New Testament

Heart of Stone

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Good morning, beloved,

One of the most difficult things about reading the Bible is understanding context, at least to me. The Gospel writers are telling the stories to their audience, of their day, of their time, knowing who will be receiving the letters. For instance, as I write this blog, there are certain ways, sayings, idioms that we understand, but to someone 2000 years from now, the meaning may be lost to them.

In the following story, so often, we are very hard on Peter. We criticize Peter for rebuking Jesus or for a lack of understanding. Let’s read and then we’ll discuss…or rather, I’ll discuss. I’d love to have your comments!

Mark 8

29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[d] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

So, in verse 29, Jesus bluntly drills Peter. Who am I? Peter knows the answer and without missing a beat…

You are the Christ. 

You are the Messiah. The long expected One, the One my ancestors have been waiting for, we have longed for..I’m staring right at Him. He’s here. And I’m telling Him to. His. FACE. Exit stage left. New scene…

Verse 31. Okay, so this could have happened right after. This could have been a couple of days later. We don’t exactly know. These are memories Mark is writing down, right? So, the next entry begins…

Jesus began to teach…

Verse 32. Peter amazes. You can see why Jesus said upon this rock I will build my church,(Matthew 16:18) right? I mean, it really does take a certain type of strength to pull the Son of Man aside and rebuke Him. Obviously, Jesus saw Peter’s heart. Jesus saw what Peter was doing and it was not after God’s interests, it was man’s. See the rest of these verses.

Peter, in his heart, was not setting his mind and heart on God’s interests, but man’s. Here’s the problem though, and Jesus knew this intimately. He explained this to the disciples before He left them. This was prophesied in Jeremiah. Peter and the rest of the disciples had hearts of stone. They were softening. They needed, well, look with me.

Jeremiah 31

33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

The first covenant that the Lord made with His people Israel was on stone tablets. The Lord was telling Jeremiah there would be a covenant to come, a new covenant and He would put the law in them. Let me remind you of something Jesus said that the Last Supper…

Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

Know the Lord, for they will all know Me…The beauty of the fulfillment of Scripture! Let me show you this! :)

John 14: 

If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more…Jesus, the Lamb of God, would come and take away the sins of the world by dying on that terrible cross. A scene that our beloved Peter, the redemption scene for Peter, for poor Peter, his story is not perfect. He denies Jesus. He falls many times before that church is built on his back. Let me share with you, Peter’s redemption…

John 21:15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon,son of John, do you [f]love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [g]love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you [h]love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I [i]love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you [j]love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you [k]love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I [l]love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.

That heart of stone that we beheld in the beginning of this blog? Gone. It has been replaced. A beautiful transformation, all because of Jesus.

Pray on. Pray on.

This is My Son

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Baptism-of-JesusGood morning, beloved,

Imagine the day with me. The Bible doesn’t tell us the time of day, but I’d like to think John the Baptist has been hard at work all day, teaching, baptizing and guiding people to the truth. He is exhausted. Yet, he knows his purpose. He knows the plan. He will not give up. He pushes his hair from his eyes and looks up to the horizon and there he sees a man. This was not just any man. I wonder if the Spirit stirred within him as He did when John jumped for joy in the womb upon seeing Mary. He came to the water’s edge.

John 3

13 ·At that time [Then] Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River ·and wanted John to baptize him [L to be baptized by John]. 14 But John tried to ·stop [deter; dissuade; prevent] him, saying, “·Why do [Do] you come to me to be baptized? I need to be baptized by you!”

15 Jesus answered, “Let it ·be this way for [happen] now. ·We should do all things that are God’s will [or In this way we will do what God requires; L For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness].” So John ·agreed to baptize Jesus [gave in; consented; allowed it].

This was to be no ordinary baptism, no ordinary encounter. Listen to Jesus’ words even here.

Let it be… In a way, Jesus was calming the storms within John. Peace, be still. This is your calling.

Do all things that are God’s will…God has seen fit that John baptize Jesus. In doing so, we learn and see the Trinity.

