Ever been in a situation that seems just too big, too deep and basically moving way too fast that you feel it is impossible to cross or get through? You begin to look for alternatives to get to the other side. But frankly there aren’t any. You just have to – go through.
Joshua chapter 3. Brief building-up-to summary; Moses guides the Israelites out of Egypt and out of slavery. They are heading to the Promised Land. They wander for forty years. Following Moses’ death, Joshua, who now holds the reins of leadership, prepares the people to cross the Jordon. Their tents are pitched at the river’s edge.
They could see it, after all those years, THERE it was! Only the river stands between them and their inherited land. The river is at flood stage. It is bigger, wider, faster and deeper than expected. Joshua summons the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (v.5). Yes, God’s going to have to do something amazing to get them through! Amazing.
As instructed by God, Joshua has the priests head out first, carrying the ark of the covenant, representing God’s very presence, on their shoulders. “When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s water, go and stand in the river.” (v.8). Just stand. As they did, upriver, the water backed up, the flow stopped. They walked to the middle of the river. Standing firm on dry ground the Israelites passed by, the priests stayed right there until all passed to the other side. Twelve men were chosen to gather a stone from the river and take it with them to the other side, building an altar. God solidly and very clearly getting them through troubled waters! Indeed proving that what lies on the other side, they would (with His help) be able to conquer, whatever and whoever.
Interesting, we can connect this to the story where God tells Abe and Sarah that in their old age, they will have a son and remember Sarah laughs? (Genesis 18:14). God responds, “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.” Too hard, it is the same Hebrew amazing word as in Joshua. Is anything too hard for God? No. THAT is our amazing God!
Like with Israel, the rivers edge is a meeting place with God. A place of dedication, devotion and purpose. Coming to the river is a place of decision. Our inheritance (joy, freedom, assurance, security, love…) awaits us on the other side. Our option? Cross or stay. Stay, just watch the water go on by. Or turn back … into the desert, wander some more, go back into captivity.
We do as the twelve rock toting men did, we take something from the river as a reminder and build in our heart as an altar before God. Here and now YOU preserved me, YOU brought me through, YOUR presence stayed there in the middle of it all, delivering me to the other side!
Delivering waters need to be crossed. God with us, God in us, God delivering us from what we deem impossible – impassable. THAT is our amazing God!
At the river’s edge.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Familiarity. It can be comforting, with a sense of security. I am reminded of a tremendous moment I experienced while working as a caregiver at a local assistant living home. Most of the folks were self-sufficient, enjoying the social aspect of the facility. While others struggled with high moments of joy only to be overrun with the anger and fear found in Alzheimer’s. While checking on a resident, it was pointed out to me that “Preacher” (whom I lovingly nicknamed) was wandering the halls. I went and found him. The look on his face was complete lost-ness. His aged demeanor in the previous days was that of dignity, maturity, and strength, but not today.
We had shared many conversations in the past, he tenderly spoke sermons as we shuffled to the dining hall. However today, there was no sermon. Alzheimer’s had again reached out and pulled him in. Finding him in the hall near his apartment, I suggested we go in and sit down for a little while. Taking the key, he held in his hand, I opened the door and lead the way. Preacher took a seat on his sofa, his eyes wandering about the room, as if looking for something ANYTHING that defined this place his, his home, which defined …him.
Looking at me with longing, he told me that his house, just across the river was a nice little place. Confusion taking over his continence, “But this morning when I woke up, I was here. All my furniture, my things, but this is not my little house.” Leaning forward, looking deep into my eyes, with bewilderment and agitation, he whispered, “What should I do?”
My eyes returning the intensity of his, I asked him, “Would you mind if we prayed, we’ll talk to God?” It was THEN, there it was, and there HE was. Something sparked familiarity. He may not have recognized me, or the place, or the time, but GOD he knew! His eyes began to well up. I reached for his hand, he in turn enveloped mine in his. And I prayed. I prayed for peace, for clarity of mind, and for God’s all-consuming calmness to come on him. As my words quieted, he too with confidence and strength that exceeds any I have known – prayed. When the final “Amen” was said, he grasped my hands a little tighter and generously thanked me.
As the Psalmist writes in Psalm 71, “In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge… Be my rock of refuge, to which I can go … for You have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth…” (vv 1,3,5). Preacher conditioned himself over the years, to know his God, he KNOWS his God. He knows who and where he belongs. God is familiar. Familiarity prompts. It prompts what has well-worn our thoughts, our actions, and become embedded in our mind and heart.
There WILL be times when life gets unfamiliar – even fearful. When we too may wander the halls of this world. However, may we all be like Preacher, position and condition, and train to know our God. When His name is spoken, His word recited, and heavenly conversations suggested – something sparks in us.
Find Him familiar.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24)
Jesus is in the home of the sisters, Mary & Martha. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. Martha (being the Martha Stewart of the day) was in the kitchen working. Luke (10:38-42) describes Martha; while hospitality was a cultural expectation, she was distracted by all the stuff, the preparations, and the work. Frustrated, she urges Jesus to encourage Mary to help her. Jesus tells Martha, “you are anxious and troubled about many things” (v41, ESV). He continues that Mary is good right here – at His feet.
Mary was at Jesus’ feet. What a beautiful place to be. It is the place of learning. The custom was as a disciple, you sit at the feet of your Rabbi, your teacher. The one who you follow with your life. The one you desire to emulate. The common practice was for men not women to sit before a Rabbi. But here, here Mary boldly sits. Jesus so accepting of her.
