Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

A Weather Report

I love how God has given us weather reports throughout the Bible. He tells us of the actual rains and winds on this physical earth. He also uses weather-related metaphors giving us wonderfully clear word pictures.

The one we are probably most familiar with is Noah and the ark ~

And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. Genesis 7:12

And Jonah ~

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. Nahum 1:3

Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. Exodus 9:23

Wild and gentle are the ways of the weather. Wild and gentle are the ways of God.

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb. For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! Deuteronomy 32:1-3

And He was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. Luke 12:54

From the breath of God ice is made,
And the expanse of the waters is frozen.
Job 37:10

For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’
likewise to the downpour, His mighty downpour.
Job 37:6

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling His word! Psalm 148:7-8

You will be visited by the Lord of hosts with thunder and with earthquake and great noise, with whirlwind and tempest, and the flame of a devouring fire. Isaiah 29:6

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant was seen within His temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. Revelations 11:19

by Justin Battles

Then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Leviticus 26:4

Sometimes, I think that God must have storehouses filled with rainwater, snow, hail for the deluges are so enormous that the areas upon which the storm dumps floods, or avalanches, or all that is in the path of the wind is totally destroyed. But, oh, that is my human imagination. I do not know now. One day!

The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder;
Your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
Your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
Psalm 77:17-18

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12

It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and He brings forth the wind from His storehouses. Jeremiah 10:12-13

Yet, in the darkness, the light will come. God is so much more than the very circumstances.

I praise You, my Father.

I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

“Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the clouds rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit;
let the earth cause them both to sprout;
I the LORD have created it.
” Isaiah 45:7-8

Father, God of Heaven and Earth, You have created all. You have placed us in the midst that we would care for Your earth. You provide in ways to water the plants and give humans water to drink. Yet, many of Your ways I cannot understand for so many live without sources of water and many places on this planet are shriveling up for lack of water. And other places (and its people) are flooded beyond recognition. My ways are not Yours, but one day, Lord, will I understand? This earth is such a beautiful place but it was far more so when You first created the Garden of Eden. We have caused must decay and dismay by not being the caretakers You desired from us. I am sorry that we continue to fail You and Your creation. Lord, as I think about the majesty and harshness of weather upon this world, I think of the Ukrainian people for they are never far from my mind and heart these days. They are trying to hunker down or flee their country in the midst of freezing cold with some snow while the country is in the midst of a horrible war. Please hold them closely while some seek safe shelter where they are while others run to other countries. Please keep Mr. Putin and his forces from bombing hospitals and places that should be a safe haven. Please, Lord, stop this awful war. I am usually a peacemaker, but this is so beyond any ability of my own. I cannot even make peace among my friends these days. Only You can do that, Father God…any and all of it. My Prince of Peace, please rain Your peace upon us all, especially this time in Ukraine. The beautiful, although at times, threatening, but also awe-inspiring weather is so filled with You and the amazing God You are. May I look in awe at it and know that You are the God of all this earth…the God of me. Guide my steps to keep me on the path of righteousness. I love You, Lord. In the Powerful Name of Christ Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of Life.” John 8:12

rain @ wallpaper cave

waves/lighthouse @ The Inertia

hurricane @ AGU Blogosphere

huge storm @ Wallpapertag.com

Hail @ audiojungle

rainclouds over green hills/barn @ pixelstalk.net

rain storm @ Pixelstalk

Ice Storm @ Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Snow storm @ The Morning Call

Fire @ The National Interest

Lightning @ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lightning #2 by Justin Battles @ strangesounds.org

Alaska Earthquake damage @ KOTATV

Rain and Hail in Ruidoso, NM @ Ruidoso News

wild clouds @ fanpop

Extreme weather collage @ NASA.gov

Tornado @ Weather.com

mammoth dust storm @ The Washington Post

Storm over boats @ Woodenboat.com

Sea with sunset @ Pixelstalk

sunny day/high clouds @ desktop backgrounds

God's Word · Pondering · prayer

Praying for Ukraine

Before I pray, I want to share these changes to Ukraine and parts of Eastern Europe over centuries:

