New Testament

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

Whac-A-Mole


I start my morning with a slurper, well, two actually. One is already on his way to work. The other is memorizing the Foxtrot comic book resting on his lap. I begin to have a cognizant thought and slurp! And then, I am reminded of the many pages I follow on Facebook. The Mamas chronicling the one year anniversaries of losing their babies to cancer, fighting to keep their children from the grip of cancer or discovering their fight is just beginning. Slurp away, kid.

Sunset in Belo Horizonte Photo by Higor Douglas

Life is like that, isn’t it? We were meant to live this life in the present. To enjoy this gift, to peer out of the windows, see the sun shining through the trees and rather than just smile and close the blinds, run out with the dog and kids and join the chorus. Of course, it would require that my other children arise and join the rest of the open-eyed population.  I’ve been spending way too much time in my head lately, in regret, in the past, what I should have said. How I should have been.  And guess what I’ve done? I’ve smiled at the joy set before me (my family), closed the curtain and listened rather than run out and joined the chorus.

How often do we close the curtains in our own lives? How often have we briefly seen whatever the joy was the Lord set before us (the beauty of the day, the family, the friendships, life, whatever) and chosen to keep our focus solely on the stress? Has your neighbor’s dog bark finally crossed that line? Do your church’s music choices set your teeth on edge? Are there people at your church that you wish would worship elsewhere so you could finally have the church you want? Are your children not doing everything according to your gospel? Shall I continue? Did I mention yours? Fill in the blank ________. You tell the Lord. But I’m going to tell you, here’s what He says in Philippians 4:

4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you are on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

All those questions, those curtains they close the door on celebration. Celebration is open the doors wide.  Open your heart wide. As I type that, it’s hard. Down and dirty hard to do this with people…especially when people are not like you. When people don’t understand you and you don’t understand them, we forget. We forget that we aren’t here to be perfect, we are here to work together, harmoniously. Our love for one another doesn’t have to be constant time and attention but it can be a touch on the shoulder, a smile that reaches your eyes, knowing that love comes from the Father in heaven. You can’t love the difficult people on your own. You love them from Him. He is your love and His love pours through.

Romans 12: 11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

How do we burn out? How do we keep fueled and aflame? Most certainly not by working on our own strength or love. It all starts with Him. All of it. It stops when we… back to Philippians 4:

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

We have got to get to this point where we trigger an automatic response to worry. Right away. The worries begin and bam! we begin to pray. I’m not kidding. I keep thinking of that Whac-A-Mole game, right? You know the game? Sometimes, I feel like that’s my worries in my life. One crops up, bam! Another, bam! A child has no problem whacking a mole with all their might, why do I allow my “moles” to just hang out above the surface, grabbing some rays, checking out the hot moles in the other holes…You get my point.

What if today, I turn my back on the whole stupid game? And I let petitions and praises shape these moles into prayers and I just give ‘em over to my God? Then as I do this, I will begin to feel and know I am complete in Him, I will and am remembering that all comes together for good!

It’s wonderful, isn’t it, when Christ displaces worry in the center of our life?

Well, you’ll have to excuse me, I have a slurper and dog to take on a walk.

Pray on. Pray on.

Thankfuls

I’m thankful for the gorgeous sunrise.

I’m thankful for my Kimberlee who checks on me every morning to make sure I’m having my QT. I love you, girl.

I’m thankful for a new alarm clock that didn’t work today and we slept in.

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, Music, New Testament, Pictures from commons..., Psalms | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Marshmallow shooters


Creeping thistle. Photo by Ivar Leidus

Good morning, friend,

Ever sit to watch the coffee drip into the pot, waiting for enough to fill even half a cup? Recalling this past night, wishing for more sleep…knowing that the day spreads before me, knowing this truth: when I begin my day with the Lord, no matter the amount of sleep, I still have staked a claim. This day shall be for the Lord. As the garbage truck passes by the house, one of the boy children is awake and the day begins. It must begin with the Lord. I must..

I continue to ponder the first chapter of Joshua. God keeps it simple.

Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed. 9 Haven’t I ordered you, ‘Be strong, be bold’? So don’t be afraid or downhearted, because Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 CJB

For me, this day, this means to keep my mind securely on the Word. To meditate on the Word…

hagah- to speak with oneself, and in a low voice, as is often done by those musing.

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

1 How blessed are those
who reject the advice of the wicked,
don’t stand on the way of sinners
or sit where scoffers sit!
2 Their delight
is in Adonai’s Torah;
on his Torah they meditate
day and night.
3 They are like trees planted by streams —
they bear their fruit in season,
their leaves never wither,
everything they do succeeds. Psalm 1 CJB

Where is my delight? What does my mind meditate upon? Do I ponder more upon the fears? Do I remain fixed upon the truth of His Word?

