Category Archives: Devotional

365 Random Acts of Kindness

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365 Random Acts of Kindness

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”  Matthew 7:21

Sobering thought, isn’t it?

So, what is His will?  Well, honestly that is a terrific Bible study.  There are lots of hints and “rules” in scripture, “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal,” “honor your father and your mother,” “thou shalt have no other god’s before Me,” to “do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God?”  To be a good Samaritan.  To not just bless people and tell them we will pray for them, but to give them what they need, when it is within our power to do so.  These are some of the daily scripture readings I wanted to feature on the Random Acts cards. But before I get to that, I really need to talk to you about something first.

Obligation vs Love

“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”  Matthew 7:22,23

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal, And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Works for the sake of works only are dead works.  We must have love.  And what is love?

Love suffers long, and is kind.  Love does not envy.  Love does not parade itself.  It is not puffed up.  Love does not behave rudely.  It doesn’t seek its own.  It is not provoked.  It thinks no evil.  Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)  Pursue love!

Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 22:40

With God there is order, and our love must be in the order He established.  First we must love God, and then we shall love each other.  We so often go about it all wrong.  We think we have to earn God’s love with good works, but He is not a man, He is God; His ways are higher than our ways.  He already loves us.  He is trying to teach us to love Him back, because if we love Him, and really get to know Him, we’ll see the whole creation through His eyes.  It is information that we need in order to truly love.

We can dutifully go out and do all the things we’re supposed to, but if we still practice lawlessness (not obey God’s rules in our hearts), our works will all be for naught.  The Lord doesn’t take bribes.  He is trying to teach us something… a better way than we can imagine.  He wants us to get to know Him first and foremost, so that we can love our  neighbor as ourselves.

So above all else, we must repent of every sinful thing in our lives, all the lawlessness, all the selfishness, every high thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  This is how we love God with all of our hearts, and souls, and minds, and strength!  We must give our hearts fully and exclusively to God, and when our hearts are full of Him, His love will come pouring out on our neighbors.  It won’t be a chore, or a drudgery, or an obligation.  It will be a compulsion.  And it will be blessed of God, because it will be His will and His doing.  And we will never have to fear those dreadful words, “Away from me, I never knew you.”

I just wanted to establish this before I go sharing my “vision” of random acts.  It is not out of legalism that I wish to pursue this, it is out of holiness to God and having His heart for people.  It is about being blameless in His sight first, and then being not just “hearers of the word of God” for my self only, “but doers of it” also, for mankind.  It’s about knowing the heart of God first, and then strapping on my shoes of readiness, and taking the minas (talents) He has given to me in our private time with each other, and scattering them along life’s roads as I go, sowing God’s kingdom in the hearts of every person I encounter.  It’s about seeing opportunity in the eyes of every person I meet, to love them with the love of God.  It’s about strength training, making kindness, generosity, and love such a daily part of my life and focus that I become an imitator of Christ and spiritually fruitful.

RACards

 

Random Acts cardsA

It has been on my heart for some time to create this little set of cards, as a way to get in the habit of “hearing His word, and doing it.”  I had pictured in my mind a nice laminated set of cards, placed in a nice, sturdy, decorated recipe box or basket that I could keep on my kitchen table.

Each card in my box/basket would feature a daily scripture and a suggested daily random act of kindness, that would start me down the path of kindness, goodness, gentleness towards others. Card 24

Each morning, as I sip my coffee, I could draw out one of these cards, read the scripture and the random act, and then pray for God to lead me to the person He wants for me to bless that day, and also go ahead of me to prepare their heart for His blessing.

At the end of the day I could thank Him for giving me seeds to sow, and pray for that person’s heart to come to know my Savior who leads His people to do good things for others, or for them to just feel loved and blessed that God’s people make the best friends (and dispel some of the bad press that we so often get in this dark world).

And then I thought how exiting this would be to do with my grandchildren, when they are sleeping over, and it was THAT thought that led me to create this blog post.

What a neat thing for families to do!!!!  It doesn’t take much time to pull a card out of a box each morning as we sit around our tables eating breakfast.   Each family member can start the day sharing a word from the Bible, and then be challenged to carry out a random act that day that we can all talk about later that night around the supper table.

 

 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”  John 10:27

The Bible is filled with scriptures about doing for others…

Be doers of the Word

 

 

“Speak not evil one of another, brethren.  He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou are not a doer of the law, but a judge.”  James 4:11

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At the bottom of this post are the links to download my pdf files of the cards I created.  You have my permission to print them – for your own personal use ONLY – on 8.5 X 11″ sheets of copy paper, or you can take them to your local print shop and have them print them for you on a nice card stock (one set ONLY, for your own personal use, please).  Once they are printed you can cut them apart and have them laminated at the print shop to make them durable, and waterproof.  There are 91 pages in the file (file size is 185.5 KB).

While you wait for your cards to print, and laminate, let me entice you with some inspiration…

RANDOM ACTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

RANDOM ACTS AT WORK:

Be generous with praise. Thank others often. Pitch in and help when a coworker is overwhelmed (sometimes because of the death of a loved one, or recovery from an illness or accident, etc., or just learning the job).  Leave a small gift (book, music CD, pretty pen, Starbucks gift card, etc.) in their mailbox, just because. Surprise someone with flowers, or balloons, whom you notice never receives such things.

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

RANDOM ACTS AT CHURCH:

Offer to clean an elderly member’s home. Take an elderly member to a doctor appointment. Take a casserole dinner to a new mom and help her fold clothes. Offer babysitting to a young couple for a date night. Rake leaves or shovel snow for a shut-in, or someone recovering from surgery.  Buy groceries for the pastor/wife. Pick up a friend and take them to church with you. Take a new member to breakfast or lunch.

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 ESV

RANDOM ACTS IN THE COMMUNITY:

Here is an awesome and really fun sounding idea to do with our small groups (church cell groups) that a friend posted on Facebook:

“Oh my goodness! What fun and what a blessing. My church has a number of small groups that meet once a week for more intimate fellowship, Bible study and  service to our community. We are doing a weekly service in our town called “Acts of Random Kindness.” We arrive with a list of acts of kindness we will do, in an hour, as we break up in smaller teams and compete with each other to accomplish the acts and make it back to our host house ahead of other teams. We ran off and paid for people’s groceries, went to gas stations and paid for gas for people and cleaned their windshields, gave flowers to unsuspecting random recipients, gave tips to waitresses without receiving their service, filled washers and dryers with quarters for people at public laundry mats, sang to fast food counter servers and retail sales persons, dropped gift baskets at random houses, read an encouraging poem to a person we came across, and many other acts that let people know they are special and that we care. The way people responded to us was so touching. I didn’t want the giving to stop. I told our leader that it reminded me of when I was a teen and we would do Chinese fire drills. Our adrenaline ran wild. As teams, we ran to each service, all participated, and then we ran back to the car laughing and feeling great about the lives we touched. I could do this every day! I received more than I gave. I think that was the lesson to each of us participating. It is such a joy to give. And…to give randomly, to whoever we see in front of us at the time. I encourage everyone to open your eyes to people you can show kindness to whether you think they deserve it or not.”

“He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13

RANDOM ACTS AT HOME:

Leave a little note of encouragement in children’s lunchboxes or backpacks.  Leave a sweet note on the mirror for spouse. Send a love text or prayer of encouragement to spouse during the day. Warm up and scrape the ice off of spouse’s vehicle – or turn on the  A/C so the car is cool before they go to work.  Surprise spouse with a little gift in their car, or on their side of the bed, or sitting next to their favorite chair in the living room (a new book, a new pair of pajamas, new socks, new gloves, movie tickets, new tool, lotion, candybar, flowers, etc.), just because.

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

RANDOM ACTS FOR FRIENDS:

Send a card. Invite to lunch. Leave a small gift (potted plant, bottle of wine, bag of groceries, magazine/newspaper/book, a pretty wreath for their door, etc.) on the doorstep. Invite them to a pedicure. Make a mammogram appointment together and go pick her up. Invite to go shopping (clothes, antiques, farmer’s market, etc.). Invite to a play or movie.

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” 1 John 3:17-18

RANDOM ACTS FOR NEIGHBORS:

Shovel their sidewalks while they are at work. Pull their weeds.  Leave a potted plant on their doorstep. Invite them for supper. Visit with them over the fence.  Help them wash their car, work on their car, repair a fence, etc. if you see them out doing that. Mow their yard while they are at work. Make a pretty wreath for their door.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

 

Random Acts3

FREE PRINTABLE>>>>>Click Here for the RA365 cards front design

(This is one page of the front side design.  91 copies of this one page will be needed for one set of cards, or 92 copies if printing the extra page of blank cards).

