Consider The Source (Guess Blogger)

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Hello everyone today I would like to introduce to you Carole Anne:
Carole Anne Hallyburton began His Own Heart Ministries as a weekly devotional blog during her days as a graduate student of Christian Education at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary – Charlotte, where she also served as student body president for two years. In addition to her master’s degree from GCTS, Carole Anne holds a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. She teaches ancient Hebrew language, reviews books for B&H Publishing Group, Paraclete Press and Crossway USA. She additionally serves on the Board of Advisors for Bible Journey, LLC, a producer of online curricula for churches, small groups and individuals.

Sometimes it cuts like a knife and breaks a person’s heart.

It tops the proverbial list as one of the most all-at-once difficult things to do.

But then again – at times – it’s the only scriptural thing to do: choosing to respond with grace to a less-than-graceful situation. Consider the source, as my maternal grandmother often said. And let it go. Walk away.

Did you know, in fact, that Jesus Christ set just such an example for us on several New Testament occasions? One in particular involved the fateful decision of the rich young ruler who approached Him in search of eternal life (see Matthew 19:16-30). While Scripture doesn’t record that He did so, I can almost see our Savior concluding the conversation with something like, I’m so sorry you like this, but go your way in peace.

And of course His tantamount demonstration of the principle is seen in His response to those heinous accusers who mucked, taunted, humiliated, abused the Savior in His darkest hour as He hung on the cross. With thorns piercing His head, nails driven heartlessly through His hands and feet – and shouldering a world of false accusations, lest we forget – He asked that God the Father forgive [those accusers], for they know not what they do (Luke 23-24).

Never, ever in my humanity will I begin to possess even the purity that resides in the tip of one of the fingers on those beautiful, nail-scarred hand of Jesus, but the rich young ruler, the cross and several other scenes from Scripture rolled like a film through my mind late last fall. Numbly I turned from the grave of my beloved paternal grandparents. Just two weeks earlier, I had been excited while out with friends to find the ornamental vase on the military headstone empty – I’d waited patiently for several years to place flowers there. Since no one has a legitimate claim on the vase or the stone (Granddaddy earned them himself for his service to America in Tokyo Bay, Japan, during World War II), I went straight from the cemetery, purchased two sprawling, gorgeous bunches of artificial sunflowers and placed them. I wish you could have seen them.

But barely a week passed and my spirit went numb when – again with friends – I found this new bouquet replaced by a mini-poinsettia arrangement. The numbness later gave way to what felt like a knife twisting deeply into my stomach when, ironically, I learned that there was footage of the sunflowers being removed and replaced with the new arrangement. Although what I saw on the footage merely confirmed what I had to that point suspected, it was difficult to fathom there in black and white. Suspicion is simply suspicion until one is faced with undeniable fact; and when a fact what I saw emerges, it devastates.

Been there yourself? No fun, is it? I’ve learned over the years that a spiritually intimate communication system with Jesus can and will go a long way in carrying God’s child through the mire of devastation, betrayal and heartbreak when dreaded suspicion turns to cold hard truth. So take heart: there is a workaround.

But it demands that God’s child make the difficult-yet-deliberate choice to step back from human emotions, grit her teeth, hit her knees and ask Christ to lead the way. It’s a challenge that grows easier for the Christ-follower who has fallen in love with Jesus as opposed to simply loving Jesus out of some obligation. That’s a whole different blog post, though.

By His grace and to His glory, He enabled me to hedge my feelings about the flowers and the frustration and ask for grace to process them all in His way for His purpose. Within the hour, He brought the Aaronic Blessing to mind (Numbers 6:24-26). Also called the Aaronic Benediction, it contains the words used by Aaron and other priests as a sending-forth of Old Testament Israelites from worship services in the tabernacle and is still used to dismiss many of our church services today. Yesterday, however, it was the ancient Hebrew rendering of the passage – in other words, what it meant to its original audience instead of America’s perception of it today – that God had me to apply in response to the situation at hand.

The English rendering of the blessing reads thus:

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

It’s actually a beautiful blessing but it’s also a blessing easily memorized and often recited without much thought. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the English words to get a grasp of their specific Hebrew meanings and images they involve: bless, keep, gracious, grant and peace. Note that I have italicized the transliterations following their Hebrew forms below.