Later, (John 11) Lazarus, the sisters’ brother is dead. He’s been in the grave four days. Jesus comes to them. Mary is again at His feet, this time, heartbroken. “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet…” (v32).
Looking at Mary’s example, I have much to learn. I desire to be at Jesus’ feet, in the good times and not distracted by the stuff, or anxious and troubled. Or by what others are demanding of me, or what society expects of me. I want also to be at Jesus’ feet when my heart is overwhelmed, when tears stain the pages.
At His feet – In the good and in the painfilled.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
“One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD. And to meditate in His temple.” King David, Psalm 27:4, NASB
The word behold points to bygone days and may be considered archaic and obsolete. With the ever-growing society, some words tip and fall, deemed no longer useful or necessary and easily replaced.
Webster’s defines behold, “to gaze upon or observe a remarkable or impressive thing or person.”
What do we behold?
The English Standard Version uses behold a total of 1,069 times. In both the Old and New Testament, behold renders two uses. First, in context to an unrestrained interjection of new or exciting elements into the story. Essentially, “See here!” or “Look and take note!” In the Hebrew it is attached to hope, expectation, and certainty. Isaiah declares, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2, emphasis mine).
John, expressing his revelation and interaction with Jesus, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:17-18). God is our strength and salvation and Jesus alive forevermore and He has the keys – YES! Exciting elements indeed!
The second use for biblical beholding is the gazing Websters speaks of. A steady gazing – do not look away. It is calling to attention – THIS (a verbal pointing) is worth our time and there is value in our full stop. One resource stated, the gazing goes beyond sight, but to all our senses, not only physical but mental and spiritual.
John the Baptist, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
Full stop. Full regard.
In our current culture we tend to call attention to so much and so many, other …than Jesus. We flock (or did) to stadiums, concert halls and think nothing of it to stand with arms waving in full unrestrained excitement. There are moments, among the crowd we too would quiet ourselves due to awe and wonder.
Why aren’t we so excited about Jesus? Where is our applause? Where is the awe? May we reclaim what it is to behold our God!
This song! (see below) Oh! That our hearts would behold Him so tenderly, so unrestrained. So full of awe and regard. Listen to the words. He is worthy of our awe. Behold Him. (I am not exalting the worship, but the One we worship!)
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*I do not know where I got the image of the lil boy above, it has always captivated me – challenged me.
Have you ever stood on the edge of the pages of your life and just shake your head in complete bewilderment and think one simple word, “HOW!” Then the rest of the frustration tumbles out, exclaiming, “But God, this … and …” continuing with a list of “can’t do’s – won’t work – not happening” statements – especially in this unprecedented (key word for 2020) day we live in.
Wait! Keep turning the pages. Believe it or not, “But God …” (or “But the Lord”) is mentioned 325+ times in the Bible, in GOD’S favor. In this study, spending four hours looking at these verses, I was captivated. In the story, in the context, I saw God’s character being placed in the forefront. There were loud moments of reassurance and yet quiet whispers of His love. This is what I found; this is what I learned. In short, briefly stating, just a few from Genesis:
I begin with Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are in the garden, the presence of God so intimate that He literally takes walks with them. They have just made some very poor choices (thanks, guys). God is heard walking through the garden and the couple hides. “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?” (v9). God calls. He knew very well where they were, the question was intended for Adam, to consider his location, his position and his condition before Him.
Then there’s Noah and crew, out in the big boat, floating. Floating. More floating. The waters were high and the large hand-built boat was tossed back and forth. A man and his family all alone among the precious cargo of every kind of animal created by God. Obedience led them to this completely unknown. Genesis 8:1 “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” God remembers. He will send a wind to our circumstance, His wind and resolve the flood in our life.
Next, a man by the name of Jacob, he worked hard as requested and then was treated unfairly by his father-in-law. Genesis 31:42 “But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands…” God sees. He sees us where we are, how we are and how we are being treated. He cares – He will act.
Joseph, the cocky favored son, who was thrown into a pit and sold as a slave by FAMILY MEMBERS! Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done and the saving of many lives.” God accomplishes. He redeems the bad and transforms for good to accomplish His plan.
Amazing, just amazing! The Word is full of examples like these and more, many, many more: “… But the LORD was my support.” (2 Samuel 22:19) “But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever …” (Psalm 73:26) “But God promised…” (Acts 7:5) “But God had mercy on him…” (Philippines 2:27) “But God is the builder of everything…” (Hebrews 3:4)
God is incredible! He is never late and never ignores and is extremely attentive to detail and He is concerned more for our welfare than our comfort and goes to extraordinary effort at times to make sure we hear Him.
If our circumstances seem frustrating, just keep turning the pages. God is calling, remembering, seeing and accomplishing and SO much more!
You can go to Bible Gateway (link below) and read for yourself, ‘But God.’
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?
Jesus’ resurrection is AMAZING! WONDERFUL! DIVINE! All the adjectives worthy of the King of Kings! 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! I cannot step any further without emphasizing the detail of God. John’s account states “…and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.” (John 20:12). Remember God’s very specific instructions when building the Tabernacle in the wilderness – and the furniture? “Make the atonement cover (Also known as the Mercy Seat) of pure gold… Make two cherubims out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second at the other end.” (Exodus 25:17-19, emphasis mine). Two angels at either end, overseeing the atonement blood. Coincidence? I think NOT!
