Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Testing

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

δοκίμιον

dokimion

a testing; by implication, trustworthiness:—trial, trying; a crucible

Other versions of 1 Peter 1:7 ~

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. NIV

…that the proof of your faithbeing more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; NASB20

…so that the proven character of your faith ​— ​more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire ​— ​may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. CSB

*the proving, your proved faith; that by which something is tried or proved, a test*

I love that word, “proving,” as though there is something to prove. Indeed, the test, the proof is in our willingness to obey and stand upright as we wait upon the Lord. He will bring us through whatever test, whatever proving ground we are to face. Counting whatever we go through all joy, or rejoice in the midst of these trials, can seem so opposite of what we are walking or running through, yet God calls us to these things and also calls us to rejoice, to be joyful in the midst.

Can you imagine being a Ukrainian today and being able to rejoice, to count all that they are experiencing or witnessing in this horrendous war all around them, and still be able to recount it with joy? Watching around 100 Ukrainian women and children evacuate from the ruined Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol on Sunday, May 1, 2022, after two-plus months hiding under the plant would bring a sense of joy in the release, yet there was the threat of Russia bombing, leaving family and friends behind…could they count it joy? I know I would have rough time yet that is exactly the way we are to face the trials each and every day. Oh, God, please give me the strength of Jesus to face my trials. He went to that horrible cross for me, down the Via Delorosa, and counted and considered it all joy!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus withstood such temptations, showing me that I can lean on Him for He desires to carry my burdens, to walk besides me, to dwell within me.

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary of 1 Peter:
The apostle grants they were in great affliction, and propounds several things in mitigation of their sorrows. 

1. Every sound Christian has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice. Great rejoicing contains more than an inward placid serenity of mind or sensation of comfort; it will show itself in the countenance and conduct, but especially in praise and gratitude.

2. The chief joy of a good Christian arises from things spiritual and heavenly, from his relation to God and to heaven. In these every sound Christian greatly rejoices; his joy arises from his treasure, which consists of matters of great value, and the title to them is sure.

3. The best Christians, those who have reason greatly to rejoice, may yet be in great heaviness through manifold temptations. All sorts of adversities are temptations, or trials of faith, patience, and constancy. These seldom go singly, but are manifold, and come from different quarters, the effect of all which is great heaviness. As men, we are subject to sorrows, personal and domestic. As Christians, our duty to God obliges us to frequent sorrow: and our compassion towards the miserable, the dishonour done to God, the calamities of his church, and the destruction of mankind, from their own folly and from divine vengeance, raise, in a generous and pious mind, almost continual sorrow. 

4. The afflictions and sorrows of good people are but for a little while, they are but for a season; though they may be smart, they are but short. Life itself is but for a little while, and the sorrows of it cannot survive it; the shortness of any affliction does much abate the heaviness of it.

5. Great heaviness is often necessary to a Christian’s good: If need be, you are in heaviness. God does not afflict his people willingly, but acts with judgment, in proportion to our needs. There is a conveniency and fitness, nay, an absolute necessity in the case, for so the expression signifies: it must be;therefore no man should be moved by these afflictions. These troubles, that lie heavy, never come upon us but when we have need, and never stay any longer than needs must.

Mr. Henry goes on regarding the praise, the honor, and the glory:

“The trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Honour is properly that esteem and value which one has with another, and so God and man will honour the saints. Praise is the expression or declaration of that esteem; so Christ will commend his people in the great day, Come, you blessed of my Father, etc. Glory is that lustre wherewith a person, so honoured and praised, shines in heaven.  …. Jesus Christ will appear again in glory, and, when he does so, the saints will appear with him, and their graces will appear illustrious; and the more they have been tried the more bright they will then appear. The trial will soon be over, but the glory, honour, and praise will last to eternity. This should reconcile you to your present afflictions: they work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

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

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

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

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Father God, there are so many reasons to rejoice even when I do not feel like rejoicing. And there could also be many reasons why I should feel overwhelmed and filled with sorrow. Yet, You lift me up when I am down. You fill me up when I am empty. You stand with me always and care for me, about me. You have given me life through Your Son, Jesus the Christ, Who died that terrible death for me, taking my sins to the cross. You shower grace and mercy upon me again and again. You sustain me and never let me down. I trust You and know I can. I know You are my God forever and ever. I will be spending Eternity with You. Oh, Lord, how glorious that will be. I thank You for holding me near through any and all trials I may be currently going through as well as those in my future. I thank You from the depths of my heart.

