My Baby’s Birthday!!

Verse of the Day 2020-08-08

Daily Prayer for August 9

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20, NIV

Lord our God and our Father, we praise you because we are allowed to have community together in the name of Jesus, who has opened our eyes to see you and who has promised to be among us when we are gathered in his name. May our hearts remain unshadowed, even when our lives seem to grow difficult and the future looks dark. Protect us whenever we are tempted and have battles to fight. Deliver us. Make us free people who know we belong to you and who are allowed while still on earth to have a share in eternal life. Amen.

 

Today’s Daily Dig

The most precious things of life are near at hand, without money and without price. Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door.… So, on a large scale, the student and lover of nature has this advantage over people who gad up and down the world seeking some novelty or excitement: he has only to stay at home and see the procession pass. The great globe swings around to him like a revolving showcase; the change of the seasons is like the passage of strange and new countries; the zones of the earth, with all their beauties and marvels, pass one’s door and linger long in the passing.

Source: John Burrough’s America

 

 

 

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US Christians increasingly departing from core truths of Christian worldview, survey finds

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter

A new survey shows that the majority of Americans no longer believe that Jesus is the path to salvation and instead believe that being a good person is sufficient.

As part of the ongoing release of the Arizona Christian University-based Cultural Research Center’s American Worldview Inventory, the latest findings — exploring perceptions of sin and salvation — from George Barna, the group’s director, show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns.

Sixty-eight percent who embrace that notion identify as Christians, including 56% of self-described evangelicals and 62% of those who identify as Pentecostals. Sixty-seven percent of mainline Protestants and 77% of Catholics also embraced that idea, the findings show.

Slightly over half of Christian respondents said they believe someone can attain salvation by “being or doing good,” a figure that includes, 46% of Pentecostals, 44% of mainline Protestants, 41% of evangelicals, and 70% of Catholics.

In addition to the viewpoint that eternal salvation can be earned, survey results show that 58% of Americans believe that no absolute moral truth exists and that the basis of truth are factors or sources other than God. Seventy-seven percent said that right and wrong is determined by factors other than the Bible. Fifty-nine percent said that the Bible is not God’s authoritative and true Word and 69% said people are basically good.

“If you look at some of the dominant elements in the American mind and heart today, as illuminated by the Inventory, most people believe that the purpose of life is feeling good about yourself,” Barna said in a statement sent to The Christian Post.

“Most people contend that all faiths are of equal value, that entry into God’s eternal presence is determined by one’s personal means of choice and that there are no absolutes to guide or grow us morally.

“That philosophy of life contradicts a fundamental basis of what may be the two most significant documents to the longevity and success of America – the Bible and the Constitution of the United States. Those documents agree that this nation will only be healthy and fruitful if it is populated by moral people. By abandoning our moral standards and traditions, and replacing them with inclusive and conditional preferences, we’re losing the foundations that have enabled the ‘American experiment’ to succeed for more than two centuries. We can only hope that our critical moral institutions — particularly the family and the church — will wake up and help the nation to get back on track.”

The results are from a January 2020 survey among a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults, with a maximum sampling error of approximately plus or minus 2 percentage points, based on the 95% confidence interval.

 

 

          ~~~Dion Todd

A Healthy Body

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot would say, ‘Because I’m not the hand, I’m not part of the body,’ it is not therefore not part of the body. If the ear would say, ‘Because I’m not the eye, I’m not part of the body,’ it’s not therefore not part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the smelling be? 1 Corinthians 12:14 WEB

The human body is made up of many parts, and each part is made up of many cells, and each cell is made of even smaller parts like chromosomes. All of it works together in harmony to maintain a healthy body, and every part has its own job to do. It’s an amazing creation and balance.

If you could interview them, different parts of the body would never agree on which job is the most important, because they fully believe it is what they are called to do. For example, the heart pumps blood, while the lungs pump oxygen. To each of them, their job is the most important part of existence, and thankfully they do not try and do the other’s job. If the heart started pumping air, or the lungs started pumping blood, the body would die. We need both the heart and lungs doing their own job for the body to live.

Many times in our walk with Jesus we meet other Christians that just don’t think like we do. One is deep into politics and government, another is an intercessor, another is into mission work, another is a chaplain, while another is focused on prison ministry, others are involved in music, or something else entirely. The list is diverse and unending. It is supposed to be this way. It takes all of us to make the body of Christ work.

When we attend our local church, the welcome team greets us at the door, people work at the coffee counter, in the children’s church, in the nursery, in the praise team, some run the sound, lighting, projectors, recordings, cameras, another speaks a message, others are on the prayer team. It takes everyone working together to build a healthy community.

As Paul told us, we are all a part of the body of Christ and one part is not more important than another. There is no top or bottom in God’s eyes, as we are all His children. Jesus told us that the greatest among you, will be your servant (Mark 10:43, Matthew 23:11). Wherever you find yourself, work like you are working directly for God and you will be rewarded (Colossians 3:23).

Do not get sidetracked by people that try to turn you away from following your own calling, so you can follow theirs. People will live your life for you if you let them, but they are most likely from another part of the body. They cannot do the job that God created for you, nor will they understand your desire to do it. I grew up in the country and people never understood my fascination with computers, but God had a plan later that required it. You will never be satisfied doing what they are meant to do for each of us are unique in our own gifts and our calling in life.

Find what you are passionate about, that seems to come naturally, and follow that. Don’t strive to be like someone else. The greatest thing you can do, is to truly be yourself. Serve your heart out wherever you are, and God will raise you up in due time. If you are washing dishes, be the best dish washer the world has ever seen, and God may make you the manager.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please put me where I need to be and help me to recognize the gifts that You have placed in my life. Stir me up and wake me up. Guide me onto the path that You have laid out for me and make it so clear that I know that it can only be You, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen!

Bible Fun Fact: The middle verse in the Bible: Psalm 103:2-3.

 

 

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What Jesus Did! ‘Worship and Honor in the Real World’

Then [the disciples] brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it.

Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.

— Mark 11:7-8 NLT

Key Thought

While an unknown owner supplied the colt on which Jesus rode (see Mark 11:1-6), many in the crowd offered their coats to welcome and honor Jesus as he came into town. Others spread branches showing their honor and respect for the Christ. It is a great moment of worship, celebration, and joy. However, the real test of the crowd’s loyalty came in the days that lay ahead for Jesus. Like Christians who celebrate God’s grace, Jesus’ love, and the Spirit’s power only on Sundays, the real heart of worship was not found in the crowds who looked on Jesus with joyous admiration as he rode the colt into Jerusalem but then wanted him crucified a few days later. Likewise, the real test for us is not in Christian assemblies on Sundays but in the dark hours of trial when our faith is confronted by another, more hostile, crowd. Should we share in the joy of Jesus’ glory with those who share our faith? Absolutely! However, we must realize the real test of that faith and the authenticity of our worship will be determined by what we do when confronted by the darkness and the hostile crowd!

Today’s Prayer

O LORD God Almighty, may my life during the week match my worship words on Sunday. Help me in my heart to realize that what I do each day is an integral part of my worship. I want to honor you with my heart, soul, mind, and strength every day of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Matthew 6:19-21 — "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Psalm 145:5-7 — I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

A Year with Jesus: ‘Wouldn’t It Be Better?’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Today’s verses are from 1 Corinthians. Paul had begun to address the sin and division damaging the holiness and fellowship in the house churches in Corinth. In yesterday’s verses, he wrote about dealing with the problems of illicit sexual relations and the Christians’ boasting about their open-mindedness at allowing it to go on in their fellowship. In today’s verses, Paul addresses the problem of lawsuits that believers were bringing against each other before unbelievers. He emphasizes the embarrassment that such lawsuits were bringing on My spiritual family due to the way that outsiders viewed the church.

Paul tells the Christians why they should prefer to be “ripped off or defrauded” by a fellow believer rather than go to court before unbelievers. He makes some important points about why there shouldn’t be lawsuits between Christians:

  1. Any disagreement believers cannot settle between themselves should be decided by using wise believers in the church family to resolve the issue. Christians should have more wisdom and better values on which to make such a decision. After all, the Father will have Christians judge “heavenly messengers” or angels at the end of time.
  2. Going to unbelievers to decide a legal matter is an embarrassment to the church.
  3. This legal action also places Christians under the authority of those “who have no allegiance to” Me or to My standards of morality and integrity.

The ultimate question you face in these matters is really pretty simple. Are you seeking My kingdom and My righteousness (Matthew 6:33) or are you trying to store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21)? When a person’s heart is more concerned about keeping what he or she has than it is about the good of My kingdom, then that person is living in darkness, and My following words of warning are relevant:

The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray — that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.
(Matthew 6:22-23)

I want to encourage you, as Paul does, to find a way to solve your differences and not go to court (Luke 12:57-59). Paul said it well:

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded?

If you cannot work out a disagreement between yourselves, seek the help of wise brothers and sisters in Christ to help you come to a fair understanding (Matthew 18:16). Remember that there are more important things than your getting what you believe is fair in such matters. One of those more important things is the reputation of the Christian community among unbelievers, and another is not placing yourself under the authority of someone who does not live by My values of truth, honesty, and integrity.

Verses to Live

There are times when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree, disappoint each other, or even sin against each other. To help resolve these disputes, seek the wisdom of wise believers. Don’t go to court with each other before unbelievers and embarrass the church!

Here’s another troubling issue. If you have a grievance against another follower of Jesus, do you have the audacity to bring that brother or sister into the civil courts rather than submitting yourselves to the authority of God’s people? Don’t you know that His people are destined to judge the world? If you have the authority to judge the world, can’t you handle these small matters and render a better judgment than the civil courts? Further, don’t you know that we are destined to judge the heavenly messengers? So if we are to exercise authority in the heavenly realms, can’t we take care of the conflicts that arise in this life? To put it another way, if you are asking the courts to adjudicate your mundane conflicts, aren’t you placing your problems under the authority of judges who have no standing within the church? My words should embarrass you. Is it possible that you have no one among you with the wisdom to mediate between two siblings? So one brother sues another brother in public and drags the dispute before outsiders who have no allegiance to Jesus?

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn’t it be better to be ripped off or defrauded? In fact, you are guilty of ripping off and defrauding your own brothers and sisters, not the other way around.
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8)

Response in Prayer

Father, help me as I work on my heart to love You, Your people, and the reputation of Your people. I want to care about the reputation of Your people in the eyes of the world more than I love myself and my stuff. Help me, please dear LORD, for the world pulls at my heart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Plough Weekly

What can the Radical Reformation tradition teach about faith and politics in an election year? The heart of Plough’s spring issue was on just this question. Between the day it went to press and the day it launched online, the pandemic changed everything, and we quickly turned our attention to walking alongside readers through this new reality. And yet, in terms of the essential question of faith and politics, the pandemic changed nothing at all. As we close in on the US election, with the two major party conventions later this month, the moment has arrived to deeply consider how to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

“Questions of public justice should matter deeply to Christians,” writes Peter Mommsen, but there’s an essential incompatibility between politics and faithful witness. Emperor Constantine, the first ruler to embrace Christianity, straddled this divide by postponing his baptism till his deathbed. In the centuries that followed, the meaning of this incompatibility was revealed in the extreme: Christians killed other Christians under the church-blessed laws of Christian states. The Anabaptist movement was and is an effort to recover the tradition of the first Christians, who understood that “the church, not the state, embodies God’s will for history.”

“The church community as a practical manifestation of the coming kingdom of God is what speaks most loudly in the world.” In “The Bruderhof and the State,” the community’s General Counsel, John Huleatt, very practically lays out its beliefs – what civic functions members take part in, what are matters of reasoned disagreement and what are nonnegotiables, what their stand has cost them under various political regimes, and how each one of these convictions is driven by “active love of God and neighbor.”

Anabaptists almost never seek power, as this history by John D. Roth explains, but in 1990s Paraguay, a good-faith exception was made. The new government earnestly invited Mennonites to help shape the future of the country, even contribute to the new constitution. How could anyone turn down such an opportunity, with all the good that could be done? And good was done indeed . . . but within a few years, the mixed results of this experiment reaffirmed the wisdom of engaging in political witness from the outside, “not primarily as citizens, or as representatives of political parties, or as a lobby group shouting to be heard, but as ambassadors of the Prince of Peace who came as a servant, welcomed children and foreigners into his circle, and taught us to love our enemies.”

For a non-Anabaptist take on faith and politics, read Michael Wear’s piece over at Breaking Ground: “In politics, as in all things, our call is to be faithful. To stay awake. To walk with those who face injustice.”

Sneak a peek of our autumn issue on solidarity, out next week, with Rosalind Stevenson’s explanation of the cover design, which “signifies a willingness to come together, to change, and to learn from one another. What’s also important is that the different components are bound together by something beyond themselves – a golden cord that comes down and encircles them, and keeps moving, the ongoing work of God.”

If you’re enjoying Plough (we hope you are!), we have a special offer for you. New subscribers to the magazine will receive a free print copy of our new graphic novel of The Grand Inquisitor, as well as free access to all our ebooks. Learn more here, and thanks so much for reading.

Till next week,
Caitrin
P.S. Mom, how do you make friends with a bird? This whimsical question from Aarik Danielsen’s son leads into the world of a young Flannery O’Connor and her assorted fowl. But this innocent exploration opens into more complicated questions about how she spoke of black Americans – and how they spoke of her.

When the Other Has Wings

“There’s a woman I love, she’s really hostile, Flannery O’Connor, she’s really really good,” said Toni Morrison, who devotes an essay in The Origin of Others to a race-centered story in which “O’Connor exhibits with honesty and profound perception her understanding of the stranger, the outcast, the Other.”

This understanding of the Other is the first step toward an ideal described by the late writer Brennan Manning, who called Christians to mature “in tenderness to the extent that we are for others – all others – to the extent that no human flesh is strange to us, to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love, to the extent that for us there are no ‘others.’”

It isn’t that O’Connor’s sin of racism is absolved by her art. But in her art there are the clues to repentance and redemption. O’Connor, unfazed by the blemishes she saw in other people, would be the first to admit that her own blemishes must be reckoned with as well. Like chickens, she seized us by the neck and trained us to stare – at our neighbors and ourselves in the mirror. She wrote in an essay, “Most of us have learned to be dispassionate about evil, to look it in the face and find, as often as not, our own grinning reflections with which we do not argue, but good is another matter. Few have stared at that long enough to accept that its face too is grotesque, that in us the good is something under construction.”

 

 

Five Ways to Make Hard Times Better

When the hard times of life descend, leaving a trail of destruction, how do you deal with them? No matter who you are: parent, grandparent, single or senior,  writer or teacher, blue collar or white collar, here are five ways to make hard times better:

1. Give thanks for what you still have.

Job knew about hard times. He lost his possessions (7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 599 female donkeys)and all His children (10 of them) in one day. Soon after that, he was struck with incurable boils from head to toe. (Job 1-2). What could he possibly give thanks for?

His wife? Well, that’s debatable, considering how she reacted to all of it: “Curse God and die!” Friends? Um, maybe not. Their advice would not encourage a grateful heart. But Job did have God on his side, the One who considered him as a man of integrity. He refused to blame God for anything.

2. Give thanks for what you can still do.

I’m still amazed at Nick Vujicic’s life and story. This man, born without limbs, will more than inspire you and stir up a heart of gratitude for the things you can still do, even in hard times. Sort of makes our circumstances or complaints fade, huh?

Just a note of thanks here, too, for all who have pitched in to help during the coronavirus pandemic. In a thousand different ways, you have sewn, you have given, you have cared, you have baked, and you have prayed..and so much more. Be thankful for what God has allowed you to do and what you still can do to make a difference in these hard times.

3. Trust God to do what you cannot do.

The secret lies not in our strength, but in God’s. That’s true in Nick’s life, and it will be true for us. Looking to Jesus for our strength takes our eyes off our own weaknesses and difficulties. The apostle Paul learned that same truth: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13, NIV).

4. Pray for others you know who are also enduring hard times.

It’s not always easy to think about others when we’re hurting, because we can always find someone in a worse condition than ourselves. And we don’t always want to consider that–right now. But hard times are not occasions for a pity party, but an opportunity for an empathy party. In these pandemic times, we are all being affected with loss in one way or another. Praying for others focuses our attention upward and outward, rather than inward.