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RAC blank cards

FREE PRINTABLE>>>>Click Here for Random Acts one page of blank cards

(This is one page of blank cards, for writing down your own suggestions, or replacing cards in my set that don’t seem relevant to you).

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RACards

FREE PRINTABLE >>>>Click Here for Random Acts 365 Cards FULL SET – 91 pages

(This is the whole set of cards.  It is 91 pages in length, 4 cards per page)

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Bless you my friend.  May we be as iron sharpens iron for one another, using our gifts for the edification of the church, the whole body of Christ, as the Lord intended.  I pray these cards will be a blessing, and useful to you in this life.  I can’t wait to meet you on the other side of this life – in God’s glorious kingdom.  And let us not grow weary in doing good, for we shall reap a harvest if we do not give up!

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“Then the righteous will answer Him, Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and took You in? Or naked, and clothed You?  And when did we see You ailing or in prison, and came to You?’  “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Matthew 25:37-40

 

 

 

 

 

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Mrs H’s Tacos

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Mrs H’s Tacos

Get ready for TACO TUESDAY!!!!!!  This might be one of the more coveted recipes in my collection.  I am often asked how I make my tacos.  It is also a frequent request for Family Supper night by daughter, son-in-law, and the grandkids.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite dinners, and really one of my favorites too!!!!  Quick and easy!!!!

Let’s start with the meat

Taco meat

I use 2 lb. of quality ground beef (to feed 4 adults and 2 kids) – a good organic, grass fed, angus beef.  I break it apart in a frying pan and toss while cooking over medium high heat until browned.  Drain off and discard the fat .  I then sprinkle 2 packets of Lawry’s Taco Seasoning Mix over the meat, and then I fill the empty packets with water and pour the water over the seasoning and stir it well into the meat, with the heat turned down to medium low.  To this I add about a half cup of salsa (fresh or canned) and stir that altogether.  I then let the meat simmer on low heat until the tacos are ready to assemble.

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The meat will become drier the longer it simmers.  I personally like it dry so that it doesn’t make the bottom of my tacos soggy.  I don’t like when they fall apart and all the stuffing falls out.

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Pico de gallo

I use about 1 1/2 cup of chopped sweet cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped fresh jalapenos, and 1 cup chopped green onions (or a small sweet white onion if I don’t have green onions on hand), then add about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 cloves of garlic minced, the juice of two limes, and a sprinkle of salt to taste.  If the jalapenos are really mild, I sometimes add a pinch of cayenne for some kick.

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Toppings

I chop one whole bunch of Romaine lettuce into small shreds.

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I like to shred my own cheese (pepper jack) when I’m feeling ambitious, but often use a Mexican cheese blend that is pre-shredded already.

Taco Shells

Taco Shells

I buy the small Old El Paso brand taco shells (2 pkgs to feed my family of 4 adults and 2 kids because the men will easily eat 6 tacos apiece or more).

Taco Shells in oven

I preheat my oven to 360*F, and set the shells in a baking pan.  When the oven is ready I pop the pan of shells in for about 6 minutes, or whatever time is recommended on the package.  This is an important step because it makes the shells nice and crispy!!!

 

 

Taco Sauce

I actually use a variety of sauces.  I like to try new ones.  The green tomatillo Herdez or La Costena hot sauces (medium) are both really good standbys.  I like the Taco Bell hot sauce (Diablo), and the DelPrimo sauces are all good.  But my favorite of recent is El Gallo flame roasted Jalapeno.  It comes in a bag with a little screw top spout (medium).

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To assemble the tacos I remove the shells from the oven and quickly fill them with meat, dispersing it evenly among the shells.  I sprinkle cheese over the meat in each shell, and then add the lettuce.  They each then get a spoonful of my fresh Pico and a generous pour of tomatillo taco sauce.  That’s it!  Mmmmmm…. let’s eat!!!!!!

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Now some people might like to add chopped black olives, maybe some sour cream, possibly some sliced avacado, and that’s all good, but personally, I can’t bear to mess with perfection.

If you’d like to add a couple of sides, I love charros or refries and Mexican Rice.  And you can never go wrong with Sopapilla Cheesecake for dessert!!!!!  Hubby washes his meal down with a good Modelo cerveza!  I just like iced tea.  Gracee will take a Margarita, if I make her one, and the kids like horchata.

Hey, while we are enjoying our Family Supper, may I share with you from the book One Year of Dinner Table Devotions & Discussion starters by Nancy Guthrie (published by Tyndale)?

 

Devotion

The Armor of God

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The Armor of God

Be Strong in the Lord and in the power of His Might!

We all get up and get dressed in the morning. Some of us have office jobs and our clothes have to be fashionable and classy. Some get dressed for blue-collar jobs, plumber, electrician, construction. Stay-at-home moms and babysitters might wear a t-shirt and sweatpants for comfort, affordability, and ease of cleaning. Since Adam and Eve’s little misstep in the garden we’ve all been wearing clothes, but do we know how to dress our Spiritual selves?

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Ever found yourself blindsided by life, or arrested by an attack of worry and fear? Maybe you woke up in the middle of the night to be battered by thoughts about work, coworkers with wicked schemes in their briefcases, a job or task that feels utterly daunting, or that you are soberingly ill-equipped for? Perhaps fears over medical issues or a scary diagnosis has your gut in knots? Maybe you are worrying about a child that is struggling with something or someone?

Rain falls on the just and the unjust. In this world we will have troubles, but we don’t have to feel naked and afraid through them, or take the punches lying down. If we are children of God, He has given us Spiritual Armor, as protection, so let us rise up and get spiritually dressed!

The Armor of God

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

Withstand in the evil day, and to do all that we can do to stand – I can’t help but draw a parity between “the evil day” and Wyoming on an exceptionally windy day, and what a chore it is to try to stand against the swirling, battering tempest, much less walk in it.  I’m telling you! Maybe you know what it is like to get in and out of a car, or in and out of a house in such raging winds?  …Or the comical futility it is of having to almost literally claw your way across a parking lot and have any dignity in the exercise – hair blown upward to a tattered mess and then whipping across your face like a strobing blindfold, eyes filled with sand and dirt, breath sucked out of your lungs, shirt or dress blown up around your neck, hat gone and doing somersaults across the prairie, your body leaning hard into the pressing gales only to have the velocity change and knock you almost off your feet, and as soon as you recover the speed changes back again. Oh, and then, just to make things even more interesting, let’s add ice and snow to the equation. Right? Yeah, you know!!!!!  …Or you can picture it at least. (Laughing out loud!)

The word “withstand” in this passage is anthistemi (pronounced anth-is-tay-me) in the original language of the Ephesians.  Anti = against, and histemi = to cause to stand. My study Bible says this verb suggests vigorously opposing, bravely resisting, standing face-to-face against an adversary, standing your ground.

Think “antihistamine. Like when an allergen attacks us our bodies react badly by sneezing, our eyes water, and our nose runs like a faucet – we are out of control, but an antihistamine helps us to stand against it. An antihistamine stops the horrible, ineffective reaction that our body produces naturally and makes us strong.  It renders the allergen harmless.

So it is when we suit up in the Spiritual armor of God. All by ourselves, and even with a passel of friends by our side, we are hopelessly outgunned against Satan and often react badly: paralyzed by fear, angry or bitter, overcome by the poor-me’s, but Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  And His armor is an absolute necessity in this world.

“When the enemy comes in like a flood, God will raise up a standard against him”    Isaiah 59:19

The full armor of God helps us to stand. “Resist the devil and he will flee” it says in James 4:7.

“Let us put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that we may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore… Ephesians 6:10-13.

When I get spiritually dressed, I work my way from head to toe, because it helps me to remember all the pieces that way. Do you want to get dressed with me?

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Helmet of Salvation

Helmet of Salvation

I love that salvation is pictured as a helmet.  Without salvation we are dead-people-walking.  So let’s start with that.  Are you saved? Have you asked Jesus into your heart? Do you have Him living inside of you?  Our heads will always be vulnerable until the Lord’s salvation is living inside of us.