Source: The Voice of Russia
“Note that the map says Crimea divorced Ukraine in March, 2014. Russians have a sense of humor too.”
“This week (March 22, 2014) Crimea and the city of Sevastopol joined Russia. Or put another way, Russia annexed Crimea and the city of Sevastopol from Ukraine. Regardless of how we look at this, the simple fact is Ukraine lost territory and Crimea is now part of Russia. The only thing left is to make sure that the rest of Ukraine does not fall apart since the economy is in shambles and the Eastern Ukraine wants to join Russia.”
Map of Ukraine @ Ukraine-Accommodation.com
UNC WorldView Supports Ukriane

Oh, Dearest God. My heart is breaking for the people, the children, the soldiers of Ukraine. If the people of Russia were being attacked, my heart would be breaking for them too. Oh, so many are dying, getting wounded. So many trying to flee. So many, Lord. My heart cries. It aches. It is a horrible act of war. About people, each and every person. Each and every soldier who is dying. They are people and they are mothers’ sons. So many trying to get out of Ukraine to Poland and other nations.

Woman and child evacuating via train. @ AW-Journal.com

Women…children…oh, so many children. Father, I lift up each and every one to You. You know them and know just what to do and when to do it. You are in control of this awful war yet I know You are have Your plans for each and every one, for nations across this world. We are all and each affected by this war. I read that people from Russia are even leaving Moscow. Most do not want war either, that is if they even know that it is war rather than a “special military operation,” as Putin has called it. Some Russian soldiers do not want war either. I lift them to You too, Father.

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kyiv, Ukraine @ Wikipedia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the main Christian cathedrals in Ukraine
Skyline of the Lviv Old Town with preserved medieval urban topography, many fine Baroque and later buildings @ Wikipedia

I want You to reach down into Ukraine and stop this horrible carnage and devastation to such an old and beautiful country. I can see in my mind’s eye Your hand reaching down and Your BOOMING voice saying, “STOP!!!” Yet that has not happened. YET! One day, it will be over. I pray soon, far sooner, then later, Lord. Please! I ask for peace. Peace between these two nations, between all nations and all peoples, and between each and every one of us. We are called to love one another and we have strayed so very far off course. Oh please, Father, rain Your peace upon this world. We need Your mercy and Your grace so dearly. Thank You for hearing my prayers, Lord. In the Strong Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

His Birth…I Still Ponder

From My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers:

December 25

His Birth and Our New Birth

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” —Matthew 1:23

His Birth in History. “…that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not emerge out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being the human race can boast of— He is a Being for whom the human race can take no credit at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate— God coming into human flesh from outside it. His life is the highest and the holiest entering through the most humble of doors. Our Lord’s birth was an advent— the appearance of God in human form.

His Birth in Me. “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you…” (Galatians 4:!9). Just as our Lord came into human history from outside it, He must also come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter the realm of the kingdom of God unless I am born again from above by a birth totally unlike physical birth. “You must be born again” (John 3:7). This is not a command, but a fact based on the authority of God. The evidence of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that “Christ is formed” in me. And once “Christ is formed” in me, His nature immediately begins to work through me.

God Evident in the Flesh. This is what is made so profoundly possible for you and for me through the redemption of man by Jesus Christ.

From this heart filled with awe and adoration, Father God, I come before You as I look upon Your only Son born as a human being like me. Did He cry? Did He feed at His mother’s breast? Did He laugh, scream, squirm like babies do, like I did? Oh, did He, Lord? I am amazed by His very humanness and by His being God. I thank You for sending Him to save me and so many more like me…sinners all are we. My knees bend as I fall before You while I ponder this incredible Truth. This Truth that has come to the manger as a baby, called by the Name of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. You, came to us in the humble beginnings as this boy-child…this child. His Name, Jesus, “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation.” You are God Who saved me. And You have saved, are saving, and will continue to save many until the end of this age. Thank You, Father. In the Name of Salvation, I pray. Amen.

graphic of Matthew 1:23 on Pinterest of (in)courage @ (in)courage

Devotionals · God's Word · OneWord365 · Pondering

One Word 2021 – July (+ Where I Have Been)

Where in the world have you been for the past seven weeks?…you might be asking!

Well, I am getting ready to move. AGAIN! Yes, I know I moved into a new home just last October. I have precious people in my life here but this COVID-19 year has given me time to know that I need to be near family. One day, I was just meandering on the internet looking at the places Kenneth and I had dreamed of moving before we landed in Lufkin. While perusing those places, I found a being-built senior cooperative condo building in Grand Junction, Colorado, where two cousins live. As I looked further into this option, I have come to know that Grand Junction is where I am headed. I have been at peace throughout the research on what a senior cooperative meant (I knew about farm coops, electrical coops, and homeschool coops but not senior living coops!). I also spoke with many people on all ends of this project plus my family. It is very affordable and in a place that I want to be, near people I want to be near. Yes, Covid is there too. I am vaccinated. God will carry me through whatever is before me.