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 “That very 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, “But we had hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.” Going on, they explained how Jesus’ body was not found. Verse 27, “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (NLT). 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, that their eyes were opened, and they knew WHO He was. It doesn’t say it in the narrative, but could it be that when Jesus served them, He pulled His sleeves up? THERE! There were the wounds! 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 a tender glow. No, it RAVISHES through the wood and consumes it! Luke is emphasizing to be GREATLY moved of heart.
Notice Jesus didn’t lay hands on them or put mud on their eyes. He didn’t even send them to the Priest for verification! He simply… walked with them. Walking and talking, divinely revealing Himself 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 open the Bible for devotion time, or when the time comes, we find our seat at church, let’s not daydream off to another place, let’s do some focused walking and talking. Jesus said, “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 (Pay attention, take notes, ask questions). THIS is the event, the daily event we will look forward to.
And burn Lord, BURN within us!
This weekend we celebrate Palm Sunday, may we pause and look at the scriptural events.
“Six days before the Passover…” Mary took a pint of perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet, the house filled with the fragrance. This was one day prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry (Palm Sunday) found in 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. (v13)
Anointing was a priestly and kingly custom: Moses pouring oil on Aaron’s head (Leviticus 8:12) and Samuel over Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and the anointing of David (1 Samuel 16:13; 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 and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
Hosanna. What an amazing prophetic word. Turning to Mark chapter 11, his telling 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 cobblestone 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 four 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, may we not allow this moment to pass us by, as we whole-heartedly consider the impact and fulfillment of Hosanna. JESUS! Jesus riding an untamed colt in a King’s procession, “SAVE WE PRAY!” THAT He did!
In Him DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Remember as a child sliding the crayon from one dot to another until getting to the last dot, excited to see a picture form? Often, this is how we come to understand certain things, connecting the dots. Have we considered the “dot connection” (if you will) of the Lamb of God? As we draw near to Easter, let’s pick up our crayon and begin connecting as we see the progression of the Lamb. From Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to the end.
Genesis 22: God declares to Abraham to take his son Isaac, his only son to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice. As Abe and son begin their hike up the mountain, the father placing the wood on the shoulders of the son, Isaac says, “The fire and wood are here.” Then asks, “But where is the lamb …” Abraham confidently responds, “God Himself will provide the lamb…” As the story progresses, Isaac willingly climbs up on the altar. Abraham obeys to the fullest, God knowing his heart, stops him and provides a ram for the sacrifice. The Lamb … provided.
Exodus 12: (in short) God prepares the Israelites to leave the captivity of Egypt. Instructions were given, as the Angel of Death would soon be unleashed, “… take the lamb…” slay and place the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the home. The blood now over them, death avoided. The Lamb … protected.
John 1: John the Baptist, known as an eccentric evangelist, sees Jesus approaching; he openly declares, “Look, behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John purposely points to Jesus and shifts the attention to Him. The Lamb … proclaimed.
Revelation 5: The angelic choir sings before the throne, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” THAT verse! Read it again as Holy Spirit breathes on you with His Majesty! (Let’s all stand to our feet!) The Lamb … PRAISED!
It’s not about the bunny – it’s about the LAMB!
Dots connected. Worthy is the LAMB!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
In our current global circumstance, I sit at my desk thinking of my life, my family and so many others, and yes, the world. This story keeps coming to mind . . .
What does it take for us to stop? Not slow down long enough to reach out and get just a piece of something. But stop in the sense as to put a hold on what we are doing. Full stop. Full attention.
Moses experienced this. He was out tending his father-in-law’s sheep, moving them along in the wilderness over to Mt Sinai. It was here he saw a bush. A bush, not enough to make a shepherd stop, but this bush was on fire and not being consumed by the flames. Intrigued, the narrative explains Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” (Exodus 3:3). Moses turned aside. He stopped what he was doing. Perhaps he had a young lamb he was chasing or carrying a wounded ewe. He stops chasing, lays the ewe down.
We cannot miss what happens next, “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”’ (v4). What a beautiful scenario: Moses stopped, turned – God saw, spoke. God waited for Moses’ full attention before He spoke. Moses was told to take off his sandals, he was on holy ground. It wasn’t the sand – it was the Presence of God – Holy! God continues to reveal Himself, reveal His plan. (Read Exodus 3, an amazing story).
I’m no Moses, but I wonder how many times God has put burning bushes out there for me to see, His attempt to get my attention. Yet, I am too busy, too distracted – ramped up on my schedule to even see. How many times I miss His desire to initiate conversation, initiate commissioning. In my lack of seeing, lack of awareness, lack of stopping I miss a holy moment, a moment when God reveals Himself.
May we seek to see, seek to know God – at all costs! May we stop like Moses and turn aside. God, You have our full attention!
Updated and looking fabulous – coming SOON!
Remember the old adage “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.” Meaning; hunger, and thirst will pile stuff in the cart we do not need. Although that is a good plan for shopping and our budget, yet it does not apply when coming to the Lord. Multiple times, by many authors, using different metaphorical imagery, scripture tells us to come to God hungry and thirsty!
