Gather

On the surface, the word “gather” seems simple enough to understand. But in the context of the Scriptures I have been rooting around in, it is not an easy word for it brought up death before Christ came to save us from our sins.

The Old Testament often tells us that when the Hebrew fathers and descendants died, they were gathered to their people or to their fathers.

Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. Genesis 25:8

(These are the years of the life of Ishmael: 137 years. He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people.). Genesis 25:17

And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. Genesis 35:29

When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Genesis 49:33

“Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land that I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up to Mount Hor. And strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there.” Number 20:24-26

The LORD said to Moses, “Go up into this mountain of Abarim and see the land that I have given to the people of Israel. When you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, because you rebelled against My word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold Me as holy at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.). Numbers 27: 12-14

And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers…. Deuteronomy 31:16

That very day the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel for a possession. And die on the mountain which you go up, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people, because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, and because you did not treat me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you, but you shall not go there, into the land that I am giving to the people of Israel.” Deuteronomy 32: 48-52

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. Judges 2:10

But to the king of Judah (King Josiah), who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king. 2 Kings 22:18-20

God gathers His own, in death and at other times, to their people, their fathers.

אָסַף

ʼâçaph

‘āsap̄

pronounced: aw-saf’

  1. to gather, receive, remove, gather in:
  2. to gather, collect, to gather (an individual into company of others), to bring up the rear, to gather and take away, remove, withdraw
  3. to assemble, be gathered
  4. to be gathered to one’s fathers, to be brought in or into (association with others)
  5. to be taken away, removed, perish
  6. to gather (harvest), to take in, receive into, rearguard, rearward (subst), to be gathered, to gather oneself or themselves

I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob;
I will gather the remnant of Israel;
I will set them together
like sheep in a fold,
like a flock in its pasture,
a noisy multitude of men.
Micah 2:12

Shepherds must gather their sheep as they are most unable to do much for themselves. They need guidance and rescuing and picking up when they fall. They need to be protected from wolves and illness. God refers to us as sheep often in the Bible. We need guidance and protection, healing and rescuing, and so much more. Our stubborn and sinful ways can get us off God’s path for us. Thus, our need is to listen, pray, and accept help from the One Who has plans for us and will guide us in all ways. He is our Shepherd.

As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well’s mouth was large, and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. Genesis 29:2-3

As one sows, we also are to reap, to gather up the harvest:

You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Exodus 23:16

God calls us to gather to Him….

Gather to Me My faithful ones,
who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice!”
Psalm 50:5

What about those who died during Old Testament times? Yes, they were gathered with family, but where were they when gathered?

In researching the word, gather, out of the Old Testament, a word I really could not quite wrap my head around, I looked deeper into how others defined this word. I found pastors and theologians with thoughts, research of their own, imaginings, that were beyond my original thoughts, helping me to make better sense of how this may be defined.

from David A. Padfield, Gathered To His People, Truth Magazine: “But what does it mean to be gathered to our people? “Gathered” (Hb. acaph) is defined as “to be collected, gathered together . . . used of entering into Hades, where the Hebrews regarded their ancestors as being gathered together. This gathering to one’s fathers, or one’s people is distinguished both from death and burial” (Gesenius’ Hebrew And Chaldee Lexicon, p. 626). William Wilson commented, “To be gathered to his fathers, is a peculiar phrase deserving notice; it is distinguished from death which precedes, and from burial of the body which follows: Gen. xxv. 8; xxxv. 29; 2 Kings xxii. 20. It seems to denote the being received by his own people, or among them. We read in the N.T. of being received into Abraham’s bosom, or of sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven, as at a feast; so that to be gathered to his own people, is to be with them in joy or torment in Hades” (Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, p. 182). Abraham has been “gathered to his people” until that day when his dust shall live again at the sound of the last trumpet, and all the buried dead shall hear the voice of the Son of Man….” *

from Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament: “This expression, which is synonymous with ‘going to his fathers‘ (Gen. 15:15), or ‘being gathered to his fathers‘ (Judg. 2:10), but is constantly distinguished from departing this life and being buried, denotes the reunion in Sheol with friends who have gone before, and therefore presupposes faith in the personal continuance of a man after death, as a presentiment which the promises of God had exalted in the case of the patriarchs into a firm assurance of faith (Heb. 11:13).” **

from John McArthur Study Helps: “‘Hades’ was the Greek term for the abode of the dead. In the LXX (Septuagint), it was used to translate the Hebrew Sheol, which referred to the realm of the dead in general, without necessarily distinguishing between righteous or unrighteous souls. However, in NT usage, ‘Hades’ always refers to the place of the wicked prior to final judgment on hell. The imagery Jesus used paralleled the common rabbinical idea that Sheol had two parts, one for the souls of the righteous and the other for the souls of the wicked–separated by an impassable gulf. But there is no reason to suppose, as some do, that ‘Abraham’s side’ spoke of a temporary prison for the souls of the OT saints, who were brought to heaven only after he had actually atone for their sins. Scripture consistently teaches that the spirits of the righteous dead go immediately into the presence of God (Luke 23:43, 2 Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23). And the presence of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:30) belies the notion that they were confined in a compartment of Sheol until Christ finished His work.“***

We humans can do our best to understand God’s path for the Old Testament people, the Israelites. We do know that God loves the Israelites. They are His children. I need to not worry about them and trust that God has them in His way!! He writes:

Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15

God gathers His own to their people and to Him. He draws them in, guides them in as a shepherd leads his flock to pastures and water. This feels so very peaceful to me as I ponder this word, gather, regarding death, calling His saints home.

As I age, death can be on my thoughts from time to time, but because I know that Christ came to call me to Himself, death is not a fearful future for me. Knowing that God will shepherd me Home when it is my time is, actually, such a sweet thought for me. I can truly rest in His calling. I can rest in His guidance until that moment. I can rest.

