When Jesus laughs.

Several years ago our family (while I was a teenager) received a forwarded email. It was all the rage back then. You receive something that you like and you forward it on to your whole address book 🙂 It contained the drawn images of a Jesus laughing. Through the years those pictures have stayed with me. On and off I’ll look up Jesus Laughing on Google. Today when I did, I’m reminded that Jesus felt joy as much as sorrow. He laughed and He cried. He rejoiced and He mourned. I wanted to credit the person who drew these pictures and so this is the best link I’ve found to him, Laughing Jesus .

Jesus is more often portrayed as a solemn man. A God who was weighed down by the sorrows of the world. A man who had a mission to accomplish. He had no time to take in the sights.

While a lot of that is true, Jesus was fully man and fully God. He had a mission to accomplish. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with suffering Isaiah 53:3. He carried the sins of the world on His shoulders John 1:29 . But……………… Jesus had time to take in the sights. He went to a wedding in Cana and rejoiced with them. Remember He turned the water into wine? Wine that tasted much better than what was offered at first. He sat down and spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well for a long time. He asked that the little children not be hindered when their parents brought them to Him to bless. Little children generally aren’t quiet ( that’s probably why the disciples thought they were a nuisance). Little children have an innate sense and they generally don’t go to serious, solemn people or people who are serious all the time.

Scripture shows us that there’s rejoicing as well. In Heaven as on earth. The Bible starts with the story of creation and rightly so. Everything that God created, He saw and declared that it was good. He rejoiced in His creation.  God repeatedly commands us to rejoice. To rejoice in celebrating festivals and holy days. To rejoice in Him at all times. To rejoice when those around us come to salvation. To rejoice and to be joyful in suffering. We are created in His image Genesis 1:27. We have the mind of Christ 1 Corinthians 2:16. We have the in dwelling Spirit in us 1 Corin 3:16, 1 Corin 6:19, 2 Corin 6:16, Eze 36:27, Isa 63:11, 2 Tim 1:14, Acts 6:5, Eph 5:18, Rom 8:11, John 16:13, Gal 5:18, Gal 5:22, Rom 8:9, Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6, 1 John 2: 27. If He wasn’t joyous, we couldn’t be. If He did not feel like laughing, we wouldn’t be able to. If He did not experience something, He would not command us to do that very thing.

Some verses that talk about laughter and rejoicing are below. They are quite a few on the derisive laughter or mocking laughter and I’ve not included them.

Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’

A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything.

Numbers 10:10

Also at your times of rejoicing – your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts – you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.’

Deuteronomy 27:7

Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord your God.

Now King David was told, ‘The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.’ So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.  ae474bdb722dcbe7014ef2960dc0cce5

1 Kings 1:40

And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.
She looked and there was the king, standing by the pillar, as the custom was. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her robes and called out, ‘Treason! Treason!’

Then Jehoiada placed the oversight of the temple of the Lord in the hands of the Levitical priests, to whom David had made assignments in the temple, to present the burnt offerings of the Lord as written in the Law of Moses, with rejoicing and singing, as David had ordered.

2 Chronicles 30:21

The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the Lord every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the Lord.

And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

It [the sun] is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Psalm 105:43

He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy;

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in the human race.
From them will come songs of thanksgiving and the sound of rejoicing. I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased; I will bring them honour, and they will not be disdained.
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent.
In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.

sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

On the first day you are to take branches from luxuriant trees – from palms, willows and other leafy trees – and rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.

There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed

And there rejoice before the Lord your God – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns who have no land allotted to them or any inheritance of their own. fe2fc8db695f09f2f2e435926e71343e

Deuteronomy 12:18

Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place the Lord your God will choose – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns – and you are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to.
Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.
And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you.
Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
Rejoice, you nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.
About Zebulun he said: ‘Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out, and you, Issachar, in your tents.
[ Hannah’s prayer ] Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your

Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight.

‘Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lordrejoice.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’
The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
‘Now arise, Lord God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, Lord God, be clothed with salvation, may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness.
All Judah rejoiced about the oath because they had sworn it wholeheartedly. They sought God eagerly, and he was found by them. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.

Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.

All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword. jesus_child

Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.
The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the foreigners who had come from Israel.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
that I may declare your praises in the gates of Daughter Zion, and there rejoice in your salvation.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
[ Psalm 21 ] [ For the director of music. A psalm of David. ] The king rejoices in your strength, Lord. How great is his joy in the victories you give!
I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord and delight in his salvation.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced.
The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!
He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot – come, let us rejoice in him.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him – his name is the Lord.
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.
[ Psalm 97 ] The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, Lord.
Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.
May the glory of the Lord endure for ever; may the Lord rejoicein his works –
May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lordrejoice.
The upright see and rejoice, but all the wicked shut their mouths.
While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice.
The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
I rejoice in your promise like one who finds great spoil.
[ Psalm 122 ] [ A song of ascents. Of David. ] I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honour and sing for joy on their beds.118bb86e01091cb3a927f0dba67f2fd2-jesus-drawings-pencil-drawings
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.
The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.
May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful!
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.
Take me away with you – let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. [ Friends ] We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. [ She ] How right they are to adore you!
come out, and look, you daughters of Zion. Look on King Solomon wearing a crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

I have commanded those I prepared for battle; I have summoned my warriors to carry out my wrath – those who rejoice in my triumph.

In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’

Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
[ Joy of the redeemed ] The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus,

it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God.

You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

Let the wilderness and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops.

Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.694cc74ee79150a0a869a053320ca807

Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

Isaiah 65:13

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; my servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; my servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.

But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.

I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with
When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the Lord will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.

They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord – the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.

I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things!

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.

Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoicewith all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem!jesus-lauging

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.’

‘Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoicewhen they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?’