Jesus teaching the crowd says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) This is not only a promise but an invitation. And again, in John 7, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” (v37) King David, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for you...” (Psalm 63:1a)
Have we noticed after dinner, when relaxing and watching TV, when a commercial comes on of a giant juicy burger, since we just ate and fully content – it has no appeal! So, taking that concept, if we are not hungry or thirsty for God – WHAT fills us? What throughout our day are we snacking on? What or who ruins our appetite for God? A good way to gauge when something is wrong or not healthy is when we lose our appetite altogether. It is the same with the presence of God and our lack of interest in His word.
Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Our bodies were made of the dust – earth – organic matter. The soul was not made of the earth. So, earthly things cannot quench the hunger of the soul. It is ONLY the breath of God that feeds and nurtures the spiritual man! It is divinely birthed and divinely maintained. God initiated this for mankind, now we by invitation, in turn, seek that breath.
“For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9)
What are we filling ourselves with? (Point to ponder).
When researching a topic for Bible study, I got squirreled and have no idea how I came upon an article that spoke of deep drilling known as ‘fracking.’ Intrigued. Before I knew it, I was knee deep in engineering terminology, dirt, rocks and water. This information however would soon become quite valuable.
Over the course of the last few months, even a year (or seven) my fire and passion for God has increased and after reading these articles I see God is doing Spiritual fracking in me. Industrially, it is defined (in short) as using large quantities of water under pressure to fracture rock, creating cracks, thus releasing the valuable substance of natural gas or petroleum.
With the emphasis of fracking being under pressure, I feel God has been using large quantities of His Spirit under pressure to pierce, crack and smash through my below the surface, rocky places.
God is not in the business of simply white washing over us, He is in the business of deep work. From the inside out. Paul speaks of this: “We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering (God fracking) produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 Emphasis mine of course) What process, what PURPOSE!
The word Paul uses to mix with this process is fascinating. The word for suffering (other translations: tribulation, trials and problems) literally means pressure, to squeeze. Paul says pressure produces the ability to remain in and under. Liken to holding tight a bandage over a deep wound, so you don’t bleed out. Pressure applied secures and holds the process in place. It is here where grace abounds! It is here we grow, where His Spirit is released in and through us and here character is built. Paul talks of the consistent struggle between the flesh and God’s Spirit in us and yielding and allowing full access of the Spirit in our lives, matures His qualities in us, expressed as the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:6-26).
How often do we go to any lengths to escape pressure? May we not wiggle out from under it and literally sabotage our own growth process. I may not invite all this, but I am learning to not refuse it, all that I am, all that I do. I am allowing a deep dealing, deep drilling and deep dwelling of the Spirit of God. You?
*Please know, in my reading, I am aware of the controversy of fracking to the environment, I am only emphasizing the value of it’s method in the environment of my heart.
One time at Bible Study, as the gals were coming in, I handed them each a colored card with a number on it. The only instruction given, “Find your number at a table that corresponds and that will be your seat for tonight.” Feeling like a Flight Attendant, I did so with a big smile, (yet refrained from the urge to nod and quote the “B-bye, B-bye”).
To make things just a bit more interesting, I changed the furniture around as well and moved the snacks and drinks to different locations. What they were being told did not match what was familiar. What they were used to, the routine, what was comfortable was indeed different. Yes, that night at bible study was unique for sure.
We were studying the book of Hebrews and I wanted them (if not only in a very small way) to understand what the Jewish Christians may have experienced. They too were being told to do something different, what was routine had now been changed, their comfortable was being challenged.
The Pastor of Hebrews taught that regardless of tradition and what their comfortable religious belief and routine were, (Moses and all) Jesus is much more excellent! His covenant and promises – BETTER. He as High Priest and His blood sacrifice – greater and more perfect than the lifestyle steeped in rituals. THIS ran the Jewish Pastors fingernails across the Torah blackboard; it hit a nerve, contrary to all they had been taught.
Yes, different. They (and our women) had to believe that this ‘NEW’ was a good thing. They were learning to be flexible, to bend to the God stuff, embrace and have a change of heart – trusting Jesus over ancient law and tradition.
Perhaps on a smaller scale, we are being challenged, God is calling us to something new, a lil unfamiliar and unknown, taking us beyond our routine and having us embrace His stuff – and it is good.
“The joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10 This verse is often quoted as encouragement and rightly so. A few years ago, I read an article written by a Messianic Rabbi, he wrote with a slightly different perspective of this verse. Intrigued, I delved into the story and discovered for myself.
In the day of Ezra and Nehemiah, after a lengthy captivity in Babylon, they returned with a group of Jewish exiles to their homeland of Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s role was to lead the people in rebuilding the walls of the city. There was great (not so kind) opposition from the neighboring folks, half the men stood guard while the other half worked on the wall, it was an all hands on the wall event, each family working on their assigned section.
Upon the completion of the wall, Ezra brought out the written law of Moses. As he opened it, ALL the people stood up, it had been years seen they had seen it or heard it. As Ezra read and praised the Lord, the people were so overwhelmed; they bowed their faces to the ground weeping as they worshipped. What an agonizing tender moment. They were realizing just how far they had gone from their God – their covenant God. At this moment, in this is realization, it is here Ezra and Nehemiah declare to them, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep…” Nehemiah continues, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
A people who were once far off had now come home. Not only geographically, but home to their God. They labored side by side for one cause, their hearts rendered open when hearing God’s word. HERE, God-was-pleased. He found joy in their unity, in their renewed awareness of Him. God in His everlasting love and mercy was no longer to be feared in their disobedience and apathy, He was joyful of and for them. Nehemiah was telling the people, “Oh find strength in knowing God is pleased with you, He finds JOY in YOU!” It is His joy, your strength.