My sisters live where the prices are so high that my income will not afford me the opportunity to live on Kauai nor in San Diego. My nephew lives in Indio (Palm Springs area). I have no children and am a widow. My cousins are delighted that I would move near them. I am too. Donna and I have stayed in touch most of our 70+ year lives. I went to GJ a few weeks ago and know that God has gone before me in all. My Lufkin house is on the market as of today. It is being shown tonight for the first time. I have been approved for an apartment in GJ as of yesterday. God is raining His beautiful peace upon me through it all. Thus…I have not been writing. But I am still here!

So…as all of this is happening, I am still desiring to …

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

Lisa @ Lisa Notes / One Word 2021 (on FaceBook) reminds us each month to link up with her and others regarding our “One Word 2021.” This month she has given us a special task in order to ponder our words:

WELCOME TO PART 2!  You’ve made it to the second half of the year with your One Word! 

Can you choose 3 days from the next 30 days to sit for a few minutes to pray and/or meditate over what God wants to do with you and your word for the remainder of the year?  
Specifically, you can pick one of these three areas per session: 
Your word and your relationship with God
Your word and your relationship with others
Your word and your relationship with yourself 

I will make room and time during three days during these next 30. I want to continue to grow in my relationship with God in all ways. As I learn to become less, my relationship with my Lord and Savior is becoming more. Life is less about me and so much more about Him. That is so what I wanted in January when I began with this word. God continues to grow me, yet I am becoming less and less. Odd, isn’t it?

Oh, my Sweet Lord, make me more and more like You, less and less filled with myself. You created me. Keep growing me to be just the way you want me. Amen.

Jesus prayed three times, almost the same prayer, as He spent time alone in the Garden of Gethsemane:

And going a little farther He fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

Again, for the second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42

So, leaving them again, He went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Matthew 26:44

Three times…yet we know that God’s will overarched all. Jesus prayed for another way, a way other than the Cross, to receive the outcome that God wanted. There was no other way. Jesus submitted to the Father for He loved us so much that He paid the enormous price of death on the Cross for me, for you, for us all.

Jesus decreased for me as He was nailed to the Cross. I love Him and want to decrease for Him. I want others to see Him, yet not me, when they see my face, my eyes, even my heart.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words: “What matters is participating in the reality of God and the world in Jesus Christ today, and in doing so in such a way that I never experience the reality of God without the reality of the world, nor the reality of the world without the reality of God.”

I live in this world. I walk with God. The closer I am to Him, the further I feel from the world, yet I am still that sojourner in it. May I always know which is which.

Lord, may I always be decreasing while You are increasing. You became nothing in order to abide in Your Father’s Will. You show me Your humanity as You asked for a different way rather than the Cross. Yet, You stayed the course. I pray, Lord, that I will be even a fraction filled with Your faithfulness and Your humbleness as You trusted Your Father in all that You did on earth and that You continue to do for us, for me. I thank You from the deepest place in my heart. I love You so. In Your Holy Blessed Name, Jesus. Amen.

Moving Day 1920s Photo: http://unioncitypostcards.blogspot.com/2011/10/moving-day-in-union-city-early-1920s.html. The Union City Bicentennial 1976 booklet in the UC Public library, the picture is titled “Ed Lincoln and his truck”. 

Down Arrow/Graph: Icon made from href=”http://www.onlinewebfonts.com/icon” Icon Fonts is licensed by CC BY 3.0

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

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

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

His Presence: Basking In or Fleeing From?

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
Psalm 139:7

Do I want to flee from God? Do I want to hide from Him?

Oh, I have wanted that when I knew NOT Christ. When sin was written all over my face. When being forgiven seemed not to be an option for all that I had done. When I had done and been far more than I knew I ever should have done or been. So hiding was what I wanted to do.

But one cannot hide from the Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent God. He is everywhere. He is all knowing and all powerful.

Psalm 139 is not about running away from God. It is about being in His beautiful Presence, being bathed in Him, knowing that He loves me, loved me first. He created me and He forgives me no matter what I have done or who I have been.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
O LORD, You have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay Your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

¶Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!

