Thank You Father for giving us Your word. May everyone hear the word of the Lord & give ear to the instruction of our God (1:10). Guide each of us to cease evil, learn to do good & seek justice (1:16-17). Thank You for taking our sins as scarlet & making them as white as snow (1:18). Urge us Lord, our rulers & companions also, to be righteous in Your eyes (1:23 & 26). To all who forsake the Lord, I command their hearts & minds open to You, so that they shall not come to an end (1:28). Oh God, without You as our living water, even a strong man will become tinder, his work also a spark (1:31).
Thank You God for teaching us concerning Your ways so that we may walk in Your paths (2:3). Nation no longer lifts up sword against nation. Never again do we learn war! Praise God, we walk in the light of the Lord (2:4-5). Our pride & loftiness is humbled, You are exalted & idols completely vanish (2:17-18), praise the Lord!
In You, we do not oppress each other but we uplift & lovingly guide each other to You (3:5) through speech & actions that are for & not against You (3:8). Thank You dear God for providing shade from the heat & a refuge from storms (4:6).
Give us strength & courage to stop with truth, those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood & sin as if with cart ropes (5:18). Thank You God for straightening out any confusion among us about what is evil & what is good (5:20). Keep us relying on You instead of being wise in our own eyes & clever in our own sight (5:21). Thank You for bringing us to work together to establish Your peace & light in the darkness & distress of this land (5:30).
Lord, we see You with our eyes, hear You with our ears, understand You with our hearts & return to You, the lost & sick & we are healed (6:10). In Your word, You tell us: "Take care, be calm, have no fear & do not be fainthearted ..."(7:4). Almighty Father, You gave us a sign! A virgin bore a son & she called His name Immanuel. Praise the Lord, He knows to refuse evil & choose good (7:14-15).
Dear God, Thank You for being with us (8:10). You tell us that we are not to fear what the world fears or be in dread of it (8:12). You shall be our fear then You shall become a sanctuary (8:13-14). Commit Your work of good & truth among all mediums & spiritists to consult You rather than the dead on behalf of the living (8:19).
Thank You Father for making all people who walk in darkness see a great light (9:2) & for breaking the yoke of their burden (9:4). I pray that the government rest's well on the shoulders of Your Son, our Lord Jesus, who was given to us. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, praise the Lord that there is no end to the increase of Your government or of peace (9:6-7).
In Jesus name, I cast away false teachings that try to lead us astray (9:16). Allow the wickedness within each of us to burn & dissolve. Consume with fire the briars & thorns that entangle, oppress & hurt us (9:18). Faithful Father, Your hand is still stretched out & we praise You (9:21)! Woe to those who deprive the needy of justice & rob the poor of their rights. Urge us to protect & care for the widows & orphans, Lord (10:2) like You do, as one gathers abandoned eggs, You gather all the earth, (10:14), glory be to God. Blessed is the day we all truly rely on the Lord (10:20) & delight in the fear of the Lord (11:3).
Praise You Father, deciding with fairness for the afflicted of the earth & with the breath of Your lips, slaying the wicked (11:4). We will not hurt or destroy in all Your holy mountain as the earth is filled up with the knowledge of the Lord (11:9). I give thanks to Thee, O Lord; Thine anger is turned away & Thou comforts me (12:1). You are my salvation; I trust & am not afraid. For the Lord God is my strength & song (12:2).
We learn from long ago, in the day of the Lord, when hands fell limp, hearts melted, pains & anguish took hold (13:6-8) & sinners were exterminated from the land (13:9). You punished the world for its evil, the wicked for their iniquity & put an end to the arrogance of the proud (13:11). Mortal man became scarcer than pure gold (13:12) in the day of Your burning anger (13:13).
Blessed is the day Lord, when You give us rest from pain, turmoil & harsh service (14:3). The whole earth is at rest & is quiet, breaking forth into shouts of joy (14:7)! Those who are most helpless, eat & the needy lie down in security (14:30). The afflicted of Your people, find refuge (14:32). Amen! Thank You God for establishing Your throne of loving-kindness (16:5).
I pray that all people have regard for You, their Maker (17:7). Because we know You are God of salvation & the rock of refuge (17:10) the harvest will not be a heap in a day of sickliness & incurable pain (17:11). Thanks be to God for sending a Savior & a Champion to deliver us (19:20). Striking Egypt but healing, they returned to You (19:22).
