, but an email to myself in capturing the moment.
I still feel the gasp. God is always there, we open up our spiritual eyes to see. I was in a heart head struggle and God was winning. He never gives up on us. The force IS not just strong, He IS the force of God…
Thanks for reminiscing with me.
22DEC2014 God Sighting
Today, with the thought of the Michael Card song “Come to the Cradle, come and find peace” in my head – I walked past my door decoration at work for maybe the five hundredth time (I wrap my door every year…the only decoration I had time to put up this year) …and I put it up a month ago, thinking it was festive without being too religious in a secular work setting… I saw it new.
Well it hit me just then that it was a PEACE DOVE as in the Prince of Peace Jesus… I verbally gasped…geez…really God? my inner Darth Vader said “the force is strong with this one”
No doubt I got messed up in my tracks going to a church on Sunday – but the Lord made it worth my while anyway, taking the 40 minute drive south. Totally that I confused reading about the guest musician being there last week, and I thought he was supposed to be there this week too, oops… It’s ok, I have already seen him and I take my missteps in stride, I am super human in a wilderness of worldliness. He reminded me of my needed reliance upon Him to make my time anywhere worthy of any work. He did. I was back on track and still was home by 11am.
It’s not the mega fancy-ness, or the hotel-like drive up entrance of the megachurch, it was the TRAIN TRACKS that told me I was in the right place, walking in the door. I have family history and a love of real trains. These were spectacularly set up toy trains, a HUGE popular display. I appreciated the opportunity to SEE. I appreciated the sign displayed: “Life takes you to unexpected places, Love brings you Home.” Yes, I was unexpectedly looking at trains in a huge mega church and thought: I wonder what excitement of Christmas will be brought out of these people who seemed lively? and yet I felt a bit alone in people folk, that happens in a mega church which has that mall-like feeling where no one knows your name, I wonder where/how they connect, rather than train cars passing by in the night. It becomes dependent on the people, like who is sitting on a passenger train, willing to open up and greet the other people, to hear their stories.
I settled up front, the band started and a woman in front of me danced to the music, which was great, but not the guest appearance I expected, oops. The parents next to me took photos of their cute children singing in the choir, the stage was set so beautiful with fake fireplace that it both looked great and looked WAY OVER THE TOP at the same time, it was a great facility and I knew it is IMPORTANT to not feel jealous of the resources as jealousy is against God’s law and yet IMPOSSIBLE to avoid. So we should not give any energy to cynical thought, but we do. It became my cynical humanness creeping up over my Spirit willingness to just BE. Lord help me. It was my COMPLAINING that I knew needed CONTAINING. People are in God’s House, let me be generous with praise.
And so I prayed: “Lord, why am I REALLY here?What’s going to catch me into any sort of in-filling of spirit today? In NJ, they pump your gas for you. How in Jersey will the Holy Spirit pump Itself into my soul? Then what trajectory will you set me on to “go tell it on the mountain” like these cute children sang, Jesus Christ Is Born. Yes He is. I knew that I could dig into the scriptures and so grabbed my purse Bible, as I settled down into knowing God was the Only One Who could get me back mentally on a gratitude track with His Word,YES! And of course as soon as I saw the bulletin blurb of Luke, “John the Baptist”, it was not a surprise as a Spirit splash of a triplicate quadruplicate passage of my month. Luke’s gospel of the visit of pregnant Mary to cousin pregnant Elizabeth, John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb LEPT in Joy in meeting Jesus in Mary’s womb. In HOLY SPIRIT pre-swaddle, it was a Jump for Joy.
Go tell it on the mountain: So, it’s not just about our filling, but what then about us feeding? About going over the hills and everywhere? Yes we are to be Jumping with Joy tellers of the Good News, like John the Baptist preached “Repent” we can preach “He is Sent!” And so I appreciated the meat of the sermon very much, because it was about the HOLY SPIRIT.
After the sermon I went back to the tracks. The big kid in front of me at the tracks was how the Holy Spirit hooked me. In a gleeful moment, a gentleman said “HEY” louder than 1000 mega church millings around types whom passed me by and I passed them by like we were in the mall. This gentleman MUST have been working for God! I heard a Holy Spirit leap, I did. I felt open in our chit chat for explaining my love of trains and that my Dad had passed away just this summer and wouldn’t you know it that driving that day I was held up getting to his bedside by a TRAIN. As I spoke this story, the gentleman’s wife came and we all talked not just about my Dad’s passing but her Dad’s too. We had similar stories, we both had to make a choice of where to be when our Dads were perilously close to death. I know God lines up these healing moments. You could say it was eerie similar except I KNEW that the Holy Spirit was SOLIDLY IN CONTROL at this meeting. We were in His Wheelhouse, our time stopped, and people faded in the background during our snow globe conversation. Holy Spirit, I WASAPPRECIATIVE. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” YUP!
We talked for 10 minutes easily, I shared about my writings, specifically speaking of amazing processing. We both knew at our Dad’s passing that immediately we were to be comforters to our moms and we accepted death instantly as the Spirit met us where we were, healed us, and headed us back out of us to comfort. In train track lingo, it was the quickest ROUNDHOUSE turn.
The warning key chain I grabbed told us to be weary of walking on real train tracks – be safe! But when you are talking about God tracks, STAY ON TRACK. But we are not walking alone are we? No, if we ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us, He WILL put us on track in HIS CAR. If we drop our worldliness and focus on meeting God to talk, he will find the wilderness of aloneness so we can hear Him better. You know when you hear that long-ways-away train whistle but think it’s close? That’s how the Holy Spirit operates. He wants us to hear Him coming around that mountain. He wants us to see the signal lights and the STEAM. He wants us to realize we can hop on His Train – to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
See Holy Spirit tracks? Think JESUS, because ALL His tracks lead Home.
Life takes you unexpected places, LOVE brings you Home.
(PS, later I visited a friend for tea and just now realized that as she works on trains, how classic of God to keep me on track.)
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
The Birth of John the Baptist.
When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.