15 (14) May the words of my mouth
and the thoughts of my heart
be acceptable in your presence,
Adonai, my Rock and Redeemer. Psalm 19 CJB

As I type, my son, my early riser, is attempting to configure his marshmallow shooter. Some of the marshmallows are stuck in the barrel of his gun. (Even though his Grandmother told him to use cornstarch with the marshmallows). So, he has tried a straw to push them out, he has tried water to wash them out, and now he is using a hairdryer to dry them out. However, had he listened to his Grandmother (you can pay me later, Mom), he would be gleefully shooting the dog, the other members of his family even at this moment.

He didn’t.

God tells us to meditate on His word…we start our day worrying about ________________________ (your worry here).

God tells us to speak His truth…instead frustration pours from our mouths because our day is not looking how WE think it should look.

God tells us to meditate on it day and night…instead we are distracted by Facebook, email, Twitter..

We are clogging up our marshmallow shooters, people.

Now, my boy has gone back and listened to the advice of our wise Matriarch. His marshmallows are covered in cornstarch. Then, he decides to coat his brother and sister’s bags of white fluff to help them so they do not run into the same issues as he.

So I hope by my words I may point you to our Lord, His Word and His teachings. Don’t start your day with worry. Get your coffee, grab His Word and begin your day by meditating on His Word. It’s all about Jesus (Haven Today). I end with this quote of Paul’s today.

14 Above all these, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together perfectly; 15 and let the shalom which comes from the Messiah be your heart’s decision-maker, for this is why you were called to be part of a single Body.

And be thankful — 16 let the Word of the Messiah, in all its richness, live in you, as you teach and counsel each other in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude to God in your hearts. 17 That is, everything you do or say, do in the name of the Lord Yeshua, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3 CJB

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., New Testament, Old Testament | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Great I AM


Wupatki National Monument Photo by Stephen M Alden

Good morning, friend,

So, I found a new Bible on the Biblegateway website. I love it. I think I go through phases of which is my favorite. I love the Expanded Bible which gives background and word definitions right in the text. For some, it clutters the page. For me, dragging my eyes from the text to the bottom of the page for commentary and such feels disjointed. I love the Amplified Bible (pretty similar to the Expanded). This new one I am sharing with you today is called the Complete Jewish Bible. Love it (she says with a song in her heart) ! The names of God are right in the text, the names of the people are in the Jewish form, So in the following text, Moshe is Moses. Torah is the first five books of the OT.

6 “Be strong, be bold; for you will cause this people to inherit the land I swore to their fathers I would give them. 7 Only be strong and very bold in taking care to follow all the Torah which Moshe my servant ordered you to follow; do not turn from it either to the right or to the left; then you will succeed wherever you go. 8 Yes, keep this book of the Torah on your lips, and meditate on it day and night, so that you will take care to act according to everything written in it. Then your undertakings will prosper, and you will succeed. 9 Haven’t I ordered you, ‘Be strong, be bold’? So don’t be afraid or downhearted, because Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 CJB

Be strong- chazaq- to tie fast, to bind bonds strongly, to hold fast, stick fast. 

Be bold-amats- alert, courageous, brave, stout, bold, solid, hard

I look at these two words and at first glance, I wonder how in the world God expected these people, Joshua to be strong. However, the definition of strong, to tie fast, to bind bonds means that the one who needs the strength should hold fast to one who is stronger. It makes no sense in the midst of a strong storm to bind yourself to a sapling but to a 100 year old oak tree. God wasn’t expecting Joshua to just be strong on his own. Adonai knew Joshua and the Israelites could not do it on their own.

Yes, they were going to be given the land. Their success came in following ALL the words of the Lord. Knowing His word. Keeping His commands. Keep their eyes on Him. Not turning from the right or left.

How in the world do they not turn to the right OR the left? Memorizing the Word. Keeping it on their lips. Meditating on His word all. day. long. So the tying, the binding was to the Lord, to His word, to His promises, to His guidance. This was crucial to their success.

It is crucial to mine. To yours. How can we not be afraid or downhearted? Well, I think it begins to tying myself early in the day to the Lord. Binding myself strongly to the promises contained in the whole word of God.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Pray regularly. 18 In everything give thanks, for this is what God wants from you who are united with the Messiah Yeshua. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Pray. Give thanks. Keep His word in my heart, on my tongue. Speaking His words are so much better than my own. I get muddled in the middle of my day and the words I start my day on seem so far away. The boys are fighting. The girl is wandering off listening to her book. We need to get school done!! And all of a sudden, the whispers begin. Your kids are so far behind. You are doing a horrible job teaching them. If only you kept a better schedule. If only you had a clean…

STOP! Are these the words of God? Are these the promises of God? Nope. Instead, I’ve forgotten. What if instead of allowing my brain to take over with accusations and guilt trips (which are not fun trips) I turned it around.