5. Rest in the Lord.

I know, easy for me to say. I haven’t walked in your shoes. But you haven’t walked in mine, either. Pain is pain. And we’ve all been there or will be, someday. It never helps to compare ourselves to others using a “my situation is worse than yours,” kind of mentality. What does help is to celebrate that God is still in charge; He still loves us; and He wants us to cast all our cares on Him. In other words, to rest in Him and in His Word (Psalm 37:7).

Like He did for Job, God may restore what we lost in this life, or He may wait until eternity to do that. But one day, the temporary will pass away. No more hard times. No more sadness. No more pain. But until then, we can contribute to making the hard times better. Both in this life and the next, Psalm 16:11 says in God’s presence, there is joy, fullness of joy. What a beautiful promise!

I love this translation of a verse I mentioned earlier, Philippians 4:13 (MSG):

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Because if we have Jesus, we have everything.

My Personal Prayer for You

Lord, You hold the keys to this world, to these times, and to our hearts. We cast all our cares on You, because You do care for us. Forgive us for trying to make it through hard times by ourselves, or for not turning to You for the help we need. You are the only One who can truly heal us from the disasters that befall our lives and our world. And we bow before You, seeking Your face and admitting our weakness.

In You we find strength, rest, and renewal. You are our only Hope. Thank You for the things we still have, and the things we can still do. No matter how hard or how tough the times, we are blessed knowing and loving You.

Day-votedly Yours,

Rebecca

It’s Your Turn

What about you? What has helped to make hard times better for you? How do you get through tough times? How are you coping in this pandemic? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. I will never share your name or info with anyone without your permission.

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ChristNOW

Puppet Master or Chess Master?

How Does King Jesus Reveal His Reign in Your Life?

 

Like Christians everywhere, I’m sure you find great comfort in your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ when you read these words of promise about Jesus in Romans 14 (emphasis added):

To their own master, servants stand or fall.
And they will stand,
for the master is able to make them stand.

Clearly, for all of us who have been brought out of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13), Jesus is our “master”—in fact, he’s the one and only true “Master of the Universe.” Now and forever.

What’s more, Christians agree a day is coming when every knee in all of creation will bow before Jesus, as every tongue in heaven and earth declares him to be Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11).

Redeemed by the Lamb of God, the Church confesses that both this day and on that glorious day, we have

but one Lord, Jesus Christ,
through whom all things came
and through whom we live.
(1 Corinthians 8, emphasis added)

However, there is one facet concerning the lordship of Christ about which there remains considerable debate—and even serious division—among believers. It concerns this question:

HOW FULLY does Jesus exercise his supremacy
in all of life?

Even more specifically, we might ask this:

HOW FULLY does he display his reign
and involve himself in my daily life with him?

Stated more broadly: How much of the history of the world has been determined by the decisions and actions of the human race and how much has been determined by God’s decisive, dominant discharging of his sovereign plan for the ages through the person, work, and reign of his Son, Christ Jesus?

Stated more narrowly: How much of my life is determined by my own choices and responses? On the other hand, how much is shaped by the way God takes charge of my life to advance through Christ his prior purposes for my life that were set in place ages ago?

Essentially, such questions suggest two options to choose from—two perspectives over which the Church has debated for centuries and, unfortunately, sometimes split apart. Sometimes violently.

However, as we go forward into more of Christ, we each must decide. Every person must render a verdict that brings significant implications for how one loves Jesus, trusts him, follows him, serves him, and proclaims him.

My goal in this blog post is to simplify these two options for you by exploring them as two metaphors: PUPPET MASTER vs. CHESS MASTER.

As I do, ask yourself: Which one comes closest to how I currently view and value the supremacy of Christ in my own walk with him?

OPTION #1

The reigning Son of God acts as your

PUPPET MASTER

Throughout Church history, one camp of sincere Christians has held to the conclusion that Jesus displays his supremacy most fully in the lives of his followers—and in the course of the entire world—by an approach that most resembles a puppeteer.

This metaphor pictures the reign of King Jesus as comprehensively engaged with, in command of, and dominate over every detail of every facet of every bit of human existence and experience. He is thoroughly in charge. Nothing lies outside what he wills.

One passage, among many, that leans toward this image is Ephesians 1:20-23, which says:

God raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (emphasis added).

That is to say, God has chosen to display the absolute nature of his power by appointing his Son to be sovereign Lord, given all authority in heaven and earth. The Son embodies and invokes God’s final say, demonstrating divine omnipotence as his reign overrules and overrides everything and everyone.

In other words, unbounded in grace and mercy, with superior wisdom and insight, claiming unmitigated omnipotence and unyielding righteous resolve—in keeping with God’s redemptive purposes sealed from all eternity—Jesus continually “pulls the strings” (as it were) in terms of how we and all earth’s peoples live and move and have our beings—past, present, and future.

Therefore, whatever unfolds in my life and yours—including every decision, every action, every word out of our mouths, and every direction and outcome of our daily journeys—comes to pass under his sweeping jurisdiction, his undistracted supervision, and his unabated control.

Despite how “free” we may think we are, Jesus rules from his throne every minute, ordaining and orchestrating in innumerable ways, most of which we are unaware.

Option #1 suggests that the best image to capture this phenomenon is to envision a puppet on a stage. The little guy seems to be acting on its own. But what the audience doesn’t see are the strings that an invisible puppeteer behind the curtain is tugging to make the figurine look alive.

In somewhat the same style, our Lord Jesus Christ fulfills his kingly role as a master decider, composer, and conductor of whatever is going on anywhere at any time with anyone—including what is transpiring around me as well as inside me.

Just as he does throughout the whole earth, the Son of God exercises his supremacy in my sphere of existence so fully that nothing happens to me or with me except by his desire, his design, his decree, and with his direct, “hands-on” involvement.

Moment by moment, all peoples and nations, all the animations in creation, all events large and small in human enterprises, the flow of history as well as its culmination—ALL THINGS, whether personal or cosmic in nature—take their cue from a divinely predetermined, predesigned, and preordained script written with our Redeemer as the main theme and the central character.

Many would point to these verses in Colossians 1 to back up that conclusion:

We look at this Son and see . . . God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment . . . He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. (Colossians 1:15-18, The Message, emphasis added).

In other words, the entire storyline was laid out by the triune God before anything was ever made. Now, in time and space, God’s program is being implemented perfectly and unrelentingly under the sovereign sway of the Son of God—page by page, word for word, according to the sacred, ages-old playbook.

Reflective of the way a puppet master can make a marionette dance a particular jig by how he raises and lowers the strings attached to its limbs, even so, Jesus, as the Lord of your life, is the real explanation for how you end up “dancing before the Lord.”

The Puppet Master in Scripture

Let’s look at some additional biblical support. Paul confessed to the Corinthians:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10, emphasis added).

In Ephesians 2, Paul writes this about all of us:

God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved . . . and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (vs. 4-9, emphasis added).

Or again, in Romans 8:28-32 (Phillips, emphasis added), it says:

Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons. In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us?

The show of all-inclusive sovereignty expressed in these passages seems to be the kind Jesus frequently highlights in the book of Revelation—such as his sweeping claim to operate currently and actively as the ruler of all the kings of the earth (1:5) or when he wraps up the drama of the consummation of history by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (22:13). He’s there at the start, he’s there at the finish line, and he’s there to ensure the outcome by managing every moment in between.

As Jesus informed his disciples in the upper room, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, emphasis added). That appears to be an indisputable word on the subject, doesn’t it?

Scores of other such passages in the Old and New Testaments suggest a similar interpretation of how God displays his sovereignty through the lordship of Jesus—verses that cause some to liken Jesus’ reign to something akin to a puppet master.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “puppet master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

On the other hand, you might want to consider this:

OPTION #2

The reigning Son of God acts as your

Chess Master

Other Christians choose to live out their walk with Jesus in the security of trusting him to be for them a chess master rather than a puppet master.

In other words, for many Jesus followers, the reality of his supremacy is revealed for them most often by how he is able to combine a measure of their own freedom of choice and action with his ultimate claim to hold unswerving sway in all things, assuring that his intended outcome for all peoples will prevail in the end.

When our lives or our world starts to get off track, they are sure Jesus knows how to “recalculate” an alternative, like your car’s GPS does for you all the time, in order to get life back on the road so that all things end up at their ordained destination—set at his feet for final disposal.

They believe that as Lord of all, Jesus is perfectly able to anticipate and then strategically engage for his own glory every action we take. In fact, in his supremacy, he has the inexhaustible capacity to do so in the face of the countless motives and moves made by people worldwide minute by minute.

Those who hold to Option #2 envision Jesus taking charge across the earth the way a world champion chess master takes charge of a chess game—and gradually takes mastery over his opponent in the process and defeats him.

It is a known fact that a world-class chess player reaches his or her superior level of expertise over many years as they become more and more proficient in the ability to foresee and then outfox their opponent’s game plan—incredibly within the opening gambits of the match.

Furthermore, most champions can predict their opponent’s intended moves as far as ten moves or more past where the game rests at any given moment. This is due to the champ’s incisive intelligence plus decades of study, preparation, and experience.

A chess master comes to the game confident that before long he will be able to compel the other player to move his chessman precisely where the champ intended them to wind up from the beginning—even though his opponent was free to place his pieces where he thought best all along the way.

If such an extraordinary talent can be achieved by frail, finite human minds, consider this:

  • How much more should this be true for the Son of God who is exalted to the throne of heaven, given all authority in heaven and on earth, in whom everything finds its ultimate place in his forcefully advancing kingdom?
  • How much more is our Lord Jesus supremely capable of foreknowing and preplanning and outmaneuvering everything and everyone at every moment, in order to achieve a perfect outcome of every good plan and purpose God established in his Son from eternity past—never threatened in the least by the liberty he gives us to make choices and take actions for a time?
  • How much more will the King of kings gain the victory, in matters large or small, simply by foreseeing and outwitting every real and potential action and reaction in the universe—including all desires of every heart, all decisions of every will, and all actions of every being?
  • How much more, in his infinite, omnipotent wisdom, should the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” established on his cosmic throne, be able to stay ahead of and on top of the combined sum of every desire, decision, and deed in every part of the earth—doing so while simultaneously outthinking, outflanking, and outsmarting every “play” from the other side thus causing creation and history—and me!—to keep flowing toward the fulfillment of his everlasting blueprint?

Don’t miss this core assumption about the “chess master” view of Jesus’ lordship: Those who hold to Option #2 believe all of his non-negotiable engagements with us are going on while at the same time God allows those made in his image—believers and unbelievers alike, sinners that we all are—to retain a measure of freedom to think, choose, and act according to the dictates of our hearts and consciences.

Of course, I state this with the caveat that “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34)—which means our fallen human race has only a measure of “freedom”—no more than the limited prerogatives any slave has who must ultimately give an account to their owner at the end of the day.

The Chess Master in Scripture

Again, there are scores of passages to buttress this position. Let’s look at two Old Testament passages that the New Testament quotes as fulfilled in the reign of Christ today. They seem to point to the “chess master” metaphor.

In Psalm 2, we read about rulers and nations “freely” choosing to rebel against God’s sovereignty. But God laughs at their efforts because he knows he has other “moves” up his sleeves (so to speak) that will outmaneuver these sinners and finalize things just as he wants them to be under the reign of his Son—the Chess Master. Here’s a portion (emphasis added):

The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,
“Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs . . .
saying, “I have installed my king
on Zion, my holy mountain” . . .
I will make the nations your inheritance,
the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron . . .
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
and your way will lead to your destruction . . .
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Notice the combination: There’s a measure of free choice—to rebel or to return—on one side of the “chessboard” combined with the confidence in heaven that finally everything will come out exactly as God has intended through and for his Son.

Or, look at Psalm 110, the most frequently quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. It says in part (emphasis added):

The LORD says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
The LORD will extend your mighty
scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.

Here we see the balance between Jesus’ sovereignty (as the one God has set at his right hand to reign, which began with Jesus’ ascension) and the ability of others to make choices on their own—whether to resist the king or to “willingly” join his army.

Notice, at the same time, how competently and confidently the King prevails. There’s a process in motion that ultimately will make his enemies fully submit (footstool). Until that process has worked its way through, our Lord Jesus sustains its forward movement every day, not by dominating or manipulating the multitude of moves by the opposition but rather by carrying out his kingdom’s purpose “in the midst” of an active revolt that he allows to freely continue for a season.

Finally, observe that those who see the winning side of the battle, rally to the king, freely choosing to sign up and get involved with him—the Chess Master.

As with Option #1, there are many other passages that would seem to suggest that Option #2, the metaphor of a chess master, provides a credible biblical view of the supremacy of Christ worth carefully weighing. Here’s one more, found in Philippians 3:12-15 (emphasis added):

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me . . . I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus . . . And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

But for now, how about you? What do you think?

  1. Does the “chess master” metaphor come anywhere close to what you’ve concluded from Scripture about how Jesus exercises his supremacy today for you and for all?
  2. If you believe it is the more accurate biblical metaphor, how much does that reality actually matter to you at this point in your life?
  3. If it does matter, what are some ways you have seen it manifested recently in your daily walk with him that encourage you?
  4. Finally, how might you expect this perspective on the supremacy of Christ to keep transforming you and your life for him in the coming days?

Would you like to know
which option I chose and why?

For sure, these two perspectives create genuine tension for Jesus followers. Eventually, here’s how I resolved that tension for myself.

As best as I can determine—after carefully weighing the wealth of Bible passages for both options—for me, it comes down to one major issue:

Which view of the supremacy of Christ
appears from my perspective to bring
the GREATEST POSSIBLE GLORY to God’s Son?

Is it that Jesus can and does control everything in unchallenged totality—with nothing transpiring over which he does not retain the final say every day, over which he is not in absolute, unimpeded, all-encompassing control—in order to activate and complete God’s eternal purposes, down to every last detail?

Or does Jesus gain even greater glory because

  • In exercising the full extent of his supremacy, our Lord Jesus can and does outthink, outwit, outmaneuver, and outplay the actions and even the secret intentions of every resident in heaven and on earth?
  • He does this while at the same time honoring the dignity of those created in God’s image by allowing them to fully and freely express themselves to whatever limits fallen sinners can as well as to whatever limits redeemed believers are permitted?
  • Ultimately, he prevails simply by creatively pursuing and achieving every single desire and design and decree of God’s heart, securing every triumph of his kingdom-focused purposes, prophecies, and promises—while also honoring those created in God’s image to exercise a level of freedom (dead in sin as we are) that expresses some of the wonders of that image that remain?
  • He does all of this not only for the whole of creation but also, in fullest measure, for every facet of a believer’s life and destiny in him?

Many years ago, given that alternate outlook, I concluded that Option #2—Jesus as our chess master—brings the GREATEST GLORY to him.

The very thought of that image fills me with wholehearted praise to the living God! I’m called to adore and serve an awesomely majestic, yet unconditionally compassionate Savior, who takes me (and all humankind) so seriously that he refuses to regard our relationship as something “robotic”!

Instead, he chooses a relationship to us where he works for us and with us—and at times around us and ahead of us, and even, as needed, against us.

Freely he engages with us each day with an eye to where the “chess match” will come out for the whole creation (Revelation 21-22). Just as it will be in the Consummation, he wants his interactions with us even now to exhibit a significant measure of respect, reciprocity, cordiality, cooperation, collaboration, and community.

Yet, through it all, we must never forget: At no time, then or now, will the Lord Jesus Christ forfeit one inch of his permanent position as supreme redeemer, heir, and ruler of all things, who never ceases to execute universal authority over a dominion of which there will be no end (Isaiah 9).

So now, it’s over to YOU!

Have you made a choice yet?  #1 or #2? Puppet master or chess master?

To be candid, I have dear Christian friends who would choose Option #1 and do so because they believe that conclusion is the one that will bring the greatest glory to Jesus. Maybe you are one of them. If so, please know that I honor and value that conclusion as well.

Yet, for all of us, let me restate the truth I expressed earlier:

In the end, in order to go forward into more of Christ, each of us must render a verdict. The fact is that how you define the way Christ exercises his supremacy in all things carries significant, lifelong ramifications for how you respond to him day by day—for how you go about loving him, trusting him, following him, serving him, and sharing him with others.

