He Had Come From God

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,

…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, … John 13:3

Father God, as I study Your Word, may Your Holy Spirit shine light upon Your Truth, making it clear to me…in my head and in my heart.  In the Holy Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

Jesus knew where He came from.  He knew that He had been with the Father before time began.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.  Genesis 1:26

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 were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  John 1:1-2

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”  Micah 5:2

…to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.  Jude 25

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16

The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are One, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me.  John 17:22-23
As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  John 17:18
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God,

come from God…

ἐξέρχομαι

exerchomai (ex-er’-khom-ahee)

to issue (literally or figuratively):—come (forth, out), depart (out of), escape, get out, go (abroad, away, forth, out, thence), proceed (forth), spread abroad.

Before all time…from the days of eternity/the Ancient of days…in the beginning…the heavens were opened to Him…there was “us.”  Jesus with God.  Jesus is God.  Jesus comes to earth as the One Whom God loves, Whom He sent, Who the Holy Spirit rested upon.  They are Three in One.  The Trinity.

Jesus knew He always had existed.  He knew from Whom He had come.  As He walked this earth, He was obedient to the Father for He had been commissioned by the One Who had sent Him.  He glorified the Father in all He said and did.  He mirrored the Father.  He died for our sins and lifted us from the miry clay.  Thank You, Jesus.   

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, (1)

In John 13:3, there is another phrase that will complete my focus:

…and was going back to God, …  John 13:3

He knew where He would return when He left this earth.

But now I am going to Him Who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’  John 16:5

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”  John 16:28

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.  John 13:1

And he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”  And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:42-43

“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’”  John 13:33

“You heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’  If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. “ John 14:28

going back to God, … 

ὑπάγω

hypagō  (hoop-ag’-o)

to lead (oneself) under, i.e. withdraw or retire (as if sinking out of sight), literally or figuratively:—depart, get hence, go (a-)way.

Jesus always knew where He would go when His earthly life was complete.  He knew He would return to the Father.  He would sit at the right hand of the Father.

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Do I know from where I came?  Do I know where I am going?

I do know that I came from God.  He wove me.

My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance;… Psalm 139:15-16a

He has plans for me.  He knows them.  Those plans include a future and a hope.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

He knows How long I will be alive on the earth and when I will return to Him.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.  Psalm 139:16

BUT…I know so very little.

“O Lord, make me know my end
    and what is the measure of my days;
    let me know how fleeting I am!  Psalm 39:4

Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.  Psalm 144:4

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  James 4:14

What I do know is that I am a sinner.  I know that Christ went to the Cross for me, died, was buried, and was resurrected.  He saved me.  I know that I am His.  I know I will go to Heaven when my time here on earth is up.  Hallelujah!!

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  2 Thessalonians 4:17

ALWAYS!  …and another Hallelujah!

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

Father, Thank You for reminding me of Who You are and Whose I am.  Thank You for loving me so beautifully, so perfectly.  I love You, Lord.  I am Yours.  Guide me along the path You have for me as I walk each day of my life.  I have gray and white hair, Lord.  I do not know how many more days I have, but I want to walk them with You, in obedience to You.  I want to know You more and more in these days.  I pray I am diligent to walk in Your Truth.  I pray I remain the course.  Protect me when the evil one happens by.  I praise You for raining Your grace and mercy upon me.  Oh, how I need them.  I love Your peace that  surrounds me.  I know when I walk out-of-sync with You for the peace moves away and my spirit knows.  Please draw me back.  Oh, Father, I love You so.  In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen.  

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photo:  Wikimedia Commons –  Public Domain,  File:Trees-sky.jpg;  Uploaded: 3 September 2005.  Graphics on them done by me, Linda Gill

Love

large_1x_heartI have been with family for the past two weeks.  It was a special time in San Diego, California where we spent much of our youth.  (We were a Navy family.)  We also rented a cabin in Lake Arrowhead (a place where our mother often took us during the summers).  I needed my family and they needed to see me…to see that I am doing alright, no matter if I was crying or laughing.  I love my sisters and their husbands, my nephew, his wife and 6-year-old daughter.  It was all great!  A much needed respite!

