Bible teaching

Messenger


Shepherds Hear About Jesus

·That night [L At night], some shepherds were [living out] in the fields ·nearby [L in that region/place] watching their ·sheep [L flock]. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them. The glory of the Lord ·was shining around[surrounded] them, and they became very frightened. 10 The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. [L …for/because] I am bringing you good news that will ·be a [or bring] great joy to all the people. 11 Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is ·Christ [the Messiah], the Lord. Luke 2:8-11 EXB

God came to the shepherds. Do you notice they were living out in the fields? This wasn’t a part-time job. They lived out in the fields. Far away from the rest of humanity, keeping the smell and grime at a reasonable distance. Isn’t that interesting? They remove themselves from the people. And who does God choose to announce His Son’s birth?

God didn’t mind the smell. Or the noises. He brought the noises and the lights and the glory to them. He decided to rock their world. This story, we’ve become so accustomed to it, should explode our minds every time we read it. We formulate opinions about people, status, symbols, positions and God just blew through them. He went and shared His great news with shepherds.

We are His messengers. God shared showed us how to share. He didn’t look on the outside. He didn’t care where they rested their heads. He shared the news as if it were the greatest gift ever given or told (it was and is). The day had finally come. His Son was on the earth. He was so very proud.

We should be so proud. We hold in our hands the story. The greatest story.

That is what Christmas is all about. That is the story that needs to be shared. I’m not a very good gift giver. In fact, I really do not have that “gift”. I’ll be honest. I recognize though the greatest gift. And we won’t find it wrapped under any tree this Christmas. No, He’s alive. The grave could not hold Him. Death was could not defeat Him.

So, as I pack up my kids this morning and head to my Mom’s to make cookies, I am thankful. Thankful for the Gospel writers who gave us the story. We can imagine the story, piece it together, what happened on that most glorious night when the Messiah came to earth. Everything changed.

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Bells


We began this Christmas season on a beautiful note. Literally. The Village Church of Gurnee had their annual Christmas concert. As music filled the sanctuary, we settled in to listen and reflect. Our minds quieted and we stilled.

Or, that would have been the dream. The reality was our son was on crutches and needed to get up and down a couple dozen times through the performances knocking into the chairs in front of him. Another son had a terrific bloody nose which required husband and child to climb over the child on crutches who actually was sitting down at that moment. The third son decided he was exhausted and sought to remind me of this fact. every. moment. he. could. Our daughter sat with a friend in front of us. Joshua and I laughed as we watched her sing all the songs, dance in her chair and just be carefree.

It did not allow for much personal reflection on the season or the Christ child. Since my eyes spent most of the time rolled to the back of my head, and my hand to my forehead in a slap, I also knew our Bruinius family performance for the new Pastor and his wife who I chose to sit next to could not have gone unnoticed.

You know, this is my life. It’s crazy. It’s not dull. It’s all ours. I wouldn’t trade it for all the world. (sidenote)

Anyway, a song was played that penetrated the craziness of the blender moments, I Heard The Bells On Christmas Eve. I’m sorry to say I’ve never really paid much attention to this song. Never knew it’s history. Never knew the lyrics. Yet, on this night, the song spoke to me. Allow me to share some of the lyrics with you.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Take a moment and watch this beautiful video on the history of this carol: 

So, as you begin your Sunday, as you head out to church this morning to worship the God who is not dead. Nor does He sleep. He is our peace.

Enjoy Casting Crown’s version:

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Mild


As I was driving home from a Christmas party, the darkness of the night enveloped my car. I turned on Moody’s music through the night and the beloved carol, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, began.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

On one hand, this song should be song with excitement and spunk. I agree. On the other, I miss these words as I quickly pass over them to move to the chorus.

Mild He lays His glory by…

Noah Webster defines mild as: Tender and gentle in temper or disposition; kind; compassionate; merciful; clement; indulgent; not severe or cruel.