[ The coming of Zion’s king ] Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The Ephraimites will become like warriors, and their hearts will be glad as with wine. Their children will see it and be joyful; their hearts will rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoicebecause of his birth,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.”

And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.”

Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope,

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Again, it says, ‘Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.’

Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

[ Final greetings ] Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.

[ No confidence in the flesh ] Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

[ Final exhortations ] Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice!

[ Thanks for their gifts ] I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.

[ Paul’s labour for the church ] Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.’

Rejoice over her, you heavens! Rejoice, you people of God! Rejoice, apostles and prophets! For God has judged her with the judgment she imposed on you.’

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

So I say, rejoice and again I say rejoice!!!

In joy,

Vanessa

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When God calls you to stay at home.

A friend and a sister ( in more ways than one) Vanessa A Harris., asked me to contribute a post for her newsletter awhile ago. While I can’t post or link directly to that article, I have her permission to post my original. If you want to connect with her or receive her newsletters head on over to her blog, Vine Life Faith and subscribe 😉 Vanessa asked me to write about a God-moment/ situation in my life and I decided to share that with you this week as well. The style of writing for this post may be different from my usual ones because I’m trying out different ones. If it doesn’t work I’ll go back to the way I normally write 🙂

 

I’ve been married for 8 years. I’ve stayed home all that time while my husband worked crazy long hours. So what’s new now? Why do I say God’s called me to stay home? In the last couple of years, God had been working on me , to be content, to be joyful where He’s asked me to be.

That He’s made very clear to me and to others for me, is to be home. To raise my children. To realise my sphere of ministry is limited to 3 people. And I’m to be content with that.

In my natural state, I hate it! I’m an extrovert. I am re -charged being among people. I like to be involved in something that shows results. I want to be known. I want people to notice me. I want people to miss me. I want to be valued and cherished and needed by people.

But God. But My God.

He’s a Jealous One, He is. He wants to be my only Lover. He wants all of me. He wants me to find myself in Him. He wants me to realise that the Only Person whose approval I should be seeking is Him. And He deserves it. All of that and more. Because He gave me more than I could imagine or ask for. He loves me with a passion that has no end.

So how did He tell me?

Last June we moved to this city for my husband’s job ( he’s a specialist doctor with the resulting long hours, also we’ve moved every 3 years for his job). To make friends and meet new people , I went to a ladies lunch at a local church. Our table was full, and out of the 8 people there that day, Monica and Karen impacted my life in a “God-has-done-this” way. Only God . He make sure He got my attention, and I knew it couldn’t be a coincidence.

Monica told me at the Holy Spirit’s prompting that she felt very strongly, that this year I should NOT get involved in any ministry at church. ( The 6 years prior, that we had lived in 2 different states and attended 2 different churches, I was actively involved in the Children’s and the Women’s Ministries. I attended as many Bible studies as I could and I served in Sunday School as often as they wanted me. That to me was my validation and my identity). What Monica had to say to me, I did not like! But I did listen and I am very grateful I did. Right now Monica is a very dear mentor and we meet as frequently as we can, in my home around my chaotic schedule, to learn the Bible and to mature together.

You know our younger son was diagnosed with Autism 2 years ago now, and last year we needed to re-start his ABA therapy after dis-continuing it because of the move. My husband and I decided to give priority to his therapy for at least 2 years. Because I stayed home, and wasn’t committed anywhere on a daily or weekly basis, I could easily accommodate re-scheduled sessions for my son. ( We’re up to 30 hours of therapy/ week for my son, so that’s 30+ hours/ week that I need to stay home.)

In December of last year, nearly 6-8 months after being joyfully – content in my role as a SAHM, I saw incredible results in my son. He made more eye contact, he was affectionate and asked us for affection, he could make some wants known, he followed some directions, he had lesser (and easier to handle) meltdowns, and one Sunday at church I was overwhelmed with His Goodness and His Faithfulness. He had never left my side ( or my family’s) and He loved ( and still does) my son more than my husband and I ever will.

After meeting Karen last June, we texted occasionally and sought to meet, but things did not work out until April of this year. She had moved to a different state (her husband is an army Chaplin), they had come back for a short time as he had training and she had come to visit her family since she was 5 months pregnant with their first child. We met one Sunday at church, when my husband was on call, and hers was at the training camp. I debated telling her about my son, and then something inside me made me tell her about the Autism. Turns out she worked as the same kind of behavioral therapist that works with my son. She told me that children who had their parent/s stay with them during sessions made more progress and quickly too compared to those who didn’t. This was a healing balm to me, and just the edifying encouragement I needed at that time. Karen since has gone back with her husband and her baby is due any day now.

I did not expect to still be at home raising my kids 8 years into our marriage. I expected that once my husband’s hours were less chaotic, I would go back into the work force. I thought that would have happened 3 years ago. But God has other plans for me. He is teaching me to wholly depend on Him to be my identity, my validation, my reason for being. He’s teaching me to love my husband passionately, to be patient with my children, to kindly discipline them and to be present in the daily minutiae with my family. He’s seeing everything I do, even when I don’t feel like what I do has any value.

I want to encourage you to be faithful to Him. Whatever He has called you to do. Whatever He shows you. Leave it in His Hands and watch the wonder as He leads you down the path that only you can travel. What’s been asked of me may not ( probably will not ) be asked of you.

  • You may need to stay at home.
  • You may need to be a worker and a bread winner.
  • You may need to be single.
  • You may be married.
  • You may need to stay in a marriage to Honour Him.
  • You may need to leave a marriage and be a single parent.
  • You may need to take part in active ministry.
  • You may need to be faithful in the background.
  • You may be called to be known and famous.
  • You may be seen only by Him.

