Offended

“And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” Matthew 11:6

Do I question Jesus as to Who He is or what He does? Do I doubt His authority? Does Who He is offend me? Does what He say offend me?

I have answered those questions with a resounding, “YES!” before I knew Him. I knew of Jesus and during those many years (except as a child), I did question His very existence. I thought He was a good teacher, a kind and gentle man. But I certainly did not trust Who some said He was. I mean, they said He was born to a virgin! He performed miracles! He chose 12 men to be apostles who followed Him all over the place. Why would I believe Him? Why would I trust Him with my life? Besides, if I did, I might have to change…change the way I did things, or even change my thoughts. Goodness, no!!! Yes, I took up an offense!

In Matthew 11, John the Baptist was in prison and questioned Jesus:

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” Matthew 11:2-6

σκανδαλίζω

skandalizō

I. to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend

  • to entice to sin.
  • to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey.
  • to cause to fall away.
  • to be offended in one, i.e. to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority (Matthew 11:6, Mark 6:3, Matthew 26:31, Matthew 13:57-58)
  • to cause one to judge unfavourably or unjustly of another

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Some think that John sent this question for his own satisfaction. It is true he had borne a noble testimony to Christ; he had declared him to be the Son of God, the Lamb of God, and he that should baptize with the Holy Ghost, and sent of God, which were great things. But he desired to be further and more fully assured, that he was the Messiah that had been so long promised and expected. Note, In matters relating to Christ and our salvation by him, it is good to be sure. Christ appeared not in that external pomp and power in which it was expected he should appear; his own disciples stumbled at this, and perhaps John did so;…. Note, It is hard, even for good men, to bear up against vulgar errors. **

(John’s doubt might arise from his own present circumstances. He was a prisoner, and might be tempted to think, if Jesus be indeed the Messiah, whence is it that I, his friend and forerunner, am brought into this trouble, and am left to be so long in it, …. **

(Others think that John sent his disciples to Christ with this question, not so much for his own satisfaction as for theirs. Observe, though he was a prisoner they adhered to him, attended on him, and were ready to receive instructions from him; they loved him, and would not leave him. Now, they were weak in knowledge, and wavering in their faith, and needed instruction and confirmation;….)  **

Are worldly influences persuading us that Jesus is not who we are expecting? Is there someone greater or different? I think that the world around us does draw us away from the One Who has, indeed, come to save us because the world wants Him to be someone/something else.

“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 6:3

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of Me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ Matthew 26:31

And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:57-58

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And He said this plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. Mark 8:31-32

It seems easier for us if Jesus would look like the world, to do things as the world does. We squeeze our description, our “Jesus-likeness” from our minds, into a box filled with expectations.

The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven to test Him. Mark 8:11

Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to Him?” John 10:20

The Israelites wanted a king, a king who would conquer and save.

But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Luke 24:13

Maybe our eyes are shut and we miss Him altogether.

While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing Him. Luke 24:15-16

We want to know Who He is and to know this with clarity, intelligibility, and purity.

So the Jews gathered around Him and said to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” John 10:24

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the Cornerstone. Acts 4:11 (Psalm 118:22)

We want to know Him, yet we do not trust because we do not know Who He is.

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name bear witness about Me, but you do not believe because you are not among My sheep. John 10:25-26

I see Jesus caring for the poor, the afflicted, the sick, the demon-possessed. These acts should draw me to Him, not send me away for He cares and loves the lowly and meek.

“If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father.” John 10:37-38

The Cross offends. The Cross scares people because of the depth of it’s meaning. Jesus the Christ went to the Cross. He bled for each and all of us for we are sinners. We are disobedient to the Father. He sent His One and Only Son to draw us unto Him, to teach us the Truth. Jesus went to the Cross for the sins we committed. He was sinless. Jesus died for us, nailing our sins to the very Cross from which He hung.