Classical Writers · Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering · prayer

Classic Works Woven – Oswald Chambers – 2

I know I posted Oswald Chambers last week, but he has been vital to my Christian growth. I want to spend a bit more time on him this week.

“Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only—My Utmost for His Highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.” —Oswald Chambers

“We are not responsible for the circumstances we are in, but we are responsible for the way we allow those circumstances to affect us; we can either allow them to get on top of us or we can allow them to transform us into what God wants us to be.”

“Solitude with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamour of the world.”

We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.

On the morning of March 9, 2022, as I read from “My Utmost for His Highest”, I could not have been gifted a more perfect devotional reading for ‘such a time as this’ in my walk with Jesus. I have much to ponder until Jesus returns:

“Turning Back or Walking with Jesus?”

By Oswald Chamber
Do you also want to go away?” —John 6:67

“What a penetrating question! Our Lord’s words often hit home for us when He speaks in the simplest way. In spite of the fact that we know who Jesus is, He asks, “Do you also want to go away?” We must continually maintain an adventurous attitude toward Him, despite any potential personal risk.

“’From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more’ (John 6:66). They turned back from walking with Jesus; not into sin, but away from Him. Many people today are pouring their lives out and working for Jesus Christ, but are not really walking with Him. One thing God constantly requires of us is a oneness with Jesus Christ. After being set apart through sanctification, we should discipline our lives spiritually to maintain this intimate oneness. When God gives you a clear determination of His will for you, all your striving to maintain that relationship by some particular method is completely unnecessary. All that is required is to live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Never try to live your life with God in any other way than His way. And His way means absolute devotion to Him. Showing no concern for the uncertainties that lie ahead is the secret of walking with Jesus.

“Peter saw in Jesus only someone who could minister salvation to him and to the world. But our Lord wants us to be fellow laborers with Him.

“In John 6:70 Jesus lovingly reminded Peter that he was chosen to go with Him. And each of us must answer this question for ourselves and no one else: ‘Do you also want to go away?‘”

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS: Jesus Christ reveals, not an embarrassed God, not a confused God, not a God who stands apart from the problems, but One who stands in the thick of the whole thing with man.   (Disciples Indeed, 388 L)

Oh, Lord, I do not wish to walk away, yet I have certainly toyed with that idea due to this world pulling and pushing me away. Satan has had his grasp upon me, upon my feet and arms and even my neck, so it seems. I watch how others, who call themselves Christians, walk and talk. They have so disappointed and dismayed me. The behaviors of some have made me doubt the faith which I have been steadfastly walking now for 29 years now. YET…Lord, You, the love that emanates from You, calls me back. I pray that I walk in diligence, spending time in Your Word, on my knees, finding a church home now that Covid is mellowing out here, in order to know You more and more, and to remind me of Whose I am. Pull me towards You should I stray. Pull me towards You should I doubt, question my faith, question even You in my ‘rearranged mind.’ Please pull me towards You should I not desire to be in Your sphere, for I really….REALLY…do love You and want to be in the same orbit as You. I do not really want to be far away. Guide my steps. Please keep me close, Lord. In Your Beautiful and Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

Oswald Chambers/quote @ AZ Quotes

“Spiritual maturity” quote @ quotefancy.com

Obedience @ quote fancy

Book Cover/”My Utmost for His Highest” @ utmost.org

Devotional @ https://utmost.org

“Whenever the conviction…” @ quote fancy

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Disappointment

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

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

As a side note: Other explorers came this way and found the river but only as far as they could determine it from the west. We do know that in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition found their way to what they thought was the mouth of the Columbia River, after an arduous 2,000-plus mile journey west from Missouri. Clark exulted in his journal, “Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See. And the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I suppose) may be heard distinctly.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the ocean. Clark had been fooled by the breadth of the lower Columbia’s estuary. The expedition still had eight days of paddling ahead before they finally landed on the north shore and climbed Cape Disappointment to see the ocean itself. Carrying out President Jefferson’s orders to establish the USA’s claim to the Oregon Country, Lewis planted the expedition’s largest American flag on the spot. President Thomas Jefferson had commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to explore, to map this newly acquired territory, to find “the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce.” [*History*]

There were expectations and hopes as well as disappointments and discouragements. The icing on the cake were those wonderful victories. 

