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.
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.
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.
Good morning, friend,
[ Living in the Light ] You are God’s children whom he loves, so ·try to be like [imitate] him. ·Live a life of love [Walk in love] just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us as a ·sweet-smelling [fragrant] offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 EXB
We have another day of crazy cold around here. Yesterday was filled with experiments like throwing boiling water into the air and watching it freeze, seeing how long a wet wash cloth takes to become a solid and for good measure, we wanted to see how long it would take for an egg. A friend on Facebook gave us the idea..it has been amazing to see our community react to these temperatures. Our area has just shut down. No classes, no basketball, the kids are a little antsy to get back into the swing.
I am thankful today for a day at home with all four, to getting back into our routines and schedules. It begins again.
I am thankful for the Daily Audio Bible to my whole family. It is good to hear the Bible spoken at night across our house.
I am thankful for alarm clocks! My teenager is up and getting his day going! LOL
These past few nights have found me awake in the middle of the night. Have you ever noticed how, in the hours before dawn, you really cannot think clearly? Rational thought is not my best friend. Very often I turn to praying for family and loved ones, last night, though, my mind traced on old routes of worry and stress. The chains that had been gone for so long seemed to be creeping back in. I lay there stunned as the thoughts tumbled one after the other. I cried out, Jesus! And this song popped into my head, Man of Sorrows. Now there are two versions I know, one we sang on Sunday by Hillsong and a very old version by Phillip Bliss (another favorite.)
I kept singing what I could remember to myself. Over and over. The focus in my head became Jesus, Man of Sorrows rather than my worries. Check this out:
Now my debt is paid
It is paid in full
By the precious blood
That my Jesus spilled
Now the curse of sin
Has no hold on me
Whom the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed Lyric Freak
Free indeed! Whom the Son sets free! I throw my hands out in worship and thank Jesus for His precious, precious blood spilled. Yesterday, my daughter and I were discussing grace and she needed to write in her own words the definition. Grace is one of those words for me…a cue…grace=unmerited favor. Another one for me, salvation=deliverance, for some reason the words on the right of the equal sign keep the definition close. However, my girl wanted to just use my words. Ahh, no. So, how do you describe grace?
of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues
Of course, my girl was wishing she could copy that, which then led to entirely new conversation..I digress. Mom! He loves me! I don’t deserve it, do I? It’s a gift! She’ll learn more and more about His merciful kindness that turns her to Jesus as she grows. What is important now for her to remember, she is loved. It’s a crazy, wild love, she hasn’t done anything to earn it, yet it’s hers.
How I need that truth in the middle of the night!
Oh that rugged cross
Where Your love poured out over me
Now my soul cries out
Praise and honour unto Thee
Man of Sorrows…
3 He was ·hated [despised] and rejected by people.
·He had much pain [L A man of pain/suffering/T sorrows] and ·suffering [one who knew/was acquainted with pain/grief].
People ·would not even look at [turned their backs on; L hid their faces from] him.
He was ·hated [despised], and we ·didn’t even notice him [or did not esteem him].
4 But he ·took [bore] our suffering on him
and ·felt our pain for us [carried our sorrows/sickness].
·We saw his suffering
and thought God was punishing him [L …stricken and afflicted by him; C God].
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].
But the Lord has put on him ·the punishment
for all the evil we have done [L all of our sins/iniquity].
7 He was ·beaten down [oppressed] and ·punished [treated harshly; T afflicted
but he didn’t ·say a word [L open his mouth].
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 8:32; Matt. 26:63; Mark 14:61; John 19:9; 1 Pet. 2:23];
he never opened his mouth. Isaiah 53 EXB
Today, I begin this day weary, but encouraged. I know Jesus feels my pain. His punishment brought me wholeness and peace..so this creeping thought of worry and unrest, it is not welcome, nor is it from the Lord. I am healed because of His wounds. I am well! I am thankful. Today, a new day, the sun shines even with this incredible cold and reminds me I am free indeed. Yet, friends, this is not just for me! We!
Remember that beautiful definition of grace?
“.. merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues”
Remember that today. We are kept. We are strengthened. We are being increased in our faith, in our knowledge, and our affection! Not for the things of this world, not for the earthly pleasures that fade away, but for the Man of Sorrows, Lamb of God.
Pray on. Pray on.
Good morning, beloved,
I wake up now in complete darkness. Joshua and I are on week three of changing routines for our whole family. One of them for us is devotions and time with the Lord early. Routines are, for me, never easy to begin. Now looking back, I’m grateful we began. Last night I called Danny ready to remind him and he came trotting in saying, Mom, I know what you are going to say. I’ve already laid out my clothes and I know I need my meds. Thanks. Mom.
Open. Close Mouth.
Complete darkness in the morning? Here I come. I know daylight is coming.
We long for light. Our bodies cannot function, well, without the light. We stumble, we get depressed, we stub our toes, we fumble..it’s not pretty. I have to share this with you.
Light therapy might be as simple as getting up early and walking outside on a bright winter morning, Rosenthal tells WebMD. “You can also increase light in your home,” he says “Make one room a sun room.”
A technique called “dawn simulation” — in which a light is programmed to turn on early in the morning in your bedroom — can also help, Rosenthal says.
Light boxes are widely sold over the Internet and exposure to them can help. When buying one, get advice from your doctor and choose bigger ones — one that is at least 1 foot by 1.5 feet, Rosenthal says. These larger boxes have more supporting research, he says.