Happily, both “camps” do agree about one major response we can share in together: We always can unite to exult in and praise our glorious Savior King while we work hand in hand to exalt his name and spread his fame throughout a world that desperately needs to submit to his redeeming reign—today more than ever.

As you weigh the options for yourself, take a look at this 11-minute video clip from The Christ Institutes here, where I share my thoughts on “What does the supremacy of Christ really involve?”

In this short video clip, I define a high view of Jesus in fresh ways that I’m certain every Jesus follower—whichever option they choose—will want to celebrate. Together let’s shout “Hallelujah!” to our reigning King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and surrender our lives daily to him!

 


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.

 

 

Personal…

Char Delia Carys1

This is my baby boy, my youngest child, with his two beautiful daughters, Delia and Carys.  His name is Charles and today is his 34th birthday.  He lives in Pennsylvania and I’m in Oklahoma and we haven’t seen each other for a few years, but I’ll share my favorite memory of him with you.  He was about four years old and I awoke one morning to find his crib empty.  He was nowhere in the house, either!  So I went outside to look for him.  At the end of the block was a sort-of cul de sac and that’s where I found him.  He had dressed himself— long-sleeved shirt, shorts, and his Dad’s work boots!  He was so funny looking!!  And, to this day, I still laugh at this memory and it warms my heart…. Happy Birthday, Baby boy of mine!!!!

 

 

 

Humor—

Aunty Acid for 8/9/2020

https://www.facebook.com/maxine/photos/a.167331877944.118063 ...

 

 

Happy Sunday Love Quotes, Images and Funny Meme - Quotes Square

 

 

God First…Then: Super Bowl!

Image result for prayer on Super Bowl Sunday

 

 Daily Prayer for February 2

And those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:10 NIV

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you lead us on all our paths. Together we praise your name. We plead with you, stay with us, especially when the world grows darker. Stay with us and send down your power. Send your power in answer to our prayers. For all people we pray, “Father in heaven, these are our brothers and sisters in spite of their failures and sins.” Help them, O God. May they soon come to recognize who you are, what you do, and what you will still do, so that the whole world can be joyful and all people on earth may know the blessing of being your children. Amen.

 

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Daily Dig for February 2

Blaise Pascal

How few things there are which can be proved! Proofs only convince the mind. Who has ever been able to prove that tomorrow will come, and that we shall die? And what could be more generally believed?…In short, we must rely on faith when the mind has once perceived where truth lies, in order to quench our thirst and color our minds with a faith that eludes us at every moment of the day.

Source: A Third Testament

 

 

   —Dion Todd

The Poppin John

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Hebrews 6:7 ESV

Each spring when we got ready to plant the garden, Dad would break out the old 1940s John Deere tractor we owned. We called it the Poppin’ John because of the way that it sputtered and backfired. Even then it was about 35 years old. He would plow the field and the kids would walk behind and pull out the roots, rocks and anything else that did not belong there. After the field was prepared, we were able to plant and we always had a great garden. We worked together and it took actual work to make it happen.

God is after fruit in your life. He digs deep and brings things to the surface that we like to keep hidden in secret. At that point, we have to deal with it and He will then give you the grace to do so. The weeds and rocks have to be removed from your life or they will choke out what He is trying to grow. The anger, the bitterness and oh so much more that we will not mention in public.

Don’t go on a witch hunt and try and find areas that He has not revealed yet. If you get in front of the tractor you may get run over. Just work with Him and as He reveals things, repent and deal with them one at a time. The work is not easy and most will not do it. This process repeats just like planting the garden year after year. He reveals things, you agree and work with Him without trying to hide it. It is then removed from your life. God will bring forth the fruit of the spirit in your life as you walk with Him, one day at a time.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, reveal the things in my life that need to be dealt with and give me the grace to handle it. Prepare me Lord and take away the weeds, in the name of Jesus I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: James, written around 45 AD, is the oldest book in the New Testament.

 

Verse of the Day—

Image result for Jonah 2:1-2

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

Jonah was disobedient, rebellious, and selfish. He had run from the Lord. He had shunned the Lord’s command. He had endangered the lives of those on the ship where he had tried to hide. Yet even in the middle of his rebellion, God heard his cry and delivered him. If you are in rebellion, if you are seeking to hide some secret and all-consuming sin, please know the Lord wants to ransom and redeem you! Things won’t be easy, but coming back to the Lord means ultimate redemption and deliverance.

My Prayer…

Holy and righteous Father, please forgive me for the times that I am in rebellion to your will. Help me to recognize those times and give me the strength to avoid those temptations. In your grace, dear Father, please not only help me to live as you want me to live but also lead me to someone else who needs to know of your grace and redemption. Please use me to help them escape from their bondage to sin and shame. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Morning, February 2
Without the shedding of blood is no remission. Hebrews (9:22)

