Gather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

אָסַף

ʼâçaph

‘āsap̄

pronounced: aw-saf’

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

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

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

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

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

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

God calls us to gather to Him….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheep @ water trough photo @ Flickr

wheat photo @ www.wallpaperflare.com

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

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

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

Photo/graphic – Psalm 116:15 @ pinterest

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

Agony, Sweat, Blood

As Resurrection Sunday, April 4, 2021, nears, I am pondering different aspects of the hard walk Jesus took for me, for many such as myself. He took my sins to the Cross where He was nailed, NAILED, to a cross and left to die. It is a horrible way to die in the reading I have done. There is another piece of this that has given me questions and that is the sweat that “became like great drops of blood.”

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:41-44

Jesus went to Gethsemane to pray, to be alone, although some of the apostles were nearby. Jesus was in agony. He needed strengthening by an angel. He asked His Father to remove the cup. Yet He prayed for God’s will to be done. This is hardly the Jesus I read about…healing, loving others, having compassion for the dying, giving water to the woman at the well. Yet, it is the same Jesus.

ἀγωνία

agōnia

  1. a struggle for victory
    1. gymnastic exercise, wrestling
  2. of severe mental struggles and emotions, agony, anguish

Jesus was human. Jesus knew what was to come for Him. He knew sin. He knew why He was on this earth. In His humanness, He had been tempted.

C. H. Spurgeon writes so decisively: The temptations were, doubtless, of the very foulest character, but they left no speck or flaw upon him, who remained still the fairest among ten thousand. The prince of this world came, but he had nothing in Christ. He struck the sparks, but they did not fall, as in our case, upon dry tinder; they fell as into the sea, and were quenched at once. He hurled the fiery arrows, but they could not even scar the flesh of Christ; they smote upon the buckler of his perfectly righteous nature, and they fell off with their points broken, to the discomfiture of the adversary. *

This is our Jesus. Jesus answered each temptation with the Word of God. Jesus knew each and every one of us so very well. He knew we were fallen and He had come to save us. The only way to do that was to take our sins to the Cross where He would be crucified. He knew these truly agonizing realities. He loved us and hated sin. We was willing to be our Savior yet had to pay the price of death on that awful Cross.

As Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane, He took three men with Him and spoke some solemn words to them:

And taking with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with Me.” Matthew 26:37-38

And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” Mark 14:33-34

Jesus said those words out loud…that His soul was “very sorrowful.”

C. H. Spurgeon prays: O blessed Saviour, how can we bear to think of thee as a man astonished and alarmed! Yet was it even so when the terrors of God set themselves in array against thee. Luke uses the strong language of my text-“being in an agony.” These expressions, each of them worthy to be the theme of a discourse, are quite sufficient to show that the grief of the Saviour was of the most extraordinary character; well justifying the prophetic exclamation “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which was done unto me.” He stands before us peerless in misery. None are molested by the powers of evil as he was; as if the powers of hell had given commandment to their legions, “Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king himself.” *

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger. Lamentations 1:12

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Lamentations: Lamentations 1:12-22 Jerusalem, sitting dejected on the ground, calls on those that passed by, to consider whether her example did not concern them. Her outward sufferings were great, but her inward sufferings were harder to bear, through the sense of guilt. Sorrow for sin must be great sorrow, and must affect the soul. Here we see the evil of sin, and may take warning to flee from the wrath to come. Whatever may be learned from the sufferings of Jerusalem, far more may be learned from the sufferings of Christ. Does he not from the cross speak to every one of us? Does he not say, Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Let all our sorrows lead us to the cross of Christ, lead us to mark his example, and cheerfully to follow him.

God, please forgive me. Not only have I sinned, but I so hurt my Jesus. I am so grateful that He loved me then and still loves me, that He would die for me that I may have life eternally. Yet, knowing and feeling just a tiny bit of the agony I caused Him crushes my heart and soul…even this day as I type. I am so sorry, so sorry, Lord Jesus. In Your Holy Name I pray. Amen.

