God’s plans are perfect. He gave an old man and an old woman a child, to be named John, not Zechariah after his father. God had prepared the path for this “John.” On the day of circumcision, this child would be named by a father who had lost his ability to speak during his wife’s pregnancy as he had not believed the words of Gabriel, the angel of the LORD.
And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered.And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,…. Luke 1:63-67
Part of this prophesy was: And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways,to give knowledge of salvation to His peoplein the forgiveness of their sins,because of the tender mercy of our God,whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on highto give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,to guide our feet into the way of peace.”And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:76-80
John, the Apostle, writes in John 1: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came as a witness, to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through Him.He was not the Light, but came to bear witness about the Light.The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:6-9
God prophesied through others about John and Jesus: “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord Whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;make straight in the desert a highway for our God.Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5
“And you, child….”
“What then will this child be?” ~
prophet of the Most High
Christ’s harbinger…a preparer of the way, for Who is to come
a guide for our feet into the way of peace
a giver of knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins
to bear witness about the Light
strong in spirit
The tender mercy of God prepared John for this calling. John’s obedience and abiding with God would allow him to go before Jesus.
Jesus said this about John: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matthew 11:11
Father God, You are the Holy One. I am at peace this day as I wait in this Advent season, seeing the ministry of John who came before Your Son. John had so much to be and do but You were always with Him for You gave him Your Holy Spirit from the womb. He was obedient to You. He abided in You always. Thank You for these lessons to my spirit. When I stand upon Your holy ground, I am called to follow You in all ways. May my sight be focused upon You and my hearing towards Your voice as well…that I would know Your will for my life, the path which I am to walk. Father, I meander and get lost, but You never lose me. I am so grateful for Your strong hand upon me always. Keep me on the straight and narrow highway that is Your Way. My heart is Yours. I pray, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:5-17
Zechariah prays. God hears his prayer. He sends an angel, bringing great and yet unbelievable news to Zechariah and Elizabeth. God’s Truth comes to pass for He said it.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:67-80
John was to “…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
As I prepare for Christmas this year, I am mindful of being drawn closer to Christ Jesus, my LORD, with each day, each passing minute, even seconds. God gave John a calling to draw people to the LORD Jesus even before He became known. He was to prepare a people for the coming of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. In our own day, we, too, can prepare for His coming as He enters our hearts with newness each year, each Christmas, but also each and every day, each and every moment. Christ brings cleansing and wholeness to us with each breath.
May we then be prepared ourselves and turn to prepare others. May we be sensitive to those whose hearts are hardened to Christ, not desiring to know Him, not thinking they need Him. May Your words come out of our mouths to touch those hard hearts and soften those hearts towards Your Son. May the soil be made ready for the seeds to be sown, to sprout, to send down roots, to grow and be fruitful. Prepare us, O LORD.
Father God, I seek You and call upon You to prepare my heart in this Advent season. I wait. I wait, Father, for Your Son comes anew although He has been, has gone, rose again, and yet lives in me today through Your Holy Spirit for I am one who had to be prepared for His coming. I believed. But I believe today, not in the past tense, for “believing” is ongoing and for always. Father, breathe in me afresh daily that I would be able to continually be prepared so that I then may prepare others for His coming. I praise You, Father, for You gave us the Only Gift we would ever need. Nothing else matters. Nothing…for until I knew You, nothing meant anything. I thought ‘things’ meant something to me, but they really did not. Knowing You, Your Son, Your Holy Spirit, the Trinity, is All that makes a difference in my life. I know that Your Son is the Redeemer for He redeemed me…yes, even me. Praise You, LORD. You are the Holy One of Israel. And He will come again to take believers to His Heavenly Home. Open my mouth, guard my steps, make my life a light to others that I may share the wonderful Truth of Jesus. Make me ready, please. I pray in Your Wonderful Name. Amen.
Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel! I am the One Who helps you, declares the LORD; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 41:14
My maternal great grandfather sought refuge in this country, searching for work, an income. My paternal great, great, great grandfather sought refuge in this country to escape religious persecution.
