Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

A Taunt, A Reproach, A Curse…

Bugs Bunny likes to taunt Elmer Fudd in the cartoons, similarly, the Roadrunner to Wylie Coyote. I have struggled my life to not be a target for another’s taunts. Today’s language might state ‘a taunt’ as ‘bullying.’ God states that the Israelites will be a taunt. It is not that they are doing the taunting but that they are doing things that cause others to notice them and what they have done to betray their God, the One True God. The children of God have disobeyed God. After many, many reminders, God uses them as a taunt, as a visual lesson from God to others watching. In the meantime, others may, indeed, taunt those who have gone astray.

How often throughout my 74 years have I disappointed and displeased God in the actions I have taken, the words I have spewed out, the thoughts I have had? Often, in the Bible, we see, again and again, the Israelites idolizing gods of others. They disobey God by going against His rules and His words.

And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, and they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 2 Kings 17:9-14

As I continue to read the Bible with “Sweeter Than Honey Devotional A 365-Day Devotional Journey” by Patsy Burnette this year, we are in the midst of the prophets, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel. The words, the messages God gives to these men to, then, give to the children of God are hard words to hear let alone to have to speak for God. They hold lesson-upon-lesson for the Children of God as well as for readers such as myself. Oh, that I will relearn once again!

Throughout the prophecies, God calls His children names that I find hard to stomach. Below these Scriptures, you will see these words and their definitions. None of them are a good, positive description for anyone. We should want to be the opposites.

I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. Jeremiah 24:9. ESV

“You shall be a reproach and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations all around you, when I execute judgments on you in anger and fury, and with furious rebukes—I am the LORD; I have spoken—when I send against you the deadly arrows of famine, arrows for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, and when I bring more and more famine upon you and break your supply of bread. I will send famine and wild beasts against you, and they will rob you of your children. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword upon you. I am the LORD; I have spoken.” Ezekiel 5:15-17

“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: As my anger and my wrath were poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so my wrath will be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You shall become an execration, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. You shall see this place no more. The LORD has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and whatever the LORD our God says, declare to us and we will do it.’ And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God in anything that he sent me to tell you. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.” Jeremiah 42:18-22

“Why do you provoke me to anger with the works of your hands, making offerings to other gods in the land of Egypt where you have come to live, so that you may be cut off and become a curse and a taunt among all the nations of the earth? Have you forgotten the evil of your fathers, the evil of the kings of Judah, the evil of their wives, your own evil, and the evil of your wives, which they committed in the land of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?” Jeremiah 44:8-9

The boldface words in the Scriptures above are defined below:

זְוָעָה. zᵊvāʿâ. a horror, an object of terror, a trembling, an object of trembling

רַע. raʿ. evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity

מָשָׁל. māšāl. properly, a pithy maxim, usually of metaphorical nature; hence, a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse):—byword, like, parable, proverb

שְׁנִינָה. šᵊnînâ. sharp word, sharp (cutting) word, taunt, gibe

קְלָלָה. qᵊlālâ. curse, vilification, execration

חֶרְפָּה. ḥerpâ. disgrace, rebuke, reproach(-fully), shame

אָלָה. ‘ālâ. an imprecation:—curse, cursing, execration, oath, swearing.

שַׁמָּה. šammâ. ruin; by implication, consternation:—astonishment, desolate(-ion), waste

Just reading these definitions makes me realize that when I walk against the very grain of God, I must sound like fingernails on a chalkboard. (Since chalkboards are now white boards, the sound will not be the same for those of you who are not familiar with that high-pitched screech that fingernails make on those black boards, but know that it is an extremely harsh, high-pitched screech. Makes your spine chill.) I look and sound like a taunt toward all that God has taught me. I am a reproach, a disgrace to the God Whom I love and desire to be obedient. Plus, I no longer look like Jesus Whom I am supposed to represent as I grow more and more into His image. I should be ashamed. When others look at me, who do they see? A belligerent, angry, lying, Jesus? NO, it is Linda in that reprehensible image, but if I represent Jesus as a Christ-following human being, then I ought to look like Him and not anyone or anything else!

I have the desire to walk peaceably with God, but I stray now and again. The Israelites strayed and yet God loved them dearly. He loves them in the midst of their disobedience just as He does us. That does not mean that God ignores them and lets them get away with all sorts of misdeeds. He wants obedience to Him from all of us who call themselves His. God is merciful and He is just. He punishes just as a father punishes his child when the child has disobeyed.

