I took this moonset photo early morning October 10th, 2022 while I was visiting my Dad in Campbell River so it brings recent cherished memories.
Esther 4:14 is a message from Esther's guardian Mordecai, explaining her difficult situation: "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” However, Esther's identity as a Jew was a secret at that time so she may have been able to escape the planned massacre of the Jews. Despite this she decided to offer support to "her people" no matter the cost ("And if I perish, I perish" Esther 4:16)
Risking her life twice, Queen Esther acted against the king's rules by going to him uninvited and she revealed her Jewish identity to him. Yet by doing these things, she was not put to death but instead, she was able to stop Haman's ploy to kill the Jews. Amen!
"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Who knows? God knows & it is not only Queen Esther but it is all who come to the kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that come for such a time as this!
Knowing when it's a time to:
*rest & remain silent or a time to act & speak up;
*honor & conceal or a time to obey & reveal;
*pray, fast & offer risky support ...
takes courageous dedication & faith in God's grace, guidance & purpose. Praise the Lord, Amen! Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Before my Dad passed away, he told me: "The idea that God will swoop down, pick up my dead body & bring me to heaven, is so absurd but ... I can't be certain that it won't happen." he said. My Dad, being a naturalist & science-minded, was not a fan of certainty (especially other peoples' certainty, lol!). Even though his skepticism drove him away from religious belief, at some point it also brought him back.
My Dad's realization that we can't be certain that the laws of nature as we know them are the only possible laws, is a beautiful, little, powerful miracle. Emphatically he would declare "God is love & heaven is right here & now!" With much prayer I trust my Dad's heart & mind was renewed even further & now he's singing & soaring limitlessly through eternal life in heaven with God who creates all the laws, how cool, amen!
So often the question Why not believe? comes to my mind. What harm or difficulty is it to believe GOD IS LOVE? The Bible & Gospel is such a rich & fantastical Truth story. I am so grateful to have been drawn by the Father & to be surrounded by believers in God's magic through Christ: "People cannot come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me; and I will raise them to life on the last day." John 6:44
Thank God for waking me up to the bondage of sin (mine & others)! Thank you Heavenly Father for giving me sanctuary & community to support my repentance & growth in Christ. I pray for the same for everyone all over the world.
Many people like myself, broken & scarred, turn to Christ when we finally realize it is the painful, heavy grip of chains of our sins that pierce & paralyze us. Duh! It is so obvious, once you know, you know. "Therefore since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin." (1 Peter 4:1) True freedom is freedom from sin which comes through faith in Jesus. What a blessing to have ears to hear, amen!
Even though being chronically ill often feels like I am "in bondage" I continuously remind myself: I am one with Christ in eternal life knowing the only true God & Jesus Christ whom thou has sent (John 17:3). In this way with me/cfs illness, I "exercise/work out" constantly & have become a spiritual warrior. I don't let being sick turn me from Christ. Instead, I use every spark of light & energy to feel & share God's love. When I can not move on my own, I ask him to carry me. He directs my everything; my standing up, going out & lying down. "The Lord is my strength & my shield..." (Psalm 28:7)
I pray for those who do not yet recognize or feel the pain of their sin. Even though facing it can be unbearably uncomfortable, this humility is necessary for salvation ("The world's sin is unbelief in me..." John 16:9). Please Lord have mercy in your way of bringing awareness to those who are ready (& those in preparation) for the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome them. In Jesus precious name I pray, amen.
Dear Lord, I pray for & hold up to you all who are going through hardship; people, land & animals in fires, floods, war, poverty & other oppressive situations. God, thank you for unburdening us especially in times of weakness & trouble by insisting that we submit to you our grievances & wrongdoings & change our ways to your way. May we seek your counsel in all things. Holy spirit, I ask that you be with each person working in law enforcement, government, the judicial & medical systems & cast away from them all evil influences.
Please God bless & protect our farmers dealing with exhaustion, extreme weather, insects & political upheaval. Please lead to salvation & heal those who are suffering with addiction, illness & injury. Lord, help us mend our relationships with each other & with the land you so graciously created & provide to us. Make us much better stewards of our beautiful earth home for many generations to come. I pray all these things in Jesus name, amen!
David's Prayer of Praise ~ Then David praised the Lord ..."O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever & ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory & the majesty....Wealth & honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power & might are in your hand & at your discretion people are made great & given strength....But who am I & who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you & we give you only what you first gave us! We are here for only a moment, visitors & strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace."