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection is a Truth that many run fast and hard away from. I did…for many years. I carried the heavy burden of my sin too and did not know what all that weight was on my back.

Rather than acknowledge Jesus as their Savior, the Jews dealt with Jesus in ways of their own:

The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. John 10:31

So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. John 18:12

And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” Mark 15:13

I reached a place in my life, at age 45, when I could no longer run, nor hide, nor carry the weight of my sinful burden. I turned to Jesus. I repented of my sin. I could no longer face myself in a mirror because I saw no good in me through anything I was or did. I gave myself to Jesus. He cleansed me and made me brand new. The weight was lifted from my shoulders. Jesus has given me a new heart, a heart that loves Him and only Him. Through Him, I can live anew and love anew. Oh my! Freshened. Refreshed.

We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6

These words made no sense to me at one time in my life. Now, I can clearly see that my sin was cleansed by the blood of Jesus.

This is so OFFENSIVE to so many in this world.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-19

Yet, through the Word of God, prayer, quiet times, the Lord calls me to be near Him. He knows me and will not let me fall back into the world. I stay close to Him in obedience. I do not want to be a stray sheep.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, Who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.” John 10:27-30

Father, I pray I am able to be true to You, to the Truth of the Gospel, to all that is of You. I want to be a reflection of You. I desire to transmit Your love to those I come in contact with, while opening my heart to others about Jesus. I do not want to be offensive yet the Cross, the Gospel, Jesus, You can be offensive to many. It is through me where some may meet up with these, thus possibly making me offensive, like body odor. They may stand back, run away, protest, deny. Reactions can be many. Lord, please guide me and show me Your ways in which to walk as I share my faith in You. I love You so. I pray in the Saving Name of Jesus. Amen.

** Matthew Henry: Commentary on Matthew 11

Cornerstone drawing: https://www.ulpanor.com/2017/11/23/hebrew-vs-aramaic/

Cross: Adam Zdebel @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/zdebel/. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hosea 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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

God loves…

The children of Israel sin…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God So Loved…Me…You

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

Oh! What a promise John 3:16 is! God is Love. He loved His creation so much that He sent His Son…to live amongst His children…to teach and to heal, to love and to die.

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.   This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10

Jesus showed the world that the love of the Father was in Him by loving those He touched, physically and spiritually. Even today, Jesus loves. He loves me and He loves you. The sacrifice that Jesus made over 2,000 years ago still affects us today. He came to save us and draw us to Him so that we will be with Him for eternity. Hallelujah!

The word love in these verses is the word agape:

ἀγαπάω

agapaō

pertaining to people: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly

pertaining to things: to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

This is one of four Greek words in the Bible which differentiate between the various meanings of love in the New Testament. Agape is the one used most often. It is the kind of love that God has for us and which we are commanded to have for one another. Jesus called us to love.

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

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  
1 John 4:7-8

“Love” appears in the Bible (depending upon the version) between 310 times in the KJV to 551 times in the NIV. No matter what version you are reading, the word “love” is scattered often in the Word of God. God is love and wants us to know that. His Word is beautifully rich with LOVE! I praise You, Father. I praise You.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit.   1 John 4:11-13

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.   If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.   This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us.  1 John 4:14-19

I am humbled dearly by the way God drew me to Him and took a hold of my life. I can look back and see years passing while He patiently waited for me to seek His face. Oh, my! I have read these words in John 3 and 1 John 3 many times and sense just a wee bit of how much He loves me. Just a tiny percentage of God’s love for this one creation. He loves us each and all…yes, not just me, but all of us. My heart is overflowing with gratitude that He would do this for me, for you. And then…

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:5-8

While I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me. He did not ignore me or leave me to my own ways and problems. He came to me. He waited at the door until I knocked. He was there for me. And He went to the Cross for me where He was horrifically crucified on that Cross and my name was upon that Cross. My sins took Him there. He did not sin. I did. He did not utter a word, but it is my words and my actions that nailed Him to that Cross.