  • And take the helmet of salvation…

Even after we’ve asked Jesus to live in us there is still a major war going on for our minds. Satan cannot read our thoughts but he can plant them – sexually immoral thoughts, hate and envy, greed and pride, worry and doubt.  We must constantly withstand…

“Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Cor. 10:5b.

Don’t be deceived. Know this, that Satan got Eve to eat the forbidden fruit by first getting her to think about it, then look at it, and finally to touch it. Don’t let him trick you into doing his bidding by enticing you with the same vain imaginations. Catch those thoughts, toss them in God’s incinerator, and then let Jesus Christ, the head of the church, our Salvation, replace them:

“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate (think) on these things.” Philippians 4:8

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Breastplate of Righteousness

Breastplate of Righteousness

Another vulnerable place is our heart, for our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  Our hearts cause us to chase after people and things that are not good for us.  Our hearts can become bitter, and out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths speak.  Only the Lord’s righteousness can give us a new heart.  Create in me a clean heart O God (Psalm 51:10).

  • Having put on the breastplate of righteousness

Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness  (Romans 4:3, Genesis 15:16, Galatians 3:6, James 2:23).  Do you BELIEVE God?

“Let not mercy and truth forsake you…write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

“Keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…write them on the tablet of your heart…that they may keep you…” Proverbs 7:3

“clearly you are an epistle of Christ…written…by the Spirit of the living God…on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23.

We worry so much about what we eat being bad for us, but it is not what we put into our bodies that makes us unclean, it is what comes out. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. If our hearts are pure, our words will be also. We must hide God’s word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him. If we do this we need not fret about what we will say when an enemy confronts us, because when that time comes those hidden words will come out. Matthew 10:19; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11. The Holy Spirit will wield them as a sword against our enemy!  And He’ll help us not to have the horrible, ineffective reactions!

Let’s reach our arms up (in surrender) through the straps of the breastplate, and receive (Christ) our Breastplate into place. Feel the impression of the cross pressed into the breastplate and rest assured that our heart is safe behind that cross of Christ.

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Belt of Truth

Belt of Truth

Martial arts beginners start with a yellow beginner belt, and as they become more skilled, they graduate on to the coveted black belt. Being a good Christian, doing the right things, hearing God’s will and doing it, these all take practice for us to become proficient.

  • Having girded your waist with truth

Wear truth like a belt, because, liar liar pants on fire, we don’t want to get caught with our pants down in an untruth. Lies destroy integrity. As Christians we must stay away from them. Guard against them. They are the devil’s playground. He is a liar and the father of lies. Let no lie depart from our lips.

And do not let that nasty devil lie to us either. Has he been in your ear about something?  Tempting.  Taunting.  What has he been lying to you about?  Strap on that belt of truth and find the promises of God in the scriptures.  They are the same yesterday, today, and forever!!!!  When the devil says we are worthless, remember that God created you for the sole purpose of knowing you.  He knew you before you were even born.  He knows every hair on your head.  He ordained every day of your life before you ever even lived one of them.  He has plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future.

Has Satan used people to sow seeds of doubt in your mind or your heart?  There is a way that seems right to men, but in the end it leads to death. Jesus is THE Way, THE TRUTH, and THE Life; no one comes to the Father but by Him!

If we ask Jesus into our hearts, and let Him wear the pants in the relationship, that’s how we’ll keep our belt of truth firmly fastened.

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Shoes of Readiness

Shoes of Readiness (for the gospel of peace)

Don’t be like my granddaughters, who, bless their sweet little pea pickin’ hearts, shuck those shoes the instant they enter a house, and then when it’s time to go, spend forever, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, sending us all off on a wild goose chase looking for them. Be prepared. Let us always be prepared!  Keep those shoes on!!!!!!!

  • And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…

Let’s be prepared every day for God’s will and for the work He has for us to do. Look for opportunities to randomly sow kindness. Seek to always be busy for the Lord. We don’t have to be nervous about it – for it is the gospel of peace, not war, that Jesus sends us out with. Jesus said, “My peace I give you! I do not give as the world gives.” His perfect peace casts out fear!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” 1 John 4:18

“Seek peace, and pursue it!”  The gospel is neither high pressure, or mean, it isn’t insulting, or rude, it should never be argumentative, or hostile, or accusatory. It is not conceited, prideful, arrogant, self-seeking, or unprepared. The gospel is…. well….peace and love, man, peace and love – 1 Cor. 13.

We need a good, tough pair of hikers if we are going to make it up and down the steep cliffs of life, sensible cleats, for the rocky terrain out there is filled with loose gravel, cactus and centipedes, mountains and mud puddles, tall grass and fallen logs.  We’ve got a long road ahead of us and lots of seed to sow – Matthew 13:1-23.

“Every place on which the soul of your foot treads shall be yours…” Deut. 11:24

“How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news.” Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15

Pull those shoes of peace snuggly onto each foot. Grab the laces and yank hard, twist, and tie, not with pretty laces that break easy, but with a three-fold cord that is not easily broken. Tie those cords into a double bow knot so we don’t lose our shoes in quicksand if we should step in any of it today. And then let’s be about the Lord’s work, scattering seeds, and taking some beautiful peace and good news to our world.  We have the answer for what ailes humanity – the cure for the cancer of the soul!!!!!

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Shield of Faith

Shield of Faith

Do you have works? Check your wallet.  What are you spending your  money on?  Check your calendar.  What are you spending your time doing?  Faith without works is evidence of spiritual death. Have you laid your shield down somewhere? Where is it? Let’s find it in a hurry and pick it back up!!!! Of all the pieces of armor, it might be the most important. Even just a tiny mustard seed of faith can grow into a giant tree!

  • Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one…

The shield Paul spoke of was called a thureon, and was a plank of wood, 4 feet long and 2½ feet wide. It was covered with linen and treated leather. It was the one piece of equipment that all the others could hide behind. Picture a turtle, with tough skin, snapping beak, and sharp claws, safely tucked into his shell.  Only the shield will protect a warrior from blazing arrows, and believe me, Satan is generous with his flaming arrows.

The devil wants nothing more than to get us to lay down our shield of faith.  He is always attacking it.  If he can destroy our faith, he’s got us.  That shield is the one piece of armor that protects us from his weapons of mass destruction.

Have you had a crisis of faith recently?  Welcome to the club; I think we all have.  No sin has overcome us except what is common to man.  Has something happened that made you question God’s love or existence?  That, my friend, was the devil, and it was one of his perfectly aimed fiery darts.  He sprays them at all of us, aggressively, incessantly.  When you are having a crisis of faith, go back and find where you laid down your shield and take it back up again.  Read testimonies.  Talk to people who have experienced miracles.  Get in the word.  Pray.  Cry.  Work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  Connect with a faithful mentor.  Read the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.  Watch the movie The Shack, or Miracles from Heaven.  Joni Erickson Tada has an amazing testimony.  Do whatever it takes to find our faith again.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen!

Our faith will shield us from the accusations of the devil. Hold on to your faith! Hide behind your faith! It is the only thing protecting us against arrows of death and destruction.

 

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Sword of the Spirit

Sword of the Spirit

How did Jesus fight Satan in His temptation in the wilderness? With the word of God! Have you hidden God’s word in your heart? God gave us the Holy Spirit the moment we asked Jesus into our hearts for many purposes, one of which is to remind us of the words of God that we’ve hidden in our hearts. We must, must, must be in the word. We must know the word, so that no one will ever be able to deceive us!

  • And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

“The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and morrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

God’s word brings conviction. It shines a light on lies. It extinguishes deceit. It makes promises that increase our faith. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things that are written in the word, and bring to our remembrance all things that Jesus said (John 14:26). We can wield the word of God as a sword against our enemy, as Jesus did when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness.

One of my favorite Bible teachers, Beth Moore, encourages her students in a Breaking Free video session, to “Get you some bullets – a word from the word – every morning, and load your weapon, because Satan isn’t afraid of the chambering SOUND of the shotgun. He’s only gonna run if he gets shot at with REAL bullets – scriptures.”  She has an excellent book, Praying God’s Word, and a couple of wonderful devotionals that I encourage you to get.

Fellow soldier, let’s load our spiritual magazines right now, and every morning, and be ready for whatever may come our way.  Here are some of my favorite Bible Promise Books.  They have categories which lead to specific Bible promises for every problem we could ever face.  Keep one in your car, your desk drawer, your purse, on your table.  So when we come face to face with fear, for instance, we can find scriptures that offer courage in that moment.  If depression, we can find joy.  Health problems? …healing promises!  And also be able to offer encouragement for others!!!!