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This blog has been rather quiet for months while caring for Kenneth as his body was dying of cancer.  I am learning to be a widow.  I am learning just how close I desire to walk with my Lord…closer than ever before.   The sweet whisper of the Holy Spirit, the wind of the Spirit hovers all around me.  I am here for Him.  I want to be woven even more tightly and share this journey on Being Woven.  I pray I hear rightly and type the words of The Word here…both for me and for you, sweet friends.
Kenneth & Linda (2)
Kenneth and I had a beautiful marriage. ( I had experienced a bad marriage for ten years in the 1970s.)  Kenneth was God’s gift to me for 25 years.  I was blessed and he told me often just how much he loved me and how blessed he was too.  We walked under the Lord’s umbrella and I under Kenneth’s.  Our love grew in depth over those 25 years.  We loved each other just the way we were.  We accepted each other’s rough spots and allowed each other to be who God created us to be.  We were so right for one another.

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As I was reading 1 Corinthians 13 earlier today, God spoke to my heart.  The love which Kenneth loved me with was God’s Love.  God loves me still, although Kenneth is gone from this earth.  Kenneth loves me still, I believe.  The love I am now receiving flows from God as it did from Kenneth.  God is with me every moment of every day.  I miss Kenneth tremendously and weep over my personal loss, yet God is love.  God is my Husband:

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.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.   Isaiah 54:5-6 

Yes, I feel Kenneth still with me in so many ways.  God is truly with me and I am not alone.  I seek His face in the night and in the day.

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  1 John 4:16

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1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Losing Kenneth does not leave me without love nor to be nothing.  God created me and wove love into my very being. I desire to be obedient to Him and love Him with all of my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength. (Mark 12:30 and Deuteronomy 6:5)

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the Truth.

Kenneth was so patient and kind.  He rejoiced in God’s Truth.  God, my Husband for all ages, is patient and kind.  He does not envy nor boast. He rejoices in the Truth for He is Truth.  He wants me to rejoice in the Truth as well.

7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:1-13

I have never read this chapter in 1 Corinthians with such clarity.  It is about my marriage and the earthly love of my life.  BUT…it is all about God for He is Love.
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And 1 John 4 dwells upon the God of lovel:

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because He first loved us.   1 John 4:7-19

God-is-love

LORD my God, You are in my midst,
You are the Mighty One Who will save;
You rejoice over me with gladness,
You quiet me with Your love,
You rejoice over me with singing. (praying Zephaniah 3:17 to myself)

You love me for You created me.  You are my Husband and will love me for always because You are God and You are Love.  You loved me first and spun Your love into a Blood red strand, the Blood of Your Son, Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior.  You continuously weave this Blood-stained strand in and throughout my life.  Praising You, Father, for loving me as I am.  One day, I, too, will be woven perfectly before You in the Heavenly realm.  In the Name of Christ, I pray.  Amen.   

 

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Harmony

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A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.  A psalm of David.

How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers live together in harmony!

For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.

Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.  Psalm 133:1-3

יַחַד

yachad

properly, a unit, i.e. unitedly:—alike, at all (once), both, likewise, only, (al-) together, withal

In Hebrew, the word for harmony is often translated unity or all together.

