Tag Archives: Jesus

The Miracle in the Manger

24 Dec

creation swap 22155_Christmas_BellsI love Jesus. He is my Savior, my Rescuer, my Friend.  He is the One I trust will be there when I need a heart to hide to in. The One who finds joy in my company. The One I know will never tire of me or find me to be too needy. He is just IT to me and the idea that the King of Kings would stoop from heaven to show love to this ordinary woman often overwhelms my heart until the joy of being His slides down my cheeks.

I am no one special to this world. I hold no place of great esteem or importance. I am insignificant in the landscape of this temporal life. But to the heart of Jesus, through the eyes of God, nothing could be further from the truth. Not for me and not for you.

Christmas Day is the announcement that He finds you, that He finds me, to be special. It is the trumpet call declaring our importance to Him. It is the Star He hangs to shine on those who are far off and it is His chorus, filling the sky with the heavenly host to say to every man, woman, and child “You matter to me!”

Friends, that is the beautiful truth of Christmas.creation swap candles David Shrein 12966

Love gifted to us as a Baby was not delivered to the wealthy, to the influential, to the movers and shakers of the day. He was given to a young girl who appeared to the world to be nothing special. Gifted to a Hebrew carpenter who held no lofty position.

The Star, heralding the arrival of the King did not shine with revelation on an exalted inner circle of priests and scribes. It lit up the night sky for a group of outsiders. Unknown, unnamed men from the East, foreigners and strangers with no standing in the Hebrew community.

And the glory of the Lord, the angels filling the sky with praise, did not proclaim the birth of the Good News to kings and nobles. The messengers of God shared the dawning of Salvation with shepherds who lived in fields seemingly influencing no one. They were unesteemed and insignificant in the landscape of their temporal lives.

Don’t you see that stooping down from heaven and gifting the ordinary with the Extraordinary has always been God’s way? The Baby in the manger held in His tiny chest the tangible heartbeat of the Living God and no matter how ordinary we may feel . . . the Heart of the Extraordinary still beats for us in personal, real and tangible ways today.

The Gift of Christmas is still being given to those the world sees as nothing special. The Light of the season still dawns from Glory to shine for the unknown and the unnamed. The glory of the Lord stills fills the skies and proclaims the message of Love to the unesteemed and the insignificant.

The Extraordinary sees you as anything but ordinary. You will never be the nothing special, the unnamed, or the insignificant to the heart of God. He loves you so and has gifted you with the priceless life of His Son. The Christmas Child has come, Dear Sister. The cry of the Babe of Love has pierced the night and the Light of the World has dawned.

creation swap JOY 3763_Christmas_1_of_2_(REVISED) ribbetPonder these things in your heart. Treasure His grace in your soul. For blessed is she who has believed that all the Lord has said to her will be accomplished. There are no limits where the Beloved of God are concerned nor are there any boundaries that can hem His holy blessing. O Sweet Sister, embrace the full of Him in the celebration of this season and may you experience the miracle of the manger as never before. Merry Christmas

 

Session 6: Dressed for Success

16 Nov

 

  • Only when we love one another well –out of His heart and not out of our own—will we have something that attracts a watching world.
  • Only when we are tender to the hurts of one another will the injured and wounded come out the shadows.
  • Only when we walk in forgiveness as we have been forgiven will the lost step forward.
  • And only when we wear grace for one another on our sleeves will we dress in the humility and gentleness that will turn heads.

You Sweet Sister have been clothed by the Most High. The Name of Jesus covers you from head to toe. The Spirit Himself has dressed you in holiness. And the Elohim, the All of God, the eternal, independent, true and holy One, has crowned you with life and Girlfriend, believe me when I tell you –it looks good on you. May you wear it well!

 

12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Colossians 3:12-14 NASB

THANK YOU FOR THE JOY IN THE JOURNEY!

Session 5: Rooted in the Heart of God

9 Nov

Wonder not if you are loved, protected, desired, and cared for, Sweet Daughter of God, when you encounter disappointment and disillusionment with yourself – grace does not depend on you.

 

Do not try to puzzle out His affection, His heart provision, or His ache to see you walk in redemption when you meet with seasons of darkness and distress. CLAIM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD AS YOUR OWN!

 

It is not the will of God that you should be downcast, yoked to shame, or chained to the past –fear not; you are free. Breathtakingly free!

 

  • Free to look up and gaze upon glory.
  • Free to peer into the heavenlies and anticipate the certainty to come.
  • Free to be filled with Hope and life here and now and confidently expect the joy of eternity.

Colossians 3:1-3 from the Message . . .

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life.

Our Roots Are Showing . . . Introduction Parts One and Two

14 Oct

Sister, are you not under attack and tempted at every turn if not to deny Jesus certainly to dethrone Him? The question is how will you respond? Will we trade the riches of Jesus for the things this world has to offer or be women who stand firm in the truth?

DIFFICULT TIMES WILL COME . . .

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We must live it well in front of the ones who looking to us to forge their future. We must live it well in front of those who are entrusting us to build a faith heritage of life and love. We must hang on to the Isaiah 65:16 God of Truth, cling to the John 14:6 Way, Truth and Life, and grab hold of the John 16:13 Spirit of Truth and refuse to let go.

Praying we find ourselves stirred to action and application as we study the Book of Colossians together!  Have a blessed day Sister!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Might Be Time to Change the Channel!

27 Aug

God tells us flat out in the book of Jeremiah that we will begin to look like the things we pursue. The things we exalt and make the goal of life move from being the thing we desire to possess, to the thing that possesses us. That makes such sense because the things that we love, that we chase after, and I’ll be so bold as to say lust after, control us.

                         This is what the Lord says:

“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
    that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
    and became worthless themselves. . . . Jeremiah 2:5

Our pursuit shapes the way we use our time, where we invest our resources, and even our friend circle. Not one area of life goes unscathed or escapes the tentacles of our pursuit.

Do not run until your feet are bare
    and your throat is dry.
But you said, ‘It’s no use!
    I love foreign gods,
    and I must go after them. . . . Jeremiah 2:25

Rolling all of this over in my mind and asking myself what I pursue with everything I am and praying in the back of my brain that my pursuit is of the Who and not a what, made me remember a Shel Silverstein poem I used to read to my Sweet Girl when she was little . . . Jimmy Jet and the TV Set.

I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet–
    And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
    Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night
    Till he grew pale and lean,
From ‘The Early Show’ to ‘The Late Show’
    And all the shows in between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
     And his bottom grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
    And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,
    And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying ‘vert.’ and ‘horiz.’
    Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
    So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
    We all sit around and watch him.

   Shel Silverstein

Quite the cautionary tale! Full of wisdom if we’re willing to take it in. I can’t expect to be consumed with the temporal things of this world and not look like I belong here.  Like this is my country and my home.

Sister, we will be changed by what we run after and where we fix our eyes. We will resemble what we pursue and our pursuit will shape who we become.

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Lord,
     Let me fix my eyes on Jesus.
     Let me pursue you with everything I am.
     Give me the desire to look like you.
     To be holy because you are holy.