Bible Promise BooksLucado Promise Books

No weapon formed against us shall prosper, all those who rise up against us shall fall!

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Spiritual Armor

Continual Prayer

  • Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit

Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking in Jesus’ name, and the door will be opened to us. Let the Holy Ghost pray for us when we don’t know what to pray, with groanings that cannot be formed into words. Pray out loud with our hearts and our minds and our mouths, but also inwardly and with the secret prayer language that the Holy Ghost came to give us, to keep Satan out of the loop, and have holy mediation. Pray by ourselves every moment of every day, and get together often to pray with others. Fast and pray. Ask the Lord to teach us how to pray and what to pray, as the disciples also did, and He will show us.

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Watchfulness

  • Being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

When I was first writing this blog post it was back at Christmastime, and I had a bag of treats sitting on my desk to give to my garbage man.  As I wrote I also was keeping an ear out for his rumbling truck. When I heard what I thought was it, I grabbed the bag,  and jumped and ran for the door, only to find it was a darned semi.  The next time I jumped and ran, it was only farm equipment.  Later still it was a dump truck.  Good grief.  Until this day I never really noticed how many heavy trucks traveled down the highway past my house.

Finally the garbage truck did come, and I was able to catch him, and tell him Merry Christmas, but wouldn’t you know it, God had a little object lesson waiting for me when I returned to my work.  His still small voice spoke to my heart and said, “THAT is the kind of watchfulness I want you to have for all things spriritual.”

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Ephesians 6:12

Our Lord wants us to keep one eye constantly open, watching, and if Satan picks on us, our families, or any one of the saints, we are to use our weapons to chase him away, before he gets a foothold.

Watch, for the devil roams around like a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour. He is an opportunist and goes after the easiest lambs of the flock. Let’s not be easy.  He comes to kill and to steal and to destroy, but do not fear, “Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world” 1 John 4:4.

At the cross of Christ, the enemy was defeated (Colossians 1:13-14; 2:15; Revelation 20:7-10). Let us stand together and have endurance in our watchfulness and fight him off together, calling 911-Jesus when we see anyone under attack, because a three strand cord (us, with our brethren, and entwinded with Jesus) is not easily broken.

THAT is also the kind of watchfulness we are to have for our Lord’s glorious return.  Our Savior, hallelujah, shall come for us one day, praise His glorious name, to snatch us away from this evil world (Thess. 5:6).  I pray He finds me and YOU ready, worthy, and watching!!!!!!!  Oh how I pray!!!!!!!!!

 

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Did you get dressed with me?  Yay!!!!!  Let’s go take a good look in the mirror at our bad selves, and not forget what we look like with all our armor on. Let’s not be sitting ducks when we get out of bed in the mornings, as we go throughout our chaotic days, or as we lay our heads down on our pillows to sleep at night.  Our Spiritual Armor doesn’t need to be laundered, so let’s just always keep it on!!!!  And like God’s mercies that are new every morning, may His armor be as well.  Put it on again whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to put it on!

Rejoice with me, that our Father knows how to give good gifts to His children. Besides the gift of Salvation in His Son, we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit that stays with us always, and let us thank the good Lord for the gift of armor that protects us along life’s narrow roads and dark alleys, His hedge of protection He places around us, and His mighty angels that go before us, surround us, and are our rear guards.  Lord cast that devil away from us, far away, as far away as the east is from the west.  And if he should ask you to sift us as wheat today, I pray dear Lord you will tell him NO!  In Jesus’ name.

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Click on this image for a FREE PRINTABLE that you can color and tuck in your Bible

“My soul rejoices in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.” Isaiah 61:10

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The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

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The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

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“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”

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There’s a little bit of dialog out there on who the Virgins might be. Are they the church? Are they the Jewish people who finally believe in Jesus as their Messiah during the great tribulation? I’ll leave that to Jesus to reveal when the time comes. What is important is that we make sure we are not foolish Virgins!

Colleen picUsing scripture to understand scripture let’s see if 2 Timothy 3 might shed a little light on who some foolish virgins could be.

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“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” — 2 Timothy 3:1-9

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Jannes and Jambres are interestingly named in this passage by Paul, but their names do not appear in the scriptures referenced (Exodus 7:11&22). Their names come from “an unwritten teaching of the Jews,” according to Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Concordance on the Whole Bible. The concordance in my Bible says they were the magicians who duplicated Aaron and Moses’s miracles before Pharoah, to undermine their credibility. They were able to turn a rod into a serpent, and water into blood, just like Aaron and Moses had done. According to quotes from Numebius (whoever that was), Jannes and Jambres were “sacred scribes, of a lower order of priests in Egypt, who were skilled in magic.” Hiller (not sure who this guy is either) interprets the name Jannes from the Abyssinian language to mean a trickster, and Jambres to mean a juggler. What’s most important is that they resisted or withstood by exibiting lying wonders to manipulate Pharoah, just as will be done in the last days by false prophets to manipulate mankind (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thes. 2:9; Revelation 13:14-15).

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Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”

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Colleen picOil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; the kings and priests in the old Testament were anointed with oil for the work of their office, in the new Testament WE, Christians are kings and priests (Rev.1:6; 5:9,10), and are anointed with the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20,27) for the work of our office.

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Visit these websites to learn more:
http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/1107/Oil-as-Symbol.htm
http://www.jackhayford.org/teaching/articles/symbols-of-the-holy-spirit/
https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_433.cfm
http://www.loyolapress.com/symbols-of-the-holy-spirit.htm

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Colleen picI know you know the song, “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let it Shine…” again using scripture to understand scripture let’s go to Acts 19 and Acts 1 to see how the Holy Spirit becomes that light in our lamps.

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And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Acts 19:1-6

But you shall receive power (boldness) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

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But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.”

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Colleen picHave you ever gotten tired of waiting for something? A wife or husband to get ready to leave the house for an activity? The weatherman’s report during the evening news? Getting to where you are going, on a long trip? What do you do to pass the time? Play on your phone? Play some music? Take a little cat-nap? The Virgins “slumbered” and “slept.” I thought the two word choices were interesting, so I decided to look up those two words in my Word Study New Testament reference books. Here’s what I found:

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The word Slumbered (verb) in this verse is the English translation of the Greek word nustazo, (Strongs #3573), and means to nod off, just like one does sitting in a chair and when their head falls they wake back up again. Its grammatical notation is “aorist indicative active” which means it is not a continuous action as actual sleeping would be, also it is voluntary on the part of the person or people, in other words they weren’t drugged or boxed in the head, they just drifted off and closed their heavy eyelids for a moment of their own accord.

The word Slept (verb) in this verse is the English translation of the Greek word katheudo, (Strongs #2518), and means exactly “sleep” – lose consiousness. Its grammatical notation is “imperfect tense” (actually: imperfect 3-person plural to be specific), which, not being a Bible scholar by any stretch, appears to me to mean “to sleep in every sense of the word.” Soooo, what is “every sense of the word?” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon lists (crazily enough) “three” senses of the word and here they are:

a. properly (sleep): as used in Matthew 8:24; Matthew 9:24 (on this and its parallels, cf. B. D. American edition, p. 1198{a}); ; Mark 4:27, 38; Mark 5:39; Mark 13:36; Mark 14:37, 40; Luke 8:52; Luke 22:46; 1 Thessalonians 5:7.

b. euphemistically (to be dead): as used in 1 Thessalonians 5:10; (Psalm 87:6 (); Daniel 12:2).

c. metaphorically (to yield to sloth and sin, and be indifferent to one’s salvation): as used in Ephesians 5:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.

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Colleen picWhat? Whoa! So since slumbered comes first I’m guessing it applies to the wise virgins, who are always listed first, and the foolish, who are always listed second, must be the ones who flat out slept — in not only the proper sense of the word, but the euphemistic, and metaphorical senses as well, which totally confirms what 2 Timothy 3 said all the way up there at the start of this Bible Study, and very much triple defines their “foolishness.”

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13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.[b] 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11

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“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’”

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Have you ever studied the Jewish wedding customs? If you are interested, you’ll find a little bit about them in my blog posts about the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The wedding customs are so perfectly intertwined with the last three Jewish feasts, and this parable. And just like the bridegrooms of Jesus’ day returned for their brides…

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

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Colleen picOh praise Jesus, I am comforted. Aren’t you? That if we die, or if we nod off He’ll wake us up?