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then ·heaven[the sky/heavens] opened, and he saw God’s Spirit ·coming down [descending and lighting/settling] on him like a dove [C either in the form of a dove, or in bird-like descent]. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my ·Son, whom I love [dearly beloved Son; Ps. 2:7; Gen. 22:2], and I am ·very [well] pleased with him [Is. 42:1].”

Jesus, the Son..as soon as Jesus was baptized..

God’s Spirit…coming down lighting on him like a dove..

God the Father…a voice from heaven, This is my Son…

Jesus, there’s just about that name. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

  • Greek: iesous
  • is a transliteration of the Heb. “Joshua,” meaning “Jehovah is salvation,”
  • Thus ‘Christ Jesus’ describes the Exalted One who emptied Himself, Phl 2:5, and testifies to His pre-existence; ‘Jesus Christ’ describes the despised and rejected One Who was afterwards glorified, Phl 2:11, and testifies to His resurrection. ‘Christ Jesus’ suggests His grace, ‘Jesus Christ’ suggests His glory.” *

Spirit of God. From Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words:

  • Greek: pneuma
    1. the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son

      1. sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his personality and character (the “Holy” Spirit)

      2. sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his work and power (the Spirit of “Truth”)

      3. never referred to as a depersonalized force

How can I be so sure that we see the Trinity here? I know, the words. This is my Son. I’ve heard the argument, maybe it was an angel. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit speaking on God’s behalf. We can look no further than the Greek itself. Beautiful.

Voice:

“a sound,” is used of the voice

(a) of God, Mat 3:17;

Friends, the voice? The voice was God’s. And, so Matthew has recorded here in his beautiful gospel the Trinity together in one place for us all to behold.

A voice from heaven said, this is my Son with whom I am well pleased.

We can learn so much by study and reflection into the word of God. By learning and loving His word, join me, won’t you?

Pray on. pray on.

John The Baptizer

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I must admit posting a video of Handel’s Messiah on the cusp of June feels a bit like walking into a store in October with Christmas decorations. Bear with me.

When our President comes to town, roads close, traffic comes to a halt. Here’s an example from a recent trip to Chicago:

http://www.nbcchicago.com/portableplayer/?cmsID=253610081&videoID=jir5R8bRn8Fv&origin=nbcchicago.com&sec=blogs&subsec=ward-room&width=600&height=360

The town prepares. I don’t even know what the Secret Service and government does. I’m not going to even try to research that.

When Mark introduces us to the Beautiful, he tells us about His messenger first. And He starts by reminding us about a prophecy in Isaiah.

This passage in Isaiah is a comfort passage. The Messiah is coming, beloved. Your God has not forgotten about you. Your God has not abandoned you. Make the roads ready. In the Old Testament times, when the people knew that their king was coming they would prepare the roads, fill in the holes, make the kingdom ready! They wanted to be ready for their king.

Well, John is the messenger. According to David Guzik,

John the Baptist’s was the one crying in the wilderness, and through his message of repentance, he worked to prepare the way of the LORD. We often fail to appreciate how important the preparing work of the LORD is. Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry. “John was God’s bulldozer to build that highway.” (Steadman)

Who is John the Baptist?

The Prophecies

Malachi Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], Whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the Messenger or Angel of the covenant, Whom you desire, behold, He shall come, says the Lord of hosts.

But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the priests, the sons of Levi, and refine them like gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord offerings in righteousness.

Parentage

We’ve looked at his parents in my earlier blog. John comes from a priestly heritage on both sides. Zacharias came from the division of Abijah. There were 24 divisions of priesthood according to 1 Chronicles 24. Elizabeth was a daughter of Aaron.

Description

Matthew 3:This same John’s garments were made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

Jesus described John best. :)

Matthew 11

Then as these men went their way, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: What did you go out in the wilderness (desert) to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

What did you go out to see then? A man clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in the houses of kings.

But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one [[b]out of the common, more eminent, more remarkable, and] [c]superior to a prophet.