C. H. Spurgeon writes this of Psalm 133:2:

“In order that we may the better behold brotherly unity David gives us a resemblance, so that as in a glass we may perceive its blessedness. It has a sweet perfume about it, comparable to that precious ointment with which the first High Priest was anointed at his ordination. It is a holy thing, and so again is like the oil of consecration which was to be used only in the Lord’s service. What a sacred thing must brotherly love be when it can be likened to an oil which must never be poured on any man but on the Lord’s high priest alone! It is a diffusive thing: being poured on his head the fragrant oil flowed down upon Aaron’s head, and thence dropped upon his garments till the utmost hem was anointed therewith; and even so doth brotherly love extend its benign power and bless all who are beneath its influence. Hearty concord brings a benediction upon all concerned; its goodness and pleasure are shared in by the lowliest members of the household; even the servants are the better and the happier because of the lovely unity among the members of the family. It has a special use about it; for as by the anointing oil Aaron was set apart for the special service of Jehovah, even so those who dwell in love are the better fitted to glorify God in his church. The Lord is not likely to use for his glory those who are devoid of love; they lack the anointing needful to make them priests unto the Lord. “That ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard.” This is a chief point of comparison, that as the oil did not remain confined to the place where it first fell, but flowed down the High Priest’s hair and bedewed his beard, even so brotherly love descending from the head distils and descends, anointing as it runs, and perfuming all it lights upon. … Christian affection knows no limits of parish, nation, sect, or age. Is the man a believer in Christ? Then he is in the one body, and I must yield him an abiding love. Is he one of the poorest, one of the least spiritual, one of the least lovable? Then he is as the skirts of the garment, and my heart’s love must fall even upon him. Brotherly love comes from the head, but falls to the feet. Its way is downward. It “ran down,” and it “went down:” love for the brethren condescends to men of low estate, it is not puffed up, but is lowly and meek. This is no small part of its excellence: oil would not anoint if it did not flow down, neither would brotherly love diffuse its blessing if it did not descend.”

With the turmoil and hatred and violence we see all around this world, I am drawn to this beautiful word, harmony.  I so desire that we ALL could live in harmony.  I want to see everyone as my sister, my brother, my friend.  I want love to filter through each one of us to all.  Oh, I have these wishes and hopes for all who live on this earth.  Am I asking too much?

Jesus said these words to His Father before it was His time to go away from His disciples, from this earth:

I am in them and You are in Me.  May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.  John 17:23

He desired this for us all.

In the Greek, the words harmony and unity draw Christ into this oneness.

εἷς

heis

one, adhere to Christ to make one person, gather together into one

I love this word picture of adhering to Christ…making us one person.

Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.  Never be wise in your own sight.  Romans 12:16

Living this way does not mean everyone must be exactly alike or think the same thoughts.  God created us each as His own creation.  He wove us in our mother’s womb as one-of-a-kind.  Our skin, hair, facial features, bodily shapes, talents…everything about us are one-of-a-kind.  So living in unity or harmony is to be who God created us to be…our very selves, yet walk in the ways that God would have us go.  He asks us to be kind and love one another, not just to those we want to love…but all.  We can love yet not like an action or behavior of another.  We are to forgive, to wipe the dust from our feet, to turn the other cheek, bless them through the image of Christ that we are to portray.  May we see them as He sees them, I pray.

Music is made up of many notes along scales.  There are flats and sharps, minor keys and major keys.  There are white keys and black keys on a piano. When music is played or sung, it can be harmonious.  The sounds are beautiful from high to low.  The music notes are individual but together, they get along, melding together into one piece.  Each note does not get huffy about another and go their own way.  They work together in one accord.

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As people, we should want to live as musical notes, united in the outcome of every beat.  We should want to sound beautiful together.  This should be like our way of living…in harmony.  God wants to see His children living in unity, in one accord.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5-6

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:14

Oh, these things are hard, yet, in Christ, they are not because the Holy Spirit is our guide.  Depending upon Him gives us strength, ability, and love so that we can bless others, speak the Truth, love as Christ loves.  Jesus said:

“I can do nothing on My own.  As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 5:30

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothingJohn 15:6

Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing…NOTHING!  It is through Him that this harmony, unity can happen.

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“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.  For whoever desires to love life
and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good;
let him seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and His ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  1 Peter 3:8-12

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.  This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.  Ephesians 4:11-13

Father God, I lift up this world to You.  There is so much discord.  It saddens me and hurts too.  I want all to be under Your umbrella, sweetly receiving the oil of brotherly love.  I want each of us to walk in Your ways and to know that You desire peace among us.  I am sorry for things I may say or do that hurt You.  I am saddened for that which I see around me whether it be on media or between people at the store.  Oh, that I can praise You for Your grace and love cropping up here and there around this place I am calling home now.  There is some brotherly love, care and kindness, respect and politeness.  May it grow and envelop this city, this state, this country, and this world.  May we live together as one…all in one accord.  I pray in the Name of Your Holy Son.  Amen. 