“Far be it from You to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” Genesis 18:25

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!  For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Isaiah 26:19

I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues?  O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes. Hosea 13:14

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

God knows where His children will be. They will be with Him. That is what is important. We on earth try to figure everything out, but God’s plans are perfect and we need to rest in Him. If we are in Christ Jesus, we have been adopted into the family of God and will be with God when we die. PERIOD.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:17

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. 1 John 2:24-25

LORD, You died for my sins, and have forgiven me. Gratitude overflows. I am so sorry that I have sinned against You. By Your forgiveness, I have been born anew. I am Yours. Hallelujah! Oh, What a Savior! You have given me eternal life and I will spend eternity with You. Thank You, Lord Jesus. I am gathered to You, needing You as my Shepherd. You are my very present Help in times of trouble, my Refuge and Strength. I know as I age, physical death looms, but I am not afraid for You are with me. I carry hope because You are near and will carry me over that threshold in Your arms. I asked of, believed in, and abided in You. There will be no spiritual death for me. I will be gathered to You and am so blessed. Thank You, O my Holy Father. In the Name of my Savior, I pray. Amen.

Photo from Kauai/”Gather:” taken by me; graphic added by me

“Gather” rocks @ https://medium.com/lets-gather/get-ready-to-gather-42c4e5f59197

Sheep @ water trough photo @ Flickr

wheat photo @ www.wallpaperflare.com

* from Gathered To His People @ Truth Magazine, David A. Padfield, Evansville, Indiana, Guardian of Truth XXXII: 19, pp. 580, 597, October 6, 1988

** Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, vol. 1, Commentary on the Old Testament(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 168.

***John McArthur Study Helps/Luke 16:23, from The MacArthur Study Bible, 1997

Photo/graphic – Psalm 116:15 @ pinterest

Photo/graphic – 1 John 2:24-25 @ pinterest

I Serve a Magnificent and Holy God!

This post is not something I have ever done before, but when I saw the reader statistics for Being Woven on this past Easter Sunday, I was so very humbled. I just want to share them with you, my readers.

On Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021, “Being Woven” had 298 visitors from all around this world. 240 must have “googled,” “binged,” searched for “He is Risen.” 240 people read the Easter post “He is Risen!” from March 24, 2016, on “Being Woven.” Five years ago! It is short but has a powerful punch. Plus 9 people came and read the Easter message for 2021. These are messages that never grow old, never change, never is anything but great news to those who believe for He has, indeed, risen! Jesus rose and conquered death. Hallelujah!

And it can, hopefully, be good news, great news, for those who are searching for Christ without even knowing exactly what they are needing and why they are needing it.

I am humbled by my Magnificent and Holy Lord. He called them to this blog, which was originally born in Jesus, written about Jesus, since 2009. Over the years, through the words I type, God teaches me more than I could ever imagine. He uses this blog to mold me to look more and more like Christ. I am so very grateful.

My prayer over every visitor is that the messages here will touch each one way beyond anything I can control or hope, or more than the words that my fingers type. My prayer over me as I type each post would be that they be guided by the Holy Spirit and not me. I am quite sure that is not always the case, but I pray it is for most.

Let me share the countries from which they came on this past Easter Sunday, April 4th, 2021:

United States

United Kingdom

India

South Africa

Canada

Jamaica

Brazil

Philippines

Nigeria

France

Spain

Netherlands

Ghana

Australia

Vietnam

Dominican Republic

Germany

Bahamas

Indonesia

Singapore

Angola

Hondurus

Swaziland

Trinidad & Tobago

Serbia

Mexico

Zimbabwe

Norway

Botswana

Puerto Rico

Bolivia

All over this world!

Nothing is too hard, too big, too small, too wide, too deep, or too narrow for God to bring the Gospel to others. I could not have imagined 12 years ago when I began this blog just how He would use this very woman who is continuously being woven.

“He reveals mysteries from the darkness
And brings the deep darkness into light.”
Job 12:22

As I pray Ephesians 3:14-21, please join me:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant [me] to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in [my] inner being, so that Christ may dwell in [my] heart through faith—that [I], being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [I] may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that [I] ask or think, according to the power at work within [me], to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Photo with Mark 16:6: Christina Rivas @ faithful4Him

World Map image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_map_pol_2005-fr.svg

THE Cross, THE Resurrection, and Me

…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:10-11

ἀνάστασις

anastasis

1.a raising up, rising (e. g. from a seat)
2.a rising from the dead 
a. that of Christ b. that of all men at the end of the present age c. the resurrection of certain in ancient Jewish story who were restored to life before burial

What do these have to do with me? EVERYTHING!!

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8

I am born again…as of July 17, 1993. I was born once of my parents, of water. I was born a second time by the Spirit of God. No, I did not know how that happened but it did because God sent His Spirit to me when I was seeking Him, when I was asking about Him and knocking on the door for Him. I nailed my sins to the cross with Jesus. Yes, I will live as a human being until God takes me Home, whenever that may be. I am growing in the Lord every day, I pray (I am being sanctified). I want to shine His light into this dark world through the Holy Spirit living within me. I want to walk in obedience to Christ. I read the Word of God and get to know my Creator, my Refuge, my Shepherd, my Redeemer, my Savior and Lord. The cross is where I kneeled before Him, asking for forgiveness for all my guilty sins. He forgave me, and calls me His own. I see the empty grave and know that He is with His Father in Heaven. He has risen from the grave. He is resurrected. One day, because I am His, I, too, will be resurrected to live in Heaven with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I am forever grateful.

I am forever connected to the Cross and the Resurrection!!

Easter is today. For me, these past couple of years, I have called this day Resurrection Sunday instead of Easter Sunday. My church uses that word as the name of what I have always called Easter. It has not only become a new name for this Sunday, but it is what Jesus did for me, for you, upon the Cross. It is what Jesus did from the grave…He rose alive. These Truths have taken on a far deeper meaning for me with each passing year. Jesus rose from the grave three days after His death on the Cross, never to die again.

