Hosea 11

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called My son. The more they were called,
the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them.
Hosea 11:1-3

and I became to them as one Who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
Hosea 11:4b

How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me; My compassion grows warm and tender. Hosea 11:8

Admah and Zeboiim are cities like Sodom and Gomorrah…all destroyed by God for the abandonment of the covenant He made with His children. Moses reviewed the covenant, impressing upon the Israelites the relationship they have with their God and why keeping these is vital to life itself.

…the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and wrath—all the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom He had not allotted to them. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.” Deuteronomy 29:23-28

In Hosea 11, God makes promises to His children:

they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD.
Ephraim has surrounded me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit,
but Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.
Hosea 11:9-12 (starting in the photo of the lion to the words “Holy One.”)

These are promises of what God will NOT do to His people as well as promises that He will fulfill. God so loves His people no matter how, where, why they wander.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.”
Isaiah 49:15-16

Is Ephraim My dear son?
Is he My darling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remember him still.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 31:20

This small book of Hosea is so rich with God’s love and so prevalent are the sins of man.

Father God, I pray that I will walk with You in obedience to Your Word. I ask that You hold me near, guiding my steps so that I do not stray. Should I, though, please pull me back, disciplining me to learn the lessons You need me to grasp so that I will remain faithful. I have strayed so far that I did not even know I was lost. I did not know You as I do now, yet I knew enough to feel the shame in my ways. Thank You for Your forgiveness and Your love. I am Yours and want to stay in Your protective arms. Thank You for this book of Hosea for it is showing me Your enduring love for Your children and Your overwhelming desire for them (for me) to turn back to You and want to stay near to You. In the powerful Name of Your Son, I pray. Amen.

Hosea

Graphic: Hosea 11 – http://preachingsource.com/journal/hosea-11-yahwehs-persistent-love/

Graphic: Hosea 11:4 –https://www.flickr.com/photos/wvagent/7995873895/

Graphic: Hosea 11:10 –http://wordoftruthlighthouse.blogspot.com/2015/09/god-said.html

Hosea 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

…over and oveR and ovER and oVER and OVER AGAIN!

God loves…

The children of Israel sin…

Hosea shows the love of God for His children, Israel. He also makes it clear just how far Israel strayed from God, from His commandments, laws and ways. I am reminded how much God loves me even though I strayed from Him again and again throughout my lifetime, especially in those years before knowing Christ as my Lord and Savior. I did not come to know Jesus until I was 45 years old. YET…no matter how often, how far, how deep the bride of Christ meanders from the Truth, the Way, the Life, God continually draws us back to Him.

Oh, God, please forgive me for the ways that I, too, stray from You, from Your Word. Thank You for loving me despite my faults, despite my sin.

And it shall be like people, like priest;
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the LORD
to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
Hosea 4:9-11

I will return again to My place,
until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face,
and in their distress earnestly seek Me.
Hosea 5:15

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with Me. Hosea 6:6-7

Although I trained and strengthened their arms,
yet they devise evil against Me.
They return, but not upward;
they are like a treacherous bow; their princes shall fall by the sword
because of the insolence of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
Hosea 7:16

For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour;
if it were to yield, strangers would devour it. Israel is swallowed up;
already they are among the nations as a useless vessel.
Hosea 8:7-8

But they came to Baal-peor
and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
and became detestable like the thing they loved.
Hosea 9:10b

You have plowed iniquity;
you have reaped injustice;
you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way
and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed,
as Shalman destroyed Beth-arbel on the day of battle;
mothers were dashed in pieces with their children.
Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great evil. At dawn the king of Israel
shall be utterly cut off.
Hosea 10:13-15

…a useless vessel….detestable…utterly cut off… Israel has shown itself weak in the sight of the Lord. He loves them, yet He turns His back upon them until they choose to return to Him wholly. I know God has wondered over me year-upon-year as I lived for myself, dependent on no one but me. I thought all was fine. Upon looking back at my life, I truly was lost. I did not know Jesus Christ. I worshiped false idols, betrayed the One Who created me, looked to my own self for the answers. In the Scriptures from Hosea here, do you see God’s love woven into the lives of His children? into their hearts? how He draws them back even when disciplining? God is so merciful. Even when we stray, He wants us to draw near to Him.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:8-10