How many of us glance over our shoulder and see the mess behind us, we see our straying, our lack of God. When we do come home, repentant and gaining a fresh awareness of HIM, we want only to bow our head in disgrace. Oh beloved, “Do not grieve!” God is the God of our now! By all means, worship – bow low! But. At some point, RAISE YOUR HEAD! Be strengthen, He is pleased, He is overjoyed. Be strengthened that He finds joy in YOU!
The joy of the LORD is your strength. His joy, your strength.
After Jesus sends the disciples out ‘two by two’, sometime later they returned. Returning from teaching, healing and delivering the people. They must have been extremely worn out and with people all around, Jesus tells them, “Come with Me by
yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) This is much different from their last documented boat ride (Mark 4) in which the story includes a monstrous storm, frantic disciples and Jesus standing and commanding. (Read the story Here ). But not today. There is no storm. There was no hesitation either – not even Peter saying with waved hands, “Um, well, the last time we did this ‘get in the boat thing’ – it wasn’t pretty!” But both scenarios have one common factor – Jesus.
Notice Jesus was very specific. He didn’t say ‘Go away – take some time off – I’ll see you on the other side.’ He wasn’t offering options. He said, “Come with Me ….” The narrative doesn’t say it, but picture with me – THIS boat ride: They, being exhausted, now all settled down, with no joking, no high energy retelling of events. Quiet. Perhaps just quiet and the lapping of the water on the boat – and Jesus.
When first reading this story, it can be interpreted that the destination was the place of rest – BUT, just as quickly as the authors pen lifts and presses down, that destination was flooded with thousands of folks, when the boat landed, the crowd was waiting. Jesus full of passion for His mission and compassion towards the people teaches them and soon hands the broken bread and fish to the disciples to feed them.
Granted, a place of solitude, with served comfort foods would be fabulous, but sometimes it is the boat ride. Sometimes, it’s the car ride to the store. Sometimes it’s the brief breather between meetings as we walk around the block to stretch our legs, sometimes it’s the shutting of the bathroom door while our lil tribe awaits just beyond and sometimes it’s standing at the kitchen window remembering to breathe – and Jesus.
Getting ready (for the next thing) means getting rest – in His Presence, (may be brief) and perhaps, on the way – rest.
“Come with Me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”
It was the summer of 1983, I was home between semesters of my bible college days, I was standing behind the counter of my father’s fast food restaurant, when a small boy reaching his arm up, releases a fist full of coins onto the counter. His warm freckle-faced smile could light up a dark-paneled room. Raising his eyes to mine, he simply stated, “A vanilla cone please.” Looking at the coins still rolling on the counter, I knew he didn’t have enough. Taking my index finger, I began counting the coins. When there was none left to be counted, the boy’s face grew very solemn. He too knew it wasn’t enough. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a couple more coins and placed them alongside his own.
His response shocked me. With a suspicious look, he again reached forward and began to pull his coins back. I sweetly told him, it was okay, he now had enough. With a slight pause as if struggling against his better judgment, his smile returned, and I quickly scooped the coins up and proceeded to make him the LARGEST ‘small’ cone I have ever made complete with a curly-Q top. That moment impacted me and has never been forgotten.
Suspicious kindness, sad isn’t it. Much of the time we are not used to receiving kindness; our first reaction is a pause – question the motive, and then oftentimes, refusal. Kindness disorients us, with instant worry there HAS to be something wrong, or “WAIT, what do you want in return?” Our society has become so ‘ME’ focused, to think on behalf of another with goodness takes great concentration, not to mention potential risk. For some, to be kind is a sign of weakness.
The Apostle Paul speaks directly to the qualities that do not (notice the NOT) come naturally to us, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, CSB, emphasis mine) we are not born with them; they are a CHOICE, day-to-day, moment-by-moment ‘putting on‘ choice.
Kindness is the softer side of mankind, the God in us peeking through with love and mercy. It is described by scholars that kindness is the inner heart attitude of gentleness, and then goodness takes over and acts on the heart attitude. I see it in the word picture of one walking by a blind man holding a charitable cup for money. The HEART sees the man, the heart feels the man, the heart responds with God to the man, filling his cup. Love, kindness, and goodness all go together. Love sees, kindness feels, and goodness does.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading Jewish Theologian had this to say about kindness, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people, as I grow old, I admire kind people.” Kindness does not require a return on our investment. It is self-less-ness. We see, we feel, we do (In Jesus’ name).
May we all be challenged to be kind beyond ourselves, remembering that WE have been bathed in God’s kindness and goodness. We take an extra moment to listen, find more coins in our pocket, open more doors, whatever is needed at the moment, in the moment – nothing is worse than ‘Should’ve‘ hind-sight. Like the little boy with the ice cream, he now has ENOUGH! God uses US in the enough equation.