I highlight this passage because it reminds me to be grateful & humble knowing that we are all children of God, equal in His sight. And it reminds me to be grateful for all that God has given & done for me instead of grumbling about that which is going badly & not having everything I want. How many times has God spared my life without me having even so much a clue about it!? What can I offer in thanks to God? All of what was first given to me - my life - of course the good parts & yes, I've handed over the bad & ugly parts too. I am an ongoing work in progress being ever-renewed & reformed by Christ.
I acknowledge & am grateful for the privilege of receiving a positive reflection of Christ at an early age. Although I wandered away for quite some time, Christ never left me! I pray dear Lord for all those who have been hurt by people reflecting Christ poorly. Please touch, heal & soften their hearts to you Heavenly Father & correct those who are preaching in your name in ways that are harmful.
I pray dear God that those coming to Christ receive mature, loving support through difficult times, such as when pleading for circumstances to improve & yet they do not. Lord help us be patient & trust that just as we often can not make the problems of our own children go away, you also do not always free us from sorrows & obstacles, often for reasons beyond our understanding. Your grace alone is sufficient. In Jesus name, amen!
The books of Kings & Chronicles have taken me much longer to read through than the Gospels, the beautiful flowing poetry of the Psalms & wisdom oriented books such as Job. These two Bible verses (2 Kings 17:13-14) & writing this blog is inspiring me to look closer at the bigger picture & Biblical time line of events to orient myself. From 1050 to 586 B.C. there were forty-two kings & one queen (Athaliah) ruling over Israel & Judah. Apparently, only seven of them acted in ways that were pleasing to the Lord for some portion of their command!
Evil leadership is not surprising really, given our sinful natures (“As it is written: there is no one righteous, not even one." Romans 3:10). Those 464 years of kings' reign during the ancient world, are they really much different than present day's ruling class? Sadly, maybe not so much. Before the coming & death of Christ, there were many Godly laws - some consensus says there are 613 recorded throughout the old testament. Of these, most people know the moral laws; the ten commandments, (which Jesus summarizes in Mark & Matthew (22:38-39) by pointing out the primacy of 1a. & b. These instructions from God are woven into our DNA & the fabric of our society yet secularly, now claiming this is taboo).
1a). You shall have no other gods before Me.
b). Love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:30-31)
2. You shall not make idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.
Whether we are kings, pastors or just regular people, past or present, try as we might, no one can keep one hundred percent free from breaking any of these rules & thus committing sin & doing evil in the sight of the Lord. And so out of love for us, God gave us a way of salvation out of the "prison of sin" through His son, the sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the new covenant. In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
I love the simplicity of how the author of "God's Ten Laws" puts it:
"Jesus fulfilled the purpose of the temple, and became the new door through which to come to God. People no longer had to come to the temple and offer sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. Now they would come to the new Temple – Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Shortly after Jesus’ ascension into heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell all who would trust in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 we are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit – the place in which He dwells...."
"A believer’s mission is not to obey the Ten Commandments – that is old covenant thinking and it proved inadequate (which was its purpose). A believer’s mission is to ..."
be moved by the Holy Spirit as described in Ezekiel 36:27 "And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." The difference in these missions is about intent. The new covenant is not about virtue signaling, compliance or works for self gain, rather, it's about love: "Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:10
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for entering & reigning over our hearts & letting your Kingdom come through us to Earth as it is in Heaven. Lord, please help me up when I am discouraged about injustice & evil and when I don't see actionable ways Christianity is flourishing. When I'm concerned wondering where & how is your Holy Spirit moving us? When I am blind to the Kingdom's expansion & fortification by your grace, power & glory Lord, please clear my vision & place me safely wherever you want me. Equip me Father with all the fruits of the Spirit I need.
I Lord, do not know much yet about all this but YOU know & I trust you. You are always working your good & divine, almighty plan. Your love holds us steady in Faith & I thank you. Come Holy Spirit, come! Please Lord, banish everything that obstructs the Holy Spirit from fully filling, purifying, refining & moving all Christians to do YOUR will on Earth as it is in Heaven. Lord, I pray that the Holy Spirit moves deeply & undoubtedly into the hearts & lives of those who do not yet know you personally & those who have gone astray. God, please leave the ninety nine to reunite one more lost sheep as you did with me. I pray all this in Jesus precious name. Amen!