If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there Your hand shall lead me,
and Your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”

even the darkness is not dark to You;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with You.
Psalm 139:1-12

David walks closely with His God. David knows that He is forgiven and wants to be near to Him. He does not want to go far. He knows God well, is intimately familiar with God, so much so that He feels wrapped in His love.

Continuing in Psalm 139:

For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
my soul knows it very well.

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;
in Your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

¶How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with You.
Psalm 139:13-18

Do you know this intimacy with God? Stand there at that sea shore. Hear and sea the waves coming ashore…the steadiness of them, one after another. The ocean is vast. God created this beautiful sea. He created each grain of sand. He is omnipresent.

Are you so near to God that You feel His comfort, His delight about you, His love for you?

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

Have you repented of your sins? Will God forgive us even if we mess up again and again? Oh, yes! He will and He does! Ask me for I know!

Have you asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? He wants you to. He wants you to come to Him for He is waiting for you.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

Have you asked Jesus to forgive you? He will when you ask.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:10

And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

And immediately Jesus, perceiving in His spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.”

And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” Mark 2:5-12

A relationship with Jesus begins with repentance. As you draw closer to Christ, and Christ Alone, you will desire to spend time in the Bible, in prayer, in study. The intimacy will develop and grow. I have known the Lord for 28 years now. I was 45 when I accepted Jesus as my Lord. These last 28 years have been the best, hardest, and loveliest in my life. I would not trade them for the first 45 years either. And I would not want to spend however many more I am here on earth without my Lord. No way! I am looking forward to eternity spent with my Lord. Hallelujah!!

I now can say without one iota of a doubt:

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
Psalm 34:8

Father, I thank You for drawing me near to You no matter how far away I have been. I see You more clearly with each day. You are Almighty God, Abba Father. I thank You for opening my eyes that I can see the magnificence and might that You are for and to me. You hold me and You comfort me. You teach me and You discipline me. You love me, Lord. I am so very grateful. Through Your Word, You have so many lessons for me. Please guide me as I read Your Word. When I pray to and with You, You are the Light and Lamp unto my path. As we walk together, You teach me. You gather me as a sheep when I wander away. I thank You for the many previous times You have done just that. Knowing that You will never forsake me is such a comfort. Father, I pray for those who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I pray Your loving grace and mercy over them as they search. We are all searching for “something” and when in that place, we often do not know just what we are missing. Guide them to Yourself. Thank You for showing me through this Psalm that I am not running from You to hide. I am so in awe of You, of Your glory and majesty. I feel like Moses in the cleft of the rock as Your Glory shines ever-so-brightly. May my face shine when I have been in Your Presence. Thank You for keeping me near as I walk paths of the unknown each and every day. I love You, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, the bright Morning Star, I pray. Amen.

Graphic with C.S. Lewis’s quote @ https://theteachableheart.wordpress.com/2017/04/23/his-presence/

Photo of the night/graphics Psalm 139:11-12 @ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/413486809508317810/

Photo/Psalm 139:13-14 @ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/246501779577399104/

Photo/Graphic of Psalm 139:17-18 @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/hsga/24555887160

Devotionals · God's Word · OneWord365 · Pondering

Audible

We know “Audible” as a membership from Amazon to listen to books read by the author or someone else rather than read them ourselves. But the “audible” I am writing about today is the voice of God actually heard. Not only could Jesus hear the Voice of God but at three points in the life of Jesus, the people around Him could also hear God’s Voice in some manner. God had something to say to those around Him on those moments. We know these because they are written in the Word of God. Yes, God spoke many other times in the Bible but these are the New Testament audible moments that are written down for us.

At the baptism of Jesus

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 3:16-17

φωνή

phōnḗ – (fo-nay’)

  1. a sound, a tone
    1. of inanimate things, as musical instruments
    2. of wings, of wind, of thunder, of waters
  2. a voice
    1. of the sound of uttered words, (of declarations from heaven, heard though no speaker is seen)
    2. of crying, shouting, lamenting
  3. speech
    1. such as language tone, a tongue

I love the Greek word for this audible sound. Our English word telephone is rooted in this word as are phonetics and phonics, cacophony, symphony, saxophone, microphone, xylophone, megaphone, etc.