Your power within me overcomes pain that attempts to seize me. Once so bewildered, I could not hear, so terrified I could not see; mind reeling, horror overwhelming (21:3-4) --No more, it is finished! I've turned up the volume of Your Holy Spirit in me & turn down the volume of my flesh. Pain is gone. Chronic pain & illness have no place in my life. I want to be well Lord, I'm ready; thank You for healing me, amen!
The earth, polluted by its inhabitants' transgressing laws, violating statutes & breaking everlasting covenants (24:5), has been washed in the curse-breaking blood of Jesus. He has redeemed us & now we work earnestly cleaning up & stewarding God's creation righteously. Thank you God for swallowing up death for all time & wiping tears away from all faces (25:8). You are our God for whom we waited & now you've saved us. We rejoice & are glad in Your salvation (25:9)!
The steadfast of mind, Thou keeps in perfect peace because he trusts in Thee (26:3). I trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock (26:4). The way of the righteous is smooth (26:7). Indeed my spirit seeks Thee diligently (26:9).
When earth experiences Thy judgements, inhabitants of the world learn righteousness, especially the wicked & everyone perceives the majesty of the Lord (26:9-10). When Your chastising is upon us & we seek Thee in distress, only whispering a prayer (26:16), please have mercy Lord, in just the right amount. For You know each of our hearts better than we know ourselves. Hear the word of the Lord, O scoffers (28:14). The multitude of the ruthless ones are like the chaff which blows away (29:5).
Thank You God for laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed (28:16). Bless You for instructing & teaching us properly (28:26). Your counsel is wonderful & Your wisdom is great (28:29).
Help us not get ourselves into trouble with You Lord pouring over us a spirit of deep sleep, shutting prophets eyes & covering the heads of seers (29:10). Walking in obedience of Your way, with Your healing power, the deaf hear words in a book & out of their darkness, the eyes of the blind, see (29:18). Praise the Lord! Today is the day that the afflicted increase their gladness in the Lord & the needy rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (29:19). All who are intent on doing evil are cut off (29:20), those who err in mind now know the truth & those who criticize, accept instruction (29:24). Woe to those who execute plans that are not Yours & make alliance not of Your Spirit, adding sin to sin (30:1).
Bless God that it is so, in repentance & rest we are saved; in quietness & trust is Your strength (30:15). You long to be gracious to us. You wait on high to have compassion on us. For You are a God of justice. How blessed are all those who long for You (30:18). Although Lord, You gave us bread of privation & water of oppression, You, our Teacher no longer hide Yourself. Our eyes behold You, our Teacher & our ears hear a word behind us "This is the way, walk in it" whenever we turn to the right or to the left (30:20-21). We say to graven images "Be gone!" (30:22). Thank you God for binding up the fracture of Your people & healing the bruise You inflicted (30:26). You Lord cause the voice of Your authority to be heard, amen (30:30)!
Your Spirit is poured out upon us from on high (32:15). The work of righteousness is peace & the service of righteousness, quietness & confidence forever (32:17). Blessed are we who sow beside all waters (32:20). God, You are the stability of our times, a wealth of salvation, wisdom & knowledge. The fear of the Lord is our treasure (33:6). Sinners are terrified, Lord. Trembling has seized the godless. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" (33:14). Let us take Your strength, courage & words leading them to Your salvation.
Glory to God that all who walk righteously, speak with sincerity & reject unjust gain (33:15), dwell on the heights. Our refuge is the impregnable rock. Our bread is given & our water is sure (33:16). Lord, You are our judge, our lawgiver, our King & You save us (33:22)! No resident says "I am sick." The people who dwell here are forgiven their iniquity (33:24). We encourage the exhausted & strengthen the feeble (35:3). We say to those with anxious heart: "Take courage, fear not. Behold, God comes with vengeance & saves you." (35:4). The eyes of the blind are opened. The ears of the deaf are unstopped (35:5). The lame leap like a dear. The tongues of those who can not speak, shout for joy (35:6). Thirsty ground springs of water (35:7). This Highway of Holiness is for all who walk this way (35:8). The redeemed walk here (35:9). Gladness & joy are found & sorrow & sighing flee away (35:10).
Thou art God of all kingdoms on earth. Thou has made heaven & earth (37:16). In Your name, we deliver ourselves & others from evil & all kingdoms of earth know that Thou alone, Lord, art God (37:20). You know our sitting down, our going out & our coming in (37:28). Because of our arrogance, You put Your hook in our noses & Your bridle in our lips (37:29).