 

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This is the Way…

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And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, 
yet your Teacher will not hide Himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  
And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” 
when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
Isaiah 30:20-21

The LORD clearly gives directions so that I would reach Him throughout His Holy Word.  As the Crucifixion and the Resurrection have recently been my focus, the one and only desire I have is to be with Him obediently.

 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.  John 19:25

I want to stand at the Cross as His mother did.  She stood near to see her precious son beaten, nailed upon the Cross, bleeding, dying.  She could not have been closer to Him at this time… body, mind, and soul.  Her heart must have been beating with His.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”  John 20:1-2
 

I want to go to the tomb with Mary Magdalene, looking for Jesus.  I want to run with her to the others.

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.  John 21:13

I want to be with those disciples fishing on the Sea of Tiberias.  Even though nothing had been caught, Jesus, Whom I do not recognize, tells me to fish on the right side of the boat.  I want to recognize Jesus and say, “It is the Lord.”  I want to break the fast with Him.

And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him.  And He vanished from their sight.  They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?”  Luke 24:31-32

I want to walk on the road to Emmaus where Jesus joins me.  He shares His Father’s Word.

And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.  Acts 1:9

I want to see Christ lifted up on a cloud, knowing that He will, one day, return for me in this same manner.

“For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God.  You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”   Leviticus 11:45

I believe.  I want to grow in His grace, becoming holy as He is holy.  I receive His grace moment by moment as I obey His commandments, following His Way, walking in it.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.   No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6

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He is my Truth, my Way, and my Life.  Christ is returning for me one day.

The beauty of Your Truth, LORD, sends me to my knees.  May I walk in Your holiness, LORD, with faith unfathomable.  May I be set apart, be consecrated unto You.  May I faithfully walk with You.  I pray that, obediently, I shall seek You in all ways, for all things.

I love You, my LORD.  In Your Name, I pray.  Amen

 

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After Easter Comes What?

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“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20

After Easter…how do I live?  Do I go back to ways that forget what the Crucified Christ means to me and how His resurrection affects me?

Easter is central to my Christian beliefs.  His crucifixion is very difficult for me and yet His resurrection is resplendent.  Easter is a beautiful remembrance of all Christ did for me over 2,000 years ago and Who He is to me now.  I want to live intentionally and thoughtfully in regards to what it means to be a person of the Resurrection in my world all year.  I want to continuously experience the Presence of the Living Christ.  I want to then walk in His Presence before others.

Yet, I seem to still be in the womb so much of the time, afraid to come out.  (As a baby in my mother’s womb, I did not want to exit then either!  Mom said her labor was hard and long.  “You just fought,” she said.)  Christ holds me near as I learn to walk in His Light more and more.  I must come out from the womb, that darkness.  I am to do His will on roads, in cafes, in hospital rooms, in homes…the world.  This is not a doable calling from a safe, warm womb.  

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.  Isaiah 25:8 ESV

As a person of the Resurrection, I would like to believe that my life shines Christ for others to see, hear, and read, sensing that they have touched the Living Christ, the Hand of God.  Sometimes, this is true, but not always, to be sure.  I want to be less of Linda and more of Christ with each moment.  I am continuously being woven into the tapestry that will be perfect in Eternity…one.thread.at.a.time.

Easter brings HOPE.  As a person of the Resurrection, I pray I am able to offer the beauty of HOPE to a world that finds reasons all around for despair, fear, and hopelessness.

Being a person of the Resurrection allows me to live under the umbrella of God’s GRACE and MERCY.  I accept His forgiveness, offered to me in love.  I pray, too, that I may give these generously.

Easter is all about LOVE“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16  As a person of the Resurrection, I desire to love from His heart, to give from His hand, and share the LORD through my actions, words, love, and life.  May this LOVE cause me to be open and caring towards others. 

As a person of the Resurrection, I do know that the Holy Spirit has come upon me.  I also know that my humanness squelches Him under the Linda that thinks she needs to be in control. Forgive me, LORD.  Please forgive me.  