And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke 22:44

θρόμβος

thrombos

in the sense to thicken; a large thick drop, esp. of clotted blood

Luke, the author of both Luke and Acts, was a physician. “Of the four gospel writers, only Dr. Luke referred to Jesus’ ordeal as “agony” (agonia). It is because of this agony over things to come that we learn during His prayer ‘his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (Luke 22:44). Only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat (idros)—a much used medical term. And only Luke referred to Jesus’ sweat as consisting of great drops of blood (thromboi haimatos)—a medical condition alluded to by both Aristotle and Theophrastus.1 The Greek term thromboi (from which we get thrombus, thrombin, et al.) refers to clots of blood.Bible scholar Richard Lenski commented on the use of this term: ‘As clots,’ thromboi, means that the blood mingled with the sweat and thickened the globules so that they fell to the ground in little clots and did not merely stain the skin. 3” (by Dave Miller, Ph.D.) **

“A thorough search of the medical literature demonstrates that such a condition, while admittedly rare, does occur in humans. Commonly referred to as hematidrosis or hemohidrosis,6 this condition results in the excretion of blood or blood pigment in the sweat. Under conditions of great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can rupture,7 thus mixing blood with perspiration. This condition has been reported in extreme instances of stress.8 During the waning years of the 20th century, 76 cases of hematidrosis were studied and classified into categories according to causative factors. The most frequent causes of the phenomenon were found to be “acute fear” and “intense mental contemplation.”9 While the extent of blood loss generally is minimal, hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile,10 which would have made Christ’s pending physical insults even more painful.” (Dave Miller, Ph.D.) **

After reading about this condition and the way human bodies can react to extreme stress, to that which Jesus faced, and He absolutely knew what He faced because of Who He was, I am so humbled. Before I knew Christ as my Lord and Savior, yet as I was beginning to understand why I needed Him, the guilt and shame began to wipe over me. I needed to acknowledge those feelings, as Christ endured so much for me. So very much.

Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:3-4

No, I have not. But Christ did. I am overwhelmed in what began as a simple word study on the sweat and blood combining. Yet the agony became the focal point, the sweat and blood attached. I am in awe at my Christ. I am so sorry for all that I caused Him. This has brought me to my knees. I know too that when I am weakened, He is strong. Even Christ needed strength when He was weakened, tempted, wanted His Father to take the cup. Jesus went alone to Him in prayer, humbled on His knees. He called upon the Name of the Father, to Whom He trusted and knew wholly. His earnest prayer led His body reacting in a way I did not understand until now. Thenthere seems to be a sense of calm about Jesus after praying. How could that be? Look at what He faced! And Jesus knew what He faced. Yet He goes to His friends who were sleeping and calls to them:

And when He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46

And then the crowd came with Judas amongst them:

While He was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48

And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against Him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Luke 22:50-53

Jesus seemed calm, not filled with joy or any such emotion, but He seemed to calm the storm encircling Him. He healed the man’s ear. He spoke to the priests. He had asked Judas a question before Judas would take action.

Jesus had prayed. He knew how to pray for He taught us. And Jesus knew the outcome of all that was to come. Prayer can draw the calm and peace down upon one who needs that at the very moment they are needed.

LORD, I come to You with pain in my soul for all that Jesus had to endure for me. I am sorry for the human race’s disobedience to You since the beginning of time. We lost so much, yet we gained the Savior, the Lord, the One and Only Trinity Whom we can call upon at any time knowing that we are heard. I thank You for forgiving me in all of my weaknesses and failings, for all of my sin. Satan has beat me up many times, yet I so desire to be obedient to You and You Alone. I am loving the grace and mercy You have showered over and upon me by Your salvation in the sacrifice of Your One and Only Son.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Revelation 12:10-11

May I follow in the footsteps of my Christ, carrying my cross, holding fast to my Savior till my day comes to live in eternity with Him. In Your beautiful Name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.

P.S. May I recommend reading this whole sermon! It is so full of power and Truth. ~ C. H. Spurgeon: A Sermon (No. 493), Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 8th, 1863, by the REV. C. H. SPURGEON At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *

References:

1 William K. Hobart (1882), The Medical Language of St. Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1954 reprint), pp. 80-84.

2 W. Robertson Nicoll, ed. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1:631; M.R. Vincent (1887), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint), 1:425.

3 R.C.H. Lenski (1961), The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg), p. 1077.

6 A.C. Allen (1967), The Skin: A Clinicopathological Treatise (New York: Grune and Stratton), second edition, pp. 745-747; “Hematidrosis” (2002), Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, p. 832, https://goo.gl/U192fY.