Wherever you are placed, you are known, you are loved, you are wanted, you are cherished. By The One who made you and knows you intimately. By The One who loved you so much He died for you, and rose again. If you are known by and know This Father, I look forward to seeing you, my friend, in Heaven. If you don’t know Him, please come to Him before it’s too late. He’s waiting for you with arms opened wide.

Colossians 1:1-2  (You are a special messenger , personally chosen to represent Christ. No one else can do what you are called to do.)

Paul, an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative) of Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed) by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the [a]saints and faithful [b]believers in Christ [who are] at Colossae: Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father.

Ephesians 2: 8-10 (Everything we have and are given is given to us by grace not because of merit, to do what God has prepared in advance to do.)
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no-one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

 

 

See you next week,

Vanessa.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided.

Another older post and one that the Lord gave me. By the time this is posted, a few newer posts should be done. Thank you for your continuing encouragement and support. 

Last week, I wrote about Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, from this text Genesis 22:14  So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.

I’ve read that passage so many times, but reading it again, I found something curious ( it’s always been there, but my eyes and heart were opened this time). Right after Abraham finds the ram caught by its horns and calls God, The Lord who Provides, the very next line, mentions On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. That verse stayed with me and a couple of nights later, I felt the Spirit showing me some things that were provided by God on the mountain, in several places in the Bible. I can honestly tell you, that it wasn’t my insight, it wasn’t my intelligence, or my studies. It was definitely something that The Spirit showed me, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about it.

For example, Moses received the 10 commandments on a mountain. He and his brother Aaron died on a mountain too. Joshua asked the tribes on stand on 2 facing mountains and proclaim blessings and curses on the nation of Israel. Hebron, a hilly country was given to Caleb and his family. Elijah “saw” God’s appearance as a still , small voice while he was hiding in a cleft in a mountain. The temple of God and the city of Jerusalem itself were on top of a mountain ( Jerusalem is still an uphill kind of city). Jesus was transfigured on top of a mountain. He fed the 5000 and maybe 7000 too, on top of a mountain. He spoke the beatitudes from the top of a mountain. Jesus spent the night before His death, on the mount of Olives ( the garden of Gethsamane is at the foot of it) He was crucified on a hill, and ascended from a mountain and will come back again to one.

So, I wanted to do a comprehensive study of mountains in the Bible, and tell you about it. I hope you can share your mountain-top experience with me. What God showed you, when He came through for you, how it changed you and who you are now because of those experiences. That way we can join together as the body of Christ and give Him the glory He deserves.

While studying about the significance of mountains in the Bible, several things come to mind. In one article, they mention that mountains/ hills/ hilly cities/ mountainous regions are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. I’m taking their word for it :-). Thinking of mountains and hills in a geographical sense, they’re higher than the surrounding land, and so strategically they were the best places to set up capitals of kingdoms, easier to fortify, easier to defend and generally un-takeable by the enemy. In a spiritual sense, it seemed that being on the top of a mountain was being closer to God. On top of mountains, several things that were important to the people of God took place. Conversely, the people, when they decided to do what was right in their own eyes, took to worshipping false gods on the mountains ( In several places in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, when the king followed after God, it is mentioned that he destroyed the altars in the high places).

So starting at the beginning,

 

In the psalms, mountains usually appear in a prayer to God or praise. 

  • Psalm 3:4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
  • Psalm 15:1 [ Psalm 15 ] [ A psalm of David. ] Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
  • Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
  • Psalm 30:7 Lord, when you favoured me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
  • Psalm 36:6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
  • Psalm 48:1 [ Psalm 48 ] [ A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. ] Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
  • Psalm 68:16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the Lord himself will dwell for ever?
  • Psalm 97:5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
  • Psalm 99:9 Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.
  • Psalm 125:2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and for evermore.

 

In the prophets.

  • Isaiah 2:1 [ The mountain of the Lord ] This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
  • Isaiah 2:2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
  • Isaiah 2:3 Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
  • Isaiah 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
  • Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.
  • Isaiah 25:10 The hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain; but Moab will be trampled in their land as straw is trampled down in the manure.
  • Isaiah 27:13 And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.
  • Isaiah 30:29 And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel.
  • Isaiah 44:23 Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.
  • Isaiah 49:13 Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
  • Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
  • Isaiah 65:25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.
  • Isaiah 66:20 And they will bring all your people, from all the nations, to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord – on horses, in chariots and wagons, and on mules and camels,’ says the Lord. ‘They will bring them, as the Israelites bring their grain offerings, to the temple of the Lord in ceremonially clean vessels.
  • Jeremiah 3:23 Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.
  • Jeremiah 31:23 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘When I bring them back from captivity, the people in the land of Judah and in its towns will once again use these words: “The Lord bless you, you prosperous city, you sacred mountain.”
  • Jeremiah 46:18 ‘As surely as I live,’ declares the King, whose name is the Lord Almighty, ‘one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains, like Carmel by the sea.
  • Ezekiel 11:23 The glory of the Lord went up from within the city and stopped above the mountain east of it.
  • Ezekiel 17:22 ‘“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
  • Ezekiel 20:40 For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices
  • Ezekiel 36:1 [ Hope for the mountains of Israel ] ‘Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, “Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord.
  • Joel 3:18 ‘In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias.
  • Amos 4:13 He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth – the Lord God Almighty is his name.
  • Amos 9:13 ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the ploughman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.
  • Obadiah 1:21 Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.
  • Jonah 2:6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in for ever. But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.
  • Micah 4:1 [ The mountain of the Lord ] In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
  • Micah 4:2 Many nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
  • Zechariah 8:3 This is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.’
  • CARMEL  A fertile and picturesque mountain in Palestine mentioned several times in the Bible (Song of Solomon 7:5;  Isaiah 33:9;35:2;  Jeremiah 46:18;50:19;  Amos 1:2)
  • JERUSALEM, the city on a hill is called THE THRONE OF THE LORD (Jeremiah 3:17)
  • JERUSALEM , like I mentioned, is situated on a hill, in one of the two mentions of “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS,” Jerusalem is called Righteous (Jeremiah 33:16)
  • LEBANON  another mountain range is mentioned often in the Bible.