Father God, thank You for loving me so unconditionally that You sent Your Son to that Cross to die for me. He took my sins with Him. He carried my burden to that Cross. He loves me so that even today, He draws me near to Him so that I can and will know the way to walk each and every moment of this day. Lord, I pray I listen and discern Your way in which I should go. I pray for those around me who do not know You. Oh, how I pray for repentance, for that turning around toward You so that they will be spending eternity with us. Oh, how I pray this, Father God. I thank You for loving me so tenderly and sweetly, Lord. You are such a gift to me each and every day. I lift my hands in praise to You, giving You all the glory, Precious Father. In the powerful Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

graphics:   https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/john/

graphics: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/1_john/

The Burden of this Cross

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

ἀπαρνέομαι

aparneomai

to forget one’s self

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

disown, abstain

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

αἴρω

airō

  bear (up)

place on oneself

to carry

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

σταυρός

stauros

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

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

by implication, the atonement of Christ:—cross.

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

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

The cross is that which will kill this earthly life.

h07-cross_sunset-10

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

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

ἀκολουθέω

akoloutheō

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

to follow his teaching

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

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

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

befuschiasig

 

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

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

Why, oh Why?

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A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.  Isaiah 42:3 (+ Matthew 12:20)

He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Isaiah 40:21

Jesus cares about me. He loves me more than I can even fathom.  He does not break me.  He gathers me into His arms.  He leads me into the way I should go.  He gives me strength and power.  

YET…I doubt…I worry…I fear…I mistrust.  WHY?  Why do I doubt Him?  Why do I question whether He will provide for me?  Why do I lack the trust to know that He is always…ALWAYS…with me?  WHY?  

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him.  Psalm 103:13

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

“For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”  Jeremiah 31:25

He heals me and rains compassion upon me.  He refreshes me. 

Over and over again, the Bible tells me that I can place my trust in Him completely.  I do not need to feel the scars and holes in His body to know Who He is.  I know Jesus gave His all as the most beautiful Gift possible for me, for us all and each.  I know this, yet I doubt. 

I fall by the wayside and wonder why I feel so alone.  Yet, I am not.  I am held in the Savior’s arms and know that He will never leave me nor forsake me.  He will not drop me on my head or tail. 

I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.  I will feed them in justice.  Ezekiel 34:16

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

He gives me rest.  He gives me justice.  He carries my heavy burdens and looks for me when I am lost.  So much Jesus does for me.  He cares for me. 

I seek Your forgiveness, LORD, for my doubt, my lack of trust, my faithless spine.  I am sorry, my LORD.  I have fed myself so much self-doubt that I forget just Whose I am.  I have allowed my ears to hear lies about myself.  I shout to satan to get behind me and he does because You are with me.  I want to trust You in Your care for me.  Precious Jesus, I love You.  May my walk be along the straight and narrow pathway with You…and You alone.   Jesus, You prayed for Simon Peter and You have given the Holy Spirit to be my Intercessor.  He knows the prayers I want to utter but cannot.  He prays for me. 

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  Luke 22:31-32

I read the many ways that God cares for me, all of the time, in so many ways, in every kind of way.  Where do I read this?  In His Word.  The Word of God is the pivotal place from which I know.  I KNOW that He loves me and cares for me because He tells me through His Word.  I KNOW His care because I feel it in my heart.  I can see it too.  I KNOW it in my head.  His Truth speaks volumes to me when I doubt…when I fall…when I mistrust…when I feel alone. 

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God, which is at work in you believers.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

LORD, I thank You for loving me so perfectly.  I want the hard places in me to soften and know that You are LORD.  That this body of mine is Yours and made perfectly.  That this mind was woven by Your hands in my mother’s womb and continues to function well.  That this heart is knit with the Love of Your heart for You loved me first.  That trust, faith, love, hope all come from You.  I believe.  I truly do know that just in this one heartfelt acknowledgment…belief in You…I am so filled with all of Your gifts.  Can I trust and walk in faith?  Can I love without conditions and be loved without conditions?  Can I be filled with hope?

