Open Door to Paradise

 

 

Open Door to Paradise

Genesis 2:8 “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.  The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Genesis 2:15 “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

“We serve a G-d of order,and He reveals to us in the natural what He wants us to see in the supernatural.” ETZ CHAIM;TREE OF LIFE,  by Messianic Rabbi, Eric E. Walker.

The garden of Eden was on the east side of the land of Eden. In the midst (middle) of the garden stood the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of Life.  
The Garden of Eden was the place of God’s dwelling, a holy place, a place to meet with and have fellowship with Adam and Eve.  It is picture of our heavenly dwelling place where we will have our eternal home.

We see from the scripture that God breathe life into Adam and then put him in the garden to tend and care for it.  God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would call them. Adam needed a helpmeet so God created Eve and brought her to him.   Together they walked with God in the cool of the evening.  All was as it should be…It was good.
But there was a creature in the garden that would lead them the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Temptation…lust of the eye…the pride of life..man is always looking for more.  Satan beguiled Eve with the thought that she could know more.  After having a conversation with Satan, she desired to know the difference between good and evil. Obviously she did think this through. She tasted and as we sometimes do, we get others to be join us in our sin.  Adam took the bait.

Banishment! Separation from the holy place, separation from walking in close relationship with their creator and friend.  

Genesis 3:22-23 “The Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.  And now, lest he put out his hand and take also the tree of life, and eat and live forever” therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.”

Separation from God after walking with Him was bad enough.  But how much worse it would have been to have taken from the tree of life and be doomed forever to live in their sinful state.
God is just but in His justice He shows mercy.  He had a plan for redemption. There would be restoration.  God would reveal His plan in time.  His plan is veiled throughout the Old Testament. It is in the tent of meeting in the wilderness; it is in the Temple.  All over God’s Word are shadows and types of sanctuaries of God showing us “the way” back to the place of God’s dwelling.  From the tabernacle door facing east to the veiled curtains leading to the holy of holies with cherubim embroidered on them, God reveals Himself to His people

  • Genesis 3:24 “So He drove out the man; and He place cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

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The door/gate to the garden of Eden is closed but the door to eternal life remains open for a little while longer.
The way to the tree of life is now blocked, the barrier between man and God is closed.  They were driven away from the “east”.  The “east” is associated many times in God’s Word with holiness.  Jesus will one day come in the “eastern sky”.  The lost life in Eden was found in a garden tomb 2000 years ago.  Redemption once again was provided for the way to the tree of life.  One day the dwelling place of God will be occupied by His people again.

Revelation 22:1-6  “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.  There shall be no more night there; They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”
Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.”

 

https://youtu.be/fORhnYILTSo  Hallelujah by Casting Crowns

Longing for the day but love working for the Master,

Freda Reynolds

What’s Your Purpose

 

Jan Lievens [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you ever wonder about life circumstances or even what your future holds?  Do you ever sit and question why or how God put someone or something in your life?  There are many unknowns in this thing we call life, because of this fallen world.  The one who said the world is full of rainbows and unicorns lived in a fantasy world!  Life is like walking into a deep tunnel with no flashlight and no way out.  It is kinda one of those things where you have to jump off the cliff and hope or charge out of the gate on an animal traveling at mach speed and hope you can hang on.

Just like Esther, when Esther marries Xerxes, she goes into something unknown.  A kingdom….not to mention the foreign people who share no customs she has grown up learning.  Esther was heading down the dark tunnel we call life.  But Esther possessed something many people do not have:  God!  See for some this walking down into the dark tunnel, it is pitch black.  However, for Esther and many Christians today, this black distant place that is impossible to escape is brightened by the beaming light of faith in God.  This light (faith in God) helped Esther gain the love and trust of those around her.

Or, have you ever wondered what your calling or purpose is?  Have you ever asked the same question over and over, “What is the purpose of my life?”  It is a very common question everyone asks.  It is not something we really know immediately.  God has a way of calling us to do it in time.  We have interests and desires and ideas of what we want to do, but through trial and error, when we listen to God and those around us, we can learn what our purpose is.

