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Living By Design

 

Solomon wrote; “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23, NLT)  Good words, wise words.  Solomon was stinkin wise. 1 Kings 4:31 makes mention, listing those he was wiser than. In this list, among many, we find ‘Ethan the Ezrahite‘. Can you imagine going down in permanent history, basically being said of you, “Ethan, oh he’s the not so wise guy Dude!” – overshadowed by another, someone greater than you?  We live in a society where there are comparative views of about EVERYTHING.  “This tastes better than that… over there is more spacious than here…he sings better than him… she is prettier-thinner-gifted and smarter than her… they have more than us.”  Comparison.

Even though, Solomon was granted wisdom and a discerning heart by God (See conversation in 1 Kings 3) reading this narrative of Ethan, we can’t stop there! Scholars believe Psalm 89 is attributed to this same Ethan the Ezrahite. He is divinely granted parchment space of 52 verses.  He writes of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness of covenant, with strong worshipful words, “I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever; with my mouth, I will make Your faithfulness known through all generations.” (v1)  He goes on to declare  “You have made … established… You rule… crushed… scattered … founded, and created…”  THAT is some dandy declaring!

Overshadowed Ethan?  I think not.  Yes, not as wise by design as Solomon, but he was impacting, he was declaring, worshiping Ethan,  “O LORD God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty…” (v8)

May we be inspired, it is not a matter of comparison, but one of living by design. What will WE do, write or sing?

Stinkin wise?  Perhaps not, but making known God’s love and faithfulness.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

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Fresh Fire

 

The lamp, warm dancing flame seen with silhouetted patterns on the wall.  Soothing isn’t it?  One could sit for hours in its glow, just admiring the effect it has on us.  There is something about a flickering flame.

The Lord revealed Himself many times in the flame, the bush with Moses, where he was commissioned and Yahweh gives His name, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3) and the pillar of fire at night to the Israelites, extending His guidance (Exodus 13).  Solomon dedicating the Temple, fire came down from heaven as God’s glory filled it (2 Chron. 7). One cannot talk fire without mentioning the showdown on Mt. Carmel, Elijah and his God against the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) – we WIN!

Oh, we may not be calling God down from heaven these days to consume our sacrifice to prove a point, but the use of the flame on a smaller note we can understand.  The theme of the candle or lamp in the Bible is strong.  In Psalm 18:28 David writes “For thou wilt light my lamp: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.”   Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”   It is God that burns, His presence, His word that lights our way.

I am currently leading our women’s group through the study of the Tabernacle of Moses, amazing story of being set apart and of sacrifice and light.  With the joy and privilege of the lamps comes responsibility, requiring tending.  The priests DAILY tended to the lamp in the Tabernacle, along with the sacrifice and the water, these needed daily attention.  When God gave strict instruction of the articles for the Tabernacle, He included the ‘wick trimmers’ being made of pure gold. (Exodus 25:38)

In my research, I found the need that as we trim the wick short (i.e. of today’s waxed candles) we ‘cut off yesterday’s fire.’  If not, the wick begins to have a small build up causing the flame not to burn pure and burn too fast and this creating soot attaching itself to those things closest to the flame.  We trim for a fresh, even, pure, lasting flame!  Fresh Fire!  Does that stir something in you?

The Lord spoke to me about the need to come DAILY, seeking His presence, His word, that FRESH FIRE, depending not on yesterday, but tending to TODAY.  Representing a true pursuit of Him, giving Him priority and signifying value to our relationship.  As I trim my wick and prepare for a fresh word from God, His presence comes.  As He did with Moses, He will reveal Himself to me, commissioning me for the day.  As His child, He will guide me – His temple, He will fill me.  And just like Elijah, He will do great things in my midst.

How is our flame burning?  Are we tending?  Is it yesterdays fire, has it cooled down or gone out completely or perhaps a bit messy due to lack of attention.

Fresh fire.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Post Easter – Now What?

Earless chocolate bunnies and leftover deviled eggs in the frig. Post-Easter. Now what?   Do we rummage through the calendar for another holiday or event to look forward to? What excites us about the future or even … daily?   May I be so bold in asking, what causes our insides to burn with excitement, what consumes our mind and emotions, what drives our behavior?

Post-Easter.