7 R. Lumpkin (1978), “The Physical Suffering of Christ,” Journal of Medical Association of Alabama, 47:8-10.

8 See R.L Sutton, Jr. (1956), Diseases of the Skin (St. Louis, MO: Mosby College Publishing), eleventh edition, pp. 1393-1394.

9 J.E. Holoubek and A.B. Holoubek (1996), “Blood, Sweat, and Fear. ‘A Classification of Hematidrosis,’” Journal of Medicine, 27[3-4]:115-33. See also J. Manonukul, W. Wisuthsarewong, et al. (2008), “Hematidrosis: A Pathologic Process or Stigmata. A Case Report with Comprehensive Histopathologic and Immunoperoxidase Studies,” American Journal of Dermatopathology, 30[2]:135-139, April; E. Mora and J. Lucas (2013),Hematidrosis: Blood Sweat,” Blood, 121[9]:1493, February 28.

10 P. Barbet (1953), A Doctor at Calvary: The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Described by a Surgeon (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image Books), pp. 74-75; cf. Lumpkin, 1978

** Dave Miller, Ph.D. @ Apologetics Press

Photos/Graphics:

Jesus Praying painting @ Early Church History

Photo of blood: @ TruthWatchers

C.H. Spurgeon Quote/Graphic: @ Tim Challies

Not My Will-graphic on photo @ Walking in Sunlight

Which Wisdom?

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

σοφία

sophia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sisters in Christ Jesus

I spend one morning each week with 5-8 women. We all attend the same church as we worship the Lord. We have been meeting weekly for about 9 months now. We are women of all ages, from 30s to 70s. Some have young families. Some are grandparents. Some live near family. Some live far apart from their parents, children, grandchildren. We live in East Texas. Some are from here. Some are from places far away, such as California, Montana, New Mexico, Louisiana. Our backgrounds are so different. Our arrival to Christianity is unique to each. Some came to Jesus as children, others as adults. Our walk with the Lord is also so different.

Yet, we are the body of Christ…all Christians, all sisters in the Lord.

…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:5

I am amazed at the beauty that God is in our midst. He is faithful to draw us near to Him, the One Who created us, Who loves us so.

Each week, we gather around a table where we sip coffee, tea, juice. We eat muffins, fruit, nuts, other tasty treats which our hostess graciously lays out for us.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13

One by one, we begin sharing our pray needs, concerns, praises. We each have a journal where we write down what each of our sisters need so as to jar the memory as we pray throughout the week. When the first one wraps up her words, one of us steps up to pray for her in this moment. Outloud. In sweet surrender to the Lord. Laying her at the foot of the Cross.

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

We continue around the table, sharing, praying. Sometimes guidance is given. All is in love.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

Recently, I shared my heart through God’s prompting. I did not plan this as I am often rather quiet, sharing just things of the surface. But not this particular Monday. No, the women got to know me quite a bit more through words that dug deeply, to the very core of my being. Words that opened up long-ago wounds…wounds that I thought had been healed years ago. As one woman shared in a word-picture: it is healed over, but there is scar tissue all around. By that, there is still pain at times. I cried and cried for it was like it was all right at the top. These precious sisters did not know this history about me. They wept with me and loved me. They prayed for me, loving me through their words to our God, the Listener of our humble and humbling prayers.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Each week brings different and similar prayer requests. Each week, there may be all 8 of us, or maybe only 2, 3 or 4 of us. It does not matter for we desire to pray for one another. We have grown to know one another over these months as we barely did when we began. One of the ladies drew us together for the purpose of prayer and fellowship. She chose people of various ages, various stages of life and spiritual walks. I believe God picked us each and let her know just who He desired to have around this table.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in the Spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

We open our homes, our hearts, our minds, and souls. Some of us may be more open one week, and others at other times, but we share each week, as best we can.

We want to grow in the Lord as we pray.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

When hard things are going on in a life of a sister, we want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with her. We want to wrap her in the Word, in our love which comes from God, our Source. We want to be attentive to her needs.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:3-5

We want to share with one another what God is teaching us, whether it be through exhortation, a Scripture, arms wrapped around, a prayer lifted up.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. Oswald Chambers

As we seek to honor the Lord, we watch the words of our mouth, that they be without gossip or slander so as to not revile His Word. As we desire to glorify His Name, we show one another the love that is His.