Today, many seek refuge in this United States of America due to fear of violence, gangs, drug cartels, dictators, and so much more.
Inside the lower pedestal of The Statue of Liberty is this sonnet by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
This poem was written as a donation for an auction of art and literary works conducted by the “Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty” to raise money for the pedestal’s construction. “Bartholdi’s gigantic effigy was originally intended as a monument to the principles of international republicanism, but ‘The New Colossus’ reinvented the statue’s purpose, turning Liberty into a welcoming mother, a symbol of hope to the outcasts and downtrodden of the world.”. The swarms of immigrants knocking on the Eastern shore of this United States quickly turned the statue into a welcoming-harbor greeter.
So I write this with a heavy heart which I have held for years, more so, these past four years. I have seen pictures of migrants, refugees, young, old, with all range of skin shade pigmentation standing, crying, grasping, yelling, crawling, swimming, climbing, and drowning to get into this country. Babies and children of all ages torn from parents’ arms. Four years later, we have 628 children (now) whose parents cannot be found (although just this past week of December 1, 2020, knowledge of phone numbers has been brought to our attention). Even though, my heart breaks. Tears roll down my face as I type these words.
This is not the America that my grandparents sought those many years ago.
Yes, we have had problems throughout our history. We have lived with segregation, racial injustice, the KKK. Women have had to fight for the right to vote, for equal pay, for the ability to obtain a job that once only men held. We had the Civil War…the South against the North. We have taken land and rights from Indigent Peoples. Yes, this nation is far from perfect.
My great, great grandfather was Italian. He was not liked by the immigrants who came before the Italians. I have Irish immigrants and Scottish immigrants as my kin. They were not liked by their predecessors. It seemed like each group wanted to close the gates, not allowing anyone else in to this country. (This still happens as people move from state to state or area to area, desiring to close the gate once they have found a beautiful place.).
Yet, my mother grew up in Chicago at the turn of the last century in a neighborhood made up of Italians, Irish, Russians, Polish, Jewish, Catholics, Protestants. They loved one another. My grandmother even raised the 6 Bates girls who became orphans when both Russian parents died. Grandma was Irish/English/German. Mama loved to help a widow and her daughter make dinner because the food was Jewish, something different from her own fare. During the Depression, if a family could afford to make bread or soup or both, they would share with those who did not have enough. It was the way it was on Mama’s block of immigrants.
The United States of America seems not to be the UNITED states in some substantial aspects. We are broken.
That melanin of the skin is so distinguishable, not only by black and brown and white, but red and blue, bigot and humanitarian, racist/supremacist and equalitarian/humanitarian, and on and on!
Upon looking up the antonyms of several words, I found “bigot” to mean “one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.” Words of opposite definition of “bigot” include: liberal, moderate, conservative, middle-of-the-road, militant. Does that not cover just about all of us? So how can we all come from various and unique backgrounds and be a united people? The real question is…how can we NOT?
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
“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
I want to love unconditionally. That is hard. But I want to.
I desire to be united with my brothers and sisters, my neighbors, my church family. Speaking out about concerns and issues can bring unrequested wrath from people I love. I do not handle that well. AT ALL!
God has called us to love.
