Pictures from commons…

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

Mercy


Shandrivs’kyi Falls Photo by Vovavovk1

Good morning, friend,

Today begins a new week. A fresh week, a fresh start. What are you thankful for this day? How do you begin this day today?

I am so very thankful today to have caught a Matt Redman concert on KLOVE last night as I drove to pick up my son from youth group.

I am thankful for Upwards basketball, HRK basketball and the impact both are having in my children’s lives this year. What a gift.

I am thankful for our church, to see our pews filling, see our children worshipping, my eldest up with me playing his guitar…we, as a church, voted to financially support TWR missionaries Mike and Wendy Lambert yesterday. If you haven’t had a chance to see the work that Mike will be doing in Guam for TWR, please check out his website. The need for Mike is critical. Right now, they have only one engineer working on the equipment that serves a huge audience of nearly two billion people and to work effectively the station should have three technicians. Please be praying.

What I am chewing on today…

a song that I heard for the first time last night by Matt Redman…Mercy. You know I have to share it with you. :)

May I never lose the wonder of Your mercy…

Do I ever just pause and wonder at the amazing depth and beauty of His mercy?

11 As high as the ·sky [heaven] is above the earth,
so great is his ·love [loyalty] for those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7].
12 He has taken our ·sins [transgressions] away from us
as far as the east is from west.
13 The Lord has ·mercy [compassion] on those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7],
as a father has ·mercy [compassion] on his children. Psalm 103 EXB

What sparks my interest, what motivates me, what keeps me studying are phrases such as we find in these verses in Psalms.

As high as the sky is above the earth (picture that with me) so great is His love…now, I think, we like to stop there. We like to stop with His love. So great is His love. And it is great. It is magnificent. And there are A LOT of verses about His love. Last night, Chuck Swindoll was talking about the reality of hell. Can I just be honest with you and tell you how badly, in the quiet of my house, I wanted to turn off the preacher and turn on worship music? It’s uncomfortable. I don’t like thinking about it. However, if we are going to think about His great love, we also have to think about sharing that great love with those that need to hear it most desperately?

So great is His love for those who respect and fear Him…

7 The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but fools despise skillful and godly Wisdom, instruction, and discipline. Proverbs 1:7 AMP

So, reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord, starting with an awe of Him, going back to the song that started this whole journey of mercy for me.

I will kneel in the dust, at the foot of the cross, where mercy paid for me.http://www.songlyrics.com/matt-redman/mercy-lyrics/

That’s the start, that’s the beginning, the best part of this knowledge of the Lord that He loves. And the blessings just flow, my friends, we give Him this reverent fear. That’s where we need to be, covered in His dust. Covered in His mercy.

As you begin this day, His compassion, His mercy covers you. Now, who can you show compassion to this day? Who can see the grace and love of the Lord Jesus this day?

Pray on..pray on.

 

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

Snow


winter landscape Photo by Chwalkowko

Good morning, friends,

Looking out my bedroom window this morning, I smile as I watch the birds fly from branch to branch tossing snow effortlessly to the ground.  A few of the little birds are perched close to our window, peering in. The day dawns bright and clear, have you noticed how snow helps the world seem clean and new? I know what lies under the snow in our yard (trust me, I have kids and a dog). Our dog is a stinker. She loves to sneak things out into the yard and sneak things in FROM the yard. *Sigh* . Luke is begging this morning for “snow cream”. I told him we would need to find VERY safe snow. VERY.

The cardinal is over by my window now and the color contrast!! I like to think that God gives us reminders in nature. What do you think?

Cardinal in snow Photo by Mike’s Birds

 6 You ·want me to be completely truthful [L desire truth/faithfulness in my inward parts],
·so teach me wisdom [L and secretly you make me know wisdom].
7 ·Take away my sin [L Remove my sin with hyssop; Ex. 12:22; C a plant used in purification rituals; Lev. 14:4649–51Num. 19:18], and I will be clean.
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow [Is. 1:18].
8 Make me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you crushed ·be happy [rejoice] again.
9 ·Turn [L Hide] your face from my sins
and ·wipe [blot] out all my guilt. Psalm 51 EXB

Snow is a lovely thing, as I said, it does cover the ugly, doesn’t it? But, it never stays covered, eventually, it melts. Eventually, if you drive by my house, you’ll see the toys, the shoe the dog dragged into the yard, etc. We like to cover up too, don’t we? Oh, I’m fine. I’m good. Yet, if we are completely truthful, all the way to the inward parts, we are not good. Wisdom calls us to call out and say, Lord, I’m not good! I’m struggling. I need YOU! And you know what, friend? He’ll answer! He’ll teach you wisdom.