As Hezekiah prayed, I pray also: "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee. I have walked before Thee in truth, with a whole heart & have done what is good in Thy sight." (38:3). You heard his prayer, saw his tears & behold, You added fifteen years to his life (38:5). Likewise, You heal my body of physical disease making me the long-living, healthy new creation You created me to be! When any of us moan like doves & feel oppressed, be our security (38:14). Restore us to health & let us live (38:16)! Thank You for keeping my soul from the pit of nothingness & casting all my sins behind Thy back (38:17). Thank You Father for these days of peace & truth (39:8). Amen!
Our soul is the place deep within that unites our psyche & spirit with our body. The healing of the soul from sin is the innermost, profound (even pervasive) type of healing we can go through, somewhat like the process of physical birth.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which has been born of the flesh is flesh, and that which has been born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:5-7
The degree to which sin has invaded one's self, soul healing salvation is self-destructive & as such, makes personal the crucifixion & resurrection of Jesus Christ:
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31)
Many don't understand the need for soul healing and confuse it for other needs. The realization of the need for salvation is not something one person rightly can push upon another. The desire for a free soul: eternal life (knowing God as Jesus Christ), comes from within, hearing His knocking & calling us home.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." (John 6:44)
Purification of the soul is on continuous offer from God Almighty to everyone alive, as the gift of grace through Jesus Christ. Accepting God's gift of redemption means entering into covenant relationship with God & surrendering to His Word & to His Ways:
"...whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:39)
As the Light of the Lord (Holy Spirit) goes to work within an individual's spirit when their soul is saved, full healing of body & mind is activated & nothing can stop it (not even physical death). Even that which seems like an obstacle (e.g. illness) becomes part of one's healing journey. God has a plan & always makes His Ways straight, uplifting us from darkness.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
I remember laughing out loud, likely through tears, when I read this Bible passage above. Wait a minute, I thought ... Your yoke is easy & Your burden is light? Come now, really ... why then is it so painful?
While salvation happens the instant we first believe, its effects have our whole lives & beyond (eternity) to penetrate & permeate throughout our being. That God has us for such a long while (forever!) is a very good thing because we humans are very dense & so it can take Light a long time & some pretty intense pain to make its healing ways through us. The Holy Spirit clears us out; all that is not of God must go so He can fill us entirely. Iniquities, infirmities & afflictions - be gone, in Jesus name.
Throughout Jesus' ministry He demonstrated much compassion towards those oppressed by illness; healing all who came to him, even those with little faith! The testimonies of physical healing did such a great work of spreading the "Good News" of Jesus like an underground fire erupting in places & never going out. Jesus healed the sick when He was God-made-flesh on earth & He continues healing people to the present day; we know this because it is written:
“I the LORD do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
Just as salvation can be a sensitive topic in the secular world so to is the topic of physical healing, or "Faith Healing", even among Christians. Why is it that some people heal quickly while other faithful folk remain sick for years, despite much prayer?
It is so important that we be wise to etiquette around the topic of faith healing so as to not create more disappointment (where there is already much suffering) and push people away from ourselves and from God. I know firsthand how devastating it can be to be prayed over so many times & not feel any better physically, it's heartbreaking! I understand more now & there is much faith, joy (& even delight) in the renewing of my mind & softening of my heart, that I want to pass along. So now, here are some of the rules I pledge to live by regarding this topic:
1. Educate others about faith healing and let the understanding & the desire for it come from them (from God within them). When they are ready, they will come to it!
2. Do not assume everyone with a disability/illness wants/requires physical healing. Often people know subconsciously when it is their time to pass on or to remain in the condition they are in. In addition, many people with disabilities do not want to be fixed or cured. Never judge anyone who has "not yet healed" (e.g. as having too little faith etc.). The matter is between that person & God (& me or you, if they allow it).
3. All healing is from God; He made us healing "bio-machines". When praying for healing, rather than use the phrase:
"If it be your will..." (If you are not sure that it is God's will to heal you will you possibly go against God's Will by asking the doctor to figure out what is going wrong, taking medication or getting surgery?);
PRAY (something like): "Thank you Lord for hearing my prayer & healing me, in Jesus name, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." AMEN!