Slow down. Peaceful. In the midst of all the craziness, the mess, the parties, the stress, whatever is on your plate and remember. Stop. He laid His glory by.

Why did He do it? Why did He give it all up?

Born that man no more may die...

We nearly kill ourselves to purchase the gifts, make the cookies, get to all the parties, all for a season. For a period of time. For Christmas. In talking with a friend recently, I realized how much pressure, emphasis we place on this season. Scroll through your Facebook feed. Do you feel lonely yet? Or as if you cannot measure up? Good luck. Your friend from college is exhausted from her 10 Christmas parties. Your friend from high school has 20 pictures of her children and their homemade Christmas cookies they made together and handed out to the neighbors and homeless. Your friend had a lovely party…your invite must have gotten lost in the mail.

It’s two days.

Do we even remember what we are doing here? That first Christmas? Looked nothing like this explosion of today. On my way home, I enjoy the sites of Christmas lights, blow up Santa with his pants down saying Happy Holidays. My children and I are mooned by Santa every time we drive home.

Back up the truck. Mild He lay His glory by. We have lost sight. Okay, maybe just me, but I doubt it. When was the last time, we pondered Philippians 2:

·Christ himself was like God in everything [L Who, being in the form of God].
    But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be ·used for his own benefit [or grasped; seized; held on to].
But he ·gave up his place with God and made himself nothing [L emptied himself].
    He ·became like [L took the form of] a ·servant [slave; bondservant]
    and was born ·as a man [L in the likeness of humanity/men].
And ·when he was living [L being found in appearance/likeness] as a ·man [human being],
    he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
    even ·when that caused his [to the point of] death—death on a cross.

He gave it all up. He did it for you. For me. He was born that man no more may die. We live rushing through life, rushing our families, our days, our schedules.

I purchased gifts for my family members this year, everyone except my husband. I never know what to get my favorite person in the world. The man who I love more than life itself…I just have no idea. Everyone else…no brainers. One of the greatest gifts I can give my Savior this year is the gift of remember. Pause. Stop. Jesus gave it all. Christmas means nothing if it is not celebrated in the shadow of the cross. Nothing. He isn’t meant to be celebrated as a baby.

He is to be worshiped as a King. A conqueror.

So God ·raised [exalted] him to the highest place.
    God ·made his name [or gave him the name] ·greater than [far above] every other name
10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
    everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
11 And ·everyone [L every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
    and bring glory to God the Father.Philippians 2

When the shepherds visited the infant Jesus in the manger, they fell to the floor and worshiped. The angels transformed their night with news that changed their lives. They bowed their knees. They confessed Jesus as Lord. The dirty shepherds got the news before anyone else. Isn’t that grand? They were willing to listen.

Let’s not be too busy to listen this Christmas. Let’s find quiet this week. Let’s watch for his glory. And good grief, I need to avert my eyes. Santa, pull up your pants.

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Shoes


Good morning, friends,

2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

I, Cara, have woken up this morning in a world of stress and worry. I put on the old shoes. Do you have a pair of old shoes? Shoes that, let’s be honest, have long since lost their value. The tread is worn. The holes are visible. Yet, we keep them. Even worse, we wear them. Maybe just around the house (we wouldn’t want friends to see these!). So, on they go, as the day wears on, we don’t even realize the damage they are doing to our bodies, do we? Our feet begin to ache. Our legs hurt. Our back, oy! Then, I don’t know about you, but I get a headache. Everything is out of alignment. All because I put on those shoes this morning.

Worry and fear are just like that. I wake up and oh, the stresses begin to weigh me down. I worry about my children. I worry about finances. I worry about making the wrong decision. I worry about…and then, not dealing with that WITH the Lord, confessing my need for Him, and arising in the strength of the Lord, I then greet my husband and children with this cloud over me. Then I begin the worry of the house not being clean, the schoolwork not being done…and I’m stressed and the family receives the brunt of my stress.