     Influence who I am in the here and now.
     Shape me to be who you want me to be.
     In Jesus Name Amen.

The Evermore of Glory . . . the Nevermore of Tears

16 Jun

Life is such a funny thing. Periods of great joy and deep grief run parallel with one another. Elation and loss side-by-side, each one demanding your full attention – neither receiving it because you find yourself incapable of fully committing to the experience of either. Instead, you find yourself vacillating between the two. Moments of great happiness followed by times of overwhelming melancholy . . . and the life events that lead us there are as different as the feelings themselves.

I have Sisters walking through such grief as they come to terms with doing a portion of this temporal life without their Mommas. . . without their children . . .they simultaneously ache with the reality of their daily absence and rejoice that the ones they loved so well are now free of pain and worry, standing hand-in-hand with Jesus. They delight that their faith has become sight but the apartness of it all is so heavy sometimes. So they find themselves living in a place of both joy and emptiness, hearts etched by separation and spirits anticipating sweet reunions . . .knowing the reality of the Apostle Paul’s statement that we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

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I have Sweet Friends in soul combat as their “adult-children” begin navigating life on this decaying planet in a new way. They beam with pride at the accomplishments of their babies as their high school days are left behind and they pray with ferocity for their futures. They put together picture boards in commemoration of milestones and try to imagine the new images that will be part of their children’s monumental moments in the days to come. They are standing between the mountain-top of triumph and the fresh climb into the unknown that looms just ahead for their young people. Young people who head toward new destinations on their life journeys and take with them very real and very large chunks of their Momma’s hearts. Hearts that at once celebrate what lies ahead and remember the sweetness of what is behind. Hearts that hear the Voice of Love whisper . . . “train a child up” . . . and cling to it with everything they are.

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God opened my eyes to this strange linking of emotional arms this morning as I set about the business of continuing to sort and pack away my daughter’s things. I pack a little and I cry a little. I do heavy sighs as if my heart can’t get enough air as I look from thing to thing and the memories flood through my mind and onto my cheeks. The wedding is over. The new life in a new state has begun for her. My emotions flow back and forth between great happiness over her new experiences and powerful waves of what I can only describe as heart blues.

And I’m sure she is encountering some version of that same ebb and flow as she makes her new home. Unpacking boxes that speak to the security of a time now passed and choosing new things to create a sense of belonging in this place of fresh beginning. New wife, new life . . . joy and anticipation colliding head on with a peculiar mixture of mourning and melancholy.

No matter where you are reading from, you have a similar experience. A time when it seemed that your heart argued with itself about what you should be feeling. A dear friend reminded me years ago when my Sweet Girl left for college on the opposite end of the country and I walked through the same dichotomy of emotions that we were never meant to experience painful separation from one another. Might that be why it is so difficult to nail down the way we feel about being apart?

I confess that this upheaval in my emotions, while unpleasant at times, has served a beautiful purpose. It has opened my eyes and allowed me a glimpse of the eternity I will spend in Glory. It has made me marvel at what Jesus was willing to endure when He experienced the ultimate separation on the Cross so we could spend eternity in glorious togetherness.

There will be no farewells in heaven. Glory wasn’t designed for clashing emotions. Loss will have no place in eternity and its fraternal twin loneliness will never draw a breath.   Mourning and melancholy simply won’t be part of the equation. Sadness and sorrow will never make their way past the Gate called Beautiful.

The ransomed of God will delight in the absence of mixed emotion and savor the full presence of one another . . .not a tear will be shed and everlasting joy will crown the head of the redeemed. Gladness and joy will overtake us and sorrow and sighing—the kind we do when we feel like our hearts can’t get enough air—they will flee away.

Beloved, that’s our reality – our certain outcome – because He is our reality and He will not change His mind concerning us. We won’t be visited by loss and the pain of grief will not find a home. There will be no more life transitions or waiting for blessed reunions. No more intermingling of elation and melancholy. Never again will we utter the goodbye. Sweet Sister, if you find yourself with a fractured spirit—part of you celebrating while the other part grieves—you take heart Precious Believer . . .our complete joy is guaranteed and the Nevermore of separation will be ours when our feet are firmly planted in the Evermore of Glory.

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We will Resemble what we Pursue

1 May

The words of God through the pen of the Prophet Jeremiah echo in my ears this morning . . . “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” Bunny paraphrase – you will resemble what you pursue.

That is not new to you Dear One. You know it to be true. Whatever you or I choose to fix our eyes on will direct our footsteps. But we can’t fool ourselves for one moment into thinking we’re simply grabbed by the nose and dragged down the primrose path. No, in most—if not every—instance we travel that road all too willingly.

creation swap worthless suitcase 26527_Wandering

We may not begin the journey with determined steps toward whatever shiny bauble has averted our gaze but it doesn’t take long until we’re making deliberate strides toward the thing.  And I know it may sound harsh and it may sting our hearts but the truth of the matter is that if we had been intentional, if we had made the conscious choice, to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith . . . if we had chosen to keep in lockstep with the Spirit . . . we’d never find ourselves hot on the heels of the worthless thing and becoming worthless ourselves.

See Sister, that’s just not our destiny. Our destiny as believers and full-throttle followers of Jesus Christ is to keep our thoughts fixed on our Messiah and our eyes hard-and-fast on Him so that as we behold His glory we are transformed and little by little reflect the same image as the One who is absolutely Worthy.

18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. 2 Corinthians 3:18

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Sweet One, we serve no one well when we settle for less than God created us to be . . . when we allow ourselves to be distracted by the fading sparkle of this world. He has reserved far too much for us for us to dissuade so easily!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

He calls us to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Him not because He’s on an ego trip. God does not need our attention to be secure in being God. He invites us to look upon Him, to walk with Him, to be resolute in pursuing the holy life for our benefit.

Within the boundary of holy living lies the blessing.

Again, this is not news to you. Even if you’ve not read the Scriptures that flat out tell us the boundary lines have fallen for us in pleasant places or that we are hemmed in before and behind by the Hand of Glory, you know it by experience, I know it by experience.

And yet, you and I can look back over our lives and see the times we willfully walked outside His borders and ignored the Voice of Love asking us to keep our feet firmly planted and our eyes steadfastly focused. The outcome wasn’t good. The result was certainly not blessing. . . and might it be that when we pursued the things of this world the aftermath of the chase left us feeling empty and worn-out? Because we had not chosen, had not predetermined, to stand firm had we indeed chosen to move ever closer to becoming worthless?

Beloved, I will never practice life within the holy boundaries by accident. My pursuit, and may I be so bold Sister as to say yours as well, must be deliberate. The distance between temptation and participation is far too narrow for us to leave it to chance. We must be determined to live with our eyes fixed on our Savior and our hearts filled with the Holy Spirit . . . aware of our boundaries and resolved to live inside the blessing.

The next shiny object is just around the corner. The next opportunity to be distracted is never far off and another chance to follow and therefore become what is worthless looms in the distance.