4. One of the biggest lessons to understanding faith healing comes from this verse (& there are others like it):
"Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:24)
This is where people with chronic illness need Noah's ark & mustard seed moving mountains & the thief on the cross next to Jesus saying "Remember me...", type of faith. Once we've asked for health, we must believe it is so despite possible lingering symptoms. For this is what faith is, believing that which we do not have empirical evidence for. Believing what is not, into reality--not on the basis of new age sayings and positive psychology but on the authority of God & His promises throughout scripture.
This is a huge revelation in that, rather than getting disappointed after prayer & continued symptoms, we can instead take action to cultivate more faith, such as, by making confession: "Jesus is the Lord of my life. Sickness & disease have no power over me." (Charles Capps). Each confession is like lifting weights; it's going to take many repetitions to become stronger & see our "faith muscles" increase. Similarly, it may take many repetitions to see health replace symptoms after years of the brain subconsciously "rehearsing" certain sensations over & over.
Furthermore, there are reasons other than what I've mentioned so far (e.g. timing, faith) as to why one's physical healing may be delayed. I have more to share and will do so in another blog, another time. Thank you for reading & happy healing, amen!
I’m encouraged by the increasing numbers of individuals, myself included, who realize we are being blinded to faith & are overcoming that. By faith I mean trusting the principles & promises of The Word; that the Bible is true, holy & sacred, from & of God, amen.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
What I mean by ‘blinded to faith’ is analogous to growing up in darkness & silence. If that were the case, being exposed later in life to visual & auditory stimuli wouldn’t make sense, especially at first. In fact, one would likely deliberately close their eyes & plug their ears to reduce the confusing effects of the new types of information.
We would default to using our sense of touch, taste & smell to try to ‘see & hear’ but obviously that wouldn’t work. It is the same for faith. Especially at first, we can't rely our usual ways of sensing & thinking to come to faith. Faith has everything to do with the immaterial, spiritual realm (which includes but is not limited to the confines of the material world) to which many of us are not only unaccustomed to but are also hostile against.
So how do people acquire faith? There are several factors at hand in this matter. First & foremost:
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44) & "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)
Furthermore, our sense of faith develops in the light of the faith of others. I pray in the name of Jesus, this blog will ignite a fire of faith in each of the readers hearts so that they share their faith in fitting ways with others, amen.
The Bible says: “So faith comes from hearing & hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) Notice here, as Bill Johnson of Bethel Church points out, that it doesn’t say: “So faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.” No, first, we hear through The Word of Christ & then faith comes. “The point is, according to The Message, before you trust, you have to listen.” If we close off to hearing what Christ says, faith can't flourish within the soil of our hearts.
Two other important factors regarding the acquisition of faith: the renewed mind & heart of flesh.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
I like the way Bill Johnson sums up this point by saying: "Faith doesn’t come from the mind, we know that. Faith comes from the heart but the renewed mind is like the banks of a river; it creates the context for faith to flow in .... And the renewed mind anchors into what God has said above every other voice.” AMEN!
I'm so pleased to write that a keto diet has greatly reduced my debilitating symptoms. I have better mental & physical energy & less muscle pain (especially first two weeks of the diet). I pray I can keep it up and that this info helps others who are struggling with ME/CFS. Please God, help scientists figure out who with ME/CFS can benefit & why it is effective. Cheers to ketones (not carbs) for energy!
My aunt got me onto monitoring my blood glucose levels over a month ago. While I couldn't see that I am in immediate danger of diabetes (yet), my blood sugar levels were quite unstable & spiked uncomfortably high after eating. Someday I will try using an interstitial fluid continuous glucose monitor to get an more data on this. Based on how my body reacts to carbs (not well!) it it pretty clear that my glucose metabolism isn't working properly. I think it is quite likely that my cells have some resistance to insulin. Thank you Lord Jesus for guiding me to improved health, in your precious name, amen.
I want to highlight what others have said about the juiciest book in Bible, Song of Solomon. I highly recommend listening to Christopher West (Theology of the Body) on this topic. He states: "The Bible from beginning to end tells a story about marriage. It begins with the marriage of man & woman. It ends with the marriage of Christ & the Church. And the whole purpose of this marriage at the start of the story, is to point us to this marriage: the eternal union of God with humanity ... that is why we are sexual beings." Amen! :)
He goes on to read these two paragraphs by Saint Gregory of Nyssa:
"Let us come within the Holy of Holies, the Song of Songs. The exalted word promises to teach us the mystery of mysteries through the Song of Songs....
