Tag Archives: scriptures

On RECOGNIZING L O V E

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To begin with,  Webster’s Dictionary  tells us that love is “a deep, tender feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person,”  that it is  “a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair.”

The modern perspective of love conjures up ,  first of all,  romantic love:  that emotional involvement  of thoughts and feelings between two individuals. In any discussion of this topic,   we must first establish  that love  involves a  a two-way relationship between two people:  a  lov—er – –  that one who chooses of her own volition to offer,  to give this powerful emotion – – and a lov – -ee  – –  the  object of that love,   that one who chooses [or not ]  to accept/to receive  same emotion.   To initiate this action, the  lover chances vulnerability.   She “puts herself out there.”

To offer the love or not, this is the risk the lov–er takes.  To receive the offering of love, or not,  this is the risk the lov–ee takes.  Such risky business is not for the faint of heart!  Still,  February is a time when  one’s “fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” as Tennyson tells us in “Locksley Hall.”

We must recognize two perspectives on this kind of risky relationship,  one is romantic, the other spiritual.   The spiritual  perspective shall be first.   Expounding on God as the perfect Lov – -er  is where we must begin, for he initiated the  personally designed love relationship that each of us as believers  experiences with him.   Now we have this love union because we chose to receive and return God’s love.  We can know that our declaring we love God makes happy both the lov — er and  the lov – -ee.

A good place to examine such a kind of spiritual relationship  is Psalm 63,  where David expresses his desire and acceptance of, confidence in and gratitude for God’s presence, his provision and his protection.  Here is a man truly in a love relationship  with God.  David not only receives God’s love, but he revels confidently in it.  He makes his boast in it;  he experiences and expects  it continually.  Even though David is presently in a  geographically hard place,   the Wilderness of Judah,  he reminds himself of the faithfulness of his Lover to attend to his well-being. Consider the tone of this passage:

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.

So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips

When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.

My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.

We can also find information in the Bible to help us recognize romantic love as well.

Think of   the “Love Chapter,”   1 Corinthians 13,  where we find a descriptive definition of love.  Consider this translation from the Amplified Bible:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way,  for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]

Also consider a  succinct description of  the  same passage and attribute from MESSAGE Bible:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-Love never dies.

FRIEND,  WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are  you offering/giving these attributes, so far as you are able?

Is the person choosing to receive[or not receive] so far as that person is able?

Is someone offering them to you, as far as s/he is able?

Are you choosing to receive [or not receive]  as far as you are able?

Do you know what you’re looking at?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

Do you  recognize who loves you?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

Whose love are you receiving?

Are you recognizing love in your own life?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

May   L –O-V-E   be more obvious this week on your journey!

On Keeping . . . S I L E N C E . . .

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH is still eminently relevant to the collective psyche of the citizens of this country, the United States of America.  During this season of remembrance, we acknowledge the excruciation of  the  struggles  and imbibe the elixir of the successes of our African American ancestors.   One salient and continual purpose of Black History month is to teach/ remind ourselves of the “coping strength” of our elders:  How they “got over”  their physical and mental impediments  – – slavery, discrimination, hardships, beatings, and other well-documented atrocities.  I submit that prayer was their first line of defense – – the through line to victory from the dark,  brutal  days of Sojourner Truth to the hard-won enlightenment of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can benefit greatly from focusing on pray-ING, the “coping strength”  that our elders relied upon to sustain them in their noble efforts.  I submit, further, that often  SILENCE is our best usher into prayer.  Maintaining silence in the face of adversity can be  the ultimate demonstration/ utilization of meekness  – – strength under pressure.  In fact, earnest prayer often comes from  pressure, patience and perseverance.  Force yourself to keep silence despite a rash desire to rant; instead let patience have her perfect work in you,  for patience is the very  foundation for your cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is faith under pressure.  Keep silence until you hear the instructions of the Lord.  The psalmist speaks about this:

I said to myself, I’m going to quit complaining! I’ll keep quiet, especially when the ungodly are around me.   But as I stood there silently the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. The more I mused, the hotter the fires inside.  Then at last I spoke with God.   Psalm 39:1-3 

Follow the example of the psalmist and other scriptural recommendations:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

. . . A time to keep silence,  and  a time to speak           Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b  

But the Lord is in His holy temple:

Let all the earth keep silence before him.    Habakkuk 2:20

Out of fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks — Luke 6:45

At this point, the psalmist speaks from the deeply private issue of his heart : his journey through this world  –  his time of existence on earth – –

 Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.  My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man!  Frail as breath!  A shadow!  And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend.   And so, Lord, my only hope is in you.   Save me from being overpowered by my sins, for even fools will mock me then.   Lord, I am speechless before you.  I will not open my mouth to speak one word of complaint, for my punishment is from you.  Psalm 39 vv. 4-13 , NLT

The psalmist ends his prayer feeling comfortably confident that his only hope is in God whose control he can securely trust.

Follow, again, the psalmist’s example:   Feel the prompting that will come  from restraining your  impulsivity while allowing the Holy Spirit to “word your mouth.” Acts 2:4 tells us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then He will give us utterance.  In other words, your perseverance in silence will lead you to pray insightfully   to our Heavenly Father  about whatever matter is tugging at your heart.  I urge you to follow the spirit of your encounter with God and pray aloud.

This sincere meditation and prayer came forth out of the fullness of the psalmist’s heart.   What  will  come  from  yours ?

MAY YOU GO FORTH ON YOUR JOURNEY TODAY

IN THE C O P I N G    S T R E N G T H 

OF THIS ENCOUNTER !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TIME FOR L O V E

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Valentine’s Day! Yes, love is in the air, on the web, definitely in the stores. At this time our cultural awareness impels most of us – – believers and non-believers alike– to embrace the same affinity – -LOVE. By consensus, no one expresses the expansiveness of one person’s love for another human being better than Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here her rhetorical question and answer:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Anyone who is the object of such well-spoken affection –whoever he/she may be—must be over-flabbergasted to receive it. Wouldn’t you be? And what about the author? From what well of expressive largess does such deep emotion spring? Phenomenal!