THE CROSS

Friday, we celebrated Good Friday. Jesus died on that Friday over 2,000 years ago. It was a horrific death nailed, hands and feet, to a cross. It was a way of execution, capital punishment. “Crucifixion was most frequently used to punish political or religious agitators, pirates, slaves, or those who had no civil rights. In 519 BCE Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon; in 88 BCE Alexander Jannaeus, the Judaean king and high priest, crucified 800 Pharisaic opponents; and about 32 CE Pontius Pilate had Jesus of Nazareth put to death by crucifixion.” *

So this form of death had been around and used for a long time: “Crucifixion, an important method of capital punishment particularly among the Persians, Seleucids, Carthaginians, and Romans from about the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished it in the Roman Empire in the early 4th century CE out of veneration for Jesus Christ, the most famous victim of crucifixion.” *

So why do we call crucifixion Friday “good?” It is an awful way of death. Humiliation was a large part of crucifixions: the person was naked, flogged/scourged to the point of severe bleeding; yelling and screaming at the victim took place as well. There was usually a procession to the place of crucifixion (in Roman times, it was led by the Roman Guard, headed by a centurion). This brutal method of capital punishment was a very public “ceremony” in order to place fear in others, to deter criminals from breaking Roman laws.

“For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most pivotal day in the history of the world. On Good Friday, Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. … It’s called Good Friday because, by Jesus’ death, he became the final, complete sacrifice for our sins. We couldn’t have erased our sins. Our hands would have been forever stained with every single sin for a lifetime. But Jesus broke the bonds of death and sin!” **

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:10

Jesus bore the Cross for me, for you, that we would receive mercy and grace for our sins. We can choose to seek His face, asking for forgiveness of those sins. We can choose to acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior for He saved us from eternal damnation in hell with the evil one, satan. By dying in our place on that Cross, a place where we should have hung, He died once for us each and all. By choosing Jesus, we also agree, wholeheartedly, that He arose from the dead to live again and forever. He returned to His rightful place at the right side of His Father, our Father God, to live forever in Heaven. We choose Him and we choose life…Eternal life with Jesus in the heavenly places. Oh, I pray this is your choice.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

THE RESURRECTION

Charles H. Spurgeon preached many a sermon on the resurrection of the Christ. This is from one of those:

Once more–the resurrection of Christ is operating at this present time with a quickening power on all who hear the Word aright. The sun is, to the vegetable world, a great source of growth. In this month of April he goes forth with life in his beams and we see the result. The buds are bursting, the trees are putting on their summer dress, the flowers are smiling and even the seeds which we buried in the earth are beginning to feel the vivifying warmth. They see not the lord of day but they feel his smile. Over what an enormous territory is the returning sun continually operating! How potent are his forces when he crosses the line and lengthens the day!

Such is the risen Christ. In the grave He was like the sun in His winter solstice but He crossed the line in His resurrection. He has brought us all the hopes of Spring and is bringing us the joys of Summer. He is quickening many at this hour and will yet quicken myriads. This is the power with which the missionary goes forth to sow. This is the power in which the preacher at home continues to scatter the seed. The risen Christ is the great Producer of harvests. By the power of His resurrection men are raised from their death in sin to eternal life.***

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, Who is coming into the world.” John 11:25-27

I rejoice in the resurrection of You, my Christ. You died on my behalf and You live this very day with God, our Father. I will, one day, be with You. Yes, Lord, I will have trials and will suffer, but nothing compared to the suffering that You endured for me…on that cross and in the grave. But You rose from death and, now, will live for always. I will die one day on earth, but You will raise me up to be with You forever and ever. If You return before I die, I will then live forever with You. Whether in Heaven with You or on earth alive, I desire to worship, praise, honor, glorify, and love You. I desire to shine Your light of salvation and be a harbor of Your love wherever I am. I love You so much. I am truly blessed to be one of your sheep. In Your Holy and Resurrected Name, I pray. Amen.

The Empty Cross @ pursuingprayer.blog

Philippians 3:10-11 graphic/photo @ BibleStudyTools.com

*from Encyclopedia Britannica.com on “Crucifixion”

**from Crosswalk – “Good Friday”

Knowing Jesus – What Does Philippians 3:10 Mean? @ Knowing-Jesus.com

*** from THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION by C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1893)

“That I May Know Him” graphic @ Perfecting of the Saints

Jesus Suffered So For Me

Day after day, week upon week, I suddenly am overwhelmed with with the injustice, the bigotry, the killing of seemingly innocent lives. This past week has been so filled with these heinous acts that I just have to stop to remind myself that God is in control. No matter what I wish was the reality all around, these things are not in my control. I can pray, and I do. I can stand up for what I believe to be right, yet I am still not the one in charge. Thus I pray.

Sweet sisters and brothers, I have another post almost ready to go. I have been writing on the silence of the Lamb of God as He was being accused, judged, retaliated upon. Instead, though, am sharing something that is not mine, yet still on the Lord’s silence. This season before Resurrection Sunday, I have been reading a couple of devotional books to remind me of all that Christ has done for me. Words (other than God’s Word) are not enough to focus my heart upon Him but they are reminders, guides, prayers to point me to the One Who changed my life 28 years ago.

From “An Ocean of Grace, A Journey to Easter with Great Voices from the Past,” Tim Chester writes an introduction each day accompanied by the writing of a church father from ancient days, a Christian such as Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, and so many more.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God,…. 1 Peter 3:18a

Tim Chester says: “A swap has taken place: Jesus takes out judgment and gives us his reward. The 3rd-century church father Cyprian reminds us that we see this great exchange in every aspect of the story of Christ’s passion.” (Mr. Chester changed part of the Treatise IX of Cyprian into a prayer, as I looked up the original.)