By His Word, God leads us in the ways in which He wants us to walk. Again and again! …
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You, or naked and clothe You? And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ Matthew 25:31-40
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Psalm 82:3-4
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
“To keep oneself unstained from the world” … “to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”… oh, I need Your help, Father. Please hold me still, guarding the words of my mouth, whether verbally or through the written word. I am sorry for words I have uttered recently that drew unexpected words from others. Forgive me, LORD, even though they were words I am feeling. I need to not be drawn into these worldly concerns. Your ways are infinitely better, LORD. Infinitely. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 7:9-10
…learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:17
Thus says the LORD: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Father God, I am sorry for those times and situations when I betrayed You because I did not love, did not give, did not do unto You for I did not do unto the least of those in need. I am truly sorry. As I walk through life for the remainder of my days, please guide my steps, my words, and my actions…that I would be obedient to Your call. I know through my mother’s own stories of our relatives that times were not always easy being a stranger in a strange land. I also know through my mother’s voice that people did learn to get along, to love one another, to wrap their arms around everyone no matter the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their temperament. She taught me and my sisters to love as You teach us. I pray for this nation and this world. I pray for the emigrants who have left their home country and are desiring to enter a new country, possibly the USA. I pray, that one day soon, the opportunity, the gates, will be opened to them. I pray for the DACA children/adults who were brought into the USA innocently with a parent and have known only the United States as their home. I pray for those 628 children who are still in custody in the United States whose parents cannot be found. You know where every single one is. Please unite those precious children with their parents, LORD. They are lambs who need the Shepherd to reunite them with those who bore them. I pray for everyone who is running away from a scary, violent situation who need a new home. Father, You know each one of them around the world. I ask You to guide us as a people to wrap our arms around them. I pray all in the Name of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
 The New Colossus – Lehman, David, ed. (2006). The Oxford Book of American Poetry. Oxford University Press. p. 184. OCLC62697134
 Sutherland, Cara A (2003), The Statue of Liberty: The Museum of the City of New York, Barnes & Noble, p. 77, ISBN0-7607-3890-4, auction of art and literary work; Mark Twain also contributed.
 Auster, Paul (2005), “NYC = USA”, Collected Prose: Autobiographical Writings, True Stories, Critical Essays, Prefaces, and Collaborations with Artists, Picador, p. 508, ISBN0-312-42468-X.
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-5
THEN…I will understand. I will understand the fear of the LORD, holding Him in respect, kneeling before Him in awe.
to separate mentally (or distinguish), i.e.(generally) understand:—attend, consider, be cunning, diligently, direct, discern, eloquent, feel, inform, instruct, have intelligence, know, look well to, mark, perceive, be prudent, regard, (can) skill(-full), teach, think, (cause, make to, get, give, have) understand(-ing), view, (deal) wise(-ly, man).
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. 1 Samuel 3:8
He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper. 2 Chronicles 26:5
But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. Job 32:8
THEN…I will find His knowledge.
properly, to come forth to, i.e. appear or exist; transitively, to attain, i.e. find or acquire; figuratively, to occur, meet or be present:— be able, befall, being, catch, × certainly, (cause to) come (on, to, to hand), deliver, be enough (cause to) find(-ing, occasion, out), get (hold upon), ×have (here), be here, hit, be left, light (up-) on, meet (with), × occasion serve, (be) present, ready, speed, suffice, take hold on.
And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38
And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 1 Samuel 1:18
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Psalm 84:3
Before finding and understanding, there must be obedience to the One Who gives these things. I must seek and search. I must ask. I must treasure that which I am given. IF I will do these things…THEN…
For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints. Proverbs 2:6-8
The LORD gives that wisdom I need in order to walk worthy of Him. He watches over me. He pours into me all that I need in order to grow more Christlike when I focus my eyes upon Him, seeking His face. His wisdom, His understanding are mine should I seek to find them.
Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil,… Proverbs 2:9-12
God, Your promises are found everywhere in Your Word. You tell me I can find the Truth, the wisdom, the knowledge. You tell me I can also understand these deep things of You. Only by Your Spirit, Who lives in me, can these things be found. I am so grateful to You for loving me so…You allow me to find and understand wisdom and knowledge so that I may walk worthy, holy, and Christlike…more and more with each passing day. I have been filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving of 2020, even in the midst of a pandemic, a country of physically hungry people due to economic instability because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many hungry for You, although most do not even know that fact. Your gifts are immeasurable even still. You have brought a sister-in-Christ through surgery for cancer. You have provided meals to thousands via food banks and pantries across this country. You have brought the ability for some to be able to see family members, through windows, Zoom calls, phones that allow video-chats who needed to physically see one another. LORD, You are King of all. And more than that, You are my King of kings, my LORD of lords, my God of all, in all, through all. From a heart filled with gratitude and grace, I thank you. Your mercy is new every morning. Praying in the Name of my Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda (or Bethsaida), which has five roofed colonnades.In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. John 5:2-3
There is a Bethesda in Maryland, USA, located just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House (1820, rebuilt in 1849), which in turn took its name from Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda (Bethsaida in some versions of the Bible).