Human nature can neither discover nor entertain anything greater than the Song of Songs. This is why the most intense of pleasurable activities, I mean here, the passion of erotic love, is set as a figure at the very fore of this teaching so that we may learn that it is necessary for the soul to boil with love in the Holy Spirit because it is heated by that fire which the Lord came to cast upon the earth."
God wants us to experience His "soul boiling love" that waters cannot quench & rivers cannot overflow (SoS 8:7) so that it pours out all around us & into others.
Mr. West explains, here: youtu.be/PBlvgybm3L0 (starting at 4:50) using a crumpled piece of paper, what original sin did to sexuality - I love this analogy so much! Key phrases to listen for:
"Eros expresses agape."
"The Holy is still in there."
"The devil doesn't have his own clay."
"The gift of redemption is to untwist it ..."
Father Mike Schmitz (Ascension Presents) shares a very similar view to Mr. West in pointing out how the Song of Solomon illustrates Saint Thomas Aquinas' statement: “As often as a husband and wife enter into the sexual embrace in a state of grace, they are growing in grace and in glory.”
Furthermore, this next YouTube video showing a dance rendition of Song of Songs: The Bible Explained (Spoken Gospel) emphasizes:
Not to "awaken love until its proper time". I interpret this to mean, do not awaken the fullest intensity of God's love with another without first & continuously being fully awake to God alone. youtu.be/FH4kaV5D5dM
We are fortunate for the gift of love in our lives. How dull would life be without it? Yet we are bound to feel 'beaten up' at times with "love-sickness" in a variety of relationships, not just in the throes of romantic love. The price of human love is the unavoidable experiences of worry, jealousy, grief & heartbreak: "...For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are the flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord." (SoS 8:6)
We are attachment-oriented creatures but relationships & circumstances are impermanent. This conundrum isn't a design flaw! Rather, our longing for the safety, belonging & love of secure attachment is placed, by design as the "God shaped hole" inside each of us that cannot be completely filled by anything but God (try as we might). The good news is that IN JESUS, love is everlasting. Love is STRONGER than death! God raised Christ from death, canceling our sins & sorrows as we say "I do" to eternal life with Him, our glorious Bridegroom forever, amen!
A short clip I made for the verse Song of Solomon 6:10 "Who is this that grows like the dawn..." May God bless you & all your loved ones, amen.
Other translations of Ecclesiastes 1:2
*Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. (KJV & ASV)
*"Everything is meaningless," says the Teacher, "completely meaningless!" (NLT)
*Hevel, havalim, saith Kohelet, hevel havalim; all is hevel. (OJB)
*"It is of no use," says the Preacher. "It is of no use! All is for nothing." (NLV)
*"Futility of futilities," says the Preacher, futility of futilities! All is futility (NASB)
*"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher. "Vanity of vanities! All (that is done without God's guidance) is vanity (futile, meaningless--a wisp of smoke, a vapor that vanishes, merely chasing the wind)." (AMP)
Similar to being mesmerized by a campfire, I love watching steam rise & swirl from a hot beverage. The random fluidity of vapor can be simultaneously mysterious, calmly frantic & delicately serene. A beautiful dance of nature--unrepeating, fleeting & wonderfully artistic. When I read the different translations of Ecclesiastes 1:2, I think of these enjoyable encounters I've had with "hevel" (steam). In saying "All is vanity" the Teacher/Preacher, at least in part, is describing the not so uncommon feeling of being 'stuck in a hamster wheel' ... but there is a bit more to it than that.
The Amplified Bible translation (AMP), with its explanation in brackets, makes sense of this verse in light of the whole twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes. The Preacher says "And all that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor ... and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun." (2:10-11) It makes sense to listen to this wisdom learned because even after literally having everything one's heart could possibly desire and more, the Preacher proclaims the pointlessness of all of it "under the sun" but what about "in the Son" (as in, in God's way): "For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?" (2:25)
A common question, is the Preacher depressed or just pessimistic? He shares that even wisdom is futile, "...in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain." (1:18) It is God's help through grief & pain that brings the Preacher the Truth of God. Although this does not relieve his own suffering, the Truth continues to come through, from him, to help others, as God allows. Seeing 'the glass as half empty OR half full' is not nearly as important as honoring the One who provides the glass & drinking the living water within it that eternally quenches our thirst.
