Move Monday Morning Mush

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It’s Monday morning and sometimes we just don’t want to get up and go. (Nothing bad but sometimes the gears back to the grind need oil – however we need to count our blessings and get over it)…. 

Sometimes, well always, God wants us to PUT ON THE ARMOR OF GOD to move thru our day, and a day like today our Monday morning mushy movement is MUCH more manageable because this Armor of God is ALSO an EXOSKELETON of EXCELLENT strength and mobility. LET’S MOVE! (we not until we get our marching orders)

And whether you actually feel mush-like or just perceive of the “Meh” yuck feelings, God IS going to be our MOTIVATION in His method of having us move forward. Making mountains into molehills. Mostly for knowing today is another great day to let Him lead and share how He is our Maker and Shaker… My my how we must count our blessings that He has a plan ALREADY… We may move when He says “move” in the Power of His Might. And throughout we can Be Still and Know that He is God.

He made us from dust, let Him mold and motivate us. We are to look beyond our mush towards His lush life everafter, then know we may make today a GOOD DAY for GOD. 

Our Monday morning motivation is demonstrating we WILL trust God to bring us thru…

He will. He does. He wouldn’t want you running ahead anyway. Let Him make the moves on YOU.

Amen 

“… my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the POWER OF HIS MIGHT.

Put on the WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD OF GOD:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;: And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel…”

Paul’s letter of encouragement to the Ephesians 6:10-19

Thankful for ReDedication

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At the end of the book of Nehemiah, he writes in first person: “Remember me with favor, my God.” 

God certainly remembered Nehemiah’s dedication and faithfulness, and we know this because we are still learning about Nehemiah today, and Jerusalem was restored enough for the next so many years. Nehemiah acted where God inspired him, for BOTH the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall and it’s gates to make it a city again around the temple, AND because he also brought about the peoples’ rededication of FAITH. Nehemiah knew God wanted to build faith, not just a wall.

With JOYFUL MUSIC, choirs and musical instruments as prescribed by David the man of God, they transversed the wall and entered the temple. “The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”

Now, did everyone’s dedication/rededication last? Sadly no, and Nehemiah (chapter 13 when he left and came back) he heard about even the leaders going off-book again, not following God’s prescribed laws and desires for their people, especially not honoring the Sabbath or the distribution of harvest to the temple workers. And this eroding of their dedication caused others to stray.

Rededicate

Rejoice 

Remember

Relapse,  oops

Nehemiah cleared and purified temple rooms dedicated to God’s service. Once just building up the outside, he restored the inside again and again… sounds like Jesus to our souls! Reinvigorate us with the Holy Spirit, we pray. 

We also now know that God still supported the people and lineage as promised to David, so that a remnant of the root of the tree of Jesse (David’s father), would survive and from Judah a Savior was born. 

Remember 

REMNANT

Reinvigorate 

Rededicate

Rejoice

It was clear that Nehemiah cared, and also knew he was “on loan” to tend Jerusalem from working in Persia for the king there.  He did not reject his obligations and others in Jerusalem would have had to continue on. We too must remember our earthly commitments all while knowing our true king. And we serve working hard as if for the Lord. Let us let God take care of our situations too…

Let us be rededicated and be THANKFUL. God remembers Nehemiah with favor. God knew to blesd us with Jesus and His Holy Spirit before we were even born. Jesus will come again with a New Jerusalem. Now that’s Restoration Really!!!

Amen 

Nehemiah 12:27-47

Dedication of the Wall of Jerusalem
At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall.

I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right, toward the Dung Gate. Hoshaiah and half the leaders of Judah followed them, along with Azariah, Ezra, Meshullam, Judah, Benjamin, Shemaiah, Jeremiah, as well as some priests with trumpets, and also Zechariah son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Micaiah, the son of Zakkur, the son of Asaph, and his associates—Shemaiah, Azarel, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethanel, Judah and Hanani—with musical instruments prescribed by David the man of God. Ezra the teacher of the Law led the procession. At the Fountain Gate they continued directly up the steps of the City of David on the ascent to the wall and passed above the site of David’s palace to the Water Gate on the east.

The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people—past the Tower of the Ovens to the Broad Wall, over the Gate of Ephraim, the Jeshanah Gate, the Fish Gate, the Tower of Hananel and the Tower of the Hundred, as far as the Sheep Gate. At the Gate of the Guard they stopped.

The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God; so did I, together with half the officials, as well as the priests—Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Micaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah and Hananiah with their trumpets— and also Maaseiah, Shemaiah, Eleazar, Uzzi, Jehohanan, Malkijah, Elam and Ezer. The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, firstfruits and tithes. From the fields around the towns they were to bring into the storerooms the portions required by the Law for the priests and the Levites, for Judah was pleased with the ministering priests and Levites. They performed the service of their God and the service of purification, as did also the musicians and gatekeepers, according to the commands of David and his son Solomon. For long ago, in the days of David and Asaph, there had been directors for the musicians and for the songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.  So in the days of Zerubbabel and of Nehemiah, all Israel contributed the daily portions for the musicians and the gatekeepers. They also set aside the portion for the other Levites, and the Levites set aside the portion for the descendants of Aaron.

Nehemiah 13:17-18, when Nehemiah came back…  I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them: “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”

Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.

Cranberry Craze for Christ

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You have no idea how good this cranberry relish is! Well maybe you do! Oh I really really hope you do!

Hey you can’t blame me in my past for when I said I didn’t appreciate cranberries, I mean as a child not many people could explain to me WHY they were good to try. I saw canned icky looking attempts, but every once in a while I saw recipes and real explanations for walking the road of trying it yourself. No one jammed it down my throat and of course we would NOT want to do that. If we want anyone to try, we simply best ask and most importantly demonstrate our joy in it. We must put our munching where our mouth is. 

And funny thing, the cranberries to open need a little bit of water applied and a little bit of heating, not long but a miracle appears in that they come alive and open up and the fruit is ready to try… Sometimes in the relish you can have sweetness (orange juice and zest) and sometimes a sharpness (strong balsamic vinegar).  Life is like that too. Always you have to taste it to believe it!

But you can’t blame me for not trying to understand this before I did – and I can’t blame myself, but THANK GOODNESS I was awakened to the goodness… an opportunity to grow…

If you think I’m talking just about cranberry relish, I’m not.  When I speak of awakening and accepting, and all the above, I’m actually writing about FAITH IN JESUS. YES! 

There may be people at your table today and over the holidays who simply haven’t TASTED AND SEEN OF THE SWEETEST OF LOVE. Don’t jam it down their throat, you wouldn’t do that with a “new to them” food, DON’T criticize or exclude… just be GENTLE and be ready to let the Holy Spirit act upon the scene. 

It IS GOOD to be encouraging, and perhaps they might try a little on their plate after seeing your enthusiasm.  Maybe they never had YOUR RECIPE and no one presented faith in such a way that opens it up to them. You know that many simply haven’t heard the stories or been exposed to comprehending the connections between head and heart. There’s an OPPORTUNITY to open conversations but don’t “wow them” with biblical factoids, instead “wow them” with your Spiritual TRUST.

I was exposed to faith stories and connective faith as a child and grownup, actually knew people who TRUSTED the Lord to see them thru…. yet, I realize that there’s a whole generation who got canned varieties of packaged and never tasted the fresh berries… offer this now, don’t overprepare your messages. 

And there is no ONE recipe that works for everyone. Like each berry, the uniqueness is God-made. Faith is unlocked by the Holder of the key, God Himself. 

There’s a whole generation of catholics that had masses in Latin as children, if they even got to mass, and if there was no translation or presentation nor physical Bible given, how could they learn? Like the cranberry, not much water or warming heat was applied by people. There are berries that fell out of the pan.

Let us be that gatherer and preparer today. Let us ask for Living Water and Warm Love to permeate the party. The harvest is many but the workers few…

Gratefully the Lord Himself brings the blessings of our thankfulness in Him. The Holy Spirit moves and awakens ready and willing souls in God’s Time… Let’s make time to gather and hear… Let’s open our tables, hearts, mouths to PRAISE Him…  Let’s show our faith by showing THANKFULNESS… No one wants to hear or taste sour grapes… let’s add salty savory sweetness to our conversations today.