There is another Bethesda within the Maryland Bethesda that I know very well. My Daddy was hospitalized for five months in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He died in that hospital at his young age of 46 from Pancreatic Cancer in 1960. It will be 60 years September 18, 2020.
This was the hospital in 1960. If my memory serves me right, Daddy was up on one of those upper floors. When I read the name, Bethesda, in the Book of John, I think of that five month period of our lives. There are so many memories: good, hard, sweet, sorrowful.
The photo below is more like what it looks today.
It is now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). It is the combined legacy of National Naval Medical Center (once referred to as the Bethesda Naval Hospital and/or Navy Med)and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having brought the two medical facilities together in September of 2011, as decreed by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law of 2005. Currently, this is a United States’ tri-service (Army, Navy, Air Force) military medical center, located in the community of Bethesda, Maryland. It is one of the most prominent U.S. military medical centers in the United States, having served numerous U.S. presidents since the 20th century. It is also near the headquarters of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Many find healing at this huge hospital complex. Others wait to get into the pool of stirred waters for some kind of healing. And others die there. No matter where on that spectrum one finds themselves, this hospital is a place for healing. That is its purpose…to find ways into and through diseases even though the physical healing may not occur for some such as my father. Yet this Bethesda is still a place for hope.
Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14
In pondering Bethesda, the pool in Jerusalem, I found my mind and heart wrapping around this incredible place where healing took place in Jerusalem. It was around this pool where Jesus healed.
a pool (a pond or bath), which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda – the house of mercy, house of kindness, place for receiving and caring for the sick; flowing waters, the waters of which had curative powers
From the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: …for therein appeared much of the mercy of God to the sick and diseased. In a world of so much misery as this is, it is well that there are some Bethesdas – houses of mercy (remedies against those maladies), that the scene is not all melancholy.
Also, from the Commentary on John 5 by Matthew Henry: Bethesda …had five porches, cloisters, piazzas, or roofed walks, in which the sick lay. Thus the charity of men concurred with the mercy of God for the relief of the distressed. Nature has provided remedies, but men must provide hospitals.
One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. John 5:5-9
This man did not have to get into the waters that day. He did not need to depend upon another person to place him in the pool which he obviously did each time the pool was stirred. Jesus healed this man after years and years of waiting. He was a patient man, to say the least. Jesus spoke the words and the man got up on his own at once. At once, he believed. At once, he was no longer an invalid. He could walk. There was no lifting or trying to get up. He could take up his own bed. At once, he obeyed. He did not know Who he obeyed at that moment, but he soon found out the man that spoke the words was the Christ.
At once…his physical health and, presumably, his spiritual health were healed.
We are always wanting a cure for that which ails us. Those physical issues gnaw at our minds until we can find out what is going on. We are all staring down the barrel of COVID-19 right now and want all of the answers yesterday. We want to “get back to normal.” We want to have the medical profession tell us the right answer without any mistakes on a disease we have never had before. When they error and then correct themselves once they know differently, we are upset that they did not tell us that the first time. They are doing all within their power to find the answers and give us the straight-up truth. It is just hard…real hard right now. Any time we are awaiting a diagnosis, a way forward for treatment, a healing, it can be hard.
Do these scenarios play out in our spiritual lives as well? Do we want to just be healed immediately without patiently waiting and trusting in the One Who heals? The Lord guides us, teaches us, feeds us His Truth. Do we want to have it all yesterday so we can just get up and walk? Do we depend upon our pastors to teach us the Truth that they have been given by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow fellow-laymen to care for us as we wait and watch, listen and learn, pray and be prayed over? Do we allow them to provide the hospitals, the houses of mercy, while we wait? Or do we have that short attention span, wanting it all now? Do we obey or expect cures, answers without any obedience on our part?