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

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

Disappointment takes so many forms and, with our world in such a state as it is today, disappointments seem abundant…maybe no more than in the past, but it sure seems that way! They show up as a circumstance that did not turn out the way we had hoped, or we did not get a certain job, or a health treatment did not work as we had thought it would. Disappointment can come when people do not follow through on a promise or they do not meet the expectations that we place on them. It can come via an action or some other mode. Failing to achieve, failing to be, just a failure can lead to disappointment. Disappointment can bring pain and sorrow to us as we accept the fact that we are disappointed by something or that we disappointed someone.

To live is to be disappointed. Jeremy Pierre *

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

I think expectations are the cause for most disappointments; certainly not all. I am disappointed in myself often for things I think or things I do or say. I have allowed disappointment to dwell in me as I watch people decide not to wear a mask so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or choosing not to get vaccinated or boosted because of their beliefs. Beliefs I do not understand. I have asked the reason of some and they try to explain, but the answers usually make no sense to me. Some people would rather fight everything: the federal and local governments, health districts and the CDC, politicians, laws, even rulings of the courts, etc. And all seems to raise the bar for disheveled discourse.

I look at the Christian church as a whole to see animosity within its ranks, creating a fervor that further creates division within, which then spreads to with out or maybe the outside is showing up in the church. ??? Maybe some of both! ?? I have actually had two people in my life, who are dear to me, say that they do not desire to be a part of anything so divisively pointed (the church). These ways negatively impact the teachings of Jesus, especially regarding ‘loving one another.’ They see ‘the evangelical church’ (as we hear all Christian churches described more often than not these days) as a group of people who will not use masks or take the vaccines, plus they vote for certain people who stand as angry, willing to be divisive, and seemingly determined to undermine this country’s democracy. “The evangelical church” is seen less and less as perveyor of God’s Truth, or even acting very Christlike. Not all in the church are those people, but for many looking in from the outside, that is what it now may look like. Being a part of the body of Christ makes me realize why there are so many leaving the church today. And what do they see when they look at me? I hope a different picture than this widespread current view.

I am rather naive, I will admit. I began to see a bit of these behaviors back in 2016 in a few people, but I just wrote it off to a fleeting moment. Yet, during these last two years with COVID-19 and the three years prior, I see, more and more now, behaviors amongst many I call sisters and brothers in Christ, people whom I love, have loved, yet am not liking real well right now, are giving me reason to shy away. They look and act so much like the world; not that I do not act in those manners. They have given me reason to PAUSE! Pause life to check my pulse and my heart for breathing in the life-giving air of Jesus. I cannot help but look over my shoulder and question my faith, what I believe or no longer believe, if these same people are who they seem to be, who they claim to be these days. Are they walking with Jesus? I have asked myself if He would walk down these same roads and I keep getting ‘No” for the answer. Lord Jesus, are You walking with me today? I pray so as I draw near to You. Thank You, thank You for drawing near to me.

In a previous post, I have written about being disappointed in another person in my life. He has been one who should have known better yet did not do right by some members of his family. He was given the opportunity to assist and guide a small group of family members as per their inheritance. Instead, he took the reins and ran in his own direction. After years of struggle, releasing what felt like a burden to the Lord, plus plenty of stress, two of us chose to take at least one rein into our own hands for a little while to try to make things far less filled with stress, as we aged. Yet we both would rather have not felt we needed to act on this matter ourselves, for ourselves. We would have like to have stayed in the family trust as it was originally meant for those of us in a certain generation. After we took care of the matter for ourselves, we gave that one rein back.

I pray for the whole family, especially for him, as all would desire, I am sure, that things go smoothly from here on out. Lord, please guide the hands and minds of the one leading. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

I look around my world, and must ask why so many people act so mean, or so obstinate, or are so angry with so much, or tout with pride before others as if all the world is only watching them. I am sad…disgusted. I just expect better, expect more. And that is the problem: my EXPECTATIONS!

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

Forgive me, Lord.

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

I ask You, Lord, for Your forgiveness for my ways, for my stubbornness, for my need to be in control. I am sorry, Father. I desire peace in my relationships and calm in the ways of business and respect between each other as well as between all. Yet, these things cannot and do not always happen, at least in my timeline. Lift me to You, Lord, that I may be more peaceable, more patient and calm, plus filled with respect for others and even with myself. In Your Precious Son’s Name. Amen.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the LORD.” Zechariah 8:16-17

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

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

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

God tells me again and again:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[*History*] of Cape Disappointment:’ Oregon.com