And try faith in every stressful situation too. Focus on servanthood over stalemates. They is pain often in those not gathering with others… bring them a plate prepared specially for them. God’s Word is STILL good tomorrow….

CranberryCraze – JesusJoy – ThankfulGiving…

Amen

May you have a blessed day. 

PS

This cranberry recipe:

Boil one bag cranberries with half cup water and half cup maple syrup and zest of one orange. Boil until they open, about 5 minutes, few minutes more and use gentle persuasion with a fork to open the resistant ones… Toast a cup of pecans dry in a skillet. Add the pecans and juice of one orange. Enjoy! Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate extra. YUM!

Like Jesus,  I couldn’t get enough.

Time After Time

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A friend of mine said they thought reading the Old Testament was going to be daunting… I thought that too,  but then I simply started to start through it. No time frame, but a hunger of needing to know what I didn’t know… God has given me the time to learn. 

It’s the names that get tough, but the MESSAGE in it was clear ONCE I realized Who was telling this story… GOD!!! The Word… and the Messenger made sense to me because HE WANTS US TO UNDERSTAND.  

This Messenger of the Word is a true-tales storyteller thru the experiences of His faithful servants, even if they also were flawed as people. If anything, they themselves could tell you when they drifted from God and what the consequences were… like David… No matter his messups, David kept humbly returning to God for help.

In the Old Testament’s Word, we see Jesus’s earthly roots that are laid bare for us to see. We can trace a root to the fruit or lack thereof. The Word is telling stories of full faithfulness, of sometimes fading faith, and sadly of fully flawed faith… This IS full Truth: Humans are fallable, GOD IS Divine. God forgives and gathers.

So importantly  the Old and New Testaments are: of God by God for God, we hear the Promises directly from God and then learn how they got fulfilled. We learn that we can ALSO return when we go astray. 

What a GIFT, every once in a while reading along, that there’s a WHOLE RECAP! The story from the beginning is condensed into a mini taproots into the truth version (ch 9-12)… Nehemiah explains to listeners and readers (both those of his time AND us now) the stretch from making the Heavens to present times… Nehemiah speaks of God’s covenant with Abraham then God’s help in Moses’s leadership of the people out of Egypt… the wandering and wondering… the stiff-necked people and His Forgiveness… Nehemiah speaks of God’s warning about turning one’s back to God’s law (which happens time after time)… and we see God’s warnings come true that choosing an earthly king over God will just be trouble – and whole kingdoms will be turned over to enemies…  Nehemiah acknowledged that this generation of people were slaves in their own God-given land and potentially could drift again. God had been gracious to restore them again and again. (The ultimate restart comes when Jesus arrives and the ultimate restoration will be when Jesus comes again.)

Nehemiah witnessed this repromise of people to follow (Nehemiah was governor of the land and wall rebuilding for a time) and he recorded a re-pledge to the covenant with God. New dedication and re-centering their lives to God. They built the city back and brought people back in… They dedicated themselves to His service and sacrifices required to atone for human flaws against God’s Laws. Yes, Time after Time, God forgives and recollects His fold.

There’s a lot of names again here in this section of the Old Testament, but surely God wanted them included, He likes to hear them… just like He loves to hear praises. 

Time after time, people will go astray again – but “on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy.”

Let us remember, Time after Time,  GOD FORGIVES and GIVES US GREAT JOY.

We can approach God because He is already reaching to us. We can trace His fruit back to His roots in our past. We can bloom again.

Amen

Full text:

Thankful for Jesus

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I am ever so THANKFUL for:

turkey and talking,

for squash and squishy hugs,

for potatoes and pause,

for pie and peace.

I am ever so THANKFUL for: Jesus.

Jesus, the fulfiller of our ransom to Heaven.

Jesus, the fulfiller of the Law of Moses.

Jesus, the answer to the call of the Prophets.

Jesus, the holder of us and the Heavens.

Jesus, the filling and the hard-pressed shell.

Jesus, the mover and the anchor.

Jesus, the sweet and the suffering.

Jesus, the Word and the Way.

Jesus, the ONLY One Who can get us out of any mess and into His MESSAGE.

Jesus, being the Message Himself.

THANKFUL.

I am ever so THANKFUL to Jesus.

His Spirit puts the fullness into my THANKFULNESS.

His Presence puts the JOY in the fulfilling of the Promise.

His Sacrifice puts sin to death and life to forever.

His Hand puts us into HIS Fold and God’s Hold.

I am ever so THANKFUL to Jesus.

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Amen

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!!

GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU!

Thankful for TRUST

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A friend of mine was talking about her husband in the hospital, and her statement pertains to our every day to day situations as well… She said: “I know God is in control and nothing happens to us without His knowledge or consent. God loves us. He hasn’t lost control. And I can trust Him.

Trust… and one step at a time…

This means if good things happen, He is giving them to us on purpose, and He wants to use them for greater good. ALL GOOD THINGS ARE FROM GOD. Perhaps the good things give us relief or joy or awareness of Him. Trust God. 

This means if bad things happen, He knows that we will handle them and He asks us to trust Him even more and not lash out in sin. Perhaps the bad things make us realize how to better handle ourselves and our expectations or force us to REALLY TRUST HIM. 

This means if we don’t know what to do, ASK Him. Take only one step at a time IF you can only see one step in front of you. If you can KNOW Jesus is telling you to TRUST HIM to get out of your comfort zone, like Peter from the boat, GO FURTHER- but DON’T LOSE THE FIXATION OF YOUR EYES ON JESUS. 

TRUST.

I am THANKFUL for TRUST. 

(And if Jesus is not beckoning you to go out on the water, don’t let someone bully you to go out there. Don’t let scare tactics move you in haste either. Put your “anchor behind the veil”. TRUST GOD because He gave Jesus to us to anchor us into God’s grace. He is the sacrifice required and the sacrificer all in One.

Yesterday, I finally had a particular piece of mail envelop in my hand from seeing my “informed delivery” email from the postoffice. I  got the email Saturday, however the piece of mail didn’t come until Monday. I didn’t know what was inside, but saw the envelop’s outside and my mind started RACING a hundred miles an hour. Then I said to myself “STOP”, there is a reason why I don’t have it yet, tomorrow’s worry, God wants me to TRUST today and not get off track. God doesn’t want us to sink before we even swim. God does not want us to worry about TOMORROW’S worries. Focus on TODAY… Focus on Him!!! I opened it and the result was different than I had feared or conjured up in my head, and I was OK. No plans were derailed. No lesson was more learned than TRUST. God’s got this. 

TRUST. 

Amazing Grace lyrics:

Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come.

This grace that brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home

Have a TRUSTING THANKFUL DAY. 

AMEN 

Hebrews 6:17-20

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. 

Beautiful from Brokenness

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Not greedy but GRATEFUL.

  Not down but durable.

  Not lonely but longing.

    Not needy but need-less.

    Not blind in boastful boldness but

    Beautiful in bound-up brokenness.

    Not crazy but conscientious.

  Not crass but considerate.

  Not angry but attitude-adjusted.

Not thought-lost but THANKFUL. 

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Beautiful from Brokenness.

Repaired by Ransoming.

Children of Our Father.

Loved FOREVER.

Amen 

You Don’t Have to Find THIS Out…

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“…yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed” says the Lord.It is often QUIET in my house, but I have little to complain about. It’s just different being quiet, it’s both a blessing and an awareness… NOT a problem. Trust me, I’m not complaining even in a slight sadness. Sometimes sorrow and longing lead us in roads of resting in His Presence and Promise. Accept awareness. 

See, I am not alone, my son is upstairs and the cat is here, she is sitting next to me right now, patient and paying attention. The cat would like attention but seems to know half her job is just to be a companion. She is a watcher, she has an awareness.  I have a soul to talk to, and she knows when I am talking to her. She knows also fear, loud noises, uneasiness. But also and of course joy, comfort, contentment.  She has been sent as a blessing. (She will be most happy when her favorite cat mom comes home at Thanksgiving, she will feel her soul-worth in serving)…

See, in a bigger sense and in mini-minutia circumstances, we ALWAYS need to remember WE ARE NOT ALONE.  And being completely alone is NOT something we really will ever find out. The Lord is here, ALWAYS. 