Father God, I pray that I humbly follow Your ways, Your commandments, Your path for my life. Thank You, Lord, for loving me when I did not. Thank You for guiding my path so that I would meet Jesus. God You are so beautiful. You care for me in the worst of times, the best times, and all the in between times. You are stern, yet gentle. You care so much about the bride of Christ, Your children, that You must discipline us so that we can come to our knees, seeking Your forgiveness. I am so thankful that You sent Your Son, Jesus the Christ to take my sins to the Cross for eternity. You drew me to You and rained Your forgiveness, love, and peace over me. I am grateful and love You for always. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Thanks to:

Graphic: Hosea 4:6 – http://stepintothestory.ca

Graphic: Hosea 5:6 – https://biblepic.com/hosea/5-6.htm

Graphic: Hosea 6:3- https://biblia.com/bible/images/640×480/Ho6.3?extension=png&fallbackOnFailure=false

Graphic: Hosea 7:10 – https://www.pinterest.com/cinnersaved/hosea/

Graphic: Hosea 8:7 – https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/898-hosea-8/

Graphic: Hosea 9:10a – https://calvarydayton.com/sermons/hosea-09_01-11/

Graphic: Hosea 10:12 – https://images.knowing-jesus.com/i/hosea-10-12-break-up-your-fallow-ground-it-is-time-to-seek-the-lord-black-4118

A Relentless God

God loves me no matter what I do or have done or even will do in the future. He loves me so much that He draws me to Him even when I am unfaithful to Him, when I live in this world as though it is my home and He is not!

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

Israel was, once again, worshiping idols, calling them gods. They were allowing those around them to change the ways in which they worshiped God, slipping in their new moon celebrations and their feasts. The children of God were running away from the covenant with which they made with the God of the universe. And God was not pleased.

“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not My wife,
and I am not her Husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;

lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
Hosea 2:2-3

Israel’s provision was from God yet they ignored the Provider.

And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
Hosea 2:8

Israel turned away from God.

Therefore I will take back My grain in its time,
and My wine in its season, and I will take away My wool and My flax, which were to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of My hand. Hosea 2:9-10

And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot Me, declares the LORD.
Hosea 2:13

God expresses exasperation with His children, but still loves them. He wants them back, desiring that they honor the covenant He made with them. The God of the universe gently calls His bride back, shielding her from being able to go out and find her lovers – her idols, her gods.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.”
Hosea 2:14

“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call Me ‘My Baal.’ ” Hosea 2:16

God is so merciful, surrounding Israel with His steadfast love, His faithfulness, His justice, His righteousness. He is so wonderful to them…to me.

Even when I stray, do abominations towards Him, He never ceases to love me and allure me back to Himself.

And I will betroth you to Me forever. I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Hosea 2:19-20a

Hosea 2″ – John the Baptist Artworks

God loves His bride so perfectly that He will pursue her until she repents, returns, becomes His bride.

And you shall know the LORD. Hosea 2:20b

Through all my wanderings and prodigal daughter-ness over many years, God knew where I was physically and spiritually. He followed me, protected me, called me to Himself. I came to a place where the brambles and thorns would no longer allow me to return to my idols or pagan gods. Those walls kept me from trying to find the things of this world that so attracted me away from Him. Yes, the world and satan had, and still have, a way of luring me aside, but that call, the beautiful call of God, is so much stronger and sweeter that I would much rather be in His Presence. I would much rather be betrothed to my Husband and Redeemer. It is far more dear to me to know the LORD! Far more dear! Thank You, Jesus.

Hosea 1 – John the Baptist Artworks

Hosea served around the same time that Isaiah served, as seen by looking at verse one, chapter one in each of their books. The kings listed are the same. Hosea’s ministry was to the northern kingdom of Israel while Isaiah’s ministry was to the southern kingdom of Judah…

The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. Hosea 1:1

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Isaiah 1:1

The same perverseness was occurring in both kingdoms. God called them all to Himself.