Esther’s story showcases this well.  It all goes back to King Saul.  Saul lost favor with God for not killing King Agag, is how the story actually started.  See Haman is a descendent of Agag making him an Agagite.  Haman was one of ten brothers.  In the story, when Xerxes makes Haman second in command, or Xerxes “right hand man,” is where the danger for Esther and the Jews begins.  Mordecai, Esther’s uncle who raises her after her parents are killed, made Haman very angry.  Mordecai’s faith in God was so strong he refused to bow down to Haman.  This kindled a fire in Haman of hatred not only toward Mordecai , but also his people, the Jews.  While Haman plots against Mordecai and the Jews, Mordecai saves Xerxes life by catching two of the king’s men plotting to kill Xerxes.  Mordecai tells Esther who warns her husband and the two men are hanged.  This is then written in the scroll of good deeds.   One night, Xerxes awakens to trouble in his mind.  He has one of his men pull out the scroll, read the account, and asks if Mordecai has been rewarded.  The answer was no!  Haman comes in the next day and wants to ask for permission to hang Mordecai as he has already prepared the gallows.  Before he can ask, Xerxes asks Haman what he should do to reward a special man.  This of course makes Haman think of himself so he says to let this person be dressed in the king’s linens  and let them be led through the city of Susa on one of the king’s horses.  The king thinks this is a great idea and has Haman lead Mordecai on a horse dressed in fine clothes through the city.    Haman is like a bomb about to explode at this point.  He asks for the king’s signet ring to make laws and this is granted.  Then, Haman makes an edict stating that all the countries from Greece to India were to kill any Jews on a certain date.   This causes great panic in the Jewish people and Mordecai rips his clothes and puts ashes on his face as he weeps and mourns.  He relays the message to Esther, and through this God is exposing Esther’s purpose.  Even though she may die trying, she is to save her people.  Since Xerxes has not called for her, she risks her life by going to him without his request.  He saves her by extending his scepter.  Once she is granted permission to speak she invites the king and Haman to a attend a banquet.  He agrees and when they are there she asks for them to attend a second one.  At this second banquet, she exposes Haman and his plan requesting Xerxes save her and her people.  Xerxes strips Haman of his position and uses his own gallows to hang him on.  Mordecai is then placed second in command where he receives the king’s signet ring and makes a second edict to combat the first allowing the Jews to fight for their lives.  See once you create a royal edict you cannot change it no matter how old it is but you can combat it with other edicts issued.  The Jews with faith in God win and cause distress of many nations.  

Are you going to go out and be faithful?  Will you find your purpose just like Esther?  God calls us to not be afraid and to place our trust on Him.  These words I can apply to my life as can you because we overcompensate by trying to fix everything.  Instead, if we kept our eyes on God we would never have to worry.  Be faithful IN the Savior today!

 

 

https://youtu.be/ZxFCber4TDo   Mandisa   Esther -Born For This

Guest treader,

Karly

9th grader at ACA, Tuscaloosa, AL

Thank you Karly!

Disappointment

 

 

Heinrich Hofmann [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Disappointment

When I was just getting started in the working world, one of my supervisors was a tiny elderly  woman named Ellen who was a stick of dynamite.  She might have weighed 100 pounds soaking wet and she moved faster than “greased lightning.”  She was generally quiet, focused, and efficient, but get her frustrated and you could be sure expletives were going to fly.  I will never forget the first time I saw this side of her.  She got so beside herself with the situation all she could say was, “JESUS WEPT!”  I had never heard this expression and could only smile.   I would later learn she was quoting scripture!  John 11:35 to be exact.  The shortest Scripture in the entire Bible.

Did Jesus experience feelings of disappointment, frustration, or exasperation?  The answer according to Scripture is yes!  Not everyone who came to Him followed Him.  Even those who did believe He was the Son of God, were like the the demons (James 2:19) and chose their own way.  Because His life would be given for ALL, I cannot imagine that He would not be disappointed. Even though He was aware that we each have a free will and the choice is ours alone to make.  (II Peter 3:9, John 1:12-13)

The story of the rich, young ruler is a good example of an individual’s choosing to continue in the status quo, to “wait for a more opportune time.” (Acts 24:25)   In the gospel of Matthew and Mark we read of this young man who has done all the “right stuff” according to the Law but Jesus is looking deep into this heart and sees he is serving his wealth and position.  Jesus tells him, in order to follow Him, all this young man possesses must be sold and given to the poor.  In other words, tear down your idol. (Exodus 20:3)   However, the man went away sad because he so much to lose.   So, Jesus is disappointed since He did not accomplish His hope of having this young man come and follow Him.   (Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:16-23)

In the book of John, we read that even many of the rulers believed but they would not profess (Romans 10:9-10) their faith because they preferred the glory of man (Pharisees) over the glory of God.   This caused Jesus to cry.  They mattered to Jesus!  

