Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Holy Scripture, Words of My God

Holy scripture, words of my God,
The only true and living God,
Creator, Savior, Mighty King,
I open the pages, and hear from Him.
He has so much to share with us.
He has so much to teach us.
Knowledge, understanding, and wisdom
Are right inside this Book.
He tells how He made it all,
How He made us for His own.
He is LORD, Holy Sovereign,
From everlasting to everlasting.
He has a perfect love for us.
He's full of mercy and much grace.
Account after account of His faithfulness
Are written there for us.
Oh taste and see that He is good.
Open up the pages.
Read the truth, and let it set you free
To live eternally.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Exodus 17: Jesus: The Rock, Living Water, and Banner of Salvation

I love reading through the Old Testament and seeing Jesus.

I'm reading Exodus 17 tonight and just read about God bringing forth water from a rock and couldn't help think about Jesus, the Rock, speaking to the woman at the well about the living water He gives (John 4). Then I read 1 Corinthians 10:4.

“and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.” 

After reading that richness, I continued to verses 8-16. Here we see God fight for Israel. He had Moses stand at the top of the hill and hold up his staff/rod (symbolizing God's presence, the sign of His victory) while Joshua (whose name means Yahweh Saves) fights below. As long as the staff was held up, the Israelites prevailed. Moses' arms grew weary, and he had to have help holding it up because when he didn't hold it up, the Amaleks prevailed. What a blessing to know that our God never tires (Isaiah 40:28)!

We have two types of Christ here: Joshua, the Captain of Salvation (Hebrews 2:10), and Moses, the Intercessor to God (Hebrews 7:25).

We also see the staff being used as the battle "banner." This was a common practice, to hold up a spear or pole, with or without cloth on it to encourage the soldiers. After the victory, Moses built an altar and called the name of it, "The LORD is my banner." (Jehovah Nissi). The Hebrew word for "banner" here is later used in scripture for "pole" in Numbers 21:8 for the pole with the bronze serpent raised up to save the Israelites in the wilderness. Jesus refers to this in John 3:14-15.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
Jehovah Nissi, the LORD is My Banner. Yes, the LORD Jesus Christ is my Banner of Salvation!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

1 Corinthians 1: Saints by Calling/Boast in the Lord

Paul's greetings are always so encouraging!

“ those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours”

"Saints by calling." I love that. People always say to people, "I think you've found your calling," when they appear to be happy with what they are doing, showing their zeal, always eager to speak about and do "their calling." Are we zealous and eager to participate in the work of the Lord? Are we spending time daily with our Lord and Savior in prayer and in the Word (the sanctifying truth: John 17:17)?

Paul gives thanks to God for the people because of the grace of God given to them in Christ Jesus. All our thanks should point back to Him! Paul gives us such good examples of how we should pray for and encourage our friends, always bring it back to God's faithfulness. We can be faithful because He is faithful.

Division in the church is no new problem. This is what can happen when men try to align with men instead of the Word of God.

Preaching the cross is powerful and brings salvation, but many will consider it foolish. Even whatever is considered foolish and weak (that is from God) is wiser and stronger than any wisdom or strength of the wisest, strongest men of the world. It is our calling to be used (though we were weak and foolish) by mighty God. All that we have that is good is from God, through Christ Jesus: our life, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Faith and Mercy and Rest

spent 2016 wrestling with "faith," looking for rest, so tired, so tired, but not the kind of tired sleep fixes. No, it was the all-over, "I don't even want to care" tired, not that I didn't care, just didn't really want to, and I didn't care as much as I knew I should. Anyway, I opened the Word, mid-2016, and there was "Rest" on Day 7 of Creation, not "go to sleep" rest, but "it's all complete in Him" rest. Yep. That's what I needed, "His rest," so I dug back into the Word.  His rest wasn't going to come by relaxing into complacency. His rest would be found by diligently seeking the Rest-giver.

I have read through the Bible on multiple occasions, but for the last few years, I just wasn't getting into it like I wanted to and wasn't feeling motivated, being too tired to care. I DID WANT to want to care. I made a plan to read alongside some other ladies, and that was motivating. I had been wanting to write again, which is a great way for me to process. By the end of 2016, I was feeling much more confident in faith, having spent more time with the Faithful One.

So then came my new word, "mercy," for 2017. I knew my need to be more merciful, and I knew God clearly gave me this word so I felt ready to move forward with it. "Faith" kept popping up, and I thought it was so cool that God had me finish 2016 with faith and that I wasn't leaving it behind as I faced a new year. God is so faithful!