Girlfriend, I may not know the specifics of your struggle or the identity of the thing that competes for your attention, but this I do know . . . if you will fix your eyes firmly on Him it will be Grace that you see looking back.  Gaze upon Him and you will be face-to-face with the Worthy One who has stooped from His Throne to lavish you with His attention and affection.  Lean in close and your heart will hear the Voice of Love spurring you on in your pursuit, assuring you that no daughter of the King is destined for a worthless life, whispering to your soul that you are of infinite value to Him and declaring from the Cross  . . . “She is worth it!”

CREATION SWAP worthy CROSS SILHOUETTE 26681_silhouette_of_cross_alone

 

Reality: the state of things as they actually exist . . .

24 Apr

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Christ dwelled here on earth as a part of God’s plan

To save and to rescue the sinner I am

He offered Himself, the Lamb made the way

His Blood flows eternal, He still saves today

The life He lived for me was brought to an end

But the Tomb could not hold Him and He lives again!

creation swap rescued chalkboard 26493_Chalkboard 1Yes, the Lamb of Perfection descended in love

The cup of redemption was filled with His blood

My Kinsman-Redeemer was hung on the Tree

He gave His Life freely as ransom for me

But the Tomb could not hold Him, the stone rolled away,

My Rock, My Strong Fortress is living today!

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Christ became sin and then conquered the grave

He said, “My sweet child, you’re no longer a slave!”

He purchased me back, Oh, God’s Christ came for me

I’m filled with the Spirit, forgiven and free

For the Tomb could not hold Him, death where is your sting?

The Messiah has risen and reigns as the King!

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Reality:  the state of things as they actually exist

Marilyn Biddinger

 

Lessons from Lent: Day 33

27 Mar

creation swap lessons from lent coffee cup Kelly Sikkema 22940

An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (8 now because you have already accomplished thirty-two), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Thirty-three

March 27, 2015 ~~ Titus, Philemon, Hebrews 1-7

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Titus 1

Paul, a bond servant of God and an apostle (a special messenger) of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) to stimulate and promote the faith of God’s chosen ones and to lead them on to accurate discernment and recognition of and acquaintance with the Truth which belongs to and harmonizes with and tends to godliness, [Resting] in the hope of eternal life, [life] which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began. And [now] in His own appointed time He has made manifest (made known) His Word and revealed it as His message through the preaching entrusted to me by command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child according to a common (general) faith: Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) and [heart] peace from God the Father and the Lord Christ Jesus our Savior.

For this reason I left you [behind] in Crete, that you might set right what was defective and finish what was left undone, and that you might appoint elders and set them over the churches (assemblies) in every city as I directed you. [These elders should be] men who are of unquestionable integrity and are irreproachable, the husband of [but] one wife, whose children are [well trained and are] believers, not open to the accusation of being loose in morals and conduct or unruly and disorderly.

For the bishop (an overseer) as God’s steward must be blameless, not self-willed or arrogant or presumptuous; he must not be quick-tempered or given to drink or pugnacious (brawling, violent); he must not be grasping and greedy for filthy lucre (financial gain); But he must be hospitable (loving and a friend to believers, especially to strangers and foreigners); [he must be] a lover of goodness [of good people and good things], sober-minded (sensible, discreet), upright and fair-minded, a devout man and religiously correct, temperate and keeping himself in hand. He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error].

10 For there are many disorderly and unruly men who are idle (vain, empty) and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others. [This is true] especially of those of the circumcision party [who have come over from Judaism]. 11 Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting base advantage and disreputable gain. 12 One of their [very] number, a prophet of their own, said, Cretans are always liars, hurtful beasts, idle and lazy gluttons. 13 And this account of them is [really] true. Because it is [true], rebuke them sharply [deal sternly, even severely with them], so that they may be sound in the faith and free from error, 14 [And may show their soundness by] ceasing to give attention to Jewish myths and fables or to rules [laid down] by [mere] men who reject and turn their backs on the Truth.

15 To the pure [in heart and conscience] all things are pure, but to the defiled and corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are defiled and polluted. 16 They profess to know God [to recognize, perceive, and be acquainted with Him], but deny and disown and renounce Him by what they do; they are detestable and loathsome, unbelieving and disobedient and disloyal and rebellious, and [they are] unfit and worthless for good work (deed or enterprise) of any kind.

Titus 2

But [as for] you, teach what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine [the character and right living that identify true Christians].

Urge the older men to be temperate, venerable (serious), sensible, self-controlled, and sound in the faith, in the love, and in the steadfastness and patience [of Christ]. Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, So that they will wisely train the young women to be [a]sane and sober of mind (temperate, disciplined) and to love their husbands and their children, To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured (kindhearted), adapting and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach (blasphemed or discredited). In a similar way, urge the younger men to be self-restrained and to behave prudently [taking life seriously].

And show your own self in all respects to be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works, teaching what is unadulterated, showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive], with dignity and seriousness. And let your instruction be sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and [b]irrefutable and above censure, so that the opponent may be put to shame, finding nothing discrediting or evil to say about us.

[Tell] bond servants to be submissive to their masters, to be pleasing and give satisfaction in every way. [Warn them] not to talk back or contradict, 10 Nor to steal by taking things of small value, but to prove themselves truly loyal and entirely reliable and faithful throughout, so that in everything they may be an ornament and do credit to the teaching [which is] from and about God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward (appeared) for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. 12 It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness (irreligion) and worldly (passionate) desires, to live discreet (temperate, self-controlled), upright, devout (spiritually whole) lives in this present world, 13 Awaiting and looking for the [fulfillment, the realization of our] blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 14 Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us (purchase our freedom) from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people [to be peculiarly His own, people who are] eager and enthusiastic about [living a life that is good and filled with] beneficial deeds. 15 Tell [them all] these things. Urge (advise, encourage, warn) and rebuke with full authority. Let no one despise or disregard or think little of you [conduct yourself and your teaching so as to command respect].

Titus 3

Remind people to be submissive to [their] magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be prepared and willing to do any upright and honorable work, To slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid being contentious, to be forbearing (yielding, gentle, and conciliatory), and to show unqualified courtesy toward everybody.

For we also were once thoughtless and senseless, obstinate and disobedient, deluded and misled; [we too were once] slaves to all sorts of cravings and pleasures, wasting our days in malice and jealousy and envy, hateful (hated, detestable) and hating one another.

But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior to man [as man] appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. [And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.

This message is most trustworthy, and concerning these things I want you to insist steadfastly, so that those who have believed in (trusted in, relied on) God may be careful to apply themselves to honorable occupations and to doing good, for such things are [not only] excellent and right [in themselves], but [they are] good and profitable for the people.

But avoid stupid and foolish controversies and genealogies and dissensions and wrangling about the Law, for they are unprofitable and futile. 10 [As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him], 11 Well aware that such a person has utterly changed (is perverted and corrupted); he goes on sinning [though he] is convicted of guilt and self-condemned.

12 When I send Artemas or [perhaps] Tychicus to you, lose no time but make every effort to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Do your utmost to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they want for (lack) nothing.

14 And let our own [people really] learn to apply themselves to good deeds (to honest labor and honorable employment), so that they may be able to meet necessary demands [a]whenever the occasion may require and not be living idle and uncultivated and unfruitful lives.

15 All who are with me wish to be remembered to you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace (God’s favor and blessing) be with you all. Amen (so be it).

Philemon 1

Paul, a prisoner [for the sake] of Christ Jesus (the Messiah), and our brother Timothy, to Philemon our dearly beloved sharer with us in our work, And to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier [in the Christian warfare], and to the church [assembly that meets] in your house:

Grace (spiritual blessing and favor) be to all of you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

I give thanks to my God for you always when I mention you in my prayers, Because I continue to hear of your love and of your loyal faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and [which you show] toward all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

[And I pray] that the participation in and sharing of your faith may produce and promote full recognition and appreciation and understanding and precise knowledge of every good [thing] that is ours in [our identification with] Christ Jesus [and unto His glory].

For I have derived great joy and comfort and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints [who are your fellow Christians] have been cheered and refreshed through you, [my] brother.

Therefore, though I have abundant boldness in Christ to charge you to do what is fitting and required and your duty to do, Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you just for what I am—I, Paul, an ambassador [of Christ Jesus] and an old man and now a prisoner for His sake also—10 I appeal to you for my [own spiritual] child, Onesimus [meaning profitable], whom I have begotten [in the faith] while a captive in these chains.

11 Once he was unprofitable to you, but now he is indeed profitable to you as well as to me. 12 I am sending him back to you in [a]his own person, [and it is like sending] my very heart. 13 I would have chosen to keep him with me, in order that he might minister to my needs in your stead during my imprisonment for the Gospel’s sake. 14 But it has been my wish to do nothing about it without first consulting you and getting your consent, in order that your benevolence might not seem to be the result of compulsion or of pressure but might be voluntary [on your part].

15 Perhaps it was for this reason that he was separated [from you] for a while, that you might have him back as yours forever, 16 Not as a slave any longer but as [something] more than a slave, as a brother [Christian], especially dear to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh [as a servant] and in the Lord [as a fellow believer]. 17 If then you consider me a partner and a [b]comrade in fellowship, welcome and receive him as you would [welcome and receive] me.

18 And if he has done you any wrong in any way or owes anything [to you], charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write it with my own hand, I promise to repay it [in full]—and that is to say nothing [of the fact] that you owe me your very self! 20 Yes, brother, let me have some profit from you in the Lord. Cheer and refresh my heart in Christ.

21 I write to you [perfectly] confident of your obedient compliance, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. 22 At the same time prepare a guest room [in expectation of extending your hospitality] to me, for I am hoping through your prayers to be granted [the gracious privilege of coming] to you.

23 Greetings to you from Epaphras, my fellow prisoner here in [the cause of] Christ Jesus (the Messiah), 24 And [from] Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace (blessing and favor) of the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) be with your spirit. Amen (so be it).

Hebrews 1

In many separate revelations [[a]each of which set forth a portion of the Truth] and in different ways God spoke of old to [our] forefathers in and by the prophets, [But] in [b]the last of these days He has spoken to us in [the person of a] Son, Whom He appointed Heir and lawful Owner of all things, also by and through Whom He created the worlds and the reaches of space and the ages of time [He made, produced, built, operated, and arranged them in order]. He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the [c]out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high, [Taking a place and rank by which] He Himself became as much superior to angels as the glorious Name (title) which He has inherited is different from and more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did [God] ever say, You are My Son, today I have begotten You [established You in an official Sonship relation, with kingly dignity]? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He will be to Me a Son? Moreover, when He brings the firstborn Son [d]again into the habitable world, He says, Let all the angels of God worship Him. Referring to the angels He says, [God] Who makes His angels winds and His ministering servants flames of fire;

But as to the Son, He says to Him, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever (to the ages of the ages), and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of absolute righteousness (of justice and straightforwardness). You have loved righteousness [You have delighted in integrity, virtue, and uprightness in purpose, thought, and action] and You have hated lawlessness (injustice and iniquity). Therefore God, [even] Your God ([e]Godhead), has anointed You with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond Your companions.

10 And [further], You, Lord, did lay the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the works of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain and continue permanently; they will all grow old and wear out like a garment. 12 Like a mantle [thrown about one’s self] You will roll them up, and they will be changed and replaced by others. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end nor come to failure.

13 Besides, to which of the angels has He ever said, Sit at My right hand [associated with Me in My royal dignity] till I make your enemies a stool for your feet? 14 Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for the assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation?

Hebrews 2

Since all this is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away. For if the message given through angels [the Law spoken by them to Moses] was authentic and proved sure, and every violation and disobedience received an appropriate (just and adequate) penalty, How shall we escape [appropriate retribution] if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as is now offered to us, letting it drift past us forever]? For it was declared at first by the Lord [Himself], and it was confirmed to us and proved to be real and genuine by those who personally heard [Him speak].

[Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers] according to His own will.

For it was not to angels that God subjected the habitable world of the future, of which we are speaking. It has been solemnly and earnestly said in a certain place, What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You graciously and helpfully care for and visit and look after him? For some little time You have ranked him lower than and inferior to the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor and set him over the works of Your hands, For You have put everything in subjection under his feet. Now in putting everything in subjection to man, He left nothing outside [of man’s] control. But at present we do not yet see all things subjected to him [man].

But we are able to see Jesus, Who was ranked lower than the angels for a little while, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death, in order that by the grace (unmerited favor) of God [to us sinners] He might experience death for every individual person.

10 For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest] through suffering. 11 For both He Who sanctifies [making men holy] and those who are sanctified all have one [Father]. For this reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren; 12 For He says, I will declare Your [the Father’s] name to My brethren; in the midst of the [worshiping] congregation I will sing hymns of praise to You.13 And again He says, My trust and assured reliance and confident hope shall be fixed in Him. And yet again, Here I am, I and the children whom God has given Me.

14 Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by [going through] death He might bring to nought and make of no effect him who had the power of death—that is, the devil—15 And also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives.

16 For, as we all know, He [Christ] did not take hold of angels [[a]the fallen angels, to give them a helping and delivering hand], but He did take hold of [[b]the fallen] descendants of Abraham [to reach out to them a helping and delivering hand]. 17 So it is evident that it was essential that He be made like His brethren in every respect, in order that He might become a merciful (sympathetic) and faithful High Priest in the things related to God, to make atonement and propitiation for the people’s sins. 18 For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] [c]to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].

Hebrews 3

So then, brethren, consecrated and set apart for God, who share in the heavenly calling, [thoughtfully and attentively] consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest Whom we confessed [as ours when we embraced the Christian faith]. [See how] faithful He was to Him Who appointed Him [Apostle and High Priest], as Moses was also faithful in the whole house [of God].

Yet Jesus has been considered worthy of much greater honor and glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house [itself]. For [of course] every house is built and furnished by someone, but the Builder of all things and the Furnisher [of the entire equipment of all things] is God.

And Moses certainly was faithful in the administration of all God’s house [but it was only] as a ministering servant. [In his entire ministry he was but] a testimony to the things which were to be spoken [the revelations to be given afterward in Christ]. But Christ (the Messiah) was faithful over His [own Father’s] house as a Son [and Master of it]. And it is we who are [now members] of this house, if we hold fast and firm to the end our joyful and exultant confidence and sense of triumph in our hope [in Christ].

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as [happened] in the rebellion [of Israel] and their provocation and [a]embitterment [of Me] in the day of testing in the wilderness, Where your fathers tried [My patience] and tested [My forbearance] and [b]found I stood their test, and they saw My works for forty years. 10 And so I was provoked (displeased and sorely grieved) with that generation, and said, They always err and are led astray in their hearts, and they have not perceived or recognized My ways and become progressively better and more experimentally and intimately acquainted with them. 11 Accordingly, I swore in My wrath and indignation, They shall not enter into My rest.

12 [Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.

13 But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him]. 14 For we [c]have become fellows with Christ (the Messiah) and share in all He has for us, if only we hold our first newborn confidence and original assured expectation [in virtue of which we are believers] firm and unshaken to the end.

15 Then while it is [still] called Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion [in the desert, when the people provoked and irritated and embittered God against them]. 16 For who were they who heard and yet were rebellious and provoked [Him]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?

17 And with whom was He irritated and provoked and grieved for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose [d]dismembered bodies were strewn and left in the desert?

18 And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [who had not listened to His word and who refused to be compliant or be persuaded]?

19 So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out].

Hebrews 4

Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [[a]to distrust it], lest any of you should [b]think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it. For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with [c]the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; [d]neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard (did believe).

For we who have believed (adhered to and trusted in and relied on God) do enter that rest, [e]in accordance with His declaration that those [who did not believe] should not enter when He said, As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest; and this He said although [His] works had been completed and prepared [and waiting for all who would believe] from the foundation of the world. For in a certain place He has said this about the seventh day: And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. And [they forfeited their part in it, for] in this [passage] He said, They shall not enter My rest.

Seeing then that the promise remains over [from past times] for some to enter that rest, and that those who formerly were given the good news about it and the opportunity, failed to appropriate it and did not enter because of disobedience, Again He sets a definite day, [a new] Today, [and gives another opportunity of securing that rest] saying through David after so long a time in the words already quoted, Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts.

[This mention of a rest was not a reference to their entering into Canaan.] For if Joshua had given them rest, He [God] would not speak afterward about another day. So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath-rest reserved for the [true] people of God; 10 For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors [f]peculiarly His own.

11 Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell]. 12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [g]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart. 13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

14 Inasmuch then as we have a great High Priest Who has [already] ascended and passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith in Him]. 15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.

16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].

Hebrews 5

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in things relating to God, to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to exercise gentleness and forbearance toward the ignorant and erring, since he himself also is liable to moral weakness and physical infirmity. And because of this he is obliged to offer sacrifice for his own sins, as well as for those of the people.

Besides, one does not appropriate for himself the honor [of being high priest], but he is called by God and receives it of Him, just as Aaron did. So too Christ (the Messiah) did not exalt Himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed and exalted by Him Who said to Him, You are My Son; today I have begotten You; As He says also in another place, You are a Priest [appointed] forever after the order (with [a]the rank) of Melchizedek.

In the days of His flesh [Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions [for that which He not only wanted [b]but needed] and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was [always] able to save Him [out] from death, and He was heard because of His reverence toward God [His godly fear, His piety, [c] in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father].

Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered And, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him, 10 Being [d]designated and recognized and saluted by God as High Priest after the order (with [e]the rank) of Melchizedek.

11 Concerning this we have much to say which is hard to explain, since you have become dull in your [spiritual] hearing and sluggish [even [f]slothful in achieving spiritual insight]. 12 For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. 13 For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! 14 But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.

Hebrews 6

Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ (the Messiah), advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belong to spiritual maturity. Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance and abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God, With teachings about purifying, the laying on of hands, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal judgment and punishment. [These are all matters of which you should have been fully aware long, long ago.]

If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advanced teaching]. For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace.

For the soil which has drunk the rain that repeatedly falls upon it and produces vegetation useful to those for whose benefit it is cultivated partakes of a blessing from God. But if [that same soil] persistently bears thorns and thistles, it is considered worthless and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. Even though we speak this way, yet in your case, beloved, we are now firmly convinced of better things that are near to salvation and accompany it.

10 For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name’s sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do. 11 But we do [[a]strongly and earnestly] desire for each of you to show the same diligence and sincerity [all the way through] in realizing and enjoying the full assurance and development of [your] hope until the end,

12 In order that you may not grow disinterested and become [spiritual] sluggards, but imitators, behaving as do those who through faith ([b]by their leaning of the entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) and by practice of patient endurance and waiting are [now] inheriting the promises. 13 For when God made [His] promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself, since He had no one greater by whom to swear, 14 Saying, Blessing I certainly will bless you and multiplying I will multiply you. 15 And so it was that he [Abraham], having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained [in the birth of Isaac as a pledge of what was to come] what God had promised him.

16 Men indeed swear by a greater [than themselves], and with them in all disputes the oath taken for confirmation is final [ending strife]. 17 Accordingly God also, in His desire to show more convincingly and beyond doubt to those who were to inherit the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose and plan, intervened (mediated) with an oath. 18 This was so that, by two unchangeable things [His promise and His oath] in which it is impossible for God ever to prove false or deceive us, we who have fled [to Him] for refuge might have mighty indwelling strength and strong encouragement to grasp and hold fast the hope appointed for us and set before [us].

19 [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot [c]break down under whoever steps out upon it—a hope] that reaches [d]farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil, 20 Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with [e]the rank) of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 7

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem [and] priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, And Abraham gave to him a tenth portion of all [the spoil]. He is primarily, as his name when translated indicates, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, which means king of peace. Without [record of] father or mother or ancestral line, neither with beginning of days nor ending of life, but, resembling the Son of God, he continues to be a priest without interruption and without successor.

Now observe and consider how great [a personage] this was to whom even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth [the topmost or the pick of the heap] of the spoils. And it is true that those descendants of Levi who are charged with the priestly office are commanded in the Law to take tithes from the people—which means, from their brethren—though these have descended from Abraham.

But this person who has not their Levitical ancestry received tithes from Abraham [himself] and blessed him who possessed the promises [of God]. Yet it is beyond all contradiction that it is the lesser person who is blessed by the greater one. Furthermore, here [in the Levitical priesthood] tithes are received by men who are subject to death; while there [in the case of Melchizedek], they are received by one of whom it is testified that he lives [perpetually]. A person might even say that Levi [the father of the priestly tribe] himself, who received tithes (the tenth), paid tithes through Abraham, 10 For he was still in the loins of his forefather [Abraham] when Melchizedek met him [Abraham].

11 Now if perfection (a perfect fellowship between God and the worshiper) had been attainable by the Levitical priesthood—for under it the people were given the Law—why was it further necessary that there should arise another and different kind of Priest, one after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one appointed after the order and rank of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is of necessity an alteration of the law [concerning the priesthood] as well. 13 For the One of Whom these things are said belonged [not to the priestly line but] to another tribe, no member of which has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is obvious that our Lord sprang from the tribe of Judah, and Moses mentioned nothing about priests in connection with that tribe.

15 And this becomes more plainly evident when another Priest arises Who bears the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 Who has been constituted a Priest, not on the basis of a bodily legal requirement [an externally imposed command concerning His physical ancestry], but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible Life. 17 For it is witnessed of Him, You are a Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek. 18 So a previous physical regulation and command is cancelled because of its weakness and ineffectiveness and uselessness—19 For the Law never made anything perfect—but instead a better hope is introduced through which we [now] come close to God.

20 And it was not without the taking of an oath [that Christ was made Priest], 21 For those who formerly became priests received their office without its being confirmed by the taking of an oath by God, but this One was designated and addressed and saluted with an oath, The Lord has sworn and will not regret it or change His mind, You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

22 In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant]. 23 [Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 But He holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever.

25 Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them. 26 [Here is] the High Priest [perfectly adapted] to our needs, as was fitting—holy, blameless, unstained by sin, separated from sinners, and exalted higher than the heavens. 27 He has no day by day necessity, as [do each of these other] high priests, to offer sacrifice first of all for his own [personal] sins and then for those of the people, because He [met all the requirements] once for all when He brought Himself [as a sacrifice] which He offered up.

28 For the Law sets up men in their weakness [frail, sinful, dying human beings] as high priests, but the word of [God’s] oath, which [was spoken later] after the institution of the Law, [chooses and appoints as priest One Whose appointment is complete and permanent], a Son Who has been made perfect forever.

And as our minds whirl with the Old Testament flash forwards, we declare the Amen

#lessonsfromlent

I think if someone were to ask me, and maybe you too, if I would always choose the good thing for myself over the bad, I would confidently answer yes. It seems pretty cut and dry, Common Sense 101, but Sister our ancestry, our human heritage, well, it shows that just isn’t the case–that all of mankind must’ve missed that class.  Left to look through the lenses of our humanity and the desires of the flesh, we have no idea and are not capable of seeing the good thing, the beautiful thing, the best thing clearly.

How do you think Eve would’ve responded to that question? Or Adam? I choose them to ponder on not simply because we know how clouded their vision was but also because they didn’t have a bad home life to pin the haziness of their sight on and they didn’t have a twisted family tree to hang their distorted views from. They had their own heart and their own perception. The choice before them was to trust God and obey the boundaries He had set for them or to act apart from His goodness and do what they thought was best. We know the choice and we live the outcome. . .

And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate. Genesis 3:6

But I don’t judge Eve at all, because left to myself, I know without a doubt that I would walk right alongside of her and I would lean in just as close as she did to hear the serpent’s every word. And just like it did for Eve, the hiss of Satan would drown out the holiness of God.

The deceiver didn’t flat out ask Eve if God had given her His very best, He led her into looking at it through her own humanity and the desires of her flesh and entertain the notion that God might be holding out on her. At the beginning of the conversation, it doesn’t even seem that Eve knew she was weighing her options. . . that she was sliding on her black robe and exalting herself to be the judge of God. I think that’s most often how the enemy gets to us . . . little by little . . . and pretty soon we have our black robe on and the gavel in our hand, all set to judge the word of God.

1 John 2:16 couldn’t be clearer. The same three areas that faced Adam and Eve in the Garden still face us today . . .

16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 1 John 2:16

See it line up . . .

And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food—(lust of the flesh)— and that it was delightful to look at—(lust of the eyes)—, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise—(pride of life)—, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate. Genesis 3:6/1 John 2:16

Satan doesn’t change his game, because we don’t change.  We’re still tempted by what our flesh wants, what our eyes see, and what we think makes us look good.  Beloved, Satan tried all those same tricks with Christ in the desert and Jesus did not bow to a single temptation.

He remained the Sinless One, the Perfect One.  He stared temptation in the face and He chose obedience.

Jesus never sinned, but He became sin and He died as if He was the One who had been lured from the goodness of God to serve Himself.  He never wavered but He paid the price.  He didn’t swerve but it bore the wrath.

Jesus stood firm in His full humanity and overcame every temptation and . . . the Spotless One is alive and well.  He has left the tomb behind, and made His home in each of us.  The Christ living in us, empowers us to stand firm when our hearts are tempted.  And when we cry out to our Savior He is ever-present to strengthen us in the battle.  He does not guess what we need because He knows!  Our Mighty Warrior has fought this battle, He faced the enemy, and He has overcome!

18 For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] [c]to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering]. Hebrews 2:18

15 For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Hebrews 4:15

Does He know this world conspires against you? Absolutely He does. Is He aware of the powerful pull to the things our eyes see and our flesh wants? Without a doubt He is. And does He understand the difficulty of the battle? Oh Sweet One, He does! Not in a far off, analytical, “life on earth is tough” kind of way. No! Our Savior has fought the good fight up-close and personal.   Oh yes Girlfriend, He knows the war you are fighting and He will never let you fight alone.

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We never fight alone . . . #lessonsfromlent

Lessons from Lent: Day Twenty

12 Mar

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An Explanation of Lessons from Lent

In the next 40 days (21 now because you have already accomplished nineteen), the weeks leading up to Easter, the posts on Glimpsed Glory will be different. I am reading through the New Testament during this time and I am hoping the Holy Spirit will lead me to a fresh revelation each and every day. I’m going into it with a prayerful heart and an expectant spirit but I will fully confess to you that my soul feels sluggish.

I have been in a place of exhaustion over these last months. My mind has been clouded, my body has ached and insomnia has been my companion since late December. The enemy has been and is still whispering in my ear that my Jesus has forgotten me . . . that He has finally tired of my imperfections and left me behind.

I’m not giving in to it! I am going to fight the good fight of faith and follow the example of my Nehemiah Man. I am going to stand firm in my faith because if I do not, I will not stand at all. I’m praising God for bringing me to a place of emptiness so that I can look to Him to fill my cup.

I’m coming before the Lord and I’m asking Him to do a new thing in me. To rouse my heart to His side and to draw me near in real and tangible ways. To plow through the fog that has settled over me in the form of health issues, physical stress, and emotional upheaval and lay a level path before me. I’m entering the throne room and I’m humbly reminding Him that He has invited me to come in my time of need. O Lord – be near to me. Love me where I am. Take me where I need to be.

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That’s the cry of my heart Sweet Sister and I’m thinking that if I am in this place that perhaps you are too. It might be that different life situations have brought us here but here we are. If that’s the case, I want you to know that you are not alone and that you have a faith sister to walk through it with. We can do this together – you and I. It’s why God gave us to one another. We can join our hearts and we can offer up the next 40 days to the Beautiful One and trust Him to do the beautiful thing in us.