The fake us that says, oh, I’m good, can only last for a certain amount of time before the facade will give way. We listen to the lie that it’s better to hide than to come clean! A lie from the pit of hell that we need not listen.

I love verse 7…Remove my sin with hyssop (have to include a picture, I had no idea!)

Za’atar growing in the herb garden of the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, Jerusalem, Israel Photo by Gilabrand

 “Hyssop” was a small plant (see 1 Kgs 4:33) used to apply water (or blood) in purification rites (see Exod 12:22Lev 14:4-6, 49-52Num 19:6-18. The psalmist uses the language and imagery of such rites to describe spiritual cleansing through forgiveness. Notes by https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Psalms+51

David knew his cleansing could not be his own doing. He could not cleanse the sin. I will be clean. I shall be whiter than snow. This is said with confidence not found in himself. David knew his confidence rested solely in his God. And friends, we can learn so much from this confidence. This confidence was born out of pain. Take note.

It’s not about being strong, looking strong. He is LORD, LORD of all. He is your strength. He is your all. Oh, but us trying, attempting, looking a certain way..ya, that’s filthy rags to Him, the King of Kings…remember, He knows you are weak. Friend, He remembers we are dust, for heaven’s sake. What are we trying to do running from Him?? Mercy.

A few things I would like to share with you as we enter a new year…if you would like to add the discipline of reading/listening to the Bible in a year, I had never done this before this past year when I found the Daily Audio Bible.  Before I go to bed, I listen to Brian Hardin read portions of the Old and New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb each day. It’s been a great addition to my daily routine. I purchased the app for my phone for a buck and I love it.

I’ve finally had enough of the clutter and I’ve enjoyed this woman’s website and how she breaks down into 52 weeks. If that sounds overwhelming to you, then think how long it took you to get to where you are today. LOL. Home Storage Solutions 101

May God bless you this day. May you remember that you are loved, deeply and forever.

All this from snow…snow…

I digress.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., Old Testament, Pictures from commons..., Psalms | Leave a 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

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

Promises


La Plana Novella (Olivella) Photo by DagafeSQVT

Good morning, beloved,

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1 ESV

I think the first thing I want to do with this passage highlight every instance of you or your and see where that takes me.

Paul is praying for the Ephesians. He has reports of:

  • their faith in the Lord Jesus
  • their love toward all the saints

What is it to you to hear someone is praying for you? For me, it is encouragement.  Paul does not cease to give thanks for them or stop his prayers for them. Then he begins to pray for them. They believe in the Lord Jesus. He prays for revelation.  Next, let’s take what we learn by highlighting all instances of God.

  • God of our Lord Jesus Christ-Paul is stating without a doubt that Jesus was sent from God. Jesus was not a false prophet or liar. He was of God. He is God.
  • Father of glory (doxa) “…in Eph 1:17, “the Father of glory” describes Him as the source from whom all Divine splendor and perfection proceed in their manifestation, and to whom they belong..” (Greek Lexicon, blb.org)
  • God gives us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom
  • God gives us revelation, knowledge of Him
  • Our God calls us to hope

Hope. Hope is a very crucial word for me. I find myself again and again and again putting my hope in my circumstances, or my bank account numbers, or my relationships. If one area of my life (that I can see), is not puttering along as I would expect, I begin to get teary, worried. Yuck. My eyes have been taken from the God of glory, the source of Divine splendor, perfection and I’ve climbed into the mud pit and centered my gaze on the mud. Blech.

He calls us to HOPE!

We have riches, friends! We have His glory in us. A glorious. GLORIOUS inheritance. Back to what we learn about God. :)

  • immeasurable greatness of [God's] power toward us who believe.. oh God, help me in unbelief! Are there ever days when you spend more time as doubting Thomas? Immeasurable…I can’t measure His power. I can’t grasp it. So what am I doing doubting?

  • according to the working of [God's] great might-“In Eph 1:19 and Eph 6:10, it is said of the strength of God bestowed upon believers, the phrase “the power of His might” indicating strength afforded by power. ” (Greek Lexicon)
  • [God's] great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead..so much to ponder here.
  • seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places
  • far above all rule and authority and power and dominion

This …far above all rule, authority, power, dominion…just ponder that for a moment. What we see in front of us is a chain of command, right? Think of authority in your life. Whose has authority in your life? Maybe your parents (if you are young), the police (you see those flashing lights and you pull over), the judge presiding over your case, the senate, the house of reps, the President. Kings, queens, rulers, principalities have nothing on the God of glory. The God of immeasurable power makes it so that I never, ever need to be afraid. He’s above it all. Nothing escapes His rule and dominion.