Matthew Henry on Matthew 3:17 in his Commentary on Matthew: “To explain and complete this solemnity, there came a voice from heaven, which, we have reason to think, was heard by all that were present. The Holy Spirit manifested himself in the likeness of a dove, but God the Father by a voice; for when the law was given they saw no manner of similitude, only they heard a voice (Deu. 4:12); and so this gospel came, and gospel indeed it is, the best news that ever came from heaven to earth; for it speaks plainly and fully God’s favour to Christ, and us in him.

Think about how often we have prayed to our God asking Him for an answer. We hope to hear from Him. We hope to get a sign. We want to know His will so that we do not stray. And often there is silence, but He hears us in our prayers, in our hearts and minds and souls.

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him. 1 John 5:14-15

We may rarely physically hear, see, or feel an answer from God yet He provides it at the appropriate time…His perfect timing.

Yet, God spoke audibly:

At the transfiguration of Jesus

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” Matthew 17:5

Matthew Henry on Matthew 17:5 from his Commentary on Matthew:

  • There came a voice out of the cloud, and it was the voice of God, who now, as of old, spake in the cloudy pillar, Ps. 99:7. Here was no thunder, or lightning, or voice of a trumpet, as there was when the law was given by Moses, but only a voice, a still small voice, and that not ushered in with a strong wind, or an earthquake, or fire, as when God spake to Elias, 1 Ki. 19:11, 12. Moses then and Elias were witnesses, that in these last days God hath spoken to us by his Son, in another way than he spoke formerly to them. This voice came from the excellent glory (2 Pt. 1:17), the glory which excelleth, in comparison of which the former had no glory; though the excellent glory was clouded, yet thence came a voice, for faith comes by hearing.
  • What this testimony from heaven was; This is my beloved Son, hear ye him. Here we have, (1.) The great gospel mystery revealed; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. This was the very same that was spoken from heaven at his baptism (ch. 3:17); and it was the best news that ever came from heaven to earth since man sinned. It is to the same purport with that great doctrine (2 Co. 5:19), That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. Moses and Elias were great men, and favourites of Heaven, yet they were but servants, and servants that God was not always well pleased in; for Moses spoke unadvisedly, and Elias was a man subject to passions; but Christ is a Son, and in him God was always well pleased. Moses and Elias were sometimes instruments of reconciliation between God and Israel; Moses was a great intercessor, and Elias a great reformer; but in Christ God is reconciling the world; his intercession is more prevalent than that of Moses, and his reformation more effectual than that of Elias.
  • This repetition of the same voice that came from heaven at his baptism was no vain repetition; but, like the doubling of Pharoah’s dream, was to show the thing was established. What God hath thus spoken once, yea twice, no doubt he will stand to, and he expects we should take notice of it. It was spoken at his baptism, because then he was entering upon his temptation, and his public ministry; and now it was repeated, because he was entering upon his sufferings, which are to be dated from hence; for now, and not before, he began to foretel them, and immediately after his transfiguration it is said (Lu. 9:51), that the time was come that he should be received up; this therefore was then repeated, to arm him against the terror, and his disciples against the offence, of the cross. When sufferings begin to abound, consolations are given in more abundantly, 2 Co. 1:5.

Before the Last Supper

“Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not Mine. John 12:28-30

In these verses from John 12, God speaks for the sake of those around, for my sake and your’s, even today. We are to glorify the Father in all we are and in all we do. A real reminder! Jesus reminds those around Him that He does glorify His Father and we are to be imitators of Christ. This is not some light and fleeting statement. This is what our walk with the Lord is all about…to glorify Him.

Matthew Henry writes of this glorification in his Commentary on John:

  • 1. How this answer was given. By a voice from heaven. The Jews speak much of a Bath-kól-the daughter of a voice, as one of those divers manners by which God in time past spoke to the prophets; but we do not find any instance of his speaking thus to any but to our Lord Jesus; it was an honour reserved for him (Mat. 3:1717:5), and here, probably, this audible voice was introduced by some visible appearance, either of light or darkness, for both have been used as vehicles of the divine glory.
  • 2. What the answer was. It was an express return to that petition, Father, glorify thy name: I have glorified it already, and I will glorify it yet again. When we pray as we are taught, Our Father, hallowed be thy name, this is a comfort to us, that is it an answered prayer; answered to Christ here, and in him to all true believers. 
    • (1.) The name of God had been glorified in the life of Christ, in his doctrine and miracles, and all the examples he gave of holiness and goodness.
    • (2.) It should be further glorified in the death and sufferings of Christ. His wisdom and power, his justice and holiness, his truth and goodness, were greatly glorified; the demands of a broken law were fully answered; the affront done to God’s government satisfied for; and God accepted the satisfaction, and declared himself well pleased. What God has done for the glorifying of his own name is an encouragement to us to expect what he will yet further do. He that has secured the interests of his own glory will still secure them.