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the LORD has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against Me
. Isaiah 1:2

Later in Isaiah, God continues to call His bride to Himself:

For your Maker is your Husband,
the LORD of hosts is His name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth He is called.
Isaiah 54:5

Thank You, Father, for wanting me back. Thank You for not rejecting me even when I fail You. I know I have disappointed You so many times, just as Israel has done, yet You love us enough to continually call us back under Your wings. I am so grateful. I pray I remain with You for the remainder of my earthly life. I know I will be at Your feet in eternity. Hallelujah, what a Savior! You have rescued me. I am learning more and more about You. I want to know You, Lord. Thank You for allowing me such a privilege. In the Precious Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay; and edited @ Canva –https://www.canva.com/design/DADduguRCtc/jmZDRDUots57UVVlW9AIZQ/edit

“Hosea 2” – used with permission from John the Baptist Artworks @ https://jtbarts.com/gallery/john-the-baptist-artworks-series/hosea-2/

“Hosea 1” – used with permission from John the Baptist Artworks @ https://jtbarts.com/gallery/john-the-baptist-artworks-series/hosea-1/

Firmly Fixed, Settled, Established

Forever, O LORD, Your Word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Psalm 119:89

נָצַב

natsab

to station, in various applications (literally or figuratively):—appointed, deputy, erect, establish, lay, officer, pillar, present, rear up, set (over, up), settle, sharpen, establish, (make to) stand(-ing, still, up, upright), best state

Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.
NKJV

Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. NIV

O LORD, Your instructions endure; they stand secure in heaven. NET

Firmly fixed…settled…stands firm…stand secure… These words describe a soldier, a pillar holding up a building, something with strength and durability. God’s Word is that soldier, marching with power and strength into the battlefield. God’s Word is settled and strong because it is the Foundation. God’s Word is established because it is living…and will forever!

The Word of God is inerrant and infallible. These are strong and sharp words, describing the Word of God. They are the Truth about His Word.

This same Hebrew word is used in a number of ways throughout the Old Testament to show an establishment, a settling:

But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.
Psalm 41:12

You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
you have made summer and winter.
Psalm 74:17

The LORD tears down the house of the proud
but maintains the widow’s boundaries.
Proverbs 15:25

Then he who saw cried out:
“Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
continually by day,
and at my post I am stationed
whole nights.
Isaiah 21:8

Your Word, Lord, stands strong and certain in these times of uncertainty. It is the Truth and the Truth sets me free. That freedom allows me to stand firm in the commitments I have made to You, O Lord. Please hold me to these. I desire to stay settled. Standing with You, Lord, is life. It is a gift I so willingly now accept. Thank You, Lord. I know a strength that I have never known before. Praising You. Amen.

The Word of God does not return void nor does it falter. It is powerful and mighty in ways I may never know on this earth. Yet, as I dwell in the Word, I am becoming more acquainted with God, the Author.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8

For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,… Ephesians 6:17

Is not My Word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Jeremiah 23:29

So shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

Father God, I pray that I glean Truths from Your Word every time I read from it. I pray that I become more consistent, more intentional in reading Your Truth. I ask You to hold me near, guiding me toward these desires, these hopes. I thank You for teaching and reproving me, for correcting and training me in the ways in which I should go. May Your Word be more of a lamp to me each day, guiding me along the path You have set for me. I thank You in the strong Name of Jesus. Amen.

Your Word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105

Photo/graphic: Psalm 119:89CraigThompson.orghttp://www.passionforpreaching.net

Graphic: “Word of God” – https://abideingodsword.com/2014/03/18/31714-the-powerful-word-of-god/

Photo of open Bible: https://wallpapertag.com/open-bible-background

Graphic: “Word of God”http://www.intothedeepblog.net/2016/05/the-sunday-word.html

Disappointed Again

“The Cape Disappointment headland was first charted in August 1775 as “San Roque” (or “Cabo de San Rougue”) by Spanish explorer Bruno Heceta, as he explored the Northwest Coast. Heceta recognized this location was probably the mouth of a large river but he was unable to explore since his crewmembers were weak and suffering scurvy.”