Lest we get too absorbed in Elizabeth Browning’s titillating expression of her love for her beloved husband, Robert Browning – –
and
Lest we overspend our time , examining our own personal coterie of special friends searching for THE one person upon whom we will dotingly lavish such exalted expression – –

Before we become so engrossed – -this seems to me to be a good time to recall the admonition of Apostle Paul: Don’t be conformed to the world. He reminds us that believers are to think differently. [Romans 12:1-2] Therefore, let us renew our minds about the topic of love. Ever wonder how many times the word LOVE appears in the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about love? To begin with, notice that he explains how God, himself, set the example for demonstrating love, for Jesus asserts in John 3:16 that God “S O” loved the world that he gave. Here, love motivates God, the lover of mankind, to give his best gift to the loved ones. This
“S O” kind of love: That is deeply profound, too much love for most of us. And it is indiscriminate! Don’t we find it acceptably easier to love some persons more than others? What about those we “feed with a long-handled spoon” because hey have hurt us? And how about those whom we just lump together as “people”? Is he saying – – same degree of love motivation for all persons? What about the “less fortunate”? Isn’t targeted financial beneficence enough for “these people”? Won’t giving of our finances – -especially if we add portions of our time and talents – -to charitable organizations satisfy the world’s standards? Maybe.

According to James, however, believers must fulfill the requirements of the “royal law.” He insists:

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2: 8-9]

Believers must satisfy this royal law by loving SO much in the spirit of the love demonstrated by God as referred to above. We must exhibit the “S O ” kind of love to our neighbor. WHO, THEN, IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A neighbor is anyone we discover or who comes into our path and who can benefit from our personal attention and/or largess.

Yes, love is a basic Christian tenet. Jesus even summarizes the entire Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17] as LOVE: love God and love your neighbor. [Matthew 22:36-38] A neighbor is anyone we can love by giving, by sharing.

Jesus teaches this essence in his parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-27], where a traveler interrupts his journey to attend to the needs of a severely beaten person whom he encounters. He gives compassion, time, resources and finance to someone in need whom he does not know. In a few words, he loves. Isn’t Jesus teaching here again, that believers must extend/give their love indiscriminately to our neighbors? And that we must love each neighbor with the same kind of love we have for ourselves?

Further, Jesus teaches us about this kind of neighborly sharing in his parable about a feast in which the host sends messengers out into the “neighborhood” to convince unlikely attendees to come enjoy his hospitality. The host prepares to share with others by: sending out save the date notices, making preparations, then when all things were ready, issuing the formal invitation. Consider this host’s determination to share as recorded in Luke 14:22-24:

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

But even more instructive for me concerning sharing is Jesus’ parable about the Rich man and the beggar, Lazarus.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from to us. 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Lazarus was in the rich man’s neighborhood. But the rich man ignored Lazarus. Forget about his inviting Lazarus to dine sufficiently with him , this rich man didn’t even offer Lazarus the CRUMBS from his sumptuous table. Certainly the rich man had enough and to spare. He seems more bloated with insensitivity than with food.

What about us ? Are we equally as insensitive of those in our neighborhood who would be satisfied with the crumbs from OUR tables? I will admit that giving the “S O” kind of love requires the spiritual fortitude to which some of us believers still aspire. However, we can make the intermediate step that will lead us toward that hallowed state. For now, let’s just focus on the table in the parable: the overflow of crumbs. What about the table God has set before each of us? Are there crumbs that a neighbor would gratefully receive? Do we have enough to share? If we have anything at all – –money, time, talent, influence, whatever- – then we have enough to share! We do!

Now the question is for me and for you: What are you doing with YOUR crumbs?

Finally, let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will guide us to those in our neighborhood to whom we can demonstrate our love by sharing.

My friend, on your journey this week, may you dare to love your neighbor by sharing , even if only the crumbs!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

WomanOnTopOfMountain

CARPE DIEM: SIEZE THE DAY!

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Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts Hebrews 3:7-8

She who hesitates is lost.
She who hesitates is bewildered.
She who hesitates is unprepared for the challenges of life.
She who hesitates loses the patently great accomplishments, friendships, knowledge, that come from being pro-active.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

Musings in my Mind

Epiphany – loosely defined as a revelatory experience when deity appears to/interacts with a person. The Old Testament records such random divine interactions as theophanies, often noting the appearance of THE Angel of the Lord [Genesis 16:7-13]. The New Testament documents the abiding presence of God in the person of Jesus the Christ. [passim]

Dr. Charles Stanley – [In Touch Magazine, January, 2014, p. 61]

What he says about a time of human exchange with each other when we experience a “face-to-face encounter, ” “a split-second epiphany” can also describe our personal interaction/encounter with Jesus. Dr. Stanley calls it “a moment of recognition, the revelation of a bond that always exists but we often fail to appreciate.” I call it a moment/minute/hour/day of Sabbath Rest. This interaction occurs – – not because of who we are, but – – because of who HE is. These moments stem from “the deep mystery of existence,” for “each of us carries a world within our one person.” Consider William Blake’s description of this powerful attribute in “Auguries of Innocence”:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower,
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Yes, Dr. Stanley, I agree: each of us has “an inner life known fully only by God.”

Music in My Ear

I woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed in Jesus
Halelu! Halelu! Halelu!

– – -And secondly – – –

Yes, God Is Real

There are some things I may not know, there are some places I can’t go
But I am sure of this one thing
That God is real, for I can feel Him deep within.

Some folk may doubt, some folk may scorn. All can desert and leave me alone,
But as for me, I’ll take God’s part.
For God is real, and I can feel Him in my heart.

I cannot tell just how you felt when Jesus took your sins away.
But since that day, yes, since that hour
God has been real for I can feel His holy power.

Yes, God is real, real in my soul!
Yes, God is real, for He has washed and made me whole.
His love for me is like pure gold.
Yes, God is real, for I can feel Him in my soul!

Matter in My Heart

Romans 10:1 [Paraphrase] – Believers, my heart’s desire for you is that you might have Sabbath Rest. For I bear you record that you may have a zeal of God /enthusiasm for God, but not according to your own personal experience/interaction. Your knowledge may be second-hand, not yours, but someone else’s whom you respect – – mother, dad, grandmother, or even a minister o another believer. I say, “Get your own!” experience with God. My heart’s desire is that you may know God for yourself and not another. [1 John 5:20]

Messages in My Spirit

I have an overly burning desire to anticipate/mitigate against/answer with the Word excuses you may have for not studying the Word.

Excuse A – “I do not understand what I read in Scripture”

Answer – The Scripture is available in several versions. You are not bound to the King James Version [KJV, 1611] with the anachronistic “thee,” “thou,” “ye,” and the “begats.” You can even find translations beyond the New King James Version. [NKJV] One of the most recent modern versions of the Bible is The Message . Whichever you choose, first pray for understanding; then study the Scripture so that you may understand and handle it correctly. [2 Timothy 2:15]

Excuse B – “I’m too busy, not enough time in my day.”

Answer – Consider this: Joshua asked God to stop the sun and moon over Aijalon Valley so that he and his army could win their battle against the Amorites – – and God did! God redeemed the time for Joshua. He will do the same thing for you. For example, you may zip through that assignment that you thought would take tedious hours. Your mind will be clear and your thinking will be innovative. Or, a person may unexpectedly postpone/cancel a scheduled appointment.