The Father’s answer to this address; for he heard him always, and does still. Observe, 

Three times, the voice was heard from above, speaking to Jesus, speaking about Jesus, speaking to and for the hearers of the Word. God came in ways that were not understood by some standing nearby. The voice was heard as thunder, as an angel, and in words telling those around just Who this Man was and is still today.

So often, we want to hear from God, know the exact answer, the exact moment, the exact person, etc. It is a rare communication we audibly hear with the physical ears that God, our Creator, gave us. Yet, our spirit hears. Our heart hears. There is communication by the Holy Spirit to our spirit from God. It reaches the very depth of our beings. It may come when we read His Word or when we pray or when we are silent before Him. God communicates with us by many paths. Our “inability to hear it cannot invalidate it. Our inability to understand it cannot void it. God’s phōnḗ sounds within His Son’s followers, saying, ‘You are known. You are heard. You are loved. You are mine. I, your heavenly Father, keep My promises.'” **

Jesus, the Son of God, heard His Father all of the time. Jesus is always with the Father. The two communicated continuously and directly with one another.

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. John 1:18 KJV

Dearest Father, Christ is my life as He is my Lord and Savior. Please open the ears of my heart because I want to hear You. I want to know You more and more. You know all about everything. You touch every piece of Your creation for always. You know the number of hairs on my head. You know where I am to be when. You know where every sparrow is and when they fall from the sky. Your Providence is magnificent. I want to be close to You that I can know and understand Your will for me. I desire to be obedient. I desire to be submissive to and for You. Guide me in the ways that You want me to go. If Your voice is not to be audible to my ears, please let me understand the inaudible sounds, the quiet words, and the silent guidance. Through Your Word, through silence, through others’ voices, through the beauty that surrounds me, through the love for and from those many ‘one anothers,’ I ask You to make Your message clear to my spirit by Your Spirit. Please block the many sounds of this world, Father, so that Your voice reigns in strength in my being. I want to hear You, Lord. I want to know You. I desire You and You alone. Continue to help me ‘decrease’ as You ‘increase.’ I bow before You this day, oh Lord. I love You so. I pray all in the beautiful Name of Jesus. Amen.

audible colors @ byjus.com

audible range @ yourwidlife.org

*root meaning of “phone” @ etymology.com

Photo/graphics of Matthew 3:16-17 @<a href=”http://Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@sotti?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText”>Shifaaz shamoon</a> on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/s/photos/sea?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText”>Unsplash Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash / graphics added by me @ Pixlr

Photo/graphics of Matthew 17:5 @ Heartlight.org

Photo of Thunderstorm @ <a href=”http://Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@noaa?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText”>NOAA</a&gt; on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/s/photos/lightning-brandon-morgan?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText”>UnsplashNOAA on Unsplash / graphics added by me @ Pixlr

Luke 11:28 photo/graphics @ bible.com

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

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

For My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

When Advent is celebrated and pondered in the Christian church, it is as though we are waiting for the appearance or arrival of Christ, for His birth. And we are also waiting for His second coming. For us today, we also praise God for His Presence with us this day by the Holy Spirit. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves spiritually.

Two people we find in the Bible at the time of Christ’s birth had been preparing, seeking, praising God for His promise of the Messiah well before the actual arrival of Jesus the Christ.

When Jesus turned 8 days old, his parents took Him to the temple to be circumcised, as was the custom of the law of the Israelites. So we turn to that eighth day in the life of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple that day, they experienced two beautiful people, Simeon and Anna, who were waiting. Waiting for their Christ, yet did not know He was about to appear.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your Salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.” And His father and his mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-35

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38

Simeon had asked God to reveal His Salvation to him before he died. God did. Simeon came in the Holy Spirit Who told him that this was Whom he had asked. Anna knew that this Child was from God and was the redemption of Jerusalem. Anna had been waiting also for such a time as this.