As a person of the Resurrection, I no longer live in the dark, but carry the Light of Jesus within me as I share light in a dark world.

Delightful Daffodils

God, make me Yours wholly.  Give me courage and strength to be the Linda You desire of me.  Give me wisdom that I would have Your Words and the openness to share Your Truth.   I want to be one of Your people of the Resurrection each and every day, walking in faith.  As You continue to grow me, may I spread hope, love, grace, mercy, and light through Your Truth.  Thank You for giving me life through the death and resurrection of Your One and Only Son, Christ Jesus.  You truly are gracious towards me, Father.  May I carry a Daffodil of peace with me, LORD, wherever I go.  Daffodils just seems to be filled with hope, joy, love, and beauty, all that You are Abba Father.  In the Name of Your Son, I pray.  Amen.

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The Burden of this Cross

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Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.   Matthew 16:24

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to forget one’s self

lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests

disown, abstain

Jesus’ words strike a hard cord in me.  I am called to follow Jesus because I have chosen His way over mine, yet I still want to do things my way, guide the direction of my own life, take my own chances.  Then I hit a wall and it hurts.  I run on empty, unable to go anywhere in life except down by the pull of gravity.  In order to follow the Lord, I am to deny myself, releasing my desires and hopes for His, His alone.  When I am in step with Jesus, all that He desires for me are those things I need.  An interesting piece of God’s puzzle for my life is His desires for me are often just what I desire for myself.  I’m not losing after all.  The relationship with Christ is far more important so that I walk rightly with the Lord.

αἴρω

airō

  bear (up)

place on oneself

to carry

My burdens can be worries, anxieties, physical pain, other people’s lives and their concerns, hurting people of this world, and so much more.  All can weigh heavily upon my heart.  The Word tells me not to be anxious, not to worry.  He is faithful and is with me.  He feeds and clothes the birds; He will do the same for His children.  So I lift those weights and take them to Jesus.

σταυρός

stauros

a stake or post (as set upright), i.e. (specially), a pole or cross (as an instrument of capital punishment)

figuratively, exposure to death, i.e. self-denial

by implication, the atonement of Christ:—cross.

The cross is what Jesus was placed upon for His crucifixion.  It is a horribly cruel punishment and eventual death.  Scourging comes first.  The one being crucified must carry his own cross.  Jesus did this part of the way until Simon was compelled to carry it the remainder of the way.  Jesus would hang upon the Cross until death.

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.  Luke 23:26

The cross is that which will kill this earthly life.

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I carry a cross, laden with burdens.  I place it there at the feet of Jesus.  He died for my sins.  Why do I continue weighing myself down?  Jesus has taken it all to the Cross.  Part of the definition of cross, in Greek, is self -denial.  I deny myself, being exposed to death, reproach, suffering, trials, punishment.  I am no longer mine, but His.

I am learning as I do that which Jesus asks of me: denying things of the self, lifting up that which weighs me down, carrying the cross to Jesus Who has already taken my burdens upon Himself.  It is in the doing, the actions of denying, lifting, and carrying to Jesus that I begin to find a clearer, deeper meaning to all that He is asking of me.

ἀκολουθέω

akoloutheō

to be or become the disciple of another as to faith and practice

to follow his teaching

Following Jesus is key to my walk in this Christian life.  When I am His, I desire to be near and to know the path upon which He leads me.  I release all burdens, knowing that He is caring for me.

“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

As Your child, LORD, I depend upon You.  When I feel alone, or struggling with concerns, You are right here.  You are yoked with me.  You know my physical pain, the concerns that touch my heart regarding others, my anxiousness over provision for this earthly life.  Your grace is truly sufficient, Sweet Jesus.  Sometimes I feel wrung out and worn out.  The Word says in Matthew 27, verse 39-40: And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself!  If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’  But You hung on that Cross, LORD, and paid the ultimate price for me, releasing me to walk with You always. You have given me eternal life.  How much more could I ask?  What else is there to ask?  Forgive me when I am selfish.  Often, when I deny myself, I must turn around and deny myself again, LORD, because I am selfish.  I just am, but am also very sorry.  I carry my cross to You so that I may follow You.  “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  (Matthew 10:38 ESV)  I do not want to be called “unworthy,” LORD.  Thank You for walking with me on this journey even when I fail You.  Your forgiveness, Your love, Your gentle nature give me the hope in this life that my physical eyes cannot see, yet the eyes of my heart know hope for You are the Hope.  I love You, Jesus.  I pray gently in Your Name.  Amen. 