Praise You, LORD. You are Mighty God, the Holy One of Israel. You are the Creator of all to Whom I humbly bow. You have given me life in Christ. You have brought me by Your side and into Your Kingdom. You, O God, are my God. You have dealt with me graciously. You have given me these precious sisters of whom I love and respect. They have come alongside of me to be honest, open, sweet and prayerful. They allow me to be this one whom You wove in my mother’s womb, this one whom I am still learning about at this age for I became a new creature only 27 years ago. I am young in You, my LORD. Whatever time I have remaining in this life on earth, teach me, O LORD, teach me. Through these women, I learn. Through Your Word, I learn. Through life, I learn. Teach me for I want to know You, LORD. In the precious Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Photo/Graphic: Sisters in Christ, Forever – https://simplysharingandserving.weebly.com

Heart Graphic: http://www.fbcvan.org/womens-ministry/

Graphics: Romans 12:5 – https://www.amazingfacts.org/bible-study/scripture-pictures/the-book-of-romans

Graphic: Romans 12:13 – https://whateveryoudodowell.wordpress.com

Graphic: Romans 12:12 – https://abbashousetexas.com/2018/04/03/romans-12-prayer-for-refugees/

Graphic: Romans 12:10 – https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/romans/2/

Graphic: Romans 12:15 – https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/romans/2/

Graphic: Romans 12:11 – https://brightandclean.tumblr.com/post/48796377488/romans-1211

Photo/graphic: Romans 12:1-2 – https://www.heartlight.org/cgi-shl/praying_paul/pwp.pl?047

Photo/graphic: Romans 12:4-5 – http://www.triciagoyer.com/one-body-romans/

Graphic: Dove/Holy Spirit/Gifts – https://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2012/10/are-miraculous-spiritual-gifts-for.html

Photo/Graphic: Flowers in Jar/”Like flowers…” – sanibelsoaps.com

Pure 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. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6

How in the world can I count these trials as joyful? How?

God also says in Romans 5:

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

So now I can have peace with God too? These trials seem like they couldn’t possibly produce joy nor peace?…or perfection or hope?

YET…God’s Word gives me Truth. So I know that these things are possible. I have not written in this space for quite some time, but God is using the circumstances of Kenneth’s death to show me His love, His people, His little children, His body of Christ, His kindness, His glory. He is showing me that although my heart may hurt from this deep loss, it can also overflow with so much more because He is my joy. He is my love. He is my kindness. He is my all. Dependence upon the One Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent gives me all. I lack for nothing.

I have not hidden away from the world. I have not walked away from His will for my life in Christ. I have not been too disobedient (not much that I am aware of!). I am walking with the One Who saved me from the pit. I am holding close to my Savior because He is. He is alive and risen. He has given me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me. And I am His, walking in the Spirit. I am filled with a joy that is incredibly remarkable.

Is that not amazing?

He fills me with pure joy in the midst of sorrow and struggle. Do you know what else He does? He builds me up. He grows me in His character. He molds me to look more and more like Him. Is that not beautiful? How grateful I am for His love for me. Oh, my sweet Lord. You are changing me day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Thank You, Sweet Jesus.

when you meet trials of various kinds,… James 1:2b

Trials come. Trials can be of all types…physical, emotional, mental, financial, marital, death, and everything else under the sun.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

I am not perfect and will not be until I pass over the Jordan River into Heaven, but each step of obedience here on earth brings me another step closer to both perfection and Heaven. Christ is molding me to be more and more like Him while I sojourn here. I am the clay and want to be. I desire that molding more and more now too. That is what boggles my mind…that I, willingly, want Him to mold me which takes trials. No vessel is perfect, needing parts redone again and again. The Potter has much work to do on me. I choose to allow Him to form me and make me. I also choose to stay close to Him so that I may endure the current trials and those on ahead.

ὑπομονή

hypomonē

steadfastness, constancy, endurance

in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

patiently, and steadfastly

a patient, steadfast waiting for

a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

NKJV: But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

NIV: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

NASB: And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Other Scripture with the same Greek word: ὑπομονή

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Matthew Henry wrote: “The graces and duties of a state of trial and affliction are here pointed out to us. Could we attend to these things, and grow in them as we should do, how good would it be for us to be afflicted! One Christian grace to be exercised is joy: ‘Count it all joy.’ We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head, and they become marks of our adoption. By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last. Therefore there is reason to count it all joy when trials and difficulties become our lot in the way of our duty.