“In July 1788, Lieutenant John Meares of the British Royal Navy used Heceta’s navigational charts to explore the West Coast of North America while looking for the “River of the West” and located “San Roque.” Meares decided that no river entrance or channel existed among the shoals at the base of “San Roque.” He changed the name of “San Roque” to “Cape Disappointment”.

As a side note: Other explorers came this way and found the river but only as far as they could determine it from the west. We do know that in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition found there way to Cape Disappointment from the east after an arduous journey from Missouri. President Thomas Jefferson had commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to explore, to map this newly acquired territory, to find “the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.”

There were expectations and hopes on these journeys. And there were disappointments along with victories. 

When you’re living in a broken world, sometimes believing and wanting the right things means you’ll be disappointed. Jeremy Pierre *

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Disappointment takes so many forms and, with a world in such a state, disappointments seem prevalent…maybe no more than in the past, but it sure seems that way! They show up as a circumstance that did not turn out the way we had wanted it to or we did not get that job or our health treatment did not work right. Disappointment can come via a person. People do not follow through on a promise or they do not meet the expectations that we place on them. Disappointment can lead to sadness, to pain. Failing to achieve, failing to be…failure usually leads to disappointment too.

To live is to be disappointed. Jeremy Pierre *

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Romans 8:7

I am so disappointed in a person whom I know claims to be a Christian. Also, last week, I found myself in a circumstance that turned into a disappointment. I have other disappointments in my life, but these two are current. I am sad. I just expect better, expect more. And that is the problem: my expectations.

When I expect something, it is my opinion, my mindset of how something should be/will be done. It is based on my perception, but, in most cases, involves others to bring it to pass. Thus, when that someone does not do what I expect, I am disappointed.

There is a person who is extremely successful by the world’s standards, who has chosen to take on a non-paying job for his family yet does not do it well. There have been requests to do it right from various family members but responses filled with anger or a lack of care are given back. Seems like there is nothing anyone can say that does not elicit a mean response or no response at all. The approacher has a way, set in the mind, of the right way to do this job. Each thinks his/her way is better than the way it is being done. So when the response is not along the lines of his/her way, disappointment looms…in the outcome, the circumstance, the person.

The bottom line is: this person needs to do the job committed to and do it as unto the Lord. If it is done in His will, it will be done right for us all.

Then, last week, I overheard a conversation in a store as I browsed. I was the only customer; the store owner and two others were gossiping in earshot of a high school or college age employee and me. I tried not to listen but it was hard not to. I finally had had enough and with a handful of items I had intended to purchase, I put them back and walked toward the door. As I did this, the young employee looked at me and I told her, without emotion, that I did not want to be hearing all of this and walked out. All of them had stopped talking as I neared the door so they heard me. I do not know whether anyone thought anything of my words, but I was truly disappointed in three adults gossiping about two local people whom they actually named regarding inappropriate behavior with youth. What were they teaching the young employee? Plus they did not know whether I knew these people. I had this stuff ringing in my head for a long while this afternoon. Yuck!! No, I do not know the people named, but I did not want to hear what I heard either.

The bottom line is: the Lord is in control and knows these people and this conversation. He is the judge. I am not!

So…rather than be disappointed, I will lift my face, my mind, my heart to the One Who is in control. He never changes but desires that I do.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
Psalm 62:8

Disappointment often calls me to grieve the circumstance, grieve the situation, grieve the person. Lamenting, an expression of sorrow or grief, allows me to release the heartache or stress or turbulence I feel. It allows me to call out to God in my sadness, my sorrow. It is letting go.

God tells me again and again:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Colossians 3:23-25

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4-5

AMEN. Jesus, You have overcome this world. Trusting in You is the answer to all my concerns.