The boys are fighting, Lord, how should we handle it? What words can you give me? My girl is wandering off. How can I gently, yet strongly enforce our rules? Lord, are my kids far behind? It’s September. Horrible? Really? Wow. Where did that come from?

Peace. Be still and know that I AM God. (Psalm 46:10)  “Courage,” he said, “it is I. Stop being afraid!” (Mark 6: 50b) The Great I AM is here. The I AM is here. The I AM is here. I am not alone. I am not homeschooling these gifts on my own strength. I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Walk in His truth today. Bind yourself to Him. Walk closely to His side.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Music, New Testament, Old Testament, Pictures from commons... | 5 Comments

Abounding


Dushan Tappe, one of the suburbs of Tehran, (1899) Author: Kamal-ol-Molk.

Good morning, beloved,

Today, it’s grace that astounds me. I throw words around this blog. I write out struggles I have in my life. Rather, I hint around the roller coasters that abound in my life. My stomach settles from one coaster and life pushes me on another one. What astounds me: every time I look up, look over, look behind Jesus is there. I’m wearing my seat harness, seat belt strapped in for the ride of my life, white knuckled, and Jesus is there. For the very top of the ride, to the very lowest point, nothing can ever separate us.

As we dive back into school (the metaphors are astounding as well, yes?) , I am holding desperately to His hands. Asking God to give me, please give me, the patience, the wisdom, the sight to teach my kids. To teach them about the Word, to remember that when I start our day with the teaching of His Word, our day (while never perfect) can feel the palpable presence of His Spirit. This year I want to dedicate to teaching them about the Kings and the Prophets.

So it’s good with all my plans and ideas to remember this: I. am. loved. Period.

 Because of his love [C this phrase may go with the previous sentence], God ·had already decided to make us his own children [L predestined us for adoption] through Jesus Christ. That was what he wanted and what pleased him, 6 and it brings praise to God because of his ·wonderful[glorious] grace. God gave that grace to us freely, in ·Christ, the One he loves [L the Beloved]. 7 In ·Christ [L him] we ·are set free [have been redeemed/purchased] by ·the blood of his death [L his blood; C blood signifies his sacrificial death], and so we have forgiveness of sins. ·How rich is [or This redemption reveals the wealth of; L …according to the riches of] God’s grace, 8 which he has ·given to us so fully and freely [lavished on us]. Ephesians 1 EXB

Love. We are His kids. Grace. Free. Set free. Redeemed. Forgiven.

I take my job as teacher very seriously. I also want my house to look perfect. Ah, yes, there’s the rub. Teaching four kids at home, six people and a dog, busy schedules, the house takes a back seat. In my mind though, it brings me peace to have my house sparkling clean. So when I look around while working with the kids, I get antsy to clean up. I look around, see the piles and wonder who made that mess or that one. Frustration abounds.

I am loved.

I am set free.

So, my expectations the house being perfect, fretting about the little things does not teach my children the truths I am stating here. If I sing, Your Love Never Fails and yet, there is no hope in my speech. No laughter. No joy. What am I truly teaching? When one of my sweets goes about cleaning my Blendtec and hot soapy water shoots up like a geyser, when same child tries to make coffee and breaks the carafe, when the girl pierces her dolls ears, when their rooms look like hurricanes abound (I’m loving that word today), when laundry piles, when dishes, when books, when papers…

I am loved.

I am set free.

I can laugh. I can give grace which so freely is bestowed upon me. No chains on me. No chains on my beloveds.

You are loved.

You can be free.

Run after Him today!

Thankfuls

288. For a book that reminds me to pause, lie down and look up at the stars.

289. For another year to teach and be with my kids.

290. For the youth ministry of Village Church of Gurnee.

Pray on. Pray on. Forgiven.

 

Categories: Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, New Testament, Pictures from commons... | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Letters


Good morning, beloved,

Slangkop Lighthouse, near Kommetjie, South Africa. .Photo by Dewet

I received a letter recently. I love receiving letters, handwritten. Isn’t there something just lifting to open the mailbox and receive something other than bills and advertisements? I try keep all my letters. I have a stack of letters in my closet from when I was in college. I remember when I was little being so excited to receive letters from my Grandma. She would send me cute little cards and for certain holidays like Valentine’s day I would get a dollar. That was cool. My brother, when he was very little, sent a card back to my Grandma with a dollar bill for her. He was so thankful for the money she had always sent him so he wanted to return the favor.