This is the voice of unalterable truth. In none of the Jewish ceremonies were sins, even typically, removed without blood-shedding. In no case, by no means can sin be pardoned without atonement. It is clear, then, that there is no hope for me out of Christ; for there is no other blood-shedding which is worth a thought as an atonement for sin. Am I, then, believing in him? Is the blood of his atonement truly applied to my soul? All men are on a level as to their need of him. If we be never so moral, generous, amiable, or patriotic, the rule will not be altered to make an exception for us. Sin will yield to nothing less potent than the blood of him whom God hath set forth as a propitiation. What a blessing that there is the one way of pardon! Why should we seek another?Persons of merely formal religion cannot understand how we can rejoice that all our sins are forgiven us for Christ’s sake. Their works, and prayers, and ceremonies, give them very poor comfort; and well may they be uneasy, for they are neglecting the one great salvation, and endeavouring to get remission without blood. My soul, sit down, and behold the justice of God as bound to punish sin; see that punishment all executed upon thy Lord Jesus, and fall down in humble joy, and kiss the dear feet of him whose blood has made atonement for thee. It is in vain when conscience is aroused to fly to feelings and evidences for comfort: this is a habit which we learned in the Egypt of our legal bondage. The only restorative for a guilty conscience is a sight of Jesus suffering on the cross. “The blood is the life thereof,” says the Levitical law, and let us rest assured that it is the life of faith and joy and every other holy grace.
“Oh! how sweet to view the flowing
Of my Saviour’s precious blood;
With divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God.”

~~~Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

Read Leviticus 4 – 6

Highlights:

The Lord is saying again to Moses: Speak unto the children of Israel (Lev. 4:2). In today’s reading we discover how sin is confronted and how people guilty of sin can approach the holy sinless God. In His marvelous mercy Christ made a way!

And if he be not able (too poor) to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a Sin Offering, and the other for a Burnt Offering (Lev. 5:7).

The Sin Offering was mandatory and had to be offered before any other sacrifice could be made. Each person was required to bring his own animal to the Tabernacle, but only the priest could offer the blood upon the Altar.

In other offerings, the Israelite came as a worshiper; but when making a Sin or Trespass Offering, he came as a confessor. The offerer placed his hands upon the head of the animal as an act of passing his sins to the innocent animal. It was then put to death instead of the sinner, thus paying the price for the sinner’s redemption. It was only then that he was qualified to worship and was allowed to voluntarily present the Burnt Offering, the Meat Offering, and the Peace Offering.

The Sin Offering was a testimony to the fact that man had sinned and that God had provided atonement for sin. It typifies the faith of a sinner who is trusting in the fact that his sins have been borne by another.

These animal sacrifices were no longer required by God after Christ, the Lamb of God, became our Sin Offering when He died on the cross. No one will ever be saved by offering other sacrifices, such as keeping the Golden Rule, doing the best he can, or by joining a good church.

As the Sin Offering was mandatory, so was Christ’s death on the cross. Before we can accept Christ as our Savior, we must recognize that we are sinners.

But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared Me: In Burnt Offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. . . . By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 10:3-6,10).

Thought for Today:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).

Christ Revealed:

Through the body of the young bull which was burned without the camp (Lev. 4:12). This pictures Jesus as He suffered without the gate (Heb. 13:11-12).

Word Studies:

4:20 an atonement, forgiven; 5:2 unclean, defiled as stated in the Law; 5:8 asunder, in two parts; 5:10 manner, law, ordinance; 5:17 bear his iniquity, bear the consequences of his sin; 5:18 thy estimation, valued by you; 6:14 meat, grain; 6:18 statute, ordinance, rule; 6:28 sodden, boiled.

Prayer Suggestion: Pray in one accord with other Christians (Acts 1:14).

 

 

Saint of the Day for Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Image of St. Joan de Lestonnac

St. Joan de Lestonnac

Facts

Feastday: February 2
Patron: of abuse victims, people rejected by religious orders, widows
Birth: 1556
Death: 1640
Author and Publisher – Catholic Online

St. Joan de Lestonnac was born in Bordeaux, France, in 1556. She married at the age of seventeen. The happy marriage produced four children, but her husband died suddenly in 1597. After her children were raised, she entered the Cistercian monastery at Toulouse. Joan was forced to leave the Cistercians when she became afflicted with poor health. She returned to Bordeaux with the idea of forming a new congregation, and several young girls joined her as novices. They ministered to victims of a plague that struck Bordeaux, and they were determined to counteract the evils of heresy promulgated by Calvinism. Thus was formed the Congregation of the Religious of Notre Dame of Bordeaux. In 1608, Joan and her companions received the religious habit from the Archbishop of Bordeaux. Joan was elected superior in 1610, and many miracles occurred at her tomb. She was canonized in 1949 by Pope Pius XII. Her feast day is February 2.

Biography

Early years

De Lestonnac was born in Bordeaux in 1556 to Richard de Lestonnac, a member of the Parlement of Bordeaux, and Jeanne Eyquem, the sister of the noted philosopher, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. She grew up in a time where the conflict between the Protestant reformists and the defenders of the Catholic faith was at its height. This was evident in her own family. While her mother became an enthusiastic Calvinist and tried to persuade her to convert, her father and her uncle Montaigne adhered to the Catholic faith and were her support in remaining a Catholic.[1]

At the age of 17 De Lestonnac married Gaston de Montferrant, with whom she had eight children, three of whom died in infancy. She was married for 24 years when her husband died. This marked the beginning of a very painful period in her life, with the further loss, within seven months, of her father, uncle and eldest son.[1]

Religious life

Following her husband’s death, St. Jeanne De Lestonnac, at the age of 46, and with her children now grown, turned to a contemplative life and entered the Cistercian Monastery in Toulouse where she was given the religious name of Jeanne of Saint Bernard. She found great peace and satisfaction in the monastic life, but, after six months, she became very ill and had to leave the monastery. She then went to live on her estate La Mothe Lusié to recover her health, and where she adopted the lifestyle of a secular dévote, performing many acts of charity, including food and alms distribution, and regularly met with young women of her social class to pray and discuss religious questions. She sought for models of Catholic women to be her guides and cultivated an interest in the lives of Saints Scholastica, Clare of Assisi, Catherine of Siena and Teresa of Avila.[2]

A few years later, in 1605, a plague broke out in Bordeaux. At risk to her own life, De Lestonnac returned to her native city to help care for the sick and suffering in the slums of the city.

Foundress

Lestonnac’s brother, a Jesuit attached to the college in Bordeaux, arranged a meeting between Lestonnac and two Jesuit fathers: Jean de Bordes and François de Raymond. The Jesuits asked de Lestonnac to serve as founder of a new teaching order for young women. They encouraged her to establish for girls in terms of formal education what they were doing for boys.[3] The three decided upon a cloistered community to follow the Benedictine rule, modified to allow sisters to teach. The group gained the approval of Pope Paul V in 1607. The community took the name of the Compagnie de Notre-Dame.[4]

The group purchased an old priory near the Château Trompette,[5] but moved in September 1610, to a larger old monastery on rue du Hâ. They were well-received and financially supported by the city’s elite.[6] The first five members of the new order took their religious vows on December 10, 1610. The community established its first school for girls in Bordeaux. Foundations proceeded in Beziers, Périgueux, and Toulouse through Lestonnac’s personal connections as well as her connections with the Jesuits and Bordelaise political elites.[6] By the time she died in 1640, at the age of 84, 30 houses existed in France.

Legacy

De Lestonnac was beatified in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII and was canonized on May 15, 1949 by Pope Pius XII. As of 2016 her religious order has over 1,450 sisters found in 27 countries throughout Europe, Africa, North America and South America.[7][8]

 

 

What Jesus Did! ‘Blasphemy? I Think Not!’

Jesus knew immediately [that the religious teachers were accusing him of blasphemy], so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

Key Thought

Jesus healed people for many different reasons and under many different circumstances. The bottom line was this: Jesus healed folks because he loved them and wanted to bring them to God. In this instance, however, Jesus was moved by two additional things. First, he saw the faith of this man’s friends, and he was touched by their concern. Second, he was frustrated with the cynicism and opposition from those who were present only to criticize him. They doubted his authority, so he demonstrated it: He healed the man! Then he emphasized that the miracle he had done showed he had the authority to forgive sins. The real challenge for you and me is to recognize that Jesus’ authority doesn’t extend just to his power to teach and command, but also to heal, mend, help, forgive, and bless.

Today’s Prayer

Holy and Almighty LORD of the ages, thank you that your authority was powerfully demonstrated in Jesus. Help me to open my heart to him fully and not only to respond with obedience to Jesus’ commands but also to let him in to nurture and bless me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Unstoppable! ‘We Are Witnesses!’

[Peter continued his sermon:] “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.”

Key Thought

What are you willing to risk your life to say? The apostles had seen Jesus alive after his death. They had eaten with Jesus, seen his scars, heard his voice, and shared in prayer with their risen Lord. Nothing could stop them from speaking about what they had seen and heard from the resurrected Jesus. So, they did what their risen Lord commanded them to do: They were witnesses who shared their testimony about their risen Lord, and they began in Jerusalem on that day of Pentecost. Their witness, their Lord, and their message were all unstoppable!

Today’s Prayer

Father, God of heaven and earth and the all-powerful Creator of the universe, I confess that I forget. I forget how powerful you are. I forget the depth of your grace and mercy. I forget that you have asked me to partner with you in sharing your message with the lost world. So, dear LORD, I ask for your forgiveness and promise to rededicate myself to being a witness for Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I make this promise to Jesus’ glory. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 22:6 — Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Passion for Praise:

Illustration of Revelation 7:10 — And they [the crowd in heaven too great to count] were shouting with a great roar, "Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!"

A Year with Jesus: ‘The ARC of My Grace’

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Many people in your world view My ministry as little more than a traveling miracle show. Many people during My time on earth viewed it in the same way. Nevertheless, I refused to be a traveling miracle show. I refused to do things simply to impress people or just to prove to them how powerful I am. If you remember My temptations by Satan in the wilderness, I refused to do miracles for My own good, for My own reputation, or for proof of God’s approval and presence in My ministry. I refused these shortcuts to winning people’s hearts. Instead, I chose to win the hearts of people through My earthly ministry to them and My going to the cross for them — and that includes you!

If you look at most of My miracles for people, they follow a similar pattern. You can call it the ARC of grace:

  1. Acceptance of the person with his or her needs.
  2. Relationship established with that person through kind words or physical touch.
  3. Community restored to that person so she or he could re-enter life that is full and good.

Remember yesterday? We looked at the time when I cast many demons out of Battalion. Now compare how I did that miracle with the miracles I do in the verses below. Sure, you can talk about My great power if that is your focus. I have power over demons. I have power over disease. I have power over death. And yes, you can focus on My power — but that is only part of the point I want you to grasp today.

Today’s point is as simple as it is personal; My love and My power are personal. I have the power to restore you! Yes, people — the crowd, the many, the lost — all matter to Me. Each person matters to Me — the hopeless and uncontrollable man called Battalion, the good and influential man named Jairus, and the outcast woman who was considered unclean. Each — let your heart settle on that word — each matters to Me! Each! So My miracle for each of these people follows this ARC of My grace.

Notice how the woman was healed in the verses below. She was physically healed as soon as she touched Me. She could have left with her miracle for her physical condition, but how would she have known she was loved and accepted — that she mattered to God even when she was still sick? How would she have known that what she did was no cause for her to be ashamed and no offense to God? How would the community around her have known she was healed and should be welcomed back into daily fellowship in the neighborhood, the market, and the synagogue? She needed the full ARC of my grace — acceptancerelationship, and community — to fully restore her in every way.

Now notice Jairus and his dying daughter. Here was a moment for Me to capture the goodwill of many people, especially people of position and influence. Jairus, unlike the woman, had many people surrounding him and supporting him. A miracle for his daughter could have raised My standing in the community. But remember, I didn’t do miracles for Me! I did them because people needed to experience the ARC of My grace! So notice carefully what I did.

When Jairus was told that his daughter was dead, I encouraged him to believe. Then I did something that seems crazy to folks who want to make My ministry into a traveling miracle show. I put everyone out of the house so I could go inside and personally minister to Jairus, his wife, and his dead daughter. Notice how personal I was with what I did. I took the girl’s hand — I was willing to become ceremonially unclean when I touched her. I wanted there to be more than just acceptance of Jairus and his family even though he represented a group largely opposed to Me. I wanted to establish physical contact, build a true relationship, with this girl and her family. Finally, after instructing her to get up, I gave the simple command that seems so strangely ordinary: give her something to eat. Let’s have table fellowship and re-establish community and restore the life of this family which was now whole.

Dear child of God, please understand something very important. Miracles are only for a moment. Sooner or later each person on earth will run out of miracles to keep their bodies whole and alive! Yes, miracles are very important to you. I get that. But please understand something even more significant: you are more important to Me than miracles. I want you to experience the ARC of My grace and to pass it along to others: Accept others where they are in their messes, agonies, and problems, but don’t leave them there. Establish relationship by being personally involved with them — don’t just throw money at their problems and abandon them. Connect with them through talk and touch to help them know they are loved. Help restore them to community — help them reconnect to life with other people who will walk beside them and include them in the life of My family.

As much as you may want a miracle, I can assure you that a miracle is for just a moment in the grand scheme of time. The ARC of grace gives people true life — life that matters now and life that lasts long after miracles no longer matter.

Verses to Live

Read through this story several times while seeing yourself as different people in the story. Notice how My grace impacts each person in a different way. Now try to share that ARC of grace with others!

When Jesus and His disciples crossed the lake, another crowd was waiting to welcome Him. A man made his way through the crowd. His name was Jairus, and he was a synagogue official. Like the man [Battalion, with many demons] on the other side of the lake, this dignified man also fell at Jesus’ feet, begging Jesus to visit his home where his only daughter, a girl of 12, lay dying. Jesus set out with Jairus. The crowd came along, too, pressing hard against Him.

In the crowd was a woman. She had suffered from an incurable menstrual disorder for 12 years [and had spent her livelihood on doctors with no effect]. It had kept her miserable and ritually unclean, unable to participate fully in Jewish life. She followed Jesus, until she could reach Him. She touched the fringe of the robe Jesus wore, and at that moment the bleeding stopped.

Jesus (stopping and looking about):

Who touched Me?

Some in the Crowd (everyone speaking at once):

Not me.

Another in the Crowd:

It wasn’t me either.

Peter [and those with him] (intervening):

Master, what kind of question is that, with this huge crowd all around You and many people touching You on all sides?

Jesus:

I felt something. I felt power going out from Me. I know that somebody touched Me.

The woman now realized her secret was going to come out sooner or later, so she stepped out of the crowd, shaking with fear, and she fell down in front of Jesus. Then she told her story in front of everyone — why she touched Him, what happened as a result.

Jesus:

Your faith has made you well again, daughter. Go in peace.

Right at that instant, one of Jairus’ household servants arrived.

Servant:

Sir, your daughter is dead. It’s no use bothering the Teacher with this anymore.

Jesus (interrupting Jairus before he could speak):

Don’t be afraid. Just believe. She’ll be well again.

As they approached the house, the whole neighborhood was full of the sound of mourning — weeping, wailing, loud crying. Jesus told everyone to stay outside — everyone except Peter, John, James, and, of course, the girl’s father and mother.

Jesus (to the mourners):

Please stop weeping. The girl isn’t dead. She’s only asleep.

They knew for certain that she was dead, so their bitter tears now mixed with mocking laughter.

Meanwhile, inside, Jesus took the girl’s hand.

Jesus:

Child, get up!

She started breathing again, and she sat right up.

Jesus:

Get her something to eat.

Her parents were amazed, but Jesus sternly told them to keep what had happened a secret.
(Luke 8:40-56)

Response in Prayer

Almighty God, my Abba Father, thank You for knowing me and loving me and restoring me personally. In a world that makes me little more than a number, thank You for valuing me and leaving the numbering for the hairs on my head. In a world that sees headlines one minute, then forgets them the next, thank You for knowing and calling me by name. Yes, dear Father, I needed Your ARC of grace to reach me. Now, I ask that You will use me to extend that ARC of grace to someone who needs grace, too. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Humor…

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 Momma for 2/2/2020

 Aunty Acid for 2/2/2020

 

 

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Something for Sunday….

 

 

 

Daily Prayer for February 24

For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is his name. I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand – I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, “You are my people.” Isaiah 51:15-16, NIV

Lord God Almighty, your eyes watch over the whole world. We come before you with the evils that surround us still clinging to us. Shelter our lives in your hands. Give us your strength to win through, even in suffering and need. For we are yours, O Lord our God. You have chosen your people to strengthen them and to free them from all evil. We beseech you to help us. May we feel your presence among us. May your Word bear fruit in us to the everlasting honor of your name. Amen.

 

 

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Daily Dig for February 24

George Orwell

People use up their lives in heartbreaking political struggles, or get themselves killed in civil wars, or tortured in the secret prisons of the Gestapo, not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another.

Source: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell

 

 

 

The Daily Word of Hope Devotional

The Promise Keeper

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 WEB

I know a dad that once bought his son a car because he had taken a turn for the better. Not very long after this, his son got a DUI with the car and the dad took it back and sold it. I don’t blame the dad, and may have done the same, but often our gifts are more of a bonus or a reward, than an actual gift.

Many times when we give gifts to someone, it is based on their behavior or performance. If we can take it back, then it’s not really a gift, and it was never truly theirs to begin with.

God does not take back His love, His gifts, or His calling of us no matter what we do. It is not based on our performance, or our behavior, though we should try and live right. He did not call us, or give us the gifts in our life because we were good. It is because He is good, and He is faithful to keep His promises.

When I was young, God told me to prepare myself because one day I would be in the ministry, and I would be a teacher of His word. This was over twenty-five years ago when I was in my late teens.

After years of preparing for ministry, attending Bible college after work, getting a degree, studying, praying, fasting, there was a train wreck right in the middle of it. I went through a long drawn out divorce and it got really ugly, but I knew when I started contemplating ending it all, that it was time for change.

I resolved to just make the best of what was left of my life and forgot about ministry altogether. One day while praying this verse came to mind and I heard: ‘What I have told you, I will do.’ I was pretty sure that I had ruined God’s plan for me, but I just wrote it in my journal and waited to see what would happen.

In time I was herded into ministry like cattle through a loading chute. Now here I am writing this and looking back through a string of unplanned jobs, it appears that He equipped and trained me for this along the way. Like Joseph, the things that I went through only brought me closer to His goal. He keeps His promises.

No matter what you have done in your life, the same gifts, the same calling, the same love, is still there. It is only dormant. Don’t distance yourself from God because you think that you messed it up. When God gives us something, it comes with no strings attached, and He does not take it back. When your life is submitted to Him, the things that you are going through will only bring you closer to His goal.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for all that You do for me. My life has taken unexpected twists and turns, but here I am Lord, ready to serve You as best I can. Take me, use me, speak to me and through me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

 

