Another Jewel In Heaven (Guess Blogger)

I Like to introduce to all of you Jennifer Wagner:  Today, I am a stay at home wife, dividing my time between taking care of our home, directing church outreach, and blogging about life lessons, joyful living, and Christian values. When I’m not writing, I am typically curled up with my husband, binge watching Netflix, drinking caramel coffee, or snuggling our two cats, Basil and Mocha Rose! Welcome to our married life! We’re so glad you have chosen to join us as we laugh and cry together in this amazing life adventure!

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After the loss of our sweet babies in April, J and I were hopeful to try again. After just a few months, we were excited that our dream may be coming true. The cravings and mood swings were in full force. I was sleepy, nauseous, hungry, hormonal, bloated, and I had to pee about every two hours. It seemed like a wonderfully miserable time.

And then the bleeding started. We were bummed, but thought we’d just wait another month… Until the night I called J into the bathroom. The pain, blood, and contractions were clear. We had also lost this sweet baby. The loss of this child was such a shock. After all, we weren’t quite sure yet if I was even pregnant.

This baby was supposed to be our rainbow baby, but yet we’ve collected another jewel in Heaven. Lucy Grace, Arden Micah, and Orion Sage. Three….. three babies in Heaven. Our little family.

It’s been just over a week since the loss of our child. The raw emptiness still takes my breath away, as I sob and gasp for air. J still holds me as I drift off into space, not really knowing what to do with myself. Getting out of bed, eating, and connecting with people have become chores in and of themselves. J and I go through the motions. We laugh and talk, work and visit, but inside we both feel numb, empty… like something crucial is missing. We’ve lost our joy. We’ve lost our confidence and security. We’ve lost the excitement of trying to have a family.

Our first miscarriage four months ago broke our hearts. This time, it carries fear and doubt, alongside the pain and shock. Do we dare try again? How can we continue to hope, after this?

After a rough week of falling away from each other in our grief, it became clear that now more than ever, we need to lean on our Savior and each other… And so we talked. We held each other, as poured our hearts out to the Lord and to each other. We named our child, Lucy Grace. We went on a spontaneous date. We came together and asked the Lord for help. It’s still fresh and raw. I still don’t know what to do with myself. I still fell numb and broken and empty and vulnerable. I still break out in sobbing tears. My hormones and baby belly are still reminders of what was. But through it all, the Lord is putting us back together again…

15 Scriptures to lean on after miscarriage, when the grief seems unbearable and all seems gone…

  1. 1 Samuel 1:27-28
    I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.
  2. Job 11:13-19
    Yet if you devote your heart to Him and stretch out your hands to Him, if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.
  3. Jeremiah 29:11-12
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.
  4. Romans 12:12
    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
  5. Exodus 23:25-26
    Worship the Lord your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
  6. Judges 13:2-3, 24
    A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. … The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him.
  7. Matthew 5:4
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
  8. Genesis 8:11-14
    Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
  9. Luke 1:7, 13-15
    But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.
  10. Psalm 37:4
    Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
  11. John 16:22-24
    So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask Me anything. Very truly I tell you, My Father will give you whatever you ask in My name. Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
  12. Psalm 119:49-50
    Remember your word to your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
  13. Hebrews 10:35-36
    So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
  14. Hebrews 11:1
    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
  15. 2 Thessalonians 1:11
    With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.

 

Thank you Jennifer for your blog post, you can also find more from Jennifer at The Newlywed Chronicles.com

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Do Unto Others (Guess Blogger)