– Bless
In the passage, the Hebrew verb ברך (barak) is written in its piel conjugation and means to show respect, to bless, at times to kneel. These definitions, though, carry a bit of an abstract flavor; by looking at other words related to the verb, we can find a more concrete interpretation for a more focused phrase. Such words include the nouns ברך (berek) meaning knee and ברכה (berakah) meaning a gift, a present. From this we can see that to bless in this case insinuates the bringing of a gift to another while kneeling out of respect. The extended meaning of this word is to do or to give something of value to another. So we’re actually asking God to bless a person by gifting him or her with something of value.

– Keep
A nomadic people raising livestock, it was not uncommon for Hebrew shepherds to spend nights in a field with their flocks, away from other Israelites. In order to protect his flock, the shepherd would construct a makeshift fence of thorn bushes or brambles, thereby guarding his flock and creating a literal hedge of protection around them. The Hebrew rendering of thorn is שמיר (shamiyr), which is derived from the verb שמר (shamar), literally meaning to guard, to keep, to protect. Here, then, we’re asking God to place a stalwart hedge of protection around the person of our focus.

– Gracious
While most theologians tend to define grace as unmerited favor, the idea of grace takes on a slightly less abstract meaning in the Aaronic Blessing. The Hebrew verb translated as gracious in the passage is the verb חנן (hhanan) and is often grouped with Hebrew words meaning to heal, to help, to be lifted up, to find refuge, strength and rescue. From a more concrete Hebraic perspective this verb means to provide protection beyond the aforementioned hedge. To obtain protection, a member of a flock typically looks to its shepherd. We are asking Christ – the Good Shepherd – to provide a haven of comfort and safety for the subject of our prayer.

– Grant
The Hebrew verb שים (siym), means literally to set something or someone down in a fixed and arranged place. Read on to learn the significance of this word within its phrase.

– Peace
Ah, we have arrived at the final and often most pivotal word of the passage. Our Western culture tends to associate peace simply as an absence of war or strife, but שלום (shalom) as used in this passage has quite a varied meaning. It is derived from the root שלם (shalam) and is generally used in the context of restoring or bringing restoration to one who is missing something needed in his or her life. The verb shalam literally means to make whole or complete. The noun shalom has the more literal meaning of being in a state of wholeness, or being without deficiency. So in the phrase grant you peace, we are asking God to restore the person to physical, emotional and – most importantly by far – spiritual wholeness by setting the person down in a divinely-appointed place for said restoration to happen. That’s something that only He can do.

Now – get this – while Old Testament priests spoke blessings like this one in front of the entire Israelite congregation, the verbal conjugations in the Aaronic Blessing are specifically written in singular form, not plural. In other words, and although the blessing was spoken over a group of many, its phrases were directed at each individual within that group. In the midst of a public gathering, then, the priest recognized and blessed each person in an individual, personal manner.

The irony of this individuality struck me on that autumn evening as I quietly spoke the Hebrew version of Aaronic Blessing while thinking of the poinsettia arrangement, the sunflowers Granny would’ve loved, the ones I’ll always miss.

And – most importantly – the irony struck me as I spoke the words of the passage over the party who replaced the latter arrangement with the former. The words, at their most literal level, translate to English like so:

May God kneel before you, presenting gifts and guarding you closely with a hedge of protection. May His gaze illuminate the wholeness of His being toward you, bringing needed order to your life, giving you comfort and sustenance. May He lift up His wholeness of being and look upon you with love. May He set in place all your mind, body and soul needs – everything – to be whole and complete and restored in and through Him.

It was indeed all-at-once one of the most difficult things to do and the only thing to do: consider the source, then let it go.

Before I walked away.

(A beautiful rendition of The Aaronic Benediction, performed by Joshua Aaron and Misha Goetz, is available for listening here. May it bless you.)

Copyright 2018, Carole Anne Hallyburton. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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Sunday Mornings (Guess Blogger)

I would like to welcome back Crystal Russell back as our guest blogger today.

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Sunday Mornings
On Sunday mornings we have a special time of prayer before everything gets started at church.

A group of women gather together to pray.

We pray over the Word that the pastors will bring, the Sunday school teachers, and everyone who will be attending that day.

“for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” – Matthew 18:20

Promise from Jesus
I often think of this verse when I think of our prayer time.

We can (and should) prayer on our own but I also think that is important to gather together for prayer as well.

We have this promise from Jesus.

Why would we not gather together. He tell us He will be with us in a special way when we do.

The prayers of the early church opened the doors of a prison for Peter (Acts 12:5-10).

It makes in difference in our lives today too.