Precious Saviour,

even before Your very passion and cross, before they had reached the cruelty of death and the shedding of blood,

what infamies of reproach You patiently heard, what mockings of contempt You suffered.

You had used Your spit to heal a blind man; yet for us You received the spittings of insulters!

In Your name the devil and his angels are beaten; yet for us You suffered beatings!

You crown martyrs with eternal flowers; yet for us You were crowned with thorns.

You give victory palm branches to those who overcome; yet for us You were struck on the face with palms.

You clothe us with immortality; yet for us You were stripped of Your earthly garments.

You give us heavenly food; yet for us You were fed with bitter gall.

You hold the cup of salvation; yet for us You were given vinegar to drink.

You are guiltless, the just One; indeed, You are innocence itself and justice itself, yet for us You were counted among transgressors, and truth is suppressed with false witnesses.

You shall judge; yet for us You were judged;

You are the Word of God; yet for us You were led silently to the slaughter.

When You hung on the cross, the stars were confounded, the elements were disturbed, the earth quaked, night shut out the day, the sun withdrew his rays that He might not be compelled to look upon the crime.

You did not speak, nor did You resist, nor did You declare Your majesty.

To the very end You bore all things with perseverance that in You a full and perfect patience might be consummated.

And after all these things, You still receive Your murderers if they will turn and come to You; and with a saving patience, You close Your Church to no one.

Those adversaries, those blasphemers, those who were enemies of Your name, if they repent of their sin, and acknowledge their crime—You receive them, not only to the pardon of their sin, but to the reward of the heavenly kingdom.

Who can be said to be more patient, more merciful? Even those who shed Your blood and are made alive by that blood—so great is Your patience.

“Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth; Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but gave Himself up to him that judged Him unjustly.” 1 Peter 2:21-23

Empower us, who have placed ourselves in You by faith, who have clothed ourselves with You, who are on You, the way of salvation; empower us that we may follow Your example. Cyprian (c 200-258)*

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your sacrifices and love, again and again. And more than anything, thank You for taking my sins to the Cross, forgiving me, and guiding my steps. Teach me, show me, guide me, hold me near. For You, I am forever grateful. Please take all the violence, the murders, the crimes against humanity around this world, the lying and cheating, and forgive the cruel perpetrators of their evil ways just as You forgave Your murderers at the Cross. Draw the living victims, their families and friends near to You today, giving them comfort and healing. Forgive us each and all for all that we do and say against You. In Your Precious and Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

Photo/graphic: Gods411.org

Photo: Writings of Cyprian: Archive.org

*Cyprian: “Treatise IX. On the Advantage of Patience,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5, eds. A Roberts & J. Donaldson (Eerdmans, 1979), p 486 with alterations by Tim Chester in Week 3 Sunday, “The Stars were Confounded,” An Ocean of Grace, A Journey to Easter with Great Voices from the Past, Tim Chester (The Good Book Company, 2021)

The Free Gift

Resurrection Sunday will be on April 4, 2021. As it nears, I sense, deeply within, the death and resurrection of Christ once again.

But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

During seasons of Lent, I do not give up anything physical as many do during this time before “Easter Sunday.” I actually desire to dwell in the Word, Christ’s dying and His death, and His resurrection. Christ went to the Cross carrying all of my sins with Him, nailing them to that Cross, just as He was nailed there, nails through the palms of His hands, through His feet. He took my place. Although He nailed my sins to that Cross, I am still a sinful human being. I still do, think, and feel things that are of that original sinful nature.

“But Jesus took them. That is what you said, didn’t you?” you might be thinking to yourself.

Yes, He did, but that does not leave me to never sin again. I do sin still and always will…until I die. BUT…I am forgiven and have been given the gift of His mercy and His grace. I know that I have sought Christ as my Lord and Savior, receiving Him into my life. I have sought His forgiveness and He has forgiven me. I know that I am His and He is mine.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the One Who was to come. Romans 5:12-14

Jesus Christ is the Second Adam. He was the One Who was to come. And He is yet to come once again, the Second Coming! Hallelujah! He will come to take me Home if I have not already left this earth via death.

This chart below really clarified that which I sort of know but now know better:

There are two Greek words from Roman 5 that I am pondering this day: trespasses/transgressions and gift. Through these words, I see more clearly the gift Jesus gave to us by His death on the Cross.

παράπτωμα

paraptōma

(Some Bible versions use “transgressions” while others use “trespass.”)

  1. to fall beside or near something
  2. a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness
    1. a sin, misdeed
  3. a side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (willful) transgression:—fall, fault, offense, sin, trespass.

I transgress. I fall. I offend another. I trespass upon another by not living correctly, and not being a light in this world. I sin.

Yet I am forgiven.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that One Man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the One Man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:15-17

χάρισμα

charisma

  1. a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own
  2. the gift of divine grace; the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith,
  3. the gift of faith, knowledge, holiness, virtue
  4. the economy of divine grace, by which the pardon of sin and eternal salvation is appointed to sinners in consideration of the merits of Christ laid hold of by faith
  5. grace or gifts denoting extraordinary powers, distinguishing certain Christians and enabling them to serve the church of Christ, the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating on their souls by the Holy Spirit

Merriam-Webster Dictionary included the following: The Greek word charisma means “favor” or “gift.” In English, it has been used in Christian contexts since about 1640 to refer to a gift or power bestowed upon an individual by the Holy Spirit for the good of the Church. (This sense is now very rare.) The earliest nonreligious use of “charisma” that we know of occurred in a German text, a 1922 publication by sociologist Max Weber. The sense began appearing in English contexts shortly after Weber’s work was published. Today’s English definition of charisma is: A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm; n. Personal magnetism or charm.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Jesus came to die in my place, giving His all to save me from going to hell where I would be separated from God for eternity. Had I not accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at age 45 (or at any age, for that matter), I would have been living this life on earth away from God (which I truly did for the first 45 years of my life, although I did not understand that reality during those years). Then that would have extended for all of eternity. Oh my! But I have been forgiven! Thank You, Jesus.