I was cleaning out my gutters yesterday, putting up my Christmas lights. Although I clean the corners, once a year LOL, I never clean up the middle. M. U. D. Mud fully composted and mixed with roof silt. At least I had one glove on. So, I slung mud down with one hand and held lights up with the other. I do want to reconfigure all this eventually and hook up a rain barrel, take advantage of the free water, but that is a job for FUTURE. Right now, it is simply good enough to have them good enough.
When I finished with my lights, I got dinner and settled in for the night. I was happy and my neighbor was thrilled as she says it makes the biggest difference from her view across the street.
When the immense rain (and crashing temperatures) came a few hours later, wow I was glad I got all that done, that I took the warm opportunity (65 degrees) to both finish fall work (I raked 5 cans of wet leaves and mowed over the rest!) AND to get Christmas prep going.
Christmas Flood. God did the same to me and He comes back to check on His Work. He gets the job done in season. He prepares us for Christmas, for Him, if we take advantage of His season for us. Every year we get a gentle baby reminder, a softening of hearts in the Spirit of giving – He wants to prepare all of us for Christmas. He wants to clean out our gutters, but that is NOT required before He flooding-ly comes into our individual hearts. He wants to arrive and grow. We nurture Him as we gain His wisdom, we see He wants to rake up and stow away old stuff too as He surely wants to make us fresh. It’s not the new paint job He intends, but internal repair. He works to press open the fresh air space to allow His Holy Spirit refill. He then wants to sit on the couch with you and talk about FUTURE repairs set aside for when the weather improves. Jesus wants to hang up the lights of Christmas IN us – yes the neighbors will likely notice that change, that glow, but first will we? I hope so. Let us pray for less blown fuses. Let us look deep from the inside of our temple, knowing that God turned on our Christmas LIGHT Jesus Himself. Immanuel, God with us.
This writing below is a reshare of my Christmas Flood pivotal piece (writing # 2) to process what I didn’t know was coming to me in 2014 – a monumental earth-shattering life change in an awakening – and it came… like a FLOOD. a Christmas Flood that took me another month to fully slog thru my mud.
If you are feeling like the mud is clogging your faith this Christmas, even a little, I encourage you to call upon our Lord to make a house call. Actually He’s already here surveying the scene. (He already paid in full, your bill will never show up, only His blood will). He has all the ladders needed. So set up your rain barrels and catch His flow.
Merry Christmas – Let the Lord’s Light Shine.
Christmas Flood, 17DEC2014
Christmas is like a flood of spiritual emotion, not a light or sustained soaking rain that allows the parched ground to slowly open up and absorb the much needed rain. Christmas is like that short downpour deluge of flooding rain, where only some water gets to the plants and the rest runs off into the gutters or low points. Like in modern construction, we (our spiritual souls) need to set aside flood plains, safe drainage areas so that the spiritual seeds that we have planted all year long aren’t washed away … that the parched spiritual soul is not choked by flood waters. So we can nurture, patiently, our delicate growing belief that God works in our lives every day.
We need sustaining rainfall. We pray for rain, yet do we prepare for it? In the movie “Facing the Giants”, the coach of a “bad news bears”-like football team is finding the need for an emotional awakening (as well as improved football skills) both for his team and himself. A colleague relates to him the story of the two farmers in a drought…two farmers looked to God for rain, but only one prepared for it, so which fields receive the much needed rain? The gist of the quote from the movie is:
“I heard a story about two farmers who desperately needed rain. And both of them prayed for rain, but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. Which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?” Well, the one prepared his fields for it. Which one are you? Mr. Bridges (the older advisor) continued. “God will send the rain when He’s ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”
“Which one are you? God will send the rain when He is ready. You need to prepare your field to receive it.”
Christmas finds us year after year flooded with buckets of wasted non-nourishing rain, excessive tinsel-covered giant hailstones and mud mud mud clogging and blocking our spiritual path…. If only we set up rain collection barrels to collect the deluge of Christmas excess rain to save some for watering our souls after the new year, to use all winter until we get to the next soaking rains of Easter, the greens of spring, the rebirth thru resurrection.
How can we prepare for rain? How can we dig trenches for excess while welcoming the much needed spiritual lift that comes with a baby in a manger. How can we? Pray. Pray for guidance. Pray for peace and clarity in your heart. Pray for the calming presence of God. And prepare. Prepare for the arrival for both spiritual and non-spiritual abundance. While you need to appreciate and delineate between the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season and that of the showy, wing-flapping commotion caused by angels dragging your soul to the cradle…while you need to appreciate and delineate between your heart bursting with Christmas joy (think Dr Seuss’ Grinch’s heart growing “three sizes that day”) and your head saying ‘slowdown, wait, don’t get swept away with emotion’ ….
Either way, you need to prepare your fields for rain.
Honestly, it’s bizarre to read old testament stories of the wars and fighting by the Israelites, of the killings and of the punishments sent by the Lord. Bizarre…
What’s not surprising is that the Lord is in charge. And yet what’s clear then (and now) is that the Lord and His Power are still questioned by our generation to be real, and to be Almighty. Can we see His Almightiness? Can we believe that the God who gives us life will also help us live it? I believe that we have no way to know how everything the Lord does fits into our lives. How would we know, we don’t have the Lord’s Vision – we cannot fathom it all because He is that VAST and ALMIGHTY. (but He still wants us to grasp the edges of understanding and grab the heart and the hope that He has. We are to see His Purpose over ours.
We can see the Sun shine but not how it moves. We see the world break, but not understand how it was formed. Even the Sun is full of fire and the earth full of mud, yet they are used in glorious ways, and fit for the Lord’s purpose. Why wouldn’t enemies be treatable in the same manner? Fit for a purpose. They sharpen our dependence upon God to win our battles. They force us to act and react. But as we know the Lord is unchanging, therefore in every situation we encounter, we best look to the Lord to handle it and make it fit to His Purpose.