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
“…For I am the LORD who heals you.” Exodus 15:26b
Jehovah, the Lord, Yahweh, the Existing One
to cure:—cure, (cause to) heal, physician, repair, thoroughly, make whole
Jehovah Rapha – The LORD Who heals
Both, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, Jehovah Rapha is present, healing both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is with us today.
The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness You restore him to full health. Psalm 41:3
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases,... Psalm 103:2-3
And His name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Acts 3:16
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16
Father God, thank You for being willing to heal us of our broken bodies, our broken hearts, our broken spirits. Thank You for forgiving us our daily trespasses and giving us our daily bread. May we seek You in all ways, coming from a heart that is tender toward You and toward our brothers and sisters. May we draw near to You no matter what our circumstances may be. I pray I stay on the path that You have directed for my life. May I be obedient to Your commands, humble to Your call. “But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. May I boast gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” I also pray…”For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For (I am) also weak in Him, but in dealing with (others) (I) will live with Him by the power of God.”** In the Strong Name of Jesus. Amen.
Oh, how I struggle for words…words to speak my opinion yet would be surrounded by God’s Truth…all in one sentence! Words to share my experience but anger might be added at the way another is treating someone. Words to pummel yet knowing that God would not desire that from me. Words to encourage yet touched by spite. In my mind, I feel like I am on a roller coaster shouting words at the top both praiseworthy and unworthy. And when at the bottom, words to undermine yet filled with words of gentleness. What can I say without compromise? What can I say without speaking both truth and deceit in the same sentence? All of this is in response to others short Facebook or Twitter posts regarding things of this world.
“OF THIS WORLD” is the relevant phrase!
So I am silent.
Until I can speak words of the Holy Spirit and He Alone, I must be silent, for I do not want to fall into things of this world.
I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. John 17:15
Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue. Psalm 120:2
Sometimes, I want to take someone by the shoulders and shake them until sense is upon them. But who am I to know sense from non-sense? Who am I to tell someone else anything unless…
UNLESS… it is the Word of God, the Truth of Jesus, the Kingdom to come. That is the Truth.
In Christ Alone. So unless I am sharing the Gospel, am encouraging one with the Gospel Truth, am praying for another, am loving another in Christ, silence needs to be my game. Silence must be my story.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. Psalm 139:4
Teach me Your Ways, My LORD.
…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;… Ecclesiastes 3:7b
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elementary principles of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
So if the topic is politics, behaviors/actions, spoken words, beliefs, masks/no masks, etc., that first desire to respond is usually NOT going to come out right. It is like squeezing that toothpaste out of the tube into the letters that spell “WORD.” The words have oozed or flown out to say something that I may regret. And I cannot put that toothpaste back into the tube! It is too late. I do not want regret sitting on my shoulders.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21
Forgive me, LORD, for my foolish words. Forgive me when I denigrate You, the One Who has saved me from this world. Why do I so easily fall back into it? Why, oh why? Thank You, Father, for Your love and forgiveness.
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 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 3:17-18
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28
From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs 17: This is generally taken for such a sure indication of wisdom that a fool may gain the reputation of being a wise man if he have but wit enough to hold his tongue, to hear, and see, and say little. If a fool hold his peace, men of candour will think him wise, because nothing appears to the contrary, and because it will be thought that he is making observations on what others say, and gaining experience, and is consulting with himself what he shall say, that he may speak pertinently. See how easy it is to gain men’s good opinion and to impose upon them. But when a fool holds his peace God knows his heart, and the folly that is bound up there; thoughts are words to him, and therefore he cannot be deceived in his judgment of men.
And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
May I know my times and my places, lifting my voice to praise the LORD.
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!” (Psalm 66:16-20). Thank You, my precious LORD. I praise You for holding my tongue, for guiding my steps, for teaching me Your ways, for loving me even when I fail You. In the Holy and Powerful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Jesus is the Word. He is Truth and He is Life. He gives me life by His sacrifice, by His Blood shed for me. I kneel before Him, seeking forgiveness and redemption.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. John 1:1-4
He is my life-giving bread and water. From Him, I will never hunger nor thirst. He is Life.