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Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’”

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Colleen picThe foolish virgins should have known that the Holy Spirit cannot be purchased, it is a gift given without merit by Jesus – not of works lest any man should boast; but in not knowing they showed that they were not really His. They were of the same spirit as Simon:

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And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Acts 8:18-23

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The Virgins were all part of the same wedding party, but only half were wise, only half had oil and the others did not. In the same way, not everyone who attends church, or even serves in the church, is truly part of it. There are tares among us who are members, and even leaders in our churches. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. The power thereof is the Holy Spirit, so in essence they are denying (refusing) the Holy Spirit access to them, or denying the Holy Spirit’s existence. Either way, they are imposters – perhaps even wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Like Simon, they could also be poisoned by bitterness – the KJV says, “in the gall of bitterness.” Vinegar mixed with gall was offered to Jesus as He was about to be crucified and after tasting it He refused to drink it. Jesus refused to be poisoned with bitterness about His circumstances. In Exodus 15:22-26 we are told of bitter waters made sweet by a tree. Peter referred to the cross of Jesus as a tree (1Peter 2:24). If I were asked to define the word bitterness, I would say it is disappointment or unforgiveness from somewhere in our past left to fester into an infection of the heart. Some of the first things Jesus impressed upon me to do as a new Christian was to go to the people in my life whom I had unforgiveness for, and speak forgiveness to them. In so doing the Lord healed my bitter heart. Do you have an infection of the heart? Jesus is the only way to freedom. Let Jesus pry your cold, stiff hands off those hurts and resentments so that His Holy Spirit can come in and take their place, and turn your heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Simon was also bound by iniquity, or as the KJV puts it, “in the bond of iniquity” which paints a clearer picture in my mind of a person with Satan’s hands clutched around his/her ankles and being drug with them everywhere they go, or Satan having them in a head-lock perhaps. Rather than give up whatever hurts he had or try to untangle his feet from shackles of sin, Simon just wanted to deny that they existed and pretend to be saved. Perhaps his sins were embarrassing? Or maybe he didn’t think his sins were all that big a deal? If Jesus could just give us a glimpse of the invisible stuff we carry around with us, I think it would shock us. And I think if we saw how ugly all of it really is we’d beg to have it off of us immediately.

Christ came to set the captives FREE. It is for freedom that Christ sets us free, and if He sets us free we are free indeed. If old hurts have had a hold on you; if a sinful past has held you back from trusting Jesus and Christians, don’t!!!! You might be able to hide it from people, but it is not hidden from God. God can’t let you into heaven with all of that junk hanging on you, that’s why He sent His SON to cleanse you of it and set you free from it. Do you want to be free? Confess your sins to Him and let Him wash them away in His redeeming blood. Find a pastor or Christian that you can trust and ask them to pray with you. Satan wants you to be shackled to your stuff forever, and he’ll think of every clever arguement that he can to keep you bound to him, but Jesus gives you a choice. Let it go! Be ready when Jesus comes, and not off on a fool’s errand when it’s time to go?

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And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’”

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“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

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Colleen picDoes Jesus know me? Do I know Him? Do I practice lawlessness, or do I do the will of My Father?

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“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”

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“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[e] but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:36-44

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4

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Colleen picLet me just say that Noah didn’t know the exact day or hour that God would flood the earth, but he knew the ark would save him. He trusted God, and did the will of God to build it, and we do the will of God to be watching and ready…

“My sheep hear My voice” John 10:27. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13

The Bible tells us that the gospel shall be preached in all the world, and then the end will come! Matthew 24:14 & Revelation 14:6,7.

Has the gospel been preached in all the earth? I don’t know. But it has certainly been preached in YOUR hearing today. Are you ready for His return?

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“…choose you this day whom ye will serve; … Joshua 24:15 (KJV)

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The Feast of Atonement & The Lamb’s Book of Life

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The Feast of Atonement & The Lamb’s Book of Life

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV

In case you have been hitting the snooze on God’s alarm clock and weren’t aware, it is the season of Teshuvah. Teshuvah is a Jewish word that means turning back (shuv) or repentance to God. It is celebrated over the month of Elul (Jewish calendar), all the way through to Yom Kippur (The Feast of Atonement). Teshuvah welcomes Rosh Hashanah, the “new year” of harvest, and one’s actions on these first ten days of the New Year (Days of Awe) determines one’s fate for the remainder. The Ten Days of Awe (I’ll explain this later), are completed on the 10th day of Tishri, the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement), which is September 30th, 2017 on our calendar.

This year (2017), God sent up a flare to mark the first day of Teshuvah, using a total solar eclipse over the United States. It is generally thought that the nation experiencing a stellar phenomenon is the nation that needs to sit up and pay attention. Since it traversed our entire country from west to east, and happened at the beginning of the season of “turning back,” I don’t think we have to wonder what God is trying to tell us.

The path of eclipse pointed at the start of hurricane Harvey, a category 5 hurricane that pounded the Texas gulf coast with more rain than has ever fallen on America from a hurricane ever in history. Harvey caused devastating flooding.

Some quite clever sojourner of the faith even happened to notice that the eclipse (21st), plus Hurricane Harvey (25th thru the end of the month – 31st) goes pretty amazingly with Luke 21:25-31:

And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. [Soon] they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. Then He spoke to them a parable: Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.”

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The 21st of August was a pretty fantastical day. As a native of Casper, WY – one of the prime spots in America for witnessing the amazing phenomenon of totality, I had many friends, and family, living there who kept me abreast of all the happenings.

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When the day came, and as the dark shadow began falling across American soil, I felt in my spirit the story in Exodus where Father God placed Moses in the cleft of the rock and shielded his eyes with His hand as He passed by. God only allowed Moses to see His backside, but not His face. In a similar way millions of Americans (and visitors from around the world) were given a chance to see the bright shining rays of sunlight streaking out from behind the dark moon. The moon (like God’s hand), hid the brightness of the sun from their eyes briefly as it went by, allowing them a fleeting glance, and casting a shadow over them. This is the exact place in scripture where Yom Kippur is rooted out of. Moses was on the mountain making atonement for the people, who had corrupted themselves by making and worshipping a golden calf.

With all the dire warnings that we were given about protecting our eyes during the eclipse, I truly believe likewise, if we rebel against God in this season, ignoring His warnings to turn from our wicked ways and come back to Him, we will suffer dire consequences, and spiritual blindness down the road.

Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved to the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” Romans 11:25-29 (NKJV)

This passage of scripture is the essence of Yom Kippur. It reveals that Father God has had a plan all along for His people. He is not slow in keeping His promise, as some count slowness, but is merciful, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. And I have a feeling that the times of the Gentiles is rapidly drawing to a close. The tares that have been sown into God’s wheat field are revealing themselves, and there are lots and lots of them. America has in every way exceeded the wickedness of those early Hebrew brothers and sisters who wandered in the desert, and we have corrupted ourselves with so much more than a measly golden calf.

Salt which has lost its saltiness is good for nothing but to be trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13)

This country which was discovered by a “Christ bearer,” colonized by pilgrims seeking religious liberty, who wished to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and then founded by brave men of tremendous courage, moral character, and wisdom, who labored in prayer and fortitude and faith to construct a government out of Christian principles, has since been ravaged, raped and pillaged by rulers, and principalities, and powers in high places who have no use for God.

It is troublesome to see such wickedness and deception, and very tempting to lay down our shields of faith for the persecution it brings. But while our hearts grow faint within us, let us remember that God is our refuge, and a very present help in times of trouble.

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; and you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” Isaiah 58:6-9

Days of Awe

When I think of the word “awe” I think of being awe-stricken, and honestly, how can anyone not be awe-stricken watching the weather this last 31 days? Hurricane Harvey pounded Port Aransas, Galveston, Houston, Port Arthur and Lake Charles with record-breaking rainfall. Hurricane Irma, came right on his coat tails as another category 5 that battered the Caribbean Islands , and was so huge in mass that she completely covered Florida from south to north, ravaging it with flooding and power outages that lasted days. She was so big and so powerful that she sucked all the water away from the beaches so that people walked out on dry ground where waves once were. Now we have Jose (Joseph) and Maria (Mary) predicted to do a sort of dance in the Atlantic, but not before category 5 Maria slammed Puerto Rico and left her completely in the dark. I can’t think of a time when the oceans around us were so filled with hurricanes. And as if that wasn’t awesome enough, we are also hearing of earthquakes just about every day. Some fairly minor in Los Angeles and Illinois, but our neighbor Mexico got hit with an 8.1 on September 7th, a 5.6 on September 18th, and a 7.1 on September 19th. New Zealand got hit with a 6.1 on the 19th, and September 20th, Japan got hit with a 6.1, only 175 miles from Fukushima. I can only imagine how people’s hearts are nearly giving out on them for fear in all of those areas.