Joshua asked the Lord to STOP THE SUN FROM MOVING. WOW, wow, yes he asked boldly (and out of necessity). And YES, the Lord did just that. The Sun was stopped and the moon stopped for a whole day. The Israelites sent to fight were assured by God that they would win. In one particular battle, more were killed by the hailstones sent by the Lord than by the sword of the invaders. THE LORD MEANS BUSINESS. The Lord achieved the victory because He sent the enemy into confusion. It should not be surprising that He secured the victory in His own Way. When we wait on the Lord, He works in His Ways, above our ways.
How will we understand that God can do the same now? Have you ever felt like the Lord slowed time down for you? Or sped it up? Threw a curveball snowstorm your way? Interrupted your schedule to fit His. Have you ever prayed for Him to confuse your enemies? Have you asked Him to make your own temptations clearly distasteful and easy to avoid? Have you asked the Lord to put the spark into your step, the spirit into your soul, and the smile on your face just to power thru? Maybe He makes us realize that who we thought were our enemies were and are simply thorns to navigate thru and move forward despite a few thorns left in our side. Humble ourselves and keep moving.
God can stop time at any time, so surely He can and will make time for you. Ask Him to Shine in your life. He will. If God can make life out of fire and mud and sparks and dust, then surely, He can power you too. You are fit for a purpose, HIS!
We love him, because he first loved us. 1st John 4:19
After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel! Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.
When we hurt, we still have the need and prodding to move forward. Power is greater than pain.
When we lose a loved one we are sad, we had and still have immense love given to them and they for us. Love is greater than loss. Love continues even when we are apart.
Immense love is what we have for 2 lost family members this past year, my Aunt and my Dad, the love grows in memories. The power to move forward comes in time and does not negate the pain but checks in into a place reserved for it. Like a vast cavern of love, there is a shelf you can set your pain and loss on and keep living and exploring love.
Love is a gift that comes from a source higher than us. How cool and blessed to dig thru my grandmother’s pantry in the farmhouse that has been in my family over 120 years. The pantry had a corner – not accessible until now until layers of layers was removed and it had a preservation of some treasures and some trash and you would be surprised… It is as if one left my grandmother’s stuff as part of a memory shelf. This is one of those pantries where every banana sticker lined the door jams. We pulled out toys and treasures and trash, talked excitedly of playtime and hide and seek. We found some amazing letters to Santa on this day which was and is 12/6 St. Nicholas Day, lists asked for steam engines, kewpie dolls. We found gifts not yet given too, fire king dishes, glasses, supplies. The treasures we unearthed were but a sliver of remembering the love. It’s not about taking an item home, it’s more memories that I hold than my arms or house could hold in stuff. I have memories more organized and vast than the depths of these closets. I don’t need stuff to feel love. It’s like the penny you place in a purse sitting on a shelf or given away, it recognizes the blessings we have enough to give away some.
My mom read a Christmas card from her twin, gone 5 years now, written as young preteens, a beautiful depiction and verse of Christmas peace from the birth of a King. We have a memory and a current love from the Lord, not just on Christmas but everyday. We have a constant in our lives today – LOVE – and we best not leave our faith sitting on a shelf forgotten. CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT A GIFT UNWRAPPED. Christmas is the Lamb of God given to save the world, a baby who lived into the love He already gave. Love over loss. Power over pain. Faith over Forgotten-ness.
Jesus gave more than just a little penny tucked away in a purse of HOPE. He gave it all. God wrapped His Love up as a gift, the total Love of God the Father, Jesus the Son, God in Holy Spirit. God is LOVE and therefore love is much bigger than loss. And God will come again to take us Home. He knows we are His Treasure.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2
No one likes things stolen let alone lost. It takes both the item and the trust away from the people, sometimes friends, neighbors, co-workers. And the ripple effect is that overall trust is damaged in every person who hears of theft, whether it is high end theft or petty stealing as if a game of getting away with it. I’ve not experienced recent theft but have in the past, small stuff, like a giant pumpkin on my birthday taken from my house, and once almost lost my purse to a sneaking kid who tried to be an opportunist to my ignorance, pushing an unlocked ajar door open and snatching where I nearly was lighting up my purse with neon lights that said – “this is an easy steal” – oops… I slammed the door – God helped me keep my stuff – but yeah damage done to my psyche – my memory remains. It reinforced the double-checker in me. I have moved on, but not without learning. Most importantly I tell myself that we live in a broken world, that only by Jesus and God’s Love will we all be restored in the Lord’s Trust.
One of the strange sad realities of the human race is that we all experience the whole brokenness of the human race from all who are human. And we ARE all human. Therefore one of the HOPES we have in JESUS will be in the repair of our humanness. When He returns (see Revelation), the earthly brokenness of people will be bound up and tossed away. The restoration of TRUST is going to be SO AMAZING, believable and real. I can barely really imagine, having lived in reality here, to see us be blessed with that level of forgiveness – we are and will be forgiven enough to forgive others and to see restoration of “in God’s PEOPLE we trust”. I have to imagine that the inherent and learned distrust will dissipate like an ice cube on a hot day.
We must live our lives in that repentant way now, practice what God preaches and live open to His examination. Without hindrances to keep moving forward. But as for those sins perpetrated against us, we must let the Lord do the weeding out, He knows all, let Him extract truth and justice. Keep close to Him – and keep walking with Him in the present, away from the past.
Joshua led the Lord’s people to prosperity times by the Lord setting them apart for the Promised Land. God gave compassion during and after their wandering in the desert, but a few bad apples spoil the day again and again, even in their Promised Land… In Joshua chapter 7, we learn that someone kept loot that was not theirs, took it knowingly and had to hide it, they themselves lived in fear of being caught. Joshua was charged with examining those people, one by one. The tribes and families the Lord Himself brought forward, knowing the culprit, He brought the TRUTH to LIGHT. God said: You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them – meaning the stolen devoted things – the plunder – and the lies. God wants to move forward with people who trust Him.
The confession of Achan opened up the truth. This allowed God to once again bless and direct the people to victory. They prospered in war against the village of Ai (see chapter 8) and were blessed in provisions and importantly God’s leading.