By this time in my Bible reading, I was getting deep into the major prophets of the Old Testament. I was trying to learn about how I could be more merciful, and my merciful, loving Father was busy showing me how full of mercy He is, affirming again how faithful He is to His covenant.

It is clear that I can never have the faith I want to have by digging deeper into myself. I have to dig deeper into better knowing the Faithful One. He is so faithful that when I cannot find faith, He gives me His. He is a covenant keeper, and not only does He keep His side; He keeps mine too.
I can never be the woman full of mercy I want to be by trying harder. I have to look to the Merciful One and acknowledge the abundance of mercy that He has had on me. His mercy can flow through me to others, but I have to not neglect making time to know Him more and more.

By His great mercy, He has drawn me back deeply into the Word, where I am finding more and more of His greatness. There is where my faith grows, and there is where I'm finding rest. I feared I'd never hunger for the Word like I once had, but my merciful Father has drawn me once again with bands of love to a place of rest in Him (full of spiritual and intellectual stimulation), a place I hunger to be, where I find Jesus everywhere I look.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Everywhere I Look I See Jesus!

I finished my current read through Ezekiel this morning. And we end the book of Ezekiel with this beautiful redemption:

“...and the name of the city from that day shall be, 'The LORD is there.'"”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭48:35
At the beginning of the book, God left the temple that the people had desecrated, and at the end, He shows His plan for a city that means "The LORD is there." I can't help but think of Immanuel that means "God is with us." The Savior comes! And one day He will make all things new. There are similarities between the garden of Eden in Genesis and John's vision in Revelation. 

When God made the earth, "It was very good." It was perfect and mankind turned from the perfect Creator. Sin entered, and the perfect was shattered. Immediately God began His plan of redemption (right there in Genesis), and that scarlet thread is woven throughout all time. We see pictures/shadows of Jesus all along the way, and then one day, He comes down to dwell with us, Immanuel, to carry out His plan, Savior, Jesus! He doesn't have the birth of an earthly king, but the birth of a humble man. The shepherds are the first to come to worship Him, the lowly shepherds, showing that He comes not just for the elite; He comes for all. These shepherds were probably tending flocks of sheep to be used for sacrifice the coming year, spotless Passover lambs. They leave the field to come adore THE SPOTLESS PASSOVER LAMB!  Jesus grows into a man and John the Baptist declares, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) All this time, God's people had been sacrificing innocent lambs to take away their sin.  Over and over they went through the necessary steps to try to rid themselves of sin.  They needed forgiveness. They needed redemption. They needed to be cleansed.  They needed a Savior to be the final Lamb, who could cleanse them once and for all, to bring forgiveness and redemption with Holy God.  We need this too!  For we all have sinned.  We all fall short. We all need Jesus!  And at his prime, just like that perfect Passover lamb of a prime age, He went to the cross.  Like that Passover lamb, His body was not broken, but His blood was poured out (His blood instead of mine).  Like that lamb, He was roasted as He hung on that cross under the scorching sun (instead of my roasting forever in the pits of hell). And like that Passover lamb, we must feed upon Him.  We must take in Jesus, not just see Him from afar.  Like the wool shorn for clothing, we get to wear His robe of righteousness, and we feast upon Him.  He is to be our everything!  And He is enough! He is more than enough! He has given us everything we need.  "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6) That's Jesus! He died, and as evidence of God the Father accepting this perfect sacrifice, He rose again.  It is finished.  The price for sin has been paid.  No more sacrifice is needed. And one day everything will be perfect again!  He is undoing the unraveling of the perfect.  He is perfect, and He's bringing back perfect.

There were a couple of scriptures in chapter 47 that really stuck out to me, where I saw Jesus jump out at me.

“ everything will live where the river goes.” Ezekiel‬ ‭47:9‬  

Jesus told the woman at the well about the living water that He gives. 

“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; 
but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of 
water springing up to eternal life."” John‬ ‭4:14‬

Praise God that He gives us life without  end!

“By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of 
trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. 
They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, 
and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing."” Ezekiel‬ ‭47:12‬ 

This passage reminded me of how me are supposed to abide in Him.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it 
abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." John 15:4

Oh my dear friends, do you know my Jesus?  If you do not, call to Him today.  He came that we may have life.  He gladly exchanges His life for ours. He is full of grace and truth and mercy and love.  He came to redeem. Are you redeemed?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Our Shepherd, Our Savior, Who Makes Us Fit to Be His

      I am continuing my read through Ezekiel, and moved into the section on restoration. Oh how I love that theme. Our God is so full of mercy and grace and love. Today I read chapters 34 through 36.