befuschiasig

 

Graphic:  by American/Dutch web designer Catherine Reijans, founder of KATINK web design; https://thinkingmuseum.com/2013/10/30/thinking-museum-on-think-katink/  (but the actual think-Katink web design site is no longer connected, but I want to give her credit where it is due)

Cross:  http://www.themescompany.com/2012/04/17/cross/

Ears to Hear

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Guard your steps when you go to the house of God.  To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.  Ecclesiastes 5:1

שָׁמַע

shama`

to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.; causatively, to tell, etc.):— attentively, call (gather) together, carefully, certainly, consent, consider, be content, declare, diligently, discern, give ear, (cause to, let, make to) hear(-ken, tell), indeed, listen, make (a) noise, (be) obedient, obey, perceive, (make a) proclaim(-ation), publish, regard, report, shew (forth), (make a) sound, surely, tell, understand, whosoever, witness.

How then will they call on Him in Whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him of Whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”  So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  Romans 10:14-17

ἀκοή

akoē

hearing (the act, the sense or the thing heard):—audience, ear, fame, which ye heard, hearing, preached, report, rumor

to perceive by hearing

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In both the Old and the New Testament, we find the words listen, hear, hearing again and again.  Our parents often told us to listen, to pay attention, or they asked us, “Did you hear me?”  They knew we did not always hear them because we were not listening.  Does that ring any bells?!!  It does for me, even though I was a pretty obedient kid.  I still was a kid.

Then I grew up and went my own ways.  God spoke to me often but I did not always listen to Him either.  When I disobeyed the Father, I often fell and then could not always get out of the rabbit holes I found myself in.

Prophets, throughout the Bible, spoke God’s Word, calling on His people to listen, to hear, to obey:

You shall say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.  Jeremiah 19:3

God gives us His Word to direct our paths:

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

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.  Psalm 130:5-6

And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD Deuteronomy 8:3

Jesus calls us to listen, to hear, to obey:

“Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  Matthew 13:7-9

The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace.  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.  Matthew 13:41-43

I have ears.  I am to hear.  I am to pay attention. I am to be faithful in my obedience to the One Who calls me to Him.  His Word is where the Truth is…and only there.  The Word is Christ.

  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

I read this and wonder how and why I can possibly NOT listen, NOT hear, NOT obey.  He is the Word and the Word is All.

Look at these precious gifts afforded to us:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truthJohn 1:14

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”   And He said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.  For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  Mark 4:23-25

In Him you also, when you heard the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  Ephesians 1:13-14

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  1 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:22-25

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:31-32

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Oh, I praise You, LORD, for the love that You have for us, Your creations who do not deserve such love, yet are given it because of Who You are.  In Your bounty, we receive the gift of Your Holy Word filled with Your Truth.  Your Holy Son, in His death, gives us the opportunity to come to the foot of the Cross to receive forgiveness and salvation.  The Holy Spirit comes to live in us to teach us and pray as our mediator when we know not how to pray.  You, my Father, are the Giver of all gifts to Your children.  I am so grateful to be one of those blessed to be under Your wing.  I want to have ears to hear and know the Truth.  May I be obediently listening and willing to follow Your ways.  May I walk closely to You, my Abba Father.  Forgive me when my ears are closed or I am “too busy” with worldly things that I miss the message that is right before me.  Forgive me when I am disobedient to You even when I hear Your words.   Father, teach me Your ways that I may walk in faithfulness.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

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photo of child:  https://michaelanthonygagliardi.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/faith-comes-by-hearing-the-word-of-god/

graphic: https://marthabailey.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/omaha-omaha-kill-kill/

Bible: unknown