Excuse C – “I don’t see the relevance/practicality.”

Answer – The central truth gleaned from Biblical context is applicable to our current circumstances. For example, both Exodus 16:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 9:10 show us that there is no lack of God’s provision when we follow his principles of sowing and reaping.

Excuse D – “I doubt that this will happen for me, in my case.”

Answer – Pray the same prayer as did the father who sought healing for his son who suffered from demonic possession: “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.” [Mark 9:23, NAS] Unbelief is doubt/weakness of faith. Then, the Holy Spirit will lead you to such an empowerment of your faith that you will be able to choose to believe and declare like Paul: I am absolutely convinced that nothing – – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – – absolutely nothing can get between me and God’s love because of the way in which Jesus, my Master, has embraced me. [see Romans 8:38-39, Message ]

Finally, my spirit urges that you pray to remove whatever excuses that rob/steal your time of Sabbath Rest. PRAY, ask God to help you . Should you feel you need someone to be accountable to – – ask God to send you a friend who will stick closer than a sister in this endeavor. PRAY, ask the Holy Spirit to activate himself in your life, leading you to truth and righteousness. PRAY, Ask the Lord Jesus to come in and sup with you. Follow his example, for he often slipped away to pray alone to his Father – – sometimes all night. [Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12 and 9:28]

In fact, we find him praying on the eve of his crucifixion. [Matthew 26:36-45] His humanity screamed dreadingly against the physical/emotional/spiritual pain he must surely endure if he were to carry out God’s plan of salvation. Although his humanity was weak, his divinity was strong. Finally, he achieved peace/rest in obedient submission to his Father.

Pray right now that we will steal away often to enter our own Sabbath Rest.

God rest you on your journey!

Red Heart Bible

S&S Call Encounter Notes: Commercial for the King

Red Heart Bible

In a popular commercial,  Samuel L. Jackson asks,  “What’s in your wallet?”  The real question for the believer is “What’s in your heart?”  Your heart is the core of you, for Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that we are what we think.  What’s in your heart?  The Lord, himself, tells Samuel that man looks at the outer appearance, but He looks at the heart.  [1 Samuel 16:7]  So, what’s in your heart?

In a popular commercial,  Samuel L. Jackson asks,  “What’s in your wallet?”  The real question for the believer is “What’s in your heart?”  Your heart is the core of you, for Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that we are what we think.  What’s in your heart?  The Lord, himself, tells Samuel that man looks at the outer appearance, but He looks at the heart.  [1 Samuel 16:7]  So, what’s in your heart?

Can you answer in the tone of  Psalm 45:1?

Can you say:

My heart is inditing/overflowing with  a good matter

I speak of the things which I have made touching the king. 

My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. [ NKJ]

Can you say that your heart is so running over with the joy of encountering the Lord that you are eager to write poetry about your experience?  [NAS]

Are you excitedly ready to pour out a poem to our Lord, an extended metaphor?  One comparing the status of your heart to that of a river so full that it :  bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness . . . shaping the river into words ? [Message]

I tell you Jesus is calling you to such an encounter, one wherein you luxuriate in his presence!

What’s in your heart?  Do you have a ready answer?   Or are you slow to answer because you are fearful of the exposure?  [Psalm 78:37]   Or because  you are suspicious that the heart harbors emotions that should never be exhumed?

[ Jeremiah 17:9]  Never fear!  With forgiveness and without acrimony, our compassionate Heavenly Father will search and cleanse our hearts. [Psalm 139:23] Therefore, you can base your answer on the  assurance that  the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in every believer’s heart .  [Romans 5:5]  You can answer with the fervency of David, having a desire to seek after the Lord and  to behold his beauty.  [Psalm 27:4]  More simply, to enter His Sabbath Rest!  Consider this:   God  rested on the seventh day , after he had finished creating  the earth and its inhabitants.  Jesus is calling you to enter this blessed state of quietude and holiness.  He is calling you to rest, spiritually, in the Lord.  If you will put him first, he promises that material things  – – food, shelter, clothing – – will be added  to you.  [Matt.  6:33]

Conveniently,  Jeremy Gilmore has compiled a unique 2014 Bible Reading Plan that includes weekly Sabbath Rest.  You can easily answer Jesus’ call to enter his rest by simply committing yourself to following this plan.  Voila!  If you have the will, here is the way.   Jeremy Gilmore offers five tips to help you use the plan successfully:

1)  pray first   2)  write too  3)  use/speak the Word  4)  read with a partner for accountability and 5)  rest and reflect.  After viewing this plan, pray about how it can aid you in entering Sabbath Rest.  As you use this plan, the Holy Spirit will guide you to helpful insights.  For example, one reading from Exodus deals with Moses “down in Egypt” and repeatedly telling “old Pharaoh to let my people go,”  even as various plagues bring suffering to the Egyptians.  This passage may speak to you assuringly about how God protects the believer as he watches God demonstrate his power – -even his wrath- – to others who disbelieve.  Respond to the plan as the Holy Spirit leads you.  Make your goal to encounter Jesus through his Word at your own pace, NOT to merely read the Bible through in a record-setting period of time.  Most important, don’t neglect rest and reflection.  I pray now that God will use this plan to usher you into Sabbath Rest.

 God bless you on your journey!

2014 Bible Reading Plan

If you have been desiring to get closer to God, there is no better place to be than in the Word!  Scripture says to “Seek ye out the book of the Lord and read…” (Isaiah 34:16a) There are many calendars online that offer ways to read the Bible in a year. However, this calendar incorporates weekly times of rest (Sabbath) and lighter reading (Psalms). In addition, it includes a full month without weekday readings.

This will be a major commitment, but you can do it! Here are some tips to help:

1)     Pray first.  That the scripture gets inside of your spirit. Here is a verse that may be helpful to recite: Open my eyes that I might see the wonderful things in your law. (Psalm 119:18)

2)     Write too. Have a pen and paper handy or write in the margins of your Bible if you like. Many Bible apps also allow notes and highlighting.

3)     Use the Word.  In conversation or in your prayer life, reciting the word can get it into your spirit.

4)     Read with a partner.  Having accountability can be helpful.

5)     REST.  Let your Saturdays and month (June) be a time of rest and reflection. Maybe you could journal about what reading has felt like. You might take a trip/retreat. Perhaps read a book other than the Bible.  Whatever you decide, remember there is nothing wrong with taking intentional rest.