Christ, the Righteous One, the sinless One, gave Himself to die for my sins….your sins, my friend.

Hallelujah!

Romans 5:12-17

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me, for drawing me to Your breast. You have given me life through Your death on the Cross. You paid the ultimate price for one such as I, for many such as I. Thank You, Lord. By Your righteousness, Jesus, You justified me, acquitted me of my sins, pardoned me of all my unrighteousness. Thank You does not even say all that I feel in my heart towards You, for You are The Gift that God gave to me so that I may drink from the Living Water and eat the Bread of Life forever and for always. You are my life. I am with You forever. While saddened that You had to die for me, I am rejoicing in You for the hope, the love, the grace, the peace, the faith, and the life I have in You. I am decreasing in this life while You increase in my life. I cherish You for You are my Gift. You are the Light of my life. Thank You, my Lord. I am so grateful to be Yours. In the Holy Name of Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Photos and Graphics:

Romans 5:8 @ Flickr/Joshinpowers

Adam – Christ @ Bible Book Club

Purple-Wrapped Gift @ PublicDomainPictures

Cross/Romans 5:12-17 ~ created by me @ WordArt

Lighted Gift @ FreeImages/Tracey Brown

To Covet; Not to Covet

“I covet your prayers.”

I have heard this sentence uttered many times.

Then there is the Tenth Commandment:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17

So what does to covet mean? How can I be obedient to God yet still covet someone’s prayers?

Of course, that leads me on a word study!

In the Hebrew:

חָמַד

ḥāmaḏ, châmad

to desire, take pleasure in, delight in, to delight greatly, desire greatly, to lust

From the very beginning, the word, covet, was used in different ways.

And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

Looking closer at this Hebrew word in the two contexts:

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:10

For He grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him
. Isaiah 53:2

Do not desire her beauty in your heart,
and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes;
…. Proverbs 6:25

They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Micah 2:2

And then in the Greek:

ἐπιθυμέω

epithymeō (Key word)

to set one’s heart upon, to have a desire for, to have a longing for (especially for what is forbidden); absolutely, to desire; have a craving for; to lust after, covet, of those who seek things forbidden, to have desires opposed to a thing, to long for, covet a thing; of sexual desire; a longing

And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:11-12

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28

Where is my heart? Is it for God only? Or is it straddling the line between Heaven and the world? Or is it for the world only?

God wants things for us. Where the line is drawn is in the position of my heart and mind. They need to be rightly fixed upon the Lord. He has a plan for me. His will for me most likely includes some “things.” Whether or not there are “worldly” things, His will is what I must desire. He will provide. I am to trust Him for my needs. I should have no need to be jealous or envious of others’ things. Envy and jealousy are not to be a part of my mind nor my heart. I am to be growing in holiness as He sanctifies me. Thus, I am to be content in all I am and all I have while I walk with and near to my Christ. So when one “covets” my prayers, my love, my care, or my concern, they are desiring these for the possibility of being touched by the hand of God, for He may be using me on behalf of my brother or sister in Christ. My heart and mind need to be directed to God and not at myself, nor even to the person coveting my prayers. God is the focal point from which those prayers, that love or care is coming from and is directed by Him through me if my heart and mind are right with God.

Romans 7:4-8:2 is a long passage yet it is extremely important to what I am wishing to learn through these two meanings of covet. Plus, these verses show me how confused I can become when I lean on my own understanding. Take your time and read these verses slowly.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.

For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 7:4-8:2

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Romans 7: The more pure and holy the heart is, it will have the more quick feeling as to the sin that remains in it. The believer sees more of the beauty of holiness and the excellence of the law. His earnest desires to obey, increase as he grows in grace. … For as the believer is under grace, and his will is for the way of holiness, he sincerely delights in the law of God, and in the holiness which it demands, according to his inward man; that new man in him, which after God is created in true holiness.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. I Timothy 6:6-10

Father, guard my heart and mind that I would always be content in all of my circumstances. I want to walk in Your ways for the rest of my life, Lord. I do not desire to be jealous or envious. Please forgive me when I am. I am sorry. Teach me to love all, Lord, no matter how rich or poor. I have been given the greatest gift of all. This gift is Christ, Your Son. I have been saved by the Blood of the Lamb and have all that there is to have. He gave His all for me. I do not need to want what others have. I do not need to wish for anything but to walk in His grace for the rest of my days. I want to walk a straight and narrow path to Your heart. I want to be close to You and desire that which You desire for me. Teach me to be content. Teach me to covet that which You have already planned and prepared for me. Guard my eyes and ears, my heart and mind from things of this world. May I look, listen, love and contemplate Heavenward and that way alone. You created me and know every bit of me. You also love me, so please guard and guide me, Father, that I covet only that which You orchestrate for me. I pray that I not covet anything against Your will. In the strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Cross photo (w/”Coveting” graphic by me): WebStockReview.net

“Do Not Covet” graphic: First Baptist St. Charles

Cloud photo by Pexels (w/graphics by me) @ Pixabay

Graphic Roman 7:22-8:2 @ Desiring God/Youtube

Charles Spurgeon quote on photograph from Pinterest

Cry Baby

Jesus wept. I do not consider Him a cry baby. So what about me?

I was considered a “cry baby” most of my life. Only in my senior adult years have I accepted my vulnerability in emotionally drawn circumstances. It may be the death of someone dear, a friend being treated for cancer, a photo of one starving or a refugee camp in Yemen (seen on the news), the recent mob targeting our nation’s Capitol, a situation that just hits me square in the heart, a person coming to know the Lord, a birth of a child. Much brings me to tears. I have been that way since a child.