Thank you notes, invitations, love letters, newsletters, etc.,  all contain a stated purpose.  Notice, in each, you will find greetings. Maybe a small blessing upon you. Maybe a reminder of what you mean to the writer. As Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians, he begins with his hope for them, for you.

Ephesians 1: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace (charis), Paul craves for [his] readers the favor (grace) of God…to which all blessings, esp., spiritual are due. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, blb.org) May I just share something with you? I long to know His grace, long to understand the favor bestowed upon me because of Jesus, I long to remember in times of great trial, He is the author of all blessings. Paul craves. Think about the last time you craved something. For me, there are times I crave time alone. Crave some food or dessert. It becomes a center focus. I think more about that craving than anything else. So Paul had a singular mind to guide the beloved to understand the grace extended. I wish I could say I crave things like this. How about you?

Peace (eirēnēof Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.

Remember that song, Peace Like A River? I’ve got peace like a river (repeat, repeat, repeat), in my soul. We would sing this with motions, but I don’t know that I ever connected, as a child, with the idea of His peace flowing through me like a river.

Elwy River, Cefn. Photo: Francis Bedford (1816-1894), 1860s.

Can you connect with the idea of His peace? His tranquility. Paul longed for his readers to grasp the peace available.

Ephesians 3: 4 ·If you read what I wrote then [or By reading this], you can see that I truly understand the ·secret [mystery] ·about [or revealed by; or that consists of; L of] ·Christ [or the Messiah].5 ·People [L The sons of men; C a Hebrew way of referring to people] who lived in other ·times[generations] were not told that secret. But now, through the Spirit, God has ·shown [revealed] that secret to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 This is that ·secret [mystery]: that through the ·Good News [Gospel] the Gentiles ·will share with the Jews in God’s blessing [L are co-heirs]. They belong to the same body, and they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus.

Paul was revealing part of the mystery of Christ! Truly! We (the Gentiles, now Jews) share in God’s blessings. We are co-heirs. We are joined together because of the promise in Christ Jesus.

This is why we need to be on the floor praying diligently for our brothers and sisters in Israel.

Ephesians 4: 12 ·Christ gave those gifts to prepare [L …to equip]God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.

To equip, a fitting or preparing fully. We have been given all we need to encourage one another through serving. And why do we have these gifts? To bring glory to ourselves? Nah, we are to make the body of Christ stronger. Do you get the sense that Paul longs for unity among the believers? Why? I don’t think it is just to encourage and uplift one another, but to be a community that welcomes those who do not know Jesus. People would crave to know the grace and peace that lives in us!

Ephesians 6:19 Also pray for me that when I ·speak [L open my mouth], God will give me words so that I can tell the ·secret [mystery] of the ·Good News [Gospel] ·without fear [confidently; boldly]. 20 ·For this Good News […for which] I am an ambassador in ·prison [L chains; 3:1]. Pray that I will speak ·it [or for him;or in him] ·without fear [boldly; confidently], as I should.

This prayer that Paul asked to be prayed on his behalf? Yea, that needs to be our prayer. That when we open our mouths we will speak the Good News. Boldly.

Bold Peak, in the Chugach Range of Alaska, as seen from a hanging valley below Thunderbird Peak. Photo by Paxson Woelber

We run with endurance the race set before us! Thank God we have the letters of Paul! Thank God Paul was given this gift of letter writing. Each is precious to  our faith and hope. We can hold tight to the promises found in Ephesians and I look forward to continuing to unwrap Ephesians!

Thankfuls:

278. As I work through this book, I am following a book called Glorious Grace by Lara Williams. So thankful for her guidance.

279. Thankful for time by a lake yesterday with my friend.

280. Thankful that God give beauty for ashes.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, New Testament | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Ruins of Käesalu manor windmill Photo by Ivar Leidus

Good morning, beloved,

In the morning, when I rise, Give me Jesus…

So, as I begin my day today, I reflect on these past days. God has poured out His blessing on our lives. Through encouragement of friends, through seeing our children enjoy time with friends, a dear one sent me a beautiful book full of reminders of His glorious grace, we had needs arise and people came around and prayed and gave of their time. Needs were filled.

Acts is full of stories of believers in community. How Jesus took a group of rough and tumble men and transformed them into His church…now, as we turn our attention to Paul, we are still peeking into the curtain of this community.

10 There was a ·follower of Jesus [L disciple] in Damascus named Ananias [22:12]. The Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision, “Ananias!”

