Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Heart

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:23

Jesus is God. Jesus is Immanuel. Jesus is with us.

He knew then and still knows now and forevermore. He knows all. ALL!

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” Matthew 21:1-3

He fulfilled prophecies. This prophecy has a probable date in the 480s B.C. by Zechariah. Over 500 years prior to Jesus saying this to His Apostles.

This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
Matthew 21:4-5

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

Jesus knows and is ALL!

When Immanuel came to be with us, He was all human, all God. He had a heart, a physical heart like us.

The heart of Jesus beat and pumped; it beat like ours and pumped blood throughout His body to keep the physicalness of Jesus alive…as ours does.

The heart of Jesus was far more compassionate than most as He encompassed the world as it came into His view, whether physically or through His knowledge of the world around Him.

The beautiful heart of Jesus was (and is) the heart of God. This human came to earth and our God came too. His heart was so big that He came to shed His blood for us, for our sins.

This beautiful heart came in a baby. His name, Jesus, Immanuel, Emmanuel, God with us. I can hardly fathom this incredible act of God. Sinners and so in need of a Savior. So in need of a Lord. For one such as I. For those such as you.

This baby…this child…came with a heart like mine yet so not like mine.

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I, too, am pondering so very much this Christmas season as I center around the Heart of God.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:26-28

I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. Revelations 21:3

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to this earth. You knew everything before You created anything. You know all today. I cannot fathom this child so rich with Your Love and so full of Your desire to call us to Yourself even before He was born. I am overwhelmed, Lord, with these thoughts of this child coming as You to be with us. You with us. You, right here with me. Oh, thank You, Lord. Thank You for drawing me to You and calling me to repentance, to call on the Name of Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am humbled, Lord; humbled as Mary was at the birth of Her King, her Child, Her Lord. Her Child, my Savior, my God Who came to live with me. My heart is Your heart, O God. I am overcome with a sweet aroma of You, my Lord. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Graphic of heartbeat, cross, heart: Revive Nations

The physical heart inside human body graphic: @ URMC Rochester

Ezekiel 36:26 photo/graphics @ I Live For Jesus

Psalm 51:10 @ My Freshly Brewed Life

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Thankful, Thankful, I Adore Thee

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
Psalm 50:23

תּוֹדָה

tôwdâh

to-daw’

properly, an extension of the hand, i.e. (by implication) avowal, or (usually) adoration; specifically, a choir of worshippers:—confession, (sacrifice of) praise, thanks(-giving, offering).

The Hebrew word “thanksgiving” in the ESV, as above, can be translated in a number of ways. See a few other versions of Psalm 50:23:

Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”
NKJV

“Whoever sacrifices a thank offering honors Me, and whoever orders his conduct I will show him the salvation of God.” CSB

He who is sacrificing praise honoureth Me, As to him who maketh a way, I cause him to look on the salvation of God! YLT

Matthew Henry comments on this one verse in his “Commentary on Psalm 50:”

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter; we have it, verse 23, which directs us what to do that we may attain our chief end. 

  • 1. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and we are here told that whoso offers praise glorifies him; whether he be Jew or Gentile, those spiritual sacrifices shall be accepted from him. We must praise God, and we must sacrifice praise, direct it to God, as every sacrifice was directed; put it into the hands of the priest, our Lord Jesus, who is also the altar; see that it be made by fire, sacred fire, that it be kindled with the flame of holy and devout affection; we must be fervent in spirit, praising the Lord. This he is pleased, in infinite condescension, to interpret as glorifying him. Hereby we give him the glory due to his name and do what we can to advance the interests of his kingdom among men.
  • 2. Man’s chief end, in conjunction with this, is to enjoy God; and we are here told that those who order their conversation aright shall see his salvation.
    • (1.) It is not enough for us to offer praise, but we must withal order our conversation aright. Thanksgiving is good, but thanks-living is better.
    • (2.) Those that would have their conversation right must take care and pains to order it, to dispose it according to rule, to understand their way and to direct it.
  • (3.) Those that take care of their conversation make sure their salvation; them God will make to see his salvation, for it is a salvation ready to be revealed; he will make them to see it and enjoy it, to see it, and to see themselves happy for ever in it. Note, The right ordering of the conversation is the only way, and it is a sure way, to obtain the great salvation.