My dear mother, whom I had a talk with years ago about this, and have forgiven her long ago, struggled with my tears. She was a strong woman and was not prone to tears, at least not in public or around us kids. I would often be sent to my room to cry. That was her way of dealing with me, those tears running down my face. When Daddy died, I was a month from turning thirteen. When I asked if I could go to his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, her answer was, “Yes, if you won’t cry.” Well, I knew I would cry because I loved Daddy dearly, so I did not go to his funeral. To this day, when I see a caisson on the news or in a photo, I tear up, knowing I missed that extremely special moment of closure of Daddy’s life. Yes, I have been to his grave a number of times and mourn my loss. My mother’s body is buried in his grave now too. And, yes, I cry every time. I miss them both.

Tears are not a bad thing in my purview. I cry and usually feel relieved, worn out, loved, or a number of other outcomes. These water droplets running down my face from those tiny ducts at the edge of my eyes were a gift from God! God made those tear ducts. God created tears.

κλαίω

klaiō

  1. to mourn, weep, lament
    1. weeping as the sign of pain and grief for the thing signified (i.e. for the pain and grief)
    2. of those who mourn for the dead
  2. to weep for, mourn for, bewail, sob for one

And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44

Jesus wept because:

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke: Jerusalem has not improved the day of her opportunities. He wept, and said, If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, if thou wouldst but yet know, while the gospel is preached to thee, and salvation offered thee by it; if thou wouldest at length bethink thyself, and understand the things that belong to thy peace, the making of thy peace with God, and the securing of thine own spiritual and eternal welfare-but thou dost not know the day of thy visitation, v.44. The manner of speaking is abrupt: If thou hadst known! O that thou hadst, so some take it; like that O that my people had hearkened unto me. How happy had it been for thee! Or, “If thou hadst known, thou wouldest have wept for thyself, and I should have no occasion to weep for thee, but should have rejoiced rather.” What he says lays all the blame of Jerusalem’s impending ruin upon herself. 

Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! Psalm 81:13

At eight days of age, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to be circumcised, as was the Jewish custom. When they entered the temple, Simeon and Anna recognized Him as the Messiah. (See my post of 12/2020 – For My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation). Now, more than thirty years later, Jesus entered to be crucified. He was not recognized as the Messiah. “Jesus grieved for a people who would not know peace. Jesus grieved for the city that would pay for its spiritual blindness with destruction. Holy grieves.” *

In Luke 6:21, the same Greek word is used in one of the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21b

Jesus is reminding us that tears do indeed turn to joy at some point.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:4-6

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:13

Jesus also wept as He met the sisters of Lazurus, who had died. From the Greek word used in this instance, the tears were most likely silent, running down the cheeks of Jesus, our Lord:

δακρύω

dakryō

to weep, shed tears, silently

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:32-35

from The Commentary on John by John Calvin: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.” …. “The example of Christ ought to be sufficient of itself for setting aside the unbending sternness which the Stoics demand; for whence ought we to look for the rule of supreme perfection but from Christ? We ought rather to endeavor to correct and subdue that obstinacy which pervades our affections on account of the sin of Adam, and, in so doing, to follow Christ as our leader, that He may bring us into subjection. Thus Paul does not demand from us hardened stupidity, but enjoins us to observe moderation in our mourning, that we may not abandon ourselves to grief, like unbelievers who have no hope for even Christ took our affections into Himself, that by His power we may subdue every thing in them that is sinful.”

In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Hebrews 5:7

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. I Thessalonians 4:13

“Never weakness to grieve where God is grieving.” *

“No one understood God’s goodness and control more than Jesus, and He still wept. Which means we can too.” *

Do my tears make me less of a person? Weak? Once I felt that they did. I was made to think I was by the actions and words of others. Kids called me “cry baby” because I did. Those two little words hurt. They diminished me. At least I thought they did. I did not have much confidence in myself. I did not think I was very capable of doing various things. I did not believe I could stand up for myself either. I was weak, so I thought. As life moved along, I carried that with me and even as an adult, I allowed injury to my heart due to feeling inferior in so many ways. Many of the teen boys and later adult men treated me as inferior. Not all, I admit. Not all. But enough to keep me thwarted.

But then I met Kenneth who introduced me to Jesus. Jesus showed me His heart through Kenneth. Kenneth and I married. We were each forty-five years of age. I never knew this love from Heaven before. I never knew I could be me and still be loved. Jesus treated me as a whole and beautiful person. Kenneth treated me as a whole and beautiful person. Kenneth and I were married for twenty-five years. He died of cancer June, 2018…just the other day…yet seems like forever ago! I have a Husband. His Name is Jesus. He is with me.

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

I know I can cry and be loved unconditionally. I can weep anytime of day or night and still be loved. I am no longer called a “cry baby.”

Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5b

You have kept count of my wanderings;
put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?
Psalm 56:8

Oh sweet Jesus, I love You so. You draw me near as You grow me to be more and more in Your likeness. I am grateful that You took on my flesh so that I can see You be a me, see You weep, see You laugh and love. Growing in You is about reading Your Word and seeing You in that beautiful Book walking, talking, being a human while being God at the same time. I am so grateful that You love me so that You have taken my sinful self and nailed it on that awful Cross. I am sorry You had to go through that for me, others such as me. May we each look to You and know that we are made perfectly in the image of God. One day…that beautiful day…we will see You face-to-face and know…know just how much You love us. In Your Glorious Name, I pray. Amen.

Tearful eye photo

*quotes from “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole

Jesus weeps over Jerusalem drawing

Jesus Wept photo with graphics: http://www.firstchurches.org/we-who-must-die/

Which Wisdom?

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. James 3:13

σοφία

sophia

wisdom (higher or lower, worldly or spiritual):—wisdom.