Map #1 from National Park Maps

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

Map #2 – 1849 USGS -Geological Survey: 1849 Map (section of original), Alexander Ross’s Columbia River. (Click to enlarge). Original Map: Map of the Columbia to illustrate Ross’s adventures. Author: Alexander Ross; Publication Date: 1849; Publisher: London, Smith, Elder and Co., 1849. Washington State University Archives #WSU478. — Washington State University Early Washington Maps Digital Collection Website, 2004

Map #3 @ Flickr

“No Expectations” Graphic: http://www.sharonstokes.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AdobeStock_91720852.jpeg

Map #4 – Washington State University archives

Map #5 @ Wheelin-It

Charles Swindoll quote: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/5767.html

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse Sepia photo by Brendon William Cooper @ Flickr

“Yes and Amen” Graphic: http://esauproject.com

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

He Reached Out

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Jesus…born of a woman with a heart, eyes, ears, mouth and so much more…just like me! He was hungry and thirsty. He felt pain. He became tired. Just like me! He was tempted and falsely accused…just like me!!

Jesus suffered…far more than I ever have, probably ever will. As a human, Jesus was nailed to a cross at his hands and feet. He was crucified. His body was a human body. It bled and bruised and scarred just like mine does and can, although not via crucifixion.

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” John 19:33-34, 36-37 (Prophecies: Exodus 12:46/Numbers 9:12/Psalm 34:20, Psalm 22:16/Zechariah 12:10)

But Jesus was different. Oh, so very different. He bled and died, yet not just physically. He bled when He took our sin to that Cross. We all are sinners and Jesus bled for us all. He has given us…me eternal life. Thank You, Jesus.

He was and is God. He was 100% human and 100% God when He came to earth.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

As I continue to ponder the actual humanity of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I am overwhelmed that He chose to come into this world to save us. He came as a baby, grew up, worked as a carpenter.

And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Mark 6:2-3

And when the time came, Jesus began His ministry…teaching, healing, loving, caring about the many ‘one anothers.’ Jesus reached out first just as He loved first. He reached out to touch, to give, to accept, to love unconditionally.

I am thankful that Jesus came to save me. I am filled with gratitude to be one of His sheep. He is my Shepherd.

Jesus, I pray Your Word back to You… Hebrew 4:14-16:

Since I have You, a great High Priest Who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, I pray I hold fast my confession. For I do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses, but One Who in every respect has been tempted as I have, yet without sin. Let me then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that I may receive mercy and find grace to help in my time of need. Thank You, my Sweet Lord. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

P.S. Lord, I love You back.

Photo of the hand reaching out @ Jlhopgood/Flickr

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Christ is Christmas ~ Christmas is Christ

Find a quiet moment to read…sing…hum as you read…this beautiful hymn written in the 19th century. It is the Salvation message. It is of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. Our Messiah.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
Oh, come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.

May we spend time this Christmas Day to be with You, Lord Jesus. May we be still and know that You are God. May we calm our spirit to see and hear You in all we are and do. May this day, this season, be filled to overflowing with You, our Messiah.

You mean so very much to me, Lord.

I thank You for coming into my life and saving me from myself, from my sin. You adorn me with Yourself and continue to grow me as I decrease so that I can be more and more like You. I come before You this day and know that You are my Lord. In Your beautiful and holy Name, I pray. Amen.

Words and history of “Little Town of Bethlehem” from https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-o-little-town-of-bethlehem

History of song: “Phillips Brooks (1835-1893) wrote this beloved Christmas hymn for the Sunday school children at his Philadelphia parish, Holy Trinity Church, following a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in 1865, according to British hymnologist J. R. Watson. The hymn was printed on an informal leaflet in December 1868 and then appeared in The Sunday School Hymnal in 1871. In the United States, the hymn is generally sung to its original tune, ST. LOUIS by Louis H. Redner (1831-1908), a wealthy real estate broker who served as a church organist for his avocation.”

peace … come: photo of Yosemite in winter from wallup.net; + graphic/’peace …come” added by ~ linda @ pixlr

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

He Hears, He Sees, He Speaks

As we ponder Christmas in these days and weeks prior, may we seek the Truth of Christ’s birth. Last week, I pondered the beating heart of Jesus, His humanity in that physical organ, His omnipotence is the only heart that loves unconditionally, the Heart of God.

This baby was born with ears to hear, eyes to see, and a mouth to speak. We do not know much about Him as He grew into a man, but there is plenty of evidence through the New Testament regarding Jesus listening and hearing, seeing and watching, and speaking as He taught and healed and fellowshipped with others.

