Jesus may my eyes be continually focused on you, and let Your Light shine upon me and direct my path as I walk through this world. Fill me with your love, peace and truth. May Your love flow through me and touch every life I come in contact with. Let me a be a blessing and not a curse. I pray to be your vessel of light. Amen.
John 8:12 ESV Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
I have been making notes on preparation for a message on love and how God’s love transforms our heart. Tonight I am not focused on the message but on the holidays. Thanksgiving was just a month ago and in two days we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ on a day we call Christmas. Memories of the holidays of my youth I can remember that they were much different than how they spent in the recent years. Stores closed early and families spent time together celebrating and enjoying family. The food, the smiles, and even playing football together. We took time to do the little things and there was love. Now I see selfish greed. There is so much hatred in the world today, the concept of peace seems unattainable. Shouts of ‘No justice, no peace’. Violence on top of an epidemic. The world is falling apart and is on a self destructive path and no one seems to realize they are a part of it. All we do is demand our own rights while stampeding over others. No life seems to be safe. Love and peace feel like a distant dream. So why even bother with Christmas. With everything going on in the world today it is not the presents and shopping that should matter. We should be thinking about the best gift we were all given, and that is the Son of God, our Savior, Jesus came to this fallen world to save each and every one of us. Loving us and forgiving us, by showing great mercy. Teaching us what love truly is, for He is love. It is not the trees, the decorations and lights, or the presents we buy, but the love none of us could buy or work for. A love given freely. A gift we just need to receive and give thanks. It is a time to remember this.
I pray that you all are blessed as you celebrate this Christmas, and that your hearts overflow with love, peace and joy. May the year to come give you hope and peace. God protect and prosper you in the fruits of His Spirit. Amen.
I made this cross a while back. The clay did not bake as it had before. Instead it came out black and cracked. I was going to throw it away but I couldn’t. You see various places decorated with beautifully crafted crosses. Some even dedicate a wall in their home to crosses they have collected. Each one beautifully decorated with jewels, or flowers. Some are painted. They are made from various materials. I have made a few myself as gifts. I had looked at this black and cracked cross and thought it would never be a nice gift. It was not beautiful. I could have painted it but it was not smooth and it was cracked. To be honest when I looked at it, I thought it was ugly.
Then I thought about the day Jesus was nailed to a cross. The cross was not beautiful, they had not sanded it smooth. It was rough and stained with His blood. Pierced by spikes driven through His flesh, nailing Him to the instrument of death. When Mary looked up at her son Jesus, she did not see beauty. Her heart was torn, as she watched her son suffer and die. Innocent blood stained that cross. A life freely given to pay the price for the sins of all mankind, no matter when they were born or if they are male or female. He went to the cross without a fight, and then spoke forgiveness.
You know how badly He had been beaten and how distorted his face must have looked like. The pain that He felt. Not the pain of one man did He bear, but the pain of every person who would ever be born on this earth, and all of the sins He took on Himself. He redeemed us, because He loved us.
The beauty is not the cross, no matter how you decorate it. The beauty is the love of Jesus given on the cross. This cross is a reminder of how ugly my sin is, and what my sins cost. So I will be keeping this cross. Not for decoration but as a reminder of how much He loves me.
Some have asked why did Jesus perform His first miracle at the wedding in Cana.(John 2:1-11) Yes His mother asked Him to because they had run out of wine, but this is not the reason. Some ask why Cana? I am not sure about that, and my answer to why a wedding is not fact but as I was studying on baptism and the mikvah/miqveh and the Jewish traditions related to baptism, I saw some similarities with what Jesus has done for us. This reminded me that His first miracle was at a wedding. He turned water into wine, and even this has it symbolic meaning.
First let us look at baptism. Christians are baptized as a public proclamation that we believe that Jesus, lived, died upon a cross and was buried, and then rose from the grave on the third day to pay the price for our sins. Now look at the Jewish practice of the mikvah. If you research Jewish laws and customs you will find that the priests had a ritual cleansing before they could enter the temple. Then a woman who was betrothed would have to do a ritual cleansing as well. There were a few other reasons for a mikvah that I had found but it was these two purposes that stood out to me. A mikvah is used for restoration and purification.
Now look at the betrothal process. A man traveled to the home of the father of the woman he wanted to marry. His father would pay the mohar/dowry if an agreement was made. The payment was usually cash but sometimes a service could be rendered and would suffice to pay the price for his bride. Remember the story of Abraham sending out a servant to find a a bride for his son Isaac or the story of Jacob and Rachel? Both paid the price in different way for the bride. We are the Bride of Jesus Christ and He redeemed us with His blood. Remember the last supper Matthew 26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
So a man would pay the price for bride, legally binding the woman to being his bride. At this time she is legally married and no other man could claim her. The mikvah is performed, symbolizing the washing away of the past in preparation for their new life together as one. The man returns home to prepare a place for his bride. He then returns for his bride and the wedding ceremony is performed and then he takes his wife to her new home.