One of the blessing of learning to pray with another is the rich friendships I have gained. My most trusted friendships are with friends that pray with me.

A Challenge
I challenge you to spend time in prayer
alone, with a friend, with a group.

Prayer is our most powerful weapon.

We need to use it.

My Prayer
Father, thank you for the privilege I have in prayer to come into Your Holy presence. I stand in awe of you as my God and Creator. If that weren’t enough, and it is, when I come before you I get to call you Father. You call me your beloved daughter. You hear every world I pray and when I have no words you know the cry of my heart. Thank you Jesus for your promise you gave us that where two or three are gathered you are with us. Prayer is powerful, may we (your church) be faithful to come before you and use it.
-Amen

Carrying His Peace (Guess Blogger)

I would like to introduce to all you my fellow blogger Rebecca:

I’m a writer, Christian, I love music and art. I am hoping to encourage others, to inspire them to follow their dreams and trust Jesus. I am always working on improving my blog, keeping with the theme of teaching women to rest and be the beloved, and to depend on the mercy and grace of our Lord. It’s all for His glory. Thank you reading or following, blessings. https://www.pinterest.com/beckyspage1916/

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Isn’t it nice to get rid of baggage and exchange it for His peace? It’s not fair is it but the Lord took it for me. I was so desperate for Jesus to heal me, to help me. I never knew what His peace really was. It is a gift, a precious gift. One of many the Lord blesses a believer with. I had been a believer a long time and still had no peace. I don’t think it was because I chose to be disobedient, it was more of a constant oppression and the many rejections I had faced.
Of course, I knew the Word, I knew how it applied to me. I was convinced I was doing something wrong, when, in truth, the enemy was walking off with a lot of blessings, not because I didn’t hold tight to them, or believe Jesus, but because I never knew what was against me.
I knew the Word said that if God was for me then who in the world was  going to stand in His way. Yet, there is that enemy back, sneaking in there with thoughts of unworthiness. The self deprecating sense of humor I used to laugh off the wisecracks made about me, wasn’t making me laugh it off. It was killing me.
Jesus did not see me the way others did. His thoughts are so much higher. I suppose that made me have high expectations of others, and when I did not fully understand grace, I would have held them to a higher account. I still will, but I have to remember that His mercies are new every morning. He never changes but we have to in order to be like Him.
But whether or not we receive it or recognize it, His peace is there. We carry it in us because the Holy Spirit is there, and if you have experienced being baptized in the Holy Spirit, it should be and even more and ever present peace.
It is like the joy Jesus gave us and said that no man takes it from you. It is true. No one can take Jesus from us. He will always be there, it is the enemy, the accuser, the devil, who attempts to derail God’s perfect plan for our lives.
We don’t have to let him if we recognize what he is. Fear, worry, torment, chaos and confusion. The troublemaker, the obnoxious, belligerent and angry one who keeps annoying us in hopes of us losing our joy and His peace.
I know I didn’t always recognize it but I do now. I’m standing firm in Jesus and I will not be shaken, He is my hiding place, my rock and fortress, my sun and my shield, my everlasting love, my eternal life.
Yes, Jesus is all that and so much more. I suppose I can write a blog for eternity if I have to and never sing His praises enough. Never let the wicked one tell you that as a believer in Christ, you are anything less that what He created you to be.
You are worthy, beloved, wonderfully made, God is our Father, He gave His Son freely for us so why would He not lavish love upon us. Stop carrying a cross and understand He was speaking to the disciples before the crucifixion, we are partakers of the resurrected Christ, God will know we are seated in heavenly places and be pleased with us not because of us but because of Jesus.
We can partake of His body and blood through Holy Communion. He carried a cross we could not bear. So we could carry His eternal life, His everlasting love, His joy. And most of all our hearts do not ever have to trouble us, because we carry His peace. Rebecca Jones

Hope In The New Year

Lamentations 3.pngI remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul downcast within me and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumer, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.                        Lamentations 3:23-24

God’s love never fails and neither are his blessings to all of his children, they are new for us each morning. We can begin each day knowing that his wonderful reservoir of blessings is full to the brim. This knowledge helps us to wait for him, entrusting our long unanswered prayers into God’s care and for his keeping. God assures us that not one of our prayers has slip pass him, unnoticed. God’s fountain of limitless love and unfailing compassion. As you and I wait in his presence, these divine nutrients are freely available. We may drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. Although many  of your prayers remain unanswered, you can trust in God’s great faithfulness. He keep all of his promises in perfect way and timing. Among other things, he has promised to give you peace that displaces the trouble and fear in your heart.  In the gospel of John 14: 27 Jesus tells his disciples and us “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you, I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. If you become weary of waiting for answers to your prayers, remember that he also waits, so that he may be gracious to you and have mercy on you. God waits till you are ready to receive the things he has lovingly prepared for you. His blessings are for all of his children, we only need to be still and know that he is God patiently.