God talks in His word about feet. About beautiful feet. My feet, most certainly, this morning do not resemble these feet.

Isaiah 52:7 EXB ·How beautiful [or How beautiful on the mountains] ·is the person [L are the feet of him]
    who ·comes over the mountains to bring [or brings] good news,
who announces peace
    and brings good news,
    who announces salvation [Nah. 1:15]
and says to ·Jerusalem [L Zion; v. 1],
    “Your God ·is King [or reigns].”

I look at how I have begun my morning. When I greet the day remembering how blessed are those who bring good news. Good news. Peace. Salvation (deliverance). When I begin my day, remembering this is a fight, a battle, oh, my day can begin to turn. No excuses. No way. Instead…

Ephesians 6:10 EXB Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his ·great [strong; mighty] power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can fight against the devil’s ·evil tricks [schemes]12 [For] Our ·fight [conflict; struggle] is not against ·people on earth [L flesh and blood] but against the rulers and authorities and the ·powers [or cosmic powers/rulers] of this ·world’s darkness [L darkness], against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly ·world [realm; places]13 ·That is why you need to [L For this reason,]put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil [C persecution generally or end-time tribulation] you will be able to ·stand strong [keep your ground; resist the enemy]. And ·when you have finished the whole fight [L after you have done/accomplished everything], you will still be standing. 14 So stand ·strong [or ready], with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the ·body armor [breastplate] of ·right living [a righteous life; or God’s own righteousness/justice; L righteousness]15 On your feet wear the ·Good News [Gospel] of peace ·to help you stand strong [for firm footing; or to be fully prepared]16 And ·also [in addition to all this; or in all circumstances] use the shield of faith with which you can ·stop [extinguish] all the ·burning arrows [T fiery darts] of the Evil One. 17 ·Accept[Receive; or Take] the helmet of salvation, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the ·word[message] of God. 18 Pray ·in [or in dependence on] the Spirit at all times with all ·kinds of prayers[L prayers and requests], asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ·ready [alert]·and never give up [L with all perseverance]. Always pray for all ·God’s people [T the saints].

So, instead of the old, worn out shoes of worry and fear, place the Good News of peace to stand strong. We can only be strong IN the Lord, IN His great power. I think of this prayer this morning…

The Prayer of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.


Read more at http://www.beliefnet.com/Prayers/Catholic/Morning/The-Prayer-Of-St-Patrick.aspx#jBo1Bf9XgDkQTJZW.99

And you know what friends? This is NOT going to be a day where worry and fear win. This is a day where I remember nothing can separate me from the love of God. Christ is with me. With you. I put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace. The Good news…it’s all that I need. I need to start my day!

Blessings to you! Join me in throwing those shoes OUT!

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Amaze us


Lord,

If you could please heal my body…If you could please end my suffering, Please give this. Please give that. Have your/my quiet times dissolved into a laundry list of what you would like God to do? If it doesn’t happen on your timetable, where does your brain go? It’s not fair or God isn’t listening or why, God? or we descend into the pit of worry and fear. Worry that interrupts our sleep, our joy, our life!

A view of most of North America taken from a low orbit of about 826 km altitude. The whole hemisphere is not visible owing to the low orbit, and the horizon is at a distance of about 3,300 km, while the radius of the planet is 6,371 km. The diameter seen from this height is about 125 degrees. An image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA’s Earth-observing research satellite, Suomi NPP.

We become so center-focused we lose sight of WHY we pray. WHY we spend time with the Lord. We were made for His pleasure. We were made to SERVE Him. How turned around we become when we don’t remember our place in this beautiful universe. Has God not provided for our every need? Ephesians 1:3 ·Praise be to [or Blessed is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly ·world [realms; places]

This passage in John is a good example of the people just missing the point.

