be full of joy …

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From 1 Peter:

1From: Kefa (Peter), an emissary of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah

To: God’s chosen people, living as aliens in the Diaspora — in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bythinia — 2chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obeying Yeshua (Jesus)  the Messiah and for sprinkling with his blood:

Grace and shalom be yours in full measure.

3Praised be God, Father of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, who, in keeping with his great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah from the dead, to be born again to a living hope, 4to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for you in heaven. 5Meanwhile, through trusting, you are being protected by God’s power for a deliverance ready to be revealed at the Last Time. 6Rejoice in this, even though for a little while you may have to experience grief in various trials. 7Even gold is tested for genuineness by fire. The purpose of these trials is so that your trust’s genuineness, which is far more valuable than perishable gold, will be judged worthy of praise, glory and honor at the revealing of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah.

8Without having seen him, you love him. Without seeing him now, but trusting in him, you continue to be full of joy that is glorious beyond words. 9And you are receiving what your trust is aiming at, namely, your deliverance.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/1pe.1>

Words in parentheses placed by this author.

“Born again to a living hope”  that is, Christ.

What is alive does not fade, spoil or decay.  The life received through faith in Christ, gained in his resurrection, is the hope he grants to always, eternally, be his chosen.  The rough times, testing times that come need not take the believer’s full focus.  They are a process of refining, as gold is.  The old is removed and the new remains.  In this, the believer can rejoice they are worthy to be refined!

The genuineness of the believer’s faith is revealed through the trials.  Therefore, rejoice in the tests, the down times, the stretching.  Rejoice because the very existence of the hard times speaks to the hope Christ gives.  The joy is in him, not in the trial, not in the pain, but in the Christ who will deliver.  So think of it as endurance or strength training.  It’s not easy, it calls for discipline, but the benefits are well-being and good health.  So too, the hard times bring spiritual strength and well-being; they should teach the believer how to lift their focus from themselves to God.  Not looking at the situation but looking forward to the deliverance, looking upward to the God who delivers.  “In all things give thanks” for this creates a strong army of believers who continue to stand for truth.

Pray – Praise be to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in keeping with his great mercy, has caused us, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to be born again to a living hope, to an inheritance that cannot decay, spoil or fade, kept safe for us in heaven.

Repent – I repent for those time I allowed hard, painful experiences to refocus my attention from You to me.

Ask – May my experience with grief be the test of fire to reveal my genuine faith in You, God.  May I be found faithful, full of faith for removing my focus from my experiences to You and what You do.

Yes – trusting in You brings a joy the unbeliever cannot know. It is an impossibility to be thankful during pain; unless one is refocused to thank You for the deliverance which will come.  Loving Christ, even though unseen, is joy.  1 Peter 41:1-9

Source: 1 Peter

House of Prayer

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans
Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome

From John 2

13It was almost time for the festival of Pesach (Passover)  in Y’hudah,(Judah) so Yeshua (Jesus)went up to Yerushalayim.(Jerusalem) 14In the Temple grounds he found those who were selling cattle, sheep and pigeons, and others who were sitting at tables exchanging money. 15He made a whip from cords and drove them all out of the Temple grounds, the sheep and cattle as well. He knocked over the money-changers’ tables, scattering their coins; 16and to the pigeon-sellers he said, “Get these things out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?” 17(His talmidim (disciples) later recalled that the Tanakh (Holy Scripture) says, “Zeal for your house will devour me.” ) 18So the Judeans confronted him by asking him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove you have the right to do all this?” 19Yeshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20The Judeans said, “It took 46 years to build this Temple, and you’re going to raise it in three days?” 21But the “temple” he had spoken of was his body. 22Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his talmidim (disciples) remembered that he had said this, and they trusted in the Tanakh (Holy Scripture) and in what Yeshua (Jesus) had said.

23Now while Yeshua (Jesus)was in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem at the Pesach (Passover)  festival, there were many people who “believed in his name” when they saw the miracles he performed. 24But he did not commit himself to them, for he knew what people are like — 25that is, he didn’t need anyone to inform him about a person, because he knew what was in the person’s heart.

From <https://www.bible.com/bible/1275/jhn.2>

*Words in parenthesis are English for the Hebrew added by me.

Someone’s always looking for a sign, miracles, supernatural experiences as if they are necessary to validate who God is.  He knows the heart whether it seeks Him or the event that is big enough for news!! He did not commit himself to them…knew their hearts.  This is told to the believer as a gentle warning.  God loves us but he is looking for heart commitment, not followers of the sensational .  The miracles stop and the people leave. With heart commitment, people don’t need miracles to stay.  They enjoy them with everyone else, but the Master is who they take real, lasting joy in.

Pray – May I never be guilty of turning my temple into anything other than God’s house, a house of prayer.

Repent – I repent for taking my temple and using it for my pleasure or gain rather than giving it to you wholeheartedly.

Ask – Take up residence in this temple, make it clean and useful for Your kingdom.