My name is Pami Clark, and I’m married with two beautiful, feisty kids, ages 10 and 7. Two weeks after giving birth to my second child, Micah, I had a massive stroke. I remember lying on the floor, and feeling so confused as to why I couldn’t move my left arm or my left leg. I remember my 3 year-old screaming for her mommy who collapsed right in front of her, and I remember the ambulance, and then…
I woke up a few days later in the ICU and discovered that the doctors were shocked I had survived.
But I soon learned that I had lost quite a bit of function on my left side, my cognition was badly damaged, and my memory was severely effected. My short term memory was pretty much gone, and I could not remember much of anything from childhood through college.
I have gained some strength on the weakened side, and am blessed that I am able to walk and talk, and I realize I’m one of very few stroke survivors who can say that! But the most devastating outcome of the stroke for me, was my memory. I had no idea who I was! It is such a scary thing to happen to someone, but I CLUNG to God. I hadn’t forgotten HIM!
I started my blog, Back to the Beginning, about a year later. It started out as a means to “re-learn ” and “re-study” the Bible. However, it soon turned into an outlet for me to express very honestly the struggle of my journey with pain, of many kinds.
My most sincere prayer is that my words will encourage even just one.

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Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
Luke 6:31
I’m sure I heard a version of this verse many times as a kid.

I think it was used as a tool to convince me and my sisters to get along with one another.
But there really is so much more to this thought than just “getting along” with each other.
So many times, I feel like I’m lacking something.
Sometimes, I feel lonely…
Or discouraged,

Misunderstood,
Ignored,
Invisible,
Unappreciated,
Undervalued….
This list goes on and on,
For EACH of us, I’m guessing.

What do we do when we are in that place of disappointment?
It’s one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves, because if we follow our feelings, we will oftentimes follow them right over a cliff.
Anger, bitterness, and resentment are just a few of the things we will find at the bottom of that cliff.
This verse guides us in the right direction.

Feeling lonely?

Say hello to someone new. Invite somebody out to lunch. Be sure to include an invitation for me, too, because I LOVE lunch. Pay attention to others who appear to be lonely, too.
Feeling discouraged?
Send a note of encouragement to a friend. Compliment lots of people…. SINCERELY!
Feeling misunderstood?
Take time to really listen to others. Put yourself in their shoes, and walk around in them for awhile.

Feeling ignored?
Pay ATTENTION to others!
Feeling invisible?
Open YOUR OWN EYES, and love on other “invisible” people.
Feeling broken?
Know that ALL of us are broken! So, be GENTLE with EVERYONE!
When we give to others all the things WE desperately need, His Word promises we will greatly rewarded.(Luke6:35)
I learned years ago, that all of those feelings we have sometimes lead us to believe we are the “only ones” who feel them.
No greater mistake can be made, if you ask me!
Your feelings aren’t special.
Your feelings certainly aren’t unique!
So, instead of wondering why no one notices us in our darkest moments….

Notice Somebody else
Because in doing so,
You will, in some crazy way,
Because in doing so,
You will, in some crazy way,
Get exactly what you need.
“Do Unto Others”….For REAL!!

 

 

 

https://pamijosword.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Grateful

Luke 17

Non on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, Jesus, Master, have pity on us! When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go, your faith has made you well.                                                                                       Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)