We will move forward in life as well IF we rely upon God to give us His direction and prosperity and He will give it abundantly. We even can give forgiveness to those who do steal from us – even if we don’t know them because we DO KNOW that they are coming from a broken place. Maybe we need to sacrifice a bit right now, including our egos, and not be so attached to plunder of our own, allowing us to live more freely. Yes for our future, we even have to prepare our hearts for battle, wait upon God for directions, and move in when He commands. When Jesus returns (keep looking for that Light), we will be given greater spoils than what we could take for ourselves now. We will gain His life in us. We will be restored as Kingdom people one day. Jesus, come quickly.
It is important to live open lives to the Lord so He knows that we know we are waiting on Him.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction. “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them. “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’” Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen.
Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen. Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
Chapter 8 – The taking of Ai and the renewal of the Covenant
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out toward the city the javelin that was in his hand.
Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. …
When my Dad passed away, we proofread all the paperwork, death notices, obituaries and continued this required life-long family job of looking for the accidental placement of an extra N within our last name. It was all fine. Whew. Not that the Lord needs any specific spelling of our name anyway, because He gives us new names in Heaven, but still it’s one of those peculiar human attributes to look at and for the correct spelling of your name.
So, this extra “N” shows up everywhere, positioned accidentally on purspose, even in my DMV paperwork as I used my maiden name as a middle name. The “N” shows up because our family name rhymes with a famous city that has the N. So we know that it is not the people’s fault either. Grace is good, and bank checks clear no problem, LOL.
Yesterday, sitting with my Holy Spirit gifted friend, an 80 plus year old, sharp as a tack, she shows me a typo that made me laugh. Not an earthly laugh at human error, but a tickled laugh at a “God-wink” – a connection only God and I could make in the split-second processing that was jumping from my heartstrings. There is an extra hidden N in a holy word on my Dad’s prayer card handed out at the funeral. I even have been carrying extra cards in my purse. Psalm 23 with a beautiful cardinal photo, a family favorite bird. These cards all have the extra N. Not in our name but in “annointest” not “anointest” – yes, God anointest my head with oil and He keeps my mind calm with thinking about my Dad. He anoints and appoints realizations of typos with N’s. I laughed so hard I almost fell off the couch. God is the gifter of lightness for our hearts.
It is not me saying that God put the N, no, and it’s not me saying that my Dad is sending a signal, no, it’s that ONLYGod and I had that moment together, a laugh only He and I understood at that moment. So, I WILL take it as yet another sign that my Dad is with the Lord, a moment to be grateful.
This proofreading friend did not understand my laughter, I mean it is a real typo on something that shouldn’t be overlooked, and as she’s an editor from way back too! How tiny the print and even thought she knew the prayer enough to skip that section, she did not skip it – she read the prayer in the photo of the prayer card, Psalm 23. And we also have read that prayer thousands of times, but yet we are compelled to reread it when we see it. It IS David’s comfort and convincing that the Lord takes us thru a broken world moment by moment, blessing our lives.
Psalm 23, my what a verse… MY CUP RUNNETH OVER… Yes thanks Lord for writing on David’s heart and mine and ours, writing a Shepherd’s desire for us, His sheep, to know that He has us all. He has set us aside as HOLY. He an[n]ointest our heads with oil. My Dad’s too… Thank You with a tear and a smile and a chuckle. You an[N]ointest my eyes with laughter. Thank You.
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 an[N]ointest 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. Psalm 23
The Lord was with Joshua, as He was with Moses. The Lord’s call is TRUE – and He also calls the shots. We can let the Lord handle our difficult times and watch Him lead. The Lord is with us.
There is an amazing old testament reference to Jesus in this book of Joshua: “At the cost of his firstborn son – he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest – he will set up its gates.” Joshua 6:26
If these great men, Moses and Joshua, could follow the Lord’s leading, knowing only the promise of deliverance, certainly so can we, because Jesus has already fulfilled all that is necessary for our battle won. We can look for His sustenance and victory. We can praise and shout supporting His Victory. (We should not turn away from Him either) Just as manna came to the people to eat, it stopped, after they had “eaten of the corn, the fruit of the land of Canaan, the Promised Land”. God’s perfect provisions. We too can live life day by day because God says we only need to know that He will provide. Got a problem? Let the Lord show you a solution that is not even in our mindset of possibilities.
Here is one – whoda thunk you could conquer a city by simply walking around it. Joshua was instructed by GOD, thru the captain of the Lord of Hosts, whom some say is an angel or Jesus Himself, on how to run the war to take the city of Jericho, and how the Lord will win it. I heard a teaching once that those of the angelic realm seem to speak to earthly people with the assumption that the earthly people know what’s going on in Heaven! That we would know of the heavenly war and how it spills over on earth, and know that God’s Ways are the right and winning way. This angel or Jesus or God directly told Joshua to take off his sandals, he was standing on Holy Ground. Joshua asked a pertinent question that we might ask, and got one of the best heavenly answers in the Bible: “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”
Ain’t that the truth? God’s plans aren’t about which team He is rooting for (sorry sports fans) or how He will tip earthly battles for people’s gain. “Are you for us or for our enemies?” “NEITHER!”… No, instead His presence and Plan focuses on the long-term goal of the Kingdom and how He carries the people there with Him. This Joshua-commander Israelites battle is to take the city of Jericho by fighting with Heavenly power, not earthly. The only weapon that the people needed was DEVOTION after LISTENING. They were instructed to march around the city seven consecutive days, seven times around on the seventh day, then have priests sound trumpets of rams’ horns and “the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” God Calls the Shots, We Get Shouts.
BOLD BEHAVIOR but beholden of God’s power not their own prowess in this earthly battlefield. Why does this matter over and above being just a great story? It’s because they and we have to listen, follow, act in God’s direction and watch Him work. WE HAVE TO SHOW UP FOR BATTLE, but let Him lead us to Victory. We can show dedication and see His Power, see God go fight our battles for us.