So first and foremost, meaning & enjoyment (yes, it's fun!) come through a Godly life: "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgement, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (12:13-14)
"A generation goes and a generation comes ..." (1:4); the fleeting nature of life, like steam, reminds us to put our faith not in people or things but in the Lord, for "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" (KJV) & "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing" (NIV). We are to want, not what we want, but what God wants. When we take this Godly perspective, we live in appreciation of all the beautiful things God provides, such as enjoying the breeze (rather than chasing the wind, lol) & we ask Lord, "Please remove or fulfill my unmet needs & desires in ways that are glorifying to You, amen!" This is not repression, rather it frees & makes us lighter.
I pray God that we do not get caught up in self importance & the pursuit of happiness. I pray for all who are ensnared in the traps of this world; the never ending striving for success on our own terms. Help us put You first & not just give you the time we have leftover after everything else gets done or to turn to You only when we're in dire straits. The Preacher cautions us to: "Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed;" (12:6) Just as a ship needs an anchor onboard before leaving the dock, we are to know & honor "God, the Eternal" before befalling into the pit of despair and before crawling desperately dehydrated upon a well to find only a shattered pitcher there. For a moment of separation from God is (like) an eternity in hell that only ONE lived through & triumphs over. Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God Almighty, In Jesus name, amen!
I've been thinking about the significance of monotheism - One True God. I've been watching the series, The Triumph of Christianity with historian scholar, Bart Erhman, of the University of North Carolina. He explains that the commandment 'Thou shall have no other Gods before me' is a major factor in what caused a handful of Christians in the ancient, mostly pagan, Roman empire to become 25-35 million Christians by 400 CE.
Just as one pitfall of modernity is too much choice, the practice of worshiping many gods potentially allows for detours away from difficult but necessary changes & growth, for example, that certain circumstances or limitations are meant to cultivate. When push comes to shove, most people will take an out if given the chance. Would we not continually go from one wonder-doing god to the next until we get the help & answers we seek? Would these gods then not just be feeding our already overstuffed egos? Lower case gods appease people for status & money but the Lord God does not. Many people I'm sure wish it were not so that God doesn't work for $ lol, amen!
Simply put, we often don't like His ways & plans & that's just tough beans because there is none higher to appeal to. Much of the toughest stuff we are faced with is of our own doing anyway, not God's. The consequences of sin are often brutal. Even within the mercy & grace of Jesus Christ, the painful effects of sin are real & take time to heal. It's tempting to imagine that something else needs sorting out first, to get distracted with other 'pursuits' (gods) & before you know it, sin some more, rather than just keeping on resting still in God's hands while he mends our wounds. Our salvation happens in an instant, the moment we first believe, but healing from sin can take a lifetime & sometimes takes God level patience, like when a day feels like a thousand years. God bless, y'all, amen!
The Psalms most certainly are 'a place of abundance' that the Lord brings me to during trials & refinement. To those going through times of insurmountable challenge, reading Thy Word literally releases THE POWER of GOD to deliver us from "the snare of the trapper" (Psalm 91:3) & for many other things. I will spend my eternal life savoring the marrow of The Psalms. Here are just a few of many gems:
"For the Lord God is a sun & shield; the Lord gives grace & glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11)
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." (Psalm 145:18)
"Bless the Lord, O my soul ... who heals all your diseases ... " (Psalm 103:2-3)
"This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy word has revived me." (Psalm 119:50)
"On God my salvation & my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God." (Psalm 62:7)
"God is to us a God of deliverances & to God the Lord belong escapes from death." (Psalm 68:20)
"For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime ... " (Psalm 30:5)
"Lovingkindness & truth have met together; righteousness & peace have kissed each other. Truth springs from the earth ... & our land will yield its produce." (Psalm 85:10-12)
"Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing ... " (Psalm 141:3-4)
"I will awaken the dawn!" (Psalm 57:8)
"The stream of God is full of water..." (Psalm 65:9)
"Light is sown like seed for the righteous & gladness for the upright in heart." (Psalm 97:11)
"And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water ..." (Psalm 1:3)
"How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103)
Furthermore, I also greatly appreciate the refreshing 'holistic realness' of David's pleas throughout the Psalms, voicing not only praise but his concerns as well. He shows us the way of authentic, vulnerable worship in declaring his troubles & feeling abandoned by God. Even Jesus, God himself, while on the cross, expressed that He too went through this experience, quoting David (Psalm 22:1) He said: "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" - "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
"How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?" (Psalm 13:1)
"Thou hast made Thy people experience hardship; Thou hast given us wine to drink that makes us stagger." (Psalm 60:3)
"O Lord, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day & in the night before Thee. Let my prayer come before Thee; Incline Thine ear to my cry! For my soul has had enough troubles & my life has drawn near to Sheol." (Psalm 88:1-3)
Not until we are 'poor in spirit' ("The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken & a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." Psalm 51:17) & humbly ask God: "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Psalm 61:2) do we intimately understand "That power belongs to God ..." (Psalm 62:11)
I found this photo from the 80s showing the car that my Granny Joyce loaned to my Mom. With renewed fondness, I remember the bumper sticker on it: READ THE BOOK - love it! We don't know what Godly magic Thy Word will insert into our lives until we read it. Thank you God & Granny, amen.