From the time we are tiny children, our parents are constantly reminding us to have good manners. When you ask for something, what do your parents always tell you to say? Please. And when you receive something, what are you supposed to say? Thank you. When your parents remind you to say “please” and “thank you” they are helping you to understand thankfulness. Let’s say you receive a gift you really wanted for Christmas or your birthday. You are probably very happy that you have received the gift. But being thankful takes it a step further: you’re not just happy that you HAVE the gift, you are filled with thankfulness to the giver as well. You think of all the giver had to do to make sure you could get the gift. They took the time to go shopping. They paid for it. They wrapped it in pretty paper. And because you are so amazed by the giver’s generosity and love, you freely show your thankfulness by giving them a big hug, or saying “thank you” over and over, or writing a note and sending it in the mail or sending a text.
Today we are going to look at a story in Luke 17 about a time that Jesus gave an amazing gift to ten men. And while all ten of them may have been happy that they received a gift, only one of them chose to show their thankfulness to Jesus. Here we find Jesus on the border of Galilee and Samaria and he was met by a band of ten lepers. We know that the Jews had nothing to do with Samaritans, yet with this group of lepers there was at least one with this disease. Yet even through most of them were of the Jewish faith and at least one who was a Samaritan they all had this one thing in common called leprosy. In today’s world leprosy can been controlled with medicine, but in the days of our Lord it was incurable and was a slow growing and painful disease. It is infectious and contagious and as a result lepers were shunned and separated from the community into a leper’s colony. In this parable, Jesus came upon ten lepers who stood off at a distance and raising their voices saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” (Verse 13) Jesus responded telling them to go and show themselves to the priests. Under the Law of Moses when a person was cleansed of leprosy there was a ritual they followed which included certain sacrifices and showing themselves to the priests. What Jesus told them to do was in accordance with the law so that when they did they would be given a clean bill of health. The leprosy was a disease which the Jews supposed to be inflicted for the punishment of some particular sin, and to be, more than other diseases, a mark of God’s displeasure; and therefore Christ, who came to take away sin, and turn away wrath, took particular care to cleanse the lepers that fell in his way. The story of Jesus healing the ten lepers in this chapter of Luke appears immediately after a teaching conversation Jesus has with His disciples after one asked Him to “increase our faith.” In this conversation, Jesus indicates that obedience to God is not something extra we do to receive His thanks and rewards. Rather, it is our duty to serve Him, just like it is a servant’s duty to serve his master. Our pride sometimes twists this truth and tells us that we should expect God to thank us for all we do to serve Him. But Jesus teaches here that true faith is total dependence on God and a willingness to unselfishly do His will. This conversation, combined with the story of the ten lepers, puts gratitude in its proper perspective. God is the one deserving of gratitude because of the grace and mercy He freely gives to those of us who do not deserve it. For the benefit of His hearers, Jesus pointed out the fact that He had cleansed all ten lepers; not one out of ten. He made clear to the crowd that He had healed all who had asked for healing and not just this one man who had returned to thank Him. The other nine who had been healed had not returned to give thanks to God in the presence of the One who had healed them. Not all who receive help from God and Jesus choose to thank God and Jesus for the help they have received, but instead go on to live their lives for themselves. Luke does not tell us what the other nine did, because the emphasis is upon the one who went to Jesus with praise and thanksgiving. Perhaps the other nine only wanted physical cleansing, while the Samaritan cried out in his heart for physical, moral, and spiritual cleansing, so Jesus cleansed him immediately and completely. If the other nine had gone on to the priest praising and thanking God for Jesus’ healing them, Jesus would probably have reported this fact in some way to the crowd. As it was, the Samaritan acted in accordance with the writings of Moses and praised God and thanked Jesus (no doubt led by the Holy Spirit). Jesus showed once again that many who were not Jews came to faith in Him and praised the true God, while many who were Jews did not give God the glory that God deserved or recognize Him as the Messiah. In all of our lives, bad things happen from time to time. Sometimes these bad things are consequences for bad choices, but other times bad things happen simply because we live in a sinful world. When God created the world, it was perfect. There was no sickness; there was no death. Everything was beautiful, happy and good. But when sin came into the world, it spoiled everything! There are accidents and cancer and divorce. There are tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, crime and sickness. It is not hard to see how awful sin is!
So because we live in a fallen, sinful world, there are terrible diseases. The disease of leprosy is one of them and this disease is very contagious, this is why the men stayed at a distance from everyone else. No one wanted to be near to anyone who had this disease, so this way they also would not get leprosy. Can you image having this disease yourself and you are unable to be with your family, friends, holding down a job in order to support your family. Yet during this time when someone did get this terrible disease other would believe it was because of a terrible sin that person had committed, so they would think why else did they get leprosy. It sounds like the way people would think in today’s world. When something happens to someone, such as a bad accident, an illness, and even death itself, so many times we think wow that person most of did something wrong to get God so angry, why else would this happen, and yet this is no true at all. There are times things such as disease just happens to even Christians like ourselves, and when we do get sick it is not because of a terrible sin we had committed and that God was angry at us. Yes, we are sinners no doubt, that is why God’s love for all mankind is so great that he sent his son Jesus into this sinful world to die in our place so that we are no longer separate from God because of our sins. So different things good and even bad things do happen to all of us. However, thru all those difficult times in our lives and yes sometimes there are many days or longer when things are going on how do we as Christians get thru them. First thru pray, having a pray life is essential to all of us to get thru those times. We take the time to thank God, yes thank God for trials we may go thru for by going thru those trials will makes us stronger in our relationship with God. In the book of Romans 12:12 Paul tells us Be joyful in hope, patient in afflictions, faithful in prayer. As with the ten lepers, nine of them was so busy to get back to being normal, to get back to their families and friends. They seem to forget one important thing, the one thing that only a foreigner a Samaritan remember to do, and that would be to say Thank you, Praise God for healing him. Does that mean God heals everyone, takes all the pain of the world totally away? No it does not, first off God understand our pain whether it is physical pain, emotional pain, or any other pain, God feels and understands what we are going thru right in that moment. He does promise that when we accept him as our personal Lord and Savior that he will never leave or forsake us, found in Hebrews 13:5, this is why we need to study and be in God’s word to get us thru those times. When we read Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles, nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creations will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What does this all mean I believe that is saying to us that thru the hardest of times in our own lives, we can have a grateful and thankful heart. God gives us many gifts thru our lives, today is called present, that in itself is enough reason to say “Thank You” God . 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Eileen