Jesus’ resurrection is AMAZING!  WONDERFUL!  DIVINE! However, let’s not stop there. There is more!  Let’s unpack this in a brief summary.  Stay with me, this is good! Luke 24, it speaks of the women going to the tomb, once there they find two angels who notify them that Jesus was no longer there, He’s risen from the dead! The gals go back to tell the others. Peter, as energetic as he was, runs to go see and confirms Jesus wasn’t there.  Just following that, (v13) it says “Now that same day…” It proceeds to unfold the story of the two walking to Emmaus, who unknown to them at first, encounter Jesus. They are flabbergasted that this Stranger didn’t seem to know what had just transpired in Jerusalem.  Sharing their disappointment, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Going on they explained how Jesus’ body was not found. Verse 27, “Then He (Jesus) started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to Him.”   WOW, I’d love a one on one instant Bible study from the lips of the Master!

It wasn’t until Jesus was seated at their table, in their home and they accepted the bread He offered, and that their eyes were opened and they knew WHO He was. I love their response, “They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”  (v32)

Their hearts burning within them. I want spiritual heartburn! I want my soul, mind, thoughts, passions, desires, and appetites to burn with Him and His Word! The word Luke chooses to use for ‘burning’ is very colorful. It doesn’t just mean to strike a match and light the kindling and watch it slowly give off heat. No, it RAVISHES through the wood and consumes it!  Luke is emphasizing to be GREATLY moved of heart. Burn Lord!

Yet some would argue that the two didn’t even recognize Jesus when He shared the Word with them. However, Paul writes, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) To have the very Son of God, His presence and He b-r-e-a-t-h-e these words to them, teaching them, training them, equipping them – THAT would cause their heart to burn.  Notice Jesus didn’t lay hands on them, put mud on their eyes.  He didn’t even send them to the Priest for verification; He simply… walked with them. Walking and talking, and they were transformed.  The narrative says they got up at once and went back to Jerusalem testifying that Jesus has indeed RISEN.

For us? The next time we find our seat at church or open the Bible for devotion time, let’s not daydream off to another place, let’s do some focused walking and talking.  Jesus told us, “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things…” (John 14:26) We just need to show up for the lesson (And pay attention, take notes, ask questions).  THIS is the event, the daily event we will look forward to.

And …burn Lord, BURN within us!

Post-Easter.

Interesting: It was NOT the custom that the guest would serve the bread, but Jesus did – (COULD IT BE) as He pulled up the sleeves of His cloak, they saw the nail prints on His wrists! THERE! Do you see it! NOW! Recognizing Jesus! May we too be aware and see what He puts in front of us! (Point to Ponder)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

It is FINISHED – A Red Letter Day!

 

Have you ever sat and read the New Testament and read ONLY the words in red, Jesus’ words?  For a completely new perspective, I challenge us to do just that. I know context is everything, but let’s step out of the exegesis box (interpreting the scriptures) for a brief moment, to get an amazing snapshot of Jesus, His strength, authority, His love, and compassion.

Without all the narrative, those stand-alone red words pack a powerful punch, knowing they are Jesus. There are dramatic statements, strong commands, and tender words. “Let it be so…” (Matt 3:15) “It is written…” (Matt 4:4) “Get up…” (Matt 9:6) “Take courage it is I…” (Matt 14:27) “Quiet, be still…” (Mk 4:39) “Come forth …” (Jn 11:43) “Don’t be afraid just believe…” (Mk 5:36)  “What do you want Me to do for you…” (Mk 10:51) “Who do you say I am…” (Lk 9:20) “Then neither do I condemn you…” (Jn 8:11) “I am…” (Jn 18:6).

These are just a few, but there is one more that stands out among the rest. Here I do want to set the context. Jesus is agonizingly set between two thieves. His feet and hands are nailed to a wooden cross. There at the foot of the cross, many mocked, some cried and I am confident there were those in complete silence. After the vinegar water was given to Jesus, He said, “It is finished…” (John 19:30) He then bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

‘It is finished’.  (Hang with me, this is GOOD God stuff!)  The word in Greek is amazing! Stand back and take in the whole Technicolor filled screen, I don’t think even Steven Spielberg with all his creative genius could convey the scene that was unfolding upon humanity. ‘It is finished’ (Tetelestai) “To bring to an end, to fulfill. What is done corresponds to what has been said, ordered or commanded.”  (“Not My will, but Your will be done.” – Jesus, Lk 22:42) It is accomplishing something not merely to end it, but bring it to perfection for its designed goal.” (Please read that again).  It signifies the successful end to a particular course of action. Grammatically in the Greek, it is a crucial word; it is in the ‘perfect tense’.  Meaning the action was completed in the past with results continuing in the present. Basically, “This happened and it is still in effect TODAY.”  One might say, “The gift that keeps on giving.”  This is different from ‘past tense’, which points to an event, declaring ‘This happened – nothing more -the end’.