Bible Fun Fact: Zechariah had a staff named Favor, and another named Union (Zech 11:7).

 

 

Verse of the Day….

Logos.com

 

 

Jesus: ‘Take Me Into Your Heart’

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Don’t miss the heartbreak of the events described in the Scripture below. Despite all I had said and had done, people turned away from Me. As long as I would do miracles for them, they were quite happy to hang around with Me. But when I would not do their wish list miracles-on-demand and when I told them the truth about My divinity, they got testy with Me and My followers. In fact, many quit following Me.

So here’s the challenge. You need to take Me — My truth, My power, and My words — into your heart. Some of the things I ask of you will be hard — some of them hard to do and some of them hard to understand. But here’s the point: to the best of your ability and empowered by the Holy Spirit within you, do what I ask, believe what I say, and live what I teach. My words are life-giving and life-preserving. The Holy Spirit is at work giving you guidance, using you in My service, and conforming you to My words.

There will be times when you are confused. Some of that confusion will be because life is hard. Sometimes your confusion will come from your own selfishness and rebelliousness. Some of your confusion will be there because some of what I say can be hard to understand or you are not ready for it. But despite all the shortcomings you can find in Peter and My other apostles, please notice Peter’s words — spoken for all of the apostles. I asked if they would walk away from Me, too, and this is what Peter said:

“Lord, if we were to go, whom would we follow? You speak the words that give everlasting life. We believe and recognize that You are the Holy One sent by God.”

Verses to Live

Notice all the back-and-forth below in John’s account. There is a lot of talk about faith. Bottom line: just TALK about faith really doesn’t mean much. What matters is what Peter and the apostles DO: they (except for Judas) risk all to follow Me because of their choice to believe in Me even when many are turning away from Me:

Some of the Jews began to grumble quietly against Him [Jesus] because He said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

Crowd:

Isn’t Jesus the son of Joseph? We know His parents! We know where He came from, so how can He claim to have “come down from heaven”?

Jesus:

Stop grumbling under your breaths. If the Father Who sent Me does not draw you, then there’s no way you can come to Me. But I will resurrect everyone who does come on the last day. Among the prophets, it’s written, “Everyone will be taught of God.” So everyone who has heard and learned from the Father finds Me. No one has seen the Father, except the One sent from God. He has seen the Father. I am telling you the truth: the one who accepts these things has eternal life. I am the bread that gives life. Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and they died as you know. But there is another bread that comes from heaven; if you eat this bread, you will not die. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven to rescue those who eat it. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. The bread that I will give breathes life into the cosmos. This bread is My flesh.

The low whispers of some of Jesus’ detractors turned into an out-and-out debate.

Crowd:

What is He talking about? How is He able to give us His flesh to eat?

Jesus:

I tell you the truth; unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will not know life. If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, then you will have eternal life and I will raise you up at the end of time. My flesh and blood provide true nourishment. If you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you will abide in Me and I will abide in you. The Father of life Who sent Me has given life to Me; and as you eat My flesh, I will give life to you. This is bread that came down from heaven; I am not like the manna that your fathers ate and then died! If you eat this bread, your life will never end.

He spoke these words in the synagogue as part of His teaching mission in Capernaum. Many disciples heard what He said, and they had questions of their own.

Disciples:

How are we supposed to understand all of this? It is a hard teaching.

Jesus was aware that even His disciples were murmuring about this.

Jesus:

Has My teaching offended you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascend to return to where He came from? The Spirit brings life. The flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have been teaching you are spirit and life, but some of you do not believe.

From the first day Jesus began to call disciples, He knew those who did not have genuine faith. He knew, too, who would betray Him.

Jesus:

This is why I have been telling you that no one comes to Me without the Father’s blessing and guidance.

After hearing these teachings, many of His disciples walked away and no longer followed Jesus.

Jesus (to the twelve):

Do you want to walk away too?

Simon Peter:

Lord, if we were to go, whom would we follow? You speak the words that give everlasting life. We believe and recognize that You are the Holy One sent by God.

Jesus:

I chose each one of you, the twelve, Myself. But one of you is a devil.

This cryptic comment referred to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, for he was the one of the twelve who was going to betray Him.
(John 6:41-71)

Response in Prayer

Holy and Almighty God, I believe that Jesus is Your Son and my Savior. I believe that He has the words of life. I may not always understand them. I may not always want to hear them. I may wrestle with always obeying them, but Father, I do believe that Jesus gives me the words of life. I choose to believe, obey, and follow Him. I pray, dear Father, for the strength of the Holy Spirit to help me remain faithful to this commitment. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

 

Blood and Ink

The Making of El Salvador’s Company of Martyrs

Robert Lassalle-Klein

Twenty-five years ago, on November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests and two women were murdered by US-trained Salvadoran special forces on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador.

The killings sent shock waves through the United States Congress, which was monitoring human rights in El Salvador. For the past decade, Congress had been funding the right-wing Salvadoran government’s civil war against rebels demanding political and economic reform. However, these appropriations depended on official certifications by the Reagan and Bush administrations that human-rights abuses by El Salvador’s government and paramilitary forces were declining.

Yet shortly after 10 p.m. on November 15, Colonel René Emilio Ponce, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of El Salvador, in collusion with the country’s highest ranking military officials, ordered Colonel Guillermo Alfredo Benavides to eliminate the Jesuits at the university, specifically Ignacio Ellacuría, the university president and the country’s leading public intellectual: “Kill Father Ellacuría and leave no witnesses.”1

The meeting took place at the national military academy, of which Colonel Benavides was director. Within the hour, he summoned Lieutenant Ricardo Espinoza, a young graduate of San Salvador’s Jesuit high school, and ordered him to carry out the assassination. The targets included not only Ellacuría but also Lieutenant Espinoza’s former high-school principal. “It’s them or us!” Benavides told Espinoza.2  The young officer, who attempted to hide his identity with camouflage grease, later testified that his eyes filled with tears as he hurriedly left the scene of the crime after giving the order for the killing.3The United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador states that around 2:30 a.m. on November 16, Ellacuría and four fellow Spanish-born Jesuits were executed with machine guns by Espinoza’s unit as they lay face down in the grass behind the Jesuit residence at the university. One neighbor reports that “just before the gunfire” she heard “rhythmic whispering, like a psalmody of a group in prayer.”4

Minutes later, Elba Ramos, a cook for the university, and her sixteen-year-old daughter Celina were repeatedly shot as they huddled in each other’s arms in the Jesuit residence, where they had sought refuge. The brutality ended with the murder of an elderly Salvadoran-born Jesuit priest in his room. Several sources later testified that El Salvador’s newly elected president, Alfredo Cristiani, was present at the national military academy at the time when the attack was planned and that he met with Colonel Ponce and other military officials during the operation.In addition to Father Ellacuría, the Jesuits who died included Father Ignacio Martín-Baró, a university vice president and the director of El Salvador’s only functioning public-opinion poll; Father Segundo Montes, director of the university’s Human Rights Institute and superior of the Jesuit community; Father Amando López, professor of theology and philosophy and former president of the university’s sister institution in Managua; Father Joaquin López y López, national director of Fe y Alegría, a program for children in poverty; and Father Juan Ramón Moreno, assistant director of the newly constructed Óscar Romero Pastoral Center, built by the Jesuits to commemorate the archbishop of San Salvador who had died nine years earlier by a rightwing assassin’s bullet.

Why Were They Killed?

One month after the murders, Major Eric Warren Buckland, a senior US military advisor in El Salvador, testified that his Salvadoran counterpart, Colonel Carlos Armando Avilés Buitrago, chief of psychological operations for the Salvadoran Joint Command, informed him in advance of the planned killing; afterward the same source confirmed both that the crime had been committed by specific high-ranking Salvadoran military officers, and that it was being covered up.5

Major Buckland’s account matched the testimony of Lucía Cerna, a neighbor of the Jesuit fathers and the only living witness to the crime. Both Major Buckland and Cerna would come under intense pressure from the FBI to back away from their stories implicating Salvadoran forces; Buckland soon recanted his admission of prior knowledge of the killings. Newsweek later reported, “The [George H. W. Bush] administration didn’t want that story to come out . . . because it wasn’t productive to the conduct of the war.”6Thus the orders to kill Father Ellacuría and his colleagues came from the highest levels of the Salvadoran military and may have been approved by the country’s president, possibly with the knowledge of US military officials. For the Salvadoran government, the killings were extraordinarily risky; if they came to light they would implicate the entire military command structure and embarrass the United States.

Why take such a high-stakes gamble in order to kill one priest and a handful of associates? Evidently, the Salvadoran government viewed Ignacio Ellacuría and the University of Central America (UCA) as a serious threat to the United States’ continued backing. The govern­ment was well aware that if the US Congress became concerned about human-rights abuses by its Salvadoran ally, it might withdraw its crucial support. Inconveniently, Ellacuría and his fellow Jesuits at the UCA were scrupulously documenting the government’s systemic violations of human rights and its vicious repression of Salvadoran civil society. What’s more, they publicly advocated peace negotiations with the rebels in order to put an end to the cycle of violence. To the country’s governing elites, Ellacuría and his colleagues were jeopardizing the US support they needed to win a definitive victory over a leftist insurgency. They were traitors, and deserved to be treated as such.

El Salvador village in 1988

Children mingle with insurgents in rebel-held territory in El Salvador, 1988.

The UCA Jesuits, by contrast, believed that it was their duty as Christians and Catholics to speak up for human rights and to advocate for a negotiated peace. Their vision was grounded in the teaching of the “preferential option for the poor” issued by the 1968 conference of Latin American bishops meeting in Medellín, Colombia, in response to the recently concluded Vatican II council. This “preferential option,” they believed, required Christians to share God’s special love for the poor and downtrodden as illustrated throughout the Old and New Testaments. Echoing the language of Medellín, the university’s 1979 mission statement declares that “the most explicit testimony of the Christian inspiration of the UCA will be putting itself really at the service of the people in such a way that in this service it allows itself to be oriented by the oppressed people themselves.”7

There was an influence on the Jesuits’ work more immediate than Medellín’s teaching of social justice: the example of the martyr Archbishop Óscar Romero. Ellacuría would speak of the UCA Jesuits’ “commitment to do in our university way what [Archbishop Romero] did in his pastoral way.”8

His colleague Jon Sobrino, a UCA Jesuit who survived the 1989 killings because he happened to be away from campus that night, argues that Ellacuría and the UCA learned to fulfill their mission by watching Romero run the San Salvador archdiocese from the perspective of a preferential option for the poor.Thus the Jesuits of the UCA and Óscar Romero formed a company of martyrs bound together by a common conviction that the gospel must become good news to the poor. No outcome could have seemed less likely to anyone who knew of the active antagonism with which Romero’s and Ellacuría’s relationship began. Their remarkable story is told in the following pages, starting at the beginning.

Óscar Romero, Guardian of Orthodoxy

1970–1974
The Central American Jesuits began reorganizing their work in the early 1970s in an effort to embrace the Medellín call to stand with the poor. They understood this to mean actively supporting the rights of campesinos and civilian movements promoting social, economic, and political reform and the end of military rule. Ellacuría and the UCA worked throughout the decade to reframe the university’s “principal mission as that of being the critical and creative conscience”9

of the country and by taking positions in favor of urgent reforms to address the marginalization of the country’s impoverished majorities.Óscar Romero emerged at the same moment as one of the Jesuit’s chief opponents among the Salvadoran bishops. He was then an auxiliary bishop in the San Salvador archdiocese and secretary of the bishops’ conference of El Salvador. Romero’s actions and statements from 1970 to 1976 betray a deep suspicion and even hostility toward Ellacuría’s interpretation of Medellín as a call for the church to become more involved in movements for social change.

Reacting to the ferment following Vatican II, Romero was tradionalist in his approach to the role of the church in society. His approach has been called “quasi-corporatist,” and it finds support in certain statements in the documents of Medellín, side by side with affirmations of the preferential option for the poor.10

According to this view, the church’s role is that of a unifying social institution, promoting what Medellín calls “socialization understood as a sociocultural process of personalization and communal growth” so that “all of the sectors of society, . . . [especially] the social-economic sphere, should, because of justice and brother­hood, transcend antagonisms in order to become agents of national and continental development.”11

Father Ignacio Ellacuria

Father Ignacio Ellacuría

Romero’s commitment to this vision of the church as unifier and social glue, along with other more personal factors, rendered him deeply suspicious of theological and pastoral approaches involving prophetic denunciations of state-sponsored violence. Romero’s public statements and writings from this period as editor of the diocesan newspaper Orientación consistently characterize such views as politically naive distortions of Catholic teaching; such approaches, he suggested, were unduly influenced by communist ideas, and dangerously politicized the role of the church in Salvadoran society.

In the tinderbox atmosphere of El Salvador, Romero’s accusations had real consequences. His very public attacks against clergy who were critical of the government helped to marginalize their voices and provided cover for repressive actions against those calling for change. In early 1972, for example, the Central Elections Council, which was known to be controlled by a pro-military faction, fraudulently declared Colonel Arturo Armando Molina winner of that year’s presidential election. Molina’s opponents had run on a platform promising desperately needed agrarian reforms. When the stolen election was exposed by a UCA investigation, many seminarians refused to sing at the liturgy for Molina’s inauguration. They charged that the church, by allowing this event to be celebrated in the cathedral in the presence of the papal nuncio, was giving wrongful legitimation to a fraudulent government. Romero rightly suspected that the seminarians had learned of the UCA’s investigation from their Jesuit ­professors, and regarded their protest as a dangerous foray into politics. As one Jesuit, Father Juan Hernández Pico, recalled, Romero responded to the protest by making “the problem his personal issue. The pope and his nuncio had been attacked, and the hierarchy of the church had been insulted. How could it be worse?”12

Romero then “started to actively support the expulsion of the Jesuits from the seminary,” saying that they “were the ones that were putting ideas into the seminarians’ heads and had to go.” Romero added ominously, “If they’re not removed, we reserve the right to take other measures.” This was a threat (at least in part) to bring the matter to the attention of Vatican officials, something Romero actually did on this and other issues. In the end, the Jesuits were removed after fifty years of service and “Monseñor Romero took charge of the seminary.” Pico says, “He was satisfied. Orthodoxy had triumphed.” Years later Archbishop Romero would apologize to Father Amando López (formerly part of the seminary faculty) for his role in pushing the Jesuits out of the seminary. But in 1972, he was content.

Romero’s Personal Conversion:
Santiago de María

1974–1977
In 1974, Romero was named bishop of a rural diocese about seventy miles southeast of San Salvador called Santiago de María in Usulután. Here he would remain for the next three years. During this period, something in Romero began to change. His coworkers would later point to Romero’s encounter with the terrible suffering of rural farm workers as decisive; these experiences opened his heart and mind to Medellín’s preferential option for the poor.13

Still, Romero wasn’t ready for public confrontations. At one o’clock in the morning on June 21, 1975, members of the National Guard entered Tres Calles, a village in Romero’s diocese, ransacking the houses of five farm workers in a search for weapons and murdering the unarmed men in front of their families. Zacarias Diez and Juan Macho, Passionist priests working in the diocese, recall that they and other colleagues told Romero, “We must do something, bishop,”14 and proposed several forms of public response. “But Monseñor was on another wavelength and didn’t think like us.” Instead, Romero wrote an anguished letter to his friend President Molina and a summary of the events for the Salvadoran bishops. Looking back, the priests reflect: “It is true; he did something. It was an energetic protest and a strong denouncement.” On the other hand, however, “it was not public. It was private, since he still believed that denunciations from authority to authority were more effective.”

Later that year, in December 1975, Pope Paul VI published his apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, linking evangelization in the modern world to prophetic denunciations of poverty and oppression. To many in Latin America, it sounded as if the pope was echoing Medellín’s declaration of a preferential option for the poor. According to those close to Romero at the time, Paul VI’s words prompted him to reconsider the high priority he had given to maintaining good relations between the church and the government. In the face of state-sponsored violence against his people, and the vilification of his clergy for educating and defending them, Romero gradually came to accept ­Medellín’s discernment that God was calling the Latin American church to support and defend the poor.

Romero’s Social Conversion:
The Death of Rutilio Grande

1977

Father Rutilio Grande

Father Rutilio Grande (July 5, 1928–March 12, 1977)

Romero’s role in the dismissal of the Jesuits as directors of El Salvador’s diocesan seminary in 1972 was only the latest in a series of skirmishes between conservative Salvadoran bishops and the Jesuits. Already in 1970, the bishops had rejected the nomination of the Jesuit priest Rutilio Grande as rector of the seminary in response to the Jesuits’ Medellín-inspired agenda there, according to Rodolfo Cardenal, a Jesuit priest. Father Grande reacted to this vote of no confidence by taking a leave of absence from the seminary faculty to study new pastoral approaches in Peru. When he returned in September 1972, around the time of Romero’s takeover of the seminary from the Jesuits, his services as a professor were no longer required and he was assigned as pastor to a parish church in the town of Aguilares. Over the next five years this parish was to become the site of a new Jesuit ministry among rural farm workers, the poorest Salvadorans. Father Grande had traded the comfortable confines of the diocesan seminary for a dangerous new rural ministry among the country’s increasingly restive farm workers.

As a result of these and similar initiatives, Father Grande, Ignacio ­Ellacuría, and other Jesuits were soon accused of being “communists in sheep’s clothing” by organizations like the Committee for the Defense of the Fatherland. This explosive rhetoric reaped its predictable harvest on March 12, 1977, when Father Grande was ambushed by the national police, taken from his jeep, and executed.

Less than three weeks before Rutilio Grande’s killing, Romero had been appointed as archbishop of San Salvador, to the consternation of those priests who had been most active in advocating for the poor. Both they and the political conservatives who had applauded Romero’s appointment were in for a surprise. As Romero later put it, “Father Grande’s death and the death of other priests after his impelled me to take an energetic attitude before the government.”15

Despite the archbishop’s differences with the Jesuits, he and Grande had been friends. “I remember that because of Father Grande’s death I made a statement that I would not attend any official acts until this situation [ascertaining who had killed Rutilio] was clarified.” Thus, “a rupture was produced, not by me with the government but [by] the government itself because of its attitude.”

Here Romero differentiates his earlier “gradual evolution” toward a personal preferential option for the poor from his decision following Rutilio’s death to “respond to the situation in the country as a pastor” by publicly denouncing the government’s abuse of human rights. Romero, it seems, underwent two conversions: first a personal conversion, characterized by his gradual decision in Santiago de María to assume personal responsibility for the suffering of his people; and second, a socio-political conversion following the assassination of Rutilio. After this second conversion, Romero began to publicly address the systematic and ongoing violations of human rights in the country.