Have you ever tried so hard to accomplish a goal only to come up short?  How did you feel?  Did  the tears sting?  Did your countenance fall?  Did you wonder what you could have said or done differently?

John 12:37-44

“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.Even though Jesus KNEW not all would believe and confess their belief, it still broke His heart to know they did not.  He knew the consequences of this choice:  The eternal ramifications.  Jesus even wept over Jerusalem, a city!  He knew the future of the city; for He was looking ahead to all that would happen within a few short weeks.He would be welcomed as a King and a few days later be led as a Lamb to the slaughter up Golgotha’s hill to pay with His life for the sins of the world which included this rich young ruler, the chief rulers, all those who left Him (John 6:66), and those in the future who would be almost persuaded.”  (Acts 26:28)

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Light and no one comes to the Father except by Jesus.  (John 14:6)  

This temptation is one all believers face.  We do our best to present the gospel and very often there is no response and we feel disappointment.  Our disappointment is real.  We weep.  The temptation is to allow discouragement to keep us from continuing to share the good news of salvation.  The temptation is to dissuaded us from answering when called.  The temptation distracts us and blinds us to the next opportunity, challenge, venue, or task.  So often, as mere man, we focus on our feelings and “are distracted, dissuaded, depressed, and discouraged” and do not go on with God.  Jesus on the other hand, though tempted, continued on with His divine purpose firmly in His sight.

Father, may I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.   Amen  (Philippians 3:14)

 

https://youtu.be/qe7IgvA6Pm4   Building 429  I Am Unashamed

Treading in His ocean of grace,

Yvonne Jones

Choosing Prayer over Worry

 

Choosing Prayer over Worry

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Philippians 4:6

Vicki McCray who is my dear friend, coworker, and mentor, gave me this verse over 5 years ago.  My husband had just got offered a new job in a different town.  I had been teaching with Vicki at Moundville Elementary for 11 years and I had been in the school system for 15.  I called her because I was worried and anxious about leaving a place that I loved and starting somewhere new. This verse comforted me during this time. I had no idea that impact it would have later on in my life.  

My son, Jacob, at an early age started asking my husband if he could get into bull riding.  We of course put it off, but Jacob kept asking.  We have always supported our boys in sports and have tried to let them follow in the things they are passionate about.  THIS was really hard though because it’s such a dangerous sport.  My husband made him a bucking dummy, ordered books, videos, sent Jacob to rodeo schools, and found someone to coach Jacob.  The day finally approached for Jacob to put everything he had learned together on a live bull.  As I signed the waiver, I felt so sick to my stomach.  Jacob got his gear on, climbed on a bull named Trash, and then nodded.  He stayed on for 8 seconds and jumped off really pumped. As he pulled off his helmet, I saw a look in his eyes that I had never seen before.  It was the look that I had seen in my older son, Nick’s, eyes when he played sports.  It was the look that said, “I love every minute!”  I knew we were in trouble from that moment.

As a parent of a bull rider, it is really hard to watch. I cringed the whole time, my face froze, and I think I might have stopped breathing.  I was not okay until I saw Jacob up on the fence.  But the look in his eyes and the love and friendships he found in rodeo made it worth it.  He had found his passion.

Jacob went on to rodeo that year and did well and placed in several events.  He also went to the world finals in Abilene, Texas.  We continued to send Jacob to rodeo schools to improve.  A friend told us about a two day school in Fitzpatrick, AL.  Jacob was also playing football at the time.  He had a game that Friday night and then we left and spent the night in Montgomery.  The next morning, September 6, 2014, Jacob and I got breakfast and left for Fitzpatrick.  I signed all the forms and left Jacob for the day because he would be in a class and learning techniques.  My husband, Nicky, met me later that day and we both went to watch that night because the participants were riding.  When we got there, Jacob walked up to us and was on cloud 9.  We read a devotional and prayed, took pictures with the other riders, calmed first time parents down, and then it was time to begin.  After a few riders in, it was Jacob’s turn to ride.  He had such a great ride.  