God told Joshua, and tells us, that only God can build the next steps of the plan. God also instructed the Isrealites (and us) don’t rebuild Jericho, after Joshua’s people burnt it by command, because any city stronghold and especially THE KINGDOM will be built by God. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1
So that amazing old testament reference to Jesus in this book of Joshua: “At the cost of his firstborn son – he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest – he will set up its gates.” Joshua 6:26, YES GOD IS TALKING ABOUT JESUS ! Jesus Himself when He walked the earth (see John 10) speaks of Himself being the Shepherd and that His sheep know Him and know His voice. “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.”
So we are to already know that God knows the Plan and we are to let Him Work His Plan thru us – and we are to praise and shout. The shout for encouragement to pick up our crosses each day and encouragement that God will blast the trumpet to move us from this earthly phase to His Kingdom. We shout of our understanding that thru Jesus as gate and Shepherd, we will prevail.
Let us SHOUT, for our God calls the shots.
His war is won, we are just to SHOW UP for battle.
“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” John 10:1-11
I can remember the sight, the small child named Joshua in my vacation Bible school crew, stepping into the waving blue tablecloth, signifying the Jordan River in flood, studying the people being led by Moses then Joshua to the Promised Land. As soon as he stepped, the water (tablecloths held by hidden volunteers) stopped shaking and separated. DRY GROUND. The whole class, me too, stepped safely into the Promised Land. As soon as they were across, the water flooded behind them. God won the day. (and we got some sweet treat in the Promised Land, yum)
What does this mean for us? Why must we wait on the Lord and have Him figure things out for us? Because He has already made the Way. He made the Way, both the dry land that we are to cross and the waves of the water that block us and make us wait. He knows the steps He sanctions and yet gives us free will to wade in waters sometimes shallow and sometimes too deep. If we wonder what to do – wait if you are in a safe place – if we have to act, then SWIM if you are in waters too deep. In either place, He will be there when we reach for Him.
I had never heard this story before of Joshua, we leaders must learn too. And these VBS teachers reconstituted this story into living flesh understanding. Rehydration of the Word. It became a picture in my mind, of real things that were already placed as understanding in my spirit soul. That’s why we need to read old testament stories, God knows how to hydrate the Word and connect us back to Him and Show us His Way.
You can say God has a Way with Words. Jesus is reborn in each of us – if we drink in His Living Water and rehydrate the soul parched, we will know Him even better. Let us read the stories in the bible and allow our mind to visualize the scenes, feel the fear, revere the reverence, and KNOW. Surely when we read scripture, the mind increasingly says – YES, I KNOW THE WAY.
Lead us Lord, Amen!
Please read Joshua 3 and 4, of the people move thru a flooded Jordan, just as miraculous as parting the Red Sea. They take stones from the middle and bring them to a place to show their children and children’s children the power and miraculous ways of their God, our God.
Joshua 3:14 – Joshua 4
So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.
That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses. Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.” So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.
On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
What a thrill! And just like an ordinary day for an extraordinary Holy Spirit.
Here’s my devotion spill of JOY !!!
There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit can line things up… and I was THRILLED to sing next to my singing sister last night, all the Christmas songs, it was good and fitting to kick off my shoes and have our singing blend like old days in my ear. Angels we have Heard on High. The Soul felt its Worth. IT WAS A HOLY NIGHT!
So many of the praise band songs we learned and praised with in our old church were Paul Balouche songs. He shared music this evening from a Christmas CD that blends carols and his songs (all available on the streaming services). He has a new song “Behold” that is so good. When a Facebook pop up advertisement showed a concert 15 minutes from home, for only $20, I clicked for 2 tickets IMMEDIATELY. God IS Good. AND WHEN I WALKED IN AND HE WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME? I KNEW GOD WAS LINING UP THE MOMENT THAT I HAD PRAYED FOR. Thank You Holy Spirit. Paul was looking for a scrap of paper – and I held out my hand and said “that’s why I write on my hand!” He laughed and said I MUST be a mom. I asked for a photo and he had us say Ecclesiastes for “smile” – he said that is a good smiling word. I agree – for in Ecclesiastes the scripture reminds that there is a season for everything. YES, this is a season for PRAISE.
Strengthen your brothers.
That’s a life verse I take for serious in my day to day life, Strengthen your brothers. I am an “encourager”, even if sometimes my job is simply to smile that I love Jesus. I really feel like Jesus has said that to me DIRECTLY, “Strengthen you brothers” – well He has in His Word. YES, He says it to EACH all of us just like He said it to Peter, both the night before He was betrayed and the day at the sea of Galilee after His Resurrection. He knew Peter would have a hard time there on out and he knew the rest of them would have a hard time in life because their mission was to share the Good News into a lost world. The disciples would face persecution. Many do still today. We, however, even if free to praise still face perception problems and yet the same level of Help comes to us, the unchanging Holy Spirit. The reminder to each of the lost world is that with Jesus, the Soul felt it’s worth.
Not only did Paul Balouche sing but he shared the gospel message, Jesus came to earth to lift us up – take our sins – take us Home. Paul spoke of us being “Jars of Clay” hard pressed by the world but always to be asking for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. As we were singing Paul’s signature song: “Open the Eyes of My Heart – I want to see You”, I knew that I was and am SO blessed to be on God’s team. I know my job – our job – to be Salt and Light to a lost world.
And just as Paul and his faith and his music strengthened me, a concert where I received much, we as an audience we’re giving back excitement and singing to strengthen them as they are traveling music missionaries to carry the Lord’s message from town to town. These days the performers are their own roadies and they are their own missionaries too. I walked in and spiritually knew the room was filled with my brothers and sisters in Christ. And I knew after 2 years of covid lockdowns and sparse gatherings, just to be IN a live music venue was a gift. (And to be in the 2nd row, close enough to watch faces, interactions and Paul constantly adjusting his guitar capo, LOL, wow, it was so much like ALMOST being up there, bringing me if just a fraction of memory with my band mates, both bands, whom I miss dearly. This is a different season I am in right now, so I can and I will sing in the car. I will always SING His Praise.)