Ananias answered, “Here I am, Lord.”

11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to Straight Street [C the main east-west street of the city]. Find the house of Judas [C not either of Jesus’ disciples by that name; Judas was a common name], and ask for a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus [C a town in Cilicia, a Roman province in southeastern Asia Minor (present-day Turkey)]. He is there now, praying. 12 Saul has seen a vision in which a man named Ananias comes to him and ·lays [places] his hands on him. Then he is able to see again.”

13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and the ·terrible [evil; harmful] things he did to your ·holy people [saints] in Jerusalem. 14 Now he has come here to Damascus, and the ·leading [T chief] priests have given him the ·power [authority] to ·arrest [bind]everyone who ·worships you [L calls on your name].”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! ·I have chosen Saul for an important work [L For he is my chosen instrument/vessel]. ·He must tell about me [L …to take/carry my name] to the ·Gentiles [nations], to kings, and to the people of Israel. 16 [L For] I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 So Ananias went to the house of Judas. He ·laid [placed] his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus sent me. He is the one ·you saw [L who appeared to you] on the road on your way here. He sent me so that you can see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something that looked like ·fish scales [or flakes] fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again! Then Saul got up and was baptized. 19 After he ate some food, his strength returned.

Saul stayed with the ·followers of Jesus [disciples] in Damascus for ·a few [several; some] days.

So the Lord Jesus visits again. Obviously, there was no such thing as quick communication between the believers, but Ananias knew Saul. Maybe not by face, but by his actions, his destruction was well-known. 

10 There was a ·follower of Jesus [L disciple] in Damascus named Ananias [22:12]. The Lord spoke to Ananias in a vision, “Ananias!”

Ananias answered, “Here I am, Lord.”

The Lord spoke in a vision, the word here is (horama), used only 12 times in the NT. These visions are powerful beginnings that connections between people who would not associate. Here, with Ananias, he declares as the patriarch Moses declares upon seeing the burning bush, Here I am. 

11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to Straight Street [C the main east-west street of the city]. Find the house of Judas [C not either of Jesus’ disciples by that name; Judas was a common name], and ask for a man named Saul from the city of Tarsus [C a town in Cilicia, a Roman province in southeastern Asia Minor (present-day Turkey)]. He is there now, praying. 12 Saul has seen a vision in which a man named Ananias comes to him and ·lays [places] his hands on him. Then he is able to see again.”

Think about these instructions. Jesus is Ananias’ Google maps. I wonder if Jesus gave these directions so it would be one less excuse. ;) Even better, Jesus never talks about the man Saul was, only what he is doing. He is praying. He has seen visions. He awaits. Ananias reminds Jesus if He might have forgotten.

13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, many people have told me about this man and the ·terrible [evil; harmful] things he did to your ·holy people [saints] in Jerusalem. 14 Now he has come here to Damascus, and the ·leading [T chief] priests have given him the ·power [authority] to ·arrest [bind]everyone who ·worships you [L calls on your name].”

As we see, there was a terror. The stories were circulating. Do you get the sense that they are whipped up, in a frenzy? Not without cause, mind you, but it does remind me of the people of Jericho. 

8 Before the spies went to sleep for the night, Rahab went up to the roof. 9 She said to them, “I know the Lord has given this land to your people. ·You frighten us very much [L A terror of you has fallen on us]. Everyone living in this land is ·terribly afraid of [L melting away before] you 10 because we have heard how the Lord dried up the ·Red Sea [or Sea of Reeds] when you came out of Egypt [Ex. 14:15–31]. We have heard how you ·destroyed [or devoted to the Lord for destruction; see 6:17Deut. 20:15–18] Sihon and Og, two Amorite kings who lived ·east of [beyond] the Jordan. 11 When we heard this, ·we were very frightened [L our hearts melted]. ·Now our men are afraid to fight you [L And there rose up no spirit/breath in a man because of you] because the Lord your God ·rules [L is God in] the heavens above and the earth below!

They heard stories. They knew. In this case, though, the people of Jericho’s fate was written by their own sin. For Ananias, he knew that he had to trust the Lord, follow His directions and abide in the grace so freely given him. Jesus does, however, tell him a little of Saul’s future, gives him a glimpse at the life Saul was to have. 

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! ·I have chosen Saul for an important work [L For he is my chosen instrument/vessel]. ·He must tell about me [L …to take/carry my name] to the ·Gentiles [nations], to kings, and to the people of Israel. 16 [L For] I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

What do we learn of Saul here? 