Happy New Year

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Thankful for Who You Are

Psalm 28.pngPraise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield ; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.                      Psalm 28:6-7

I come to you with a humble heart my Lord, to praise and worship for who you are the “Great I Am” and my provider. The blessings you continue to shower upon me everyday of my life, for the beauty that surrounds me. During the early hours or late at night I walk and look up to the beauty within the heavens, and what a wonderful site to see and just Praise Your Name. There are many things that I would like to see change in this world and in myself, however I must always go to you and simply talk over what lays heavy upon my heart. Instead of me focus on these, just help me to continue to focus upon you and your love for me and for all of humankind, because regardless you love continues. Help me to trust in you more, and not to wait until I am already discourage I need to bring all of my concerns to you. As I talk with you about all these matters, let me always remember to always come to you with a thankful heart. Praise the Lord, my soul all my inmost being, praise his holy name. I praise the Lord, my soul and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all my sins. These words come from the book of Psalm 103:1-3 however Lord they also ring true with my heart, I continue to Praise You deep within my soul knowing that I am  child of the “King of Kings” the Great I Am for I will continue to Praise you with my heart and lips for all to hear and for all of eternity.

Praise the Lord

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

I WILL PRAISE THE LORD!

Psalm 105.jpgGive Praise to the Lord, proclaim his name, make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him, tell pf all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name, let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength, seek his face always.                               (PSALM 105:1-4)

I rejoice with each new day, being willing to follow Christ wholehearted where ever he may lead me. Anticipate blessings as we journey together. Since he has created this day of my life and presented to me free of charge, and I do received it gratefully. My natural tendency when I awake is to asses the day thinking how go or even how bad it maybe for me. I do this almost unconsciously, often basing my conclusions on something as trivial as the weather. I need to break this habit so I can be more receptive to Christ and his many blessings upon my life. A thankful attitude is immensely helpful. When I awake to find a day which is dark and raining, I still can thank him for the day anyway. Having done so, I will be less likely to complain about the weather. I need to also remember that he has arranged the conditions of my day. So that I can assume there is much good to be found in it. Rejoicing will help me find blessings in my day. When my circumstances are looking rather bleak I will be joyful in your love for me. I will enjoy knowing you Lord Jesus and just look for precious gifts that you have given along the path as we journey together. In faith, I need to be on the look out for good things both great and small. Also, because you are my Teacher, you will provide learning opportunities thru the day. When the end of my day is at hand I need to stop and look back at my many blessings. I need to take time to reflect all the gifts that your love has showering me with. I will let my mind wonder for a moments before I sleep to say Thank You Lord, that I have chosen to Praise You no matter what takes place in my life.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Alone With God

Psalm 118.jpgCome along with me, grab your cup of coffee or tea, to that special quiet place, and the only one with you is God. The day is very early and the sun is just starting to peak over the mountains where I am sitting, and it is very quiet. I begin my mornings with scriptures and today it is from the book of Psalm 118:24 This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Rejoicing in this new day of my life, regardless of what my happen, and be willing to follow Jesus wherever he is leading me.  Anticipate blessings as I journey with together with him. Since God has created this day of our life and presented to us free of charge. He wants us to received it gratefully. Your natural tendency when you awaken is to asses the day before you, trying to discern how good (or bad) it will be. You or I do this almost unconsciously, often basing our conclusions on something as trivial as the weather. God urges us to break free from this habit so we can be more receptive to him and his blessings.  A thankful attitude is immensely helpful. If we awaken on a dark and gloomy day, still do with a thankful heart. Having done so, you will be much likely to grumble about the weather. Also, remember that God has arranged the conditions of your day. So you can assume there is much good to be found in it. Rejoicing will help us find many blessings in our day. If your circumstances are looking rather bleak than be joyful in Jesus our faithful companion. He wants us to enjoy him and look for precious gifts he has placed long the path we are to follow. In faith, be on the lookout for good things both great and small. Also remember he is our teacher and our trusted friend.

 

Grace and Peace to You My friends