SundayPsalms Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sabbath

Jan. 1

Genesis 1-5

Jan. 2

Gen. 6-10

Jan. 3

Gen. 11-15

Jan. 4
Jan. 5Ps 1-2

Jan. 6

Gen. 16-20

Jan. 7

Gen. 21-25

Jan. 8

Gen. 26-30

Jan. 9

Gen. 31-35

Jan. 10

Gen. 36-40

Jan. 11
Jan. 12Ps 3-5

Jan. 13

Gen. 41-45

Jan. 14

Gen. 46-50

Jan. 15

Exodus 1-5

Jan. 16Ex. 6-10

Jan. 17

Ex. 11-15

Jan. 18
Jan. 19Ps 6-8

Jan. 20

Ex. 16-20

Jan. 21

Ex. 21-25

Jan. 22

Ex. 26-30

Jan. 23

Ex. 31-35

Jan. 24

Ex. 36-40

Jan. 25
Jan. 26Ps 9-11

Jan. 27

Leviticus 1-5

Jan. 28Lev. 6-10

Jan. 29

Lev. 11-15

Jan. 30

Lev. 16-20

Jan. 31

Lev. 21-25

Feb. 1

Feb. 2

Ps 12-14

Feb. 3

Lev.26-Num.

3

Feb. 4

Numbers 4-8

Feb. 5

Num. 9-13

Feb. 6

Num. 14-18

Feb. 7

Num. 19-23

Feb. 8

Feb. 9

Ps 15-17

Feb. 10

Num. 24-28

Feb. 11

Num. 29-33

Feb. 12Num. 34-Deut. 2 Feb. 13Deut. 3-7

Feb. 14

Deut. 8-12

Feb. 15
Feb. 16Ps 18-20

Feb. 17

Deut. 13-17

Feb. 18

Deut. 18-22

Feb. 19

Deut. 23-27

Feb. 20

Deut. 28-32

Feb. 21

Deut. 33-Jos.

3

Feb. 22
Feb. 23Ps 21-23 Feb. 24Jos. 4-8 Feb. 25Jos. 9-13

Feb. 26

Jos. 14-18

Feb. 27

Jos. 19-23

Feb. 28

Jos. 24-Judg.

4

Mar. 1
Mar. 2Ps24-26

Mar. 3

Judg. 5-9

Mar. 4

Judg. 10-14

Mar. 5

Judg. 15-19

Mar. 6

Judg. 20-21

Mar. 7Ruth 1-4 Mar. 8

 

SundayPsalms Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sabbath
Mar. 9Ps 27-29

Mar. 10

I Sam. 1-4

Mar. 11

I Sam. 5-9

Mar. 12

I Sam. 10-14

Mar. 13

I Sam. 15-19

Mar. 14

I Sam. 20-24

Mar. 15
Mar. 16Ps 30-32

Mar. 17

I Sam. 25-29

Mar. 18

I Sam. 30-II

Sam. 3

Mar. 19

II Sam. 4-8

Mar. 20

II Sam. 9-13

Mar. 21

II Sam. 14-18

Mar. 22
Mar. 23Ps 33-35

Mar. 24

II Sam. 19-24

Mar. 25

I Kings 1-4

Mar. 26

I Kings 5-9

Mar. 27

I Kings 10-14

Mar. 28

I Kings 15-19

Mar. 29
Mar. 30Ps 36-38

Mar. 31

I Kings 20-II Kings 2

Apr. 1

II Kings 3-7

Apr. 2

II Kings 8-12

Apr. 3

II Kings 13-17

Apr. 4

II Kings 18-22

Apr. 5

Apr. 6

Ps 39-41

Apr. 7

II Kings 23- I Chron. 2

Apr. 8

I Chron. 3-7

Apr. 9

I Chron. 8-12

Apr. 10

I Chron. 13-

17

Apr. 11

I Chron. 18-

22

Apr. 12
Apr. 13Ps 42-44

Apr. 14

I Chron. 23-

27

Apr. 15

I Chron. 28-II Chron. 3

Apr. 16

II Chron. 4-8

Apr. 17

II Chron. 9-13

Apr. 18

II Chron. 14-

18

Apr. 19
Apr. 20Ps 45-47

Apr. 21

II Chron. 19-

23

Apr. 22

II Chron. 24-

28

Apr. 23

II Chron. 29-

33

Apr. 24

II Chron. 34-

Ezra 2

Apr. 25Ezra 3-7 Apr. 26
Apr. 27Ps 48-50

Apr. 28

Ezra 8-Neh. 2

Apr. 29Neh. 3-7

Apr. 30

Neh. 8-13

May 1

Esther 1-4

May 2

Esther 5-10

May 3

May 4

Ps 51-53

May 5Job 1-4 May 6Job 5-9

May 7

Job 10-14

May 8

Job 15-19

May 9

Job 20-24

May 10
May 11Ps 54-56

May 12

Job 25-29

May 13

Job 30-34

May 14

Job 35-39

May 15

Job 40-42

May 16Prov. 1-3 May 17
May 18Ps 57-59 May 19Prov. 4-7

May 20

Prov. 8-12

May 21

Prov. 13-16

May 22

Prov. 17-20

May 23

Prov. 21-23

May 24
May 25Ps 60-62

May 26

Prov. 24-26

May 27

Prov. 27-28

May 28Prov. 29 May 29Prov. 30 May 30Prov. 31 May 31
June 1Ps 63-65 June 2 June 3 June 4 June 5 June 6 June 7
June 8Ps 66-68 June 9 June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 June 14
June 15Ps 69-71 June 16 June 17 June 18 June 19 June 20 June 21
June 22Ps 72-74 June 23 June 24 June 25 June 26 June 27 June 28
June 29Ps 78-80 June 30 July 1Ecc. 1-3 July 2Ecc. 4-7

July 3

Ecc. 7-12

July 4

Song 1-4

July 5

July 6

Ps 81-83

July 7

Song 5-8

July 8

Isaiah 1-4

July 9

Isaiah 5-7

July 10

Isaiah 8-11

July 11

Isaiah 12-16

July 12
July 13Ps 84-86

July 14

Isaiah 17-21

July 15

Isaiah 22-26

July 16

Isaiah 27-31

July 17

Isaiah 32-36

July 18

Isaiah 37-41

July 19
July 20Ps 87-89

July 21

Isaiah 42-46

July 22

Isaiah 47-51

July 23

Isaiah 52-56

July 24

Isaiah 57-61

July 25

Isaiah 62-66

July 26
July 27Ps 90-92

July 28

Jeremiah 1-4

July 29Jer. 5-8 July 30Jer. 9-12

July 31

Jer. 13-16

Aug. 1

Jer. 17-20

Aug. 2

Aug. 3

Ps 93-95

Aug. 4

Jer. 21-24

Aug. 5

Jer. 25-28

Aug. 6

Jer. 29-32

Aug. 7

Jer. 33-36

Aug. 8

Jer. 37-40

Aug. 9
Aug. 10Ps 96-98

Aug. 11

Jer. 41-44

Aug. 12

Jer. 45-48

Aug. 13

Jer. 49-52

Aug. 14Lam. 1-4

Aug. 15

Lam. 5-Eze. 3

Aug. 16

 