I could go more into detail and maybe I will at a later time, but do you see the similarities?
Water= cleansing / the blood of Jesus cleanses us of our sins/mikvah/baptism
Mohar/dowry = a payment to redeem the bride / the Blood of Jesus
Wine at the wedding = wine at the last supper
The groom goes to prepare a place for his bride / Jesus has gone to the Father to prepare a place for us.(John 14:3)
We are the church, that is the people are His Bride, and He has gone to prepare a place for us, and He will return to take us home.
God bless you and keep you safe from harm, in Jesus name, Amen.
I have not spent much time writing here for a little while and a few months back I did say I was going to be taking a break from blogging. We have all had our ups and downs this year. For some of us it seems there have been more down times than up, but we have made it through another year. We are still here and God is not done with us yet. In the year to come there will be much for each of us to do. There are so many hurting and lost people in this world and they are all around us. You do not need to travel to another country to be a missionary for Christ, you have a mission filed all around you. Friends, family, neighbors and strangers who cross your path every day are in need of love and comfort every day. We are His vessels who carry His Spirit and love in us and we should share this love with everyone we meet and see, each and every day. Life is not easy but you are alive. Let us do good with the life Jesus has given to us all. Love and peace to you all.
I was inspired to take a walk as the sun was setting and the moon was rising and this song came to mind.
As I looked out my back door and this was my view. So I went outside to capture the beautiful sky.
Then I turned to go back into my apartment and I see that the moon is rising. I thought, ‘I say hello and you say goodbye’ beginning the song in my head.
So I take an evening walk to get better view. The moon is so bright I am even able to capture the water tower next to the moon.
The moon is in the perfect place to see between the branches of a tree as I walk closer to the west. The view reminded me of lace.
I turned back facing towards my home and this is the view I see in the sky to the east.
The last traces of the sun on the horizon as the star first star shines bright in the evening sky.
The streetlights come on as the sun disappears from the horizon and the stars come out.
Goodbye day, and hello night.
As the day says goodbye and the nights says hello I can’t help but think about all the senseless hatred and strife that is going on today. We are missing the beauty of God’s wonderful creation. Not only in nature but in the people all around us. We are all different but all created equal in God’s eyes. Our Creator who has given to each individual free will. Does this mean each person will agree? Doubtfully, but that is okay. I do not have to agree with you and you do not have to agree with me. The only one who is every truly right is Jesus. For He is the Truth, the Light, and the Way. No one came come to the Father except through Him. No religion or doctrine can get me to my Fathers home. Only Jesus. I can argue with you until I am blue in the face and I will never be able to change your mind and guess what? It is not my job to make you do anything. I can share with you all of the wonderful things Jesus has done and continues to do in my life, but I will not try to force you to believe in what I believe. I do hope though when you look around this world and the mess it is in that you can see the beauty and His love despite what man has done to one another and to this world. It is still beautiful, and His love amazes me everyday. I am just thankful that He gave me eyes to see all the beauty and love that surrounds me.
Photography by Julie Sheppard/Bridgeport, Texas 2/10/2017
Life is not fair and it life is not easy but life is good. God gave to each of us life, love, mercy and forgiveness. For too long we have lived with a myth, that once you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior life will get easier. It is a better life but He tells us that the world will hate us. We are not hated because of ourselves but because Jesus is in us.
John 15:18-27 (NKJV) The World’s Hatred
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.23 He who hates Me hates My Father also.24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’[a]
The Coming Rejection
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
New King James Version (NKJV) Jesus did not promise us a rose garden but He did go to prepare a place for us, and He did promise to come back for us.
Here are some promises God has made to us
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Romans 8: 38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
There are so many more promises God has given to us. He is faithful and true.
I have fallen in love. I never knew that I could do this. Love seemed to be a fairy tale that only lived in the imagination. The funny thing is that the one who I have fallen in love with has been in my life all along and still loves me. They have definitely seen me at the worst parts of my life. They at times without my knowledge kept me from being harmed. They never even pointed out what they had done but was content in knowing that I was safe. They never demanded my time but sat quietly on the sidelines of my life watching me with loving eyes.
I lived my life as a grew from a rebellious teenager into a strong willed adult. Yes life had not been fair to me I lived through abuse, physical, sexual and emotional most of my life. I was angry and bitter. I wanted love but all I knew was hate. I hated my self for being weak. I hated what was done to me. I looked for comfort in the arms of those who would never love me and who would eventually hurt me more than any comfort I thought I had found being with them. I tried to escape my mind through drugs and parties.