You created us, Father, to glorify You, to show the world the One to Whom we lift our hands in praise for Who You are, for all You have created, for all You do in this world, and for all that You do for me, for all that You are to me. You have given me life through Your Son, Jesus Christ. You have given me purpose by creating me in Your image. You have given me peace, knowing I can rest in You. I can rest because I have come to know that You are my God. You, Lord, have saved me from my sinful ways. You guide my steps. You guard my ways. You forgive me. You love me. I want to order my ways to praise You. I desire to watch my words coming from my mouth, that each and all would magnify You. I want to glorify You, Lord, in all I am and all I do. In You Alone. I pray in the Precious Name of Jesus. Amen.

Psalm 50:23 photo with graphics: @ Pinterest

Psalm 50:23 photo with graphics @ Crystal Storm

Psalm 50:23 photo with graphics @ Pinterest

Psalm 50:23 photo with graphics @ Pinterest

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

How Great is Our God!

As many others, I am spending the next couple of weeks praising God with my thanks…for Who He is to me and what He has done for me. I want to take several Psalms over these two weeks which speak for me. I need not change a thing for the psalmist has said all that I desire to say to my God.

Great Is the Lord

A Song of Praise. Of David.
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.

They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.

They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!

יָדָה

yāḏâ

yaw-daw

literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands):—cast (out), (make) confess(-ion), praise, shoot, (give) thank(-ful, -s, -sgiving).

~~~

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,

to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]

The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.

The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.

You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.

The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.

The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Father, I thank You for loving me so that You saved me from my own sin. I praise You for all things beautiful, all things created by Your hands. You hear me when I call. You answer me. You hold me near and comfort me in my need. Father. I praise You and love You. Teach me Your ways. In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:1-2 @ Verse of the Day

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:5 @ Pinterest

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:8-9 @ Pinterest

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:10 @ Scripture Images

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:13-14 @ Pinterest

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:16 @ A Little Perspective

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:18 @ Pinterest

Photo/graphic: Psalm 145:19-21 @ Turn Back to God/Bible Verse Art

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

O LORD, I Want to Know Joy, to Feel Hope, AGAIN!

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

I believe Your Word, LORD because You speak to my heart. I doubt because I am human.

Sorrow

Sadness

Overwhelm

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
Psalm 31:9

The United States of America has been home for my entire 74 years on this earth.

I love this country. It has been a place where I hold memories filled with love and joy, loss, and struggles. The USA has been my home, such a wonderful home to and for me.

Yet, there is so much now…on this very day…for a number of years…that I no longer recognize as ‘part and parcel’ of the United States (‘with part meaning “a portion” and parcel “something integral with a whole’ *).  There are parts of this country that no longer fit with the whole of the country I have always known as home.

I recognize most of the natural landscape although even some of that is filled with burned forests, lakes so low that one can no longer swim or sail in them. Waterfalls have less flowing down the sides of mountains, and more animals are becoming extinct.

Yet, I can see God’s changeless beauty in His handiwork in the likes of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Oregon coastline, and many other places such as these.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims His handiwork
. Psalm 19:1

And there are kindhearted people around me, too. Some are strangers to me but they hold a door open while I walk through, smiling behind a masked face. Some are people I do know who call to check on me, just to say ‘hi.’ Some are family who calls for a weekly conversation. New friends in my new city have invited me to go with them to an outdoor art show, and then again to a “Chocolate Walk.” Joy, kindness, peace, love flowed around and through us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Yet, there is so much anger, animosity, hatred, and fear in our country and the world today.

My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick within me
. Jeremiah 8:18

Desires to commit violence against others for reasons I cannot comprehend: the amount of the pigment melanin in one’s skin, one’s religious beliefs, political bent or absolute, even a look someone gives another. So many cruel reasons for hatred and violence. Trials are being held all around the country as I type. Three men with very little melanin in their skin shot an unharmed jogger who happened to have a lot of melanin because they suspected him of being a thief. A white boy went to a Bible study with a gun and shot nine parishioners who all were Black after studying and praying with them.