  • he had been chosen
  • he MUST tell about Jesus and this doesn’t seem to be negotiable :)
  • he was to be sent to the Gentiles, to kings, and to the Jews
  • he was to suffer MUCH

17 So Ananias went to the house of Judas. He ·laid [placed] his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus sent me. He is the one ·you saw [L who appeared to you] on the road on your way here. He sent me so that you can see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something that looked like ·fish scales [or flakes] fell from Saul’s eyes, and he was able to see again! Then Saul got up and was baptized. 19 After he ate some food, his strength returned.

Saul stayed with the ·followers of Jesus [disciples] in Damascus for ·a few [several; some] days.

How did Saul get to stay with Judas (we know he is not the disciple and this was a common name)? Ananias placed his hands on the man responsible for so much pain and heartache. Notice what name he announces..Brother. Three days, Saul had no food, no water, he did not talk. We are not given information about this time. However, on the third day, Ananias greets him as a brother. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Saul sees and is filled. He was baptized, he received nourishment. And Saul’s life was to never be the same. 

To begin our look at Ephesians: 

Ephesians 1: 1 From Paul, an ·apostle [messenger] of Christ Jesus. ·I am an apostle because that is what God wanted [L …by the will of God].

As we have already seen, Ananias is told what was going to be revealed to Paul. He became a messenger. He became an apostle..

Ephesians 3:1So [For this reason] I, Paul, a prisoner [C Paul is probably writing from house arrest in Rome, about ad 60; see Acts 28:30–31] of Christ Jesus ·for [for the sake of] you Gentiles—[C Paul is about to pray for the Ephesians, but instead digresses into a description of his ministry until v. 14].

At the time of the writing the letter to the Ephesians, Paul is under house arrest. He recalls his calling. He was to be sent to the Gentiles…and here he states, again, his mission.

Ephesians 3:7By God’s special gift of grace given to me through ·his power [L the working out/exercise of his power], I became a servant ·to tell that Good News [of this Gospel].

God’s grace had been richly given to Paul. He knows it is by God’s power, not his own, that he accomplishes the mission. He knew his place. He was a servant. He was a messenger.

Ephesians 6:19 Also pray for me that when I ·speak [L open my mouth], God will give me words so that I can tell the ·secret [mystery] of the ·Good News [Gospel] ·without fear [confidently; boldly]. 20 ·For this Good News […for which] I am an ambassador in ·prison [L chains; 3:1]. Pray that I will speak ·it [or for him;or in him] ·without fear [boldly; confidently], as I should.

So, yes, Paul had been given visions. He had been graced with a very specific calling by Jesus. Yet, do these words encourage you as they do me? Paul asks for prayer. Paul asked to speak the words of God, not his words. He doesn’t want people hearing Paul. He wants people to understand the secret mystery of the Gospel. See that little phrase at the back of verse 19? without fear…even Paul struggled with fear, with confidence. Not only does he say it once, he says it twice!! Please pray I will speak it without fear.

Friends, if Paul needed the prayers of the saints to speak boldly, to be without fear ( and we know the end of Paul’s story, this prayer was answered!) then what makes us any different? We need to be asking for prayer from the body of Christ. People need to know how to pray for you. Paul knew that he needed the support and encouragement of others. We get so bogged down by our fears and worries. They become our focus! We get so busy.

Knowing this about Paul, he was a man just like us, he reminded the Ephesians (probably for his own sake too) of his calling. He needed to remember, to keep it in the forefront of his mind. I need to remember the mountain top experiences with the Lord when the valley seems to close around me. I remember my calling. I remember God has called me to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. Lord, help us to speak the Good News. Lord, help us to proclaim. 

Thankfuls:

275. Thankful for my new book.

276. Thankful for the church that meets needs for my kids.

277. Thankful for the time at the lake

Pray on. Pray on. 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Music, New Testament, Pictures from commons... | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Glorious…


Sunrise in Newbury, Berkshire, in 2004 Photo by Joolz

Good morning, beloved,

Tuning my thoughts to Jesus this morning. Remembering this is His time. This is not the time to ponder the day. Or conversations I need to have. Rather, this morning time? I need to dedicate this time. Set aside. Frankly, I could learn a lot from my dog. Do things bother her? Does she get hung up on little things? Right now, she has taken to the couch and is on her back sound asleep. Yes, asleep. Very singular focus, this dog. Me? I’m all over the place. I ask my God to tune my heart. Be my vision. 

On our trip home from vacation, we listened to most of Acts and all of Romans from the Word of Promise audio Bible. There is something about listening to these precious words. Don’t get me wrong, reading and taking apart is my passion…At times, you will hear the pen scribbling on the paper. Doors open and close. Listening to Paul’s story, his conversion, his transformation all over gives me hope. My goal in these next few weeks is to follow Paul’s story and work through Ephesians.  So let’s introduce ourselves to Paul. 