Ellacuría, reflecting on this second conversion of his former opponent Romero, would later write that Rutilio Grande’s killing confronted the archbishop with three imperatives:16 a demand to grasp the reality of Father Grande’s priestly ministry with the peasant farm workers of Aguilares and why that ministry led to his death; an ethical demand to assume public responsibility as part of his mission as archbishop to accompany and defend the terrorized peasants of Aguilares and El Salvador whom Father Grande left behind; and a praxis-related demand as archbishop to help those peasants, both within the church and in Salvadoran society.

Archbishop Romero,
Spiritual Leader of El Salvador

1977–1980

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Óscar Romero (August 15, 1917–March 24, 1980)

Three months after Father Grande’s death, ­Archbishop Romero drove to the deceased priest’s parish of Aguilares. The town had recently been subjected to a full-scale siege by the military in an action appropriately named Operation Rutilio. Soldiers had taken over the town, shot an elderly sacristan as he rang the church bells, arrested and deported the town’s three Jesuit priests, and assassinated about fifty people including campesino leaders. In coming to ­Aguilares, Archbishop Romero’s mission was to install a new pastor and celebrate Mass with the terrorized community.

The service ended with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament out of the church, Archbishop Romero in the rear and the crowd in front. Jon Sobrino, who was present, offers a remarkable description of what happened next. As the crowd flowed into the square in front of the church, armed troops were stationed in front of the town hall opposite. As the procession approached the soldiers, the crowd stopped, uneasy and afraid. Sobrino writes:

We had no idea what might happen…. [So] we all instinctively turned around and looked at Monseñor Romero, who was bringing up the rear, holding the monstrance. “¡Adelante!” (Forward!), said Monseñor Romero. And we went right ahead. The procession ended without incident. From that moment forward, Monseñor Romero was the symbolic leader of El Salvador. He made no such claim. He had sought no such thing. But this is the way it was. From then on Monseñor Romero led us, marching at our head. He had been transformed into the central reference point for the church and for the country. Nothing of any importance occurred in our country over the next three years without our all turning to Monseñor Romero for guidance and direction, for leadership.17

Over those three years, Romero served as spiritual leader and shepherd for the nation, speaking to his fellow Salvadorans in weekly radio sermons that drew huge audiences. In one such sermon on March 23, 1980, Romero called on Salvadoran soldiers to refuse to obey orders that violated God’s law. The next day he was shot and killed while saying Mass. The sniper had been hired by former Major Robert D’Aubuisson, a leader in El Salvador’s right-wing faction.18

Learning from a Martyr

1980–1989
Ellacuría responded to the archbishop’s death by writing an homage whose title alone shows how much had changed in the eight years since Romero had evicted the Jesuits from the seminary: “Monseñor Romero, a Man Sent by God to Save His Country.” Romero, wrote Ellacuría, “was the teacher” and the UCA “was the assistant,” Romero “was the voice and…[the UCA] was the echo.”

In the same article, Ellacuría describes the lessons that the UCA learned from its mentor.19 The Jesuits learned how “to historicize the power of the gospel” by running the university, like the archdiocese, with special concern for the needs of the poor. Previously the university had focused almost exclusively on El ­Salvador’s elites. But Archbishop Romero showed the UCA that when the church embraced the sufferings and hopes of El Salvador’s poor majorities, “what had been an opaque, amorphous, and ineffective word became a torrent of life to which the people drew near in order to quench their thirst.” Romero’s example demonstrated how “the power of the gospel could become a transformative historical force.”

Accordingly, after the archbishop’s death the UCA became a new kind of Christian university – one focused on making God’s love of the poor real in El Salvador. For example, it sought ways to increase participation by the country’s dispossessed majorities in the debate over how to resolve the country’s civil war. Ellacuría summarized his vision in a 1982 address at Santa Clara University, arguing that “a university of Christian inspiration is one that focuses all its university activity… within the illuminating horizon of…a Christian preferential option for the poor.”20 The university’s task, he said, is to serve as an “intellectual support for those who…possess truth and reason…but who do not have the academic arguments to justify and legitimate them.”

It was for courageously living out this vocation that Father Ellacuría and his brother Jesuits gave up their lives.

Blood and Ink

Ignacio Ellacuria speaking in San Salvador, 1989

Ignacio Ellacuría speaking at an ecumenical service in San Salvador, March 1989, eight months before his death

When the murdered priests were found on the morning of November 16, 1989, a blood-soaked copy of Jürgen Moltmann’s book The Crucified God was discovered near the body of Father Moreno. Today it is preserved in the university’s museum, just feet from where its owner died. It serves as a visceral sign of the cost of this ultimately unsuccessful attempt to silence the voice of scholars who, for almost two decades, had documented the sufferings of the people of El Salvador. The blood and ink mingled on its pages serve as a fitting symbol of the faith, hope, and love that animated these men.

In 2009, Jon Sobrino wrote a letter to his deceased friend Ellacuría titled “Monseñor Romero and You”:

People know that both of you were eloquent prophets and martyrs,…[but] I like to remember another important similarity, which is how you began. Each of you was given a Christian and Salvadoran torch, and without any kind of discernment made the fundamental choice to keep it burning. Monseñor Romero received it from Rutilio Grande the night they killed him. And when Monseñor Romero died, you picked it up.”21

Sobrino believes it is crucial to remember “that in El Salvador there was a grand tradition” which was “passed from hand to hand” of “dedication and love for the poor, confrontation with oppressors, steadiness in conflict, and the hope and the dream [of the kingdom of God]” grounded in “the Jesus of the gospel and the mystery of his God.” And he insists, “We must not squander that legacy and we need to make it available to the young.”

Twenty-five years after the martyrdom of the UCA Jesuits and thirty-five years after the martyr­dom of Archbishop Romero, what can we learn from their example? In 1982, Ellacuría counseled graduating seniors to respond by following the example of the company of martyrs who preceded them:

Just place your whole human heart before the reality of a crucified world, and ask yourselves the three questions that Ignatius of Loyola put to himself as he stood before [an image of the crucified Christ], the representative of all those who are crucified: What have I done for this world? What am I doing for it now? And above all, what should I do? The answers lie both in your personal and academic responsibility.22


Robert Lassalle-Klein, professor of religious studies and philosophy at Holy Names University and cofounder of the Oakland Catholic Worker, is the author of Blood and Ink: Ignacio ­Ellacuría, Jon Sobrino, and the Jesuit Martyrs of the University of Central America (Orbis, 2014); this article is adapted from the book.


All photographs courtesy of the author.

 

 

New Heaven, New War

Robert Southwell

This little babe, so few days old,

Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake.
Though he himself for cold do shake,
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field;
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.

His camp is pitchèd in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib his trench, hay stalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.

Christoph Wetzel, Untitled, charcoal, 2008

Christoph Wetzel, Untitled, charcoal, 2008 Image courtesy of Christoph Wetzel
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Born to Us

Martin Luther

The angel said to them, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people; for there is born to you this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10
Albrecht Dürer, Angel with a Lute, 1497

Albrecht Dürer, Angel with a Lute, 1497 Image from WikiArt (public domain)

The Gospel teaches that Christ was born, and that he died and suffered everything on our behalf, as is here declared by the angel. In these words you clearly see that he is born for us.

He does not simply say, Christ is born, but to you he is born, neither does he say, I bring glad tidings, but to you I bring glad tidings of great joy. Furthermore, this joy was not to remain in Christ, but it shall be to all the people. For this purpose Christ willed to be born, that through him we might be born anew.

O, this is the great joy of which the angel speaks. This is the comfort and exceeding goodness of God that, if anyone believes this, he can boast of the treasure that Mary is his rightful mother, Christ his brother, and God his father. For these things actually occurred and are true, but we must believe. This is the principal thing and the principal treasure in every Gospel. Christ must above all things become our own and we become his. This is what is meant by Isaiah: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.” To us, to us, to us is born, and to us is given this child.

Albrecht Dürer, Angel with a Lute, 1497 (detail)

Therefore see to it that you do not treat the Gospel only as history, for that is only transient; neither regard it only as an example, for it is of no value without faith. Rather, see to it that you make this birth your own and that Christ be born in you. This will be the case if you believe, then you will repose in the lap of the Virgin Mary and be her dear child. But you must exercise this faith and pray while you live; you cannot establish it too firmly. This is our foundation and inheritance, upon which good works must be built.

The Gospel does not merely teach about the history of Christ. No, it enables all who believe it to receive it as their own, which is the way the Gospel operates. Of what benefit would it be to me if Christ had been born a thousand times, and it would daily be sung into my ears in a most lovely manner, if I were never to hear that he was born for me and was to be my very own? If the voice gives forth this pleasant sound, even if it be in homely phrase, my heart listens with joy for it is a lovely sound which penetrates the soul. If now there were anything else to be preached, the evangelical angel and the angelic evangelist would certainly have touched upon it.

Christ helps us so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough.

If Christ has indeed become your own, and you have by such faith been cleansed through him and have received your inheritance without any personal merit, it follows that you will do good works by doing to your neighbor as Christ has done to you. Here good works are their own teacher. What are the good works of Christ? Is it not true that they are good because they have been done for your benefit, for God’s sake, who commanded him to do the works in your behalf? In this then Christ was obedient to the Father, in that he loved and served us.

Therefore since you have received enough and become rich, you have no other commandment than to serve Christ and render obedience to him. Direct your works that they may be of benefit to your neighbor, just as the works of Christ are of benefit to you. For this reason Jesus said at the Last Supper: “This is my commandment that you love one another; even as I have loved you.” Here it is seen that he loved us and did everything for our benefit, in order that we may do the same, not to him, for he needs it not, but to our neighbor. This is his commandment, and this is our obedience. Christ helps us so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough.

Notice, then, how far off those are who expend their energies uniting good works with stone. Of what benefit is it to your neighbor if you build a church entirely out of gold? Of what benefit to him is the frequent ringing of great church bells? Of what benefit to him is the glitter and the ceremonies in the churches, the priests’ gowns, the sanctuary, the silver pictures and vessels? Of what benefit to him are the many candles and much incense? Of what benefit to him is the much chanting and mumbling, the singing of vigils and masses? Do you think that God wants to be served with the sound of bells, the smoke of candles, the glitter of gold and such fancies? He has commanded none of these, but if you see your neighbor going astray, sinning, or suffering in body or soul, you are to leave everything else and at once help him in every way in your power and if you can do no more, help him with words of comfort and prayer. Thus has Christ done to you and given you an example to follow.

Albrecht Dürer, Angel with a Lute, 1497 (detail)

Here Jesus does what he says, “And the poor have good tidings preached to them,” and “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 11:5; 5:3). Here are no learned, no rich, no mighty ones, for such people do not as a rule accept the Gospel. The Gospel is a heavenly treasure, which will not tolerate any other treasure, and will not agree with any earthly guest in the heart. Therefore whoever loves the one must let go the other, as Christ says, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24).

This is shown by the shepherds in that they were in the field, under the canopy of heaven, and not in houses, showing that they do not hold fast and cling to temporal things. And besides being in the fields by night, they are despised by and unknown to the world which sleeps in the night, and by day delights so to walk that it may be noticed; but the poor shepherds go about their work at night. They represent all the lowly who live on earth, often despised and unnoticed, who dwell only under the protection of heaven; they eagerly desire the Gospel.

The Gospel is a heavenly treasure, which will not tolerate any other treasure.

That there were shepherds means that no one is to hear the Gospel for himself alone, but everyone is to tell it to others who are not acquainted with it. For he who believes for himself has enough and should endeavor to bring others to such faith and knowledge, so that one may be a shepherd of the other, to wait upon and lead him into the pasture of the Gospel in this world, during the nighttime of this earthly life. At first the shepherds were sore afraid because of the angel; for human nature is shocked when it first hears in the Gospel that all our works are nothing and are condemned before God, for it does not easily give up its prejudices and presumptions.

Therefore let us beware of all teaching that does not set forth Christ. What more would you know? What more do you need, if indeed you know Christ, as above set forth, if you walk by faith in God, and by love to your neighbor, doing to them as Christ has done to you? This is indeed the whole Scripture in its briefest form, that no more words or books are necessary, but only life and action.

Let everyone examine himself in the light of the Gospel and see how far he is from Christ, what is the character of his faith and love. There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of such poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think that if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him?


Source: “Sermon for Christmas Day; Luke 2:1–14” in The Sermons of Martin Luther(Lutherans in All Lands Press, 1906).

 

 

 

 

Today’s Proverb….

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
Proverbs 24:2
“For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.”

v1,2 Envy not sinners. And let not a desire ever come into thy mind, Oh that I could shake off restraints! Pr 24:3-6. Piety and prudence in outward affairs, both go together to complete a wise man. By knowledge the soul is filled with the graces and comforts of the spirit, those precious and pleasant riches. The spirit is strengthened for the spiritual work and the spiritual warfare, by true wisdom. Pr 24:7-9. A weak man thinks wisdom is too high for him, therefore he will take no pains for it. It is bad to do evil, but worse to devise it. Even the first risings of sin in the heart are sin, and must be repented of. Those that strive to make others hateful, make themselves so. Pr 24:10. Under troubles we are apt to despair of relief. But be of good courage, and God shall strengthen thy heart. Pr 24:11-12. If a man know that his neighbour is in danger by any unjust proceeding, he is bound to do all in his power to deliver him. And what is it to suffer immortal souls to perish, when our persuasions and example may be the means of preventing it? Pr 24:13-14. We are quickened to the study of wisdom by considering both the pleasure and the profit of it. All men relish things that are sweet to the palate; but many have no relish for the things that are sweet to the purified soul, and that make us wise unto salvation. Pr 24:15-16. The sincere soul falls as a traveller may do, by stumbling at some stone in his path; but gets up, and goes on his way with more care and speed. This is rather to be understood of falls into affliction, than falls into actual sin. Pr 24:17-18. The pleasure we are apt to take in the troubles of an enemy is forbidden. Pr 24:19-20. Envy not the wicked their prosperity; be sure there is no true happiness in it. Pr 24:21-22. The godly in the land, will be quiet in the land. There may be cause to change for the better, but have nothing to do with them that are given change. Pr 24:23-26. The wisdom God giveth, renders a man fit for his station. Every one who finds the benefit of the right answer, will be attached to him that gave it. Pr 24:27. We must prefer necessaries before conveniences, and not go in debt. Pr 24:28-29. There are three defaults in a witness pointed out. Pr 24:30-34. See what a blessing the husbandman’s calling is, and what a wilderness this earth would be without it. See what great difference there is in the management even of worldly affairs. Sloth and self-indulgence are the bane of all good. When we see fields overgrown with thorns and thistles, and the fences broken down, we see an emblem of the far more deplorable state of many souls. Every vile affection grows in men’s hearts; yet they compose themselves to sleep. Let us show wisdom by doubling our diligence in every good thing.

 

 

February 24: The Day of Atonement
Leviticus 15–16; John 9:1–12; Song of Solomon 7:5–9

When it comes to the cost of sin, the average person probably thinks in terms of “What can I get away with?” rather than “What does this cost me and other people emotionally?” These calculations aren’t made in terms of life and death, but that is literally the case when it comes to sin.
The Day of Atonement is a beautiful, though horrific, illustration of this. It takes three innocent animals to deal with the people’s sin: one to purify the high priest and his family, one to be a sin offering to Yahweh that purifies the place where He symbolically dwelt (the holy of holies), and one to be sent into the wilderness to remove the people’s transgressions (Lev 16:11, 15–16, 21–22).
After the blood of the first two animals is spilled on the Day of Atonement—demonstrating the purification of God’s people—the final goat demonstrates God’s desire to completely rid the people of their sin. “Aaron shall place his two hands on the living goat’s head, and he shall confess over it all the Israelites’ iniquities and all their transgressions for all their sins, and he shall put them on the goat’s head, and he shall send it away into the desert” (Lev 16:21).
The Day of Atonement symbolized God’s desire for His people: one day, sin would no longer stand between God and His children. Like the goat, Jesus lifts the people’s iniquities (Isa 53:12). He fulfills this prophecy, becoming the ultimate ransom; no other sacrifice is ever needed.
As the author of Hebrews says, “For the law appoints men as high priests who have weakness, but the statement of the oath, after the law, appoints a Son, who is made perfect forever” (Heb 7:28). He then goes onto say, “And every priest stands every day serving and offering the same sacrifices many times, which are never able to take away sins. But this one, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb 10:11–12).
The price of sin may be great, but Christ has paid that price.

In what ways do you take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted? What can you do differently?

JOHN D. BARRY
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

 

 

 

A Little Humor…..

 

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Aunty Acid….

 Aunty Acid for 2/24/2019

33 Pictures You Need To Send To Someone Who Loves Puns

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Sleepy Sunday….Remember God!

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Daily Prayer for February 17

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Psalm 98:1-3, NIV

Lord our God, we thank you from our hearts, from the bottom of our hearts, that you consider us worthy to work with you so that redemption may come to the world in Jesus Christ. Already today many are rejoicing in their Redeemer. They are full of hope and comfort because the end is approaching – that evening when your glory shall be revealed, when the whole world and all nations shall glorify you, O great God and Father in heaven. Come into our time, we pray. Help us, Lord our God. Day and night we look to you in the hope of beholding the time of your glory, in the hope of receiving the peace that is beyond all understanding and of finding redemption, the great redemption from heaven, through you, the God over all flesh. Amen.

 

 

Verse of the Day

Image result for 1 Peter 5:6-7

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…

In a universe so incomparably vast, in a world so marvelously diverse, we can be paralyzed by our insignificance and impotence in the face of such staggering enormity. But in moments of simple faith, we can be calmed by our reverence and dependence on the Creator and Sustainer of such wonders and find great comfort that our lives are in his hands.

My Prayer…

Almighty and wondrous God, thank you for knowing me even though I can’t begin to comprehend your glory. I need your love, care, protection, blessing, grace, forgiveness, and presence. Without you, I have nothing of lasting significance. Please be near. In Jesus’ name I humbly ask. Amen.

 

 

 

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Daily Dig for February 17

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

To feel close to God is a great comfort. It is depressing to feel alone and forsaken, to think that we have been left to our own resources and must rely on our own strength. I would not want to live a single day without being able to feel that God’s angels are around me, and around the whole world. I cannot live one day without believing that we are never alone.

Source: Now Is Eternity

 

 

Prophetic Insight, from Charisma Media

‘Set Your House in Order’: A Prophetic Call for the Church to Repent

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

I had an encounter with the Lord recently while pressing in through 40 days of new access for the year 2019. I had been using this time of consecration to gain a fresh prophetic perspective for the New Year, when I was pulled out of a dream through the stirring of the Spirit to see Jesus coming as one on the clouds with His magnificent power and gory. When my eyes first beheld the sight of our Savior appearing in all His splendor, I was overwhelmed with His love and the brilliance of His presence. Almost spontaneously, as His radiant smile stretched across the light of His countenance, I cried out, “Lord, is that you? How will we know you?”

He replied, ‘Holly, time is short.’ He then took me on a journey of understanding His heart for true restoration and redemption. And then He showed me how 2019 was a year of the comeback.