 

 

 

Pentecost

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The day of Pentecost celebrates the empowerment of Jesus’ disciples by the Holy Spirit fifty days after Easter. The Christian holy day is often called the birthday of the church and may be celebrated with balloons, cakes, banners, red cloths, crimson vestments and candles.
Acts 1-21 describes the disciples gathered in Jerusalem with a multitude of other Jews from the Jewish festival of Pentecost, the Feast of weeks, one of the three annual pilgrim festivals of the Holy City. The feast was observed at the beginning of the wheat harvest (Leviticus 23:15-21) fifty days after the Feast of unleavened bread. Having been told by the risen Christ to remain in Jerusalem until they received “power from on high” (Luke 24:49) a large group of disciples were “all together in on place. (Acts 2:1)
The experience of the Holy Spirit described in the book of Acts fulfills promises and predictions given in both books of Luke and Acts. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. John the Baptist said of Jesus in Luke 3:16. Jesus promised the same at the beginning of Acts. John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (Acts 1:5)
The Holy Spirit conferred the ability to speak in other languages, so the disciples could be understood by all the Jews in Jerusalem, who had come from all over the Mediterranean world and spoke a variety of languages. This had the effect of reversing the Tower of Babel experience, in which separate languages confused and blocked communications which is in Genesis 11. The visiting Jews heard each in his or her language the disciples tell about “God’s deeds of power,” culminating in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Peter interpreted the event for them as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, the pouring out of God’s Spirit before the final judgment. The purpose of the display of the power of the Spirit was salvation. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21)
The gift of the Holy Spirit equipped the church for ministry and witness. Peter, who once denied knowing Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times, spoke boldly to the crown some of whom may have cried “Crucify Him” fifty days before. Peter would lead, teach, and heal in the name of Jesus, and would soon be joined by Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Paul and others. The manifestation of God’s power at Pentecost met a mixed reception, much like Jesus’ first sermon in Nazareth (Luke 4:22-30), suggesting that the church would soon be persecuted as Jesus had been.
What does all this mean? The disciples felt a new sense of power-power that changed them from quiet, hesitate believers to bold witness to the Resurrection. This power, they said, came from the Spirit resting upon them. It was like the power we feel in a “violent wind” or recognized in fire. The fire may suggest that power needs to be channeled into uses God intends, or else it can run out of control and become destructive and deadly. In any case, the Holy Spirit was present in the experience identified by the metaphors of fire and wind. The Spirit guides our growth in faith. How have your beliefs changed if any through the years of you become a Christian? As Christian, believers of the Risen Lord as we grow closer to our Lord we can begin to see the changes of ourselves from the inside, out.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

You Can Go Home!