 

 

I began packing the car because I had thought, “Hey we are done, he’s ridden.”  Jacob runs over to me and asks the question he usually did.  “Can I get on one more bull?”  Of course he wins the battle AGAIN because of the big blue eyes and that smile… The only thing was,  I have to approve of the one he gets on.  He pointed at the second bull and I shook my head to say, “Absolutely not.”  Next, he nervously walks over to me in a way that says he’s not so sure about it either, but jogs back over to the shoot.  He gets on anyway.  Most of you know how this turns out.  He and the bull head butted and Jacob was knocked unconscious.  My husband and I both run over while everyone is assuring me that he will come to and there is no need for an ambulance.  I explained that I was his mother and regardless he is going to the hospital.  The lady in charge doesn’t make the call.  We are in the middle of nowhere with no service except for the lady in charge that has Verizon with full service.  I demand that everyone start praying right then and there.  Jacob never comes to.  After 15 minutes and my husband yelling to call the ambulance, the lady finally complies.  

 

 

As the ambulance gets there and looks into Jacob’s eyes, I heard the words, “He has a severe brain injury and we need to incubate and life flight him.  As the helicopter gets there and we sign papers to incubate, I remember the verse that Vicki shared with me.  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  How do I not worry when I am told my son has a severe brain injury?  It seems that if there is a time to worry, this is it.  But I am telling you that this verse flooded my mind from the police car ride to the hospital.  I know that the officer must have memorized it because I never stopped saying it.  This verse gave me peace as I began to tell God what I needed.

I have not always been great at choosing prayer over worry.  But continuing to do something makes it a habit.  When Jacob or any of my family pulls out of the driveway, I watch, wave, and pray over them asking God to shield them with his protection and give them traveling mercies.  

In Philippians 4:6, Paul isn’t saying that we do not have reasons to worry, but as Christians we are to avoid it.  Worry has a fascinating etymology which can be traced back to the Old High German “wurgen” which means “to strangle” which is what worry does to our joy!  http://www.preceptaustin.org/philippians_46-71#4:6


Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained. – Arthur Somers Roche

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7.

 

Counting my blessings,

 

Susan Browder

Anniversary #2

 

Eero Järnefelt [Public domain, Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eero Järnefelt [Public domain, Public domain or CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Treading Water Til Jesus Comes; we went live TWO years ago today.  What is our purpose?  To encourage the Bride of Christ and to point the way to the Savior for anyone who happens upon us while looking for answers via cyberspace.  We are a tiny fish in a big ocean, swimming very much against the current.  Most blogs are personal spiritual journeys and teach valuable lessons and sometimes end up as books.  Rarely are they written daily.    Our wee blog is a daily (at least it is suppose to be if we heard the Lord correctly) online devotional.  A Bible study written by multiple writers:   A sail through scripture as we search for God’s direction and understanding of topics He lays on our hearts.  The well watered garden Freda cultivates, Tricia tells stories with spiritual lessons from her country childhood, a twelve year old now fourteen continues to bless us with her words on occasion, and Yvonne attempts to dive deep and to linger over the subject long to truly capture God’s heart.  We have experienced changes as we went along.  Sadly, we have had to say farewell to some original Treaders due to God leading them in new directions.  We cannot thank them enough for being a part of this journey!   We have gained and are gaining some new Treaders as we enter year number three. As we begin years number three, we think you will find our newest contributor, Susan’s testimony compelling.  

She will give you an example of how to walk by faith and not by sight.  Be sure to check her blog each Tuesday.    If you would like to join us, do not be shy!  

For those of you who follow us regularly by subscribing through email, we thank you, for you are our thirty-one reasons to continue.  For those who follow us through Facebook, we thank you and THANK YOU for sharing us each time you read and are blessed for this multiplies your blessing.  We can be shared on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.  To be honest, we have struggled “sharing” our own work on Facebook.   Are we “engineering ourselves to stay small?”  This is the question we are currently asking.  We are proud of our little blog.  It seems to our Southern upbringing braggadocious to share our own work but when we survey others work,  they seem to have no problems in promoting their work.  These are issues we are praying through to be sure we do only what the Lord would have us do and we want to follow His example.  We thank you for your comments, for they help us see God at work.  