 

In the New Testament.

  • In Matthew, Jesus is tempted on a mountain. Matthew 4:8
  • He gives the sermon on the mount ( the beatitudes) Matthew 5:1
  • A number of healings take place on a mountain Matthew 15:29
  • The transfiguration of Jesus, when Moses and Elijah come to strengthen Him, they who met Him themselves on mountains, is symbolic of Jesus fulfilling the Law and Prophets. Matthew 17:1-8
  • Jesus’ final message Matthew 24:1
  • Jesus’ sending out the apostles to the rest of the world Matthew 28:16
  • In the gospels , Jesus appoints the twelve disciples on a mountain. Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19
  • In Mark , Mark 5:11 , Jesus heals a demon possessed man.
  • In Luke, Luke 6:12 , Jesus goes up a mountain to pray.
  • Jesus feeds the 5000 ( and presumably the 7000 later ) on  mountain/ hilly region.
  • Jesus watched the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, just before the storm hit, and before He goes to them , walking on the water,  from the mountain.
  • Jesus instituting the Last Supper. Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20.
  • Jesus, spends His last night , praying in the Garden of Gethsammane ( which is at the foot of Mt Olives).
  • Jesus dies on a hill called Calvary/ Golgotta. He gave His life, as a ransom for many. The Ultimate Provision, so that we can stand before the Presence of a Holy God.
  • Jesus appears to more than 500 people at a time after His resurrection. Matthew 28:16-20
  • Jesus ascends from a mountain . Matthew 28:16

 

Mountain-top experiences are good. That’s where we meet God, personally, where we believe and know who He is. That’s where He provides for us, what we need, when we need. It also helps us, strengthens us for when we go through the valleys. In the valleys, God becomes real, because there is no one else is to depend on. On the mountains, we are encouraged and fulfilled.

Some of my mountain-top experiences have been

  • This post, the inspiration and the content, came straight from God.
  • Being woken up in the night, to pray specifically for a friend, and to find out a few days later, that it was her need.
  • Being given advice on how to deal with my daughter, during a phase that was difficult for both of us, that paid huge dividends, to a point now, that she and I get along well.
  • Praying to understand my husband’s heart, and being shown exactly how to encourage him.
  • Reading a portion of scripture, and being able to link it with several other passages, or understand something that had bothered me.
  • In our early years of my marriage, I mentioned to my husband , that I couldn’t understand why Judah was chosen to be the line of kings, when Joseph had been faithful, and he told me, it was because Judah chose to sacrifice himself for Benjamin ( Substitution, like Christ who was from the line of Judah, would do for us on the cross).
  • Studying the names of God, and being given a new understanding of who He is.
  • Being disciplined by Christ, for being ungrateful for what I had and for where I lived, and then through repentance, coming to see that my family and I are in  A place of abundance instead.

May I ask you to share your story, your song, your mountain-top experience with us? Where did God meet you? What did you learn through it?

 

The LORD our provider…. so give Him your Isaac.

Jehovah Jireh, another older post. I hope to post a new one soon. 

Jehovah Jireh, or Yahweh Jireh , or YHWH Jireh ( see YHWH in Adonai, Master and Yahweh, LORD. ), is again, a name that many christians are familiar with. It’s been made into catchy songs and always , almost always , used by TV evangelicals ( or pastors, preachers and others not on TV) to raise funds for the program or the church. While I’ve been fascinated by His names for several years, this name until recently, was something I din’t care too much for. It was something that I had become familiar with, and so I din’t chew much on this. Recently though, I heard a bible study , that made me listen, to remember, to know , really know, that He is our Provider. That He gives me everything I need, when I need it, He knows what I need.

Again, talking about “the law of first mentions” in the bible, we see this name first in Genesis 22. Appropriately enough, it starts with the words “Abraham tested” Genesis 22: 1-19 Abraham tested
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. 2 Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you.’ 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. 5 He said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.’ 6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, 7 Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, ‘Father?’ ‘Yes, my son?’ Abraham replied. ‘The fire and wood are here,’ Isaac said, ‘but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ 8 Abraham answered, ‘God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them went on together. 9 When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. 12 ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’ 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram[a] caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ 15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, ‘I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.’ 19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

 

When you read the passage, a few things come to mind immediately.

  • God tested Abraham.
  • He called him by name, “Abraham”
  • Abraham responded, willingly, “Here I am”
  • God tells Abraham to take “his son, his only son, whom he loved ( overkill anybody?) and sacrifice him on a mountain that He would show him” (Isaac at this time isn’t Abraham’s only son, Ishmael was alive as well, and likely Abraham loved both of them, even if he had sent Hagar and Ishmael away, but Isaac is the only son of promise)
  • Abraham obeyed immediately, he left early the next morning, with a couple of servants and Isaac ( many commentators believe he didn’t tell Sarah).
  • Abraham cuts enough wood for the offering before he leaves for the place that God told him about.
  • It takes them 3 days to reach an area, where Abraham looks up and sees the mountain in the distance.
  • He tells the servants to wait, and with faith declares, that both he and the boy will worship and both will come back.
  • He lays the wood on Isaac ( so he’s most likely a teenager-young adult at this time, it’s unlikely he’s a young boy), and Abraham carries the fire and the knife.
  • Isaac asks about the lamb for the offering, to which, Abraham, in faith replies, God will provide.
  • When they reach the place, Abraham arranges the wood, and binds Isaac up ( note he’s a teenager-young adult , apparently physically strong while Abraham is an old man, he was already  100 years when Isaac was born, but still Isaac doesn’t resist his father) .
  • Abraham reaches out for his knife!
  • The angel of the Lord calls out, again personally, “Abraham, Abraham”.
  • Abraham responds with “Here I am “again.
  • God tells him not to harm the boy, and also reiterates with, “He knows Abraham really loves Him, because he didn’t hold back his son”
  • Then Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns, and he takes that one and sacrifices it instead. (God doesn’t open his eyes to it before, only when he was ready to sacrifice Isaac)
  • Then Abraham called that place The Lord will provide .
  • It’s interesting to note, that next it says, “On the mountain of the Lord, it will be provided “, some commentators believe that this looks forward, to when Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, He provided the atonement needed for our sins, so that we could have access to the Father.
  • The angel of the Lord called out a second time, and reminded Abraham of the promise He had made to him , several years earlier, because Abraham had obeyed God.
  • Abraham returned to his servants as he had promised.