“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt. I will punish those who dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, so that none of the remnant of Judah who have come to live in the land of Egypt shall escape or survive or return to the land of Judah, to which they desire to return to dwell there. For they shall not return, except some fugitives.” Jeremiah 44:11-14

Dearest Father, I pray for each of us who love You so and want to walk in the obedience which You have called us. May we hear Your promptings, Your warnings when we wander, when we stray away from where You desire us to be. May I heed Your warnings, Lord. May I seek Your guidance in all things. Forgive me, Father, when I ignore You, when I am remiss in being mindful towards You. I know You never stop loving me, yet You want me where You want me. Please open my ears to hear. Open my eyes to see. May the eyes and ears of my heart be ready to see and hear You and be ready to follow those plans that You have always had for me… since before I was created. Guide me onto Your path and away from mine, Lord. I pray in the powerful Name of Jesus. Amen.

Bugs Bunny taunting Elmer Fudd @ Wallpaper Cave

Quote/Photo of Ravi Zacharias about Justice: QuoteFancy

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

I am Your Clay, Lord

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:1-6

חֹמֶר

ḥōmer

clay: as material of vessels

Jeremiah 18:4:

CSB: But the jar that he was making from the clay became flawed in the potter’s hand, so he made it into another jar, as it seemed right for him to do.

NET: Now and then there would be something wrong with the pot he was molding from the clay with his hands. So he would rework the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.

NLT: But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

שָׁחַת

šāḥaṯ (shaw-khath’)

batter, cast off, corrupt(-er, thing), destroy(-er, -uction), lose, mar, perish, spill, spoiler, waste(-r).

God gave Jeremiah a visual this time rather than just words, as if God’s Word is not enough! I am a visual learner more often than not. I grasp the whole idea when I can see something being done, see something in actuality, see or touch rather than just hear. Looks like Jeremiah needed that for this picture, this word picture. He was preparing a sermon from this. How better to be able to grasp the WHOLE point!

The Potter reuses the same lump of clay when the first pot was not turning out as He intended because of a flaw, a lump, a stone, something in the clay. As I am the clay, God created me in His original form. As life welled up from His hands, I grew into the beautiful life that He created. As’choice’ began to be a reality in my life, some of the choices I made were His choices for me, but so many were not. Over the course of these seventy-four years now, God has thrown this lump of clay back onto the wheel to see about changing my course. He drew me back to Himself. He loves me so that He desires that I become more and more as the image of His Son, Jesus the Christ.

“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter‘s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. Jeremiah 18:6

I want to say that God does not need to take this clay to remake me again and again each time I take the wrong pathway from the one He has planned for me. But He does, I think! In a way! He created me perfectly, yet I need remolding from time to time as I am not perfect while I walk on this earth. The Holy Spirit draws me near and teaches me more and more through the Word, the life of Jesus, by prayer. He kneads my life through Himself to look more like the original way He created.

I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets gave parables
. Hosea 12:10

God creates us perfectly no matter what we look like, what paths we, ourselves, choose over our lifetime, or just what happens to us in our bodies, our minds, our lives. We have been created perfectly. As we grow in Christ, we are to walk in the Lord as unto perfection, one step at a time. We should depend upon God to guide us and protect us as we become more and more like Christ. This is not an easy walk and it certainly is not a straight shot from the creation God made to the one we are to become. The road to Christ is a powerful walk but filled with storms, hills and dales, temperature extremes, roadblocks, plus our own weariness.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8

…from George Whitefield’s ((1714-1770), sermon “The Potter and the Clay:”

“Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter?’ Saith the Lord. ‘Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter,’” (marred, and unfit for the first designed purpose) “‘so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.’” At length, then, Jeremiah hath his sermon given to him: short, but popular. It was to be delivered to the whole house of Israel, princes, priests, and people: short, but pungent, even sharper than a two-edged sword. What! says the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, must I be denied the privilege of a common potter? May I not do what I will with my own? “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hands, so are ye in mine hands, O house of Israel. I made and formed you into a people, and blessed you above any other nation under heaven: but, O Israel, thou by thy backslidings hast destroyed thyself. As the potter therefore might justly have thrown aside his marred clay, so may I justly unchurch and unpeople you. But what if I should come over the mountains of your guilt, heal your backslidings, revive my work in the midst of the years, and cause your latter end greatly to increase? Behold, as the clay is in the hands of the potter, lying at his disposal, either to be destroyed or formed into another vessel, so are ye in my hands, O house of Israel: I may either reject, and thereby ruin you, or I may revisit and revive you according to my own sovereign good will and pleasure, and who shall say unto me, what dost thou?”