“It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

You are my Hope, my Peace, my Love.  May the hard and broken parts of me open up to You for Your loving touch, for Your gentle and tough molding so that I know that I am the one You created me to be.  I want to be a gift to those I encounter as You were and are for me.  For me!  You love me and care for me.  The Bible tells me so.  Thank You.  No more whys, LORD.  I believe and I trust in You.  In the loving Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

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Green Wood or Dry Wood?

But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’    Luke 23:28-30

For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?  Luke 23:31

 

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ὑγρός

hygros

wet (as if with rain), i.e. (by implication) sappy (fresh):—green

 

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ξηρός

xēros

(through the idea of scorching); arid; by implication, shrunken, earth (as opposed to water):—dry land, withered.

Pilate has turned Jesus over to the people to be crucified.

The innocent, the unblemished Lamb, the Holy One, the One without sin…if they crucify this One, Christ Jesus, then what will they do to the ones who have sin, are guilty, are the withered ones?

In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.  John 5:3

Those who are less than perfect, which is all of us…

Those who are withered as dry wood, the man with the withered hand, those with withered, old skin, those who are less than physically whole…

Where do we stand in this scenario?  We are not the green, new wood of Jesus. We are, in ways of our own, the ones who are less than He is, by far.  Yet, there are ways to remain near to Jesus and return to Him where He sits at the right hand of God.

If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  John 15:6

Let us…

come to Jesus as our LORD, our Savior

know that He died and rose again

abide in Him

obey Him

love Him

love others

be planted in the waters of the Lord

yield fruit that glorifies God

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.  Psalm 1:3

LORD Jesus, teach me Your ways so that when my days are numbered I may return to You for You have called me.  May I be steadfast in my walk beside You, obedient in Your way.  May I stand near and learn from You so that I may glorify our Father in Heaven.  LORD, I want to be planted in You, my Living Water, quenched in the richness of Your Word.  May this tree bloom, seed, and become the fruit of love and joy, of peace and patience, of kindness, goodness, and faithfulness, of gentleness, and self-control.  May the fruit of righteousness come through You, my Christ, to me so that I may give glory and honor and praise to God.  May I walk in Your light for this fruit is found in all that is good, right, and true.  I want to be pleasing to You, taking no part in unfruitful works of darkness.  Your Word is a lamp unto my feet.  It is a light unto my path, keeping me upright and on the narrow path.  I pray all of this, LORD.  This is not an easy road, but it is the one I desire for all the days of my life.  In You, the Bright, Shining Star, I pray.  Amen. 

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Photo:  One Tree Hill:  http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/green/images/19839104/title/one-tree-hill-d-wallpaper

Photo:  Black and White of Dry Treehttp://www.wallconvert.com/wallpapers/photography/dry-tree-3475.html

Rushing Mighty Wind

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The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  Acts 17:24-25

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  Acts 2:2

These two verses in the Bible use the same Greek word to mean both breath and wind.  In a gentle way, I can easily picture the duplicate meaning here.  Yet, in Acts 2:2, the adjectives describing this wind are rushing and mighty, neither of which fit the usual gentle nature of breath or a breeze that I initially picture.

πνοή

pnoē

respiration, breath of life

a breeze:—breath, wind

God gives man life and breath and everything.  He gives us all that we need to live.  He also gives us the rushing mighty wind, filling us to overflowing.  The Holy Spirit gives us a life in Christ Jesus that goes so deep, so wide, so high.  The Holy Spirit breathes life into us so that we may walk in the Spirit while we live our lives here on earth, sharing the Truth of God.