Why be the LIGHT? Why strengthen the faith side by side? Because as Jesus leads us to gather the flock on our Way back Home to God in Heaven, we are NOT to be frayed lone strings, we are to be part of a WHOLE NET. His Net. Why are we sheep of the Shepherd? So that our wool weaves side by side as we walk where HE LEADS. Our walk with Him is continually to the hard places, but we go together. Even just ourselves we have Jesus with us. Yes, we are looking for the lost fish losing their way. We are to swim together. Keep Swimming.
Keep Swimming, that’s what my singing sister always says!
Let us swim and carry the Net of God’s Love with us.
Feel God’s fresh filling into our hard-pressed jar of clay and let HIM Flow.
“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32
But we have this TREASURE IN JARS OF CLAY, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 2nd Corinthians 4:7-9
Jesus says: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
There are strange things that give us joy… and even you can say we/I am prideful… but as I am not prideful about writing, I do take some pride even if dumb pride even if wrong pride in the CURATING of my writing chapters. It’s worth the money to print and there are good coupons at Office Max. Yes, the internet may fade, but paper you have to move it. It will last likely after the trumpet blast.
Single sided this is probably 2 reams plus of paper for just the 1st 500 writings of 1300. I printed one set already which I keep at home, and I am printing a second set to keep at work, because I simply want to have 2 sets to give my children. They don’t necessarily want my writing now but I hope someday they will appreciate that I want to leave this as a legacy NOT of me but of the Holy Spirit working and of me appreciating the Holy Spirit…
I’m not saying that my writing has to go anywhere but the Lord knows what the volume of paper means to me… I am always interested and how the Lord uses us…
And this immense processing forced me to share because I cannot take this journey by myself…
This paper means infinitely more than me printing my PHD thesis. This paper also means LITTLE compared to the NEW DAY in front of us. EVERYDAY GOD WRITES ON OUR HEARTS! Write on Lord!
Many leaders, earthly leaders, are detailed in the story of Rahab hiding the spies under hay in her roof, in supporting the plan for Israelites to learn the mood of the city of Jericho. There is also a connection to JESUS – to picking up His plan and following God by letting Jesus lead. First, we start with Joshua. After Moses passed away, God passed the torch to Joshua to pick up. Joshua was chosen by God, not elected by the people or having climbed up a corporate ladder. Moses laid his hands upon him at God’s command and commissioned him to lead the people. Joshua was a leader commissioned and committed for FUTURE listening to God.
We need to be better leaders and like Joshua (and Moses) we need to LISTEN to God, we need to LEARN and follow, to wait, to trust and especially act on what we hear or feel as a gut feeling to His leading. LISTEN. Joshua sent out spies to learn about Jericho, Joshua also needed to WAIT in time and WAIT upon God. We need to be leaders who WAIT upon God. The King of Jericho was a leader too and he commanded soldiers to go after the spies. The King had to RELY upon others. We need to be leaders who RELY on others.
The spies and Rahab traded back and forth leading each other. Rahab led the spies to safety hiding under the roof. The spies later led Rahab and her family to safety, by using the signal of a scarlet rope hanging from the window, the same one she helped them scale down the outside of the city to freedom and returning to their troops after 3 days in hiding. Rahab and the soldiers had to TRUST each other and TRUST God’s TIMING. We need to be leaders who TRUST. We will LEARN the best way to lead by LISTENING, but not of earthly noise, distractions, bantering.
Joshua did lead the taking of the city, but by telling the people about FOLLOWING God’s direction: “for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” We need to be leaders who FOLLOW. FOLLOW GOD, “then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.“
So interesting that I have heard a preacher leader once say the scarlet color of the rope was like the blood of Jesus leading us, saving us. I agree. As we wait upon God in all things, we are carrying Jesus with us and so He will shine like our flashlight thru our dark times and unknowns, the paths we have never taken before, allowing us to step firmly. We must work at helping others see His plan and His Light in their lives – to demonstrate that we can set out scarlet ropes to the Lord for His Rescue from the Windows of our hearts. We also await the day to be saved by Jesus from the earthly world which will be destroyed and know in the meantime that we have been delivered from the sin that He has overcome. Jesus saves us from the sins of the whole city/world that we didn’t even cause, our human brokenness.
Our Salvation comes by following the same God as Moses, Joshua, Rahab, followed. Our hearts must LEARN this following, trusting, leading by God. Others must learn this by their own being led by God, the Holy Spirit conviction within themselves. Our job as leaders is to DEMONSTRATE that we are allowing God to LEAD us. Our job as followers is to show the Way in our steps. Let us rely on the Holy Spirit today.
Joshua 2 Verses 1-7
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof. And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall. And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear. Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee. And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made us to swear.
And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.
Crossing the Jordan – Chapter 3
Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.
Joshua, in Chapter 2, may be readying an army to take over the Promised Land but God actually had an inside job planned. Rahab was an innkeeper – a prostitute – and a hearer of the scuttlebutt of the day. Rahab, a harlot, became a helper “in kind” to 2 spies. The news reached her of a great God – the Israelite’s God – our God – who had been keeping the Israelites safe while they wandered across the desert. They were not a perfect lot of people – and yet God rescued them, fed them, kept them safe. Rahab heard about this God and then believed in this Almighty powerful God. By her faith she helped spies sent from Joshua, sent out to see the Promised Land and report back to him about the city of Jericho. She shared valuable information that the people had heard of the Israelites Amazing God and when soldiers came to investigate the break in, she hid the spies. She helped also in order to save her family and her family line. The returned spies said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
But that didn’t mean they simply WALTZED into Jericho at that moment with no effort. God had to go first, to make a Way. God made the plan: the MESSAGE went first. Some (including Rahab) knew God was helping the Israelites, Rahab got to act upon that information. Then at the appointed time, God went knocking all the walls down – winning the battle. Then the Israelite people walked in triumphantly. I just described Jericho, but easily I could have been describing Jesus and Heaven’s Home for us. It was and IS an Inside Job. Knowledge from Inside. Faith from Inside. Winning the war from the LORD INSIDE OF US.
Rahab was key in helping – she heard the messages of God’s Almightiness. She in faith helped the Israelites, thru the spies, and they helped each other “IN KIND”. Yes, God helps us have this faith and act upon it – and His Plan is to have us show “in kind” help to the others and help the people get to where God wants them to go. Rahab saved her family by being faithful and courageous – and she also recognized that faith is an “inside job” and acted “in kind”. Our faith must be founded upon His Plan.