30 So ·the people [L they] asked, “What ·miracle will you do? If we see a miracle, we will believe you [L sign will you do that we might see and believe you?]. What ·will you do[work will you perform]31 Our ·ancestors [forefathers; L fathers] ate the manna [C a flaky breadlike food that God provided the Israelites in the wilderness; Ex. 16:13–36] in the ·desert [wilderness]. ·This is written in the Scriptures [L As it is written]: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat [compare Ex. 16:4Neh. 9:15Ps. 78:24].’

32 [L Therefore; So; Then] Jesus said to them, “·I tell you the truth [L Truly, truly I say to you], it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven; it is my Father who is giving you the true bread from heaven. 33 [L For] God’s bread is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 [L Therefore] ·the people [L they] said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Then Jesus said to them, “I am the ·bread that gives life [T bread of life]. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.36 But as I told you before, you have seen me and still don’t believe. John 6 EXB

The people were looking to Jesus to be their magician. Make something happen, Jesus. With arms crossed, the people said, Amaze us. Oh, my! They had the DEFINITION of amazing standing in front of them.

We forget so easily all the spiritual blessings found in Christ Jesus! We forget we have all we need in Christ.  We have Him, friends. We think we know what we need!

26 ·Also [or In the same way], the Spirit helps us ·with [or in] our weakness. We do not know ·how to pray as we should [or what we ought to pray for]. But the Spirit himself ·speaks to God for us [intercedes] with ·deep feelings [L groanings] ·that words cannot explain [or that are inexpressible; or that are unspoken; or too deep for words]27 ·God can see what is in people’s hearts and [L The one who searches hearts] knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit ·speaks to God [intercedes; appeals] for ·his people [or his holy people; T the saints] ·in the way God wants [or in harmony with God;L according to God]. Romans 8 EXB

Read that again. Did you see it? We do not know how to pray or what we ought to pray for. So, yes, let’s keep the conversation going. Keep praying, keep talking to Him, tell Him your needs, He knows them anyway, tell Him your hurts, your pains, your joys. Praise Him! He knows what is in your heart and guess what? He loves you anyway. How about that? We know where our minds can go. We know how sinful, how dusty a people we truly are. And HE LOVES US.

So this morning, as you begin our day, please, please don’t ask the King of Universe to amaze you. He already has…don’t ask Him if He loves you. You know the answer. He gave everything for you.

Pray on. pray on.

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Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm on a nice summer day Photo by Michael Caven from Stockholm, Sweden

 

45 Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, “It is written that the ·Christ [Messiah] would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that ·a change of hearts and lives and [L repentance for the] forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24 EXB

Good Friday.

I have to admit I’ve always cringed at this day’s title.  How can this be a good day? Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wondered. Today can be like every other day. We can go about our business, live our lives, work through our checklists OR we can stop, be present in the amazing good of this day.

PCG Great I Am

It changes everything.

I have a story to tell you. We are moving. We decided this about two months ago. Thus began a two month battle of the mind, everyday I would spend countless amounts of time (I hate to think how much) consumed with worry about the landlord’s response to how we have cared for their house. No matter how much my husband, parents, friends would try to reassure me…I stressed. I worried. What if we don’t get the deposit back? What if they won’t give us a recommendation? What if? What if? It’s been awful. I’ve brought it to Jesus only to take it back over and over.

It’s been rough.

Well, the landlord emailed us (mind you, we’ve never had a speck of trouble with her in the four years we’ve been here) earlier this week saying she would like to come assess the house. They are selling the house and would like to know what they need to do. Then she never emailed back until midnight last night. I didn’t get the email. I relaxed. So, all of a sudden, last night, at 5pm, my husband comes home and reminds me, she’s coming.

So here’s the first gift. I didn’t stress all day.

Second gift? My parents were here. So all of us pitched in and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned for the next hour and a half. It was amazing.

Third gift? She came and was very happy with the house. She was familiar with all the details of the house, walked through, it was good.

