Holy Spirit

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.

Promises

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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.

 

Casting aside

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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.

 

Abounding

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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.

 

The blessing

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Ephesus, view from the Marble Road Photo by Radomil 21:31, 30 November 2005

Good morning, beloved,

I have allowed the cares of this world to overwhelm me. I have been working on my own strength so much of the time. Last night, it finally dawned on me. Oh, how I hate that I have been suffocating under the weights of this world. I have this image in my mind this morning of swimming under water and waiting to come up for air until the last second. As I burst forth from the water, I breath in deeply and quickly. This morning, I am breathing deeply. I begin my day with thanksgiving.

281. I’m so thankful for Daniel, so thankful he talks to me, asks me to play games, still asks for hugs, still.

282. I’m thankful for football for Noah. He is coming alive with the discipline.

283. I’m thankful for Luke and his amazing ability to make people laugh. Me too.

284. I’m thankful for Ella, how she cares for her two dolls, brushing their hair, listening to books, peacemaker.

As I try to take apart each care and concern, I am vastly aware of my inadequacies to stand alone.  We were never meant to walk alone. It’s interesting. I didn’t even realize it until I looked back with the Lord at the telltale signs. Frustration mounts. Anger. You know what? I’m tired of these responses. I feel like my kids when they tell me that an undesirable action will never happen again. I want perfection in me! Lies, lies, lies.

17 If the Lord had not helped me,
I would have ·died in a minute [L quickly dwelled in silence].
18 I said, “·I am about to fall [L My feet totter],”
but, Lord, your ·love [loyalty] ·kept me safe [steadied/supported me].
19 ·I was very worried [L In my many disquieting thoughts in my insides],
but you comforted me and ·made me happy [cheered me up]. Psalm 94 EXB

The loyalty of His love, His comfort, His help…only can God love me like that, always. If not? I would have quickly dwelled in silence.

16 I ·have not stopped [never cease] giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers, 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. 18 I pray also that ·you will have greater understanding in your heart [L the eyes of your heart may be enlightened] so you will ·know [comprehend] the hope to which he has called us and that you will know ·how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised [the riches of his glorious inheritance for; or the glorious wealth of an inheritance that God possesses in] ·his holy people [T the saints].19 And you will know that God’s power is ·very [exceedingly; overwhelmingly] great for us who believe. That power ·is the same as [or was demonstrated in] the great strength. Ephesians 1 EXB

 I ·have not stopped [never cease] giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers…

I wonder if the Ephesians ever frustrated Paul. Did he ever feel like banging his head against a wall? It’s hard to bang your head against a wall while giving thanks. It is hard to stay frustrated when in your prayers you are always praying. The ones who give you grief? Pray.  The ones who just get you? Pray. Give thanks. Give thanks for God’s plan in our lives. Plan that includes people. Just sayin’.

…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.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our access to God. He is our glorious Father. To those who have father wounds, He is your glorious Father. To those who don’t think God could ever forgive them or love them, the Lord Jesus Christ made a way. To those who have lost their way, to those who need to come up for air, there is a way.  A way back home.

Paul cries out to the Lord praying that we would be given a spirit of wisdom. We are wise about spiritual, not in our own strength, but only through the gift of the Holy Spirit. I cannot look at my life and pretend to understand all He is doing. My attempts at understanding, my cries for help so often come from a very focused look at my circumstances.

Jesus Calling Trust

That, my friends, is wisdom talking. Our view of our life, our trials, our worries, even our joys must be filtered through the lens of trusting Him.

 I pray also that ·you will have greater understanding in your heart [L the eyes of your heart may be enlightened] so you will ·know [comprehend] the hope to which he has called us…

Lord, I have cried out for understanding. I have cried out for wisdom. Save us, Lord! Rather, I wonder if my prayer needs to switch. Lord, help me to understand, to comprehend the hope! Understand in greater detail the hope  

(7) Eph 1:18, “the hope of His (God’s) calling,” i.e., the prospect before those who respond to His call in the Gospel; Greek Lexicon blb.org

Have you responded to His call? His call found in Jesus?

…that you will know ·how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised [the riches of his glorious inheritance for; or the glorious wealth of an inheritance that God possesses in] ·his holy people [T the saints].

His blessings..rich and glorious..our inheritance…does it ever seem like those blessings seem too far away? They are not. They are so close, they are a breath away. And we cannot even imagine it all, it is too great a mystery. So, in the midst of the strain, in the midst of the concern, what if our focus trains on the cry to know, to understand deep in our hearts the blessing.

And you will know that God’s power is ·very [exceedingly; overwhelmingly] great for us who believe. That power ·is the same as [or was demonstrated in] the great strength…

Lord, I want to know God’s power. Your exceedingly, overwhelmingly will is very great. You can handle all that concerns me today. You can overcome my weakness. To trust in You, to find my hope in You, I cling to You.