Yes – Give praise to the name of Adonai!  Servants of Adonai, give praise!  You who stand in the house of Adonai, in the courtyards of the house of our God, praise Yahweh, for Adonai is good; sing to His name, because it is pleasant.

Source:  John 2 and Psalms 135:1-3

 

Where is God?

 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans

Comments, thoughts and reflections welcome.

Psalm 11

To the choirmaster. Of David. In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,

for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;

if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.

Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

 

If the foundations are destroyed …are we not as a nation in the process of destroying our foundations? There is a steady flow of denying God as our refuge and a turning to our own abilities and strengths. To be sure those abilities and strengths are from God for all things come from him. The danger to us is in the denial of who he is and what he does. As a nation we move from God as our basis for all things to mankind as the basis for all things; or nature as the basis for all things. How we view life and all it encompasses is crucial to the quality of life. Remove the foundations and the building collapses into rubble; something no longer of use, needing to be cleaned up. For many, the removal of God has caused their life to collapse into rubble and the joy of living is gone.

“…if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Whatever mankind does, God remains. For those of us who guard our heart, keep the mind of Christ, continue to place our faith and trust in our Creator, life retains its joy regardless of the circumstances around us. He is our refuge; he walks and talks with us. Adonai is in His holy temple. Know not that you are his temple? He lives in us.

“…The LORD is in his holy temple…”

Where will we run to? To whom will we run?

“…In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,…”

God is righteous; we possess that righteousness and we will see him.

For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

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Rest not wrath…

Ezekiel 20:30-38

30 Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Are you defiling yourselves in the manner of your fathers, and committing harlotry according to their abominations? 31 For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. So shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you. 32 What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’

33 “As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord GOD.

37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

Pasted from <http://www.blueletterbible.org/tools/printerFriendly.cfm?b=Eze&c=20&v=1&t=NKJVP>

“the sacrifice of your sons in the fire.” 

This seems to connect to present day death of the unborn , sacrificed so the parent can continue their lifestyle unhindered.  It shows a strong sense of self; self-love, self-desire, self-guidance.  God calls it defiling self in worship to idols.  The search for personal happiness, success, pride at the expense of others is so anti-God.

“We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world…”

Much like the statement children would use.  There is no thought of consequences.  There is no consideration for others or the love of God.  The result of these actions is to bring the wrath of a holy God.

“I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me.” 

Strong words to take note of.  Do we know enough of the nature of God and the Words he has spoken to consider our own actions and words?  Are we witnesses of his love, toward us and others?  O to be sure, we are in the stress-free life of resting in his love and care rather than under his wrath.  When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word…We find peace not judgment, rest not wrath, joy not sorrow – a peace, rest, and joy the unbelieving world cannot know and we cannot explain.  But it is there…

“Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

Good over evil…a true focus

Romans 12:9-2

 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;  distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Question: do our Christian lists of do’s and don’ts reflect this passage?  Do those lists look like the love in this?  Or, like the Pharisees, have we overstepped the principles given to add legalistic requirements for fellowship with fellow Christians?  Are these ‘requirements’ a hindrance to the gospel by setting up in the minds of believers and non-believers alike a set of behaviors that have become an expectation for entrance into the Christian walk?  Is the unbelieving world justified in some of their criticisms concerning the believer?  In so doing have we become exclusionary, braggarts, judgmental, and harsh?  All opposite of what is written here!  Has the rest of humanity adopted this same list to judge us by?  In so doing, have we distorted the truth in the message of the gospel and given reasons for avoidance of association with messengers of the gospel?
Perhaps we should check our personal and corporate creeds to evaluate if they include the following:
1. sincere love
2. devotion to one another
3. brotherly love
4. honoring one another above ourselves
5. zeal – for the gospel, not for changing others
6. spiritual fervor – focused on the Lord who does the work of change
7. serving the Lord
8. joyful
9. hopeful
10. prayerful
11. sharing
12. generous
13. caring for one another as the need arises
14. hospitable
15. bless rather than curse
16. empathetic
17. harmonious
18. humble
19. peaceful
20. allow God to avenge any wrongs
Wow!   not much room for the list of don’t drink, smoke, cuss or associate with those who do!  The focus is on the good not the evil.  Are we looking at the white elephant? or are we focused on the underlying principles that will allow the Spirit of God to dictate what is right behavior and wrong behavior for the individual?  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Knowing makes the difference…

Romans 7:7-13

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.  I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

Essentially the, sin exists whether or not I recognize it.  And without knowledge, I am condemned, yet with knowledge I am condemned but now seek a way to be free of the condemnation.  So the law brought knowledge and a desire to be free of the sin.  But the law was simply a provider of knowledge.  It could not save.  Christ’s blood is the only sacrifice that covers the sin.  Once I realize that, I am free and now I live freed from the curse of death.  And now the question comes – what does my life look like now?  Is there evidence I have acknowledged my sin, my guilt and received my salvation?  Has it made a difference in me?  It should.  I am liberated from the stress of sin.  I am free to love, seek the good of others and for others, evidence all the fruit that comes from this freedom; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.  Now my words are spoken in love and kindness.  Now I am free to not take offense.  Now I have confidence in who I am, not in myself, but in Him, for He is the reason I have this freedom.