It’s more than that. He holds this world together. I don’t want to oversimplify God. I don’t want to put Him in my box. Mold Him how I want Him to look. I woke up this morning thinking about my day. Thinking about what went right and why. It isn’t a formula. If I do this and that, then bam, it’s amazing, folks, blessing! However, understanding the incredible depth of blessing of keeping His word close, In repeating it over and over. In the music, proclaiming His power, His dominion over the world! In pausing before I speak, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide.

It’s His name..above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. ooooh! This is so cool! Let me give you some cross refs:

Matthew 28: 19 [e]Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [f]always, even to the end of the age.”

Acts 4: 11 [j]He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (BTW, catch there is salvation IN NO ONE ELSE. Just Jesus. All you need is Jesus to be saved)

Revelation 19:12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

He is above every name. He is. What more needs to be said? Think the next time you are about to speak His Name. Pause. Reflect. His Name. Remember this day, you are the child of the one true King. Keep His word close to you today. Keep the music playing. Worship Him as you breath.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

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Casting aside


Panorama of Lake Bled Photo by Mihael Grmek

Good morning, beloved,

I walked out this morning and saw the stars. I saw the moon. It was beautiful. The earth is filled with His glory. His majesty. It is good to begin a day with praise. It is good to give thanks. To start my day soaked in the Word, to remember that there are no chains on me. No chains on YOU. Why?

I’m here to tell you, your heart can be free. Today, as I face my own flesh, I do not face that battle alone. I can remember that: In Christ, God has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly ·world [realms; places]. (Ephesians 1:3). We bless the Father by blessing His son, Jesus. We cry out to Him knowing everything we need can be found in Him. Do you know that this verse (v.3) repeats some form of blessing three times? We bless Him. He has blessed us. We receive every spiritual blessing.

 …of the place where Christ “sitteth at the right hand of God” (i.e., in a position of Divine authority), Eph 1:20; and of the present position of believers in relationship to Christ, Eph 2:6; where they possess “every spiritual blessing,” Eph 1:3; Greek Lexicon

Christ now sits in the position of Divine Authority. Where do we stand with Jesus? What are some of the spiritual blessings?

  • Chosen, holy people without blame
  • His kids
  • grace
  • set free, forgiven, redeemed
  • there is a plan (in this hectic, crazy world that FEELS as though it is spinning out of control, we can bank on the truth that..there is a plan

I remember as a child, waiting to be picked for a team by the captain. Standing there with the rest of the kids, hoping, I would be next. My breath would be shallow. I would be close to kneeling on the ground begging, not to be last.  Then when I was picked, a quick smile, a deep breath and then to watch the rest of the suffering souls.. Let me just say, that will never happen with Jesus. God the Father has chosen you. No need for worry. No need for shallow breathing. You and I are His kids!

I have written about grace. There is so much more to learn about grace. We have been given so much grace! If we have been given so much grace, how is it that we cannot extend it to others?

We have been wronged by a friend. Or leader. Or spouse. Or child. The pain we feel is extreme and we feel the wrong deeply. Perhaps even now, the person’s face is looming in your mind. It keeps you awake at night. You rehearse how you will behave and talk in the future conversation.

5 But he was wounded for ·the wrong we did [T our transgressions];
he was crushed for ·the evil we did [T our iniquities].
The punishment, which ·made us well [brought us wholeness/peace], was given to him,
and we are healed because of his ·wounds [lacerations;T stripes; 1 Pet. 2:24].
6 We all have ·wandered away [T gone astray] like sheep;
each of us has gone his own way [1 Pet. 2:25]. Isaiah 53 EXB

How strange. Isaiah doesn’t mention our neighbor’s sins. He declares our sin. Jesus was crushed. He was punished. Only through His wounds can we be healed, we have all wandered away. Not just our “sinful” neighbor, us. I bet you could make a list of all the sins and wrongs your neighbor has done. I bet you could rehash every last one. Me too.

7b He was like a lamb being led to be ·killed [slaughtered].
He was quiet, as a sheep is quiet ·while its wool is being cut[L before its shearers; Acts 8:32Matt. 26:63Mark 14:61John 19:91 Pet. 2:23];
he never opened his mouth. Isaiah 53 EXB

Are we quiet when we are sinned against? Maybe we don’t say anything to anyone, maybe we do, but our thoughts betray us.  Jesus’ thoughts NEVER betrayed Him.