NOT our Jesus, He is our NOW God!

As Jesus said this, His blood flowing down His forehead, from His hands and His feet, His sacrifice, now eliminating the debt owed by mankind (you and me). May we take careful notice, Jesus didn’t say. “I am finished.”  That would imply He a mere man and die defeated. Instead, He declares, “It is finished.”  When He died and with His resurrection power, He left no unfinished business behind, He successfully completed the work He came to do.  Please note (this is HUGE) – when Jesus rose from the dead and the stone was found ‘rolled away’ it was NOT so He, (the Son of God, Who walked on water, Who spoke to the wind and waves and they obeyed) could get out, it was so mankind could get in!  Get in and see “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying.” (Matthew 28:6)

As the pages turn from Genesis to this very moment, Jesus rises from the dead triumphantly (Happy Easter) the bridge back to the Father is perfected – He engages and commissions the disciples, returns to heaven to reign forever. Does it end here?  No. Now we the church, with the authority given by Jesus Himself, as inspired by Holy Spirit carry on with the red letter commands, statements, and tender words.

Move over Easter Bunny, here comes the risen King! “It is finished!”  Relationship offered, relationship restored. May we live each day as a red-letter day!

In Him, DeDe  (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”- Hebrews 10:24)

* Resources: Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Vine’s Expository of New Testament Words, Strong’s Greek Dictionary, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, NASB Hebrew-Greek Dictionary, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. And any other resource I forgot to tag, yet skimmed through.  Greek Interlinear Bible words it: “He said, “It has been accomplished.” (Yes, I am a God loving, His daughter, passionate for His Word geek).

 

Remember (Easter Devo)

We might say we need to remember that Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska for the seven across answer on a crossword puzzle, or that in ‘1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue’ for a rousing game of Trivia – facts, mere facts.   However, remembering in the Bible is different.  Jewish culture treats remembering as a behavioral response, just as hearing and obeying are synonymous. Some 235+ times remember is mentioned.  In the Hebrew, it literally means ‘to properly mark, so as to recognize.’ The first mention is found in the story of Noah.  God puts Noah, his family and the animals in a big boat, while outside the rains are in a downpour, the waters rise and the boat stays afloat for many days. “But God remembered Noah and all… and He sent a wind over the earth and the waters receded.” (Genesis 8:1). God marked Noah.  His plan was implemented and in process.  Genesis 9, the ark now sits on dry ground, Noah and family are out, the animals disperse, God promises not to destroy everything with water again, sealing His promise, He gives a rainbow as a reminder:

“I have set My rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”  (Genesis 9:13-16 NIV, emphasis mine)

The sign of the rainbow is a reminder to GOD – when the bow appears, He remembers, His response would be consistent with His covenant.  He remembers, He rescues and He acts. Remember.  Isaiah speaks on behalf of God, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25, see also Hebrews 10)    God’s response is consistent with His character.  His plan was implemented and in process.

God often directs His people in the Old Testament to remember their past and all that He had said and done for them: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you… Remember the Sabbath… Remember the law…”  Why?  So their behavioral response would reflect revelation, awareness of their God, and of relationship, they are His.

Remember.

Jesus also speaks of remembering.  The Last Supper, He instructs the disciples to take the bread and the cup, representing His body and blood and “Do this in remembrance of Me.”(Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 11) His plan was implemented and in process. We, who are heirs of all the promises (Galatians 3:29) are to remember.  The call to remember goes beyond mental facts, beyond partaking of the bread and wine, it is a call for response – of recognition – ALL that He is, all that He did, we remember His covenant, His character… He remembers, He rescues and He acts -invoking a response on our part of worship and of lifestyle.