The wind:

 βίαιος

biaios

violent, forcible

mighty

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φέρω

pherō

to move by bearing; move or, to be conveyed or borne, with the suggestion of force or speed

of a gust of wind, to rush

of the mind, to be moved inwardly, prompted

God’s wind can be strong, able to move things.  It can be forceful as we are seeing with Hurricane Matthew in the Atlantic this very day.   It can be a breeze that barely ruffles the hairs on our head.  But the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples of Jesus that day of Pentecost with force, made to move the minds and hearts of those who followed Him.  The wind in God’s hands is formidable, awesome, and able to accomplish all that God intends.

He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;
Who makes lightnings for the rain,
Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.  Psalm 135:7

Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name?
Surely you know!  Proverbs 30:4

Matthew Henry spoke of this wind:

We often read in the old Testament of God’s coming down in a cloud; as when He took possession first of the tabernacle, and afterwards of the temple, which intimates the darkness of that dispensation. And Christ went up to heaven in a cloud, to intimate how much we are kept in the dark concerning the upper world.  But the Holy Ghost did not descend in a cloud; for He was to dispel and scatter the clouds that overspread men’s minds, and to bring light into the world.

The Spirit of God came upon those gathered together in one accord, without dissension as the apostles had indulged in while Jesus was still with them (i.e., …for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.  Mark 9:34).  Yet over the three years of the ministry of Jesus, they had been prepared by the LORD to live together, pray as one, eat together, fellowship with others.  Through lessons, love, and the example of Christ, they had seen His ways.  When Christ returned to them after His crucifixion, He had told them to wait in Jerusalem before heading out to spread the Gospel.  They did.  They broke bread together and prayed together.  They were in one accord, loving one another.  The Holy Spirit, the precious dove, came in the calm, over the still waters, where noise and chaos were not.

When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, the force of the wind would signify the influence He would and could have over the minds and hearts of men.  By that, men, women, and children can be mighty through God.

Matthew Henry:

Let us be all of one accord, and, notwithstanding variety of sentiments and interests, as no doubt there was among those disciples, let us agree to love one another; for, where brethren dwell together in unity, there it is that the Lord commands his blessing.

The Spirit came upon the apostles in a rushing mighty wind.  His powerful and secure direction through the hearts of believers is compared to the breathing of the wind.

Then He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.”’”  Ezekiel 37:9

His sweet effect on the souls of saints to the north and south wind…

“Awake, O north wind,
And come, wind of the south;
Make my garden breathe out fragrance,
Let its spices be wafted abroad.
May my beloved come into his garden
And eat its choice fruits!”  Song of Solomon 4:16

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8

The Spirit works randomly, not abiding by our ways of order, nor is He subject to our command.  God directs Him.  The Spirit fulfills God’s Word.

…fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling His word!  Psalm 148:8

The Holy Spirit distributes His influences where, and when, on whom, and in what measure and degree He pleases.

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He wills.  1 Corinthians 12:11

A filling of the Holy Spirit brings the graces of the Spirit into this body temple, sanctifying the one indwelled to be more holy, more spiritual, more weaned from this world. The comforts of the Spirit, the love of Christ, and the hope of heaven are endowed.

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Father God, thank You for living me dearly.  I pray that as I write these words, that they be Your Truth.  As the wind breathes into me, filling me to overflowing, may I know Your Holy Spirit in my very being.  If I am tossed upon the waves of this life, may I recall that the Holy Spirit is with me in all ways.  May my heart reach for Your best and know the Divine nature from which I have been created.  May I trust in You as I walk in the Spirit.  I want to know You, LORD.  I want to know You in all Your Ways.  Breathe on me, O LORD.  I love You and seek You.  I pray in the Name of Christ, Your Son.  Amen.  

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Graphic: “Rushing Wind” by  Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre

Photo:  Jill Wellington, CC0 Public Domain @https://pixabay.com/en/users/jill111-334088/

 

From Burden to Praise

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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.”  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.’” **

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them.  They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and He sat on them.  Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.  And the crowds that went before Him and that followed Him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  And when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”  And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”  Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus knew His time was near.  He knew the Scriptures filled with prophecies about Him.  He knew.