You don’t have to find out the hard way, God IS Here, find out the easy Way. We can seek Him in truth and talk to Him in Spirit. Worship Him, He ia always working. 

No, not like a cat companion but a constant conscious companion, captain coach, curious curtailer to concerns. The Lord is here, talk to Him. God draws us closer to calm us and remind us to depend upon Him.

Sometimes I can’t find the cat (she hides in thunderstorms and smoke detector alarms from kitchen overcooking, oops). But we can always find the Lord. Sometimes the presence of quiet peace, sometimes the blockage of knowing more than we should, and ALWAYS the time we can have in His Word… The Lord is never further than one minute part of a molecule away. Actually He is IN my dust holding me into a person, able to pull apart or rejoin any molecules as needed to heal me back to earth or to help me along to Heaven. God holds us ALWAYS. 

God knows our days. We are to number them and make the most of them. 

The cat wakes me up from daydreaming… The Lord? He IS my DAY – no dreaming – we are never alone. He is our Sword and Shield in this world. He was is and will be our LIGHT in the darkness – we will never be without Him.

Amazing Amen 

Isaiah 54:7-11

For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.

“To me this is like the days of Noah,  when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.

So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. 

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

Smelling God…

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There is nothing like a crisp winter-ish morning in late fall, it reminds you that you are ALIVE. CRISP, but and CLEAR… Bless every cold blessedness.

COLD and CRISP. 

CRISP and COLD! 

It’s 20 degrees something, and you can smell AWARENESS, feel STILLNESS, and accept REALNESS… and know BLESSEDNESS!

I stepped out and it was like: SMELLED the GOODNESS of GOD.  Awareness awakened, I can KNOW how God blesses us, blessed me, and watches each step.

Of course it’s better walking with a real good winter coat! It’s better good with a place to be warm to go back to, and super good with realizing all the other thankfulnesses of a free morning. For me this day (a Saturday), it “hit me” in cold crispness stepping out in pitch black with super highlighted BRIGHTNESS of the stars and the moon, and remembering years ago in my awakening when the BRILLIANCE of the stars heightened my awareness of God directly… I know God was reminding me. It’s smelling God, because unlike “I smell a rat”, it’s like: “I smell a goodness, strength, and total control of the world AND the Heavens”. I smell God…

Nehemiah and Ezra were writing about their ancestors, Moses to David to Jehoshaphat and with advice up to “modern times”, around 400 years before Jesus, to INSPIRE the people to LISTEN and OBEY GOD. Isn’t it cool that the SAME moon, same stars, same crisp mornings welcomed Jesus, welcomed Moses, welcomed all God believers and non-believers alike. If you can smell God’s influence in your AWARENESS and HIS HAND in this AWESOMENESS, count your blessings that He put you in this day, this moment, these times. And since the multitudes of Heaven worship God, we should too.

Blessed be your glorious NAME, and may it be EXALTED above all BLESSING and PRAISE. YOU ALONE are the LORD. You made the HEAVENS, even the highest HEAVENS, and all their STARY HOST, the EARTH and ALL that is on it, the SEAS and ALL that is in them. You give LIFE to EVERYTHING, and the MULTITUDES of HEAVEN WORSHIP YOU. Nehemiah 9:5-6

Amen and Thank You Lord God for THIS day.

Amen

Strengthen my Hands and the Hold on my Tongue

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Don’t get pulled offsides, we know this in football, but real life we also need to see the schemers and detractors, the potholes of life… but instead we need to KEEP ON TRACK

STRENGTHEN, pray the Lord to strengthen you against loosing your cool. Strengthen the hold on our tongues when we want to snap at someone. Keep our resolve to LISTEN and obey and look beyond the fray of today…  Don’t get pulled offsides. 

Nehemiah (rebuilder of the walls and gates of Jerusalem after the exile) had detractors who nipped at his toes, angered his foes, and made stinky lies right under his nose. Nehemiah resisted and kept on working. God told him to do the work to bring back the city of Jerusalem and God’s Hand was on them…. Why should he stop? Why should he let the bad guy get the best of him when God Himself had given him a job to do. These enemies wanted to lure him to where they could hurt him, but worse hurt his reputation and cause him to sin.

Nehemiah saw the smoke screen which IS the devil’s scheme… smoke but no fire… a blinding predicament, but we are to focus above… 

We all need to remember to keep our cool and not retaliate for it causes us to sin. Turn the other cheek. Put yourself into your work. Nehemiah finished the wall in 52 days. Imagine what God can do with just one day of you listening and working thru issues… 

Whether you are building a wall, reaching God’s people, or quiety winning a war of words, let God fight your battle. When it is “realized that this work had been done with the help of our God”, who can stand against God?!!!! No one.

Lord I pray, strengthen my resolve, hold onto my tongue, and strengthen my hands to complete my work FOR You.

Amen 

Amen

—-

Nehemiah 6:1-16

When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it—though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates— Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”

But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.

Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written:

“It is reported among the nations—and Geshem says it is true—that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.”

But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”

One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”

But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.

Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 

When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

Can I Have 5 Years of Your Forever?

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Especially at the holidays, we miss many friends and family… and can’t even get to visit so many…

Time, money, mobility and more… often we just don’t have logistics to make it happen…

Thank God for writing (He invented it).

Thank God for telephones and video calls (He knows the best inventor minds to inspire).

Thank God that You gave us LOVE that we desire to be together (God God God).

God wants us in His Forever. 

I have a friend who has moved away,

An Aunt I miss calling every other day.

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I miss my Dad, yet I STILL hear all his advice. 

In Heaven to see them would be so so FOREVER nice.

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It’s hard to find 5 minutes let alone 5 years of time here on earth.

Our abilities and mobilities are our dearth.

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Our friends, we pray, some day to see.

In Forever, oh how heavenly that place will be.

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Can I have 5 years of your forever to chat?

Can people have moments in heaven to heal a spat?

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What would it mean to sit at the Lord’s Table?

Loved and see all who have been made able.

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Oh what Heavenly TIME the Lord IS giving.

Seeing our family our friends, will be our THANKSGIVING. 

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Let us accept the Lord’s invitation, accept His Way.

And worship Him FOREVER and today.

Amen 

The Plate Looks Great!

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24

Well… 

What a beautiful plate, Potters Mark 1993, nice but that’s not just why I like it…

What a beautiful plate, fits PERFECT in my big kitchen hutch, but that’s not just why I like it…

What a beautiful plate from a beautiful friend… That’s what I like about it… What a beautiful plate with a beautiful message… That’s what I LOVE about it.

What will I do with this plate? Talk about it. Share and break bread for meals on it. Cherish it then pass it along… Pray it doesn’t break… but realize it’s just a temporary earth thing anyway… I appreciate someone cared enough to make it WITH that scripture. I appreciate people of faith who serve the Lord.

Because without this particular friend’s faith, mine may not have bloomed yet… I would not be at the table. Now I am. Jesus’s table. When I sit at Jesus’s Supper of the Lamb, the Heavenly Banquet – I bet the plate will look GREAT!


As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

This is an active choice, every day a new day to serve.


Say it if you mean it.

Mean it if you say it.

I pray Lord to obey it.

Forgive me if I don’t. 

Find me if I won’t.

Thank You Lord for serving us with Your Life.

Let us serve You with ours.

Amen 


This is a follow up post to this post…. As for Me and My Plate, We Will Serve the Lord.

Psalm 139 – a psalm of David

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

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Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

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For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

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How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

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If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

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Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Joshua 24:1-31

The Covenant Renewed at Shechem
Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.

“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

“‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”

But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.

Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”

“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.

“Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”

On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord. “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.

Buried in the Promised Land
After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah[c] in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.

The JOY of the Lord is Your Strength

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Listen, it’s LISTENING that God hears. It may seem convoluted but it’s not. God wants to hear His JOY from His Spirit inside of us returned to Him in JOY. If we praise, God hears praises and knows His people understand all He has done – on the big scale and little scale. If the people are weeping, there’s probably very good reason and God collects their tears, and there IS pain in the world, sorrow… And yet there is HOPE. Hope is in Him. The Spirit knows that not all people understand that God is in control. We can point to times He has guided us. We can teach the hope of forever. Imagine that day when we realize will be with Him forever – then realize that now – start living with that attitude and keep going day by day… Our HOPE is both seeing God work here and now and ultimately for forever… we know Jesus will be returning – a LIGHT out of the clouds… So we must teach to encourage and explain to keep HOPE. 