Dear Lord, I pray for us sinners & for those who some might consider the last to ever come to Christ. Not only the naysayers but those whose hearts have completely hardened, crumbled into dust & blown away. Lost souls...but not forever. Only you can restore such deep chasms, re-form dust & soften stone into new flesh ("I will give you a new heart & put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone & give you a heart of flesh." --Ezekiel 36:26).
God, I pray also for all the good & caring people who think God is 'just religious make believe', not possibly true or relevant in "today's world". It takes just a tiny spark of hope (like the possibility of lighting a match) for your flame of warmth, truth & beauty to envelop & bring us evermore fully into your love & understanding. In your sovereignty & justice, I trust in your giving each of us the opportunities ('the matches') we need to step ever closer into your glory, amen.
To move forward, we must first remember Christ. Only in Christ, can we look at our own & others' sins from His purifying eyes & redeeming heart. Made new & holy, forgiven, we forgive & move forward, changed by grace in Christ, amen!
Job is an especially rich book of the Bible for me. Reading it got me back into daily Bible devotion in 2020 when I was going through a period of depression in addition to ongoing ME/CFS since 2007. Much of what Job says is dramatic, understandably so, considering the intensity & unrelenting nature of his tormenting condition of festering boils from head to toe. I can relate to much of his lament, such as when he repeatedly asks God about why he is even alive, ("What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?" Job 3:23). Day after day of pain & illness to the point of being unable to function, eat and sleep would make anyone question their existence. This is precisely the point of the masterpiece of Job. The author intrigues readers to examine their lives & consider how or if God intervenes, what God allows or provides to us & why.
Job contains 40 chapters of deep rhetoric between Job, his friends & God speaking through a storm. Note, spoiler alert, I was at first a bit disappointed that the conclusion leaves us without a straight forward answer from God about the main dilemma -- "Why do many Godly people go through horrible things while (so it seems) many wicked people live in ease & luxury?" I've come to understand through discussion & multiple readings of God's response to Job's defense (here's one example of so many)...
"Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place; that it might take hold of the ends of the earth and the wicked be shaken out of it?" (Job 38:12-13)
...that we are not to know or overly concern ourselves with such matters only God contends with. We are to turn toward rather than away from God, especially in our anger & devastation, He can handle it. Crying out to, is trusting in God and so we pray without ceasing ("Teach me to see what I still don't see. Whatever evil I've done, I'll do it no more." Job 34:32) to deal with our situation to the best of our abilities.
On a personal note, I will share how helpful & healing it has been to have a friend, GJ, who also has ME/CFS. Unlike Job's friends to Job, GJ doesn't shake his finger at me! We are patient, empathetic & encouraging of each other in ways that are difficult to know how to be for those who have not experienced long term illness. We share the same faith & discuss all things Bible for fun ... yes, truly a joy. It was GJ that came up with the phrase "Job it out" which I take to mean: complain as you must for a time then look to God for strength & support ("I've talked too much, way too much, I am ready to shut up & listen." Job 40:5) and do not expect everything to make sense!
Modifying the old adage 'When life gives you lemons...' for those facing chronic illness, I try "gently squeezing" every drop of good (God) out of the 'lemons' I'm given ... & out of life in every situation possible. I certainly did so this past summer when I was able to go camping with GJ (who, by the way, I would not have met if it were not for having ME). Camping took much more planning & rest than previously when I was well but this time I got to go "slow" camping with my ME friend & we had a wonderful time. I'm praying for more adventures like that (minus both of us getting covid afterwards) & beyond. Amen!