And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. 1 John 5:14

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled. John 11:33

And He was saying, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” John 6:65

Jesus was as much a human being as you or I. He was created in His mother’s womb. He came into this world for a reason, a purpose, yet He began as a baby. That purpose may have been delayed by thirty-three years because Jesus had to grow up, absorb the Septuagint, live among His people, etc., etc. The plan never changed and Jesus knew it all before He was even a baby. He knew far more at age 12 than I know even after 74 years and always will.

Jesus was God. Jesus was Spirit. Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus knew everything before anything was created. Jesus had to live as Jesus on earth in order for prophecies to be fulfilled. Imagine…He knew all of those prophecies. He knew all the Prophets. He just plain KNEW.

And the plan was perfect:

Now Jesus cried out and said, “The one who believes in Me, does not believe only in Me, but also in Him who sent Me. And the one who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that no one who believes in Me will remain in darkness. If anyone hears My teachings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and does not accept My teachings has one who judges him: the word which I spoke. That will judge him on the last day. For I did not speak on My own, but the Father Himself Who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.” John 12:44-50

Father God, You are teaching me beautiful Truths about Yourself. Thank You for guiding me in these Christ-centered mini-studies. I love it that I am never too old to learn more about You. I am never too old to learn anything, for that matter. God, I thank You for showing me these Truths, for showing me Your absolute desire to draw me to Yourself. You sent Your Son to die on the Cross for me, for others such as me. God, I welcomed You into my life just over 28 years ago and I have never looked back. Believing in Jesus, Your Son has given me life. And one day, I will be able to bow at Your feet and praise You for Eternity. Hallelujah! What a Savior. In the Powerful and Holy Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

photo of manger @ Unlock the Bible

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Heart

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:23

Jesus is God. Jesus is Immanuel. Jesus is with us.

He knew then and still knows now and forevermore. He knows all. ALL!

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” Matthew 21:1-3

He fulfilled prophecies. This prophecy has a probable date in the 480s B.C. by Zechariah. Over 500 years prior to Jesus saying this to His Apostles.

This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying,

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’”
Matthew 21:4-5

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

Jesus knows and is ALL!

When Immanuel came to be with us, He was all human, all God. He had a heart, a physical heart like us.

The heart of Jesus beat and pumped; it beat like ours and pumped blood throughout His body to keep the physicalness of Jesus alive…as ours does.

The heart of Jesus was far more compassionate than most as He encompassed the world as it came into His view, whether physically or through His knowledge of the world around Him.

The beautiful heart of Jesus was (and is) the heart of God. This human came to earth and our God came too. His heart was so big that He came to shed His blood for us, for our sins.

This beautiful heart came in a baby. His name, Jesus, Immanuel, Emmanuel, God with us. I can hardly fathom this incredible act of God. Sinners and so in need of a Savior. So in need of a Lord. For one such as I. For those such as you.

This baby…this child…came with a heart like mine yet so not like mine.

But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:19

I, too, am pondering so very much this Christmas season as I center around the Heart of God.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:26-28

I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. Revelations 21:3

Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to this earth. You knew everything before You created anything. You know all today. I cannot fathom this child so rich with Your Love and so full of Your desire to call us to Yourself even before He was born. I am overwhelmed, Lord, with these thoughts of this child coming as You to be with us. You with us. You, right here with me. Oh, thank You, Lord. Thank You for drawing me to You and calling me to repentance, to call on the Name of Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I am humbled, Lord; humbled as Mary was at the birth of Her King, her Child, Her Lord. Her Child, my Savior, my God Who came to live with me. My heart is Your heart, O God. I am overcome with a sweet aroma of You, my Lord. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Graphic of heartbeat, cross, heart: Revive Nations

The physical heart inside human body graphic: @ URMC Rochester

Ezekiel 36:26 photo/graphics @ I Live For Jesus

Psalm 51:10 @ My Freshly Brewed Life

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

O LORD, I Want to Know Joy, to Feel Hope, AGAIN!

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

I believe Your Word, LORD because You speak to my heart. I doubt because I am human.

Sorrow

Sadness

Overwhelm

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
Psalm 31:9

The United States of America has been home for my entire 74 years on this earth.

I love this country. It has been a place where I hold memories filled with love and joy, loss, and struggles. The USA has been my home, such a wonderful home to and for me.

Yet, there is so much now…on this very day…for a number of years…that I no longer recognize as ‘part and parcel’ of the United States (‘with part meaning “a portion” and parcel “something integral with a whole’ *).  There are parts of this country that no longer fit with the whole of the country I have always known as home.