10 This is the one of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who shall make ready Your way before You.

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a [d]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].

13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied up until John.

14 And if you are willing to receive and accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come [before the kingdom].

His work

  • Temporary…Matthew 3 In those days there appeared John the Baptist, preaching in the Wilderness (Desert) of Judea

And saying, Repent ([a]think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, [b]direct).

28 You yourselves are my witnesses [you personally bear me out] that I stated, I am not the Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), but I have [only] been sent before Him [in advance of Him, to be His appointed forerunner, His messenger, His announcer].

29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the groomsman who stands by and listens to him rejoices greatly and heartily on account of the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my pleasure and joy, and it is now complete.

30 He must increase, but I must decrease. [He must grow more prominent; I must grow less so.]

33 You yourselves have sent [an inquiry] to John and he has been a witness to the truth.

34 But I do not receive [a mere] human witness [the evidence which I accept on My behalf is not from man]; but I simply mention all these things in order that you may be saved (made and kept safe and sound).

35 John was the lamp that kept on burning and shining [to show you the way], and you were willing for a while to delight (sun) yourselves in his light.

The fame

Matthew 3

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him;

And they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins.

Jesus heard. Jesus came. And just as quickly as John’s flame burst on to scene? It was swept away…

Luke 3:

19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been [repeatedly] told about his fault and reproved with rebuke [h]producing conviction by [John] for [having] Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the wicked things that Herod had done,

20 Added this to them all—that he shut up John in prison.

John then spends eleven chapters of Matthew in prison and we hear nothing of John the baptizer. Then, we hear. John is having doubts. The man who pointed Jesus out to all of his followers in the beginning? He isn’t sure.

Matthew 11

When Jesus had finished His charge to His twelve disciples, He left there to teach and to preach in their [Galilean] cities.

Now when John in prison heard about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples

And asked Him, Are You the One Who was to come, or should we keep on expecting a different one?

And then…

Matthew 14

And he said to his attendants, This is John the Baptist; He has been raised from the dead, and that is why the powers [a]of performing miracles are at work in Him.

For Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison [to [b]stow him out of the way] on account and for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,

For John had said to him, It is not lawful or right for you to have her.

Although he wished to have him put to death, he was afraid of the people, for they regarded John as a prophet.

But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst [before the company] and pleased and fascinated Herod,

And so he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

And she, being put forward and prompted by her mother, said, Give me the head of John the Baptist right here on a [c]platter.

And the king was distressed and sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests, he ordered it to be given her;

10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.

11 And his head was brought in on a [d]platter and given [e]to the little maid, and she brought it to her mother.

Whoosh. That was a ton of reading. Hope you learned a little about John. All in one place.

Zacharias’ Monologue

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Good morning, friends,

So the Bible study began two nights ago, it was a beautiful thing to see all the women come out discuss, discover and uncover truths in the word. Those that have done Pam’s studies before, the seasoned look, yep, lots of work. Those who are new have a more “deer in the headlights” look or “what have I gotten myself into” look or “how can I dash outta here and look cool” look.

We did the first week together, discussing the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Now, this week the ladies on on their own. We read these events so frequently, don’t we? That we forget how shocking they really are to the system. Angels, teenagers with babies, love came to earth and changed it all.

Recently, Noah took a class with our local drama club and studied Shakespeare. Be still my heart, he loved it The woman who taught his class brought Shakespeare alive with many different methods and ideas and techniques. He memorized some brief monologues to recite in class and then perform at the end of season show. What struck me about Shakespeare this time around, because, well, I love Shakespeare, I teach him to my kids, I’ve taught a class in my co-op…I get pretty passionate about igniting a love for him, the beauty of his monologue. Oh, it’s witty, it’s beautiful, it’s gorgeous.

I got to thinking about some of the “monologues” that greet us in the first few chapters of the New Testaments, especially the one ignited by the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at that one together. By the way, you heard me right, ignited by the Holy Spirit. First part of the New Testament, not in Acts, not part of the sweeping, powerful movement of Pentecost, this was Zacharias. Check it out.