Faith is a grace that one expression supposes and another expressly requires: ‘Knowing this, that the trial of your faith,…’ verse 3; and then in verse 6, ‘Let him ask in faith.’ There must be a sound believing of the great truths of Christianity, and a resolute cleaving to them, in times of trial. That faith which is spoken of here as tried by afflictions consists in a belief of the power, and word, and promise of God, and in fidelity and constancy to the Lord Jesus.

There must be patience: ‘The trial of faith worketh patience.’  The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised the stronger they grow.”  *

Jesus, my Lord, I come to You, seeking Your face. I want to be near to You, to know You more and more with each passing moment. Is that possible, Lord? How can it be when I am in physical pain, emotional loss, sorrow, spiritual vacuums, and other trials? How can I focus upon You when these trials distract me so? Yet, Lord, You rain grace over me in joy, love, hope, faith, patience and far more than I could even ask. Thank You, sweet Jesus. You reign in my heart. That is what has changed me as I experience trials, Lord. You!…Your Spirit indwelling this earthly vessel. Your graciousness abounds. Thank You for keeping me close to You. You are the One Who generously gives. You are merciful and faithful, Lord God Almighty, overflowing with love for me. I want to grow in the Truth, in the knowledge of You. I want to grow in grace, too. I want to reflect You to the world in which I sojourn. May I be strong through the trials and tribulations so that I may be more like You. Give me wisdom that I would know how to walk through these times. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

Graphic: Daily RCL Bible Reading Devotional @ http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/2016/05/22/daily-rcl-bible-reading-devotional-may-22nd-2016/

Graphic: http://access-jesus.com

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

* Matthew Henry Commentary on James 1

Graphic: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery

Christ is Christmas

It is nearing Christmas and I cannot seem to gather any get-up-and-go to write a post.  It just is hard this year.  It is not that I am avoiding Christmas as I am NOT!  I revere the birth of Christ, my Savior.  I am celebrating Him with each day.  I just can’t seem to write a whole post.  So I shall not.  Just a bit this day! 

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I hope to be back here more steadily in 2019.  I pray that I walk in obedience to the call of God.  

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As most of you know, life has taken a huge turn.  The death of Kenneth, my husband of twenty-five years, changed everything.  I am handling life fairly well.  I seek God at most every turn and with each step.  I need Him and He is with me.  He has never left me not forsaken me…and He won’t.  I went to visit my sisters in August in California.  This past month, I went to see Kenneth’s sisters, one in the Houston area, one in Southern Alabama.  I was gone for two weeks driving all the way.  I spent two hours each week for 13 weeks at GriefShare, a wonderful caring, biblically-based grief group with a leader and co-facilitators, a workbook and video series, along with discussion and sharing.  I am also becoming more involved in my new church, in Bible study, meeting so many precious people. 

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As I grieve, both inwardly and outwardly, I am being healed from the inside-out.  I thank my God for His grace and His mercy.  This is a process and probably a long one!  I thank each of you for praying for me, for loving me, and for caring about me.  Many of your comments and private messages have blessed me so.  Thank you, sweet friends. 

I wish you each a Christmas filled with the love and peace of our Savior, Christ Jesus. 


For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even
for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
  Isaiah 9:6-7

Merry Christmas

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Image/graphic:  https://rustyrev.wordpress.com/2010/12/25/did-the-christmas-message-find-you/

On Being a Widow

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I would call becoming a widow (widower) going through deep waters.  AND then God promises to be with me (you) during these deep-water times.  Absolutely beautiful and so very reassuring.

WIDOW!  A word I have never given much thought to for myself, but the reality is that I am one now.  I saw (and sensed) my mother become one when she was only 46 with three girls ages 13, 10, and 7 to raise.  But me?  I am into this new pathway for a wee bit over one month now at age 70 with no children, no grandchildren.  The precious peace that Kenneth and I felt during the last five months has continued to envelop me, keeping me held and gently rocked.  I cry and know that God is okay with all of my tears.  I know that His plan included this loss as part of my life.