Because of this incident, Abraham , several times in the new testament, is referred to as “the father of faith ” and this is credited to him as “righteousness” , that Abraham believed that God would either save Isaac or raise him again, either way Abraham knew God would keep His promises, to make his descendants as numerous as the sand or the stars in the sky.

Romans 4:3 What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness

Romans 4:9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

Romans 4:16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

Galatians 3:6 So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’

Galatians 3:7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.

Galatians 3:8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’

Galatians 3:9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3:14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son,

James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.

So what I want to ask you is, what or who is your Isaac? Is it your spouse? Your child/ren? Your job? Your reputation? Your home maybe? Your ministry in the church? What was it that you fought hard for? that you worked hard for? that you prayed fervently for?

If you did and received it from the Lord, and you rejoiced and laughed and were filled with joy, then God tested you. He asked you to sacrifice it, to give it away, to walk from it. Would you be able to do it? Give your life for Him. Be parted from your children in order to take His word to others. Not marry because your spouse is not part of His will. Be slandered because you did what He told you to, but the world didn’t like it. Walk away from a legacy that you built, because He wanted you to.

I must confess thinking about my Isaacs ( my husband, my children, our reputation, our finances) , I’m very hesitant to even think of giving them up, knowing all the while, that God can raise it back again or give it back to me. But hearing that study convicted me to hold them loosely, to be willing to say ” Here I am” and be willing to follow through immediately. While I’m still holding those things and people dear to me, I’m praying , that I will be made malleable, that God will soften my heart, will give me peace to entrust to Him, what is His to begin with. I’m praying, and very slowly. I’m learning to give it all to Him. Will you join me? Give back to Him, what He’s asking you for. Because He is Jehovah Jireh. The Lord our Provider. He can and does and will provide for me and for you. What we need. When we need. But it may look different from what we want though.

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Luke part 5: Jesus’ words will never pass away.

This is the last and final post on the Gospel of Luke. Whew!! Who would have thought that a summary of just 4-5 chapters would consist of 1500-1800 words per post and there have been 4 already. That’s nearly 6000-7000 words and I still have the last few chapters left! The featured image above is the poster made by The Bible Project team , the ones who have made the visual videos that I add to these posts. Some other places that provide summaries of the chapters/books of the Bible are @BibleSummary  on Twitter , Insights into the Bible by Chuck Swindoll and Books of the Bible in a few sentences by Jeffery Kranz. There are definitely others but these are the ones I’ve used. If you’ve missed previous posts on the Gospel of Luke , you an read them here by clicking on the links, Luke part 1 : Jesus is willing., Luke part 2 : Jesus the healer.,Luke part 3 : Jesus the Teacher. and Luke part 4 : With Jesus nothing is impossible.

In chapter 21: Jesus commends a poor widow’s offering. When the disciples look in awe at the Temple, Jesus tells them that the Temple will be torn down. He also warns them to be on their guard against the end times’ false messiahs. Jesus also warns His disciples ( and us), that we will be betrayed and punished and persecuted, but not to worry, because He will give us words and the wisdom that our adversaries cannot contradict. Jesus tells us that when the end times’ signs take place we are to stand and lift up our hands for our redemption is near. He tells to be alert for the day and to always pray. His words will never pass away unfulfilled. Each day Jesus taught in the Temple and every night He went to pray to the Father.

In chapter 22 : This is a sad but very human chapter ( all the people in this chapter with the exception of Jesus are fearful, angry, frightened, guilty, argumentative, bewildered, impulsive, weary, mocking and scornful.) Judas decides to betray Jesus. Jesus institutes what is now known as Communion at the Passover Festival. The disciples argue about who is the greatest among themselves. Jesus tells His disciples to equip themselves with everything they have when they set out to tell others about Jesus. Jesus prays at the garden of Gethsamane and is so anguished His sweat turns to blood. He is strengthened by an angel. Jesus submits Himself to the Father’s will.  His disciples are weary and fall asleep instead of watching and praying. Jesus is betrayed by Judas. One of the disciples cuts off someone’s ear. Jesus heals the man. Jesus is brought to the High priest for trial and in the courtyard Peter denies Jesus thrice. Jesus is mocked and insulted by the guards and then taken before the Council of the Synagogue ( the chief priests and the teachers of the law). Jesus declares that He ( the Son of Man and the Son of God) will sit at the right hand of the Mighty God.