·In Jerusalem [L But; Meanwhile] Saul was still ·threatening [L breathing threats against] the ·followers [disciples] of the Lord by saying he would kill them. So he went to the high priest [C probably Caiaphas; 4:6] 2 and asked him to write letters to the synagogues in the city of Damascus [C in Syria, 135 miles north of Jerusalem]. Then if Saul found any ·followers of Christ’s Way [or who belonged to the Way; C a name for the Christian movement], men or women, he would ·arrest [take them prisoner; L bind]them and bring them back to Jerusalem.  Acts 9 EXB

I have to tell you. If you haven’t read chapter 8 of Acts. Do it. Amazing. The Spirit of God is moving, powerfully.  The mourning of Stephen, the story of Simon (a man who had much to learn), the story of Phillip all encapsulated the early movement in the church. Behind it all, a man was gaining power, prestige and moving to destroy the Way. 

Panoramic View over the Old City Jerusalem from the Austrian Hospice. Photo by 365grad

Saul wasn’t content just ripping apart the Way in Jerusalem. He saw that it was spreading to other regions. He had his goal, his purpose. Look in this passage. How far was he willing to travel? 135 miles? On foot or by horse, still a long way…according to NET Bible, “From Damascus to Jerusalem was a six-day journey. Christianity had now expanded into Syria.”  He was planning to make this a round trip. So, not only was he willing to travel six days, round ‘em all up, then he was willing to come back.

Map

3 So Saul headed toward Damascus. As he came near the city, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him [C in the OT lightning sometimes signaled the appearance of God; Ex. 19:16]. 4 Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

5 Saul said, “Who are you, ·Lord [or sir]?”

The voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 Get up now and go into the city. ·Someone there will tell you [L You will be told] what you must do.”

A bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him…

When Paul is describing this event in Acts 26:13, “I saw a light from heaven. It was brighter than the sun and ·flashed [shone] all around me and those who were traveling with me.” All he could do was fall to the ground. Makes me think of when Daniel encounters the angel in Daniel 8: 17 ·Gabriel [L He] came to where I was standing. When he came close to me, I was ·very afraid [terrified; or overwhelmed] and ·bowed facedown on the ground [L fell on my face]. But ·Gabriel [L he] said to me, “·Human being [L Son of man], understand that this vision is about the time of the end.”

Ray of Light on Cap Haitien, Haiti Photo by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia

Just think, friends, Paul met with Jesus. What do we know about the name of Jesus?

In Philippians 2:10 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.

So, now, we have a handle on the holiness of this moment. This was the defining moment of his life. He met Jesus. He heard the emotion as Jesus called to him. And Saul realizes that his persecution, his passion for the destruction Christian church…little did he know he was actually persecuting Jesus! What does that mean to us today? Jesus felt every blow, every whip, every word against the church. He felt every wound. Sweet friend, Jesus feels your every trial, He catches every tear. 

Beautiful. Absolutely! 

7 The ·people [men] traveling with Saul stood there ·but said nothing [speechless; or unable to speak]. They heard the voice, but they saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but he could not see. So those with Saul took his hand and led him into Damascus. 9 For three days Saul could not see and did not eat or drink. Acts 9 EXB

Pray on. Pray on.

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Music, New Testament, Pictures from commons... | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Praise Be


Rock Garden, Darjeeling Photo by JoyDeep

Good morning, beloved,

I’ve never listened to Rick Warren preach. I’ve read the Purpose Driven Life. When we were going to Willow Creek, Bill Hybels told a story about visiting Saddleback Church. Mr. Warren is a hugger. Gives hugs to everyone. Bill Hybels is not. AT ALL. My path has really never intersected with Mr. Warren. Until the news reports began to circulate that his son, his youngest son, killed himself. Then I began tracking and praying for him, for his family. Unbelieving to me, on Facebook, posts began to circulate about Mr. Warren. Awful reports. He deserved this…His son is rotting in hell. I have to tell you, I was amazed. I was saddened, for hopefully, obvious reasons.

So where am I going with this? Well, I heard a message yesterday. The first message Mr. Warren gave since his son died. I know the Lord had me listen. He spoke of hope. His wife spoke of joy. Tears flowed the entire message. How do you cope with this kind of pain?