Luke 1

67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of David His servant—
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old—
71 aq]”>[aq]Salvation from our enemies,
And from the hand of all who hate us;
72 To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to Abraham our father,
74 To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.
76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;
77 To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
ar]”>[ar]By the forgiveness of their sins,
78 Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
79 To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Remember Zacharias, right? He was serving in the temple, visited by the angel Gabriel and told that his wife would bear a son who turn the hearts back to the Lord and make way for the Messiah. Oh, yeah? How can I be certain? (FACE PALM) Well, easy for me to say, as I’m sitting here comfortably in my pjs, with my cup of coffee, dog at my heels, typing away at my laptop making judgments and NOT in a temple with the angel Gabriel.

Anyway, go back up to verse 67, and let’s pull this text apart together. His name, Zacharias, means God remembers. So, even as Z was entering this world God was blessing the world by reminding us all that He remembers. He doesn’t forget His promises. He won’t let go. Elizabeth was old! And yet, God had a plan, a beautiful plan for this couple that included a baby.

was filled with the Holy Spirit. Before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was bestowed for certain times, on certain people. On Saul, who can forget when the Holy Spirit was removed? On David, when the Spirit entered…See 1 Samuel 16 for further study.

And so the song, the monologue begins. John’s name means grace of God and so this song, we shall see, shows us the loving grace of God.

accomplished redemption. Deliverance, release, purchase from slavery for His people.

raised up a horn of salvation. picture of horns of a most powerful beast, symbol of power, strength, used in battle and where is this coming from? The house of David, lineage of the tribe of Judah, Mary and Joseph are both from the line of David.

salvation, deliverance. All prophesied ahead of time, friends, now coming true in the Messiah. It’s all happening, in their time.

mercy, remember what John’s name meant? Grace. And remember what Zacharias’ name meant? God remembers. His holy covenant. He was bringing all together. Oh, and Elizabeth’s name means oath of God.

oath which He swore. 

grant us rescue. Deliverance from danger! Salvation! Serve Him.

Now imagine this next part, Z holding his precious child, after nine months of being mute, able to bless this child and see the promise come true. The promise he scoffed. Yet, here was the gift. Oh, how gracious is our God.

John…this is who you will be.

  • prophet of the Most High
  • go on before Him
  • prepare His ways
  • to give His people the knowledge of salvation (words of life, hope)
  • he grew, he became strong in spirit, lived in the deserts until his appearance in Israel

Jesus…what does Zacharias say about Jesus.

  • He is the redemption
  • He is the horn of salvation
  • He is the fulfillment spoken by the prophets of old
  • He is the salvation from the enemies and from the hand of all the enemies who hate us
  • He is mercy
  • He is the fulfillment of the covenant
  • He is our rescue, the oath
  • The Lord, the forgiveness of our sins
  • The Sunrise…the anatole, the dawn from on high who will visit us..oh, that’s lovely…
  • To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death
  • A guide for our feet into the way of peace…

That is quite a list. Over the night I had a dear one request prayer. It was not specified. It was not quantified. That’s okay. God knows. I love this list to pray over someone in dark times, to remember the truth in dark times. Darkness will not win, my dear one. I wasn’t going to include this image but I am…John Piper in a message on this passage describes the horn of salvation this way: (This is written in my Bible from 5 years ago so please allow for some error…)

This symbol of power can be best summed up as a wild ox seven feet tall. The crown of his head is nine feet tall. Both sides of his horn curving up and out, six feet long, twelve inches thick at the base. He stands at the top of the hill, sunlight shooting out all around him, his massive neck slightly cocked. And impaled at the end of his right horn hangs a lion, dead. A conqueror. Imagine the power.

Our God is strength. Our God is power. No matter what our circumstances may seem right now, He is over them and He loves you. Cling to Him.

Pray on. Pray.

Prayers

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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.

 

Rubble

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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.

 

Whac-A-Mole

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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.