But this is not the AWE featured on the Jewish calendar. The Jewish days of awe are an annual time of repentance, having awe and reverance and fear of God. The Days begin with the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) and conclude with Yom Kippur (Atonement), which ends at sunset on September30th, 2017. Devout Jews will spend the days of awe rising while it is still dark in the morning and going to synagogue to pray, in sincere penitence (prayer, fasting, worship, and asking God’s forgiveness for every single sin in their lives committed through the year). They will also go and make things right with their fellow-man, settle legal matters, and right anything else they know someone has against them, asking forgiveness, making restitution, and trying (to the letter of the law) to make things right. This is where the portion of the Lord’s prayer comes into play, “and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Jesus also demonstrated the kingdom principle in the parable of the unmerciful servant.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.

28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[a] and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’[b] 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.

35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:21-35 (NKJV)

While the devil is feverishly sowing discord among us right now, causing us to be at odds with one another, offended at every little thing, piercing our hearts with fiery darts of political hate, racial bigotry, accusations of so-called homophobia, class warfare, and religious hate mongering, I believe Jesus is asking that we pound our swords into plowshares and plant seeds of kindness and forgiveness. To turn away wrath from our midst, give up our wickedness and our sinful ways, and seek His face, as Moses did on the mountain.

With God, our Maker, our Creator, we have the freewill to choose to serve Him or not, and yet true freedom is found only in fulfilling the purposes we were designed for. When we kick against the goads and seek our own desires, God takes His hand away, and although unbearable to Him, He lets us do what we think is right and good in our own eyes until we are finally so miserable that we repent, or so hardened that blindness overtakes us. He doesn’t interfere with our choice. He desires that when we experience pain, disappointment, cruelty, hate, envy, betrayal, etc. that we’ll see Satan for who he really is and turn back from running after things that are not good for us. And amazingly He is always ready to take us back. Forgive us. And restore us. Nobody knows Satan and how he operates better than God. Nobody has known him for as long as God has. If we were smart we would trust God, and run to Him for safety and never give Satan the time of day. But Satan is a clever salesman and is a master at deception, convincing us that God is an ogre, the no-fun police, a harsh taskmaster, or that He doesn’t exist at all. It’s all lies.

How long will we listen to Satan’s “fake news” propaganda? How much proof do we need?

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The Lamb’s Book of Life

At the end of the days of awe, at sunset on the beginning of Yom Kippur, the custom of the Jews is to present themselves to the priest. The books are opened to see what disputes and legal matters are there, and what accusations have been brought (by two or three witnesses) against them during the past year. All secret sins are also to be confessed. Only the sins confessed are atoned for. Then, having righted all the wrongs with their neighbors, brothers, sisters, family, friends, and God himself, having cleared everything against themselves to the best of their ability, the priest then makes an atonement sacrifice for each, blots out all their sins from the books, and writes their names in the Book of Life. All the sins confessed and atoned for from the previous year are forgiven, never to be remembered again, as if they had never happened (revealing the wonderful plan of God from the beginning). When every single Jewish family has presented themselves before the priest, as the sun is setting on Yom Kippur, A HORN IS BLOWN, signaling that the ceremonies are completed. The slate (record of wrongs) is wiped clean…..until next year in Jerusalem!

Unfortunately, anyone who fails to appear before a priest out of laziness or rebellion, when that trumpet sounds, their sins remain. Anyone who refused to participate in the observance, their names are written in the book of death.

The Bible says, God has set before us, life and death, and implores us to choose life, but the choice is ours.

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God’s plan revealed: Jesus came to earth as our high priest. He made the atonement sacrifice Himself. The blood He shed on Calvary was sprinkled on the mercy seat in God’s Holy of Holies to atone for our sins.

“and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:5

Only the sins we’ve personally confessed to Him, and only the relationships we have reconciled, are under the blood (what we bind on earth is bound in heaven and what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven). When we turn from our sins and trust in Jesus, our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life forever after. All the other books (containing offenses) are wiped clean.

“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

When that trumpet sounds at the fulfillment of Yom Kippur, the door to heaven shall be closed forever, just as the doors to the ark of the covenant, where the mercy seat is, are also closed.

Jesus knew who would be His from the creation of the world (Revelation 17:8). He is the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:8 and 21:27). There was always a plan in place to redeem the people who would choose God. He has always known who we would be. And He has always known who would not choose Him. “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

The Great White Throne of Judgment is a judgment for unbelievers. No one at that judgment has his name in the Book of Life; their punishment is sure.

(Read more at: GotQuestions.org)

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God’s Timing

I don’t have any divine revelation on God’s timing. I’m not making a prediction here. No man knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. The Lord may come tomorrow, next week, later this month or a thousand years from now. I am also nobody special and don’t have a crystal ball, a phD, a seminary degree, or anything of that sort. I have no special education that you should even listen to me. I am a sinner saved by grace, and that is my only credential. I am far far far from perfect (just ask any member of my family). I haven’t seen visions or dreamt dreams. I haven’t heard God’s voice as a mighty wind or rushing waters. But I do love God’s word, and His still small voice whispers from the pages with scriptural warnings. Please go and read them for yourself, and then look around at this world we are living in. The earth all around us is suffering earthquakes, near “Biblical” floods, famines, record breaking hurricanes, unprecedented fires, poisoned waters, volcanoes, signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and wars and rumors of wars. Our earth appears to be in the throes of birth pains. Amazingly God has protected His word (the Bible) so that it should not perish for all these centuries until every jot and tittle is accomplished. That in itself is a miracle. God’s people, the Jews still exist, through all these millennia, despite every attempt of every other race to cleanse the planet of their existence. Another miracle.

This could very well be the last Yom Kippur to be celebrated on earth. Possibly the last chance to make things right with God before that door closes forever. It’s all in God’s timing. God’s timing is always perfect, and always a mystery to be revealed by Him and only Him. But there are three feasts to be fulfilled, and the trio are right on our doorstep. Remember that the wise virgins (parable) filled their lamps and were ready when the bridegroom appeared. Be ready!!!!

Do you have any unconfessed sin? Do you know someone who has something against you that you need to make right? Now is the time to take care of that. Be reconciled to God! Do it quickly!!!!

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Seek the Lord while He may be found:

  • Seek Him in the morning (pray and read the scriptures)

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” – Psalms 5:3

Visit this website for 12 Helpful Morning Prayers and verses

  • Seek Him during the day (pray and read the scriptures)

“We know that all creation groans and is in agony even until now. Not only that, but we ourselves, although we have the Spirit as first fruits, groan inwardly while we await the redemption of our bodies.”Romans 8:22-23

Visit this website for some beautiful daytime prayers and scripture readings iBreviary

  • Seek Him at meal times (pray and read the scriptures)

“Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts…”

Visit this website for some terrific mealtime scripture prayers Intoxicated on Life

  • Seek Him in the evening (pray and read the scriptures)

“At evening withhold not your hand.”Ecclesiastes 11:6

Visit this website for a great set of evening reflections Morning&Evening.org

  • Seek Him upon your bed (pray and read the scriptures)

“At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”Isaiah 26:9

Visit this website for cross references related to the above scripture BibleHub.com

  • Put on the whole armor of God, and pray continually with all kinds of prayers
  • Be watchful (pray and read the scriptures)
  • Keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking (pray and read the scriptures)
  • Seek peace and pursue it (pray and read the scriptures)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.Jesus

(Mathew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Deuteronomy 6:5)

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Before you go, may we have a prayer together?