Patients sit in front of the light boxes daily for a specified amount of time. “Using light in the morning for a half hour to an hour is very effective,” says Stephen Josephson, PhD, a psychologist in New York City and associate professor at Cornell University Medical School and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. (Fending off Depression Symptoms in Winter, Kathleen Doheny, WebMd)
Light therapy. Our bodies crave light.
Dawn simulation. One of my favorite, favorite names of Jesus is the Bright and Morning Star.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to ·tell you [testify/witness to] these things for the churches. I am the ·descendant from the family of David [root and descendant/offspring of David; C a messianic title applied to Jesus; 5:4; Is. 11:10], and I am the bright morning star [2:28; Num. 24:17; C a messianic title].” Revelation 22 EXB
Have to share with you Numbers 24:17:
I see someone ·who will come someday [L but not now],
·someone who will come, but not soon [L I see him, but not near].
A star will come from Jacob;
a ·ruler [L scepter] will rise from Israel [C Saul, then David and his descendants, including the Messiah].
He will crush the heads of the Moabites
and smash the skulls of the sons of Sheth [C identity uncertain].
I’m suggesting to you…in addition to sitting in front of a light box, getting fresh sunlight, how about adding a regime of kneeling in front of the Light of the universe?
Where would I be without the Bright and Morning Star?
Oh friends, I don’t even want to dwell on that one. Look at Peter’s response to Jesus…
66 After Jesus said this, many of his ·followers [disciples] ·left him [L turned back to previous things] and ·stopped following[L no longer walked with] him.
67 Jesus asked ·the twelve followers [the Twelve], “Do you want to leave, too?”
I ache with these words. How often have I turned my back? How many times have I worked on building my own kingdoms (only to realize they are sandcastles..)? Barf. Gag.
Peter! Peter! He’s got it. Where would we go? It’s wild. It’s encouraging. It’s heartening.
Friends, Peter did go. Peter did deny Him. You remember that. When you turn your back, you start building your own kingdoms, you remember Peter.
Peter didn’t go anywhere Jesus couldn’t find him. Rescue him. Jesus rescues. That’s His business. Next time you see the light brimming over the dashboard. Rising over the houses. Setting over the soccer fields. You remember: He’s the light.
And He’s in the business of rescuing YOU.
A gift wrinkled, smoothed, unfolded (Ann Voskamp, Joy Dare):
130. My family three years ago, newly moved in here.
131. My family, the past year…smoothing…
132. My family…today. Thankful.
Pray on. Pray on.
Good morning, friends,
Today finds me grateful for yesterday. My world is spinning, my symptoms are intense today. However, yesterday, at church, at home, I was feeling better than I have in such a long time. Yesterday was a gift. Worshiping the God of heaven and earth brought our family such encouragement. There is an elderly woman at our church whom I always run to give her a hug. She always calls me honey and reminds me to stay encouraged. “I’m having surgery soon, honey, now I don’t want you to worry because I have the Lord by my side..” I love looking into her eyes and seeing such hope and love. She makes me think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:
42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead. [The body] that is sown is perishable and decays, but [the body] that is resurrected is imperishable (immune to decay, immortal).
43 It is sown in dishonor and humiliation; it is raised in honor and glory. It is sown in infirmity and weakness; it is resurrected in strength and endued with power.
44 It is sown a natural (physical) body; it is raised a supernatural (a spiritual) body. [As surely as] there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
Well, it is December 3rd, unbelievable how quickly this year has passed me by. I found a fabulous website that walks through the prophecies of the Old Testament about Jesus. I want to go through these prophecies on day at a time.
First, my thankfuls:
16. I’m thankful for Christmas cookies that my Mom and my kids made.
17. I’m thankful for our church and the community we share.
So, the first prophecy occurs in Genesis…
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her[a]Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel. (Christ fulfills through his victory over Satan the wonderful promise here spoken. See also Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31; Rom. 16:20; Gal. 4:4; Rev. 12:17.)
4 But when the proper time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born subject to [the regulations of] the Law,
5 To purchase the freedom of (to ransom, to redeem, to [a]atone for) those who were subject to the Law, that we might be adopted and have sonship conferred upon us [and be recognized as God’s sons]. (Webster’s New International Dictionary offers this as a definition of “redeem.”)
Commentary from the Precept Austin website:
Most conservative writers agree this is the Prot-evangelium (“First Gospel”), which
2) Promises the good news that the woman’s seed (Christ) would crush the Devil’s head, a mortal wound spelling utter defeat on the Cross where Jesus forever triumphed over Sin, Satan & Death. Satan bruising of Messiah’s heel pictures His suffering. Note God’s mercy to promise the Messiah before pronouncing sentence! The rest of the Old Testament proceeds to point ahead to the Seed, the Messiah.
W H Griffith Thomas writes that Genesis 3…
“is the call of Divine justice, which cannot overlook sin. It is the call of Divine sorrow, which grieves over the sinner. It is the call of Divine love, which offers redemption for sin.” (Genesis, A Devotional Commentary)
So today, as you go about your day, remember you are His child. You were bought at a price. Now you have been adopted. You belong to the King of Kings. I’m so excited to walk through these prophecies together! Remain here all month and we will keep looking for Jesus through the Old Testament.
Pray on. Pray on.
- GOD’S PROMISE – JESUS CHRIST – Seed of a Woman (ptl2010.com)
- As We Wait in Joyful Hope (fsdm.org.uk)
- Abiding In Christ (bjvillanueva.wordpress.com)
- We Can’t Give Thanks Enough! By Elaine Davenport November, 2012 (greatthanks.wordpress.com)