Fourth gift? We asked her if she would be willing to give us a recommendation. YES.

Fifth gift? The Lord’s grace and mercy as He showed me these past weeks how much I lost in worry which is, of course, sin. Yet as He showed me, He revealed. It was amazing.

Friend, is there worry in your life? Are you waking at night, cycling through the what ifs, what wills? God has such a better plan. And it was crucified on the cross 2000 years ago.

The verses today:

45 Then Jesus opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He said to them, “It is written that the ·Christ [Messiah] would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day 47 and that ·a change of hearts and lives and [L repentance for the] forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all nations, starting at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. Luke 24 EXB 

Jesus opened their minds. How cool this? The Word revealed the word.  What draws me is this idea…it all begins here. On Good Friday, all His suffering…that is our focus today. We approach the throne of grace today thankful. Thankful for this good day. This day that the Son of Man gave it all for you, for me.

So, stay in this day. Don’t become so preoccupied with your own “stuff” to forget Jesus today. Keep your eyes of Jesus.

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Thanks be to God


1 Peter 1:·Praise be to [L Blessed be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s ·great[abundant] mercy he has caused us to be born ·again [anew; John 3:5–8] into a living hope, ·because Jesus Christ rose [or by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ] from the dead. ·Now we hope for [or This new birth provides us with] ·the blessings God has for his children [L an inheritance]. ·These blessings [or This inheritance], which cannot be destroyed or be ·spoiled [corrupted; defiled] or lose their beauty, ·are [is] kept in heaven for you [Matt. 6:19–21Luke 12:33]God’s power protects you through your faith until ·salvation is shown to you [or the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed] ·at the end of [in the last] time. 

Beginning my day with praise, blessings to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Loaded with blessings just in this statement, God is the Father. God is the Father of the only begotten Son, Jesus. The Son of God…the man of sorrows, what a name! What a beautiful name. I was studying the word, sons in the Bible dictionary on the Blue Letter Bible. This quote is from Easton’s Bible Dictionary

Son of God:

The plural, “sons of God,” is used (Gen 6:2,4) to denote the pious descendants of Seth. In (Job 1:6;38:7) this name is applied to the angels. Hosea uses the phrase (Hsa 1:10) to designate the gracious relation in which men stand to God.

In the New Testament this phrase frequently denotes the relation into which we are brought to God by adoption (Rom 8:14,192Cr 6:18Gal 4:5,6Phl 2:151Jo 3:1,2). It occurs thirty-seven times in the New Testament as the distinctive title of our Saviour. He does not bear this title in consequence of his miraculous birth, nor of his incarnation, his resurrection, and exaltation to the Father’s right hand. This is a title of nature and not of office. The sonship of Christ denotes his equality with the Father. To call Christ the Son of God is to assert his true and proper divinity. The second Person of the Trinity, because of his eternal relation to the first Person, is the Son of God. He is the Son of God as to his divine nature, while as to his human nature he is the Son of David (Rom 1:3,4Gal 4:4Jhn 1:1-14;5:18-2510:30-38), which prove that Christ was the Son of God before his incarnation, and that his claim to this title is a claim of equality with God.

When used with reference to creatures, whether men or angels, this word is always in the plural. In the singular it is always used of the second Person of the Trinity, with the single exception of Luk 3:38, where it is used of Adam.

So often I have flown past this blessing, how rich to pause and reflect. He truly is the Son of God. He is God. He is Divine. Yet, He was also fully human. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. When we call upon the name of Jesus, what does the Bible say about His Name?