.… “I shall now proceed to show, that what the glorious Jehovah here says of the house of Israel in general, is applicable to every individual of mankind in particular.” ….

“First, I shall undertake to prove, that every man naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam, is in the sight of the all-seeing, heart-searching God, only as a “piece of marred clay.” ….

.… “But this is not all, we have yet more evidence to call; for do the blindness of our understandings, the perverseness of our will, the rebellion of our affections, the corruption our consciences, the depravity of our reason prove this charge; and does not present disordered frame and constitution of our bodies confirm the same also? Doubtless in this respect, man, in the most literal sense of the word, is a piece of marred clay.

….

“Secondly, That being thus marred, he must necessarily be renewed: and under this head, we shall likewise point out by whose agency this mighty change is to be brought about.”

…. “This is what John the Baptist calls “being baptized with the Holy Ghost,” without which, his and all other baptisms, whether infant or adult, avail nothing. This is that fire, which our Lord came to send into our earthly hearts, and which I pray the Lord of all lords to kindle in every unrenewed one this day.”

“As for the extraordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, such as working of miracles, or speaking with divers kinds of tongues, they are long since ceased. But as for this miracle of miracles, turning the soul to God by the more ordinary operations of the Holy Ghost, this abides yet, and will abide till time itself shall be nor more. For it is he that sanctifieth us, and all the elect people of God. On this account, true believers are said to be “born from above, to be born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Their second, as well as their first creation, is truly and purely divine. It is, therefore, called “a creation;” “but put ye on,” (says the apostle) “the new man which is created” — And how? Even as the first man was after God in righteousness and true holiness.”

As I readied myself to pray as I usually do at the ends of my posts, the prayer of Mr. Whitefield, at the end of his sermon, says so much that I will have him prayer for us this day:

You, that have in some degree experienced the quickening influence (for I must not conclude without dropping a word or two to God’s children) you know how to pity, and therefore, I beseech you also to pray for those, to whose circumstances this discourse is peculiarly adapted. But will you be content in praying for them? Will you not see reason to pray for yourselves also? Yes, doubtless, for yourselves also. For you, and you only know, how much there is yet lacking in your faith, and how far you are from being partakers in that degree, which you desire to be, of the whole mind that was in Christ Jesus. You know what a body of sin and death you carry about with you, and that you must necessarily expect many turns of God’s providence and grace, before you will be wholly delivered from it. But thanks be to God, we are in safe hands. He that has been the author, will also be the finisher of our faith. Yet a little while, and we like him shall say “It is finished;” we shall bow down our heads and give up the ghost. `Till then, (for to thee, O Lord, will we now direct our prayer) help us, O Almighty Father, in patience to possess our souls. Behold, we are the clay, and thou art the Potter. Let not the thing formed say to him that formed it, whatever the dispensations of thy future Will concerning us may be, Why dost thou deal with us thus? Behold, we put ourselves as blanks in thine hands, deal with us as seemeth good in thy sight, only let every cross, ever affliction, every temptation, be overruled to the stamping thy blessed image in more lively characters on our hearts; that so passing from glory to glory, by the powerful operations of they blessed Spirit, we may be made thereby more and more meet for, and at last be translated to a full, perfect, endless, and uninterrupted enjoyment of glory hereafter, with thee O Father, thee O Son, and thee O blessed Spirit; to whom, three persons but one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honor, power, might, majesty and dominion, now and to all eternity. Amen and Amen.

The Potter & the Clay photo/graphics @ faithatworktoday.com

Photo of potter creating @ https://pixabay.com/users/riteshphotography-6483976/

Beginning Again/lump of clay in the potter’s hands photo (no credit available)

from George Whitefield’s sermon @ Blue Letter Bible https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/whitefield_george/Sermons/witf_013.cfm?a=763004

clay heart photo @ https://pixabay.com/photos/heart-volume-love-4172398/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering · prayer

Both…Life and Choice

I am PRO-LIFE for ages 0 until death, whether that be at 1 month…2 months…6 months…9 months in utero, or 2 years old, 6 years old, 10 years old, 46 years old, 100 years, 115, 122 or beyond as long as one is alive and with breath.