When Nehemiah’s contemporaries rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem – day by day – brick by brick – they then  welcomed back exiled Jewish families, to the city and Solomon restored Temple.  They knew it ONLY was accomplished because God’s Hand was on them, therefore they ENCOURAGED the people !!!  God waited and wanted them to listen. They had to teach and explain, so do we. 

Walls completed, the people were assembled one Sabbath say and Ezra the priest was able to read Law from the book of Moses. And after reading, the knowledgable ones explained it to them, the people cried in repentance but their weeping was to be replaced by JOY. “…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the JOY of the LORD is your STRENGTH.”

This is a lesson for them and for us: they made it that far with God’s Hand – THEY FINISHED THE WALL – over 40,000 Jews returned. The Lord surely wanted to hear REJOICING, especially on the day He set aside for His people to be with Him. Us too – we made it this far – and our Kingdom has been rebuilt in Heaven… Also our Sunday plus everydays are set aside for remembering His Hand in our lives – knowing it is the best “thing” He can give us. Our strength can be realized from the Hand of God on our lives, and this helps us believe even more. There are TOUGH days, but our Lord IS even STRONGER. The JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH because we have opportunity to look beyond our broken world and PRAISE Him.

And not just praising His Hand on us, but His whole self-sacrifice FOR us. Jesus was/IS fulfillment of the law by His sacrifice – Jesus was/IS fulfillement of the prophecies of the prophets with His coming into the world and being sacrificed and being raised again. Our Hope continues into His return. Our TRUE JOY is in remembering that He conquered death not just for Himself but for us, and ALL for God our Father bringing His children Home. 

Nehemiah survived such opposition to rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem, even last ditch attempts to probably kill or defame him…. As they were finishing (see chapter 6), wow real threats and blackmail  – but gratefully the attempts looked SO OBVIOUS that Nehemiah knew they were traps. Nehemiah knew it was better to walk in the Light and keep working. 

The walls of Jerusalem had gates to OPEN in the daylight, not traps to close. That’s how we are to approach our devotion to the Lord. He has OPEN gates not closing traps. We can walk freely, but each night in the dark, come back into His Light. Come to His security over our lives. Sheep to our Shepherd. Security in sin’s defeat. A gaze to hold us and Hand to rescue us, just like Peter on the water… keep watching Him!

The JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH. Rejoice in the Rebuilding like Nehemiah.  Praise in the possibilities of each day by walking in Jesus’s Way

Amen 

Nehemiah 8:5-10

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:

And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.

Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said unto all the people, This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

…..

Obligation to Advocate against Greed

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But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. “

I wonder thoughtfully this Thanksgiving season about the many messages God has intended for us in chapter 5 of Nehemiah – a chapter written in first person by the cup-bearer of the foreign king and allowed to return to rebuild gates and walls of Jerusalem.  Now for this temporary time he is the governor helping the people and doing God’s work as he oversees the rebuilding and keeps tabs on the detractors.

Nehemiah realizes that we should not be our own enemies. Nehemiah speaks to the fellow noblemen about taking care of the poor – he acknowledges the complaints that the poor have registered – he speaks about the wrong practices of the rich and how they are getting richer off their own people by selling them into slavery (but foolishly then buying them back to work their own fields)…

Nehemiah speaks of being generous and not taking a salary for himself – and he speaks of feeding all those under his care. Most importantly,  Nehemiah speaks in a warning tone about WALKING IN THE FEAR OF GOD. 

“…ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?

God often uses enemies to sharpen our own resolve to LISTEN and obey His intentions MORE. God may sometimes allow us to be boxed into a corner so that the only way is thru GOD’S ABILITY to find a way where there was no way. If we are not listening, this is a good time to start listening. God does have answers. Praying is imperative. Listen and obey.

The people gone wrong in old testament scriptures (as well as modern day) often get carried away by greed. No wonder Jesus overturned the tables at the temple. The sellers were greedy for profit when they should have been offering a service to the poor of convenience for purchasing animals for sacrifice for atonement according to the Law of Moses. Greed is an all-consuming sin and overwhelms the world. Pray against us also being blinded by greed and not knowing how to deal with the money or blessings of richness of family connections either. Sad. God’s provisions are for His purposes. There are many without. Often our problems are good problems. Our issues would be blessings to other’s emptiness. 

THANKFULLY, the people of this community listened and agreed with Nehemiah. And they continued building and living. 

But out of reverence for God I did not act like that.” Nehemiah was a role model and did not lord over the poor.  Nehemiah spoke plainly to the rulers in a warning demonstration of shaking out the folds of his robe: “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!

Let us this Thanksgiving realize that we are working on rebuilding not just a wall but also a gate TO OPEN and bring more in… We are helping God gathering more people to a KINGDOM. We must take heed to warnings against greed. We must share. We must be thankful. (It’s also a commandment too: Don’t be jealous!)

And the Restoration of the KINGDOM? God delivered on His Promises: in a few hundred years after Nehemiah, Jesus, God with us, was born out of Judah, from the remnant of the line of King David. PROMISE delivered. Savior, Christ, Messiah, King.

Be BLESSED this Thanksgiving and Christmas and EVERY DAY because Jesus DID come and will come again. We just need to use these days to help others on their Way.

Thankfulness….

Amen

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Nehemiah 5

Nehemiah Helps the Poor

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, “We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.” Others were saying, “We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.” Still others were saying, “We have had to borrow money to pay the king’s tax on our fields and vineyards. Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our fellow Jews and though our children are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.”

When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, “You are charging your own people interest!” So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: “As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!” They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

So I continued, “What you are doing is not right. Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies? I and my brothers and my men are also lending the people money and grain. But let us stop charging interest! Give back to them immediately their fields, vineyards, olive groves and houses, and also the interest you are charging them—one percent of the money, grain, new wine and olive oil.”

We will give it back,” they said. “And we will not demand anything more from them. We will do as you say.”

Then I summoned the priests and made the nobles and officials take an oath to do what they had promised. I also shook out the folds of my robe and said, “In this way may God shake out of their house and possessions anyone who does not keep this promise. So may such a person be shaken out and emptied!”

At this the whole assembly said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord. And the people did as they had promised.

Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year—twelve years—neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor.  But the earlier governors—those preceding me—placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land.

Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations. Each day one ox, six choice sheep and some poultry were prepared for me, and every ten days an abundant supply of wine of all kinds. In spite of all this, I never demanded the food allotted to the governor, because the demands were heavy on these people.

Remember me with favor, my God, for all I have done for these people.

Serving Thankfulness

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by PRAISING. 

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by SHARING. 

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by FOLLOWING. 

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by TRUSTING. 

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER. 

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by REMEMBERING. 

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by LOVING. 

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As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Serve by being THANKFUL. 

AMEN 

Break Bread. 

Break Bread to show how His Love is shed, how we are led, how all may be fed.  

Break Bread. 

Amen 

Boast ONLY in God

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God saw me, I really didn’t need to post my day on Facebook, but I’m human and sharing (and sometimes boasting) is both self-gratifying and a form of built-in brokenness and yet also a pouring out of my JOY of my counting of blessings and wanting to bring a Facebook full of CHEERFULNESS not whining. The boast however SHOULD be NOT in me but in God, in what God allows us to do, in what God forces us to do, in what we could have not achieved without Him. A boast means God did it Himself, and He did!

My boast this day? RAKING LEAVES, eating Butternut squash pizza for only $5, having freetime on a Saturday, talking, even taking a selfie with Santa. Later I posted about  making a crepe, yum…SILLY BUT SOOTHING TO SHARE.  Sure, this is all my BROKENNESS, me having to share, YEAH! That’s why we see both whines and wistfulness on Facebook. Yes, we rant rave cheer and jeer…. Often speak and squeal and process good times, especially when I have no one else as “captive an audience” to squeal too except the cat who really DOESN’T care, but is a good listener anyway. Now that’s a BOAST in God’s gifts, not mine, is that He gifted us this cat to love, to entertain, cajole us and be there, even wake me up and sit next to me as I write…. 