There are times we have become discouraged.  We covet your prayers.  It is funny how the post we think we nailed will have no responses and very few reads and the post we feel was a complete flop will hit the top of our stats chart.  God keeps us humble in all this, depending on Him and trusting the post gets to the ONE it was meant for (even if it was just me!).  

The overall format we feel is God’s alone.  Scripture, music, works of art and just a bit of “object lesson” are vital to worship and our hope is this can be a daily dip in God’s pool for your soul.

“Lord, Father in Heaven,

Guide me (us) in this path.  When I (we) come into your Presence, take my (our) questions that I (we) might receive Your answers. Amen”  (from The Young Messiah)

Treading on,

The Treaders

Here are some of our statistics:

>8000 views this year alone
>200 comments this year-almost one per day
Pain of a Mother’s Heart most viewed post
Found through twelve different search engines
98 countries reached!!! (This blows our minds!)
This represents individuals and The Lord used us to speak.  Amazing!

Lift up your eyes

 

“Lift up your eyes and look, the fields are white for harvest.” John 4:35

 

Open doors…Closed doors… How do I find where God wants me to serve?

2 Corinthians 2:12 “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit…”

1 Corinthians 16:9 “But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective service has opened to me…”

Acts 16:6 “They (Paul and Timothy) passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go in Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them, they came down to Troas.

Colossians 4:3 “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”

Do you ever have a difficult time making decisions?

I do!  I think most everyone does.  If you are a Christian, you will have a strong desire to serve in some way.  Maybe that desire has been crushed by someone and you haven’t recovered yet; but there WILL BE somewhere deep within your soul a desire to do what Jesus commanded all of us to do.  

1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready with an answer for the hope that is within us.

How do you know when Jesus ask you to serve?  

Paul said he had no rest in his spirit. I have found in my life that Jesus so gently and consistently brings to mind whatever He is leading me to do.  My problem is always ME. Anxiety… me! NO! Not Me!  I can’t do that!  I don’t have skills for that.  SKILLS! We live in a society where skills are elevated above God’s Spirit moving in power to enable us.   Moses thought he had no skills! David was a shepherd:  definitely that was not a skill set to be king.
Just having the unrest and and the desire doesn’t mean we are to march right out and complete the task and check the box.  Done!  No, wait……. Again, Paul’s example was to wait for an open door.  Almost without exception, God will begin a work in you to prepare you for what is ahead.  We must have ears to hear and recognize that He wants to do a work and use you to accomplish it.   First, I believe Jesus puts a desire in our hearts for ministry.  He gives each new believer a spiritual gift to be used in service.  We have to recognize it and refine it. Sometimes, we might not be able to see our value ourselves but other believers will recognize it in us.  
(Maybe another subject to study..Spiritual gifts for service.)

Not only will we have a desire for the ministry or service, we will hear about it everywhere.  There will be a song, or a sermon or a friend will bring it up.  Paul called it unrest.  Jesus will continue to alert us to serve in some area.  Jesus is patient but the call will get louder and louder in your head and heart!  

Ok, what next?

We say, yes, Lord, and we begin the really hard part.  We wait….and wait…and sometimes we wait some more.  Why?  We wait for Him to give an open door for effective service. It doesn’t always happen that way but the waiting gives us time to prepare.  Study the ministry, know what would be required, watch another believer in action or talk with someone who has done it.

Great! Now we see an opportunity, an open door ahead, we seize it right?  Nope, not until you pray and hopefully you have prayed throughout the process but prayer is the secret to moving forward. Even when the door seems open, stop and pray, pray, pray.  Just pray long enough to get the go ahead from the Lord.  (Word of caution here: Do not use the excuse of “ I am praying about it” to stop your reward of service!)  How do you know when that is, you ask? You wait, until you get peace and you just know.  Jesus will not leave you hanging. If He has called you, He will equip you to do whatever.  I read the other day a quote that has stayed with me.  “The task ahead of you in NEVER greater than the power behind you!”  Good, isn’t it…. Jesus gave His Holy Spirit to dwell in us. He is the power behind us.

There are times also, when we are in a service and we feel we are having success in it and God calls us out and wants to move us somewhere else to serve.  (This reminds me of the children in the wilderness watching the cloud by day and the fire by night.  Move, set up tents, stay, no, get up, move the tents. ) This is one of the hardest calls because we tend to get comfortable.  But Jesus is always in the transformation business.  He will stretch us to do more and increase our boundaries.  Serving Jesus is the greatest adventure there is in this world.