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) Yet if put alongside the reality of my life, most of the time my life reflects, “Be busy and know that I am tired!” Can I get an “AMEN!” Psalm 46:10, one of the most quoted and beloved verses of the Bible, but do we really understand its context or meaning? Scholars propose it was written during the tense warfare between Judah and the Ammonites and Moabites. Jehoshaphat and crew were terrified of the reported impending war. In short, Jehoshaphat called the people to pray and fast, God’s response was “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15) The next morning, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing and praise – LONG story short, in their worship, God intervened and Judah victorious, ‘for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.’ (v27)
Psalm 46. The Psalmist writing under the inspiration of God, writes 10 of the 11 verses of the psalm from the 3rd person perspective, talking about God. The wet ink encourages that even in natural disasters and national uproar, “Come and see the works of the LORD… He makes… He breaks…” (v8,9) Then in verse 10, the writing changes. It is now from the 1st person – I. It is as if God caused the writer to pause, whispering in his ear, tell them, “Rapah yada Elohim” (Hebrew) “Be still and know that I am God.” Powerful.
When studying the scriptures, looking at the original language and grammar gives us some great insight and some amazing principles to pull forward and apply for our own pending circumstances. Although originally there were no punctuation marks, but when added to the original usage and read in context – reading from a modern Jewish Bible, our verse reads: “Be still! Know! God.” This phrase holds two imperative verbs, meaning they are both commands, thus, Be still! Know!
God commands us to know Him. That means it is entirely possible, desirable and (wait for it) yes… expected. But not only this, but the 1st verb (be still) POINTS to the 2nd – KNOW! We are still IN ORDER to know God. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it reads: “Desist and learn that I am God.” And the NASB, ‘Cease striving.’ STOP! It isn’t a slowing down, or I’ll get to it when it is convenient. STOP. It is a priority! God is first! God loves full stop – it is here that He had Judah’s frantic ‘WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!’ attention. It is in the STOP He has our attention.
God is not asking us to be quiet (although that DOES help) Location is not a huge factor (however, a quiet place contributes) Nor is our physical posture the ‘make it or break it’ element (Yet, face down, does have “I can’t see the distractions” with my face on the carpet, benefits). But He does tell us, it’s not about our circumstance – it is all about HIM. “The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.” (2 Chronicles 20:29)
Be still and know that I am God. “Be still – Know – God.”
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, he told him ‘all scripture is God-breathed’ – divinely inspired to teach, rebuke, correct and train. (2 Timothy 3:16) So when we read it – learn from it. In Acts 3, it tells the story: One day, Peter and John were walking on their way to the Temple for afternoon prayer. They come across a crippled man, who sat daily at the gate to beg for money (the narrative offers no name, we’ll call him Burt, Burt the beggar). As Burt asked them for money, Peter says something very profound, “Look at us.” Look us in the eye, not over there, or there, don’t be distracted – but here. Knowing the context of the story, you can almost sense ‘you don’t want to miss this!’ Burt gave them his full attention, (expecting to get a few coins). Peter continues, “Silver and gold I don’t have, BUT what I do have, I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk.” (v6)
Peter took Burt by the hand and helped him up. You have to love the detail of Doctor Luke (who’s writing this), ‘immediately his ankles and feet became strong.’ Burt jumped to his feet, began walking and praising God. This caused such a commotion, folks saw and recognized him – Burt the beggar was up and leaping and having a great time of worship. As the amazement grew, so did the crowd. Verse 12, “When Peter saw this…” the opportunity was to keep talking about Jesus, (and he did).
Amazing story. What can we learn from this? I would offer some principles and applications. First, ‘One day Peter and John were on their way to the Temple…’ One day, YOU are on your way to work, in your routine, you are in the line at the grocery store, picking your kids up from school, having coffee with a friend. Every day – daily routine. Second, Peter and John, do NOT just walk on by (ouch!) they face Burt, make eye contact, engage him. Burt asks for something he wants, but the guys give him what he NEEDS – “In the name of Jesus Christ…” Whenever we speak or walk in the name of Jesus, we invoke the manifest Presence and the power of God! We are in a God moment! Third, follow-through! Peter took Burt by the hand (personally engaged) and helped him up (the ‘right hand’ specifically is noted. The right hand symbolizes strength). Peter is part of the process, a hand offered – help given. ‘YOU can do this Burt! With the POWER of Jesus and me, I’m with you!’ Fourth and last, Peter saw and TOOK the opportunity to keep speaking Jesus! Please note, when we help someone in the power of God, it’s not for them alone – it spreads… ‘all the people were astonished and came running…’ (v11)
As we stand only 11 days into 2020, may we commit to seeing those around us, aware of them, face them, make eye contact, engage them – and not just pass on by. Granted, we cannot stop at each and every person (we’ll be late for work, cause a traffic jam and our poor kids sitting and waiting for us). BUT we can be sensitive to Holy Spirit … who is HE emphasizing? Then act. We may not have what they are asking for, BUT like Peter and John, we can give what they need – Jesus! Invoking the Presence and power of God. May we be part of the process and see and SEIZE opportunities. Nothing is worse than within 2 minutes or less of a situation as we walk away, “O I should have__________!” we may have just missed an opportunity to help heal or free someone.
“Silver or gold I do not have, BUT what I do have, I give you – in the name of Jesus Christ…”
I had the honor of teaching this at our Women’s Breakfast at church.
Happy New Year! As the calendar takes on a new year, we flip through the pages, the empty pages indicating days yet to be lived. Those 12 pages can either propel us or paralyze us.