YET…it is not easy.  I miss Kenneth so very much.  Then there is all the paperwork, changing titles, probating the will and…and….  On top of all that stuff, there are buckets of tears!  And not just from the eyes but from this heart.  It is hard Those three words say it best!

Yet, at the same time, I sense the joy of the Lord, His strength, and His love abounding in my life.  He is bringing the right people onto my path.  He sends me to a church Sunday that rained peace all over me.  He is blessing me with the peace that passes ALL understanding.  I love Him so.  I may not comprehend it all so, but I certainly will not turn any of this away for it is my journey.

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my Salvation.  He only is my Rock and my Salvation,
My Stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.  Psalm 62:1-2

Behold, God is my Helper;
The Lord is the Sustainer of my soul.  Psalm 54:4

To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises;
For God is my Defense,
My God of mercy.  Psalm 59:17

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my Refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works. 
Psalm 73:28

“Behold, God is my Salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the LORD GOD is my Strength and my Song,
and He has become my Salvation.”  Isaiah 12:2

Oh, how these verses tell Who God is to me…He is all of this and so much more.

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The LORD will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.  Psalm 15:25

אַלְמָנָה

‘almanah

a widow; also a desolate place:—desolate house (palace)

A widow is most often described as a woman who has lost her husband by death and has not remarried.

The LORD watches over the sojourners;
He upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin.  Psalm 146:9

“Leave your fatherless children,
I will preserve them alive;
And let your widows trust in Me.” 
Jeremiah 49:11

God cares about me, about us.  He did before I became a widow and He still does.  Praise You, Father.  Praise You. 

Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.  Isaiah 1:17

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Isaiah 1: Seek opportunities of doing good: Relieve the oppressed, those whom you yourselves have oppressed; ease them of their burdens.  You, that have power in your hands, use it for the relief of those whom others do oppress, for that is your business.  Avenge those that suffer wrong, in a special manner concerning yourselves for the fatherless and the widow, whom, because they are weak and helpless, proud men trample upon and abuse;….  Speak for those that know not how to speak for themselves and that have not wherewithal to gratify you for your kindness.

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  James 1:27

I do not consider myself weak.  I can stand up for myself…sometimes.  I can be gullible…sometimes.  Right now, as a one-month-old baby in this new widowhood, I am vulnerable.  I know that because it is hard.  I have just lost my dear Kenneth, my husband of 25 years, this man who loved me as unconditionally as any human being can.  He cared for and about me like no one else.  So I truly am vulnerable and must look to my Lord.  Focusing my eyes and the eyes of my heart upon Jesus is what I am doing.

When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.   When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.  Deuteronomy 24:19-21

God planned for widowhood.  He knew and still knows what needs to happen for them.  I think of the many widows and orphans in the world today with so many wars and such violence occurring all around this globe.  I do not consider myself one of those precious women or those innocent children.  I have so much more than they do, it seems.  I have a roof over my head and know that I have a meal.  Many of those widows are so strong in the midst of their huge struggles.  God knows each of our needs.  He knows from whence we came and where we are headed.

Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.  Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.  But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.  1 Timothy 5:3-6

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She sets her hope on God.  Oh, how I desire that for myself.  I pray, Father, that I walk the path that You have chosen for me, a straight and narrow path.  I rejoice that I have You to trust, to hope in, to love and to cherish.  Oh, I am so very grateful.  I have no parents alive now and have no children.  I come to You for You are my Redeemer.  Guide me each day, reminding me Whose I am.  Be with those widows and orphans in Africa, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other areas of this world.  Provide for each one in ways that will direct their eyes to You. 

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.  1 Peter 5:10

Father God, I praise You even in the midst of my sorrow.  I was so very blessed to have Kenneth for 25 years, yet I miss him so.  I know that he is free from the body that was decaying.  I know he is with You.  I know those things in my head, but my heart still is filled with pain and sorrow.  And this heart is also filled with joy because You are my Husband.  You are the One I trust.  You are my Hope and my All, Lord.  Oh, how very blessed I am. I thank You for being willing to perfect, to confirm, to strengthen and to establish me as I grow in You for the rest of my years.  The strength I have is because You are my Strength.  You are my Shield and Protector.  You are my Peace, my Jehovah-Shalom, my Healer, Jehovah-Rapha, my Provider, Jehovah-Jireh, my Shepherd, Jehovah-Raah.  Thank You for being my All.  I am eternally grateful to the One Who is Present, my Jehovah-Shammah. In the Name of Christ, I pray.  Amen.  