I recognize most of the natural landscape although even some of that is filled with burned forests, lakes so low that one can no longer swim or sail in them. Waterfalls have less flowing down the sides of mountains, and more animals are becoming extinct.

Yet, I can see God’s changeless beauty in His handiwork in the likes of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Oregon coastline, and many other places such as these.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims His handiwork
. Psalm 19:1

And there are kindhearted people around me, too. Some are strangers to me but they hold a door open while I walk through, smiling behind a masked face. Some are people I do know who call to check on me, just to say ‘hi.’ Some are family who calls for a weekly conversation. New friends in my new city have invited me to go with them to an outdoor art show, and then again to a “Chocolate Walk.” Joy, kindness, peace, love flowed around and through us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Yet, there is so much anger, animosity, hatred, and fear in our country and the world today.

My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick within me
. Jeremiah 8:18

Desires to commit violence against others for reasons I cannot comprehend: the amount of the pigment melanin in one’s skin, one’s religious beliefs, political bent or absolute, even a look someone gives another. So many cruel reasons for hatred and violence. Trials are being held all around the country as I type. Three men with very little melanin in their skin shot an unharmed jogger who happened to have a lot of melanin because they suspected him of being a thief. A white boy went to a Bible study with a gun and shot nine parishioners who all were Black after studying and praying with them.

How can this be?

We all have a degree of melanin in our skin, hair, eyes: “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning of skin exposed to sunlight.”**

Violence against one another with American flags on January 6, 2020, killing and maiming. Threatening many with death and harm. A continuing threat of hatred and anger is perpetuating in so many arenas.

Why is there so much hatred fueling these fires?

The USA is a Democracy. The people have a say in the way the country is governed. When the United States became an independent nation, the Continental Congress set up the Constitution and the way of governance. It still stands today. Yet, voting integrity is threatened because many did not like the outcome of recent elections so they have decided to rig the elections so that they will win. Our democracy is being threatened by those who fear loss. They threaten those who are in positions to secure the elections…threats at their home’s doorsteps, at their cars after work, on the walkways as they do their jobs. One political party against the other party, higher-ranking members of government stripping other members of their committee assignments, people calling one another liars and traitors, using vitriolic language…and the list goes on and on. Some are attempting to do their jobs. Others do not! Divisiveness is overbearing to me!

What is happening?

We may not have a Democracy for long, I fear myself.

How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:2

I grieve these losses to my precious country. I watch in plain sight things being taken, stolen, threatened, stabbed again and again. It is not only lives being lost but the underlying whole of the United States of America…on the verge of being lost.

Grief overpowers me at times.

This nation has been built by the hands and on the backs of immigrants. I come from people who immigrated from Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and maybe even other countries. They worked hard to make this nation what it has been. Some of each batch of immigrants did indeed harm the next nation of immigrants by belittling their culture, making fun of their lack of language to communicate, maybe even their skin color, making assimilation hard for each new incoming group. But we are a nation of immigrants. How can we turn people away with violence and family separation when our very own relatives came here for a better life. Some of my relatives came because of religious persecution in their home country. Others came because of famine in their home country. Others immigrated for work, for masonry/bricklaying jobs in the big cities being built…all for a better life.

Bricklayers Building Wrigley Field Bleachers/Chicago History/Horsch Gallery

We come from these people. We could not call America home if they had not come before us.

I weep.

Yet, I hold onto God for He is hope.  He is joy.

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
Job 4:6

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:11

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

My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!

When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!

Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!

Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.

I cling to your testimonies, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!

I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!
Psalm 119:25-32

“Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace.” – Charles Spurgeon

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” – C.S. Lewis

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

“…when You enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:2) Yes, Lord, please enlarge my heart. Calm my soul. Fill me with love. May Your love overflow to others as we pass it on to the next. I want to shine Your light in this dark and ever-darkening world. I desire Your joy to spread across the path that You have laid before me. Your hope and joy are two things I lose myself. Fill me up to overflowing because we all need hope in these torrential times. Let me not be angry nor fueled by hatred. Take any frustration from me with those I do not understand. There is so very much I do not understand, LORD. Draw me in and teach me Your ways that I will know You so well that even when I misunderstand or just don’t get another’s ways, Your ways will penetrate so deeply that I can shine Your beautiful light into this country I call home, into this world upon which I live. Grant to me Your peace and Your grace and Your mercy, Your hope and Your joy, O LORD. In the Name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