A beast of burden is a draught (draft) animal that carries or pulls heavy loads, such as a donkey, mule, llama, camel, or ox.  It can also be any domesticated animal trained to perform tasks for humans, such as a herding dog or a trained falcon.  Often, the animal will be under a yoke, teamed up with one or more of the same kinds of animals.

Jesus came into Jerusalem on a donkey, as per the prophecy in Isaiah 62:11.  The donkey, the beast of burden, carried the One Who would be carrying our burden of sin to the Cross.  Jesus came that we might be saved.  Jesus came that we be made white as snow, cleansed of our sins, for the Father.  

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18

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Jesus calls us to follow Him and bear our crosses.  Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  Luke 14:27

Yet He is there by our side to carry the load with us.  “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”   Matthew 11:29-30

Cast your burden on the LORD,
and He will sustain you;
He will never permit
the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

He wants our dependence, our submission, our obedience.

All God’s plans have the mark of the cross on them, and all His plans have death to self in them.E. M Bounds

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We, as Christians, are called to help one another as He helps us.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

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As we approach Palm Sunday, may our hearts turn to the One Who came to this earth to save us from ourselves.  May we look to the One Who carried our sins to the Cross, cleansed us wholly, that we could be His.

“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”― Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like This Child

I have received the most beautiful gift, Father, for which I am ever so grateful.  May I never look upon a “burden” as being too much for me.  May I see Jesus yoked with me in all that I am called to do and to be.  May I remember Who the Holy One is Who used a beast of burden to ride into Jerusalem, but became the One Who carried all of the burdens to the Cross where He died a terrible crucifixion, yet He did this for me.  I praise You, LORD.  Hosanna, in the Highest.  Hosanna, oh save, I pray.  “Praise God and his Messiah, we are saved.” Hallelujah.  I rejoice in the Holy One.  You are my salvation, LORD Jesus.  You knew and you know, LORD Jesus.  You know me, Jesus.  Praise Your Holy Name.  In the Glorious Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

 

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** Isaiah 62:11

Sheep and Shepherds

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  Psalm 23:1

רָעָה

ra`ah

shepherd

to tend a flock; i.e. pasture it; intransitively, to graze (literally or figuratively); generally to rule; by extension, to associate with (as a friend):—× break, companion, keep company with, devour, eat up, evil entreat, feed, use as a friend, make friendship with, herdman, keep (sheep) (-er), pastor, shearing house, shepherd, wander, waste.

occurs 173 times in 144 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the KJV

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I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  John 10:11

ποιμήν

poimēn

a shepherd (literally or figuratively):—shepherd, pastor

occurs 18 times in 17 verses in the Greek concordance of the KJV

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Sheep do not have the ability to survive on their own.  They:

  • graze the same area until the pasture is destroyed.
  • pollute the same ground until it breeds dangerous parasites.
  • drink whatever water is available, clear or contaminated.
  • are fearful and become aggravated which can lead to improperly digesting foods.
  • are timid.
  • and can be stubborn.

They need a shepherd.

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Christians are compared to sheep quite frequently in God’s Word.

We wander down paths of our own devising rather than follow God’s way for our lives.  We delve into false beliefs.  We drink from unhealthy waters, figuratively.  We can be stubborn and fight against God’s best.

Looking at the natural habits of sheep when left on their own can be a reflection of ourselves.

Jesus is our Shepherd.  He is the Christ, the Son of God.  He created me and you.  Who better to care for me, for us?  He cared more than anything for the likes of me when He went to Calvary.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:6

We are capable of doing right, yet often fail in our attempts using our own strength.  We drink waters of the world rather than the Living Water.  We live in fear rather than trusting in Him Who is trustworthy.  We wander away from our Maker and do not listen for His still, small voice directing us in the way in which we should go.

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36

Jesus is our faithful Shepherd, gentle, caring, and, yet, stern.