SundayPsalms Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sabbath

Aug. 17

Ps 99-101

Aug. 18Eze. 4-7 Aug. 19Eze. 8-11

Aug. 20

Eze. 12-15

Aug. 21

Eze. 16-19

Aug. 22

Eze. 20-23

Aug. 23

Aug. 24

Ps 102-104

Aug. 25

Eze. 24-27

Aug. 26

Eze. 28-31

Aug. 27

Eze. 32-35

Aug. 28

Eze. 36-39

Aug. 29

Eze. 40-43

Aug. 30

Aug. 31

Ps 105-107

Sept. 1

Eze. 44-48

Sept. 2

Daniel 1-4

Sept. 3Dan. 5-8

Sept. 4

Dan. 9-12

Sept. 5

Hosea 1-3

Sept. 6

Sept. 7

Ps 108-110

Sept. 8Hos. 4-7

Sept. 9

Hos. 8-11

Sept. 10

Hos. 12-14

Sept. 11Joel 1-3 Sept. 12Amos 1-4 Sept. 13

Sept. 14

Ps 111-113

Sept. 15Amos 5-9

Sept. 16

Obadiah 1

Sept. 17Jonah 1-4 Sept. 18Micah 1-4 Sept. 19Micah 5-7 Sept. 20

Sept. 21

Ps 114-116

Sept. 22

Nahum 1-3

Sept. 23

Habakkuk 1-

3

Sept. 24Zeph. 1-3

Sept. 25

Haggai 1-2

Sept. 26Zech. 1-4 Sept. 27

Sept. 28

Ps 117-118

Sept. 29

Zech. 5-10

Sept. 30

Zech. 11-14

Oct. 1

Malachi 1-4

Oct. 2

Matthew 1-4

Oct. 3

Matt. 5-8

Oct. 4
Oct. 5Ps 119*

Oct. 6

Matt. 9-12

Oct. 7

Matt. 13-16

Oct. 8

Matt. 17-20

Oct. 9

Matt. 21-24

Oct. 10

Matt. 25-28

Oct. 11

Oct. 12

Ps 120-121

Oct. 13Mark 1-4 Oct. 14Mark 5-8

Oct. 15

Mark 9-12

Oct. 16

Mark 13-16

Oct. 17Luke 1-4 Oct. 18

Oct. 19

Ps 122-124

Oct. 20Luke 5-8

Oct. 21

Luke 9-12

Oct. 22

Luke 13-16

Oct. 23

Luke 17-20

Oct. 24

Luke 21-24

Oct. 25

Oct. 26

Ps 125-127

Oct. 27John 1-4 Oct. 28John 5-8

Oct. 29

John 9-12

Oct. 30

John 13-16

Oct. 31

John 17-21

Nov. 1

Nov. 2

Ps 128-130

Nov. 3Acts 1-3 Nov. 4Acts 4-7

Nov. 5

Acts 8-11

Nov. 6

Acts 12-15

Nov. 7

Acts 16-19

Nov. 8

Nov. 9

Ps 131-133

Nov. 10

Acts 20-23

Nov. 11

Acts 24-28

Nov. 12

Romans 1-3

Nov. 13Rom. 4-7

Nov. 14

Rom. 8-11

Nov. 15

Nov. 16

Ps 134-136

Nov. 17

Rom. 12-16

Nov. 18I Cor. 1-3 Nov. 19I Cor. 4-7

Nov. 20

I Cor. 8-11

Nov. 21

I Cor. 12-16

Nov. 22

Nov. 23

Ps 137-139

Nov. 24II Cor. 1-3 Nov. 25II Cor. 4-7

Nov. 26

II Cor. 8-11

Nov. 27

II Cor. 12-

Gal. 2

Nov. 28Gal. 3-6 Nov. 29

Nov. 30

Ps 140-142

Dec. 1

Ephesians 1-

4

Dec. 2Eph. 5-6

Dec. 3

Philippians 1-

4

Dec. 4

Colossians 1-

4

Dec. 5

I Thess. 1-3

Dec. 6

Dec. 7

Ps 143-145

Dec. 8

I Thess. 4-5

Dec. 9

II Thess. 1-3

Dec. 10

I Timothy 1-3

Dec. 11I Tim. 4-6

Dec. 12

II Tim. 1-4

Dec. 13

Dec. 14

Ps 146-148

Dec. 15

Titus 1-Phil. 1

Dec. 16

Hebrews 1-4

Dec. 17Heb. 5-9

Dec. 18

Heb. 10-13

Dec. 19

James 1-5

Dec. 20
Dec. 21Ps 149

Dec. 22

I Peter 1-5

Dec. 23

II Peter 1-II John 1

Dec. 24 III John – Rev. 2

Dec. 25Rev. 3-6 Dec. 26Rev. 7-10 Dec. 27
Dec. 28Ps 150

Dec. 29

Rev. 11-14

Dec. 30

Rev. 15-18

Dec. 31

Rev. 19-22

Praise God for a year of faithfulness in the WORD! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

 

 

 

Composed by Jeremy Gilmore

 

Adapted from – http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/stay-on-track.html and

http://lifeatthecrossroads.org/resources/thebibleinayear.html

 

Jesus Is Calling You to REST

spiritual rest

Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

EXPOSTULATION and REPLY

I say:        Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  Come again?  Say again?  What?

I say:        Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  What ?  Rest?

I say:        Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  He’s calling me to rest?  I have just begun,  just arranged my priorities and

arranged my goals for the next year.   Things are already starting to

happen for me faster than I anticipated.  I’m beginning to see the

brightness of this season of my life.   I have just begun.   Rest?

I say:        Yes, Jesus is calling you to rest, right now.

You say:  Right now?  In the beginning of my productivity? How can I understand his

calling me  to rest now?  Does he not know how I have longed to be at this

place in my life ?  This is the beginning of my wealthy season,  after so

many disappointments,  SO MANY heartaches and so many pains.  How can

I say:       Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  Rest?  Rest?     Oh, now I get it.  You mean W-R-E-S-T , rest.  I see,   I must

wrest, that is achieve the goals I have set for myself by forcefully usurping

them from the circumstances/people/things   that may/will rise up as

obstructions to prevent my attaining them.  Ah, so!   W-R-E-S T!