These brokenness bits are not all bad, for my social nature and the good weather got me outside all week and to craft fairs and events that were designed for social people like me who like to see things and support good causes. It WAS good to be there. And I saw friends from years ago, TWICE, once at one craft show then again at the outdoor event. TWICE after 15 years not seeing them, however we do see each other on Facebook, lol. 

Here I will pause for the IMPORTANT boast in the Lord (that I must take minimal credit in) – it is LIVING !!! God gives us breath one more day, no matter what troubles come our way. My old friends at the event are a great couple, sweet people, however the wife has developed dementia, early dementia in her 60s… I somehow did not know but I could see it in her, she was like taking all of the scene in, processing slower, she knows what she sees, she remembers things, but she is NOT the super talkative person she used to be to verbally share it all back to people… God bless them both. I remember her rattling on about things – now she looks beyond.

When we can live “normally” or best we can under the circumstances, we must COUNT OUR BLESSINGS. All of us must “look beyond…”

Our HOPE in our brokenness that He fills us in with better bits than we can. My goal of using my forever brokenness is of wanting to connect with people for His sake… I want it purposeful for both me and God. Because a big hole in me HE FILLS.  I have a hunger for Him, I also want to help serve “a helping of Him” to others who hunger – even if just me smiling is part of His appetizer to His Supper… I know only He satisfies my soul. ONLY HE GAVE US OUR SMILES….  So my next boast in Him was/IS: He makes me write and share – like smiles on paper – like tears on paper – like my brokeness down to start repairing. Now crossing over 1600 writings, I am blessed in posting them and printing them in paper format (2 copies for my kids) which will look like an obsessive pile of curated boxes in my house. I’m not proud of anything but keeping up! These writings and postings being something I just feel I need to do.

So what about this boasting of our earthly skills and situations? It can’t last forever, NOPE. We will all pass away. So if we boast in Jesus’s Sacrafice and Save, boast in Christ alone, then someday we will be present for when even all our heavenly-awarded crowns of earthly achievements “FOR GOD” will be something we throw down AT THE FEET of Jesus

They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11

God’s got dibs on the goodness in this world. Today it’s rainy and cold, but we are still here, INSIDE, LOL. (Glad I did those leaves yesterday with a repaired shoulder that worked perfectly fine 5 years later, thank You God)

Today we are still able to praise, still be the children of our God. 

Our God is a Living God, our living HOPE. 

Let us Boast only in Him. AND LET US SHARE THAT ON FACEBOOK….

Amen

The song that was placed in my head as I awoke today:https://youtu.be/pBfOcJGEKUU

I Will Boast

Paul Baloche

… Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom

Or let the strong man boast in his strength

Let not the rich man boast in his riches

But let the humble come and give thanks

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To the One who made us, the One who saved us

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I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy, He’s worthy

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… Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom

Or the strong man boast in his strength

Let not the rich man boast in his riches

But let the humble come and give thanks

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To the One who made us, the One who saved us

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… I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

He’s worthy

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… I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone, alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

Yeah

I will make my boast in Christ alone

Yeah

I will make my boast in Christ alone

Yeah, yeah

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… I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

I will boast in the Lord my God

I will boast in the One Who’s worthy

He’s worthy

He’s worthy

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… I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone, alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

I will make my boast in Christ alone

ARMED WITH THE SWORD

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The Word of God is active and alive.

The old testament is filled with stories of veterans defending, building, working for God’s TRUTH. 

Nehemiah recognized the dangers of rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. He defended against the detractors just as much as any protective army. He had real weapons, having the servant builders and noblemen and guards watch for the enemy. Men fully armed AND even the material carriers or builders had a weapon in one hand or by their side, and building materials in the other. REAL swords meaning real business! Real protection. A trumpeter stayed with Nehemiah for any sounding of the alarm. They even had their swords at their sides when they went for water. They kept building. We have an ability to keep building too, ourselves, our families, our communities, all under God’s direction. 

Nehemiah was armed with a Sword of Truth himself, his ability to speak God’s Word was laid on his heart, just like we have THE Sword of Truth of scripture to speak into a situation. Nehemiah said: “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome…”  We also in these days have ashield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Jesus is the Living Word, and Truth will defend and protect. Jesus came to rebuild God’s Kingdom. Nehemiah restated that the detractors said: “Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?” Well. YES. God can! We work for the miracle maker, earth-shaker. As Jesus died and took all sin upon Himself to the end, He also ROSE, a stone, a ROCK back to LIFE. 

We must keep working, sometimes we forget our journey is not supposed to be easy, but it’s worth it. When we enter a tough situation, we too must listen to our Foreman, take action where the building is threatened, be awake and aware of the situation. We can enter situations equipped WITH the Lord who readies us “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace

Nehemiah listed the groups of workers repairing each gate and wall section. His people. We have a God who saves. We are God’s people and we ARE fitted for His Work. We are co-laborors. We CAN work with the sword of truth in one hand and building materials in the other.... to be the people who worked with all their heart.

Thank God.

Amen 

The Word Himself reminds us: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”... “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6 excerpts 

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Nehemiah 4: 1-2, 6-23

Opposition to the Rebuilding

When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”

So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.

But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.” Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.”

Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.”  Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.”

See chapter 3 for the names of the people here:

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Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 

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Ephesians 6:10-18

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Bearing His Fruit

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You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you.

Fruits of His Spirit grow on you. Use what He gives and shine on through. Jesus is the Vine in you: Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control and LOVE too. 

We are the branches and He is the Vine. Jesus said: “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.” 

IT’S JESUS FRUIT WE ARE TO SHINE!

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Can we be JOYFUL FOR the Lord’s benefit? Bear fruit on our branch for nourishing His future harvest? Will you be JOYFUL for the benefit of His people?

Yes.

Peace is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Can we share PEACE? Will you look for inner PEACE branching from that special place where the Lord indwells in you?

Yes.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Can we be PATIENT as His branches grow in us? Taking their time each growing season to work and each winter season to rest? Will you demonstrate listening to the Lord before you act?

Yes.

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Can we branch off His Vine of being KIND? Will you be KIND even if others are not kind to you?

Yes.

Generosity is a fruit of the Spirit. Can we find an opportunity to share means that are truly is gifted by the Lord? Including His generous Spirit? Will you give from not just your excesses but willingly extend your branch so His Vine can bless others?

Yes.

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. Can we FAITHFULLY trust and then FAITHFULLY act? Will you let the Lord grow your branch stronger? Will you step out a little further in faith because He makes you strong?

Yes.

Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit.

Can we flow His gentle touch to those who need compassion and help? Will you prepare the fruit of your vine to bite-sized pieces? Make it more shareable with all?

Yes.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Can we calmly show His strength without overbearance or flaunting? Will you take a step back to listen before charging forward blindly, even if “for Him”? Will you be an example of self-control?

Yes.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit. 

Can we SHINE JESUS LOVE? Will you both LOVE until it hurts and LOVE until it helps? Will you Love because Jesus loves? Will we recognize Love even in correction by God?

Yes.

Apart from me you can do nothing.”

In YOU Jesus, we can do ALL these things.

From YOU Jesus, we can achieve great things.

With YOU Jesus, we will branch out Your Vine. 

Yes Jesus, we can and will polish our fruit with YOUR SHINE.

Amen

Jesus says: You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:3-5

Inspect, Erect, Protect, Nehemiah Part 2

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THE HAND OF GOD WAS ON NEHEMIAH. But he WAITED to tell people and did the legwork first to prepare.

Nehemiah wanted to go back to his ancestral homeland from his exiled location – he was granted “the king’s ear” and asked the king’s permission and help. He knew the Lord’s desire to bring back Jerusalem, His temple and city, for the purposes of HOPE… and Nehemiah knew it was in the prophecies for the remnant of King David’s people to return… but when he got to Jerusalem, Nehemiah decided to stay quiet for a bit until he really had a chance to evaluate the situation. He didn’t have to tell everyone all at once of his grand plans or of the plans that the Lord had for him and for them…  NEITHER DO WE.  First, Nehemiah had to INSPECT what was going on around him, he had to ERECT a plan and a wall, and he had to PROTECT the plan and the city. Restoration requires resurrection.  Resurrection means we move forward in God’s Way. 