14 [L Therefore] Since we have a great high priest [2:17–18], Jesus the Son of God, who has ·gone into [ascended to; or passed through]·heaven [or the heavens], let us hold ·on [firmly] to ·the faith we have[L the confession/profession; C of our faith]. 15 ·For our high priest is able[L For we do not have a high priest who is unable] to ·understand[sympathize with] our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. 16 Let us, then, ·feel very sure that we can come before [L confidently approach] God’s throne ·where there is grace[L of grace; C as opposed to a throne of judgment and condemnation]. There we can receive mercy and ·grace [L find grace] to help us ·when we need it [L at the right time]. Hebrews 4 EXB

He knows. His grace is enough for all. We need Jesus. We need Him, who sits in a position of authority, to intercede on our behalf, to understand our weaknesses. We need Him. We have sinned just as much as our neighbor, if not more. God’s grace and mercy is available to you, first. Let us run our race…

Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of ·people whose lives tell us what faith means [L witnesses], let us run the race that is before us ·and never give up [with endurance/perseverance]. ·We should [Let us] ·remove from our lives [get rid of; cast aside] anything that ·would get in the way [impedes/hinders us] and the sin that so easily ·holds us back [entangles/clings to us]. 2 Let us ·look only to [keep our eyes on] Jesus, the ·One who began [Pioneer/Founder of; or Leader/Prince of] our faith and who ·makes it perfect [completes it]. He ·suffered death on [L endured] the cross, ·accepting the shame as if it were nothing [L disregarding/despising the shame] because of the joy that ·God put before [lay ahead for] him. And now he is sitting at the right ·side [L hand] of God’s throne [1:313Ps. 110:1]. Hebrews 12 EXB

Cast aside anything that impedes or hinders, the sin that so easily entangles for there is grace. Keep our eyes on Jesus. He has a plan. It is a most excellent plan.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

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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.

 

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Thunderstorm near Pritzerbe (Germany). Photo by Mathias Krumbholz

Good morning, friend!

I want to a couple of resources that have helped me over the past night. Nighttime seems to have become a time, when quiet, where my thoughts assail me. Normally, I have listened to Focus on the Family or FamilyLife Today, but these were not available. (Don’t ask, new phone) However frustrating my phone can be, I have discovered the gift of podcasts.  I tell you what, anyone can host a podcast. Not only that, I am surprised and saddened by what gets filed under Religion and Spirituality! I think my dog might be eligible for a podcast. Sheesh.

I digress. Last night, I came to find the Daily Audio Bible. Lovely. Just lovely. Listening to different sections of the Bible (with the goal of reading the Bible in a year)! The man who reads has a gift. The other gift that I has been such blessing to me is Pandora. This morning, as I began my study, the first song to play was…

Sometimes, do you ever wonder if you will ever learn the lesson that God has taught you your whole life? Yeah, me neither.

I love the Lord,
because he ·listens to my prayers for help [L hears/or heard my voice, my prayer of supplication].
2 He ·paid attention [L extends his ear] to me,
so I will ·call to him for help [call; pray] ·as long as I live [L in my days].
3 The ·ropes [cords] of death ·bound [encompass] me,
and the ·fear [hardship; distress] of ·the grave [L Sheol; C the grave or the underworld] ·took hold of [reached; found] me.
I ·was troubled and sad [L found distress and sadness]. Psalm 116 EXB

Hear me, friends. We need to stop putting our thoughts as truth. We need to keep the promises of God in the forefront of our minds. Do you love Him? Do you remember at all times He hears your cries for help? I am reminded of a lesson the Lord taught me early in my time as a Mama. The Lord has been with me through it all. There is not one person on this earth that has been with me my whole life. Think about this for a second. Family, friends, co-workers all have been with me some of the time but the Lord has always been with me. All the stages of my life…daughter, student, wife, mother, friend, worker…He has walked through every bit of it. The same is true for you.

14 So [C Paul begins again the prayer he started in v. 1] I ·bow in prayer [kneel] before the Father 15 from whom ·every [or the whole] ·family [C a play on words, since the words “father” and “family” are related] in heaven and on earth gets its true name. 16 I ask the Father ·in his great glory [or from the treasures of his glory; or out of his glorious riches] to give you the power to be strong ·inwardly[L in the inner person] through his Spirit. 17 I pray that Christ will ·live [make his home] in your hearts by faith and that your life will be ·strong in love and be built on love [L rooted and grounded in love].18 And I pray that you and all ·God’s holy people [T the saints] will have the power to ·understand[comprehend; grasp] the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. 19 Christ’s love is ·greater than anyone can ever know [beyond comprehension/knowledge], but I pray that you will be able to know that love. ·Then [L …so that] you can be filled with the fullness of God.