“Sorrow turned to Joy” photo @ St James – LCMS

 * ‘part and parcel’ – The American Heritage Dictionary

Charles Spurgeon quote @ AZQuotes

Rose – Love @ Public Domain

Marigold – Despair and grief over the loss of love @ FlowerMeaning.org

** melanin: The Oxford Lexico

Photo of immigrants coming into New York City harbor/Statue of Liberty @ Lessons from History/UCLA

Bricklayers in Chicago/Wrigley Field @ Horsch Gallery. (My Grandpa was a bricklayer in Chicago and loved the Cubs. Grandpa was born in 1891 so he could very well have been a part of this. The man in the dark overalls with his back to the photographer looks a lot like him!?? His father immigrated from Italy in the mid-1800s and was a bricklayer.)

Gardenia – Hope @ FlowerMeaning.org

Iris – Joy @ Espoused to Him

Lavender – Peace @ FlowerMeaning.org

Fruit of the Spirit photo/graphic: @ Bibles Verses to Go

Snapdragons – Strength @ WallpaperFlare

 

 

 

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Remember the “One Anothers?”

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

ἀλλήλων

allēlōn

one another; reciprocally, mutually

“One Another” – English uses two words for the Greek language’s one word, yet the meaning is the same. It’s used 100 times in 94 New Testament verses. 47 of those verses give instructions to the church, and 60% of those instructions come from Paul. **

As children of God, our priority ought to be the “one anothers.” Jesus commanded us to love one another.

Freedom, liberty, rights…words we hear often these days. Yes, they have been around in this country since the United States of America became a country and the Founding Fathers drafted our Constitution and Bill of Rights. They have been in use worldwide as well. They are words we want to trust and know that we are under a government that allows us, the people, to have rights, freedoms, and liberty. Yet, are these ideals meant for only ourselves as individuals? Are we more important than our neighbors, our co-workers, our parents or children, church members, the community around us? With Covid-19 on the rampage, especially with the Delta variant so highly contagious, using our rights, our individual freedoms, our liberties as excuses to not get the vaccine that will help contain this killing virus, as excuses to not wear masks that guard ourselves and others, we are placing ourselves above everyone else. EVERYONE ELSE!

In this world of harsh, angry words, have we forgotten about the others: those with Cancer, those with immune-compromised body systems from disease, or another issue, the elderly, those who are givers of care to parents, to young children, or both? What about the little ones who cannot even get a vaccine? They are heading back to school. So many more children are in the hospital this very day due to COVID-19/Delta variant. Some places are not allowing a school district or a local public health department to mandate or even suggest the wearing of masks, or mandating teachers get vaccinated. Have the needs of these crossed the minds of those calling for freedom of choice?…to do what we please, labeling it with an amendment or a right from the Bill of Rights? Have they?

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

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

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

In Pastor John Pavlovitz’s latest post, titled “Selfishness is America’s Second Deadly Virus,” he encourages me to complete this post (for I have been working on it for a couple of weeks). Those one anothers have been on my mind for quite some time now. When only thinking about myself and not loving others is, to me, the worst of selfishness.

I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3

...submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

In front of my husband’s Bible, he wrote definitions of often hard-to-remember Christian vocabulary. “Submission — is recognizing and yielding to the Jesus in others.” And I say Amen!

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

Scripture says what I desire to say, yet far more eloquently, so I will let the beautiful words of God speak to our hearts, minds, and souls.

Think upon God’s Words to us.

As we focus our eyes and hearts upon Jesus, let us see all He is. And then let us look like Jesus before others. How will they see Him if we don’t spread His Light? Our actions and words speak volumes.

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:13

We must not stray, thinking our liberty as a Christian gives us freedoms that may end up taking us off God’s path, harming others, causing others to stumble.

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
Matthew 15:8-9

We also must seek to glorify God in all we do and are. Even wearing a mask to protect others as well as one’s self can glorify God. Even receiving a vaccine if one is medically able can glorify God.

Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Romans 15:5-7

Lord, I seek Your face. I want to know You well so that I am able to reflect Your Light through all I am and all I do. As I write this post, I see rather clearly my own faults and my judgment upon others. I need reminding that my way is not always right. Others see this virus through a different lens than the one I have. Forgive me, Lord, should I judge another. Guide my steps so that I walk in Your ways. This Covid-19 season has opened my eyes in ways I would never have imagined, both good and not-so-good, about myself and others, even my sisters and brothers in Christ. Grant me patience and humility, mercy and grace. I am trying to take care of myself while caring about those I come into contact with. Help us each and all see it through You, Lord. Please grant us that ability that we could then live in peace with one another, loving one another. Protect us from this awful virus, Lord. May Your will be done in all ways. I pray in Your Son’s Holy and Powerful Name. Oh, my Jesus. Amen.