I am PRO-CHOICE too.

YES…it is possible to be BOTH.

Life for every and all ages.

I want all of God’s life to thrive and live a life honoring to Him.

“You shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13

God commanded us, me, not to murder. I understand that. I am against abortions. I am also for an individual’s, a woman’s right to choose. God gave us free will although we were/are not so good about following His every command.

Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.  Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! Ezekiel 18:30-32

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” Genesis 6:5-7

I am not one to weigh in on controversial issues usually. If the Lord wills, I may be more vocal in this space. Not only is the country that I was born and raised in on the verge of…in the midst of…tremendous change in ways I could not have fathomed only months ago, but hatred and fear are running wild everywhere including through the very population I once called ‘community.’ I feel led to stand to say things that are truly difficult for me to say out loud. I may lose followers; I may lose more friends and community than have already departed. I have been writing this particular post for weeks. It was near edit-completion when June 24, 2022/Supreme Court ruling hit the news cycle!

I pray that I will say and write words that are glorifying to my Lord, my God.

LIFE may start at conception…at fertilization…at six weeks…at 15 weeks…at 20 weeks of a pregnancy…at birth.

LIFE is not only about birth. It does not end once a child is born.

LIFE on this planet is at first breath of earthly air. LIFE is being breathed in and out from just outside the womb, at one year old, at two, at ten, at seventeen, at twenty-three, at thirty-eight, at fifty-one, at seventy-six, at ninety-seven, at one hundred, at one hundred four and beyond if God so wills. No matter the stage of LIFE we are in, God provides breath until He does not. That is LIFE.

God is LIFE and we are living as long as He has planned for us.

So…YES…I am PRO-LIFE.

I am PRO-LIFE for ALL of LIFE!

I am PRO-CHOICE, too, for we each are given choices throughout life…to choose our way or God’s way. God gave humans a will. I am against murder but I am NOT against choice. It is up to each person to follow the will of God. Sometimes we do not. We, more often than not, reap what we sow. We are allowed to make choices.

I recall when ‘abortion’ was a heavy topic of thought and conversation, or argument and agreement, in the 1960s and 1970s, before Roe versus Wade was yet in the courts. Back than, one was able to be both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. It was perfectly okay to not be on one side or the other. I was both then and continue to be to this very day.

No, I have never had an abortion nor even been pregnant. I had choices along the way for decisions I needed and chose to make. There were also decisions made for me by others where my choice was not an option. Some I am okay with today and some I was not okay with at the time of their making by another or by the natural way of things. I can see that I have been in God’s hands, no matter.

Let me ask you:

Where were you when I, a somewhat immune-compromised senior citizen, needed you to wear a mask during the early days as well as at the heights of COVID-19 outbreaks?

Where were you when a vaccine, a set of vaccines, booster vaccines were made available and were free? Did you get them? I hope so.

My life, the lives of the many immune-compromised with cancer, with diseases that cannot fight off other diseases, those awaiting an organ transplant, the lives of senior adults, all deserve(d) a chance to live. Don’t they?

I can hear you are saying to me: “Linda, if you believe in choices, then I, too, have a choice to wear a mask for COVID or a choice to get or not get a vaccine.” Yes, you do.

If you are pro-life, then why is that decision about masks or vaccines a problem for you? Whose life are you for or against? I understand that there may be health reasons why you did not wear a mask or take the vaccine. I know. But for many, that choice was a blatant choice against the United States government more than it was about caring for and about those living.

Most of you reading this blog are professing Christians who abide by the Word of God. Why, then, has it been so hard for so many to have ignored the second commandment that Jesus gave each and all of us?

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31

“…NO OTHER COMMANDMENT GREATER THAN THESE.”

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

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 1 John 5:2

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,

but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25

Father God, I pray for your wisdom as I walk the steps which feel so hard…difficult for me. I believe they are steps You have given me. Protect the women who are in danger today…who are facing trauma today. I curl into Your strong arms and weep my tears into Your bottle. I hesitate to even publish this post for I have spent most of my 74 years on this earth trying to please others, to keep the peace, yet, I am so filled with words, thoughts, and emotion which I pray You have given me permission to write here. May I be pleasing unto You, Abba Father, and only You. I pray in the beautiful and powerful Name of Your Son. Amen.

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