Ephesus, theater Photo by Rita1234

Life is a breath. Looking at these pictures of the ruins of Ephesus reminds me. Today is a gift. It was what I have been given. I dedicate this day to You.

Pray on. Pray on.

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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. 

Love like a river

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Good morning, beloved,

Mossman River and Gorge Photo by Photnart

Your love is like a river…

37 On the last and ·most important [L greatest] day of the feast Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. [C The feast of Shelters/Tabernacles featured a water pouring ritual that may stand in the background of Jesus’ speech.] 38 If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s ·heart [L belly; gut], as the Scripture says[Is. 55:158:11Ezek. 47:1–12Zech. 14:8, compare John 4:10–11Rev. 7:1722:1].” 39 Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been ·raised to glory [glorified]. But later, those who believed in Jesus would receive the Spirit. John 7 EXB

I didn’t know where the Lord was taking me this morning with this song.  Yet He had a plan, and I needed to listen. Come with me? Water is a powerful metaphor in the Bible. We can all agree on this. I think where we fall short is our understanding of the context of this beautiful passage.  The Expanded Bible gave me some hints of the depth of this passage.  Notice in the brackets in verse 37, I’ve highlighted them. The feast of Tabernacles was nearing the end. This feast...

The Bible reveals dual significance in the Feast of Tabernacles. Agriculturally, Sukkot is Israel’s “thanksgiving,” a joyous harvest festival to celebrate the ingathering of grain and wine. As an historical feast, it’s main characteristic is the requirement to dwell in temporary shelters or booths in remembrance of God’s protection, provision and care during their 40 years in the wilderness. There are many interesting customs associated with the celebration of Sukkot. These are explained in detail by About.com’s Judaism Guide, Ariela Pelaia.

Jesus and Sukkot:

During Sukkot, two important ceremonies took place. The Hebrew people carried torches around the temple, illuminating bright candelabrum along the walls of the temple to demonstrate that the Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles. Also, the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and carry it to the temple where it was poured into a silver basin beside the altar. The priest would call upon the Lord to provide heavenly water in the form of rain for their supply. During this ceremony the people looked forward to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  (Feast of Tabernacles, Mary Fairchild)

So as the Jews were looking forward to the time of the Messiah, looking forward to an outpouring of God’s favor by bringing the Messiah to them, Jesus stood and provided the answer. He was the source of living water!  So when Jesus spoke these words, He was declaring Himself  as the Messiah and the fulfillment of these promises, these prophecies.

·Spoken words [L The words of a person’s mouth] can be like deep water, ·but [or and] the fountain of wisdom is like a flowing stream. Proverbs 18:4 EXB

The Banias Waterfall on Israel. Author: Nahum Dam (2004) Photo by NahumDam

Isaiah 44: 3 I will pour out water for the thirsty land and make streams flow on dry land. I will pour out my Spirit ·into your children [on your descendants/offspring/seed] and my blessing on your ·descendants [offspring].

I realize as I get older how much I love to be near water. I grew up spending time on the shores of Lake Michigan every summer. The warm sand, the cold water, the waves, the stillness, the thunderstorms that would fly across the water…so much of the Lord speaking to me. Now, as I take my children to Lake Michigan, as we live very close to a small lake, as we vacation (courtesy of my sweet neighbor) God draws me to Himself by way of His waters. I listen to music today and He declares to me, His Love is Like a River. Then I hear this one:

Isaiah declares the word of the Lord! He will pour forth water, streams will flow, His Spirit will pour out. And then jump back to Jesus’ words, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink!
I’ve heard it said,

I really like the message of the Bible, I just don’t think Jesus is the only way to God. There are many pathways to God.

Oh, my friends, if we truly look through the Old Testament, searching the clues, there is no way that we can come to this conclusion. I found this amazing article that discusses how Jesus is the only way.  He is the way, the truth and the life. Right?

17 “The poor and needy people look for water,    but ·they can’t find any [there is none].    Their tongues are ·dry [parched] with thirst.But I, the Lord, will answer ·their prayers [L them];    I, the God of Israel, will not ·leave them to die [L abandon/forsake them].18 I will ·make rivers flow [L open rivers] on the ·dry hills [barren heights]    and springs flow through the valleys.I will change the ·desert [wilderness] into ·a lake [pools] of water and the ·dry [arid; parched] land into ·fountains [springs] of water.John 7

So, we come. I come, Lord Jesus. I know that my help comes only from the Lord. I can face this day with You. I can show love and kindness, not in my strength, but in Yours alone. You are the rays of sunshine bursting through the trees.  Friends, what if it is all true? We never, ever need to be afraid. His love never fails. It never gives up. Mathematical Probability aside, Jesus fills. He restores. He will not leave you ever. Can anyone else make promises like this?
Dunwich Heath. Gorse Bushes on Dunwich Heath Photo by Edward

Pray on. Pray on.