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters, my spouse, my parents, my children, my friends, my family, and for myself, that You, O Lord will forgive us our sins, all of our sins, sweep our houses (body, soul, & spirit) clean and put our houses in order. I pray Your blood will cover ALL our transgressions and that You will write our names in the Lamb’s book of life forever. I pray that You will fill us with Your Holy Spirit, as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. I pray that You will tune our ears to hear what the Spirit tells us, and help us to remember everything You have told us in Your word. I pray that we will each grow stronger in Spirit every day. I pray that You will suit us up in the Spiritual Armor this day and every day, wash our feet of the heathen dust of the earth, and be attentive to our prayers. If the enemy asks to sift us as wheat I pray that you will tell him NO. I pray that You will bind our enemy, cast him as far from us as the east is from the west; cast out every fear, pull down every stronghold, and cast down every high thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I pray that You will put a hedge of protection around us, place us under Your feathers and in Your shadow, surrounded by Your holy guardian angels who will intimidate and chase away every enemy, real or imagined. Set for us safe boundaries that the enemy cannot penetrate. I pray that You will put in us a desire to seek peace and pursue it with every person in our lives including You. When we are weak You are strong. I pray that You will give us clear minds, to this end, that we will forever worship You in Your kingdom, and forever be with You. We love and honor You. We worship You, O precious merciful LORD. We magnify Your name in all the earth. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Next year in “New” Jerusalem!

(*Le-shanah ha-ba’ah bi-Yerushalayim)

* Closing toast for every Passover and every Yom Kippur observance, every year. Note that both feasts are about the blood, the Passover blood of the Lamb of God that takes away our sins, and the Atoning blood of our merciful High Priest that cleanses away our sins.

Please visit this website (Hebrew4Christians) for a more in-depth study of Yom Kippur, the fall feasts and High Holy Days, from a messianic Jewish perspective.

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“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.”
Proverbs 16:6 NKJV

“And they overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” Revelation 12:11

Unless I Wash You

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Unless I Wash You

“”What I am doing you do not understand now,

but you will know after this.”

John 13:7

Have you ever been to a foot-washing ceremony? If yes, how did it make you feel? Were you uncomfortable taking your shoes off and exposing your stinky feet to someone you looked up to, like maybe a leader in the church, or the leader at a ministry where you volunteered? Sounds like I might have some personal experience, doesn’t it? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, you’d be right.

I worked as a counselor of sorts in the lending closet of a crisis pregnancy center for a time, and at one of our monthly meetings (where we would communicate information between the board, the directors, and the staff, and also have devotions and prayer), both of our directors rose up from their seats and began filling little tubs for each of the staff members. Our directors had just returned from a director’s retreat and explained to us how they had felt the Lord leading them to wash our feet. Oh no, I thought to myself, no, no, no! Que the panic attack of the century! Of all the hot summer days to be wearing my cheapo, made-in-China, dime store tennis shoes, and without socks. My feet are going to wreak! There’s no way I’m taking these shoes off my feet in this crowded room, much less let someone else take them off for me with their sniffer right down there at toe level. Oh heck no. Nope. Not happening.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t mean any disrespect, and surely didn’t want to put a damper on the spiritual experience at all, but I was squirming and sweating profusely, and was not in my right mind. I was scared to death that my racing thoughts would soon start spilling out all over my face. Thank God I was seated at the end of the chairs (a benefit of always sitting in the back of the room); this gave me a decent amount of time to try and figure out a game plan, an excuse, maybe, for running out early.

I didn’t run, however, and I’m not sure why not, except I was hoping someone else in the room would raise an objection, a genius excuse, and then I could chime in with my support, and the two of us would get out of it together. But no such luck. Each person seemed completely uninhibited, (of stinking course, gawd, why am I the only basket case in the room, ever), and each appeared to appreciate the experience. Lord have mercy.

When it got around to me, the last person, I tried everything in the book to get out of it, discretely, but the director wasn’t having any of it. She absolutely, positively would not take “No thank you” for an answer. So I begged her if I could then just please take my shoes off my own self and hurry and plunge my feet into the sudsy water while she was still a good distance away? Maybe she could hold her breath and we could spritz some air freshener in the room? And maybe I could wrap my shoes up in a grocery sack and toss them out the back door while everyone was distracted, please! OMG, I was so humiliated and embarrassed.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” John 13:3-10

You know what? My feet did not come out of the tub the same way as they went in. When they came out they were clean. They were stink free. The sweat and the dirt had been washed away. My heart-failure was over. I could finally relax and be humbled by the kind ministry taking place. Our director washed my feet, and also prayed for me while doing so, and spoke words of prophesy over me. I felt strength enter my body. I felt blessed.

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The Practice of Hospitality

Foot washing was first introduced in Genesis 18:4 by Abraham and 19:2 by Lot, and then in Genesis 24:32 by Laban, and Genesis 43:24 by Joseph. It is seen again in the strange story of the Levite and his concubine and the old man in Gibeah – Judges 19:21. Levitical priests were required to wash their hands and feet before entering the tabernacle (God’s house) Ex. 30:18-21.

It was once a common custom and courtesy in the ancient Near East to wash the feet of guests (as noted in my Spirit Filled Life Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, NKJV, footnote for Judges 19:21). Most people of Bible days wore sandals, and all that walking around that they did in those days must have made their feet very dirty. Not only would it have been a welcome refreshment to get the sweat and dirt off their feet before sitting down to a meal, but it surely also helped keep the houses from being tracked into, and the bedding from getting soiled.

A note in my NKJV study Bible for Mark 6:11 says that Jews, returning home from a journey also used to knock the heathen dust off their sandals the moment they reentered Jewish territory.

This is probably the custom Jesus drew upon to instruct His disciples to knock the dust off their sandals as a testimony against any town or home who would not receive them or hear them when they preached the good news to them (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). Paul and Barnabas actually did this in Acts 13:51.

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The Hebrew word for ground or earth is adamah (Strongs #127). The Bible says “the Lord God formed the man (Adam) of dust (adamah) from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7), but after the sinful fall of mankind God said, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). But, in case we should think it was only Adam whom God considers dust, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).

In the New Testament there is the story of a sinful woman with an alabaster flask who “stood at [Jesus’] feet behind Him weeping; and washed His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” Luke 7:36-47.

Jesus compared her actions to a foot washing, and He forgave her sins. And He forgave her sins!  (wait a minute….EPIPHANY!!!!)

What if a foot washing is something like a baptism – a mini cleansing of the sole from earthly heathen soil, which we are bound to get on us simply by being in the world?

Of course we are cleansed of our sins (past, present, and future) by our Savior’s blood when we are born again and baptized, so we are essentially cleansed and do not need any other “baptism.” But…we ARE imperfect humans, and in this world we will have troubles (John 16:33); we’ll slip up from time to time – lose our temper, tell a white lie, borrow something and forget to return it, show partiality to someone, disobey God, etc. We may think these are insignificant, or secret sins, but God sees them. He smells our stinky feet, and whether we realize it or not, we are tracking heathen dust into our homes, into our friends’ homes, and into HIS house! But I have good news. When we’ve gotten some inevitable earthly dust on us James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another, and pray Jesus to … well … wash our feet of them (1 John 1:7-9 & John 13:10).

Jesus, after explaining to His disciples who He was in relation to God the Father said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:14-15.

I have often wondered, since foot washing has really gone by the wayside in many modern churches, as far as a frequent practice, did Jesus mean His actions to be figurative? Did He simply mean for us His followers to humble ourselves and be willing to serve others in the lowliest of ways? Or did He really intend that we literally wash each other’s feet – to symbolize God’s forgiveness and the washing away of our little daily sins? To be honest, something tugs at me in my heart that Jesus intended the basin & towel to be more than a lost and forgotten ritual, but the saved person’s sort of confessional?  Plus, instead of falling into the bad habit of tearing down our brothers and sisters, pointing out all their little sins and flaws, we could have mercy to forgive them, love them, and get down to toe level with the Lord’s basin and towel.

The practice did continue in the New Testament church. It is on the list of the virtues of a godly woman in 1 Timothy 5:9-10: “She [is] the wife of one man, well reported for good works, brings up children, lodges strangers, washes the saints’ feet, relieves the afflicted, and diligently follows every good work.”

Could it be that the lowly chore was delegated to the women? According to Rabbinical Literature, Jewish wives were once expected to wash their husband’s feet, as well as prepare their drink and bed (Yer.Ket. v.30a, jewishencyclopedia.com); otherwise servants were expected to wash the feet of guests.

What’s kind of ironic about women being relegated to this chore is that we girls LOVE to have our feet washed, don’t we? In today’s modern world we don’t make foot washing a part of our hospitality practices any more, but we do still observe the ritual in a way – we just go to a special (non spiritual) place to have it done and we pay for it. We call it a pedicure, and it is definitely a treat! Wouldn’t it be neat if there were Christian pedicure places, where we could go and it would be safe, and we could confess our sins, and we could leave with a whole new lease on life? Maybe the next time I get a pedicure I will put my headphones on, close my eyes, and spend the time in quiet meditation, discretely giving my sins to God.