Here is a fine page of many “one another” passages: (The link is at the bottom where The Architect and the Artist has a printable page of this.)

 

 

“One Another Christianity” photo/graphic: Ottawa Church of Christ

** See OverViewBible.com for a great list of One Another verses in the New Testament

1 John 4:7 Two Swans photo/graphic @BibleVersestoGo

“To & For One Another” graphic: Carmen Puscas Ministries

1 Corinthians 10:23a @ The Visual Verse/SheryllMonique

One Another (Think on These Things) Scripture Writing @ The Architect and the Artist

Devotionals · God's Word · OneWord365 · Pondering

Decrease – One Word 2021

“Decreasing” has NOT been what I have been doing this month. I seem to be “increasing” and barely recognizing that Christ is in my life lately. Definitely NOT the way I anticipated I would be headed almost half way through 2021. My growth in Christ is backwards.

I have been seriously pondering a major change in my life in the very near future. I have been praying. I have been reading God’s Word. I have been quiet before Him. Or so I thought.

But amidst the ways God wants me to go, I have been researching the change, dealing with banks, looking into options, sorting through things. Doing STUFF! All of the stuff I do before making a change. So when Lisa (@ Lisa Notes) posted that the 21st of May was coming up, time to link up our One Word 2021, I had not even thought about my One Word. Not even once! So today is the 22nd of May and I am typing these words of how my month has certainly looked to God while I have ignored this whole desire which I had purposed from the beginning of this year.

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

Today, the 22nd of May, is the day I married Kenneth 28 years ago. He went to be with the Lord almost three years ago on June 7, 2018. We had just celebrated our 25th anniversary as he was dying from cancer. We knew his death was imminent and very soon, by his condition. We just did not know the exact date and time, of course. Only God knows those facts. The doctors had originally given him 7-10 days in mid-January, 2018. God had blessed us with these months instead of days, for which we were so grateful. We felt that God knew we needed this time together. Kenneth helped me prepare to be living alone…how I needed to care for our house, what tools I needed to keep, and which ones I should sell on eBay, which ones were to garage sale. He was so fine to prepare me like that. We prayed together and we shared spiritual Truths together. Oh, the time was so sweet. I am ever grateful. At this moment, my eyes have welled up with God’s little wet blessings that go into a bottle in Heaven. I am humbled by this day, these memories and my sweet Kenneth. I miss him so. So very much!

And these memories draw me back to the One Who saved me. I know that one day I shall see my Lord and dear Kenneth for we both know our Jesus the Christ. And He is the One to increase…not me! Thank You.

May His name endure forever,
His fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in Him,
all nations call Him blessed!

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.

Blessed be His glorious Name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with His glory!
Amen and Amen!
Psalm 72: 17-19

I seek to be found with humility today. He is my Lord and my Lord forever.

Of the increase of His government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over His kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:7

I seek to be on my knees praising God in all His glory and releasing all of this STUFF that it would only be minutiae for me while God handles it as I obey Him.

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

I know that You, Lord, are handling it all, only that I let You. May I be as small as the mustard seed and may Who You are in me show to be that tree. May I be so tiny and You be just so vast, Christ.

Lord Jesus, I seek Your forgiveness in trying to handle things myself. You have allowed things to go differently that I had “planned” or had “hoped.” You are showing me this day that You have this in Your hands. You also have me in Your gentle and yet strong arms. You reminded me of my beautiful marriage with Kenneth and how we sought to depend upon You in so very much. Thank You, Lord. You are guide me. You know my heart. Thank You for Donna’s words last night on the phone, especially her sweet words at the end, that I will entrust my plans, my life to You. Thank You for caring about her and drawing her back to be near You. I am ever grateful for Your Love. I lay this whole change at Your feet, my Christ. I want to be obedient to Your call upon my life. If I am to change, You will make it so and if not, You will make it so! You love me no matter what I do for which I am so thankful. May I continue to learn to decrease so that You increase. I desire others to see You in me and not me in me. In the Beautiful and Increasing Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

John 3:30: photo/graphic @ Pinterest

Psalm 72:19: photo/graphics @ Pinterest

Isaiah 9:7: photo/graphic @ Knowing Jesus

Mustard Seed on fingertip: “page not found” for photo