Are you still waiting? He has come. He was born a baby, leaving Heaven to come to Earth as a human being. He walked this earth for thirty-three years spreading His message of deliverance from our sin. He performed miracles. He showed kindness, grace, and mercy to many. He died a terrible death on a cross. He was buried and then arose three days later. Jesus lives this very day. He is waiting for you. He waited for me for 45 years until I kneeled and called Him my Lord and Savior. I read His Word, desiring to become more and more Christlike and to spread His light through my life.

Are you still waiting? Call upon Him. Call His Name. He waits. He will never stop waiting for you. He is our salvation from the sins of this world. I have seen my salvation through the eyes of my heart. I have heard my salvation through the ears of my heart. I pray for each and all of you who need the Lord.

For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12

Lord, I thank You for waiting on me for 45 years, for drawing me near, softening my heart 28 years ago. Thank You for calling me Your child now. Although I am still a sinner and always will be while I walk this earth, You have forgiven me with Your beautiful mercy and grace. You sacrificed Your Only Son to die on the Cross for one such as me. As I walk my life through, I desire to be obedient to Your will for my life. I do not want to sin, yet I am human. I am sorry when I fail You. Guide my steps, Lord, and guard my heart that I would continue to be filled with Your light that shines into this dark, dark world. So many need You NOW Lord. Draw them close, speaking Your Truth into their physical ears and into the ears of their hearts, shining Your Light into their physical eyes and into the eyes of their hearts that they would hear and see You … only You, Lord Jesus. Oh, such a blessing You have been and continue to be to me every moment of my life. Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus, Your Son, into this world to draw many unto Him. And thank You for the many disciples who hear Your call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May I walk in the steps of Your will for my life all the remainder of my days on this earth. May I continue to grow to look more and more like You, Lord Jesus, my Christ, my Messiah, my Salvation. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Luke 2:29-32: photo by Larisa-K @ Pixabay – Scripture added by me

Luke 2:38: photo by Larisa-K @ Pixabay – Scripture added by me

John 14:6 – Bible Inspirations.org

I am honored to be featured @ Candidly Christian this morning (January 8, 2021) with this post. The words written before my post link have humbled me so. Valerie Riese says it so beautifully. https://candidlychristian.com/my-eyes-have-seen-your-salvation-grace-truth/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

According to Your Word

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  Luke 1:30-33

So much happens in these four verses:

 An angel

He speaks to Mary

She has found favor

and with God, no less

She will conceive a son

The angel gives her the name to call this boy

He will be great

He will have the throne of David

He will reign over the house of Jacob

There will be no end to His kingdom

He tells her about her coming son, words that any mother would be proud to hear, but would wonder if all of these things could be true.

Beautiful and amazing is this young woman who is to be the Christ’s mother, innocent and gentle in her spirit. She had questioned the angel, and then graciously accepts those deep and powerful words by responding thusly:

And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:38

As I wait in this Advent time, I ponder the magnificence of this proclamation.  Would I be able to understand and accept these words had they been spoken to me?  Could I grasp the future that these words speak?  An angel naming my baby?  Me, a young and vulnerable woman, having a baby of God’s, not of man?  How could this be?  To me, if I were Mary…I don’t know.  I just don’t know. Yet, when Mary went to visit and stay with Elizabeth, there was immediate confirmation by and through Elizabeth:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45

I do understand something though.  God can do anything for He created everything. He is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent.  The angel says in Luke 1, verse 37: “…For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Could I?  Would I?  Oh, God, grant me a heart that so beautifully wraps around Your Truth; accepts the words of Your messengers; opens myself to Your will.  Would I? Could I?  I pray so, my LORD.  I pray so.  I pray with my whole heart and every ounce of my being. I pray with my heart’s ears and eyes open to You, to You alone.  Thank You for giving us the most wonderful gift of all. O LORD, in Your Son’s Holy Name, the Son of the Most High, I pray.  Amen

Photo by David Hewitt from FreeImages. (with added graphics)

Photo by Deborah Krusemark from FreeImages (with added graphics)

Orange rose photo – https://pixabay.com/users/alexas_fotos-686414/ (with added graphics)

“Trees Covered With Snow” by Pixabay on Pexels (with added graphics)

Photo from http://ziongwinner.blogspot.com/2016/12/why-was-jesus-born-part-1.html (with added graphics)

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Hosea 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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

God loves…

The children of Israel sin…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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