I say:       Jesus is calling you to R-E-S-T.

I say.       Same sound,  wrong word.  Drop the “W”.

You say :  Say again?  Drop the “W”?

I say:        YES, drop it.  When you drop the “W,”   you drop: worry, work, weakness,

want;  you drop wrestling with uncertainty, doubt and discomfort.

That leaves you with R-E-S-T , rest!  R-E-S-T.  Speaking anagrammatically, when you

answer his call,  you will become:

 

R  –  RELAXED    –   For you will be content.   [Philippians 4:6b]

E  –  ENTHUSIASTIC  –  For   in His presence is the fullness of JOY ! [ Psalm 16:11]

S   –  STRONG     –  The Lord will become your strength and your song! [Isaiah 12:2]

S  –   STRONG – The Lord will be the strength of your life, Whom shall  you fear?

[Psalm 27:1]

S  –  SURE   –     You will know that you win in the end, for all things will be working

together for your good because you do love the Lord and you are

operating according to his purpose.  [ Romans 8:28]

T  –   TRUSTING  –  For you will trust  in him who cannot fail.  BOTH heaven AND

earth must pass away before one jot or tittle of God’s law shall fail.

[Luke 16:17]

I say:  –    Jesus is calling you to rest; that is, he is calling you to enter the original

Sabbath rest. God  rested on the seventh day , after he had finished creating

the earth and its inhabitants. Jesus is calling you to enter this blessed state

of quietude and holiness.  He is calling you to rest, spiritually, in the Lord.

If you will put him first, he promises that things  – – food, shelter ,clothing – –

will be added  to you.  [Matt.  6:33]

Jesus is echoing the promise of God in Exodus 33:14

[I will be with you ]  My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.

And in Isaiah 65:24
It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

If you will be dedicated  to Him,  take his yoke upon you and learn of Him.

That is, make the choice to follow him, mimicking his example for living the life that pleases God, accepting the help of the Holy Spirit as you deal with the vicissitudes of your journey.  Plan encounters with him – -whisper brief messages to him [some call this praying], watch to see him working in the everyday affairs of your life and in the activities of those around you,   fellow believers – – even learn from the mistakes of non-believers.

Read, study, learn his words so that you can quote them back to him, for the power to successful living is in the promises in his Word.  God tell us to put him in remembrance  [Isaiah 43:6], and – –

You will have rest – from worry [Philippians 4:6]

You will have rest  –  from confusion   [1 Corinthians 14:33]

You will have rest  –  from anxiety  [Isaiah 26:3]

You will have rest  –  from needless waiting  [Isaiah 65:24]

You will have peace  – – for the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep – – BOTH – – – your heart AND your mind.  [Philippians 4:6]

In essence, you will have a mind to do right, to live right, and be right according to the Word of God.

YES!  Jesus is calling you and all the people of God to rest in his perfect work of redemption on the cross  [Hebrews 4:9]  While  God’s rest was instituted  on the seventh day of creation,  Jesus’ rest was planned before the foundation of this world. The rest that Jesus invites us to enter is not our rest but his rest which he invites us to share.  Therefore, we can come boldly unto the throne of grace – – not the throne of accusations, judgment, disappointment – – where we will find mercy and grace. [Hebrews 4:16].

I say again:  Jesus is calling you to rest.  What will your answer be?

Let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will lead you into that rest into which Jesus is inviting us:

Father, we acknowledge your greatness. You are the creator of the universe.  Having finished your creation, you entered into your rest.  Having redeemed us on the cross, Jesus also ceased his own works, just as you did.  And now he is calling us to rest.

Father in the spirit of Hebrews 4:11 – 12  –  – Let us labor to enter that rest.

For your word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword,  piercing even unto the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and the marrow, and is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  Also, Father, we pray in the spirit of verse sixteen, let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in our time of need.  Dear Lord,we thank you for providing this rest.  Another reason to love you the more!

 Amen

 

Friend,  God bless you on your journey!

2014: Jesus is Calling

1717955585_african_jesus-71112079846_xlarge

 

As  I prepare to usher us to the place of our first encounter with Jesus on the second day of this new year, 2014,  I hear the rain falling persistently on my roof.

It reminds me of the spiritual symbolism of water, a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, for  the presence of the third person of the Trinity. Randomly, the rain  makes me concentrate on the availability and involvement of the Holy Trinity in the mundane affairs of my life, of my Christian journey.  I think of God the Father, whose mercies are new every morning, for great is his faithfulness. I think of God the Father, our God of All Comfort.  I think  of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to be our guide, whose purpose is to be our default resource to lead us into all truth and righteousness.  And I think of Jesus, himself.

Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling.  Feel this sentiment of the hymnist Will L. Thompson:

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me . . .

Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,

Mercies for you and for me”

I think of Jesus, standing  at the door  of our hearts and knocking – – gently- – offering to come in and sup with us [Revelation 3:20].   I think of Jesus, who lamented:   O, Jerusalem/Klara how often would I have gathered you under my wings,  protected you from the vagaries of your life’s journey, but you were otherwise occupied [see Luke 13:34].  How often would I have told you the many things about thriving in this life, on this journey, but you could not receive my encounter.

This steadily persistent , gentle rain reminds me that Jesus is always there/here, in my space, to help me, comfort me, and guide me.  I invite you to say with me:   Lord,  I need not feel that I must face theses coming days alone.  I resolve now to release myself from pre-occupation with questions, fears, apprehensions about  my future this year.  I release my self to trust in Jesus for my provision—in every aspect of my life, every activity, every arrangement, every circumstance.  I will anticipate his favor and expect the Holy Spirit to lead me from one good degree of grace to another.

It is as if the Father is whispering:  I will be found by you [Jeremiah 29:14]  Earlier, God tells the  prophet:  For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, . . . thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not evil, to give you hope in your final outcome [Message, Jeremiah 29:11].

Allow me to Give my personal amplification:

I hear our Father saying,

I, God, KNOW [in my omniscience]

The plans [activities, goals, purpose, experiences, achievements, tests]

I [the plans I have prepared – – not those proffered by your enemies, i.e., –the world, the flesh , the devil]

HAVE [ My plans are already figured out,  signed sealed and waiting to be delivered.

I am not making up these plans as you travel on your life’s journey; these plans are already “in the vault.”  Therefore, you CAN be easy about the vicissitudes of your life.  You CAN count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, or in the more modern words of the Message about faith under pressure:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help.  You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  . . .

So my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.

The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as

the crown of all  his creatures  [James 1:2-5, 16-18] .