The change of the new year has traditionally become a re-setting if you will of our life compass. We evaluate the past and plan for the future. For some of us, this means sitting down and writing out our Resolutions. Money to be made, exercise routines, diet plans, buy that new house, get that promotion, clean out those closets, get organized and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, these are all a good plan of attack for a new season in life. A New Year’s Resolution can be defined as ‘a firm decision to do or not do something, a course of action designed with the intent to keep a vow.’ Statistics claim, one in three Americans make a New Year’s resolution of some sort, yet only about 75% of these folks stick to their goal … for at least … a week.
Have we considered that instead of a resolution to do better, get more, and perhaps be something other than we are, that we seek … revelation? As we stand at the door of 2020, may we truly position ourselves to seek a fresh revelation of our God. PRIORITIZING God and His word (we seem to neglect what we don’t prioritize). And as we read through our bible, may we see new qualities of God that cause us to take pause and be in awe of Him – see areas He wants growth in our lives …yield and surrender. May we seek 20/20 vision in clarity and sharpness in our view of God – with this revelation, making a firm decision to take action to learn and accept more of His love, trust His hand and bow more in gratitude of His mercy and grace.
We ask, INVITE You, Lord, show us.
I pray over us as Paul did, “For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:14-21
A hardy blessed Happy New Year to you!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Christmas. Just the word alone brings a soft glow to the soul. Warm crackling fires, hot chocolate and watching Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey yelling “Mary!” as he runs through the old drafty house. A peaceful experience. Peace.
Christmas peace, Luke 2:14, when the angels appear to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men...” Peace had come to earth.
Biblical peace (in the Greek) is ‘to set at one again’ – think about the picture it paints. Something that has once been erected has toppled over. Chaos, strife, irritation, unrest even war are the results. Once it is set back, PEACE is the result; all is in its rightful place. Remember Adam and Eve sinning in the garden? (Thanks guys!) The original design, ‘God and man’ had been ‘toppled over.’ Gone were the daily walks together in the garden. Now Jesus came, setting things back in the right place, God and man in right relationship. It may not be the Garden, but God again walking with us. Emmanuel, oh the ‘with us’ of God! Jesus, peace on earth. Peace is a Person. (Side note: Ever consider, it was in a garden, God’s will was addressed – Adam & Eve messed it up – Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane chose & walked out fulfilling God’s will).
Peace is not only a Person, but a position. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace …for through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:13,14) We are now back where we were originally designed to be, full access to God, able to come into His presence. Paul declares this point, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) Peace is position
Because of our sinful nature and our perpetual continuing to do so, John strongly declares “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Interestingly, this was written to CHRISTIANS, yup, you and me. As we confess, we are saying the same thing about our situation that God does. We are now in full agreement; we realign with what God says. In this process, we are taking what was ‘toppled over’ returning to the original design and bringing Jesus back to His rightful peaceful place. We mess up, we get cleaned up. Peace restored. Peace is a process.
Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders…” Now consider Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Does Christ take the rightful place on the throne of our life? Here’s a dandy thought: We will know peace to the degree that we bow to Jesus’ authority. It is NOT about peaceful circumstances, it’s about Jesus being the center of our life. Peace is a posture, a bowed, get OFF the throne, allow Jesus prime seating – posture. Ours is a guarded posture. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
This Christmas as we sing and sway with the Hoo’s in Hooville, rip open the gifts under the tree, and read PEACE across our Christmas cards, may we pause and consider whole heartedly, the Person, position, process and posture of peace. Yes, Peace had indeed come to earth, and He-is-KING.
Can I get an AMEN!
In Him, Blessed Christmas from our heart & home, DeDe & Mark (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” – Hebrews 10:24)
* For Jeff, who stepped into God’s loving arms this week, after his struggle with cancer, he is at peace.
Christmas, a time of sharing, loving and gift-giving. We are in the season of gift-hunting, we may not have anything in mind, but there is hope of something jumping off the shelf and literally wrap itself with a glorious bow and going headlong in our cart. (Ok, perhaps that’s MY form of hopeful shopping).
We often read the Christmas story and highlight the most spectacular parts: Singing angels, “Fear Not” statements, the Star of Bethlehem, and yes, the dingy manger. YET, there are some quiet and seem less significant items to be had in the excitement. Gifts. Consider if you will, (imagine with me) the Magi as they prepare for their trek out to find the child to whom the shiny Star belongs. They are packing, dividing the supplies list, then they come to the gift inventory; gold is given to the first, then frankincense handed to another, oh yeah, the myrrh is last. How would you like to be handed the myrrh and picture yourself bowing low, head to the floor while you offer to the King of Kings, M-Y-R-R-H (said with an Eeyore deep tone). You may think “Dude, why do I have to carry the white elephant gift?” White elephant it is not. It is one among the triune gifts that are of great value. Have we thought about these? Gold, we have that one down. Frankincense is ground dried up tree sap used as incense. And myrrh, what is THAT?
The divine significance of myrrh: It too comes from the sap of a tree and used in the divinely prescribed anointing oil of the Tabernacle and the priests (Exodus 30:22-23). It was the perfumed oil poured over Jesus’ feet (John 12:3, Matthew 26:12: The ointment or costly perfume is ‘myron’ which is myrrh-oil). It was used also as one of the spices to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39-40).