"The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings." (1 Kings 3:10-13)
Solomon's request is not for self gain but assists him greatly with serving others in the way God wants him to do. Thank you God for directing me to keep studying & surrendering to your will with all I've got. Your grace is sufficient for me. Your POWER is made perfect in my weakness....
Lord, please continue to fill me with YOUR love & motivation, especially when I don't see the bigger picture or your plan for my life. Where are you carrying me Lord? Why am I so often so tired that my body & brain hurt? Even though the pain is difficult Lord, I trust that out of my situation must come something good or you wouldn't make it so. The Good that is coming out of my illness is not personal gain or comfort, rather it is for others who need it more than I do now because I already have the ultimate good, amen!
I am reminded of the preacher, Nick Vujicic's prayer & realization "God, please give me arms & legs. But if you don't give me arms & legs, change my heart; renew my mind..." - "If God doesn't change my circumstance, he's going to use my life to be a miracle for someone else."
If God miraculously gave Nick arms & legs, he wouldn't attract the specific attention that he does nor would he touch as deeply, others with disabilities. Likewise for me, even with less physical energy, God is inspiring a whole lot of prayer & loving through me (probably that's why I am so tired out, phew), amen & praise the Lord!
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These are King David's last words of delight & warning before building an altar to the Lord, charging his son Solomon 'to walk in His ways...' & dying after 40 years of rule over Israel.
David transformed from a boy shepherd into a great warrior leader by following & fearing God. A healthy sense of fear towards The Almighty & Incomprehensible is only natural. With his elaborate songs of praise, David shows that fear of the Lord culminates into awe & reverence when the personally loving force of God is wholeheartedly pursued.
Not without sin, David confesses his wrongs & accepts God's correction. All his protection, successes & gifts ('first light' & 'fresh rain' etc.), David repeatedly publicly expresses thanksgiving to God for with beautiful poetry. How cool would it be if today's leaders did this? David's 'entire salvation' is his every desire & promise fulfilled by God. Amen!
"For Thou art my lamp, O Lord; And the Lord illumines my darkness....The word of the Lord is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him."
(2 Samuel 22:29 & 31).
God offers everyone the ultimate free gift: eternal relationship with Christ! Why some people forever resist this supernatural love & protection is puzzling to me. Yet from my own experience, I see that acceptance of God's gift - belief in Jesus & faith in the Gospel, evolves. It seems that people go through a stage of fading belief & interest due to reasons that are probably similar to why some people never believe. For examples, life's atrocities & challenges ("How could a loving God..."); unanswered prayers & questions; other things & relationships (idols) made priority; adoption of the mainstream-reductionist, analytical worldview.
People in disbelief or the 'estranged' stage of faith are either unable to experience the real life magic of Christ or integrate these experiences with their reality and rather than facing the dissonance, they focus on other aspects of life.
All the while, God orchestrates that which has us turn towards Him & say "Yes please, thank you God." When we choose to be close enough to hear God, he uses what only he can see in peoples' hearts to guide us. God makes a way, but in this fallen (from God's grace) world, it's often not an easy or pain free way towards His goal of one heart & mind. For instance like when the Lord ensured that Saul & 3000 of Saul's soldiers who were hunting David stay soundly asleep while David showed up Saul!
Forevermore, I'll be relaxing & trusting God not only when life is "good" but especially through difficult times. I'm reading God's word, learning, listening, praying & enjoying God's gift of the living presence of Jesus that keeps on giving :) Amen!
"And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God..." (Ruth 1:16)
As bleak as things were after the deaths of her father & brother in laws and of her own husband, why did Ruth insist on staying with Naomi? What made Ruth so sure that being with Naomi was the right thing for her to do? It seems that it would have been more reasonable for her stay in Moab, as her sister did, to find another husband.
As with much in the Bible, we can speculate and pray for understanding, but we can't know Ruth's thought process (without being able to ask her). Was Ruth's decision impulsive or well reasoned & planned or somewhere in between, guided by God? Ruth certainly didn't hem and haw over this major choice point in her life, which leaves me wondering, when a tough choice is easy to make, is it preordained? Ruth's strong commitment to her family by marriage lead to an 'out of the ordinary' type of union between her and Boaz which eventually (31 generations later) lead to the magnificent birth of Jesus. I know ... wow, right? AMEN!
I am writing this blog to highlight Bible verses that I experience as especially healing and relevant for daily guidance. My journeys in life have been truly amazing. Chronic illness with ME/CFS, as difficult as it is, continues to take me wild and loving places for healing.