3 ·Praise be to [Blessed is/be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father who is full of ·mercy [compassion] and all ·comfort [encouragement]. 4 He ·comforts[encourages] us ·every time we have [L in all our] ·troubles [trials; tribulation], so when others have ·trouble [any trials/tribulation], we can ·comfort [encourage] them with the same ·comfort [encouragement] God gives us. 5 [L For just as] ·We share in the many sufferings of Christ [L Christ’s sufferings abound in us]. In the same way, ·much comfort comes to us [L our comfort abounds] through Christ. 6 If we have ·troubles [trials; tribulation], it is for your ·comfort [encouragement] and salvation, and if we ·have comfort [are encouraged], ·you also have comfort [or it is for your comfort/encouragement]. This helps you to accept patiently the same sufferings we have. 7 Our hope for you is ·strong [unshaken; firm], knowing that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the ·comfort [encouragement] we receive.

8 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the ·trouble [trial; tribulation] we suffered in Asia [C a Roman province in present-day western Turkey]. We had great burdens there that were beyond our own strength, so that we even ·gave up hope of living [L despaired of life]. 9 Truly, in our own hearts we believed we ·would die [L had been sentenced to death]. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead. 10 God ·saved [rescued; delivered] us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to ·save [rescue; deliver] us. We have put our hope in him, and he will ·save [rescue; deliver] us again. 11 ·And you can [or …as you] help us with your prayers. Then many people will give thanks for us—·that God blessed [for the gift/favor given to] us because of their many prayers.

Friends, I would urge you to listen to this message. I drew such comfort from their story.

Paul says in verse 4: He ·comforts[encourages] us ·every time we have [L in all our] ·troubles [trials; tribulation], so when others have ·trouble [any trials/tribulation], we can ·comfort [encourage] them with the same ·comfort [encouragement] God gives us.

He is our comfort. He is our encouragement. Every trial, every trouble brings the Lord closer to us and then if we allow Him, He can use us to comfort others. Rick Warren said, the things you want to keep hidden about your past, your pain are the exact things that can be a comfort and encouragement to others. In a way, if you think about it clearly, wouldn’t it be amazing that the pain you have endured could be used to bless others? That it could have a purpose to bless?

Mist at Darjeeling Rock Garden Photo by JoyDeep

This is a profound passage for us. This week has been a strange mix of digging deeper into the messages of the Prosperity Gospel and then hearing this message. I think it is uncomfortable to remember this passage. To study this is to realize that God does use pain. He does use suffering. Being rich, without pain, yeah, that isn’t God’s goal in our life.

7 Our hope for you is ·strong [unshaken; firm], knowing that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the ·comfort [encouragement] we receive.

Share in their suffering. What can come from suffering? Comfort. Encouragement. From where? Our Lord!

 9 Truly, in our own hearts we believed we ·would die [L had been sentenced to death]. But this happened so we would not trust in ourselves but in God, who raises people from the dead. 

Trust in ourselves? We don’t align ourselves in the center of His will. Rather we fly solo in those thoughts…God meant that we would trust in God alone and that the power He commands raises people from the dead.

10 God ·saved [rescued; delivered] us from these great dangers of death, and he will continue to ·save [rescue; deliver] us. We have put our hope in him, and he will ·save [rescue; deliver] us again. 

So wherever this post finds you. May I encourage you to put your hope in Him? Post those encouraging verses around your house. Repeat truth over and over and over to yourself. He will save, he will rescue, he will deliver.

Here are some to get you started! Print ‘em out!

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you! When you pass through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; it will NOT consume you!”           Isaiah 43:2

 

            “I will never leave you and I will NEVER abandon you.”  Hebrews 13:5

       “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast or the child she has born? Even if that were possible, I will never forget you! Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands!”  Isaiah 49:15

 

“BUT WE KNOW that in all things God works for the GOOD of those

            who love him, and have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

“We often suffer, but we’re never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up. In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again… BECAUSE WE KNOW God raised the Lord back to life. And just as he raised Jesus, he will also raise us back to life, and will bring us into his presence together.” 

            2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 14

 

“Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness but they will be raised in strength!”  1 Corinthians 15:43

 

            “So we don’t focus on the troubles we see right now; instead we look

             forward to what we don’t see yet. For the troubles we see now are

            temporary, but the joys to come will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

 

            “Then God will wipe every tear from their eyes. And there will be no

            more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things

            will pass away.”          Revelation 21:4

“We can have JOY even in our troubles BECAUSE WE KNOW that these troubles produce endurance. And endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And this hope will not disappoint us, because God has poured his love to fill our hearts.”  Romans 5:3-5

 

My thankfuls:

272. Thankful for the message

273. Thankful for giggles

274. Thankful for a laugh filled night

 

Pray on. Pray on.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., New Testament, Pictures from commons..., Thankfuls | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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