The opposite is true, too.  Sometimes, we know we have a calling, we accept the calling, we begin the work.   And it seems we are not getting anywhere.  Failure… This is so hard to understand.  We have given our all and it failed.  What happened??  Unfortunately, we can’t see the big picture.  Failure is not something we accept in America.  Failure to us means we are not good enough.  But Jesus always values us!  We are always good enough.  Problem for us is that we start to believe we accomplish the task at hand.  That ole me-i-us virus takes us down!
In God’s kingdom, there are many paradoxes.  It seemed to the disciples and all His followers that Jesus failed!  But out of what seemed failure was much life.  A seed falls in the ground and dies only to rise up from the soil in which it was planted to have new life.  
Never give up!  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are rising up new life from failure.  We may not see it but rest assured He does.   If we have given our best in service to Him, the success is His and only looks like failure from our side of eternity. Jesus said He will build His kingdom.  Success and failure are in His hands!

The fields are white for harvest.  Get out here!!!  The reward will be awesome!

https://youtu.be/tP27ySgbYLU   What If I Gave Everything by Casting Crowns
You are so loved,
Freda Reynolds

Affected by World Events

 

Matthew 24:6-14  6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

One of my greatest temptations today is to want to bury my head in the sand and not even care what is going on in the world.  The 24/7 news is too much for sensitive souls especially when there is little I can do to change the landscape of politics, rhetoric, and a world seemingly gone bonkers.  This Scripture reminds me Jesus too was affected by “current events.”  His very life was required as God ordained because of the political climate in Romanized Judea.

In William B, Eerdmans book Two Thousand Years Ago: The World at the Time of Jesus, (centuryone.com) he writes, “a Hellenistic monarch ruled under surveillance of Roman emperors.”  In other words, Greek, Roman, and Jewish cultures were colliding and creating a hostile environment for any opposition to the status quo.    To complicated matters the Jewish factions added to the contention.  Rome was the enemy.  Samaritans were considered half-breeds.  Taxation was oppressive.  Rulers like Herod were “ruthless but brilliant strategist and politicians” or like Pilate, gutless puppets.  For a population in Judea of approximately 500,00 there were 18,000 “clergy,” or one priest (not all were Jewish) for every TWENTY SEVEN persons.   “Miracle workers” were prolific using magic formulas, incantations, and requiring payment for services rendered.  Josephus, the Jewish historian writes of the time of Christ life (4BC -33AD).  This corner of the world is noted for its wars and political unrest.

Jesus life began being profoundly affected by this geo-political tension.  Herod the Great tried to kill Him and sent His family fleeing Judea into Egypt.  Jewish faith had been reduced to impossible to follow precepts, rules and regulations and the leadership was more interested in protecting their position than the people they were ordained to serve, teach, minister to, and lift up in prayer.  (Matthew 23)

Jesus faced the temptation to bury his head in the sand, fleeing in fear, or pretending it was not affecting Him by seeing it as the way of the fallen world.  He did so by telling His disciples that Jerusalem would fall and not even a stone would be left standing in the Temple. (Matthew 24:1-2)  He gave His followers instructions on how to approach the “evening news.”  He told them and us to know the Word of God and watch for the fulfillment of prophesy to discern the world events in light of God’s timetable. (Matthew 24:15)   In the meantime, He gave us instructions of how to live in peace:  “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:20-22; Mark 12:17)   In Matthew 17: 24-27 is the story of Jesus doing this very thing.

Today, we are hearing of wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes, tsunamis, nations attacking nations be it via bombs or cyberattacks, we see our values as a nation eroding and we treat others who do not agree with our personal beliefs as outcasts instead of honoring them as children of God created in His image and trusting Him to change hearts, and many a false prophet raises their voice and we no longer are able to discern the truth from a lie.  There truly is “nothing new under the sun” as King Solomon wrote.  (Ecclessiates 1:4-11)

One Day, Jesus will return and right all the wrongs and those who have trusted Christ as Savior will once more live in peace and harmony with God and man in His kingdom of peace.  Until then, may we each add a degree of shalom, the peace of Christ in the storms of life that surround us and our world.

One Day by Casting Crowns

By Yvonne Jones