“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Then He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of the earth to the farthest part of heaven” (Mark 13:26-27).

“Look, I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7).

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I share spiritual encounters with a reverential fear of the Lord. I understand the obedience of waiting on the Lord in prayer. I respectfully adhere to the accountability and the weighty responsibility for those entrusted with prophetic revelation at this hour. The Bible promises us a greater outpouring of the Spirit for the sons and daughters of God during the end times. Dreams, visions, supernatural visitations and the nine gifts of the Spirit are coming into full operation in the church at this hour. We are in the days where the fivefold office gifts are joining together in unity to function with an Ephesians 4 mandate like never before.

However, a clear exhortation is given to us in Jeremiah 23 about prophets prophesying visions of their own heart (Jer. 23:16-18). Scripture warns us of false prophets and the appearance of lying signs and wonders being evident in the last days. God also made it a priority to answer Job out of the whirlwind by asking him an important question. “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2)? We must test all spiritual encounters to discern if they’re from God or if their sourced from vain imaginations or demonic influences (Heb. 5:14). When the pure Word of the Lord is released through the mouth of a prophet of God; the Word of God does not return to Him void (Isa. 55:11).

“‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even on My menservants and maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and glorious day of the Lord comes” (Acts 2:17-20).

Set Your House in Order

In 2 Kings 20, Hezekiah was sick and near death when the Lord sent a message through the prophet Isaiah to tell Hezekiah to set his house in order, for he would surely die and not live. Hezekiah’s response to his fateful news humbled him into a posture of intercession as he petitioned God to remember his just and contrite heart. Scripture says Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall (between the altar) and prayed to God for restoration and deliverance from his untimely death. Because Hezekiah wept at the altar of the Lord through humility and obedience, God saved Hezekiah’s life and added 15 years to his lifespan.

The phrase “set your house in order” has been ringing in my heart since the beginning of the Hebrew New Year 5779. To set our house in order has a two-fold meaning. We are temples (houses) for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. Our churches, ministries, families, relationships, occupations and so forth are the houses the Lord has entrusted us with while serving as kingdom ambassadors on behalf of the body of Christ. Setting our house in order requires a time of repentance and a renewing of our heart, spirit, soul and body as we reconcile with our first love Jesus Christ as our kinsman Redeemer (Ruth 3:9, Job 19:25).

Setting our house in order is also a phrase where our affairs are set into new alignment per the will of the Father and His direction for our lives. A time of reorganization, reordering and restructuring accompanies setting our houses in order to prepare for new assignments, increase and promotion through the leading of Holy Spirit. A shedding of old ways while allowing room for a new wineskin creates an atmosphere of order for Holy Spirit to awaken a sleeping giant from her slumber. Where the church is compromising her ways through worldly influence and flesh- based performance; God is calling His bride to set our house in order by cleansing herself from all ungodliness!

The Spirit of the Lord is brooding over the earth searching for a place to revisit in all His power and glory. A greater outpouring of the Spirit of God is about to erupt like never before as churches across the land posture themselves through hunger, repentance and prayer. Jesus is seeking for a pure bride to come back to. He is calling us to a lifestyle of holiness, consecration and devotion. The earth is ripe to pull in an end-time harvest of new souls. Now is the time for redemption to sweep across the land and to set your house in order!

In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him,

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was near death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.”

Then he turned his face toward the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before You faithfully and with an undivided heart and have done what is good in Your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Now before Isaiah had come out of the middle courtyard, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Turn back and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people: Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord (2 Kings 20:1-5).

“I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24:7).

A Year of the Comeback

Upon hearing the Lord say 2019 was a year of the comeback, the story of Lazarus in John 11 was quickened in my spirit. The resurrection power of the Holy Spirit swept through the tomb of Lazarus and provided us with one of the greatest comeback stories in biblical history. When Jesus cried out in a loud voice and called Lazarus to come forth from his grave, His mission was to demonstrate the glory of God upon the earth realm (John 11:40). Those who witnessed this miraculous move of God through the power of His Spirit, experienced a trajectory move towards their destiny in the blink of an eye. Where unbelief, doubt and a lack of faith invaded the hearts of those in attendance; resurrection life breathed new life into a spirit of sleep and slumber. The name “Lazarus” in Strong’s dictionary means “whom God helps.” This gives us a prophetic picture of the love of God for His church, and how the heart of the Father is to restore the church back to her intended purpose.

God chose an outcry, the appearance of His Son, and a kairos moment, to demonstrate the effects of heaven invading earth through a move of His divine order. What seemed delayed in the eyes of man through their dullness of understanding, was delivered through Jesus by His timely appearance and coming. God chose the hour and time to awaken Lazarus from His slumber (John 11:39). The Spirit of God moved, Lazarus came forth; and the rest of the story was recorded, in the books of biblical history.

The church is positioned for a comeback in 2019! As our cry reaches heaven’s ears for a new move of power and glory, the spiritual realm is responding to the sound of the earths groaning. Hunger is a key component to a new move of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is looking for those whose hearts are fixed on Him through intimacy and unrelenting obedience! The Spirit of God says, “The time is short. Won’t you adhere to My coming?”

“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).

“When He had said this, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ He who was dead came out, his hands and feet wrapped with grave clothes, and his face wrapped with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go'” (John 11:43-44). 

Holly Watson is a prophetic voice with a passion to release the heart of the Father in a pure and uncompromising way. Her mandate is to awaken the bride of Christ to Her end-time identity while stirring this generation to step into her God-ordained purpose and calling. The Call upon Holly’s life was awakened through being miraculously healed from a spirit of infirmity. KRGO, Ministries was birthed through a passion to raise up sons and daughters of God who embrace their true identity and calling in Christ. Holly and her husband, Frank, serve and minister throughout the body of Christ in the Southern California area and the surrounding regions. Visit krgo.org.

 

 

Prophetic Word: Fling Wide Doors of Opportunity in February

(Pixabay/Pexels)

Last October, God spoke to me that in the month of February, He was going to swing wide the doors of opportunity. He specifically wanted His people to pass through January and the process of consecration and purification. I have been anticipating what is going to happen. I am already hearing reports that indeed doors are flinging wide everywhere! People are saying God is moving so much, and so many amazing things are happening.

In Joshua 3:5b, Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform wondrous deeds among you.”

Many have been faithful, and God is going to do amazing things. However, I do believe there is something to consider as we embark on the opportunities He is bringing in February: We must be aware to put Him first. Him first.

God does not want us to worship the idols of advancement, financial increase or amazing opportunities that are coming as a result of Him choosing to open the doors of heaven and pour out a blessing upon us.

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One of the ways we can curtail our flesh in the midst of God’s many blessings is not to forget Him in the area of giving ourselves over to Him. Often God will bless us. but then we make idols out of the blessing and forget all about Him. We must stay in a place of repentance and purity of heart. We must not become workaholics trying to steward all He has given us or ruminate so much on the blessing that we fail to take time to spend with Him. One of the ways we can prevent this is to do as Deuteronomy 8:16-20 says:

[God] fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might prove you, to do good for you in the end. Otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.” But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to get wealth, so that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is today.

If you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, then I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Just like the nations which the Lord will destroy before you, so shall you perish because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.

The word “remember” in this passage is the Hebrew word zakar; it means “to mark, remember or be recognized.”

If we want to keep our flesh in control during a blessing, we must learn to zakar the Lord or mark by bringing Him a firstfruit offering. This principle is often missed by people, but not by those who have tasted success and seen how it messes with the focus of the mind. It is easy to get caught up in the doing of life, work, family and ministry and all the fast-paced excitement of being used by God to expand the kingdom of God. But underneath every minister’s heart—and we are all ministers of the gospel as we are called ambassadors of reconciliation (see 2 Cor. 5:20)—there should be a desire to run away with the King and not be bothered, but just to sit in His presence and soak in His beauty.

If this is not the true desire of our hearts, something may be wrong. I speak from my own chastisements from the Lord. When things begin to move rapidly for me, I must bring myself and my finances as an offering to keep my own heart in check. This is why the first of the year is so important is that it reveals where we get off- track, and we begin to serve what He has given us instead of bringing Him the offering He really wants, and that is our hearts.

This was the lesson He was teaching the Israelites in the desert. It was as though He said (and I paraphrase), “I can give you everything, but I want you to want Me first, and I know the heart of man is deceitful and prideful, and if it is not trained to be aware of its pitfalls, it will walk away from what is best, which is Me, God, to go after all the other things.”

One of the ways I personally keep my heart straight is to remember I cannot operate in the ministry without doing it in the overflow. I need to be so connected to Him that who He is overflows into my entire soul. That is only accomplished through first honoring Him with my substance.

What is substance? In the Hebrew, it means “wealth,” but it is a word that means “all of you,” as in “enough.” It comes from a root word which means ability, power, wealth, force, goods, might and strength.

Proverbs 3:9 tells us, “Honor the Lord with your substance, and with the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your presses will burst out with new wine.”

We as His people are called to honor Him. This word “honor” comes from the Hebrew “to glorify or make weighty.” Why does He ask this? So that we will put Him first from the totality of our being, as in all of our time, talent, treasure and testimony. In doing this, we will mark Him first in our actions. He then asks us to even bless Him with the firstfruits of all the increase He brings us, just so we won’t get focused on it. If we do this, He says we will operate in fullness in our spirit, soul and body, and we will break forth in new wine or new opportunities.

He is training us for reigning with Him, and it is not about looking to the outward but the inward first to give us all we need as we rest in Him and who He is. This will keep any person in a state of humility when they realize they must rely on God for everything, even when they fall into the riches of heaven. We will always need to be focused on Him, and even more so in our successes or victories.

He has developed the system so the more He blesses us, the more we find we need Him. And if we choose to connect ourselves more to the blessing, He will discipline us and bring us back to what is important, which is Him and Him alone.

Yes, the doors of opportunity are swinging wide open in February, but take heed, as this only means God is calling you to more of Him and even less of the opportunity He is blessing you with. Learn to steward the blessing well and remember Him with a firstfruit of yourself and all He has given you. This is surely the true way to bring Him honor and thanksgiving, and also to remain humble in this season of blessing. 

Dr. Candice Smithyman is the founder of Dream Mentors International, a biblical life counseling and coaching educational organization that teaches and trains educators and coaches in the specialty of life coaching. She is also founder of the Glory Road TV show, where she hosts weekly interviews that are seen on internet TV, Faith USA, Facebook and her YouTube channel. She is also the host of the Spirit Fuel TV show at spiritfuel.tv or spiritfuel.me. Her ministry website is available at candicesmithyman.com and dreammentors.org,where people can grow prophetically and receive biblical and transformational life coaching for every area of their life. She is also co-founder of Freedom Destiny Church in Orange Park, Florida.

 

 

 

(1)

The Pig Pen

I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants.’ He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Luke 15:18 WEB

The younger son in the story that Jesus told here, had really messed up his life and ran through all of his inheritance in wild living and prostitutes. When his money was all was gone, a famine set in and those who may have helped him, were no longer able to.

When he was starving, he got a job feeding pigs, which would have been repulsive to a Jew. Pigs (swine) were considered unclean under mosaic law. After growing up on a farm, I can confirm that. There is nothing quite like the smell of a hog pen, and they love to wallow in the mud.

While starving and living in a disgusting place, he came to his senses. Hardship has an amazing way of bringing us back to reality. He remembered that His father’s hired servants had food to spare and he decided to humble himself and go back home. While he lived with his father, he lived in royalty. When he lived on his own, he lived in utter poverty.

The son put together a repentance speech: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants’ (Luke 15:18). Then he humbly went to meet his father, broke, barefoot, and hungry.

His father saw him coming up the road, was moved with compassion, and ran to his son, hugging and kissing him. While the son was still trying to explain how sorry and unworthy that he was, the father was already commanding the others to bring the best robe and put it on him, a ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet. He threw a great feast and celebrated having his son back home safe and sound. The father was very happy to have his son back with him.

Sometimes we stumble and feel like we are no longer worthy to talk to God. We feel that we have let Him down, once again. Then the enemy climbs on our back and rides us around like a pony, telling us how sorry that we are, and often he is right. We did it and there is no one to blame but us. We knew that it was wrong, but did it anyway.

Yet no matter what we have done in the past, we can humbly turn back to God and He will begin to restore us. He is not mad, but so happy to see us walking on His road. Too often we go about with our head down, having no idea who we really are in Christ, or how much we mean to Him. We are bound by our past and living exactly as the enemy wants us, broken and defeated, when it could be corrected in seconds.

If you ever find yourself broken, hungry, living in a disgusting place and it was completely your fault, remember that God’s door is still open, and that He wants you back with Him. He promises us that He who believes in Jesus will never be put to shame. So shake that defeated mentality off and lift your head for you are a Child of the King, and you are always welcome in God’s house.

Prayer: Heavenly Father I thank You for accepting me just as I am. Please restore me Lord and help me find my proper place in the body. Help me to know who I am in You. Restore my identity as Your child and lead me from this day forth, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Moses was just over three months old when Pharaoh’s daughter found him in a basket (Acts 7:20-21).

(2)

Circling The Mountain

Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea, as Yahweh spoke to me; and we encircled Mount Seir many days. Yahweh spoke to me, saying, ‘You have encircled this mountain long enough. Turn northward.’ Deuteronomy 2:1-3 WEB

The Israelites wandered forty years in the wilderness while God worked out some differences with them. Twice while they were circling a mountain, there came a point when it was time for them to move on.

God told them in Deuteronomy 1:6, ‘You have lived long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey.’ Again in Deuteronomy 2:1, ‘You have encircled this mountain long enough. Turn northward.’

Many times we will huddle around a mountain in our life, circling it. We cannot move on because of __________. It affects everything that we do, and we cry out for God to help, but you cannot steer a parked car. It needs to be moving.

We meet people all the time that are trapped in a bad situation because they cannot let go of something. They are like a fish that is holding on to the hook with their lips and will not let it go. Eventually there comes a time when they get tired of circling that same mountain again and again while just growing older, and they make the change. It is just such a struggle to let it go.

If you want to see something different in your life, do something different. If you have been trying to make a peach cobbler for years, but it always comes out as apple, it is time to try a new recipe. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. It may be time to stop circling this mountain.

Give God something to work with today. Leave the mountain behind you and do what you have been putting off. Turn and take your journey.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please give me a clear vision on how to change my life for the better. Help me overcome the obstacles that are holding me back. Set me free from this endless loop and help me break out, and break through, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: Anna was an 84-year-old prophetess who praised God for the baby Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:36-38).

 

 

with Jesus: ‘Let the Light Shine!’

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

While I was in the world, I was the “Light of the world” (John 9:5). I AM still the Light of the world (John 1:4-5John 8:12), but now I am sending you to be My representative. You are to share the light you have received from Me and shine that light to all the world so everyone can see your good deeds and know that they come from your love for and loyalty to the Father.

You have probably known the message of the verses below for many years. So I want to challenge you to do more than just remember the words: I want you to demonstrate you believe them by putting them into practice in the places and with the people your life touches. The world is a dark place. Despite the shallow smiles you see around you, most people you meet each day need a touch of light — kindness and grace that you can give them in the Father’s name.

Verses to Live

When you turn on the light each morning, let it be a reminder that others need the grace of God’s light in their lives. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to see the opportunities to bless others. Show the grace of the Father, live the values of Our kingdom, and help others find their way home to the Father through the light you shine on their paths. Let the light shine!

Jesus:

You, beloved, are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes bland and loses its saltiness, can anything make it salty again? No. It is useless. It is tossed out, thrown away, or trampled.

And you, beloved, are the light of the world. A city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden.

Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table or a desk or a chair, and the light illumines the entire house. You are like that illuminating light. Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illumine creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to Me, and may turn and praise your Father in heaven because of it.

(Matthew 5:13-16)

Response in Prayer

O Father, I promise to be open to the leading and nudging of the Holy Spirit as I shine your light to bless others. Give me graceful wisdom to know those who need Your light. Father, I do this, not for my glory or reputation or acceptance, but so that others can find their way to You. So please, use my light to Your glory! In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘How Glorious is Our God’

Illustration of Deuteronomy 32:3-4 — I will proclaim the name of the LORD; how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how upright he is!

 

 

SpiritLed Woman PowerUp!

How Your Most Desperate Prayers Can Activate God’s Promises

(Photo by Ruben Hutabarat on Unsplash)

There are points in a spiritual battle when it looks as though the enemy has had the final word. It looks like you will not make it. He’s laughing at you. People you thought were friends and loved ones are laughing too. Coworkers and neighbors are saying, “I thought you were saved. I thought you went to church. I thought you went to that prophetic church. I thought you prophesy. How can I be doing better than you?” They’re smoking hundred-dollar Cuban cigars, and you’re trying to scrape together enough money for bus fare. Tell them, “Don’t worry. Hold on. It’s not over yet. You go ahead and talk, laugh and think you have it made. Just wait, because I know God is about to do something in my life.”

People may think your holy living is a waste of time. They may question where your God is. But what they don’t know—and you may not readily discern it either—is that you as a covenant believer will only be drawn in closer to God as a result of their mocking and torment. What they don’t understand—and you may be coming into this revelation right now—is that they are driving you to pursue even harder all that God has for you. Torment and oppression and your all-out hunger for the power of God to manifest in your life will drive you to a place of weeping, crying and desperation. We see this with Hannah (see 1 Sam. 1:1-20).