This word in the Greek can mean either worldly or spiritual wisdom:

  1. wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters
    1. the wisdom which belongs to men
      1. spec. the varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by acuteness and experience, and summed up in maxims and proverbs
      2. the science and learning
      3. the act of interpreting dreams and always giving the sagest advice
      4. the intelligence evinced in discovering the meaning of some mysterious number or vision
      5. skill in the management of affairs
      6. devout and proper prudence in intercourse with men not disciples of Christ, skill and discretion in imparting Christian truth
      7. the knowledge and practice of the requisites for godly and upright living
    2. supreme intelligence, such as belongs to God
      1. to Christ
      2. the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels in the formation and government of the world and the scriptures

(In the) meekness: πραΰτηςis, prautēs: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, humility

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on James: The order of things here laid down. Envying is first and excites strife; strife endeavours to excuse itself by vain-glorying and lying; and then hereupon ensue confusion and every evil work. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion, and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such disorders raise many temptations, strengthen temptations, and involve men in a great deal of guilt. One sin begets another, and it cannot be imagined how much mischief is produced: there is every evil work. And is such wisdom as produces these effects to be gloried in? This cannot be without giving the lie to Christianity, and pretending that this wisdom is what it is not.

As I live in this world, I can embody myself (as do others around me) a wisdom that I can call my own, and which, in reality, is not true to God Whom I know wants better for me. He does not want me to think I am better than someone else or think I know more than others. I sin. I am a sinner. That is all there is that!!

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
Proverbs 16:25

I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

The opposite of worldly wisdom is so beautifully described in the following verses of James 3:17 –

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

Pure: ἁγνός, hagnos: exciting reverence, venerable, sacred, pure from carnality, chaste, modest, pure from every fault, immaculate, clean; spiritual integrity, moral sincerity

Peaceable: εἰρηνικός, eirēnikos: relating to peace, peaceable, pacific, peace loving, bring peace with it, peaceful, salutary, peace promoting

Gentle: ἐπιεικής, epieikēs gentle, moderation, patient; able to be in hard circumstances yet be kind, courteous, patient, having no hatred nor revenge

(Open to) reason: εὐπειθής, eupeithēs: easily obeying, compliant, obedience to God’s standards

(Full of) mercy: ἔλεος, eleos: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them; of men towards men: to exercise the virtue of mercy, show one’s self merciful; of God towards men: in general providence; the mercy and clemency of God in providing and offering to men salvation by Christ; the mercy of Christ, whereby at His return to judgment He will bless true Christians with eternal life; ability to forgive quickly

(Good) fruits: καρπός, karpos: fruit: the fruit of the trees, vines, of the fields; the fruit of one’s loins, i.e. his progeny, his posterity. That which originates or comes from something, an effect, result: work, act, deed; advantage, profit, utility; praises, which are presented to God as a thank offering, to gather fruit (i.e. a reaped harvest) into life eternal (as into a granary), is used in fig. discourse of those who by their labours have fitted souls to obtain eternal life

Impartial: ἀδιάκριτος, adiakritos: undistinguished, unintelligible; without dubiousness, ambiguity or uncertainty; consistent, unwavering, undivided in commitment

Sincere: ἀνυπόκριτος, anypokritos: undissembled:—without dissimulation (hypocrisy), unfeigned

And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18

Righteousness: δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosynē: in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting. In a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due.

What I find wonderfully curious is that using spiritual wisdom, wisdom from God, in the world can convict heart and minds and souls, including mine!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Father, Your wonderful Word speaks for itself. I see the difference between the two types of wisdom far more clearly today than when I began. I have barely written any words myself. I pray you use Your Word and the words of Mr. Henry, the definitions from the Bible dictionaries to speak Your Truth to any one reading. I do not boast in myself, but I boast in You, glorify You and love You for all that You are to me for all that You do and will do through me. You teach me daily for which I am ever grateful. May I be bold with mindfulness that I am a tool in Your hands. May I be peaceable and gentle as Your heart is towards me. May I be obedient to You, to Your Truth. May I bear fruit in this world where I sojourn so that others would see the light of Christ in and through me. May these things be so, my Lord. In the Glorious Name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen.

Photo of sky/clouds: dimitrisvetsikas1969 (lives on Cyprus)

photo of James 3:14-16 – IMAGE BY JENNY KENT @ PicsArt

James 3:17 photo/graphic: https://www.thefellowshipsite.org/

“Wisdom from Above” photo: cloud photo from Pinterest with added graphics by me

The Wisdom of the Cross

Christ crucified!

The Wisdom of God

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,… 1 Corinthians 1:22

“Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deuteronomy 4:6

From the Old Testament, we are able to look at the reasons why the Jews required signs from Jesus. The commandments, statutes, the Law was what they were taught and followed. The Jews expected their Messiah to be a deliverer, a king, a conqueror of all their enemies.

The Greeks were surrounded by philosophers, scientists, teachers who were expounding theories, knowledge, science. Thus the Greeks sought the wisdom of man, worldly wisdom.

from C. H. Spurgeon-A Sermon (No. 132), May 17, 1857: “Now,” says the apostle, “both these objections are untenable and unreasonable. If you suppose that the Jew requires a sign, that sign is given him: Christ is the power of God. The miracles that Christ wrought upon earth were signs more than sufficiently abundant; and if the Jewish people had but the will to believe, they would have found abundant signs and reasons for believing in the personal acts of Christ and his apostles.” And let the Greeks say, “I can not believe, because I require a wise system: O Greek, Christ is the wisdom of God. If thou wouldst but investigate the subject, thou wouldst find in it profoundness of wisdom-a depth where the most gigantic intellect might be drowned. It is no shallow gospel, but a deep, and a great deep too, a deep which passeth understanding. Thine objection is ill-founded; for Christ is the wisdom of God, and his gospel is the highest of all sciences. If thou wishest to find wisdom, thou must find it in the word of revelation.”

Both groups could not see past a man who was dressed in a simple robe, sandals, walked everywhere, died a criminal’s death, carried His own cross much of the way. He looked weak. He did not look, speak, or act like the person of God that they thought He should be. Thus they wrote Him off as a nobody, certainly not their Messiah.