     In chapter 34 we see our loving Shepherd! The shepherds of Israel failed, but the people were not abandoned. God Himself will shepherd His people. He will send One like David (Jesus!) to feed the sheep. There will be restoration, peace, and security. There will be "showers of blessing." (I was reminded of the hymn by that name and how we plead for these showers as we believe upon His name and His Word.) God will be their God, and they will be His people. This is referring first to Israel, but praise God (I've read Romans), we Gentiles (non-Jew) have been grafted in! Such a beautiful glimpse into the New Testament to come! We have a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God who is the Savior of His people (all believers from every people all over the world)!

     Chapter 35 is a prophecy against Mount Seir, and all of Moab. God will deal with the enemies of His people. It reminded me of how it is not our place to seek revenge. Vengeance belongs to the Lord.

     Oh how I love chapter 36: RESTORATION! I love how the Bible is one big book about one Savior. There are many smaller books within it, but they are all connected and about a great God and His unstoppable love for His people. It talks about God's people going home. Obviously it is talking firstly about the displaced Jews returning to Israel, but I can't help but think of the story in the New Testament of the prodigal son returning to his father, about how we are sheep that have gone astray, each of us our own way, how the Father longs to welcome us "home," restoration of a sinful people to a sinless God, full of grace and mercy. Ezekiel‬ ‭36:25-28‬ is a favorite passage of mine.
 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your  and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.”
    What an absolute beautiful picture of how our Great God and Savior cleans us and makes us new, suitable to worship Him, suitable to be His people. It was His great love that sent Jesus to Calvary. His death was for us that we might be fit to be His. His blood cleanses us. His sacrifice, death on our behalf, a sacrifice accepted by God, proven by His resurrection, makes this possible. No one comes to the Father but through Jesus, and we must be born again to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This passage is a beautiful picture of that rebirth (regeneration), our unloving hearts of stone replaced with hearts of flesh, fit to live forever, fit to truly love our God, His Spirit in us, enabling us to walk with Him. We could never on our own be good enough, but He loves us enough to step down from heaven to Himself (Jesus) give us His goodness so we can come to God. Our blessed covenant-creating, covenant-keeping Savior who exchanges our filthy rags with His robe of righteousness. Oh praise God: we are a new creation! He is our God, and we are His people! 

     Oh may many have faith in this great life-giving, life-saving Lord! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Our Covenant Keeping Groom and Room In His Branches (Ezekiel 16 & 17)

      I've always found Ezekiel 16 to be a captivating chapter in the scriptures. It has brought me to tears as I have read it. It is a metaphor for Jerusalem as a bride for God, beginning with God's grace upon the unwanted, describing the marriage covenant, then illustrating her infidelity, but ending with God's grace.
      Jerusalem has its beginnings as a pagan city, and it is portrayed as a newborn infant abandoned to die, never even having her umbilical cord cut or being washed. God in His mercy, speaks life over the baby wallowing in her blood. She grows to maturity, and He brings her into a marriage covenant, lavishing her with beautiful clothes and jewelry and fine food. God made Jerusalem His city with a beautiful temple, finely arrayed with the best cloths, gold, silver, all the finest, a place for Him to dwell with His people whom He loves. Sadly she trusts in her beauty and takes other lovers. Israel was not faithful to God. Idolatry and alliances with pagan nations besought her. The text goes into great detail in the extent of her infidelity and how she would undergo the consequences and be full of shame, but that is not the end of the story. In the end, He keeps covenant with her, making it an everlasting covenant, and He declares forgiveness.
      In chapter 17, there is another metaphor, this time eagles to refer to Babylon and Egypt and a cedar to refer to Judah. Nebuchadnezzar took the top of the cedar and replaced it with a vine (the installation of the puppet king Zedekiah). The king sought help from Egypt, which led to his destruction. The best part of the chapter is the end, beginning in verse 22 when God says He Himself will take a sprig and set it up, up on a high mountain, to bear branches and fruit, where every kind of bird can dwell. That's Jesus!
     I know that chapter 16 is primarily referring to Jerusalem, but I cannot help but think of us individually, hopeless without Christ, how He comes to us and breathes life into us that we might live, how He clothes us as royalty, how He makes us His own, the bride of Christ, and how no matter what, once we are entered into covenant with Him, He keeps it! And in chapter 17, I see that every kind of bird nests in His branches. Praise God that people all over the world can come to Jesus! There's room at the cross!