There were detractors, there were skeptics and naysayers, and nearly saboteurs by wagging tongues.  Imagine if you were going into battle,  you wouldn’t broadcast it and wouldn’t disturb your focus.  If God’s Hand is on you, He is close enough to listen to your whispers. So, Nehemiah went QUIETLY to inspect the walls of Jerusalem around the city of David’s remnants, then Nehemiah set out to repair the damage. Did he tell the local leaders? Not until he first told the servants. 

We encounter detractors and people who aren’t even thinking about us but mostly their own life and gain. Most of the time when we think we are being scrutinized,  even getting ourselves paranoid, we are likely just in the way of someone else’s inadequacy feelings. Let’s remember God wants us to lean on Him, take actions in a bigger sense of good. Be the servant to God’s Big Restoration.

Jesus came in quiety in Bethlehem but to the servants of the King, they knew what a big deal this was. The shepherds saw angels and wisemen a star. A remnant of David’s people, his family kept the Way set forth from Moses’s time for sacrifice and dedication. Jesus came to inspect, erect, protect God’s Kingdom and told the servants first. Jesus and God the Father knew of the detractors. An angel told the wisemen to not go back to scheming Herod. An angel told Joseph to get out of Herod’s fury, killing baby boys. Jesus Himself started His ministry only when the time was right.

Let us be like Nehemiah and do our legwork and calmly sometimes quietly do our work for God and because we have His protection, let us satisfy the Lord who needs us in the right time and the right place. We have the King’s ear, let’s make sure He has ours.

Amen 

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Nehemiah 2:6-20

It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about this, they were very much disturbed that someone had come to promote the welfare of the Israelites.

Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls

I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King’s Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work.

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.”

Repent, Return, Restore, Resurrect (part 1 Nehemiah)

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Nehemiah was an Israelite in the service of the king in the area where they (southern divided kingdom) had been swept away to another exile after Babylon conquered Judah. (God allowed this defeat because His people in Judah had turned away, the sins of the nation but the Grace of God to keep them as His People)… Many years passed, there were some faithful in the flock, Nehemiah was one. This remnant was allowed to return to their “homeland” because God made the heart of Cyrus, Persian King, gentle towards this people. And there was record of the promise to these people that was passed on to future kings who held these Israelites as servants. God knew how to place His servants in the right place at the right time.

Nehemiah heard of what had happened to Jerusalem, the walls crumbled and gates burned. He wept in tears and prayed in petition to the Lord, acknowledging all the many sins of his nation. It wasn’t a political blamegame left and right, but a clear cry: “God, we ALL drifted.” … “God, you said You would scatter your people and You did!”

Nehemiah recognized that the Israelites were God’s chosen people from Jacob their forefather, but that they were brought down by their own sinfulness and disobedience. He also knew that God promised to keep a remnant alive, and reassemble the people if they came back to Him. Nehemiah realized his opportunity as cupbearer to the king of his exiled home away from home, and he was prayerful to do his part in restoration of David’s city and Solomon’s temple for God’s mission. 

It’s a constant theme of the Old Testament scriptures: Come back to God.  Repent, Return, Restore, Resurrect. A temple for worship was brought back AFTER the WILL TO WORSHIP was reestablished. 

Nehemiah’s prayer was for the Hand of God to be on him when he spoke openly to the king. After appearing so sad, he was asked about his sadness, then Nehemiah was able to realize this window of opportunity. Nehemiah asked for time to travel to Jerusalem, safe passage to and from with official documents, and the timber resources for restoration of the gates and walls of Jerusalem,  the city of his ancestors. Nehemiah recognized that the Hand of God must have been on him, allowing this success. Nehemiah praised and KNEW.

God gave a focal point for His people, Jerusalem. Jesus was the answer for these people, even if they did not realize. God still has a New Jerusalem coming for His People who include us as repented people who want to return to Him. In this second coming of Jesus, Jesus once again comes for us. Repent Return Restore Resurrect. 

Jesus’s forgiveness from God’s mercy. Jesus a remnant of Hope for the line of David and a King above all kings. Jesus is the King of Resurrection and not just a Temple for God’s name, but for being God Himself. Jesus, the Name above all names. 

OUR BROKENNESS IS USED BY GOD FOR GOD. OUR SADNESS CAN BE IMPORTANT IN MAKING US ACT TO REBUILD. 

Because Nehemiah realized this opportunity to speak out of his sadness, God used his tears for triumph. Let’s ask Him to use our tears as well. God’s Hand collects our tears. Let us all PRAY for the Nations and all God’s children. Let us be motivated and moved to act for God’s mission.

Jesus came and will come again. Restoration. Spread the Word. 

Amen 

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Nehemiah 1:3-9

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 

Then I said: “Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’ …”

Nehemiah 2:1-8

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests.

Brain Waves Weaved His Way

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Oh!!!! I made it! I’m in one of the last chronological chapters of the Old Testament! I made it! Nehemiah! I’m excited where before I was daunted by the inches!!! But even being near the end, I am only 2/3 of the way in paper? How? and why? Well, for they “Why”, ask Jesus when you see Him, for all those whys, but I CAN tell you HOW I got here, and I can tell you that there’s a WEAVING of these stories in a repetitive deep way, in parallel books, by different authors at different times, written for different audiences! YEAH! 

Wait! So, whoda thunk what is all true for the New Testament, parallel writings of different witnesses and writers for different audiences, us ALSO true for the Old Testament. Whoda set up the Word in this Way… Ah WEAVING waves of the Way into our day… Jesus…

The Old Testament is an alive Living Word. The New Testament too, of course. Perhaps the myriad of people in Heaven are currently merging what they did not know with what IS known now, about Jesus coming and having come… What if we too are to be looking and merging what we knew and learn to know? WHAT IF EXCHANGING KNOWLEDGE of the WORD is like blue non-oxygenated blood that gives up carbon dioxide then gets oxygen to make it red. And the cells themselves, at the living breathing lung exchange area, are chatting away to each other about what they’ve seen throughout the whole body… what if… 

Breathing thru the Living Word. What amazing WEAVING has Jesus done of the Word in our brain waves.

Trust me, I’ve only scratched the surface of the Old Testament and have another third to assimilate into what I’ve barely learned. If you look at timelines as if they are like colorful Lego maps, one starts with the basic green underlaying foundation, then gets big big blocks down like Adam Noah Moses David Solomon. There are themes of exile, rebuilding, exiles, and always wars. Then add another layer of bricks of more stories in Joshua, Saul, Sampson, Elijah, Ezra. Then another layer of bricks – those stories (I have not yet read in page progression) of Jonah, Ester, Nehemiah and Malachi. Little embellishments too. Nothing too big or little, every detail with purpose. 

Don’t try building this LEGO set without instructions! Getyourself Bible timelines and teachers!!! (and even the cat will wonder what you are doing, so get plastic-coated ones in case she walks all over them)…

There’s SO much to learn and yet remember start with God’s big points. Love, life, living… sending a Savior for salvation. The Old Testament is just that: a testament of obeying and worshiping God, a testament of God’s faithfulness and mercy, a testament of the beginning love, the middle love and the end love – but wait: the end is a new beginning! Life won’t end, ever! Love it!

What will eternity will be like in the new Jerusalem? I bet we will walk thru these old timelines WITH the people. I think each person can sit down with Noah and ask him the tough questions. Imagine singing WITH David. Pause for a moment to imagine Mary in front of you. And Jesus? WOW… 

JESUS… Someday, to you and to me, I think Jesus will say: Remember studying those timelines? Now you are placed IN Mine…. Yes Jesus, You put us IN Your Line and Your Timeline,,, 

JUST IN TIME.

Thank you Jesus. 

Amen

OBEDIENT

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OBEDIENT 

Blood-teary

End of the Earth Traveler 

Despised 

Iniquity-acceptor 

Exalted 

Name above all names

The Messiah 

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OBEDIENT 

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Isaiah 52:15-16

“For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’”

Picked for God’s Team

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I’m not a sports fanatic, but I am a fan of many. Mostly I like the teams my brother didn’t like, back in our pre-teen rivalry years. 