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In the Gospel of Luke Jesus talks to his disciples about the Parable of the Lost Son: read these words of Jesus: There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, Father give me my share of the estate. So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death. I will set out and go back to my father and say to him. Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants. So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

                                                                                  Luke 15:11-20

We might as well say it again, that it is never easy to get up and tackle the journey back to the Father’s house. People will make it difficult for you. Like the Prodigal Son, church-goers and others will make you feel unwelcome. there will be those who will remind you of your sinfulness. Even a preacher may say hurtful things at times. But one thing is certain: you don’t ever have to doubt the Father’s warm welcome. So carry on walking and head straight home back to God.

And so we see the lost son coming over the last hill, heart pounding. Only one refrain repeats itself: I’m going home! Then he reaches the last rise, and there he see the father’s house in all its glory. He is crying unashamedly now. And then, is it possible? he sees his father, and his is coming to meet him! Do you know that the last rise in the road? Golgotha! That’s what they call that hill. “The Father is coming to meet me,” you say. “But I see a cross standing there. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that every one who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20) Come, let us kneel before the Father in amazement. Let us thank God for the wonder of being able to go home. For there is nothing my friend that can ever separate you from the love of God through Jesus Christ the son, so hold you head high ever through we are sinners you and I are sons and daughter of the Most High King Jesus Christ, welcome home!

Dear Lord Jesus

Thank you for always welcoming us home to you with such love and compassion and with open arms. In spite of the many sins we have done you never stop loving your children. 

Amen

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

 

The Road To Bethlehem

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Luke 2:1-3. And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Caesar Augustus has a political platform you probably won’t hear this coming year in our presidential campaign. He announced to the Roman Empire, “Read my Lips: Lots of new taxes!” It says there in verse 1 and verse 3 that he made a decree for everyone to go to his home town to be registered. In effect, he’s saying, “I need to know how many people are in the empire so I can know how much to tax you.” Of course, the difference between Caesar Augustus and modern presidents is that Caesar was not elected by the people, nor did he have term limits. He was kind of like a king or an emperor. He could do whatever he wanted. And here, he wanted to tax people. And in order to do that, he needed them to register, to take part in a census.  Let me tell you a little bit about Caesar Augustus. His real name was Gaius Octavius. He was the adopted son of Julius Caesar, and so when Julius Caesar died, Octavius became emperor, and with it, the title of his position – Caesar O. he should have been known as Octavius Caesar. However, Octavius had quite an ego. He was very proud and arrogant. He wanted to be greater than any other Caesar before him, and so, with the approval of the Roman Senate, he dropped his name Octavius, and added the title Augustus. Augustus means “Majesty.” It’s a name of divinity. It carries the idea of being “of the gods.” Caesar Augustus means Caesar God.

In essence, he was proclaiming himself to be god. That is part of the reason he taxed the people so heavily. He figured a god should live in luxury and ease, and that the people, his subjects, should pay for his luxuries. And so he taxed them. He didn’t care how his heavy taxes placed financial burdens on the people, and he didn’t care that his method of registration caused great disruption in the lives of his subjects. He didn’t care that by forcing people to return to their hometown to be registered, he was forcing people to go on long journey’s, and possibly uproot their families, and lose their jobs. He didn’t care if people were sick; he didn’t care if people were old. He just didn’t care. It didn’t matter to him if the subjects of his empire were greatly inconvenienced by his decree, he just wanted his money. He did whatever he wanted, and if people didn’t like it, that’s too bad. If they tried to rebel, he had his vast army to deal with uprisings. And yet even through the journey to Bethlehem would be a difficult one especially with Mary being pregnant, both Joseph and Mary followed through what that had to do. So they headed to Bethlehem the town of David, because Joseph belonged to the house and line of David.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends