Appreciation of God’s creation

I love cool, spring days. The sun shining, birds singing, leaves of green bursting forth. Daffodils, tulips, dandelions, and daisies blooming in neighbors’ yards. It’s such a lovely time of year. Everything that once looked dead and gloomy comes to life and becomes brilliant and full of color.

God is so good to us. He cares about every detail. I am amazed at God’s creation.

Each flower.

Each blade of grass.

Each leaf on the tree.

Each insect.

Each bird.

They are all different and made by God.

His presence is all around us if we but look and listen.

When is the last time we looked around us as we go to work or go out taking care of errands? Do we pay attention to the details or do we just go about our business without thinking about the beauty God provides for us?

Psalm 24:1-2 ESV says “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.”

God wants us to enjoy his creation. He wants us to take the time to appreciate his goodness. How can we do this if we are always busy?

  1. Take time to sit in the sunshine- during lunch breaks or an after shift walk in the sun.
  2. Look at nature around us. What do we see? Take a mental note of the trees, flowers, insects, animals, people, etc.
  3. Give thanks to the Lord for all he has created as we look around at his creation.
  4. Blow away seeds from a dandelion.
  5. Take pictures on the cell phone or camera of the trees beginning to blossom and afterward as it continues to grow. See the changes that happen within a short period of time.
  6. Take pictures of flowers for the computer background.

Father God, thank you so much for all you have created. The trees are so beautiful budding and growing leaves. The flowers are full of life and color. The ants, bees, and other insects are busy gathering food. Lambs, calves, chicks, puppies, kittens, etc. are being born. It’s a beautiful time of the year when everything we thought looked dead comes to life. Thank you for showing us your love through nature. Thank you for providing for us these things to enjoy. Help us today to pay attention to the simple things of nature. Help us to appreciate all you have created. Amen.

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What will you do today to appreciate God’s goodness in creation?

What other ideas have you done or will do today or in the near future to pay attention to nature? Please take time to share in the comments. God bless you.

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Words and moving forward

I think it is easy to treat people with respect and honor, especially if your heart is full of love for others. However, sadly, there are some who struggle loving others. They mistreat them. Not necessarily with physical violence, but their words can cause a lot of pain. This type of pain causes a person to question who they are and if they actually have any worth at all.

Words have power. They can heal or they can destroy. The can lift up or tear others down. People don’t seem to realize how what they say matters. Words truly reveal what is in our hearts.

There is a saying that says actions speak louder than words. I agree that this is true to a point. Yes, your actions and words should match. This is very important in all relationships. However, there may be actions that show love but then deleted because of words that are spoken during or after those actions. A person can buy things for someone or do things to help them physically if they are disabled. However, this can all be turned around by words that tear a person down, making them feel as if they are stupid, garbage, not good enough, and the person sadly begins to question their own worth. In the name of “love,” some may even use “kind” words to control a person.

The scars from these words take a long time to heal. Everyone someone says more negative words; it is like a rubber stamp stamping those negative feelings- tattooing their imprints upon the mind and soul of a person.

It is even hard when you actually get away from the situation and all there is negative from people who don’t or want to try to understand. They don’t know what went on behind closed doors. They only saw what was shared on social media, church, or in public. It is not easy to slap on a happy face when inside you are hurting, but you do to save shame and embarrassment.

The difficult thing is the mind is waiting for something negative to happen. It is like a tape playing over and over again in your head reminding you of the words said about you. Another difficult thing is when the said person still tries to control you when you leave. They are not willing to share their side of the blame and make you feel as if you are delusional.  They also make you out to be the only bad person in the situation.

I honestly do not understand how anyone can say they love someone and constantly tear them down. Yes, actions matter, but at the same time, so do words. It’s difficult when a person thinks they possess you. When they think they can control you from a very far distance by playing cards to manipulate you. Sadly, I wish it hadn’t taken so long to figure things out.

On the positive side, I am very thankful for those who knew what was going on and stood by me. I am thankful for their friendship, they are very few in number, but they are very much loved and appreciated. I am also thankful for the love of my life coming to get me out of the situation. People don’t understand why I did what I did, however, because of disabilities, I had to have help somehow or another. I knew I could not live alone, especially in the UK. I also knew that I could not live on my own as I need help dressing, etc. still. I know I am loved and have been shown love like I never have seen before. I am so grateful for this. I want to move forward, and I also want to cut ties with the person who hurt, controlled, and thought he possessed me.

I am able to do more things than I used to do because I have the help to do them. I have been able to go out more often. I have been able to cook because I have help. I have been able to clean some here and there. Yes, I traveled a long way to get away but sometimes you have to do something for yourself.

I love being back home in the United States. I am sleeping much better. I am feeling better emotionally and mentally. I am feeling loved and adored. I am feeling free to be myself. I am on a journey of great healing. I look forward to what the future has in store. God is so good. Amen.

The Good Samaritan

Every town we visited, crowds followed Jesus.  He taught for many hours about the Kingdom of God.  Today we were sitting down listening to Jesus teach when an expert rabbi stood up in the crowd to test Jesus about his teachings.  He asked, “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus asked the man, “What does the law say?”

The man replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind.  And to love your neighbour as yourself” (Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).

These two commandments have been engraved in our hearts since Moses and the laws were given to him.  We have these commandments memorised and recite them often.  I was not surprised the man answered Jesus question pretty quickly.

The man wanted to justify his actions for standing up in the crowd testing him so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

In order to answer the man, Jesus told another parable.

“A Jewish man was travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho.  He was attacked by bandits.  They tore his clothes, beat him up and left him for dead on the side of the road.

A priest came by and saw the man lying there but crossed to the other side of the road ignoring him.  Not long after the priest, a Levite walked over, looked at the man and passed by on the other side as well.

Then a Samaritan came along.”

Gasps were heard among the crowd. Sadly we were not at all surprised the priest and the Levite would have left the man on the side of the road.  They would have been afraid to touch him because it would have made them unclean according to Jewish law.  However, they of all people should have stopped. They should show compassion towards the man despite the laws. Surely, God would have protected them?

I wonder what the Samaritan would do. None of the Jews had time for Samaritans, they hated them. Thus, the reasons for the gasps from the crowd. Shock was seen on our faces and even worse in our hearts.

Jesus continued “The Samaritan came along and saw the man and felt compassion for him.  The Samaritan walked over, soothed the man’s wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them.  He put the man on the back of his donkey and took him to an inn where he looked after him the rest of the day and overnight.

The next morning the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two silver coins. “Take care of this man.  If his bill runs higher, I’ll pay you the next time I see you.’”

Jesus asked the man “Which of the three was a good neighbour to the man who was beaten up and left for dead?”

The rabbi answered, “The one who showed mercy.”

Jesus told him to go and do the same.

We could not believe that a Samaritan helped the man on the road.  Wasn’t he scared of what would happen to him afterward or what other people would think?  I guess he didn’t care, he acted out of compassion not worrying about religious laws.

I thought for a long time about this story.  How many people have I ignored and still do because they are different than me? Why can’t there be peace between us Jews and the Samaritans?  I need to be more like the Samaritan and love others no matter what.  I pray for a change of heart towards people who are not like me. I pray for forgiveness for judging the Samaritan and others who are commonly hated by Jews. I pray God will help me to love and show compassion to everyone I meet. May I be more like Jesus and the Samaritan in this story.

 

Notes:

*The priest and Levite should have been the ones who cared for the man on the side of the road, but they were too worried about consequences.

“The Samaritan was not liked.  However, because he didn’t worry about religious laws, he acted.

*Love does not consider the worth of a person, it responds to their need!

*Prejudices separate people from needed assistance.  The Samaritan helped one who would have utterly despised him.  Jesus came to break these types of divisions-politically, ethnically, and territorially.

 

For further study:

Luke 10:25-37

 

Parable of the Good Shepherd

Once again we were sitting together with Jesus with a crowd surrounding us.  Jesus taught in parables which are simple stories that helped us understand him better.  I enjoyed listening to Jesus.  He’s firm but full of love and compassion. The story he shared today is a great example of his love.

Jesus shared a parable about the Good Shepherd and his sheep.

“Anyone who sneaks over a wall of a sheepfold instead of going through the gate is a robber.  The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd.  The gate is opened for him and the sheep recognise his voice and they come to him.  The shepherd knows each sheep by name.  He gathers together the flock, walks ahead of them and they know his voice.  Sheep won’t follow just anyone, they will run away from strangers because they don’t recognise their voice.”

I love sheep.  My youngest brother is a shepherd, so I understood about how important it is for the shepherd to look after their sheep.  I can come and visit and hold the new-born lambs, but the sheep don’t respond to my voice.  Yet, when Moshe, my brother speaks, all the sheep come to him and follow him wherever he goes.  He has to go in and out of a gate to get to the sheep and bring them back to safety.

People didn’t understand what the illustration of the shepherd had to do with Jesus or them so he explained the parable to them.

He said, “I am the gate for the sheep.  People have come up to the gate as thieves and robbers trying to snatch the sheep away.  The true sheep didn’t listen to them as they didn’t recognise who they were.

“I am the gate, safety and security for my sheep.  Those who come through me will be saved.  The sheep who come to me will go freely in and find good pastures.  The thief’s purpose is to steal and to kill.  My purpose is to give you abundant life, life to the full.”

How marvellous!! Jesus is my safety and security.  If I stay with him and trust him, I will continue to have abundant life.  I already know I have this as he has already changed my life so much.  I do not want any thief to try and steal this joy away from me.

Jesus continued by saying, “I am the Good Shepherd.  The shepherd gives his life for the sheep.  A hired person will run away if he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd.  The wolf comes, attacks and scatters the flock.  The worker runs away as he is only working for money.  He doesn’t care about the sheep.

“I am the Good Shepherd.  I have an intimate relationship with my sheep and they with me just as I have the same relationship with my Father and he with me.  I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not in this sheepfold and I must bring them too.  They will listen also and be one flock with one Shepherd. The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it up again.  No none can take my life, I give it up voluntarily.  I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also take it up again.  This is what the Father commanded.”

I love being a friend with Jesus.  However, right now there is a part of me that is grieved again. Jesus told us about his death before.  I put it behind me until now.  I don’t want to think about him leaving us and dying.  I want to stay with him forever.   He says he will take his life up again and be raised up from the grave.  I have heard about him bringing the little girl back to life, but how is he going to raise himself up once he’s dead?  I don’t want to lose the best person in my life.

My thoughts were distracted by the people talking around me.  They were divided in their opinions about Jesus.  Some thought he was out of his mind and or demon possessed.  They thought we should not listen to him.

Others said “It doesn’t sound like he is possessed.  Can a demon heal and open blind eyes?”

I believe Jesus is who he says he is.  He is the Messiah, the Son of God.  The sad thing is I cannot tell the people this.  I wish they would just listen, truly listen to Jesus and open their hearts to him.  Oh, how my heart grieves for their souls.

Notes:

*A shepherd is one who tends, leads, guides, loves, feeds and protects a flock.

*Abundant life- is a rich, satisfying life that is superabundant, overflowing, excessive, over and above, extraordinary, profuse and more than sufficient.

*God wants us to be happy and prosperous.  Jesus declares His intention to restore to man what God intended for us and block the enemy’s intent to stop us from receiving this abundant life.

*I AM the Good Shepherd- I am, I have been, I always will be I am Yahweh.

For further study:

John 10:1-21

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Lent Series: The Greatest in the Kingdom

We were walking together going to a new area with Jesus.  The disciples were arguing on the road about which one was the greatest.

Men!

Why do they always have to be the greatest amongst themselves?  What is the big deal anyway?  Are we not in this together with Jesus?

The disciples even had the nerve to ask Jesus “Who is the greatest in the kingdom?”!