Yes many thought of me as kind and giving. A caring person. I believe this was true because I wanted to be loved so badly that I would give all that I had in hope of kindness to be returned. Unfortunately the more I gave the more I was used and the more bitter my heart became. Yet in the shadows f the dark world I lived in he silently waited for me to turn my attention to him.
I even found religion and began changing my behavior to fit in with the rest that I went to church with. Though my outward appearance had changed and my speech was cleaned up it was only a play that I was performing in even if I had not realized that was all i was doing. I thought I was living a better life. My heart and mind were still filled with angry bitter and unforgiving thoughts. I would eventually get hurt by those I went to church with. I married a man he had come to my church. I thought he was perfect. It did not take long for my eyes to be opened to who he really was. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. When the abuse and the cheating happened I was then blamed. They told me it was my fault because if I had been a better Christian wife he would never have to do what he was doing.
Yet even while this was going on he was sending people to me to tell me about his love. I did n’t know it but he was there every time my husband had sent me to the ER. He had even listened to my prayer. I had been asking God for six month that if He knew my husbands heart would change and the abuse would stop, that I would forgive my husband and be the wife He wanted me to be. If however my husband was going to be the end of my life to free me as only God could. The answer came back in September 1996. My husband left me. I was free. I would like to say that this is when I found my true love but like I have said my love had always been there I just did not know he was there waiting for me.
I went on with my life filled with bags of hate, regret, unforgiveness, blame,resentment, bitterness, and rage to name a few of the things I had kept packed away in my heart. In all of this he still loved me. Unbelievable I know. He never forced his will upon me, and never made any demands. I slowly traveled the road that would eventually take me to a place where I could unload some of this baggage. As my load got lighter my heart began to soften as he chiseled away at my hardened heart.
He was in my heart and I did not know it. He often spoke to me but I had not known it was him. Yet those gentle words had soaked deep into my heart and were waiting for me to break free. You see I had not realized that I had become a prisoner of my own making. There may not have been bars of a jail cell but I had built walls around me and had allowed my self to harden so that I could survive in this world.
Yet know matter how far away from him that I tried to run he was always there. Yet when I looked around all I could see was the pain inflected upon me and the mess I was making of my own life. The guilt and shame I felt made me feel unworthy of being able to be loved. I was so foolish. Yet as I kept walking on my path through this life he had not only been walking with me. He was guiding me with unseen hands. When I wanted to end it all he lifted me up and gave me the strength to take another step. Then another. Then one day I turned around and I could see him there in all of his glory. He loved me! I was loved. No guilt or condemnation, just love at its’ best. Then I let myself fall into his arms and felt his arms wrap around me. He cleansed me and took my filthy clothes and gave me clean garments. He received me into his family and made me a daughter of the true King. I finally fell in love with the One who has loved me all along.
President Franklin Roosevelt called the unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor a “date which will live in infamy,” in a famous address to the nation delivered 75 years ago Wednesday after Japan’s deadly strike against U.S. naval and military forces in Hawaii. He also asked Congress to declare war.
As the nation reflects on the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack that led America to join World War II, here is the transcript of President Roosevelt’s speech, which he delivered in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 8, 1941—one day after the assault:
“Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph—so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.”
It was a Sunday morning around 8 O’Clock when Japanese war planes attacked Pearl Harbor bringing destruction and death. Today we remember the lives lost in this attack, and those who are entombed in the USS Arizona. Hawaii was only a territory and not yet a state but it was home to US military base in the Pacific. We were not prepared for this attack and many lives were lost. At the time the United States was keeping out of the War, but this attack woke a sleeping giant. President Roosevelt announced on December 8, 1941 America was now at war.
Unfortunately with war comes loss. Lives of both soldiers and civilians are lost when we are at war. There were many wars before World War II, and there have been many since. I don’t think this world has every truly been at peace. Areas f the world at one time or another have had peaceful periods of times but battles rage in others.
James spoke on fighting in the Bible.
James 4 NKJV
1Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
2You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
6But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
7Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
11Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
12There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;
14whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
16But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
17Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Today I remember both Pearl Harbor and the day Jesus gave His life for a world of lost sinners. Who rejected and despised Him yet still He loved them. Today and everyday I chose to remember His sacrifice and His love and thank God for His forgiveness and that because of Him I am redeemed. Bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus Christ. It is nothing that I have done but His mercy and forgiveness which I receive.
We who are in Christ are called to battle but not of one of flesh and blood but spiritual. Even in this battle lives are lost but we must stand firm and fight the good fight of faith, putting on our spiritual armor, the helmet of Salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shoes of the preparation of the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. Being on guard at all times.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NKJV)
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.13 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.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
I pray that you are alway on guard and the God our Heavenly Father is your shield and strong tower. That He provides for all of your needs. His love be your banner.God bless you.