Picture now, the Christ child, perhaps two in age or younger (took the Magi some time to get there – no GPS), Jesus and curly dark hair, possibly pudgy cheeks. At His feet, the Magi place gold, frankincense, and MYRRH. The same anointing oil used to anoint temple priests, Jesus our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). The same perfumed oil poured on His feet as a grown man, those feet that would one day hang on a cross and be pierced. The oil added to the spices wrapped around His body following His death. He now a child, will one day be the man fulfilling this gift.
Myrrh, HOW PROPHETIC.
Christmas gift-giving, following the Magi’s example: Regardless of how insignificant it may seem, we never know the impact and how far-reaching our giving may be. Today it’s not so much the item, but the heart of giving, the giving of self is a gift – an encouraged heart, a feed soul, a learned principle, a person no longer lonely – gifts given in Jesus name – the gift that keeps on giving.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Photo credit Jan Pashley http://www.janpashley.co.uk/ (Love her work)
Immanuel. This time of year, we sing with a resounding ‘O come, O come Immanuel…” and it is written in beautiful font lettering across our Christmas cards. Immanuel* meaning ‘God with us.’ Many who attempt to say God is uninterested and doesn’t turn His divine head our way do not understand Immanuel. Whether it is walking in the Garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8) the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:22) or sandaled feet in Galilee (Matthew 4:18) or gloriously residing within us (1 Corinthians 3:16) The God who dwells with us, among us and in us – God is Immanuel.
Immanuel is first mentioned in Isaiah (chapter 7) within a strong warning to King Ahaz to get his act together in the midst of political uprising and trust that God is with them – but the guy chose poorly. Isaiah prophecies: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will be called Immanuel.” (v14) As we know, God’s people were quite fickle in their love, trust, and obedience, causing them to do what was right AND evil in God’s eyes, they STILL didn’t fully comprehend God’s presence. Fast forward to the New Testament, tucked in the story of the birth of Jesus – Matthew chapter 1: Joseph is about to take Mary as his wife, (according to cultural tradition, the engagement was a done-deal). BUT she is pregnant (Hm…) he, a good man plans to dissolve the marriage quietly as to not disgrace her. Queue angelic messenger: Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife, the baby she carries is of the Holy Spirit, she will have a Son and His name will be Jesus because He will save His people from their sins. Matthew gives narrative: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel – which means, “God with us.” (vv 22-23)
God was and is with His people throughout history, but sending His Son, slipping Him into human flesh, all He was, all He did, could not be more unmistakably striking evidence of God’s presence. A sign indeed! God keeps His promises. The All-Powerful, All-Sufficient, Sovereign Creator of the universe does not NEED to be with us – He wants to! This holiday season, as you consider Immanuel, step up, lean in, look to the far left, back to the beginning and then follow the timeline all the way to where YOU now stand and then continue to the right, following the thread into eternity as declared from the heavenly throne, Jesus reveals to John, “the dwelling place of God is with man.” (Revelation 21:3) Unhindered fellowship with God Himself, the thread of God’s reigning government is ‘God with us.’ So beautiful, so comforting – Immanuel.
In Him DeDe, (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*Why do we often see two spellings for Immanuel? The different spellings ultimately are because of different vowels used in Hebrew (O.T. ‘Immanuel’) and Greek (N.T. ‘Emmanuel’) yet they are indeed the same God presence, just two different languages.
Christmas and gift-giving, standing among all the stuff, the noise and the chaos. Christmas has become somewhat of a plummeting oneself into the art of either grab and go at the store or park yourself in front of the computer and let your fingers do the shopping, ‘Click‘.
Swirling inattentive, not really there, moments.
How often are we somewhere else when we are with people or in circumstances or perhaps even in church? Our bodies may be present but by golly, our minds are full of grocery list writing or a prior situation or while someone is talking to us, we are busy formulating our response. WHAT did we miss?
Be in the moment.
In Exodus (the theology of Exodus is Presence) Exodus 24, God called Moses up the mountain, “The LORD said to Moses, “”Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.” (v12, emphasis mine, NKJV). For 40 days Moses was there, on the mountain, in God’s presence. Eight chapters worth of divine instruction was given. Moses was there. Many translators interpret God telling Moses to ‘stay there’ or ‘wait there.’ Yet a 19th-century Rabbi wrote from a different perspective which I adore. He explains that ‘there are times we go to a place and not actually being there, simply saying: we can exert ourselves getting to a destination, yet when we arrive, our thoughts remain at the original point of departure. The Rabbi imagined God was telling Moses not only come up the mountain but – be fully there, with complete attention, concentration – leaving all behind.’* Can you imagine how the story would have played out if Moses was distracted, thinking he forgot to blow out the candle in his tent or was busy taking in the view from ‘way up here, OH WOW, Aaron and all are so small’ all the while God’s talking and has to say, “Moses, over here, eyes HERE, pay attention, you’re going to want to hear this, know this!”
May we too be there, this holiday season and every day – be in the moment. Giving folks or our situation complete attention and concentration. It is a gift we give to others and ourselves when we are giving presence in the present, full-on presence. And may we pay close attention and not allow our mind to wander (even when we read God’s word) we don’t want to miss anything – we may need to hear this, know this!
Let’s look the bell-ringer in the eye, tell the cashier “Merry Christmas” while using their name and reciprocate a firm handshake or hug and pay close attention to the details of what others are telling us.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*Lois Tverberg, Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus – I had the privilege of being on the original launch team for this book, I highly recommend it.
Image credit: scottberglan.org