In chapter 23: Jesus is taken before Pilate and the Jewish leaders instigated the people to ask for Jesus’ death. When Pilate hears that Jesus is a Galilean, he sends Him to Herod (who had jurisdiction over Galilee and was in Jerusalem at that time probably for the Feast). Herod is intrigued by Jesus but finds no fault worthy of death and sends Him back to Pilate. Pilate releases a murderer named Barabbas and allows the Jews to crucify Jesus. While the soldiers lead Jesus and 2 other condemned criminals to the place called Skull ( Golgotha) ,they seize a man named Simon (of Cyrene) and force him to carry Jesus’ cross.  A large number of people follow Jesus’ path even women who mourned for Him. He tells them to weep for themselves not Him. Jesus forgives His tormentors. Jesus offers paradise to one criminal who asks for it. From noon till 3 in the afternoon darkness covers the land. Jesus breathes His last and gives His Spirit to the Father. The curtain in the Temple is torn in half. A ( Roman) centurion praises God and calls Him a righteous man. Joseph ( of Arimathea), a good man of the Council of the Synagogue who had not consented to having Jesus killed, asks Pilate fro Jesus’ body and wrapping it in linen cloth places it in a new tomb ( his own). The women{1} who followed Jesus see where He’s laid and go home to prepare spices and perfumes, and rest on the Sabbath, in obedience to the scriptures.

In chapter 24: On the first day of the week after the Sabbath, the women with the prepared spices , went to the tomb. They found the stone ( blocking the tomb) rolled away, and when they went in, they found an empty tomb. They were wondering about the missing body of Jesus , when they saw 2 men in clothes that gleamed like lightning that frightened them. The women bowed to the strangers when they asked the women why they were searching for the Living among the dead. They reminded the women of the Lord’s words when He said He must be handed over to sinners and then will be raised again on the third day.  The women went back and told the eleven disciples. The disciples thought these events were nonsense, but Peter ran to the tomb ,and bending in saw the linen strips lying there and went away. On the same day 2 disciples {3} were on the road to Emmaus {2} and were sorrowful about Jesus’ death. They met a Stranger who walked with them to Emmaus talking about the Scriptures ( beginning with Moses and the Prophets) and showed them that Jesus needed to die first, to redeem the people. When they reached Emmaus, they persuaded the Stranger to dine with them. He went in and took the bread and gave thanks to God. Their eyes were opened and they realized the Stranger was the Risen Jesus. He disappeared from their midst. They left immediately to Jerusalem and told the disciples. While they were discussing this, Jesus appears among them and blessed them with Peace. They were frightened. Jesus calms their fears by showing them His wounded hands and feet and then eating a piece of fish to show that He is real. Jesus opened their minds to the scriptures of Moses and the prophets and the psalms, so that they can understand what was written about Him. Jesus tells all of them ( and us) that they were witnesses for Him and he will go to the Father, but they must stay in the city to be clothed with power from on high ( The Holy Spirit). When Jesus led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He blessed them, and ascended up to Heaven. The disciples returned to Jerusalem with rejoicing and stayed in the Temple praising God.

{1} The women mentioned here are Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James ( possibly Mary the mother of Jesus) and there were other women with them.

{2} Emmaus a town, was about 7 miles from Jerusalem and was a Sabbath’s day walk (The distance allowed to the Israelites to be traversed if needed on the Sabbath day).

{3} One of the disciples on the road to Emmaus was named Cleophas.

Well that’s it. The Gospel of Luke in five parts. After this I’ll go back to the Old Testament to Numbers. See you next week,

Vanessa

 

 

Luke part 4 : With Jesus nothing is impossible.

All right, we are nearly there 🙂 The gospel of Luke will be over with this post and one more. If you’ve missed Luke part 1 : Jesus is willing., Luke part 2 : Jesus the healer.  and  Luke part 3 : Jesus the Teacher. , click on the links. A little re cap, there’s no internal evidence for the authorship of the gospel, but it is mostly and almost universally accepted to be Luke, a physician and later travelling companion of Paul. He undertook a systematic account telling of Jesus and the early church and wrote them down in 2 letters ( Luke and Acts) to a gentile named Theophilus.

In chapter 16: Jesus tells a parable of a dishonest but shrewd manger {1}. Jesus warns us that if we are not trustworthy with little things, no one will trust us with true riches. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve both God and money. Jesus tells a parable of a rich man and of Lazarus, a poor beggar{2}. This parable shows that once people are judged and go to heaven or hell that it cannot be reversed. The time is now, to accept Jesus or to reject Him and then live with the consequences.

In chapter 17: Jesus pronounces doom on those through whom sorrows and troubles come ( as they will). He tells us that forgiveness ( of our brothers and sisters who sin against us) is absolutely essential. The disciples ask for their faith to be increased. Jesus replies that faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to do mighty miracles. He further tells us that our attitude when we serve Him should be as a servant’s. We have only done our duty. Jesus heals 10 men of leprosy, only one man returns to give thanks , and he is a Samaritan, a foreigner. The (second) coming of the Son of Man will be accompanied by lightening and the whole world will know of it ( it will not be a secret), but first He must suffer many things and be rejected by that generation. It ( the culture) will be just like it was in the days of Noah and of Lot. People will be corrupt and making merry and will not be waiting for the Lord. Jesus warns us that at that time, we are not to turn back, not for our possessions , not for our family, not for anything. When the Day of the Lord comes, we are to flee. Jesus also warns that it will be happen at the same time across the Earth, ( 2 people sleeping, 2 people grinding corn, 2 people working in the fields etc ).

In chapter 18: Jesus tells His disciples a parable that shows we should always pray and not give up {3}. Jesus also mentions that when people cry out to Him day and night, He will not put them off, but make sure they receive justice quickly. Jesus tells a parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector {4}. People who brought babies to Jesus to bless, were rebuked by His disciples. Jesus intervened and asked them to be brought forward. He said that unless we receive the kingdom of God like a little child ( fully trusting, never wavering), we will never enter it. Jesus when asked by a rich , young, ruler, how to enter the Kingdom of God, tells him to keep the law. The man replies he has done so. Jesus further tells him to sell everything he has and give it to the poor, that makes the man sad and he goes away. Jesus tells those around Him, that the rich find it difficult to put Him first and so struggle to enter into Heaven. When those around ask , then who can be saved, Jesus replies With God nothing is impossiblePeter tells the Lord, they have left everything for Him. Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’ Jesus predicts His death in Jerusalem a third time but the disciples did not understand. On the way to Jericho, a blind man shouted , “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, he said that he wanted to see. Jesus granted his request.  Immediately he received his sight and praised God. 