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” Matthew 4:4 (CAPS from Deuteronomy 8:3)
“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38
Jesus came to live among men. They saw the power of the Word. When Jesus spoke, they felt the passion of the Word. Jesus spoke and the waters calmed, the lepers healed, the dead arose. He was and is the Living Word.
“Never compare this Book with other books. Comparisons are dangerous. Never think or say that this Book contains the Word of God. It is the Word of God. It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in application, inspired in totality. Read it through. Write it down. Pray it in. Work it out. And then pass it on.” —Smith Wigglesworth (8 June 1859 – 12 March 1947)
The Word is not just biblical history but is living and active this very day.
For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Nancy Guthrie writes, “The Word of God offers us power and perspective. Its truth brings comfort, not confusion. It is substantial, not merely sentimental. It is true, not trite.”
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Psalm 19:8-11
The Word cleanses us by His blood, His sacrifice. Once paid…and for all.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
LORD, I come to You this day, seeking Your Way, Your Truth, Your nourishment, YOur love. May I seek Your Truth and find it. I pray that I may discern truth from deceit. May I see and hear Your Truth with clarity. May I speak in honesty and with forbearance. May my words be Yours. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) I love You so. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, … Acts 17:26
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,… NKJV
He made also of one blood every nation of men, to dwell upon all the face of the earth — having ordained times before appointed, and the bounds of their dwellings — YLT
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. NIV
We have been created from one man, from one blood. All nations, all people were created by the God of the universe.
So Godcreated man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27
God created each and every one of us. God created us in HIS IMAGE. This is God’s powerful Truth. The color of our skin is a piece of this beautiful created human being.
Melanin has been placed in our epidermis, the outermost layer of our skin. It is a God-created phenomenon in becoming the many shades of skin that exist in human beings.
We are all humans. That is our one race. We are human beings = “Homo sapiens“= “man,” “earthly being” + “wise, sapient” (discerning, insightful, perceptive, prudent, sage, sagacious). Our skin tones may be different but we are one and the same race yet individuals in God’s eyes.
“We are all one race (“one blood” in Acts 17:26), the human race, descended from two ancestors, Adam and Eve. When we stand boldly and confidently on God’s Word, we can correctly understand the unity and diversity of the human race.” *
We are also loved equally and perfectly by the God of the universe.
May we see one another with this love which God has for us.
And He called us to love one another.
Jesus said: A new commandment I give to you, that you loveone another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love oneanother. John 13:34
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:11-12
We love because He first lovedus. 1 John 4:19
As I draw near to God, Your love pours into me. Father God, please keep pouring Your love into me so that I may love as You do, as You call me to do. I love You, LORD. May I grow in Your Love as I seek to be more and more like You. You created me in Your image. I want to become the one whom You created me to be. Then I can stand for and with every human being on this earth because You created each one for Your Glory, LORD. May I stand up for the many George Floyd’s of this world, no matter what color their skin tone may be. We are all and each equal in Your sight.
The many who are taking to the streets of this world for the good of humanity, I pray they know You as their Lord and Savior. For those who do not …YET… I pray…
I pray, Father, that this all may be true for all. I give You all the glory for all that may be. Amen.
…that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us,… Acts 7:27
At this time of turmoil, let there be togetherness.
At this time of descent, let there be ascent.
At this time of hurt, let there be healing.
At this time of anger, let there be forbearance.
At this time of hatred, let there be love.
For such a time as this, may we see You, the One Who is Almighty God, our Fortress, our Salvation.
Thank You so, Dearest God. I love You dearly.
… from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for You have been my Refuge, a Strong Tower against the enemy. Psalm 61:2-3
May our eyes be colorblind if they see differences in skin tones. May the eyes of our hearts see through the eyes of God for He is not colorblind, for He made us all. He loves us all. I love You, Lord. So much. Guide us. Keep us accountable to You and keep us from harming anyone else, from speaking words that hurt another. Keep us close that we will look to You for every answer to every question we have. Remind us that You loved us first as we face each new moment. I love you, Father.