I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU – -for your individual journey, for you specifically. God is  saying to us just as he enlightened the prophet  [Jeremiah 1:7]   about his calling:

Before I formed thee in  the womb, I knew thee,  and before thou calmest forth out of  the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee.

These plans are to prosper YOU  [they will foster your individual growth, YOUR individual well-being]

My plans are are not designed to harm you.  Remember your heavenly Father knows how to give GOOD gifts;  He will not “scam” you by giving you stone for bread [Luke 11:11-13].

The Father says, my plans are customly tailored  for your specific life TO PROSPER YOU.  I want to GIVE you blessings.  Be assured these blessings will overtake you.  They will be grace gifts, unearned but merited – – only because I CHOOSE to bless you with my favor.

I WILL GIVE YOU HOPE. –not mere wishful thinking, but right believing, a confident knowing that I do all things well.

I WILL GIVE YOU a successful end, a future  [you will see my workings on your behalf  in January,  continuing through the year, cascading into a crescendo in December!

Therefore, you can go ahead now and fulfill 1Corinthians  15:58:

Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Confidently, run with patience the race  – – this segment of your life’s journey – -that is set before you [Hebrews 12:1]

Heavenly Father, please help us to trust your faithfulness throughout every month, every week, every day, every minute, every second of this new year. Holy Spirit, you have our permission to lead us into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Lord Jesus,  as much as we are able, we receive your peace and emulate your love.

Blessed be the Holy Trinity.      Amen

My friends, watch for God’s blessings to be seen as you journey in 2014!

 

Tabula Rasa

black madonna and child

In in this post-Christmas season, anticipation of a new calendar year in which we symbolically turn a page” on our journey /life  may be lackluster.  Feeling this way, some of us  may be anticipating, dreading, longing to quickstart, wanting to skip, the next 365 days.  In this case, I suggest that we walk around in Job 23:10 in order to regain our Godly swagger. Praying in the spirit of this scripture will transport us to a position of power:

       He knows the way that I take;

       when he has tried me,

       I shall come forth as pure gold.

In the recent pre-Christmas season, we focused on the birth of Jesus, i.e., on Joseph and Mary’s stable drama.   After three days’ travel by donkey over mountainous terrain from Nazareth to Jerusalem,  Joseph and his espoused wife, Mary, settled for a space in a stable because they found no room available in the inn.  Apparently, Joseph and Mary’s child was born into the world under circumstances where stable animals were the only available witnesses.  Their stable drama ended joyously with their showing off their new baby to  some shepherds.  Having received the annunciation and then been directed by the angels,  the shepherds  got to the stable- –  actually a cave Joseph and Mary  shared with the animals  – – and saw Baby Jesus.  These first recorded visitors  left to tell the story and spread the good news of the miraculous baby, born to be the Prince of Peace.

Now, I want to tell you “the rest of the story,”  as radio personality, Paul Harvey, would say.

TABULA RASA:  MARY’S MUSINGS about the FUTURE OF HER CHILD

According to Luke 2:12-20, Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.  2000 Years later, we know as much of the rest of the story as is recorded in the Bible.  We know what future events will occur in the life of this child.

WE KNOW THAT  –  When this baby is eight days old, he will be circumcised and named Jesus [Luke 2:21].   A few weeks later, his parents will bring him to the temple to present him to the Lord [vv. 22-27].   Two witnesses at his confirmation, Simeon and Anna [vv.  28-30 and 35-37],  will confirm his divinity.

WE KNOW THAT   –  wise men  from the east will bring gifts of gold, frank incense and myrrh [Matthew 2:11].  Myrrh, a special sign of royalty, will be involved on three significant occasions in the life of Jesus.  First, the gift of myrrh at his birth suggests divinity also because this well-known gum resin extraction was used as an ingredient of the holy anointing oil.   The second gift of myrrh will occur when Jesus is suffering on the cross and is offered a  drink of wine mixed with myrrh [Mark 15:22].  Women offered this pain-killing narcotic to prisoners who were crucified.   Jesus will refuse it.  The last incident  will occur when Pilate grants the unusual request of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimethea for the body of Jesus after his death by crucifixion.  They will provide seventy-five pounds of myrrh and aloes, customary for royal burials, to embalm Jesus [John19:38-40].

 WE KNOW THAT     – At the age of twelve,  Jesus will be found in temple,  confounding the rabbis  [Luke 2:41-43]

WE KNOW THAT     –     Eighteen silent years will elapse when we can infer his normal progression from childhood into adulthood [Luke 2:52].

WE KNOW THAT     –     Jesus will begin his ministry at the age of thirty.  Between the ages of thirty-one and thirty-three, he will experience a year of inauguration, then a year of  ministry/popularity, and a final year of opposition [The Gospels, passim].

WE KNOW THAT    –   After a passion-filled week,  Jesus will be crucified on an old, rugged cross to accomplish atonement for sin and reconciliation between God and man.  He will bring peace.

Yes, we now know the rest of the story, BUT  Mary could only ponder  in her heart the events surrounding the birth of her first child [Luke 2:19].  She may have renewed her vow of submission to the angel’s annunciation [Luke 1:38].

A MOTHER’S PRAYER FOR HER NEWBORN

LORD,  I thank you for this child whom I cradle before you.  I ponder in my heart as did Mary  about  my child’s future.  Yet you assure me that this baby is fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalm 139:14].

 Teach me how to implant that same assurance in her.

Help me to keep that confidence strong in myself so that I may show  her how you will strengthen her  steps from childhood to tweenhood,  , and  through her doubting teenage years  on into adulthood.

LORD,  please let the unconditional love I lavish on her lead her to trust, then rely on the love of her heavenly Father who will not let her go—NO MATTER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES OR PEOPLE IMPINGE ON HER LIFE.

FATHER,   at the set time, cause/help me to confidently let her begin fulfilling the purpose for which she has been born.  May I have the assurance of Mary:  Whatever she says to you, do it [John2:5].

LORD, please let me me be a reliable/nourishing   asset in her life all her life—a loving, /concerned /supportive mother from this cradle for as long as we live on earth.

Father ,I thank you for your faithfulness.

Amen

God bless you on your journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: THE Christmas Story

nativity3

Today  we focus on THE Christmas story:  The birth of our Lord and Saviour,  Jesus the Christ as recorded in Luke 2:1-8:

And it came to pass in those days,

that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus,

that all the world should be taxed/registered.