How can this be?

We all have a degree of melanin in our skin, hair, eyes: “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning of skin exposed to sunlight.”**

Violence against one another with American flags on January 6, 2020, killing and maiming. Threatening many with death and harm. A continuing threat of hatred and anger is perpetuating in so many arenas.

Why is there so much hatred fueling these fires?

The USA is a Democracy. The people have a say in the way the country is governed. When the United States became an independent nation, the Continental Congress set up the Constitution and the way of governance. It still stands today. Yet, voting integrity is threatened because many did not like the outcome of recent elections so they have decided to rig the elections so that they will win. Our democracy is being threatened by those who fear loss. They threaten those who are in positions to secure the elections…threats at their home’s doorsteps, at their cars after work, on the walkways as they do their jobs. One political party against the other party, higher-ranking members of government stripping other members of their committee assignments, people calling one another liars and traitors, using vitriolic language…and the list goes on and on. Some are attempting to do their jobs. Others do not! Divisiveness is overbearing to me!

What is happening?

We may not have a Democracy for long, I fear myself.

How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:2

I grieve these losses to my precious country. I watch in plain sight things being taken, stolen, threatened, stabbed again and again. It is not only lives being lost but the underlying whole of the United States of America…on the verge of being lost.

Grief overpowers me at times.

This nation has been built by the hands and on the backs of immigrants. I come from people who immigrated from Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and maybe even other countries. They worked hard to make this nation what it has been. Some of each batch of immigrants did indeed harm the next nation of immigrants by belittling their culture, making fun of their lack of language to communicate, maybe even their skin color, making assimilation hard for each new incoming group. But we are a nation of immigrants. How can we turn people away with violence and family separation when our very own relatives came here for a better life. Some of my relatives came because of religious persecution in their home country. Others came because of famine in their home country. Others immigrated for work, for masonry/bricklaying jobs in the big cities being built…all for a better life.

Bricklayers Building Wrigley Field Bleachers/Chicago History/Horsch Gallery

We come from these people. We could not call America home if they had not come before us.

I weep.

Yet, I hold onto God for He is hope.  He is joy.

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
Job 4:6

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:11

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5

My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!

When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!

Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!

Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.

I cling to your testimonies, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!

I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!
Psalm 119:25-32

“Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace.” – Charles Spurgeon

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” – C.S. Lewis

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

“…when You enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:2) Yes, Lord, please enlarge my heart. Calm my soul. Fill me with love. May Your love overflow to others as we pass it on to the next. I want to shine Your light in this dark and ever-darkening world. I desire Your joy to spread across the path that You have laid before me. Your hope and joy are two things I lose myself. Fill me up to overflowing because we all need hope in these torrential times. Let me not be angry nor fueled by hatred. Take any frustration from me with those I do not understand. There is so very much I do not understand, LORD. Draw me in and teach me Your ways that I will know You so well that even when I misunderstand or just don’t get another’s ways, Your ways will penetrate so deeply that I can shine Your beautiful light into this country I call home, into this world upon which I live. Grant to me Your peace and Your grace and Your mercy, Your hope and Your joy, O LORD. In the Name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

“Sorrow turned to Joy” photo @ St James – LCMS

 * ‘part and parcel’ – The American Heritage Dictionary

Charles Spurgeon quote @ AZQuotes

Rose – Love @ Public Domain

Marigold – Despair and grief over the loss of love @ FlowerMeaning.org

** melanin: The Oxford Lexico

Photo of immigrants coming into New York City harbor/Statue of Liberty @ Lessons from History/UCLA

Bricklayers in Chicago/Wrigley Field @ Horsch Gallery. (My Grandpa was a bricklayer in Chicago and loved the Cubs. Grandpa was born in 1891 so he could very well have been a part of this. The man in the dark overalls with his back to the photographer looks a lot like him!?? His father immigrated from Italy in the mid-1800s and was a bricklayer.)

Gardenia – Hope @ FlowerMeaning.org

Iris – Joy @ Espoused to Him

Lavender – Peace @ FlowerMeaning.org

Fruit of the Spirit photo/graphic: @ Bibles Verses to Go

Snapdragons – Strength @ WallpaperFlare