I cringed when I heard them asked. But Jesus was so calm with them. He is so patient and compassionate. I guess he understood why they were asking.

Jesus saw a child on the side of the road and asked the boy to come beside him.

He said unless we turn from our sins and become like little children, we will never get into the kingdom of Heaven.  We are to become humble as the little boy in front of us.  This child is the greatest in the kingdom.

He continued by saying “Anyone who welcomes a child like this one on my behalf is welcoming me.  But if you cause one to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around the neck and be drowned in the sea.”

I remembered as a little girl enjoying sitting on Father’s knee whilst he shared some of the stories of the early years of the Israelites.  I had so much fun during our Jewish holidays playing the games, joining in building a sukka, lighting candles and finding the remaining scraps of chametz (part of the matzah).

Part of me now feels like that little girl as I listen to Jesus.  I desire to have a childlike faith as I did when I was younger. I don’t want to lose the wonder of when I saw Jesus for the first time and the sheer joy that filled my heart. I want to keep this joy all of my days.

Jesus continues and says “Sorrow awaits the world because it tempts people to sin.  Temptations are inevitable but what sorrow awaits for anyone who does the tempting!  So if a hand or a foot causes us to sin, it is to be cut off and thrown away.  It is better to get rid of them instead of being thrown into the eternal fire with everything intact.  If our eye causes us to sin, we are better to gouge it out and throw it away for it is better than keeping it and being thrown in the fires of hell.”

The only way I knew how to get rid of my troubles was to come to Jesus and ask for help.  I know if I was not healed, I would have been heading straight to hell.  I don’t want to tempt other people and make them do what is wrong.  What a large responsibility!  I am to be an example to those around me.  If something makes me do wrong I am to get rid of it.  I don’t want to go to hell when I die.  I have heard stories of how horrible the place is with fire and gnashing of teeth.  The thought of it makes me shudder.

Jesus finished his illustration with the little boy and said “Don’t look down on any of the little ones.  In Heaven, their angels are always in the presence of God.”

I wonder what the men were thinking now.  I think we women understand a bit better about children because of our motherly instincts.  I understood very clearly what Jesus was talking about. The men were looking a bit embarrassed and sheepish.  Who knows? Maybe they won’t fight over being the greatest again.

Notes:

*Childlikeness- humans tend to associate authority as being dominant over others.  God wants us to live fruitful lives, getting rid of things that would lead us to hell or gaining control of others only to serve our own interests.

*Childlike humility establishes the style and spirit by which our authority as a believer should be exercised as agents of God’s kingdom.

*To become humble means to be made low or lower oneself. It is a person who is free from all arrogance and self-exaltation, one who submits to God and His will willingly.

For further study:

Matthew 18:1-10; Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48; Deuteronomy 4:9; Psalm 145:4

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Lent Series: Take up your cross and follow Me

After warning us about not telling anyone he is the Messiah, Jesus spoke to us about his death.  He told us he was going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies.  He said he was going to suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, priests, and teachers of religious laws.  He would be killed on the third day, but he would be raised from the dead.  One day it will be necessary for him to go to Jerusalem for a period of time for all of these things to happen.

I felt really sad.  I just began to know Jesus and had the chance to spend more time with him.  Why is he talking about his death as if it is going to be happening any time soon?  He’s young, he’s only in his early thirties.  I didn’t want to lose him.  Surely, as the Son of God, he could put a stop to this?

Peter took Jesus aside and started reprimanding him.  He was saying to Jesus what was on all of our hearts.  Peter speaks up a lot for us.  Often times he puts his foot in his mouth, but we are grateful for him sharing our feelings with Jesus.

Surprisingly, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Get away from me Satan!  You are a dangerous trap to me.*  You see things from a human viewpoint rather than God’s.”

Ouch!  What a sharp statement!  Peter, like Satan?  Us, like Satan?  You could see the sheepish look in Peter’s eyes. Poor Peter stepped back and sat down sulking.

Jesus sat down with us and said “If we wanted to be his follower, we have to let go of our selfish ways, take up our cross and follow him.  If we hang on to our own life, we will lose it.  But if we give up our lives for the Lord, we will be saved.  What will we gain if we have the whole world but lose our souls?  The Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s Glory and will judge everyone according to their deeds.  If anyone is ashamed of him and his message in these sinful and adulterous days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them.”

All of us left everything behind to follow Jesus.  Some left their boats, one left tax collecting, another was a doctor, and I left my family and my things.  What else are we to give up?  Jesus released me from seven demons, I am now a new person, but I am to take up my cross to follow him?  Crosses were for criminals to carry, criminals such as murderers and robbers.  Crosses were a sign of shame so everyone can see you were guilty of whatever wrong you were accused of.  Is this the type of cross we are expected to bear?

How could any of us be ashamed of Jesus?  He has done so much for us.  We have seen him cure diseases, raise people from the dead, make the sea calm, and so much more.  I am not ashamed of him.  He is my Lord, my Rabbi, and my friend.

We all spoke with each other concerned about all we just heard.  None of us really understood what Jesus was talking about but we didn’t want to ask.  The rest of the day we were just feeling rather down.  What were we to do?  We try our best to follow Jesus no matter what, and yet, it seems it’s not enough.  But… Maybe it is, and we are to teach others to live for him and give up everything like we had to follow Jesus.  We have been heckled by many for following Jesus. If following Jesus means dying, then so be it.  I want to do whatever Jesus calls me to do. I couldn’t do anything less.

Note:

*A dangerous trap is a snare, stumbling block and signifies that which causes error or sin.

For further study:

Matthew 16:21-26; 17:22-23; Mark 8:31-38; 9:30-32; Luke 9:22-25, 43-45

Lent Series: Peter confesses Jesus as Lord

One afternoon we were all sitting together having a chat about all we had seen and heard over the past several months.  We were all amazed at what Jesus had done and were still trying to digest everything.

Jesus joined in the conversation and asked us, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Several of us replied, “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the other Prophets.”

I knew Jesus was so much more.  He is truly the Son of God.  This was the reason he was able to do all the marvellous things he had been doing.  The power of God lives in him.

Peter answered Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!”

Wow! I knew Jesus was the Son of God.  For some reason, I don’t think it clicked in my head that Jesus was the Messiah.  We have been waiting for centuries for the Messiah.  Prophecies were foretold about the Messiah coming.  At every Passover, we have a place for Elijah and we believe when he came, the Messiah would also. The Messiah is the Anointed One who was to come to save us all.

Jesus told Peter he is blessed because God the Father has revealed this truth to him as he couldn’t have learnt this from anyone else.  He then told Simon Peter his name will always be called Peter which means Rock.  Jesus told him the church will be built on him and the powers of hell will not conquer it.

What is the church?  I know it is a group of people gathered together sharing the same purpose in life.  I didn’t understand anything Jesus was talking about with Peter.

Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus said whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven and whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Jesus warned us not to tell anyone He was the Messiah.

At first, we talked amongst ourselves because we wondered why we couldn’t say anything.  We thought Jesus would love to have people know their long-awaited Messiah is here.  But as we were talking, we came to the conclusion that if people knew, they would treat him even more differently now.  The religious rulers would have a field day; they insist on having to wait for Elijah to come first before the Messiah.

I didn’t want to imagine what the rulers would do if they realised Jesus is the Messiah.  I don’t think they would believe it.  I also think they would do anything to get rid of Jesus as they already didn’t like him.

I promised to keep my mouth shut about these matters when I talk to my family and others as we walk with Jesus wherever he goes.  I am sure the time will be right to share… one day.

Notes:

*The keys Jesus spoke about to Peter means authority.  Jesus gave Peter and to us now the authority of Heaven on earth.

*The church has authority to release healing, etc as Jesus released healing in his life, death, and resurrection.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to let His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

*Declaring Jesus as the Messiah would have caused a major political uproar.  It wasn’t Jesus’ time to be known to others as the Messiah.

For further study:

Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21