Often we like local teams, but mostly everyone just wants to see a good game.  I love to sit at a hockey game, right behind the boards, I love constant action.

Even if I’m a fair-weather fan of some adopted local teams, supporting my die-hard friends who are fanatics, I do feel their pain and joy…  Ah, suffering servants of sports, they are LOYAL. They are True. 

Football is a team sport – offense and defense and special teams are unique lines, but BASEBALL uses everyone on both “offense” and “defense” (pinch-hitters aside). Baseball is a team sport of individuals and requires coordination of single plays. The team, with different pitchers and lineups, even mid-season trades, could be a different team each game but they are a TEAM right in that moment.

A TEAM. We are individuals and we also fall under logistics collections of teams or countries or jurisdictions. Often we are free agents IF we have mobility, money, motivation, and freedom to choose. Family decisions make the decision easy or hard, because we want to be with our crew

FYI, God does too, His crew is me and you. We are on God’s Team!

Life games and life GAINS. God wants us on His Team. God wants to be with us. God already picked us for His team, but sadly some trade themselves away to be devoted to other games. God picked us to be called up for the life-forever-league and places us on these current teams to make a difference as workers in the field. With a priceless payment of Jesus’s blood, God paid our way to secure the best team too. He chose us before we chose Him! God only has us on the scoring side, on the offense, in the line that gains ground. God is ALREADY our best defense, we only need to hide under His wings. 

Jesus was able to tell His disciples (72 sent out as workers) about the benefits of living under all Godly authority, and even having an opportunity in seeing evil demons submit. Jesus, having seen Satan fall from the sky, said the disciples (and we) should rejoice MORE that their/our names were WRITTEN IN HEAVEN (see Luke 10).

When we come to a saving faith in Jesus, we now have an “open door that no one can shut”. (See Revelation 3)

We are on earthly teams, and sometimes they win and sometimes they lose. But FOREVER we are on God’s Team – and He already won, so we just need to play through

He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame.

He won us! He picked us! 

We ARE God’s Team!!!

Amen

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Scriptures:

Jesus sent out 72 disciples in pairs to share the Word (Luke 10:16-21): “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.”

Revelation 3:1-6

To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

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Revelation 3:7-13

 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.  Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Revelation 17:14

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

Ephesians 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;…

Ezra Ezra, What’s to Know? Part 2

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I’m knowing God has a plan, but that doesn’t mean I understand all parts of how we got from there to here. He reminds us we are on a “needs to know basis” – meaning we will learn and discern only more and more closely walking with Him.

I’m reading through the old testament and God clearly called individuals but also whole communities.  One part that Ezra, priest and organizer for returning to Jerusalem, brought to everyone’s attention was how they disobeyed God. And he wept SO LOUD that the ones gathering around him wept too. They promised to work together to REPENT and REPAIR the disobedience. And they sat in the RAIN. And because of that rain, they asked to organize how their local officials and household heads, could take the time to do this sorting out in an organization fashion… 

The crowd (in the rain) was urged COURAGE to do what was right in God’s eyes. God had asked Israelites to worship Him, and not marry into pagen, false idol worshiping families. There was not a bloodline issue as much as a drifting issue, if God’s people started to worship other gods, they couldn’t walk so close to God. And God wanted them (AND US) to walk CLOSE… 

AMAZING, but not surprised that my little Bible devotion book (Jesus Calling) for today’s date states scriptures about WALKING WITH GOD. 

“But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God…”

The people told Ezra what Ezra was telling them, that there was a HOPE, that God in His mercy (not leniency) would bring forth an answer to the unfaithfulness issue, a Savior, One from the line of David to restore the Kingdom. THE PEOPLE PRAYED TOGETHER about this and renewed their covenant and sacrifices.  The people took the issue into their workload rather than Ezra having to do an impossible job so quickly. (We also need to pray together and support our leaders: priest and pastors, teachers and each other. Witnesses with workers. Hope in hopeful hearts).

The people had a tough time sticking with the old covenant and so do we (all those 10 commandments and more) thus God raised a NEW COVENANT for them and for us, a NEW Promise. Not leniency but grace and mercy. 

The end of Ezra’s chapter says they are going to work on reorganizing and repenting. We don’t know yet in this part of the story how it turned out for each family but we do know for us, because we have read ahead and we have lived ahead into that Promise that Ezra hoped for… We know that the Promise did come, out of Judah from the line of King David… That Promise WAS and IS Jesus.

Ezra, Ezra, What’s to know ? 

Jesus was coming. He came. 

Walk with Him.

That’s a TRUTH we know.

Amen 

Ezra 10

While Ezra was praying and confessing, weeping and throwing himself down before the house of God, a large crowd of Israelites—men, women and children—gathered around him. They too wept bitterly. Then Shekaniah son of Jehiel, one of the descendants of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God by marrying foreign women from the peoples around us. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel.  Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.”

So Ezra rose up and put the leading priests and Levites and all Israel under oath to do what had been suggested. And they took the oath.  Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.

A proclamation was then issued throughout Judah and Jerusalem for all the exiles to assemble in Jerusalem. Anyone who failed to appear within three days would forfeit all his property, in accordance with the decision of the officials and elders, and would himself be expelled from the assembly of the exiles.

Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”

The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say. But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.”  Only Jonathan son of Asahel and Jahzeiah son of Tikvah, supported by Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite, opposed this.

So the exiles did as was proposed. Ezra the priest selected men who were family heads, one from each family division, and all of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to investigate the cases, and by the first day of the first month they finished dealing with all the men who had married foreign women.

Ezra Ezra, What’s to Know? Part 1

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Oh poor Ezra. He had such a great mission to bring back the remnant Israelites to Jerusalem – so they could worship and sacrifice to the Lord as He requested – AND so He could return a remnant of David’s line of kings into the coming of the Savior,  Light of the world….  Oh Ezra, he such prayers in praise to the Lord (for His Hand was on them) and THEN, Ezra found out the unfortunate truth that some of the people returned to Jerusalem had drifted in unfortunate unfaithfulness… This was not new for these people whom were often led by unruly rulers. But Ezra in his/His mission for his/His people wanted to get them all back on track…  

The leaders reported back to priest leader Ezra (himself a multi-great grandson of Aaron, Moses’s brother): “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices…  …And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.” 

Ezra KNEW that the Lord had been MORE faithful to His people than they had been to Him. THAT IS TRUE TODAY TOO, for sll times the Lord is more faithful, more patient… Ezra said: Lord, You have been so faithful and granted us this gift to return to you. Ezra fell on his face in prayer and tried to understand it. He concluded: our God, you have punished us less than our sins deserved“…

This both acknowledged guilt and acknowledged that the Lord is the ONLY way out of our brokenness.  This is true for us today too – when we are sitting in a world of brokenness or a sea of selfishness, we must realize that God is the Way. When we think of salvation, know Jesus came as ultimate sacrifice, and because we are not able to come up to God’s standards as broken humans, therefore GOD CAME DOWN TO US. 

Ezra wept but then ROSE to keep going, to help the people by asking the Lord said WHY He was Good… Ezra remembered the prophecy and taught that there was a REMNANT, a LIGHT, a HOPE, coming to the world. 

Ezra knew and taught HISTORIC HOPE. That’s a benefit of being a chronicler, that’s why we too should record our experiences and tell others of God’s faithfulness. 

Hope… a light in the darkness. Thanks Ezra for sharing what you knew!

Amen

—– 

Ezra 9 excerpts 

“When I heard this, I tore my tunic and cloak, pulled hair from my head and beard and sat down appalled. Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel gathered around me because of this unfaithfulness of the exiles. And I sat there appalled until the evening sacrifice. Then, at the evening sacrifice, I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the Lord my God and prayed: “I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.  From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today…But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.

*** ...our God, you have punished us LESS than our sins deserved…*** 

I Saw Today, I Was OK

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I saw today my neighbor with a repaired broken hip,

No one likes hospitals but seeing her BIG BIG smile was well worth my trip…

I Saw Today, I Was OK.

I put away my stressings, to count my blessings. 