A shepherd owns his sheep and marks them with his special mark to determine ownership.  He will cut a notch, a distinctive mark, into his sheep’s ear while placing one ear on a wooden block.

In the Old Testament, Exodus 21, this was also done to a slave in a Hebrew household who chose, of his own free will, to become a lifetime member of that home.  His master/owner would take him to the door, put his ear lobe against the door post and, with an awl, puncture a hole through the ear.  He was marked.

1 “Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.  Exodus 21:1-6

We, as Christ’s, bear the mark of the Cross.  Jesus has authority over me.

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

We need the Good Shepherd, the One Who truly is our Shepherd.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  11 I am the good Shepherd.  The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.  12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  14 I am the good Shepherd.  I know My own and My own know Me, 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice.  So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.  John 10:7-16

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Father God, You gave Your One and Only Son to pay the price for my iniquities.  Thank You so very much.  

As one of Your children, I so want to please You.  Carrying my cross daily and following Jesus is my call.  And I want that to always be my call.  I am grateful for being willing and able, for the sake of the Gospel.  I follow.  It is a privilege, LORD.  A privilege.  

As a sheep, I would wish that I were not so vulnerable, but I am.  It is by staying in Your Word, by listening to and for You, by praying, that I can remain in Your fold.  I know that the good Shepherd guards the gateway so that I remain safe.  He watches for the wolves, protecting me.  I am dependent upon Jesus and look to Him.  I am sorry for my past periods of straying away.  I am here now.  I must stay close for His protection is vital to my life.  Thank You, Father.  I lift up in prayer those who stray or are lost or have not yet found the Shepherd.  May they hear Your Voice and come to You before it is too late.  I have family and friends in those places and I so want them with us in Heaven.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

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Photo of shepherd and sheep

Photo of John 10

Jesus — Propitiation for My Sins

God, You have blessed me with Your Word, Your Truth.  You teach me as I walk with You and learn Your ways.  You are showing me that by my sins, Your wrath is real.  Yet, by my sins, Your love and mercy and grace are strong and beautiful.  You sent Your Son for me.  You love me so.

For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels.

But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?

You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”
For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.   Hebrews 2:5-9
hebrews2Jesus, the Son of Man and the Son of God

Jesus, our Salvation

Jesus, our All

Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  Hebrews 2:17

ἱλάσκομαι

hilaskomai

to conciliate

to atone for (sin)

be propitious:—be merciful, make reconciliation for

propitiation (n) prō-pi-shē-ā-shǝn–

the act of appeasing the wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person

atonement or atoning sacrifice

Jesus…

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.  1 John 2:2

Jesus…

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  Romans 3:23-26

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Jesus…

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1 John 4:10

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…’Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live…

from “In Christ Alone”

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Father, You could be so angry, so wrathful towards me.  I am a sinner.  But You see through me and know that I need a Savior.  I need Salvation.  You are Just.  You came to me through Your beautiful Gift, Your Son, Jesus, Who delivered me from my sins.  Through repentance and belief, I have been set free.  You are Merciful.  You have granted so much to me which I take for granted sometimes.  I am sorry, Father, for I forget all too often of the many gifts which I am allowed.  Yet, I do not forget that I can fly free from the shackles of sin because of Jesus, Your Son, Your Son’s death on the Cross for me, for others such as I.  Your Grace and Your Truth have been showered over me.  I am ever so grateful, Father.  “Here in the death of Christ I live….”  I live.  Thank You for this precious Gift. 

In Your Son’s Holy Name, I pray.  Amen. 

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Graphic/Photo:  http://pictures.agodman.com/spiritual-quotes/hebrews-29-but-we-see-jesus-crowned-with-glory-and-honor/

Graphic:  http://lifegatefellowship.com/wp/?m=201309

“In Christ Alone” by KOCH, DONALD A. / CRAIG, ANDREW SHAWN; Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group