Scattered…opposed…sharing…joy

Acts 8:4-8

Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the  city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.  And there was great joy in that city.

“…those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. …”  And God’s will was done.  Jesus said go… and now under duress they were going.  What first looks to be a bad situation is reaping souls for God’s kingdom.  Wherever they went they shared the message Christ brought, they taught what He taught and they brought the presence of the Holy Spirit.  God’s kingdom expanded for it was received with great joy.  God knows who is ready to receive.  Many times we do not, it is only for us to be faithful to share, teach, model the presence of His Spirit.  And the fellowship grew and the fellowship of believers today will grow.  We possess knowledge of living, a manner of living not known by many.  It comes from the Word of God and His presence and its fruit in our lives gets the attention of others who “…with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip,…” or as another translation expresses it; they all paid close attention to what he said.  We possess the Spirit of God who gives knowledge and understanding.  We can share what we have wherever we are and now it is spread around the world continuously via the Internet.  God’s Word is powerful and brings change to those who hear and receive, change that is beneficial.  Let us not weary of the sharing.  Let us not be hindered by the opposition rather be strengthened by the opposition in our resolve to continue to share what we have received.  Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give to you, in the Name of Jesus, rise up and walk.  Walk in His Word, strength and power.

History repeats and we don’t listen…remember…

Acts 7:39-47

…whom our fathers would not obey, but rejected. And in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And they made a calf in those days, offered sacrifices to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets:

‘Did you offer Me slaughtered animals and sacrifices during forty years in the wilderness,

O house of Israel?

You also took up the tabernacle of Moloch,

And the star of your god Remphan,

Images which you made to worship;

And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’

 

“Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,  which our fathers, having received it in turn, also brought with Joshua into the land possessed by the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David, who found favor before God and asked to find a dwelling for the God of Jacob. But Solomon built Him a house.

 Rejecting God for lack of memory?  Hardness of hearts?  Selfish focus?  Honoring the creation rather than the creator?”…rejoiced in the works of their own hands. …”  Do we see this yet today?  They had witnesses, they had signs and wonders, they had God’s presence and still turned away to follow the creations of their hands.  And our world is full of those who give honor and glory to the creation of our hands, rather than to the God who gave to us the ability to create, the mind to think and reason.

 God reaches out, demonstrates His power and still mankind forgets and looks inward to himself.  Impatient, they honor what their own hands have created.  This is still true today.  We look at what we have accomplished, give no credit to God and praise our own achievements, not giving glory to God.  Each time mankind goes this direction, God sends punishment.  Our take-away then is to take joy in the Lord always.  What we do, we do only as He gives grace.  He is our supply and source.  Any skills we possess are his creation.  When He is honored, His blessings follow just as surely as when he is not, punishment follows.

 Men and women continue to reject God forgetting who He is and what He does.  In the remembering, we keep Him always before us and so are blessed.  There is a place that is comforting even in the middle of crisis of the soul, that place that acknowledges our God, creator of the Universe and us.  It is a place where His peace reigns and carries us above the turmoil of the crisis.  Let’s continue to seek that place, remembering His good works and rise above the temporary events of this life.

Ask, receive…joy

John 16:17-24

Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?  Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.  A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 Birthing something new involves pain of various degrees: a sense the labor and pain will never end,  fear can be a factor for those in it for the first time, regret for being involved in the process.  Once the new has been revealed, whether it is a child or anything else, the labor and all it entailed is forgotten.  It wasn’t taken away, it still existed but the joy of the baby erases the pain, labor, fear and regret.  Jesus relates this to the birth of the new covenant.  There was all of this: pain, labor, fear, regret and more but with His resurrection, with the knowledge of what He was bringing to the world came joy that covered it all.  While we are in the process of working for the kingdom of God, he promises us we will receive anything we ask of the Father in His name.  He also promises a time when we will no longer ask him for anything.  What will make the difference?  We will have received and our joy will be complete.  The birth will have taken place, the new will have been revealed.  Can this be applied to many different situations?  Absolutely.  And we can move forward in the knowledge He leads, we can ask and will receive and there will come a day when our joy will be complete.

Impact others

John 4: 39-42

And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of His own word.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

 Are we impacting our world as this woman did hers?  Can we in essence say to those in our world…”Come, see a man who told me everything I did”?  In a relationship, we reveal ourselves to another and they reveal themselves to us.  There is an intimate exchange of knowledge and understanding of one another.  When that relationship brings us joy, we share what we are learning, we share our experiences with others in our life-circle, so that they  too can get to know what we experience.  So it is with our relationship with the Lord.  As this relationship deepens and we gain more and more from it, we cannot help but share with others in our personal circle.  How blessed are we?  Enough to continue to share, in the hope that others can also enjoy what we enjoy?