…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

…and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2b-3

Consider the apostles who were preaching the Gospel, teaching Christ, the Cross….fishermen, dressed as Jesus, simple, probably dirty. They were hard to believe by those who considered themselves better than these men.

For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 1:17-21

And the Lord said:
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again
do wonderful things with this people,
with wonder upon wonder;
and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.”
Isaiah 29:13-14

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians: Ministers should consider themselves sent and set apart more especially to that service in which Christ will be most honoured and the salvation of souls promoted, and for which they are best fitted, though no part of their duty is to be neglected. The principal business Paul did among them was to preach the gospel, the cross, Christ crucified. Ministers are the soldiers of Christ, and are to erect and display the banner of the cross. He did not preach his own fancy, but the gospel-the glad tidings of peace, and reconciliation to God, through the mediation of a crucified Redeemer. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our joys. By his death we live. This is what Paul preached, what all ministers should preach, and what all the saints live upon.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

The wisdom of the cross is Christ, Christ crucified, died, buried, resurrected. The wisdom of the cross is God’s unveiling of the strength and wisdom of Christ. My sin is forgiven; my foolishness becomes wise in Christ; my filthy rags become clean by the Blood of Christ. I am redeemed, justified, and sanctified (growing in holiness) in Christ Alone. I come to the Cross in humility.

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians: To those who are called and saved he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Those who are called and sanctified, who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, discern more glorious discoveries of God’s wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified than in all his other works. Note, Those who are saved are reconciled to the doctrine of the cross,and led into an experimental acquaintance with the mysteries of Christ crucified.

Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

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

Father, I ask for Your guidance and covering upon me as I learn how to walk in the shadow of this glorious and horrific cross. It is both, yet the One Who died upon it rose again and lives for me, for all those He has called unto Himself. I stand before You, Lord, asking for boldness and humbleness in order to preach the Gospel, Christ crucified. I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone so please help me walk in this world as Your sheep, as Your disciple, as Yours. May the wisdom of the Cross be clearly relevant today. Soften the hardened hearts and open the eyes of those hearts…that they would see You for the Beauty and Holiness that You are. May those opened eyes see the wisdom of the Cross. In the Name of my crucified Christ, I pray. Amen.

Photo of cross: Cross-on-Hill

from C. H. Spurgeon: A Sermon (No. 132) Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 17, 1857, by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens. “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”– 1Cr 1:24

“The Wisdom of the Cross” Photo with 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 @ CrossMap

1 Corinthians 1:20 photo/graphics @ Knowing-Jesus.com

God Doesn’t Call the Qualified“: Pinterest

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians

“Boast in the Lord” photos/graphics: Pursuing Holiness

Christ is Wisdom; Wisdom is Christ

The Book of Proverbs a book of wisdom. Proverbs 8 is where I have landed this week. What is wisdom? Wisdom is that which we are to learn from it:

knowledge

discretion

prudence

sense

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and I find knowledge and discretion.”
Proverbs 8:12

O simple ones, learn prudence;
O fools, learn sense.
Proverbs 8:5

instruction

knowledge

Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. Proverbs 8:10-11

counsel

sound wisdom

insight

strength

I have counsel and sound wisdom;
I have insight; I have strength.
Proverbs 8:14

noble things

what is right

truth

Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth;
wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
Proverbs 8:6-7

righteousness

understanding

All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Proverbs 8:8-9

what is just

the way of righteousness

By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. Proverbs 8:15-16

I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me,
and filling their treasuries.
Proverbs 8:20-21

So, why does wisdom seem such a far reach for me at times? Well, much of the time! It seems easier just to walk as the world walks which may include being wise, yet it is usually a worldly wisdom. But that is not my goal. I do not want to be as the world. I want to be as Christ. These verses (along with the entire Book of Proverbs) teach us what wisdom can teach us as well as what we might be learning from this world (thus should be walking away from).

The deep truth of this wisdom from God is that Christ is Wisdom.

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

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Is 11:2

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs: “Wisdom here is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; it is Christ in the word and Christ in the heart, not only Christ revealed to us, but Christ revealed in us. It is the word of God, the whole compass of divine revelation; it is God the Word, in whom all divine revelation centres; it is the soul formed by the word; it is Christ formed in the soul; it is religion in the purity and power of it. Glorious things are here spoken of this excellent person, this excellent thing.”

The last half of Proverbs 8 tells all about Christ and wisdom:

22  “The LORD possessed (fathered/created) me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old.

23  Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

24  When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.

25  Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before He had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.

2 When He established the heavens, I was there; when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when He made firm the skies above, when He established the fountains of the deep, 29 when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, 30  then I was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, 31  rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

32  “And now, O sons, listen to Me: blessed are those who keep My ways.

33  Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.

34  Blessed is the one who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting beside My doors.

35  For whoever finds Me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, 36  but he who fails to find Me injures himself; all who hate Me love death.” Proverbs 8:22-36

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18

that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

Growing to know Christ better through reading His Word, the lessons taught by Wisdom show me the character traits of Jesus the Christ. They are of the One Whom I worship and adore. They are Him!

Lord, I pray that my mind and heart be open to You and the lessons which You desire to teach me. I want to know You better. I want to grow to be more like You while at the same time, this ‘Linda’ wants to diminish while You increase. I desire that Your character traits become such a part of me that when others look at me, they see You. I pray for the wisdom of the You, Lord. May Your Holy Spirit show me, grow me, guide me, guard me. Thank You for loving me, Lord. Thank You for drawing me to You as You teach me all about Yourself. I love You, Lord. In Your precious Holy Name I pray. Amen.

Sunrise Photo: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/561331541039235369/

Open Bible: https://wallpapertag.com/wallpaper/full/8/e/d/156009-full-size-open-bible-background-2266×1509

Christ: The Power of God, The Wisdom of God: https://whyjesusnow.com

Matthew Henry’s quote: Matthew Henry’s Commentary of the Proverbs