*Quote: https://answersingenesis.org/racism/one-race/ by Dr. Georgia Purdom who holds a PhD in molecular genetics from The Ohio State University. She formerly served as an assistant and associate professor of biology at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University. Dr. Purdom is the director of Educational Content and actively speaks and writes for “Answers in Genesis.”
Matthew Henry: Samuel did not now rise and run as before when he thought Eli called, but lay still and listened. The more sedate and composed our spirits are the better prepared they are for divine discoveries. Let all tumultuous thoughts and passions be kept under, and every thing be quiet and serene in the soul, and then we are fit to hear from God. All must be silent when He speaks.
And Eli said, “What was it that He told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that He told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” 1 Samuel 3:17-18
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. 1 Samuel 3:19-20
God LET … NONE of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. God gave Samuel the words to use for His people. He kept them airborne that they would be heard. Have you ever heard echoing in the mountains, tried it yourself? That is what this reminds me of. None…not one of his words…fell to the ground and went unheard. They reverberated in the minds and hearts of those who heard. God used His servant. God was with Samuel. God continued to establish Samuel as he learned to lean into the Lord.
Then the LORD appeared again in Shiloh. For the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD. 1 Samuel 3:21
God allows some to hear Him. He allows some to sense Him, knowing His will for their lives. He allows understanding of His spoken words, His written words through the Word of God. Prayer. Meditation. His incredible creation. He allows depth of Who God is by so many means. Seek Him often. Walk in obedience that we each may hear Him in whatever manner He comes to us.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, Who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, Who made all things, Who alone stretched out the heavens, Who spread out the earth by Myself,... Who confirms the word of His servant and fulfills the counsel of His messengers, Who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins’;… Isaiah 44:24, 26
LORD, may I have ears to hear Your Word through Your Holy Spirit. May I honor and glorify You by being obedient to Your will in all that You have and desire for me. May I be a servant You are pleased with. I love You, LORD.
C. H. Spurgeon on 1 Samuel 3: God, in a renewed manner, speaks to us by his Word when his Spirit applies it to us individually. We never truly hear the voice of God in Scripture until the truth is spoken home to each heart and conscience by the Holy Ghost. Revelation must be revealed to each one; other wise it soon comes to be a veiling of truth, rather than a discovering of the Lord’s mind. The revelation is clear enough in itself; but we have not the opened eye till grace bestows it. If we have not the Spirit of God, the letter may actually become a veil to hide the spirit of truth; this, indeed, it should not be, neither is it according to its natural intent and tendency; but our depravity makes it so, turning even light itself into a thing which blinds. Do you know what it is to have a text leap out of the Scriptures upon you, and carry you away? This special energy and flash of truth is always memorable. How often have the waves of this sea of truth been phosphorescent before my eyes-a sea of glass mingled with fire, of which the spray has dashed over me and set my soul on flame! As surely as the Lord spake these words to Moses, or to David, or to Isaiah, or to John, or to Paul, so surely does he speak them to our souls by his Spirit. Understand you what I say?Moreover, our God has ways of communicating his mind to his children by those of his servants who speak in his name. He directs the thoughts of his ministers, and suggests their words, so that they speak to the cases of those who are led to hear the Word of God.By our own thoughts, also, the Lord communes with us. If we will be still before him, he will prepare our hearts, and in silence we shall hear his voice. It would be a strange thing if God could not, and did not, communicate with his own children; and it is still more strange and sad that, though he does speak, his people are slow of heart and dull of hearing.
Oh, that our ears may be opened to heavenly tidings-may be wakened, morning by morning, by the voice of the Lord! May we often hear it as the morning song and the evening hymn! May the Lord also hear our voices in prayer and praise and meditation, till our lives shall be a holy dialogue between our souls and our God, never dying down into silence, but lasting on until we behold Him face to face! Prayer by Matthew Henry
In the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Samuel
A Sermon, (No. 2184) Intended for Reading on Lord’s-day, January 18th, 1891. Delivered by C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, On Thursday Evening, October 9th, 1890.
“Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.” Per the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Honoring those who have died in service to the United States of America is a bittersweet moment for me. I desire to honor those men and women who have placed their lives on the line for me and the country I call home.