Expressing our disappointments to God is the opposite of harboring them in our souls. Jeremy Pierre *

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

What would You have me to do or to be, LORD? I ask because I want to know. I want to be in Your will, to walk quietly, and to be surrounded by Your peace, Abba Father.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. 2 Corinthians 1:20

Father God, thank You for hearing my cry. I thank You for going before me now as I release this person, this situation…to You, to Your unselfish ways, in to Your righteousness, into Your grace. Show me the path which leads to hope. Teach me to pray rightly, whether I pray for people or circumstances or both. Open my eyes and my heart that I will accept Your outcome…Thy will be done. Father God, You are worthy and mighty. May I be reminded of those ways each and every day, especially in those moments where I begin to place expectations. It is not about me nor about a person nor a circumstance. It is all about You! I praise Your Name and lift this prayer to You in the Power of Your Son’s Holy Name. Amen.

Photo: by weathercrazy82 @ Weather Underground (link no longer active); “disappointment” added via Canva by me

*”” from TableTalk article – The Reality of Disappointment by Jeremy Pierre, May, 2018

Graphic: http://www.sharonstokes.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AdobeStock_91720852.jpeg

Graphic: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/5767.html

Graphic: http://esauproject.com

Pure Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6

How in the world can I count these trials as joyful? How?

God also says in Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

So now I can have peace with God too? These trials seem like they couldn’t possibly produce joy nor peace?…or perfection or hope?

YET…God’s Word gives me Truth. So I know that these things are possible. I have not written in this space for quite some time, but God is using the circumstances of Kenneth’s death to show me His love, His people, His little children, His body of Christ, His kindness, His glory. He is showing me that although my heart may hurt from this deep loss, it can also overflow with so much more because He is my joy. He is my love. He is my kindness. He is my all. Dependence upon the One Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent gives me all. I lack for nothing.

I have not hidden away from the world. I have not walked away from His will for my life in Christ. I have not been too disobedient (not much that I am aware of!). I am walking with the One Who saved me from the pit. I am holding close to my Savior because He is. He is alive and risen. He has given me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me. And I am His, walking in the Spirit. I am filled with a joy that is incredibly remarkable.

Is that not amazing?

He fills me with pure joy in the midst of sorrow and struggle. Do you know what else He does? He builds me up. He grows me in His character. He molds me to look more and more like Him. Is that not beautiful? How grateful I am for His love for me. Oh, my sweet Lord. You are changing me day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Thank You, Sweet Jesus.

when you meet trials of various kinds,… James 1:2b

Trials come. Trials can be of all types…physical, emotional, mental, financial, marital, death, and everything else under the sun.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

I am not perfect and will not be until I pass over the Jordan River into Heaven, but each step of obedience here on earth brings me another step closer to both perfection and Heaven. Christ is molding me to be more and more like Him while I sojourn here. I am the clay and want to be. I desire that molding more and more now too. That is what boggles my mind…that I, willingly, want Him to mold me which takes trials. No vessel is perfect, needing parts redone again and again. The Potter has much work to do on me. I choose to allow Him to form me and make me. I also choose to stay close to Him so that I may endure the current trials and those on ahead.

ὑπομονή

hypomonē

steadfastness, constancy, endurance

in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

patiently, and steadfastly

a patient, steadfast waiting for

a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

NKJV: But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

NIV: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

NASB: And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Other Scripture with the same Greek word: ὑπομονή

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Matthew Henry wrote: “The graces and duties of a state of trial and affliction are here pointed out to us. Could we attend to these things, and grow in them as we should do, how good would it be for us to be afflicted! One Christian grace to be exercised is joy: ‘Count it all joy.’ We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head, and they become marks of our adoption. By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last. Therefore there is reason to count it all joy when trials and difficulties become our lot in the way of our duty.

Faith is a grace that one expression supposes and another expressly requires: ‘Knowing this, that the trial of your faith,…’ verse 3; and then in verse 6, ‘Let him ask in faith.’ There must be a sound believing of the great truths of Christianity, and a resolute cleaving to them, in times of trial. That faith which is spoken of here as tried by afflictions consists in a belief of the power, and word, and promise of God, and in fidelity and constancy to the Lord Jesus.