In chapter 19 : A short and corrupt tax collector, Zacchaeus, wants to see what the fuss about Jesus is all about, so he climbs up a sycamore fig tree to see.

sycamoretree
Sycamore- fig tree. Look how low it is to the ground.

Jesus stops at the tree and then invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ home. Zacchaeus is moved to repent and promises to give half his wealth to the poor and repay anyone he’s cheated with 4 times as much. Jesus says he’s a son of Abraham as well.  Jesus tells a parable of 10 minas ( pieces of silver){5}. Jesus enters Jerusalem and then weeps over the city. ( Click on the link and read a post detailing the triumphal procession ). Jesus cleanses the Temple ( probably for the 2nd time ) of the money changers and commercial activities taking place there.

In chapter 20: Jesus is questioned about where He gets His authority. He turns the question back on the Pharisees and asks them what they thought about John the Baptist. Jesus tells them the parable of the tenants {6}. The Pharisees try to trick Jesus with the talk of (the deeply unpopular) taxes. Jesus tells them to give to Caesar what belongs to him, and to God what belongs to Him. The Saducees try to trick Jesus with talk of marriage after resurrection. Jesus stumps them and says that God is the God of the living. Jesus warns His disciples against following the way / actions/ teachings of the Pharisees as they are false.

{1} The manager was corrupt and about to be let go by his master. When he hears of it, he calls his master’s debtors to him and cuts what they owe his master by half, go that when he’s out of a job, they’ll be indebted to him and offer him help. The master commends the dishonest manger.

{2} Lazarus begs at the rich man’s gate and his only companions are the dogs that lick his sores. They die at the same time, the rich man goes to hell, while Lazarus, a poor man during his lifetime, goes to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man ( who is never named) begs Abraham to send Lazarus with some water to quench his thirst. Abraham refuses, saying there’s a chasm between heaven and hell that cannot be bridged. The rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to his brothers who are still living and warn them. Abraham replies that they have the law and the prophets. The rich man says that they won’t believe them, to which Abraham replies that they will not believe someone who comes back from he dead either.

{3} A widow who needed justice done , persistently asked the judge of the town for it. Finally he was worn down enough to grant her justice. The parable explicitly mentions that he neither feared God nor worried about what people said. He gave in because of her tenacity.

{4} The Pharisee ( representative of the religious leaders, those who were confident of their own righteousness ) and the tax collector ( representative of the outcasts of society, who were looked down by everyone and deemed  filthy sinners) went up to the temple to pray. The Pharisee tried to exalt himself in his very public prayer but the tax collector was truly repentant and wouldn’t even look up to Heaven. Jesus said that the tax collector went home justified before God, because those who exalt themselves will be humbled but those who humble themselves will be exalted before God.

{5} The parable of the 10 minas ( pieces of silver) A man of noble birth goes to a distant land to be appointed king and return. Before leaving he distributes 10 minas between his servants. They hate him and send a delegation after him, asking that he’s not to be made a king. The man is crowned and returns and rewards the servants who put his mina to use and gained more. The one that did not ( he returned the mina as it was ) was stripped of his mina and it was given to the one who had 10 minas. This parable is a perfect parallel to Jesus. He left Heaven to come to Earth ( distant country). People hated Him and did not want Him to become a ruler, but Jesus became a King in spite of their opposition. He rewarded/s those who use His gifts / talents / abilities to bring others into the Kingdom. Those who don’t use His gifts will be stripped of all that they have been given.

{6} The parable of the tenants. A man planted a vineyard and gave it over to tenants. He sent servant after servant to them to collect some fruit at harvest, but they beat or shamed the servants and sent them away. Then the master sends his son and his heir whom the tenants kill. Then he master drove the tenants away and gave the vineyard to other tenants. This parable was said to rouse the conscience of the Israelites. Their ancestors had shamed, killed and beaten the prophets ( the servants) and they would kill the Son and Heir ( Jesus), in return the Master ( God ) will drive them away and put others ( gentiles) in their places.

One more post and Luke will be done! It’s hard to imagine that 4-5 chapters’ summaries can result in 1500-1800 words per post 🙂 But the Word of God is powerful and every chapter and verse has a nugget of wisdom for us. It would only help us to search for it .

See you next week,

Vanessa

Guest post by Bob Condly.

Did you know there’s a gender gap between worshippers in Church? Me neither! You’ll read more in this guest post though.We knew Pastor Bob when we lived in another state before coming here. He’s incredibly gifted with words, both his teaching and his writing makes you think and ponder for a long time afterward. When our son was first diagnosed with Autism, we went to him for prayer and counselling, and he really helped us out. I’m extremely privileged to have Pastor Bob guest posting here. Again the whole point of these guest posts on worship is to show you that worship is essential, not to tell you what kind of worship you should do.

 

Bob Condly is the vice president of academics at West Coast

Bob condly
Bob Condly

Bible College and Seminary (www.westcoastbible.org) and blogs at www.discipleshipmatters.org. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+,  and LinkedIn.

 

 

Missing.

When loved ones go missing, we jump into action! Years ago, during a visit to a mall in the Chicago suburbs, one of my boys vanished near an open court. I saw him one moment and the next, he was gone. Frantic, I focused my eyes like a camera lens and darted all over, trying to track him down. After an anxious minute or two, we found him. He’d strolled over to his grandfather. No big deal for my son, but a near heart attack for me!