.

I felt cold today from frozen toes,

But the cat begged and then was SO con-tent outside, so you know how that goes…

I Saw Today, I Was OK.

I put away my stressings, to count my blessings. 

.

I walked today slowly politely behind a man with a crutch. 

He had just one leg, a loss I can’t even dream as having such.

I Saw Today, I Was OK.

I put away my stressings, to count my blessings. 

.

I held today cash to pay some bills.

I can make plans. I can even plan some frills and thrills.

I Saw Today, I Was OK.

I put away my stressings, to count my blessings. 

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I heard today recorded 911 calls from a school shooting, a voice crying. 

A brave 10 year old begging help for the dying.

I Saw Today, in vast comparison, I Was OK, my own children were OK.

I put away my stressings, to count my blessings.

.

I consulted the Lord today. 

There is so much UGH in life’s fray.

There’s cruddy ads on the airways.

Friends turned foes these strifeful days.

To debate is an opportunity, to mudsling distracts, we are not countries that fall under dictator ways. We must rise above the crud TODAY.  We must choose LOVE today.

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I consulted the Lord today. 

A broken world can not heal in any human way.

So there ARE prayers, 

There ARE HOPEFUL prayers.

Why don’t we pray for others today. 

Accept our own blessings and say: “I am OK.”

.

When I have called upon the Lord, He gave me peace, He showed me love.

He gave me action or inaction with pondering. He sheltered my day. 

He responded to my past jams with His amazing plans. I must believe Him now, He told me He will resolve all my troubles, our troubles, in HIS WAY.

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I Saw Today, I Was OK.

I put away my stressings, to count my blessings. 

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Let us wait on the Lord and pray. 

Amen

Psalm 116

love the Lord, for he heard my voice;  he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, Lord, have delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.

Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.

I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord— in your midst, Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord.

Walk the Road WITH God

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Ezra was too embarrassed to ask…

Too embarrassed to ask a king, but never too embarrassed to ask God. 

Ezra was the chronicler of old testament kings and a leader of the exiled Israelites on their eventual journey back to Jerusalem, city of David and temple of Solomon to rebuild. Ezra was writing about God’s faithfulness and the people who honored God (and those who didn’t). This helped teach the people of his time all about their history and especially the importance of worshiping God, and LISTENING. This helps teach us too. And Ezra was there when the king of his time was told and shown that God’s Hand was on those blessed chosen traveling Israelites. So now, after being conquered and taken away to the Babylon area (which God allowed because of their disobedience), it was time to travel back and get back to worship. “You as well as these articles are consecrated to the Lord”…

Ezra was afraid to be embarrassed to look like he didn’t trust God. Afraid a king may say “put your money where your mouth is”… I’ve been there, many times, afraid to be embarrassed. Yet, God needs us dependent upon Him, so that we DO take the right steps. Ezra told that king that God’s Hand was on them (and it was), so he was not going to go back to the king to ask for warriors to escort them in safety back to Jerusalem. How do you say “God’s got this” then not TRUST that He actually does? How wishy-washy would it look to human kings and non-believers? This is a lesson in trust and also an urging to ALWAYS go back to God, make prayers of courage and protection. Ask God to get you through. Ask God for help, trust that He will. 

Ezra asked for a fast, a serious prayer of humbling oneself, Ezra was from a long line of Israelites descended from Aaron, Moses’s brother and first priest. Ezra asked and looked for some of the Levites to join them, set aside servants of God with skills, God gave them. He looked for provisions, God granted those too. He looked for all his group to depend upon God, he urged and he asked them. Then the ultimate ask: EZRA ASKED GOD FOR SAFE TRAVELS. We too need to humble ourselves – we will find God has a better plan than ones that are not working for us.

Too embarrassed to ask earthly kings, NEVER embarrassed to ask God. God would prefer that we would ASK!

We must ask God, in prayer and a humble spirit of praise: You ARE sovereign God. Our ask is not just for getting us out of something but for getting through something and getting us towards something. We must ASK – and often we will see that God already went ahead, we just needed to trust. “Ye though I walk thru the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Ezra said and witnessed to the people: The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way.

Think of ourselves as Peter walking upon the water, he trusted Jesus enough for Jesus called to him, he kept his eyes upon Jesus and walked. He shifted his view to the problem over the answer (Jesus is the answer) and Peter started to sink. Where was Jesus? RIGHT THERE, right close to grab Peter as he reached up. Peter physically saw the Hand of God, and God in Jesus said: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Let us today fix our sights on God, let’s ask and believe, let’s trust. Why does God pull us in different ways and sometimes difficult situations? Is it testing us or simply using us to show others that we do indeed trust God. Life is NO picnic without ants, roads DO have bandits, waters ARE choppy. SO, WE MUST DEPEND UPON GOD. 

And walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Walk with the Lord.

Amen 

—-

Ezra 8:15-32 excerpts 

The Return to Jerusalem
When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there. So I summoned … men of learning, and I ordered them to go to Iddo, the leader in Kasiphia… so that they might bring attendants to us for the house of our God. …

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and HE ANSWERED OUR PRAYER.

Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests, namely, Sherebiah, Hashabiah and ten of their brothers, and I weighed out to them the offering of silver and gold and the articles that the king, his advisers, his officials and all Israel present there had donated for the house of our God. I weighed out to them 650 talents of silver, silver articles weighing 100 talents, 100 talents of gold, 20 bowls of gold valued at 1,000 darics, and two fine articles of polished bronze, as precious as gold.

I said to them, “You as well as these articles are consecrated to the Lord. The silver and gold are a freewill offering to the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Guard them carefully until you weigh them out in the chambers of the house of the Lord in Jerusalem before the leading priests and the Levites and the family heads of Israel.” Then the priests and Levites received the silver and gold and sacred articles that had been weighed out to be taken to the house of our God in Jerusalem.

On the twelfth day of the first month we set out from the Ahava Canal to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested three days.


Raining on His Treat

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Tonight it started raining 35 minutes into “my Halloween” – meaning that golden hour and a half or so that kids trick or treat in dusk to show up at your house. It’s a precious narrow window of time that parents get out with their little ones.  And trust me it’s so unreal that my little kids are so grown up now. Oh how I would take a Halloween stroll with them again if I could… the evening used to last longer with double the numbers, but us “old-folks” now with grown kids take up more and more of the community. Still 35 minutes of greeting time was better than none. “I got an eyeball” I can hear one princess exclaim! Excited and sweet. Later a teenager was directed to go back to house 24 as the nice old lady gave out full-size KitKat. It was well worth the price of candy.

And it was warm out, and the cat enjoyed it in her tent, except then it started to rain. This cat doesn’t appreciate rain. 

I was well dresses and a wig too, i didn’t feel the rain but thought well let me grab an umbrella, and so I sat 10 minutes in the rain and walked down to the sidewalk to get the last kids. This was too short a time not to reach out and enjoy. I survived the rain.

This is how I imagine God is, waiting with treats ready to give, better than what I was giving, better than house 24 KitKat  better than anything on earth or in the sky. God’s giving out the best in life WITH Him, and going door to door, that’s ALL FULL SIZE GOD, in God. Jesus and the Holy Spirit. WAITING, WALKING, WOW-ING. In the rain, with JOY. In the wait with hope (yes worth it). In the wait with longing. In the wait with loss too. There are kids of God who won’t accept His gift. Sad. It is like raining on God’s treat. His treat to be with us.

Jesus understood the SHORT window of physical time – did question why – did realize sadly in tears riding into Jerusalem that the parade was of people not understanding a Heavenly King, on the sugar rise of the moment for another conquering king but not convinced of the Forever King. Jesus rode in anyway.

Jesus understands the price paid is worth it, worth us. The Holy Spirit extends the Window of gathering. God waits like the Father of the prodigal son, ready to lavish His returned children with His blessings. 

Someday the candy and the day of God’s opportunities to be collected off the earth will stop. Let’s help give out our hope to others in the meantime, and appreciate umbrellas. Now IS the window of opportunity.  Someday these kids (God’s kids) will not venture out, but God WILL still come to them. Someday the night will be broken with Jesus returning, and we will all be on our eternal way.

Pray people find The Way.

Amen