So God ·raised [exalted] him to the highest place.
    God ·made his name [or gave him the name] ·greater than [far above] every other name
10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus—
    everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
11 And ·everyone [L every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
    and bring glory to God the Father. Philippians 2 eXB

Mercy. Mercy defined:

(3) In the New Testament “mercy” (eleos, usually the Septuagint translation of checedh) is associated with “grace” (charis) in the apostolical greetings and elsewhere. Trench points out that the difference between them is that the freeness of God’s love is the central point of charis, while eleos has in view misery and its relief; charis is His free grace and gift displayed in the forgiveness of sins-extended to men as they are guilty; His eleos (is extended to them) as they are miserable. The lower creation may be the object of His mercy (eleos), but man alone of His grace (charis); he alone needs it and is capable of receiving it (Synonyms of the New Testament, 163 f).

Abundant mercy. Abundant, plentiful. Oh, friend, how often do we fall for the trap of forgetfulness? Denial of this gift of mercy? His mercy is extended to us. He is our relief. Our relief. Do you need relief today? Relief from pain (physical or emotional), relief from circumstances, relief from, well, you fill in the blank. He is our relief. Praise God!!!

Why? Peter tells us because…Jesus Christ rose [or by means of the resurrection of Jesus Christ] from the dead. 

So as we arrive on Maundy Thursday, let’s reflect on Jesus. Let’s pause and give thanks for all that the cross has meant for our lives. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4uyNNDkEeI

We have hope, my friends. May that carry you today. God bless you. 

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God’s peace


Good morning, friend,

Orange clouds and a bright yellow setting sun with silhouetted flying waterfowl and trees Photo by Hillebrand Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

I took my nine-year old daughter to see Frozen last night. LOVED it. Her speech therapist had used Frozen books to practice her reading and this past week gave her the soundtrack to the movie. We’ve only heard that every moment of the day that hasn’t been used for school or sleeping. She was singing the songs when she wasn’t listening to the songs, arms thrown open wide, I’m sure envisioning herself as Anna or Elsa. However, there was a HUGE difference seeing the movie and experiencing it and just listening to the soundtrack. Guess who just came in to listen to said soundtrack? I rest my case.

Okay, now this might be too big of a leap, but I’m going to attempt it.  We have this huge Bible in our hands full of life-giving truths, God’s voice throughout, spoken for each one of us, and we are willing to listen to people pick a verse for us to cling to for life on Facebook. Or we allow our pastor on Sunday to be our only contact with His word. It’s as though we keep listening to a really nice soundtrack but we have watched the amazing movie.

I will give an example of how exciting it can be to not just listen to the nice soundtrack of one verse and what we miss. We talked about Philippians 4:8 yesterday. It’s a verse full of life-giving truth. Let’s look at the verses around it and we did add verses 6 and 7 as well…let’s add 9. :)

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

The Lord guided Paul to write these words, every last one of them. Here are His directives to us:

  1. Be anxious for NOTHING
  2. In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

And what will be the result? God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

  1. Meditate on: whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good report, virtue, praiseworthy
  2. What you have learned, received, heard, saw in Paul, do these

And what will be the result? God’s peace will be with you.

God’s peace…we crave peace. We long for peace. Peace. Peace. And Paul says, the equation is simple.

However for this Mom, listening to Frozen for the umpteenth time….well….

Pray on. pray on.

Categories: Bible teaching | 2 Comments

Prayers


To commemorate Hubble Telescope’s 20th Birthday, NASA, along with ESA and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI), released several of Hubble’s findings. NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Good morning, friend,

This morning I woke up praying for my kids. I woke up remembering a post written by  Brooke McGlothlin, she wrote it with her boys in mind, yet girls and boys would benefit from these ten prayers. Here’s the link : 10 Prayers For Your Son. You see, I forget too, as Brooke said so eloquently that our fight is not with our sons it is…

12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Ephesians 6 AMP

How quickly I forget this fact, jump in, and start fighting for my rights.