People matter to us. That’s why we publicize those who’ve disappeared. We put photos on the sides of milk cartons, issue AMBER Alerts, and  broadcast stories on television.

People matter to God. The first question recorded in the Bible was God’s query to Adam, “Where are you?” And Jesus said that a good shepherd would leave an entire flock to chase down one sheep that got away. The Lord cares when folks don’t show up and He wants Christians to pursue them. But first we have to notice their absence.

You know who’s missing from church?

Men.

As David Murrow reveals, the average American congregation is 61% female and 39% male. Between 70-80% of participants in mid-week services are women. And overseas, ladies outnumber guys in church by as much as 9:1.

Murrow traces this phenomenon to the age of industrialization. Around that time, men began to leave their farms to work in factories. Away from home, they relinquished church-related responsibilities to the ladies. As a result, the female perspective came to dominate every aspect of church life, including worship.

British theologian Ian Paul describes one effect as “the move away from familiar, rhythmic, structure songs to more unpredictable, emotive and interiorising songs.” Unfortunately, as Paul Coughlin concludes, “worship music is often too sentimental for guy tastes.”

Yet another factor dissuades men from engaging in worship. Murrow claims that the professionalization of music ministries, coupled with the introduction of too many new and unfamiliar songs, reinforces passivity. Churchgoers become spectators, and this is problematic for men in particular since most males gravitate toward activity and accomplishment. They need to take part but feeling uninterested or inadequate, they pass.

He recounts that “as I visit churches around the country, I’ve frequently observed that the majority of attendees do not sing. They stand motionless, looking at the words on the jumbo screen . . . I’d guess that only a quarter of the men sing.”

I can confirm this. At last Sunday’s service, I scanned what I could of the audience around me to see who was singing. At the beginning of the worship set, I watched more congregants refraining than participating. And almost no men sung. By the end, more people had joined in, including men, but not a lot. Everyone stood, but few sang.

How can we instill in men the vital experience and persistent habit of worship?

We can demand change. Pastor Doug Bursch disputes the premise that churches have feminized and professionalized their services. And even if they did, he rejects those as valid excuses for not worshipping God. Basing his argument on the account of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4, Bursch reduces the problem to the condition of men’s hearts. Like Cain, guys offer second-rate worship to God when they ought to give Him their best, as Abel did. The solution is not to change Sundays but to transform souls. The fear of the Lord will achieve this.

“You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” – Deuteronomy 6:13 (NASB)

Besides requiring repentance, we can also depict the fulfillment that comes from worshiping God. In Real Men Worship, music ministry leader LaMar Boschman frames healthy masculinity within the context of devotion to the Most High. And Merlin Carothers wrote several books expounding the blessings and benefits of praising God.

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” – Exodus 15:2 (NIV)

Repentance and encouragement may persuade men to honor the Lord. But remember “the Sunday clothes. The contemporary love songs to Jesus. The winding sermons. Typical dudes don’t thrill to any of those things.”

If we want to motivate men to worship, there’s something else we need to do.

We must teach them.

I’m not talking about sermons and Sunday School classes that promote praise and worship. I mean choosing, crafting, and performing songs that instruct Christians in their faith.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about this subject. In that article, I analyzed admonitions Paul wrote to two different churches. Here are the passages:

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” – Ephesians 5:18-20 (NASB)

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:16-17 (NASB)

Ephesians grounds worship in the Holy Scriptures; Colossians, in the Holy Spirit. Apart from that difference, both epistles affirm that songs educate. Paul disregards issues that capture the attention of many Christians today, like how lyrics make us feel or which musical style wins God’s approval. Instead, he cares about how worship ministry edifies the church.

Pastor John MacArthur insists that “worship is directly correlated to understanding. The richer your theology, the more full your grasp of biblical truth, the more elevated your worship becomes.”

Emotions have value, but they follow dedicated expression. As Pastor Eugene Peterson writes, ”worship is an act that develops feelings for God, not a feeling for God that is expressed in an act of worship.”

Murrow observes that contemporary worship songs are less “about” God and more “to” Him. In other words, our lyrics favor “You” over “Him.” He recommends more of the latter because, he contends, men prefer those kinds of lyrics.

But we find both types in the psalms. For example, Psalm 111 exalts God for His good deeds toward Israel:

“Praise the Lord. I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. 2Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever. 4He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. 5He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever. 6He has shown His people the power of His works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. 8They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever–holy and awesome is His name. 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” (NIV)

In Psalm 5, the writer addresses God Himself:

“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. 2Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray. 3In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. 4For You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with You, evil people are not welcome. 5The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence. You hate all who do wrong; 6You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, Lord, detest. But I, by Your great love, can come into Your house; in reverence I bow down toward Your holy temple. 8Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies–make Your way straight before me. 9Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. 10Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against You. 11But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. 12Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.” (NIV)

So Psalm 111 talks about God in the third person while Psalm 5 speaks to Him in the second person. (Sorry to get grammatical there!)

But Psalm 3 does both:

“Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him.’ 3But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. 5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. 7Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8From the Lord comes deliverance. May Your blessing be on Your people.” (NIV)

While I appreciate Murrow’s concern, the Bible frees us to sing to the Lord and about Him. We don’t have to choose between them.

Let’s make sure our hymns and choruses communicate significant biblical themes. While our songs needn’t substitute for sermons, they should complement them. A deep song will give people something worth pondering throughout the week.

By memorable music, we transport into mundane routines the spiritual lessons we absorb in worship. The songs of the church can teach men how to conduct themselves in God’s kingdom and in their jobs. Peterson suggests that “worship should be a renewal of work, not an escape from our work.”

Songs that address the heart and nourish the mind benefit all believers in Christ.

Including men.

 

 

I hope this article makes you wonder and ponder this week. We worship Him above else because we are privileged to do so. It’s not a burden.

Until next week,

Vanessa.