Lord

Marshmallow shooters

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Creeping thistle. Photo by Ivar Leidus

Good morning, friend,

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

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

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

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

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

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

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

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

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

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

He didn’t.

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

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

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

We are clogging up our marshmallow shooters, people.

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

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

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

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

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

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Thunderstorm near Pritzerbe (Germany). Photo by Mathias Krumbholz

Good morning, friend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9 So God ·raised [exalted] him to the highest place.
God ·made his name [or gave him the name] ·greater than [far above] every other name
10 so that every knee will bow to the name of Jesus
everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
11 And ·everyone [L every tongue] will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
and bring glory to God the Father. Philippians 2 EXB

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

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

In ·Christ [L him] we ·are set free [have been redeemed/purchased] by ·the blood of his death [L his blood; C blood signifies his sacrificial death], and so we have forgiveness of sins. ·How rich is [or This redemption reveals the wealth of; L …according to the riches of] God’s grace…Ephesians 1 EXB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And today, before I sign off,

Thankfuls

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

286. Thankful for the gift of belly aching laughter.

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

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

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

Be filled. Pray on. Pray on.

 

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. 

Praise Be

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Rock Garden, Darjeeling Photo by JoyDeep

Good morning, beloved,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mist at Darjeeling Rock Garden Photo by JoyDeep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Romans 8:28

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

            2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 14

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

            will pass away.”          Revelation 21:4

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

 

My thankfuls:

272. Thankful for the message

273. Thankful for giggles

274. Thankful for a laugh filled night

 

Pray on. Pray on.

 

Stronger

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Reserve Dzhanhulskyy shear Coast by Balkhovitin

Good morning, beloved,

I began, in earnest, to organize school and co-op activities.  For our co-op, I co-teach a history/craft combo class and the time had come to finish my work on the class. One time period that I studied yesterday was the early 1800s, when many were flooding the banks of the eastern United States. I shudder to think how this girl would do with the circumstances of the character.  Three weeks on a tiny freight ship…moldy food, not much fresh air…or even better, the clothing worn, petticoats, skirts…I like my jeans. I like my sweatshirts and thick socks (it’s cold this morning). I like my fans that cool our house. I like refrigerators that cool our food and stoves that cook. Blender that crushes and smoothies. As I sat, reading through the character’s trials and joys, I was delighted to look up and see children reading books. Turning on lights to find their way, switching over laundry, loading the dishwasher…

Do you ever stop and thank God for what you have that you almost take for granted? When something breaks down in my house (which happens often), I realize all over again how grateful I am. This morning as I peer out through the trees listening to cars and trains, I am grateful. As I watch my hubby and early riser boy make themselves breakfast, all the while chatting, I am grateful. I am grateful for a puppy who just fits with our family. God has given me much.

Pause. Breathe. Look around you. Look at the lights that guide your way. Toilets that flush (sorry, but the character we were studying just had outhouses).

Outhouses in student’s tourist tent base in Jawornik, Beskid Niski, Poland Photo by Tomasz Kuran aka Meteor2017

:) (Couldn’t help myself)

All of these blessings…I bet you could add more.

What if it was all stripped away? What if…

all you had was Jesus? Would He be enough? How did Peter answer this question?

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?”

68 Simon Peter answered him,Lord [or Master], who would we go to? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One from God.”

Christians around the world are following Him no matter the cost.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is a good example. Or take a peek at the website for Voice of the Martyrs…our brothers, our sisters suffering for their love and devotion our Jesus. Our Lord.

So as you begin your day. As you gaze around breathing in and giving thanks, never forget the Amazing Grace you have been given.

There is this scene in The Bible (recently aired on the History Channel) where John is on the island. All alone. And we see Jesus coming for him. John’s eyes fill with tears. His years of sacrifice, trials and such are over. Jesus reaches out for him and John runs into His embrace. It was all worth it. It was all for His glory.

We need an eternal perspective on our lives. Our trials, our afflictions are momentary in the light of eternity.

All of this, these blessings are nothing if we just take, take, take and never give back, back, back. So today, may I urge you to give God the glory for the blessings in your life? May I urge you to ask the Lord today, how can I give back? How can I bless someone who comes in my path today? Let the Name of Jesus be lifted higher in your life today. We know we serve the God who is stronger, mightier, more wonderful that we can ever imagine. He will give us all we need for this day.

Join me in praying for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Don’t turn your back. Don’t allow busyness to distract you.

Pray on. Pray on.

To be with you…

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Egyptian camel transport passing over Olivet, 1918 Photo restoration by American Colony Jerusalem

Good morning beloved,

Today I felt a blanket of sadness and overwhelmedness (yes, it’s a word in Cara’s dictionary..) cover me from head to food. I woke up with grief about relationships and worry for the year ahead of homeschooling. I longed to download with my husband..ran out of time. I watched my children begin their descent into bickering. Honestly, my thoughts couldn’t have dug me any deeper, until I was reminded of a powerful truth by Ann Voskamp:

Give thanksLike a breath of fresh air, I remembered. I recalled. And the blanket has begun to fall by the wayside. You see, I began to see things in a new light. The kids began to play with the dog…together. We are teaching her to roll over and today, she is really getting it! Very fun. I was reminded of the honor of our friends’ request. I am reminded of the honor of being asked to help. Reminded of how far my boy has come.

I begin to give thanks, for His love endures forever.

33 Then the trees of the forest will ·sing [shout; cry out]
for joy before the Lord.
·They will sing because [For] he is coming to judge the ·world [earth].

34 Thank the Lord because he is good.
His ·love [steadfast love; lovingkindness] ·continues [endures] forever.
35 Say to him, “Save us, God ·our Savior [of our salvation],
and ·bring us back and save [gather and rescue] us from ·other [the] nations.
Then we will thank ·you [your holy name]
and ·will gladly praise you [glory in your praise].” 1 Chronicles 16 EXB

Worries pile up. They don’t have to.. we allow it. We allow the accusations to filter in. We have a choice.

you can listen for the music of nature. The wind whistling. The birds joining the chorus…the waves crashing. Give thanks.

For He is good. Remember. He is good.

His love endures forever. And ever. And ever. And ever.

It stretches higher and longer, friends. We have His manifest presence with us all the time. This song grips me and shakes me.

I am loved. Me! I am loved. I may not understand all but He gave it all.

You are loved. Give thanks.

Pray on.