He’s not your enemy. But there is an enemy. McGlothlin

Each one of these prayers is wonderful. I love them all but the one that jumps out at me that not only can I pray over him, but over me AND sing a song to keep the verses in my head all day today? Number 10.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Here’s the song:

Now, to take it a step further for me, because for ME, the verses ahead of Philippians 4:8 are just as critical to my being ABLE to fixing my mind and praying for my kids to fix their minds on what is noble, just, pure, lovely, good report…let’s look…

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

How about a song to help us memorize some of those verses too? (Sorry, folks, no Ginsu knives…)

And friend, peace, when we look at our children, or wait, not just our children, how about co-workers, or family members, or church  family or you fill in the blank…we don’t wage war against flesh and blood. Maybe they are not our enemy. Maybe we are wrestling with an enemy we cannot see.

Join me, won’t you? Pray, memorize these Scriptures, get yourself into the word of God and be transformed by the renewing of your mind!

Thankful today for a day at home.

Thankful for fresh bread today.

Thankful for a perspective shift today.

Pray on, pray on.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Music, New Testament | 2 Comments

Rubble


Ruins of ancient Capernum in Israel. Orthodox church is built on top of traditional site of Saint Peter’s house.

Good morning, friend,

Isn’t there something just so cool looking at a pile of rocks that claim to be Peter’s house? Well, the rocks don’t jump up, but the archaeologists have their reasons and arguments. People who have been to Israel say it changes their faith, to walk where Jesus walked, where the apostles walked, to see the history of our faith. I can well imagine. In a very small way, being also a lover of British literature and being able to visit England and Scotland, walking through Shakespeare’s hometown, seeing his grave, walking about the hometowns and such of many of my beloved authors is a memory I cherish. I loved looking at samples of their handwriting, places where they sat, forks they used, I mean crazy things like that. They are not just authors, then, they are real people, who lived and breathed.

And bringing it back to Jesus, that I believe, might be a beautiful thing for me about visiting Israel. Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, visited us. He walked upon this earth, breathed in the air…I gaze at the picture above and wonder, could Jesus have visited this house? Could He had stepped through the front doors and taken off His sandals? Is this where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law?

14 And when Jesus went into Peter’s house, He saw his mother-in-law lying ill with a fever.

15 He touched her hand and the fever left her; and she got up and began waiting on Him.

16 When evening came, they brought to Him many who were under the power of demons, and He drove out the spirits with a word and restored to health all who were sick.

17 And thus He fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, He Himself took [in order to carry away] our weaknesses and infirmities and bore away our diseases. Matthew 8 AMP

Throughout the book of Matthew, one of Matthew’s purposes is to showcase of Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. This specific one to which Matthew speaks can be found in Isaiah 53:

4 Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].

He saw Peter’s mother-in-law. I know, I know, it’s not really that profound, but look again. He saw her. He could have walked past. He could have not gone to Peter’s house. He could have done so many other things that night. He went there. He saw her. He touched her hand. Maybe you need to remember that today, that He sees you today. Remember His name, the God who sees you (Genesis 16).  He bears your griefs, your weaknesses, your sorrows, your pains.

Peter knew this truth, but added this praise,

24 He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree [as on an altar and offered Himself on it], that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were going astray like [so many] sheep, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Guardian (the Bishop) of your souls. 1 Peter 2 AMP

Your griefs, weaknesses, sorrows, pains were born His body on the tree…this all has to die, friends, we need to live to righteousness. We are healed. We live in the light of eternity and grace and mercy.

So, when I see the rubble of Peter’s house, it makes me think. I want to walk where Jesus walked. I want to go to Israel, but now? Not in the budget. So, the next best thing? Walk in the shadow of His feet. Walk where He tells me to walk each moment of the day.

So I begin, with thanks,

I’m thankful for the joy of watching my kids play basketball and love it.

I’m thankful for the joy of friends who just give to us even when it’s inconvenient.

I’m thankful for time with the Lord this morning, for the rubble of Peter’s house, for Your fresh reminders. I love you, Lord.

 

Categories: 1 Peter, Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., New Testament, Old Testament, Pictures from commons..., Prophecies, Thankfuls | 1 Comment

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