 I ·bow in prayer [kneel] before the Father…

54 Solomon prayed this prayer and ·plea [request; supplication] to the Lord, kneeling in front of the altar with his ·arms raised [hands spread] toward heaven. When he finished praying, he got up. 1 Kings 8 EXB

6 Come, let’s ·worship him [bow down] and ·bow down [bend the knee].
Let’s kneel before the Lord who made us,
7 because he is our God
and we are the people ·he takes care of [L of his pasture],
the sheep ·that he tends [L of his hand; 74:179:13100:3John 10:11–14]. Psalm 95 EXB

… from whom ·every [or the whole] ·family [C a play on words, since the words “father” and “family” are related] in heaven and on earth gets its true name. 

9 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

20 God ·used [exerted] to raise Christ from the dead and ·put [L seat] him at his right ·side [L hand; Ps. 110:1Acts 2:34] in the heavenly ·world [realm; places]. 21 God has put Christ ·over [far above] all rulers, authorities, powers, and ·kings [lords; dominion], and every other ·title given [L name that is named] not only in this ·world [age] but also in the ·next [coming one]. Ephesians 1 EXB

I ask the Father ·in his great glory [or from the treasures of his glory; or out of his glorious riches]…

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…Ephesians 1 EXB

23 He waited with patience so that he could make known ·his rich glory [the riches of his glory] to the ·people who receive his [L vessels/objects of] mercy. He has prepared these people ·to have his glory[to experience his glory; L for glory], 24 and we are those people whom God called. He called us not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles.  Romans 9 EXB

…to give you the power to be strong ·inwardly[L in the inner person] through his Spirit. 

28 ·Surely you [L Do you not…?] know.
·Surely you have [L Have you not…?] heard.
The Lord is the ·God who lives forever [everlasting God],
who created ·all [L the ends of] the ·world [earth].
He does not become tired or ·need to rest [weary].
No one can ·understand [fathom; comprehend] how great his ·wisdom [knowledge] is.
29 He gives strength to those who are tired
and more power to those who are weak.
30 Even ·children [youths; young people] become tired and ·need to rest [weary],
and young ·people [men] ·trip and fall [fall in exhaustion].
31 But the people who ·trust [hope in; wait on] the Lord will become strong again.
They will rise up ·as an eagle in the sky [L with wings like eagles];
they will run and not ·need rest [grow weary];
they will walk and not ·become tired [T faint]. Isaiah 40 EXB

Remember yesterday’s prayer? Remember Ephesians 1:17 asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you ·a spirit of wisdom[or spiritual wisdom; or the Spirit of wisdom] and revelation so that you will know him better? We cannot be strong in our own strength. We cannot muster enough to endure these life’s trials alone. His Spirit! His Spirit can give you the strength and wisdom.

I pray that Christ will ·live [make his home] in your hearts by faith and that your life will be ·strong in love and be built on love [L rooted and grounded in love].

 And I pray that you and all ·God’s holy people [T the saints] will have the power to ·understand[comprehend; grasp] the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is.

Remember Standing on the Promises of God? Paul’s prayer, Paul’s petition on our behalf reverberates through the entire Bible. His love.

11 As high as the ·sky [heaven] is above the earth,
so great is his ·love [loyalty] for those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7].
12 He has taken our ·sins [transgressions] away from us
as far as the east is from west.
13 The Lord has ·mercy [compassion] on those who ·respect [fear] him [Prov. 1:7],
as a father has ·mercy [compassion] on his children. Psalm 103 EXB

8 The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
9 Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts [Ps. 103:11]. Isaiah 55 EXB

And today, before I sign off,

Thankfuls

285. Thankful for Noah’s curriculum for high school.

286. Thankful for the gift of belly aching laughter.

287. Thankful for the splint in my mouth, that keeps the migraines at bay.

Today, friends, stand on His promises! Repeat them over and over.

Christ’s love is ·greater than anyone can ever know [beyond comprehension/knowledge], but I pray that you will be able to know that love. ·Then [L …so that] you can be filled with the fullness of God.

Be filled. Pray on. Pray on.

 

Categories: Bible teaching, Cara thoughts..., http://www.hellomornings.org/, Old Testament, Pictures from commons..., Thankfuls | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

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