This world is loud and crazy busy – as we near Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Happy Easter!) may we take pause of life, and of heart and properly mark Jesus!  His plan was implemented and in process – “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  Can I get an AMEN!

Remember.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

HOSANNA – Palm Sunday Devotional

Before the hiding of the colored Easter eggs, unwrapping the coma-inducing sugar Peeps, we celebrate Palm Sunday, the Sunday prior to Easter.  Often at church, we sit with large smiles on our faces as the children walk down the aisles waving over-size palm branches. The worship leader steps forward as we bust out a hardy rendition of ‘Hosanna.’

Hosanna. What an amazing prophetic word. Looking at Mark chapter 11, it vividly explains the events of the day.  Jesus and the disciples are preparing to come into Jerusalem.  Jesus sends two of them ahead to get a young donkey, “Go into that village over there.” He told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.” (v2) Further in the narrative, “When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, He sat on it.” (v7) Jesus steps up and sits down; I believe the colt knew, knew the King of Majesty now drapes his back.

As Jesus rides through the cobblestones streets, the crowd begins to yell “Hosanna… Hosanna in the Highest” waving palm branches with enthusiasm.  It was common practice in the ancient world to welcome home a king or war hero by laying down branches in front of them, liken to our ‘ticker tape’ celebrations today.

Hosanna is the Greek version of the Hebrew saying ‘yasha na’ (yaw-shaw naw) meaning ‘Save now we pray.’ This taken from what is known as the Hallel, (Jewish prayerful readings of Psalms 113-118) specifically here, “O LORD, save us; (HOSANNA!) O LORD , grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.” (Psalm 118:25, 26-emphasis mine)

Can we grasp the impact of what they are saying? Jesus was fulfilling the prophetic words of Zechariah, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (9:9)

However, just 4 chapters later, the crowd was again yelling, but this time; “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mark 15:12-14). Little did they know they were basically yelling the same thing. Both times! For you see beloved, for Jesus to ‘save we pray’ they had to ‘Crucify Him!‘ He allowed it. He laid down His life for YOU, and for me. By this act and He resurrecting from the dead with all Kingly authority and power, He stood in the gap, reaching for your hand and placing it into the hand of the Father.  He is the Restorer of relationship, God, and mankind.

This weekend, as we sing our ‘Hosannas’ may we whole-heartedly consider the fulfillment.  Jesus riding an untamed colt in a King’s procession, the people crying out “SAVE WE PRAY!”  THAT He did!

Hosanna, the gospel in one word, good news for today!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Kingly Perfumed – Easter Devotional

Six days before the Passover…” Mary took a pint of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet, the house filled with the fragrance, (much to Judas’ dislike).   This was one day prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry (John 12).

The narrative describes the triumphal entry, “The next day…” it is safe to say, Jesus still smelled quite fragrant from the oil.  This being of Jewish telling, in Jewish culture, whilst Jewish people stood on the street as Jesus passed by, they (potentially) smelling the fragrance, resonated the Kingly procession, as they shouted: “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the King of Israel.

Anointing was a priestly and kingly custom: “He (Moses) poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron’s head and anointed him to consecrate him.” (Leviticus 8:12)  “Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head…” (1 Samuel 10:1) “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him (David) in the presence of his brothers…” (1 Samuel 16:13)   “… they acknowledged Solomon son of David…anointing him before the LORD to be ruler…” (1 Chronicles 29:22) Interesting, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.  Could it be, (just an observation) yes, the custom was washing the visitor’s feet from the dusty paths but could the anointing of His feet, (not His head) display the declared Majesty of God on earth, His Kingly walk among man, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the One & Only, who came from the Father, full of grace & truth.” (John 1:14)

The word John uses, as Mary’s perfume is ‘myron’ a form of ‘myrrh.’  Sound familiar? What is the divine significance of myrrh? It was an ingredient used in the anointing oil of the Tabernacle and the priests.  (Exodus 30:22-23) The perfumed oil poured over Jesus’ feet.  (John 12:3)  It was also an ingredient in the spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial.  (John 19:39-40) And we can’t forget the gift given to the toddler Jesus by the Magi (Matthew 2:9-12).

Could the people on the street smell their King coming, perhaps, perhaps not, but what beautiful imagery of the thread of anointing oil through biblical history as it wraps its way around Jesus.

“Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord Blessed is the King of Israel.”

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)