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Graphics:

#1:  http://godisheart.blogspot.com/2013/09/when-you-go-through-deep-waters-i-will.html

#2:  https://armyofcompassion.me/2014/09/13/lesson-2-one-god/

#3:  https://quotesblog.net/best-famous-hope-quotes-2015-hope-quotations/

 

 

Every Purpose Under Heaven

 

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I continue to be woven by the hands of God through all of life’s circumstances, events, conversations, precious time spent with my husband.  God is so merciful.  He allows hard, yet quilts it with the downy feathers or soft rabbit fur as for a nest.  He gives us His grace in portions, some small, some huge.  He is so fine and so beautiful.

As many know from my last post, my husband, of almost 25 years, has been diagnosed with Lymphoma.  He has chosen to be under hospice care, and to be ushered into Heaven in God’s perfect timing.  Kenneth served in the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Infantry Division during the Vietnam War.  He was exposed to Agent Orange which could very well be the cause of this cancer.  Life is fragile any day and especially when one fights in a war.  We see affects today with our soldiers coming home from Iraq, Afghanistan, and so many other places these days.  There are prices paid when one serves this country in the Armed Services.

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

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.  Psalm 139:13-16

God created each one of us.  He made these bodies so magnificently…just think about the mechanics of all of the working parts, the symmetry between those parts, and the details of each part…the skin, the heart, the eyes, and all.  We have been built by The Master Craftsman, Architect, Creator….The Master Weaver.

My husband’s already frail body has a cancer.  He has chosen not to fight it for many of his own reasons, but the real reason is God.  He is calling him Home.  Each night, while in the hospital, God came.  He would be there with Kenneth in the quiet, in the dark.  Kenneth knew and waited, listened, believed.  On the surface, Kenneth was there in the hospital waiting for answers from the doctors.  In the depths, the real answers were coming from the LORD.

I saw Christ in Kenneth more clearly each morning when I came to visit.  I was affected dearly by what was happening to my husband.

We have been home from Houston for about six weeks.  Kenneth and I are continuing to feel God’s Peace and, now, His purposes for us.  We have new mornings for which to be grateful.  We share precious time together.

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.  Lamentations 3:22-26

We are more in love than when we got married which is hard to imagine.  We were so crazy in love 25 years ago.  We are growing in the LORD each and every day, growing closer to one another too.

Kenneth has begun teaching me things I will need to know when I am a widow.  (Yes, that is hard to write, think, say, yet, unless God has a miracle in store, I am headed that way.) He is working on small projects as he is able so as to make things better for me.  He is so delighted to have these tasks to do, not only for me, but to give him purpose for each day.  He came home to die, yet only God knows the number of days for Kenneth.  To while away the unknown number of days sitting around or lying in bed is not good for the soul…if one can help it.  Purpose of heart, purpose of mind, purpose of being are vitally important for life.  Kenneth is very much alive today.  He is being held by God.  I am in His arms as well.  Each day is a learning experience and one not to be missed.  Our eyes, ears, and hearts are wide open for this time.

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

[A time for EVERY PURPOSE under Heaven…we are living this right now…right now on earth…under Heaven.  Thank You, LORD.]

Ecclesiastes 3-1 To Everything There Is A Season Under Heaven brown

A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew; A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;

A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Beautiful words to embrace.

Our time together is precious.  We do not know the number of days.  We only know that This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  [Psalm 118:24]  Today is the day to be God’s creations together.  He is giving us daily gifts.  When Kenneth’s days are up, I will truly be sad; I will miss him so.  He is so good to and for me.  God blessed me with this man.  So we take today.  Today is holy ground.

Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.”  Exodus 3:5

God could also bring a miracle.  And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

Father, I lift my voice: “Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.” [Psalm 28:2]  …the innermost place of Your sanctuary.  Father, You have given Kenneth such insight, love, and kindness.  He shares it with me and I am so blessed.  Thank You, LORD.  I pray Your watch-care over him every day, all day.  Hold me close and never let me go.  EVER, Abba Father.  I ask You to guard my heart.  Guide me upon Your path for my life.  I thank You for loving us so.  Thank You for giving us these many years together.  And should there be more, I thank You and praise You now.  As we have been praying all along, LORD, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  I pray in the Name of Your Son, my Savior and LORD.  Amen.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

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http://eweniquelyewe.blogspot.com/2013/04/a-bit-of-weaving.html

http://ejdodson.blogspot.com

Knowing-Jesus.com: https://images.knowing-jesus.com/i/ecclesiastes-3-1-to-everything-there-is-a-season-under-heaven-brown-4101

https://www.embeddedfaith.org/embedded-faith/tweetspiration-thursdays#.Wp3GcyHw-Uk

 

God’s Peace is More

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.  John 20:19-20

εἰρήνη

eirēnē (Greek)

ā-rā’-nā

  • a state of national tranquillity
  • exemption from the rage and havoc of war
  • peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
  • security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
  • of the Messiah’s peace
  • the way that leads to peace (salvation)
  • of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  • the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Peace” in nearly every dialect of Aramaic is “Shlamah”.

In Jewish Aramaic,

   שלמה

Northwest Semitic: Ancient Aramaic:

ܫܠܡ

 

Hebrew:

שָׁלוֹם

shalowm

  • safe, i.e. (figuratively) well, happy, friendly
  • also (abstractly) welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace:—× do, familiar, × fare, favour, friend, × great, (good) health, (× perfect, such as be at) peace(-able, -ably), prosper(-ity, -ous), rest, safe(-ty), salute, welfare, (× all is, be) well, × wholly
  • completeness (in number)
  • safety, soundness (in body)
  • welfare, health, prosperity
  • peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
  • peace, friendship
  • of human relationships
  • with God especially in covenant relationship
  • peace (from war)

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When we think of peace, we usually limit the meaning to calm, tranquil, quiet, stillness of one’s soul.  Yet, in looking through the myriad of meanings, I am gaining a whole new perspective on what Jesus blesses us with when He says, “Peace be unto you.”  He wishes health and prosperity, happiness and harmony, rest and reconciliation, welfare and well-being, kindness, wholeness, friendliness, safety, just every type of good.  Every blessing which is of Christ is for us through Him.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

“When our LORD speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that He speaks are always ‘spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63).  Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “…My peace I give to you…”—a peace that comes from looking into His face and fully understanding and receiving His quiet contentment.'”  Oswald Chambers *

…looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrew 12:2

Jesus walked in obedience to His Father.  He endured the worst possible path, yet rests duly by His Father, knowing the Peace, the Love, the Grace that can only come from the Father.

I reflect.  I see more clearly that obedience to my Father is my way to His Peace.  I may endure harsh realities or uncomfortable situations, but when walking with Jesus as He wills me to do, I am united with my LORD.  His gifts of simplicity, clarity, unity are born through the Holy Spirit and not through my desires.

 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.  Psalm 18:36

I have peace in my steps for I have confidence in the life I have with Christ.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.  Deuteronomy 33:27-28

His arms hold me.  His support, comfort, strength, and provision are pieces of this peace that I am searching for.  My LORD is this peace in all ways.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  Revelation 1:17-18

He touches me.  He tells me to not be afraid.  I can rest in Him for He is my Salvation, my assurance, and the tenderness that I seek.

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,….
Isaiah 32:15-18

 

Oh, that I could live and walk in Your ways, O LORD.  But I am me.  I fail and fall.  I crumble under stress at times.  I belittle myself.  I am not perfect here upon this earth.  Yet my desire is to be obedient.  Holy Spirit, continually guide me in the ways that I should go.  Be near.  I want to know this peace that is You.

I pray peace for this world, for this country, Father.  We are so in need of Your peace now.  People are torn asunder by storms, war, fear, drugs, divorce, so many other reasons.  May we each and all walk in obedience to You, only You.  This seems like an impossible request, but nothing is impossible for You.  I ask You to turn all hearts to You.  One day soon, before it is too late, may Your peace rain upon us and reign in our hearts, my Father.  In the Name of the Prince of Peace, I pray.  Amen. 

 

*from 8/26 devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers

Harmony

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

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

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

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

יַחַד

yachad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He desired this for us all.

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

εἷς

heis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

harmony

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

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

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

 

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