“Confess your sins one to another” it says in James 5:16 (see also 1 John 1:8-9).

Say… what am I thinking? You and I can do this right now. What have you been struggling with this week? This month? This year? Have you been tracking sins into your house, into God’s house?

May I wash your feet?

8 Unless I Wash

How about if you think of all the little shortcomings, and sins that have entangled you this week. What is it that is weighing heavy on your heart? What is it that is making you feel guilty way down in your gut, and holding you back from running the race our Lord has marked out for you? Go ahead, take a moment and write your thoughts down?

When you have finished calling to mind each and every ugly little thing that is nagging in your spirit, will you please then come sit in this seat, slip your shoes off, and slide your feet into this tub of hot, soapy water I have prepared for you. I’m going to dunk a soft cloth into the water and run it over the tops and bottoms of your feet, and then squeeze the water over them. As I do, I want you to imagine the Lord’s forgiveness washing over your shortcomings as you give each one of them to Him. You name them, I’ll wash that dust off with this holy water, and we’ll just go for as long as we need to until we’ve covered everything on your list. You are precious dear one. The Lord loves you. And He forgives you!

Now lift your feet out of the water and let me dry them with a soft, fluffy towel. Don’t you feel wonderful getting that off your chest?

Let’s now pour this dirty water out on a flower bed, or under a big oak tree in your yard. All this water is sure going make the flowers and trees grow and blossom, and as you watch them getting bigger and stronger I want you to know that YOU are becoming a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. God’s beauty for ashes!

“How beautiful…are the feet of them that bring good news” Romans 10:15 (Isaiah 52:7).

Pray these verses with me: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the POOR; He has sent me to heal the BROKEN-HEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the CAPTIVES, and the opening of prison to those who are BOUND; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who MOURN, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isa 61:1-3

Go, be free, my friend, and sin no more. But if you find your feet dusty again, my door is always open. You come right back here and sit, and we’ll chat, and we’ll give those cares to God and let Him wash them all away again. Where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is among us.

“I have given you an example that you should do as I have done to you” John 13:15.

Feast of Trumpets

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Feast of Trumpets

fall-feasts

Four Feasts we’ve studied (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost), three Feasts remain (Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles). The remaining three are fall Feasts, and all three take place at the last harvest of the year, the grape harvest, and within the span of about a month.

The Feast of Trumpets

This year (2017) the Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, arrives on the evening of Wednesday, September 20 and will end in the evening of Friday, September 22, of this Hebrew Year 5778.

This is how it got started:

Then God spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying:

“In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:24-25

What was the offering to be made by fire to the Lord?

“… one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Be sure they are without blemish. (a blood offering). Their grain offering shall be of fine flour mixed with oil. (an unleavened bread offering). Also one kid of the goats as a sin offering, (scapegoat) besides the sin offering for atonement, the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.” Numbers 29:7-11

Rosh Hashanah is always observed on the first two days of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. Why is a “New Year” celebrated in the middle of a year? Because it celebrates the end of one agricultural year/season and the beginning of another. It’s what we might call a fiscal new year, like the one when we have to choose our healthcare plans. In God’s kingdom it is all about the harvests, the harvest of crops and the harvest of souls. How many stories did Jesus tell where He used sowing seeds, watering plants, tending crops, and bringing in the harvests to describe His kingdom and our ministry on this earth?

The trumpet is often used to gather people. Trumpets, and shouts, were also used as a weapon of war, for example, to bring down the walls of Jericho. And in the same vein, “… I [Jesus] will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (KJV). I believe that we who are His will hear the trump of the Lord one day very soon, and that it will gather us from the heavens and the earth, to protect us from some severely ugly times. I believe God will allow the ugly times to come to hopefully show the deceived who they are truly worshipping, and hopefully it will turn their hearts.

It was seventy years after the death and resurrection of our blessed Savior, that the Jewish people became a scattered people over the face of the earth, their temple destroyed, and their land taken over, but it was prophesied that in the last days God would gather them again to their promised land (Deuteronomy 28:58-67). After just under 1900 years it has happened as prophesied. In 1967 the Shofar blew in celebration in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount after the victory of the Six-Day War between returning Jews and the occupants of the promised land. Since that time Jews have been allowed to return to their homeland! Even so, it is still fearcely squabbled over, and hard to believe that such a tiny speck of a place on the globe could be the object of so much violent hostility. It seems there will never be peace in Israel.

The holiday though is also very relevant to Christians, as we also are a scattered people all over the globe – as God wanted us to be so that we could share the gospel with every tribe and tongue and race and nation; and we are also scattered between heaven and earth. (Please check out: Should Christians Celebrate Rosh Hashanah?).

“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year… prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad” John 12:49-52

Clearly in the New Testament it is a trumpet that will summon and gather God’s people from all the places where we have been scattered:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

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This picture of “gathering people” reminds me so much of something from the little town where I grew up. Atop of the hill, in the center of town stood a charming little log church with a steeple. The pews were each hewn of split logs, and even the pulpit and altar were hand-made of logs and hand cut boards. When the time for Sunday Service came one of the elders or deacons of the church would undo the bolt on the doors, turn the knob, and pull the front double doors open, and then He’d begin clanging that big brass church bell, taking grasp of the thick rope that hung down into the front foyer with his two strong hands and pulling with his body weight, then letting the rope rise back up, pulling it down again, and letting the rope rise back up. The sound would echo across the rooftops and down that lofty steeple, causing all the nesting birds to take flight.

Magically, at the clang-clang-clang of that bell, folks began bustling from their houses and vehicles, all dressed in their Sunday-best go-to-meeting clothes. Ladies in dresses, spritzed with perfume, curled hair in hats, wearing makeup and white gloves. Men, freshly shaven, in suits with stiff collars and ties, and hair neatly parted and combed into place. Children, bathed, with shining faces, coiffed and suited and well-mannered, as miniatures of their parents. They all strolled and shuffled up that hill, smiling and greeting one another, and gathering through the open doors, taking their places in the rustic hardwood pews for a sit-down spiritual feast. Oh how lovely it was on Sunday morning to hear those church bells ringing! The piano playing. And the choir singing.

In the same way as the church folks gathered in to satisfy their hungry souls, so similar was the practice on ranches all over my rugged cowboy state. When supper was ready it was common to hear the cook or the wife step outside and run the wand around on the triangle and holler, “COME AND GET IT!” and here they’d come. The hard-working, broke-back, famished ranch hands would wobble to their feet, swing a leg off their horses, toss their tools in a box, remove their hats to wipe the sweat from their brow, and knock the dust off their pants as they started the journey to the chow hall. They all came a hobblin’ from the far corners of the fields, some smiling, and some grunting, and all eager to fill their aching bellies, have a laugh (or a cry), share a story, and then call it a night.

Can you hear the church bells ringing? Can you hear the choir singing? Can you hear a little lady belting out, “COME AND GET IT! O weary sojourner, come and hear the word of the Lord!”

Our Savior is coming! The Landowner is coming to settle accounts, and gather His grapes into the winepress. I don’t want you to be taken by surprise.

Scripture says, two men will be in the field and one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be in the kitchen. One will be taken and one will be left (Matt.24 & Luke 17). The wise virgins will go with the bridegroom and the foolish virgins will be left behind (Matthew 25).

“For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking…until the flood came and took them all away…” Matthew 24:36-39

“You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.” John 14:28-29 (NKJV)

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24: 23-27) …for those who are HIS!

Have you ever wondered why we dream that we can fly?  Not fly like a bird, but rather float like a balloon, but with the ability to maneuver up and down and left and right with our arms and legs, like we can in water, but without any resistance.  In my dreams I am able to fly above my enemies, just out of their reach.  I can go farther and faster than them.

(Thank you Carleen Sabin for making and posting this beautiful You-Tube video)

The word of God says that some of us will fall asleep (die), and some will just fly away (like Elijah). The redeemed will be blessed to experience the Rapture, the magnificent fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.  The defiant, who refuse to hear the word of God will be left behind.  If you’ve been riding the fence, please don’t wait until it is too late.  Get with a believer or a pastor today. Don’t let the trumpet of God surprise you. Come, while the door is open.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever will believe on Him shall have eternal life. John 3:16

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 18:9-10

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life: he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the son of God. 1 John 5:10-13

Behold I [Jesus] stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

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