So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll post the daily reading on the blog (except for Sundays) and if you read the Scriptures not only will you have read through the entire New Testament by Easter but God promises that He’ll show you deep and unsearchable things you do not know. He promises that His word is alive and active and will transform your heart. I could use some transformation. What about you?

At the end of the daily passage, I’m going to share my “Lesson from Lent” – nothing long or drawn out just something that God uses to speak straight to my heart from the Scripture that day. I’m putting it at the end because if your time runs short on a particular day – I want you to skip reading my words, not His.

I’m hoping that you’ll start your own running record of what God is showing you. Maybe you’ll even be moved to leave a comment so your Sisters can glean from what you’re learning. No matter how you choose to keep track of all He shares with you . . . treasure it up in your heart Sweet One, meditate on it, mull it over, consider the whisper of the Lover of your soul. The God of the Universe is the only Voice we need to revive our tired souls. So, let’s you and I lean in close, pray for ears to hear and hearts to respond. Let’s dig in to the riches He has given us and prepare to be amazed by what He will reveal to our expectant hearts. O Sister, let’s boldly ask Him for a lesson from Lent and then brace ourselves for a glimpse of Glory!

Day Twenty

March 12, 2015 ~~ Acts 12-17

Amplified Bible

Footnotes: I’ve left the footnotes in place if you would like to track down sources in word study and language. Please follow the link to each chapter and scroll to the bottom of the passage.

Acts 12

About that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to afflict and oppress and torment some who belonged to the church (assembly). And he killed James the brother of John with a sword; And when he saw that it was pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded further and arrested Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread [the Passover week].

And when he had seized [Peter], he put him in prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him, purposing after the Passover to bring him forth to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent prayer for him was persistently made to God by the church (assembly).

The very night before Herod was about to bring him forth, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared [standing beside him], and a light shone in the place where he was. And the angel gently smote Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, Get up quickly! And the chains fell off his hands.

And the angel said to him, Tighten your belt and bind on your sandals. And he did so. And he said to him, Wrap your outer garment around you and follow me. And [Peter] went out [along] following him, and he was not conscious that what was apparently being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed through the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate which leads into the city. Of its own accord [the gate] swung open, and they went out and passed on through one street; and at once the angel left him.

11 Then Peter came to himself and said, Now I really know and am sure that the Lord has sent His angel and delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting [to do to me]. 12 When he, at a glance, became aware of this [[a]comprehending all the elements of the case], he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where a large number were assembled together and were praying.

13 And when he knocked at the gate of the porch, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate. 15 They said to her, You are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, It is his angel!

16 But meanwhile Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the gate and saw him, they were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep quiet and listen, he related to them how the Lord had delivered him out of the prison. And he said, Report all this to James [the Less] and to the brethren. Then he left and went to some other place.

18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And when Herod had looked for him and could not find him, he placed the guards on trial and commanded that they should be led away [to execution]. Then [Herod] went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed on there.

20 Now [Herod] cherished bitter animosity and hostility for the people of Tyre and Sidon; and [their deputies] came to him in a united body, and having made Blastus the king’s chamberlain their friend, they asked for peace, because their country was nourished by and depended on the king’s [country] for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod arrayed himself in his royal robes, took his seat upon [his] throne, and addressed an oration to them. 22 And the assembled people shouted, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man!

23 And at once an angel of the Lord smote him and cut him down, because he did not give God the glory (the preeminence and kingly majesty that belong to Him as the supreme Ruler); and he was eaten by worms and died.

24 But the Word of the Lord [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] continued to grow and spread.

25 And Barnabas and Saul came back from Jerusalem when they had completed their mission, bringing with them John whose surname was Mark.

Acts 13

Now in the church (assembly) at Antioch there were prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God) and teachers: Barnabas, Symeon who was called Niger [Black], Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying, they put their hands on them and sent them away.

So then, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from [that port] they sailed away to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the Word of God [concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John [Mark] as an attendant to assist them.

When they had passed through the entire island of Cyprus as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain Jewish wizard or sorcerer, a false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was closely associated with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent and sensible man of sound understanding; he summoned to him Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the Word of God [concerning salvation in the kingdom of God attained through Christ]. But Elymas [a]the wise man—for that is the translation of his name [[b]which he had given himself]—opposed them, seeking to keep the proconsul from accepting the faith. But Saul, who is also called Paul, filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit, looked steadily at [Elymas] 10 And said, You master in every form of deception and recklessness, unscrupulousness, and wickedness, you son of the devil, you enemy of everything that is upright and good, will you never stop perverting and making crooked the straight paths of the Lord and plotting against His saving purposes? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind, [so blind that you will be] unable to see the sun for a time. Instantly there fell upon him a mist and a darkness, and he groped about seeking persons who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed (became a Christian) when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished and deeply touched at the teaching concerning the Lord and from Him.

13 Now Paul and his companions sailed from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John [Mark] separated himself from them and went back to Jerusalem, 14 But they [themselves] came on from Perga and arrived at Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue there and sat down. 15 After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders [of the worship] of the synagogue sent to them saying, Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation or consolation or encouragement for the people, say it.

16 So Paul arose, and motioning with his hand said, Men of Israel and you who reverence and fear God, listen! 17 The God of this people Israel selected our forefathers and made this people great and important during their stay in the land of Egypt, and then with an uplifted arm He led them out from there. 18 And for about forty years [c]like a fatherly nurse He cared for them in the wilderness and endured their behavior. 19 When He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave them [the Hebrews] their land as an inheritance [distributing it to them by lot; all of which took] about 450 years. 20 After that, He gave them judges until the prophet Samuel. 21 Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when He had deposed him, He raised up David to be their king; of him He bore witness and said, I have found David son of Jesse a man after My own heart, who will do all My will and carry out My program fully.

23 Of this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel a Savior [in the person of Jesus], according to His promise. 24 Before His coming John had [already] preached baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was ending his course, he asked, What or [d]who do you secretly think that I am? I am not He [the Christ. No], but note that after me One is coming, the sandals of Whose feet I am not worthy to untie!

26 Brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and all those others among you who reverence and fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation [the salvation obtained through Jesus Christ]. 27 For those who dwell in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not know or recognize Him or understand the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, have actually fulfilled these very predictions by condemning and sentencing [Him]. 28 And although they could find no cause deserving death with which to charge Him, yet they asked Pilate to have Him executed and put out of the way.29 And when they had finished and fulfilled everything that was written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb.

30 But God raised Him from the dead.31 And for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are His witnesses to the people. 32 So now we are bringing you the good news (Gospel) that what God promised to our forefathers, 33 This He has [e]completely fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are My Son; today I have begotten You [[f]caused You to arise, to be born; [g]formally shown You to be the Messiah by the resurrection].