There must be patience: ‘The trial of faith worketh patience.’  The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised the stronger they grow.”  *

Jesus, my Lord, I come to You, seeking Your face. I want to be near to You, to know You more and more with each passing moment. Is that possible, Lord? How can it be when I am in physical pain, emotional loss, sorrow, spiritual vacuums, and other trials? How can I focus upon You when these trials distract me so? Yet, Lord, You rain grace over me in joy, love, hope, faith, patience and far more than I could even ask. Thank You, sweet Jesus. You reign in my heart. That is what has changed me as I experience trials, Lord. You!…Your Spirit indwelling this earthly vessel. Your graciousness abounds. Thank You for keeping me close to You. You are the One Who generously gives. You are merciful and faithful, Lord God Almighty, overflowing with love for me. I want to grow in the Truth, in the knowledge of You. I want to grow in grace, too. I want to reflect You to the world in which I sojourn. May I be strong through the trials and tribulations so that I may be more like You. Give me wisdom that I would know how to walk through these times. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

Graphic: Daily RCL Bible Reading Devotional @ http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/2016/05/22/daily-rcl-bible-reading-devotional-may-22nd-2016/

Graphic: http://access-jesus.com

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

* Matthew Henry Commentary on James 1

Graphic: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery

God So Loved…Me…You

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Oh! What a promise John 3:16 is! God is Love. He loved His creation so much that He sent His Son…to live amongst His children…to teach and to heal, to love and to die.

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.   This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10

Jesus showed the world that the love of the Father was in Him by loving those He touched, physically and spiritually. Even today, Jesus loves. He loves me and He loves you. The sacrifice that Jesus made over 2,000 years ago still affects us today. He came to save us and draw us to Him so that we will be with Him for eternity. Hallelujah!

The word love in these verses is the word agape:

ἀγαπάω

agapaō

pertaining to people: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

pertaining to things: to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

This is one of four Greek words in the Bible which differentiate between the various meanings of love in the New Testament. Agape is the one used most often. It is the kind of love that God has for us and which we are commanded to have for one another. Jesus called us to love.

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. John 13:34

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  
1 John 4:7-8

“Love” appears in the Bible (depending upon the version) between 310 times in the KJV to 551 times in the NIV. No matter what version you are reading, the word “love” is scattered often in the Word of God. God is love and wants us to know that. His Word is beautifully rich with LOVE! I praise You, Father. I praise You.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.   1 John 4:11-13

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.   If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.   This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:14-19

I am humbled dearly by the way God drew me to Him and took a hold of my life. I can look back and see years passing while He patiently waited for me to seek His face. Oh, my! I have read these words in John 3 and 1 John 3 many times and sense just a wee bit of how much He loves me. Just a tiny percentage of God’s love for this one creation. He loves us each and all…yes, not just me, but all of us. My heart is overflowing with gratitude that He would do this for me, for you. And then…

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8

While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. He did not ignore me or leave me to my own ways and problems. He came to me. He waited at the door until I knocked. He was there for me. And He went to the Cross for me where He was horrifically crucified on that Cross and my name was upon that Cross. My sins took Him there. He did not sin. I did. He did not utter a word, but it is my words and my actions that nailed Him to that Cross.

Father God, thank You for loving me so unconditionally that You sent Your Son to that Cross to die for me. He took my sins with Him. He carried my burden to that Cross. He loves me so that even today, He draws me near to Him so that I can and will know the way to walk each and every moment of this day. Lord, I pray I listen and discern Your way in which I should go. I pray for those around me who do not know You. Oh, how I pray for repentance, for that turning around toward You so that they will be spending eternity with us. Oh, how I pray this, Father God. I thank You for loving me so tenderly and sweetly, Lord. You are such a gift to me each and every day. I lift my hands in praise to You, giving You all the glory, Precious Father. In the powerful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

graphics:   https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/john/

graphics: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/1_john/