It wouldn’t seem to make sense from a natural perspective, but sometimes your lowest place is your best place. When it looks as if nobody cares, nobody tries to help you, nobody looks out for you, and it’s just you and God, that is sometimes one of the best places to be. When everything and everyone is out of the picture and it is just you and God, this is the place where He can give you your Samuel. This is the moment when He can release to you not just a son but a Samuel. Your prayers will be heard, and the answer you receive will be of such supernatural proportions that it will exceed your every imagination. You will get to the point where you surrender and say, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20a).

God is saying, “You are praying for one thing that is within your level of understanding, but I’m about to release something greater in your life, something prophetic that will not only affect you now but will go out and affect your generation and those to come.”

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God allows some of the hardship we face to drive up the intensity of our pursuit, the intensity of our prayers and the level of our faith and expectancy. God raises these levels because He wants to bring something out of us we never dreamed possible. Depending on people to be there for us when only God can make the difference will never work. There are some things man cannot do for us, and coming to this realization teaches us how to trust God. It teaches us how to draw near to Him.

This is the place of desperation I believe Hannah had come to, the place where her prayers no longer had words, the place where she was willing to do anything to receive what she needed from God. It is important that we dig deep into her process and examine the place of desperation she had come to and what was released into her life. Sometimes we just want answers to our problems or relief from our low place, but we don’t want to go through what it takes to build the spiritual strength and maturity necessary to carry and then steward what we’ve prayed for.

This woman had no children, and she wanted a child more than anything. She kept praying and praying, and nothing changed. And this other woman kept mocking and mocking, and nothing changed. Hannah was shamed and ashamed. She felt hopeless, and then she became desperate. I believe this is when desperation becomes your friend.

No one likes to be desperate, but it seems as if God looks upon desperate people. The woman in Luke 8:43-48 with an issue of blood was desperate. She was bleeding, which according to Jewish law meant that she was unclean. Year after year, she had dealt with shame and rejection because of her condition. She was labeled and shunned by the community. She had no business being in a crowd, but she was so desperate after 12 years of hemorrhaging that she pressed through the crowd, touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed. Because of the low place she had been reduced to, she developed a strong desire to remain in that place no longer. She got desperate and made a move that placed her at the feet of Jesus.

The woman’s desperation forced her out of hiding, and she was met with compassion and healing. She was released back into life with the peace of God imparted to her. No more wrestling with the rejection of unanswered prayer. No more shames. No more labeling. No more mocking. With her healing came more than she imagined.

Don’t let people who don’t know your story stop you from going after what you know God has promised. Imagine if Hannah would have listened to Peninnah and just given up, thinking it wasn’t the will of God for her to have a child. What if she thought that was just the way things had to be, her waking up each day to affliction and mocking?

But God sees and hears, and when you call upon His name in your desperation, He will not turn away from you. He will not try to divert your attention to something else. He will not say that you have gone overboard or that you are overreacting. God will honor His promise to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Image result for animated time to laugh

 Zack Hill for 2/16/2019

Christian Funny Pictures - A time to laugh: Why wait till Friday, let's thank God for everyday...

Inherit the Mirth Comic Strip, March 07, 2014 on GoComics.com

 

 

 

 

 

February, My Month…and Super Bowl Sunday!

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Image result for animated Sunday Praying Time

Daily Prayer for February 3
————————————————————

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27, NIV

Dear Father in heaven, we may come to you, for you have counted us as your children. Our hearts long to come to you, our God and Savior. May your Word bless us and restore us. Give us courageous hearts to bear the distress of our times. Let a light arise in our days so that people care about your will. Then the need on earth shall come to an end, your name shall be honored, and your will be done. Lord God, you alone are our help. Be merciful to us. Stretch out your hand so that all people may turn to you and to your commandments, and your will may be done on earth. Amen.

 

 

Verse of the Day—

Logos.com

 

 

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Daily Dig for February 3

Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

If you rely on God’s love, you will find yourself, so to speak, on a mountain. The higher up you go, the greater will be the horizon of your love. As you go up the mountain of the Lord, you will be astonished – the higher you go, the further your love will reach. Continue going up until you can love all people, as God loves the world.

Source: The Gospel of God’s Reign

 

 

Fear will always be the opposite of faith. Unbelief will always be the opposite of believing. When the Lord has spoken to you, hang onto it and do not listen to the negative voices. Read today‘s message for a word that will stir your faith!

Do Not Be Afraid

While he still spoke, one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house came, saying to him, ‘Your daughter is dead. Don’t trouble the Teacher.’ But Jesus hearing it, answered him, ‘Don’t be afraid. Only believe, and she will be healed.’ Luke 8:49 WEB

Jairus had a twelve-year-old daughter that was deathly sick and could not get out of bed. He came to Jesus, fell down at His feet, and begged Him to come and heal her. Jesus went with him, but while on the way, someone met them on the road and told them: ‘Your daughter is dead.’

Jesus told him: ‘Don’t be afraid. Only believe, and she will be healed.’ A short time later, his daughter was well. This had to be a very difficult test for Jairus, but afterwards he had a testimony and I am sure that it contained these words: ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe, and it will be well.’

There will always be those that will tell you things that are contrary to what God has told you. Fear will always be the opposite of faith. Unbelief will always be the opposite of believing. When the Lord has spoken to you, hang onto it and do not listen to the negative voices. Don’t be afraid, just believe, and it will be well.

No matter what circumstance you face today, these words still hold eternal power that you can claim for your very own. Do not give into fear. Believe the word of God, and it will be well for you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father please help me to stand on Your word and grow my trust in You. Forgive me of my fears and my lack of trust in the past and show Yourself strong in my life. Speak to me in a way that I understand and send the Comforter to me today, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray.

Bible Fun Fact: The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 117.

 

 

Daily Wisdom:

Illustration of Proverbs 3:1-2 — My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity.

 

Passion for Praise: ‘With All My Heart’

Illustration of Psalm 111:1 — Praise the LORD! I will thank the LORD with all my heart as I meet with his godly people.

 

Spiritual Warfare: ‘God’s Word Is a Weapon Against Evil’

God’s Power for Our Battles

So then, take your standFasten truth around your waist like a beltPut on God’s approval as your breastplate. … Also take salvation as your helmet and God’s word as the sword that the Spirit supplies.

Today’s Prayer

Lord, remind me of Your truth the instant I need it. Help me to make a habit of being in Your truth on a regular basis, so its principles become like second nature to me. And help me to act righteously in everything I do, so I can bring You great glory. Satan and his forces are out to get me. Enlarge my faith so that Your protection is big enough to cover me completely. Let it be wide enough and thick enough for me to win my battles for Your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

‘The Greatest Treasure’

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved of the Father,

You are a child of God; so I want to open your heart to hear two incredible truths found below in two simple stories that I told long ago.

Truth One:

You are the Father’s treasure! Yes, I know that is not normally how the two stories below are read, but I want you to think about it for a minute. There is a truth that you must not miss behind this understanding of these stories. The Father sent Me, His greatest gift, to pay the price to ransom you back to Us. You are Our treasure — Our discovered treasure and Our searched for treasure. I was the willing purchase price paid to buy you back from sin and death.

Truth Two:

The kingdom is the greatest treasure you can ever find. For some, it will seem like an accidental and great discovery as in the first story — almost like the treasure found them! The key, however, is that when you have “accidentally” discovered this treasure, then you should be willing to give up everything else to make it your own! Others, as in the second story, will find the treasure of the kingdom because they have longed to find it and have searched far and wide to find it. Again, the key is that having found it, they rejoice in giving up everything else to make this treasure of the kingdom their own!

Notice the truth that ties these two understandings together: true treasure is worth any price necessary. That is true with the ultimate price I paid in coming to redeem you. It is also true for the price you must be ready to pay for the kingdom if you are willing to follow Me!

Verses to Live

What is your greatest treasure? I made clear that you are My treasure when I left the Father’s side and came to give My life to buy you out of slavery to sin and death and to reclaim you as a child of God. Will you choose to see My way, My kingdom, as your greatest treasure?

Jesus:

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that is hidden in a field. A crafty man found the treasure buried there and buried it again so no one would know where it was. Thrilled, he went off and sold everything he had, and then he came back and bought the field with the hidden treasure part of the bargain.

Or the kingdom of heaven is like a jeweler on the lookout for the finest pearls. When he found a pearl more beautiful and valuable than any jewel he had ever seen, the jeweler sold all he had and bought that pearl, his pearl of great price.

(Matthew 13:44-46)

Response in Prayer

O Father, all I can think about in response to these stories is Your great love that sent Jesus to ransom me and Jesus’ great love to come and pay the price for my sin. The words to the old hymn speak the emotions of my heart in response to this great love:

Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.*

May the lordship of Jesus and the kingdom of heaven rule my heart just as the sacrifice of Jesus has captured my heart and made me Your child. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


* From Isaac Watts’ hymn, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” 1707.

 

 

Prophetic Insight newsletter

Have You Succumbed to the False Spirit Sweeping the Nation?

Doves are sensitive birds. At the slightest movement they fly away. They are symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Although similar, pigeons are distinctly different.
Doves are sensitive birds. At the slightest movement they fly away. They are symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Although similar, pigeons are distinctly different. (focusonpc/Pixabay/Public Domain)

Doves are sensitive birds. At the slightest movement they fly away. They are symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Although similar, pigeons are distinctly different. While a dove is more sensitive and easier to shoo away, a pigeon walks in places with lots of people and lots of noise and is not as easily spooked.

Pigeon religion is a counterfeit spirit to the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which again is symbolic of the dove.

Looking briefly at some recent statistics, the two most unchurched areas in America are San Francisco at 60 percent and the Boston area, where we presently live, at 57 percent. The most dechurched areas are San Francisco (Bay Area) and Boston as well, at 47 percent and 46 percent respectively.

The difference between unchurched and dechurched is the difference between a sinner (unchurched) and a believer who is uncommitted to a local body (dechurched).

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In comparing the entire East Coast with the West Coast, the East coast is only 5 percent more unchurched than the West Coast. However, the dechurched on the East Coast is significantly higher than the dechurched on the West Coast by a significant margin – nearly 80 percent more. This would imply that on the West Coast, believers are generally more committed to a local body and living in community. That was surprising to me.

EXAMPLES OF PIGEON RELIGION

Many of the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches on the East Coast are involved in the prophetic movement, but it’s failing to add growth and stability. On the West Coast the Pentecostal/Charismatic church is caught up in a conglomeration of movements that are also failing to add long-term stability to this generation. Additionally, the seeker-sensitive movement is failing to make a significant spiritual impact in these regions.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of false prophets roaming our land. Aren’t you growing a little tired of hearing about new mantles, double portions, debt cancellation anointings and breaker anointings? Not to mention the gross overemphasis on personal prophecy and prophetic ministry, the inordinate attention given to deliverance and demonic warfare, angelic activation, gold dust, heavenly portals, and atmosphere changes.

One ministry advertised itself by the blowing of the shofar, calling it a unique and distinct anointing that causes breakthroughs in cities and regions. Really? So all this ministry needs to do is blow the shofar and it will cause breakthroughs in entire regions? As one old minister of God used to say, I’d rather hear a donkey bray at midnight in a tin barn than to hear such foolishness. It’s painful, actually, because so many young and even older untrained believers fall for this wacko version of Christianity. How do we expect to win the world with this nonsense? And have you ever noticed that most of the Christians who are enamored with such things live dysfunctional lives? The bane of every shepherd and ministry gift is when your preaching and teaching breeds such imbalanced and unstable people.

You cannot teach people to receive a revelation and personally prophecy to every individual. I remember going to a minister’s breakfast one time and a young so-called prophet prophesying to me for about five minutes. None of what he said bore witness with my spirit. He was seeing “this” and seeing “that” and it wasn’t accurate revelation he was receiving from the Spirit of God, but what I call visualization. He was just imagining things in his soul and speaking them out. If a person does that long enough, he’ll give over to a familiar spirit, which is common in our day. You see, just because a revelation is true does not necessarily mean it is of God. Some prophets will receive a revelation by the Spirit on one occasion and then the next time they will be yielding to familiar spirits, which are demons that are familiar with the person being ministered to. These things happen as the Spirit wills, not as we will. The entire prophetic landscape has been contaminated with such and many people have been hurt and disillusioned.

Beware of pigeon religion. A casual observer will not be able to discern the difference. Some things are better caught than taught. One key is to associate with those who flow in the genuine move of the Holy Spirit. Years ago, in some old Pentecostal circles, when someone got up to prophesy in a congregation and he was clearly in the flesh, the people would “sit down” on him. In other words, they wouldn’t respond to his fleshly prophecy. Would to God we had as much sense today.

True believers have an anointing that teaches them all things. Depend on Him to lead you and guide you and teach you.

“But the anointing which you have received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. For as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and just as it has taught you, remain in Him” (1 Jn. 2:27).

Learn to follow the dove, the Holy Spirit, who is the real Spirit of truth and not a pigeon.

It is time for those who have been trained in the real to pass on the move of God to the next generation. If we don’t, it will be lost in the next generation.

 

 

Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional
Romans 8:12
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.”

As God’s creatures, we are all debtors to Him: to obey Him with all our body, and soul, and strength. Having broken His commandments, as we all have, we are debtors to His justice, and we owe to Him a vast amount which we are not able to pay. But of the Christian it can be said that he does not owe God’s justice anything, for Christ has paid the debt His people owed; for this reason the believer owes the more to love. I am a debtor to God’s grace and forgiving mercy; but I am no debtor to His justice, for He will never accuse me of a debt already paid. Christ said, “It is finished!” and by that He meant, that whatever His people owed was wiped away for ever from the book of remembrance. Christ, to the uttermost, has satisfied divine justice; the account is settled; the handwriting is nailed to the cross; the receipt is given, and we are debtors to God’s justice no longer. But then, because we are not debtors to our Lord in that sense, we become ten times more debtors to God than we should have been otherwise. Christian, pause and ponder for a moment. What a debtor thou art to divine sovereignty! How much thou owest to His disinterested love, for He gave His own Son that He might die for thee. Consider how much you owe to His forgiving grace, that after ten thousand affronts He loves you as infinitely as ever. Consider what you owe to His power; how He has raised you from your death in sin; how He has preserved your spiritual life; how He has kept you from falling; and how, though a thousand enemies have beset your path, you have been able to hold on your way. Consider what you owe to His immutability. Though you have changed a thousand times, He has not changed once. Thou art as deep in debt as thou canst be to every attribute of God. To God thou owest thyself, and all thou hast—yield thyself as a living sacrifice, it is but thy reasonable service.

 

 

 

February 3: Wisdom Can Quickly Become Folly
Exodus 7–8; John 1:35–51; Song of Solomon 1:8–14

What we need to hear and what we want to hear are rarely the same thing. Leaders who encourage honesty, allow for errors, and establish an environment of trust usually hear what they need to hear. A dictator, on the other hand, will never learn what they really need to know. People shield them or stay away from them; an environment of fear is only destructive. It’s with this point in mind that the story of Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh becomes even more intriguing.
Pharaoh surrounded himself with people who would tell him what he wanted to hear (Exod 7:22), not what he needed to hear: “You’re oppressing the Hebrew people and they will rise up against you. And furthermore, we’re afraid of their God and we can’t really do what He can do. We’re small-time dark magic; their God is the big time.” Instead of speaking this truth, Pharaoh’s advisors went on pretending and conjuring up cheap tricks.
Plague after plague hit Egypt, but Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. And this is where we don’t really know what happened: when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, was it already too difficult for Pharaoh to give in on his own accord? We don’t know the answer, but we do know that God ended up making an example of his foolishness.
Even when water turns to blood, frogs appear everywhere—followed shortly by gnats and flies (Exod 7:14–8:32)—Pharaoh didn’t listen. Instead of turning to Yahweh, he turned to the same sources: his gods, his belief that he is a god (common for Egyptians), and his ill-advised counselors. And that’s the lesson: if you surround yourself with “yes” people, they will say yes, and you will be ignorant. You will lose, and you will end up on the wrong side of God.

Who do you turn to for advice? Are your friends, mentors, and church leaders more apt to tell you the truth or say something that makes you happy? If it’s the latter, who can you turn to who will speak honestly to you about faith?

JOHN D. BARRY

 

 

The Day The Music Died - February 3

NATIONAL THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED DAY

The Day the Music Died Day is always observed on February 3rd. This day we remember the unfortunate and untimely death of singers 22-year-old Buddy Holly, 17-year-old Richie Valens, and 28-year-old J. P. Richardson, aka: “The Big Bopper”.  These three artists died in an airplane accident on February 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa. Their pilot, Roger Peterson, also perished in the crash.

The Day the Music Died was dubbed so by Don  McLean’s song  “American Pie”

Buddy Holly’s band was on tour and had played at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.  They were headed to their next destination in Moorhead, Minnesota.  For this leg of their journey, they decided to take a charter plane rather than go with their tour bus. Richardson “The Big Bopper”,  had swapped places with Waylon Jennings, taking the latter’s place on the plane and Tommy Allsup had lost his place to Ritchie Valens in a coin toss.

Not long after takeoff, they were no longer able to be reached by radio, and they did not reach their destination. The aircraft was reported missing. The next day, the wreckage was found less than 6 miles northwest of the airport in a cornfield.  Poor weather conditions and pilot error were determined, during the investigation, to have been the cause of the pilot losing control of the plane.

This event has echoed through history for over 50 years.  Visitors still make the pilgrimage each year to Clear Lake, Iowa, the resort town about 110 miles north of Des Moines, as this was the point of their last concert before the fatal accident.

“The day the music died” is a line in the 1972 Don McLean hit “American Pie.” McLean’s song, which he wrote in the late 1960s and released in 1971, was in part inspired by the tragic event which took the lives of three great musicians and their pilot.

Following are lyrics from the song “American Pie”

But February made me shiver,
With every paper I’d deliver,
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step. 
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside,
The day the music died.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Listen to some of the music by Richie Valens, Buddy Holly or The Big Bopper.

Use #TheDayTheMusicDied to post on social media.

Visit these Tribute Pages:

The Big Bopper Endorsed Page

Official Big Bopper on Instagram

The Ritchie Valens Facebook Page

Official Ritchie Valens on Instagram

 

HISTORY

Within our research, we were unable to find the origins of National the Day the Music Died.

 

 

And now, some humor…….

 Aunty Acid for 2/3/2019

 

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