Rahab said (ch2:11-16): “for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below. Now then, please swear to me by the Lord that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you. Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them—and that you will save us from death.” — “Our lives for your lives!” the men assured her. “If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the Lord gives us the land.” — So she let them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the city wall. She said to them, “Go to the hills so the pursuers will not find you. Hide yourselves there three days until they return, and then go on your way.” And not only did Joshua remember and save the family of Rahab, because of the oath the soldiers made “in kind”, Rahab’s family line survived. (FYI Jesus is directly descended from Rahab, the mother of Boaz.)
If you ask me, I will say that our Salvation thru Jesus was and is an “IN KIND” – INSIDE JOB. Of course it is… Isn’t that why God has been fighting His War? To WIN! Yes, let God go first to win your battle too.
(chapter 6: 22-25) Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the prostitute’s house and bring her out and all who belong to her, in accordance with your oath to her.” So the young men who had done the spying went in and brought out Rahab, her father and mother, her brothers and sisters and all who belonged to her. They brought out her entire family and put them in a place outside the camp of Israel. Then they burned the whole city and everything in it, but they put the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron into the treasury of the Lord’s house. But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho—and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
I made it to the Promised Land – not wandering but by MARCHING across the READING of the book of Deuteronomy into the book of Joshua in my scripture journey. Moses has now died and Joshua appointed to lead God’s chosen people, the Israelites, into the Promised Land. I see increasingly now that the Bible scriptures are all about LEADING and FOLLOWING, all about WALKINGWITHGOD, all about getting to a place to receive His Promise which is our Way of landing back with Him. It IS a journey, every day. I knew there were interesting stories in the Bible in the Old Testament, I just didn’t know that the stories constantly WEAVED the Word Jesus in so many ways – telling of Him – and for the strengthening of us – for leading us – for teaching us – for encouraging us.
BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. God tells Joshua this 3 times on page one.
Why should Joshua (and we) be leaders to lead others thru the wilderness of our wandering? Because we are examples. Our steps will “lead these people”. Our actions may look like folly to some but look followable to others. God’s people are to know to not take our own steps but theirs. Not rely on human hunches but heavenly help.
Our Home, Heavenly Home, is a life journey away, so praying and bringing Heaven onto Earth is a daily challenge to live in prayer and on a path: “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven…”
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS… …BE STRONG AND VERY COURAGEOUS… …BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
How long will we walk? Until Jesus comes again.
How long will we lead? Until Jesus comes again.
How long will we follow? FOREVER.
We drop our self-agenda off each morning and pick up His Path. One day at a time. One step at a time.
Forever be STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, starting today.
Joshua Installed as Leader Ch1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“BE STRONG AND VERY COURAGEOUS. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? BESTRONG AND COURAGEOUS. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I am clearly believing 1000 years of millennium moments of peace will be wonderful. It’s not just my want for time for me to see my bucket list places that I could not see in this lifetime, but importantly, it will be 1000 years of Jesus reigning and righting wrongs (see Revelation 20:1-7). People will have a moment to find the Way without distraction.
Let’s also make no assumptions about that 1000 years, scholars debate it, yes there’s no surprise that no earthly consensus can be made on the 1000 years. (I’m trusting those scholars that believe in a Millennium where we are aware AND believe we will be Saints walking in it).
What if the Rapture happens in our lifetime, we will be watching the Millennium from the balcony cloud? We don’t know (at least I don’t) but I know that Jesus knows the RESULT even if not the timing. Therefore, will know when we will know!!!… Either way, the TRUTH is that there will be 1000 years of NO Satan and there will be 1000 years of Jesus reigning in Peace on Earth, then after this will be a restored Kingdom on Earth then the New Earth and New Jerusalem roll in. I believe in Eternal Hope so I will teach about the HOPE of mid-millennium reunion moments and then ETERNAL reunion moments of meetings.
I believe in melting hearts of forgiveness and grace.
I believe in Jesus to win us our race.
John wrote in Revelation 20:1-7
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,…
The woman was desperate to touch Jesus’s garment – just the fringe – wanting to be healed – If Only Jesus.
He knew she was – but stopped to introduce her to Himself. Only If Jesus…
She wanted to stoop low and hide – “If Only I touch His garment”
Jesus wanted to meet her – “If Only I could meet them all – Only If they knew Me.”
She wanted anonymity – If Only.
Jesus wanted them to talk eye to eye. “Only If they would LOOK FOR ME”.
She thought she only needed the fringe of the garment – If Only.
Jesus wanted to show her that she got ALL of Him. Only If we would look nowhere else.
She thought He was in a rush (and He was being rushed to Jarius’s house) – If Only I touch before He disappears.
Jesus wanted to show her that He would stop everything for her. Only If we remembered that He stops all just for us, He gives us Forever.
She knew she would be healed with the smallest touch – If Only Him.
Jesus knew she would be healed by her faith alone – Only If we all had such faith.
She experienced people who shunned – If Only He didn’t know, didn’t see. Jesus would see.
Jesus showed her and us that Only If our complete dependence is upon Him, Jesus as Lamb of God, our lives would be healed of the brokenness today and forever.
If Only, we Go in Peace.
Yes, Only If, we Go with Peace.
Matthew 9:20-22 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
Luke 8:47-48 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Col3:2
Thanking God for THANKFUL GIVING as it is Him Whom both makes and takes praise – best it is given where praise is due. We wouldn’t recognize something as praiseworthy if HE didn’t give us the ability to recognize it. Some of the things might be earthly things but the praise should always be directed to Heaven’s credit.
I had both my kids under my roof, this Thanksgiving morning, both sleeping silent slumber and SAFE. This IS my Thanksgiving. Not food but PRESENCE as my present praise. I THANK GOD for knowing this, appreciating this, having this. And for Him giving the means to hold my earthly life together. I THANK GOD for the memorable but TEMPORARY earthly times and PRAISE HIM for BLESSING us in ways we don’t even know.
Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches. Prvb 24:3-4
And yet it is not about hoarding the moment, or trying to live beyond it. We are but a moment anyway, He is ETERNAL and therefore we should appreciate that we CAN appreciate the little things and not get greedy. I paused a couple of days ago when my youngest told me they were going to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving and were NOT going to eat at home. I could have freaked or cried or got annoyed but I PAUSED. I paused and thought about it in a bigger picture. No nose bent out of shape ever got you anywhere… “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” I mean it is good for my kids to have friends, plans, options, and pause. Yes it is.
I asked (this was all by text message of course) if it was needed to bring anything. A praise for that pause in text messaging, and then me seeing that answer – that result of processing – I received a response of “APPLE PIE”. Yes, I can send my THANKSGIVING ahead, somewhere above and beyond me. I can make two apple pies (or more) and satisfy something in me NOT earthly – namely a desire for sharing, grace, gratefulness.
Dinner is short, pie can be a token of giving, and yet GRATEFULNESS is FOREVER.
Especially Moses saw opportunity in the moment where God blessed the people to prosper, and he cautioned them to not grumble. “The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.” Deut 28:12
Yes He will.
Time to make pie.
LET IT ALL BE MADE UNTO HIS NAME.
The song lyrics: Be Unto Your Name, by Robin Mark
We are a moment, You are FOREVER
Lord of the Ages, God before time.
We are a vapor, You are eternal
Love everlasting, reigning on high
Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain
Highest praises, honor and glory
Be unto Your name, be unto Your name
We are the broken, You are the healer
Jesus, Redeemer, Mighty to save
You are the love song we’ll sing forever
Bowing before You, blessing Your name
Holy, holy, Lord God Almighty
Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain
Highest praises, honor and glory
Be unto Your name, be unto Your name
Be unto Your name
James 4:1-6 excerpts, 13-15
Submit Yourselves to God
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? ….
… 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.”
Boasting About Tomorrow
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 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.Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
It’s earlier and earlier that we could WATCH for CHRISTMAS, all those decorations and craft fairs. We can even watch for Christmas deals and goodies in stores before Halloween, let alone Thanksgiving. By the time you read this I surely will have eaten three, um four, packs of gingerbread and pfeffernusse cookies! YUM! (We should WATCH our holiday excesses! YIKES!) Advent is a mini-lent preparing and knowing why we need Jesus. CHRISTMAS, we best remember as being CHRIST-mas, a celebration of His Birth, to share Jesus in the communities He came to serve. Yes, Jesus came into the world to be God with us, Immanuel. And Jesus Christ WILL COME AGAIN.
Why JESUS? He will crush evil once and for all. Why WATCH? We don’t know the day or the hour. The book of Revelation and many scriptures teach us the signs in these increasingly turmoil-stirring worldly-view times. James (Ch5) reminds us to prepare our hearts, the coming of the Lord is near. Matthew (Ch24) recounts Jesus’s own teaching about His UNEXPECTED return, and for us to keep aware, to live in constant preparation. Jesus said of the signs: “All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
Many years ago, I was blessed with birthing 2 babies, one born 6 weeks premature (a surprise) and one born on his due date but by emergency C-section (also a surprise). Yes, there were signs indicating that the baby was coming, time to get to the hospital. Some however will not be paying attention, like in Noah’s time. Many will be caught off guard. We need to teach AND keep Christ at Christmas and every day. Some won’t even know He is coming. We must be the ones watching the skies, watching the signs of the times, but WORKING not WAITING all the while. Therefore for this second coming of Christ, we best be preparing our hearts, preparing the nativity scenes of sharing our faith, bringing our best to Him, looking at how we can serve and share Christ and His message of reconciliation and LOVE.
Immanuel, Christ IS with us.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
One thing we can say about a society, a generalization if only for Americans, is that we don’t weather the weather so well – well not as good as generations before us did with less stuff – we are less resilient – actually we are more reclusive. It’s a “blanket” generalization I know, probably unfair to say that about everyone, but I think you may agree with me. (and for me I am “in blanket” not getting out into that weather either) We who have cushy lives, our attitudes are more and more reflecting that privilege and complacency. I remember once, nearly 20 years ago, the power went out overnight from some harsh thunderstorms and someone (whom I didn’t know), at a nearby yard sale the next day, was railing about the hardship without cable. No not lacking the internet, no not complaining about the A/C or food spoiled even, trouble getting out to anywhere, but complaining about no TV. WOW. Not only did I have no more than rabbit ears at the time, I probably didn’t even have time to watch TV let along worry about no TV. I’m no saint, I get complacent too, but wow we learn about ourselves and our generation by watching others. (and last generation didn’t people kick and scream just to get a loving cabbage patch kid)…
Weather the weather… be stronger, more tolerable, have an action plan, be less needy. we have a long road ahead of us – don’t be stuck in the ditch.
A couple proverbs of Solomon, chapter 25, that cut to the heart of us doing better ourselves, especially as we observe others: Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble. V19
It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. V27-28
Why do I mention these? It’s not just that we live better by being better, it’s showing a better example to others, as every generation after us is going to grow less resilient and see more men searching for their own glory. We are headed towards end times, Revelation predictions start showing up, especially we must deal more and more with people whom God warned us about. AND in ourselves we will be less and less strong unless we put on our Armor of God. We must also resist these tendencies in ourselves to be needy.
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. – Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Ch 26:4,5
Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife. Ch 26:20-21
Moses predicted the destruction of the people in advance, even though God blessed them and would keep His Promises. Moses said about that generation and those to come: For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. Deuteronomy 31:29
What a leader in Moses, there was none like Him, as he tolerated MUCH. We too can take our lead from Moses and keep serving God. We too can weather the weather better, watch the times and our motives too. We can be the light and the salt, or be dark and destroyed. Let’s be LIGHT.
Let’s weather the weather.
“See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” Deuteronomy 32:39
Then the Lord said to Moses, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Timothy wrote about end times,
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 2nd Timothy 3:1-5