I have two dear men, in particular, who fit that category…my Daddy and my husband, Kenneth. Both of these men died from war-inflicted wounds of contamination: my father, Ralph D, Ross – Post WWII Manhattan Project radiation, Kenneth – Agent Orange/Vietnam War. The two most special men in my life have left their earthly home….gone from my earthly life. Yet, both are with me in my heart. I loved them both dearly.
Kenneth C. Gill US Army 101st Airborne Infantry Served 1967 – 1970 Vietnam 4/1968 – 4/1969 born – Salem, IL 1947 – died – Lufkin, TX 2018
June 7, 2018: He served in the Vietnam War 1968-1969 with the US Army’s 101st Airborne Infantry in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He returned to the states and completed his service with the 82nd Airborne in North Carolina. He was exposed to Agent Orange throughout that year marching through rice paddies and areas that once had been wooded areas, defoliated with AO.
Kenneth in Mason, Texas with one of his favorite characters from a book! The author of “Old Yeller,” Fred Gipson, was from Mason. The city library has a statue of the dog and the boy Travis. Inside the library is a mini-museum featuring Fred Gipson.
In January, 2018, we found out he had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which is one of the cancers connected with Agent Orange. We believe he had had it for some time due to symptoms we better understood after the fact.
Kenneth was a wonderful husband of 25 years. I was truly blessed. Thank You, Lord. As I walk these days without Kenneth, I still am filled with love for this man whom You loaned to me. I am grateful, Lord, every day. You are the One I walk with today.
Ralph D Ross US Navy Physician World War II – Pacific 1942 – 1945, then continuing on til his death in the US Navy born – Sterling, KS 1913 – died – Bethesda, MD 1960
September 18, 1960:My father’s life vanished in his prime – 46, a Navy doctor, a career spiraling upwards, a lovely wife, 3 daughters (12, 10, 7). The Navy was so special to him, so much so that he did not intend to retire at the 20-year mark! He served in WWII in the Pacific Theater as surgeon, infection control medical officer, doctor, user of Penicillin in its early days to cure Syphillis. From 1946-1951, he became a part of the post-WWII Manhattan Project, serving as a Radiological Safety Officer, while he continued to practice medicine in the Navy. He was on Bikini Island for Operations Crossroads in 1946, then on Eniwetok for Operations Greenhouse in 1951. By early 1960, he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer…a death sentence then. It can be connected with radiation poisoning. Daddy was the best. I still miss him so!
My parents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. An honor, to say the least! (The photo above was taken on a Memorial Day weekend, as told by the flag. I had a friend of a blogging friend take it while she was there. Thanks.)
Mama became a Gold Star Widow; we became Gold Star children. “They are the Gold Star children, war’s innocent victims, and their pain shimmers across the years pure and undimmed. They pass through life with an empty room in their hearts where a father was supposed to live and laugh and love. All their lives they listen for the footstep that will never fall, and long to know what might have been.” **
Eleanor Malcotte Ross born – Chicago, IL 1914 – died – Portland, TX 2013
January 30, 2013: My mother was an unsung war hero, too, although she did not die from war-related causes! Not only was she a Navy officer’s wife, but worked during the war for the Naval Supply Depot, keeping the Navy-at-war in food and other supplies. She was a special woman! Lots of fun too!
Buried with Daddy at Arlington National Cemetery.
Father, thank You for these very special people in my life. They have meant so much to me over the span of my lifetime. I am so grateful for the love I have known from each one of them. They loved me, each in their own special way. I honor the service they offered to this country. Thank You for bringing Daddy and Kenneth home from wars so that Daddy could be my father and Kenneth could be my husband. I am sorry they each died from contamination of war-related agents. I am so sorry for that…for my loss as well. I also honor the many more who died from their service to the United States of America. Please protect those many more service men and women who continue to be in harm’s way around the world, Lord. Hold those who have served but are dealing with the effects of war. Some are wanting to get ‘back-to-normal,’ others are dealing with homelessness, and others are medically or psychologically traumatized. Please care for them all, Father God. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.