And this tax was first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

And all went to be registered, everyone into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth,

into Judea,unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,

(because he was of the house and lineage of David),

To be taxed with Mary,

his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was that , while they were there,

the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes,

and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Where do you go to hear this familiar Christmas  story?  What memories do you have of special “Christmas story time?”  I remember how my family began each Christmas morning at the 5:30 Mother Mary L. Shannon Christmas Sunrise Service at St. James Church.  We had to get up, wake up, and stay up!  We went to church to hear the Christmas story and to say happy birthday to Jesus at the live nativity on the church grounds.  [The scene was a re-enactment based on Luke 2:16]  Baby Jesus came into this world over 2000 years ago to live a perfectly sinless life and die an excruciatingly redemptive death – – for us.

Just as we observe the birth of famous/influential people like presidents, heroes humanitarians, scholars and probably Nelson Mandela the future, Christians around the world have adopted December 25 – -whether historically accurate or not – – as the chosen time to celebrate the birth of Christ – –  the entry of the Son of God into human history.

Think of someone you have met who has become a dominant force in your life:  influencing your thinking, your actions, your desires, your wishes, your likes, your dislikes.  Someone whom you trust unreservedly, who shows you unconditional love and understanding.  Someone who is available to patiently hear your “pity parties,” yet be available and ready – -without your coaxing, pleading  or cajoling – -to help you when you are ready to “quitcherbellyaching.”

I think of a church ritual from my childhood, girlhood and early adulthood when Christians reminded each other of such an encounter in their individual lives.  This monthly/quarterly event was called “testifying meeting” and was especially inspiring at Christmas time.  It was a time of worship when every believer in attendance had the opportunity –which many eagerly used -–to face the congregation and tell her/his “determination.”  That was the high point  of the liturgy for that particular worship service, which consisted of these  four parts:

  1. devotion  –  spiritual songs, lining hymns, prayers – -usually conducted by deacons.

2.   testifying time  –  a.  each person would sing her favorite  song/hymn

b. tell about the specific time when she first

met/encountered Jesus, when he came into her life to

stay

c.  express a “determination” to follow him for the rest of

her life through happy and sad times and to tell others

about the birth of the Savior. Hear the determination in

this song:

While shepherds kept their watching

o’er silent flocks by night,

behold, throughout the heavens

There shone a holy light.

Go, tell it on the mountain,

over the Hill and everywhere,

Go, tell it on the  mountain

that Jesus Christ is born.

                                  d. ask the congregation  to “pray my strength in the Lord, so

                                         that I will hold out and be the among the ones he is calling

                                        for in these last days”

3.  invitation to joiners, a time to encourage others to experience meeting this wonderful Saviour [ For persons were as zealous as were the shepherds at the Annunciation who heard the “First Noel” in Luke 2:8-18.]

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,

keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, an angel of the Lord came upon them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them,and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold,

I bring you tidings of great joy,which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,

who is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you:

Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host.

praising God, and saying,  Glory be to God in the Highest,

and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass,

as the angels were gone away from them into heaven,

the shepherds said one to another,

Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see that thing

which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph

and the babe lying in the manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad

 the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things

which were told them by the shepherds.

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” also captures the holy exuberance the shepherds heard:

Hark! the herald angels sing,  “Glory to the new born King;

Peace on Earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies;

with the angelic host proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

Hark! the herald angels sing,

“Glory to the new born King!”

4. benediction  – a blessing upon the congregation, releasing them to

                             proclaim the birth of Jesus the Christ

Now, you and I are modern shepherds who must herald the significance of the birth that generates our enthusiasm for this season.  For us, there is no Christmas without CHRIST.   Let us pray that our heavenly Father will fill us with the Holy Spirit who will, in turn, unloose our stammering tongues to the glory of God so that we may proclaim the significance of the birth of Jesus .

My friend, may God speed you on your journey through this Christmas season and may he redeem the time you spend with and for him!

M e r r y   C H R I S T m a s !

READ   –  LUKE 2:8-18 for this familiar precedent

READ   –  P 115  – “Hark! The herald Angels Sing”  #115

They vowed to “Go, Tell It on the Mountain,”   #122  [verses First]

LET US DO LIKEWISE.

BENEDICTION- A Blessing upon the congregants/poeple

LET US PRAY THAT OUR FATHER WILL FILL US WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT

BE  PLEASED AS HE UNLOOSES OUR STAMMERING TONGUES TO  PROCLAIM THE BIRTH OF JESUS THE CHRIST.

May God speed you on your journey through this Xmas season and redeem the time you spend with him!

S&S Call Encounter Notes: On HEARING

ear-listening

WHAT’S  IN YOUR EAR?

Some people make things happen.  They deliberately arrange situations, persons and things to achieve  a desirable result.  Are you hearing what you have deliberately chosen to hear?

Other people let things happen.   They are either critically inattentive to  what they are hearing or they decide to receive/allow it unchallenged into their consciousness.  Are you merely  hearing  “white noise”?

The last group of people “don’t even know” what is happening!  They are consciously as well as subconsciously oblivious to any noise at all.   Are you unaware of subliminal messages and their effect upon your consciousness?

WHAT’S IN YOUR SPIRITUAL EAR?

Four times in Revelation, Jesus Christ issues the imperative:  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.  Is he talking to you?  Yes, he is!  Scripture refers, metaphorically, to each believer as a temple/ a church.  Consider

I Corinthians 3:16:  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,  and that the Spirit dwelleth in you?  Also 1 Corinthians 6:19:  Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? [Message]  Even more convincingly,  Jesus, himself, tells us in John 6:63 that:  The words I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.  He even politely asks to converse with you, for in Revelation3: 20,  he says:  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man [a] hear my voice and [b] open the door,  I [c] will come in, and [d] will sup with him, and he with me.

Can you arrange your schedule so that you will be available and attentive to hear the  words of Jesus as you sup/dine with him?  He states in John 6:34;  I am the bread of life.  Both Matthew 6:11 and Luke 11:11 imply  that the bread is available daily.  You can be assured that you will receive the amount and kind of bread each day to carry you through the circumstances/situation of that day.  For example, if you need to feel loved, hear the words of John 3:16:  For God so loved [put your name here] that he gave his only begotten son.  Or if you are feeling discouraged, encourage yourself as did David at Ziklag. [1 Samuel 30:6]   Or if you are facing dire adversity, walk around in the book of Psalms substituting your particular issue for the word  trouble [sample footings are  Psalms 9:9,   25:17,   27:5,  46:1,  119: 143-4]   Or if you need healing  [Isaiah 55:3,  Exodus 15:26,  1 Peter  2:24]  Or if you want to share your rejoicing  [Philippians 4:4,  Luke 15:6,9]

YOUR RESPONSE TO SPIRITUAL HEARING

I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth;

I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.   I ponder every morsel of wisdom form you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it.

I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

                                        —Psalms 119:13-16, Message

May you daily and deliberately put God’s word in your ear so that you can hear it and use it as needed to the glory of God.