34 And as to His having raised Him from among the dead, now no more to return to [undergo] putrefaction and dissolution [of the grave], He spoke in this way, I will fulfill and give to you the holy and sure mercy and blessings [that were promised and assured] to David. 35 For this reason He says also in another psalm, You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption [to undergo putrefaction and dissolution of the grave]. 36 For David, after he had served God’s will and purpose and counsel in his own generation, fell asleep [[h]in death] and was buried among his forefathers, and he did see corruption and undergo putrefaction and dissolution [of the grave]. 37 But He Whom God raised up [to life] saw no corruption [did not experience putrefaction and dissolution of the grave].

38 So let it be clearly known and understood by you, brethren, that through this Man forgiveness and removal of sins is now proclaimed to you; 39 And that through Him everyone who believes [who [i]acknowledges Jesus as his Savior and devotes himself to Him] is absolved (cleared and freed) from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by the Law of Moses and given right standing with God. 40 Take care, therefore, lest there come upon you what is spoken in the prophets: 41 Look, you scoffers and scorners, and marvel and perish and vanish away; for I am doing a deed in your days, a deed which you will never have confidence in or believe, [even] if someone [[j]clearly describing it in detail] declares it to you.

42 As they [Paul and Barnabas] went out [of the synagogue], the people earnestly begged that these things might be told to them [further] the next Sabbath. 43 And when the congregation of the synagogue dispersed, many of the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked to them and urged them to continue [to trust themselves to and to stand fast] in the grace (the unmerited favor and blessing) of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the entire city gathered together to hear the Word of God [concerning [k]the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God]. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, filled with envy and jealousy they contradicted what was said by Paul and talked abusively [reviling and slandering him].

46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out plainly and boldly, saying, It was necessary that God’s message [concerning [l]salvation through Christ] should be spoken to you first. But since you thrust it from you, you pass this judgment on yourselves that you are unworthy of eternal life and out of your own mouth you will be judged. [Now] behold, we turn to the Gentiles (the heathen). 47 For so the Lord has charged us, saying, I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles (the heathen), that you may bring [eternal] salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they rejoiced and glorified (praised and gave thanks for) the Word of God; and as many as were destined (appointed and ordained) to eternal life believed (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on Jesus as the Christ and their Savior).

49 And so the Word of the Lord [concerning eternal salvation through Christ] scattered and spread throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews stirred up the devout women of high rank and the outstanding men of the town, and instigated persecution against Paul and Barnabas and drove them out of their boundaries.

51 But [the apostles] shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were continually filled [throughout their souls] with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Acts 14

Now at Iconium [also Paul and Barnabas] went into the Jewish synagogue together and spoke with such power that a great number both of Jews and of Greeks believed (became Christians); But the unbelieving Jews [who rejected their message] aroused the Gentiles and embittered their minds against the brethren.

So [Paul and Barnabas] stayed on there for a long time, speaking freely and fearlessly and boldly in the Lord, Who continued to bear testimony to the Word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be performed by their hands. But the residents of the town were divided, some siding with the Jews and some with the apostles.

When there was an attempt both on the part of the Gentiles and the Jews together with their rulers, to insult and abuse and molest [Paul and Barnabas] and to stone them, They, aware of the situation, made their escape to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and the neighboring districts; And there they continued to preach the glad tidings (Gospel).

Now at Lystra a man sat who found it impossible to use his feet, for he was a cripple from birth and had never walked. He was listening to Paul as he talked, and [Paul] gazing intently at him and observing that he had faith to be healed, 10 Shouted at him, saying, Stand erect on your feet! And he leaped up and walked.

11 And the crowds, when they saw what Paul had done, lifted up their voices, shouting in the Lycaonian language, The gods have come down to us in human form! 12 They called Barnabas Zeus, and they called Paul, because he led in the discourse, Hermes [god of speech]. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose [temple] was at the entrance of the town, brought bulls and garlands to the [city’s] gates and wanted to join the people in offering sacrifice.

14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their clothing and dashed out among the crowd, shouting, 15 Men, why are you doing this? We also are [only] human beings, of nature like your own, and we bring you the good news (Gospel) that you should turn away from these foolish and vain things to the living God, Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything that they contain. 16 In generations past He permitted all the nations to walk in their own ways; 17 Yet He did not neglect to leave some witness of Himself, for He did you good and [showed you] kindness and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with nourishment and happiness. 18 Even in [the light of] these words they with difficulty prevented the people from offering sacrifice to them.

19 But some Jews arrived there from Antioch and Iconium; and having persuaded the people and won them over, they stoned Paul and [[a]afterward] dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead. 20 But the disciples formed a circle about him, and he got up and went back into the town; and on the morrow he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.

21 When they had preached the good news (Gospel) to that town and made disciples of many of the people, they went back to Lystra and Iconium and Antioch, 22 Establishing and strengthening the souls and the hearts of the disciples, urging and warning and encouraging them to stand firm in the faith, and [telling them] that it is through many hardships and tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

23 And when they had appointed and ordained elders for them in each church with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had come to believe [being full of joyful trust that He is the Christ, the Messiah].

24 Then they went through Pisidia and arrived at Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the Word in Perga [the doctrine concerning the attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God], they went down to Attalia; 26 And from there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had [first] been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had [now] completed. 27 Arriving there, they gathered the church together and declared all that God had accomplished with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah, through Whom we obtain salvation in the kingdom of God].

28 And there they stayed no little time with the disciples.

Acts 15

But some men came down from Judea and were instructing the brethren, Unless you are circumcised in accordance with the Mosaic custom, you cannot be saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had no small disagreement and discussion with them, it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others of their number should go up to Jerusalem [and confer] with the apostles (special messengers) and the elders about this matter. So, being [a]fitted out and sent on their way by the church, they went through both Phoenicia and Samaria telling of the conversion of the Gentiles (the heathen), and they caused great rejoicing among all the brethren.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were heartily welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they told them all that God had accomplished through them. But some who believed [who [b]acknowledged Jesus as their Savior and devoted themselves to Him] belonged to the sect of the Pharisees, and they rose up and said, It is necessary to circumcise [the Gentile converts] and to charge them to obey the Law of Moses.

The apostles and the elders were assembled together to look into and consider this matter.

And after there had been a long debate, Peter got up and said to them, Brethren, you know that quite a while ago God made a choice or selection from among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the message of the Gospel [concerning the [c]attainment through Christ of salvation in the kingdom of God] and believe (credit and place their confidence in it). And God, Who is acquainted with and understands the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit as He also did to us; And He made no difference between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith ([d]by a strong and welcome conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God). 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting a yoke on the necks of the disciples, such as neither our forefathers nor we [ourselves] were able to endure? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace (the undeserved favor and mercy) of the Lord Jesus, just as they [are].

12 Then the whole assembly remained silent, and they listened [attentively] as Barnabas and Paul rehearsed what signs and wonders God had performed through them among the Gentiles. 13 When they had finished talking, James replied, Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon [Peter] has rehearsed how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people [to bear and honor] His name. 15 And with this the predictions of the prophets agree, as it is written, 16 After this I will come back, and will rebuild the house of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its [very] ruins, and I will set it up again, 17 So that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom My name has been invoked, 18 Says the Lord, Who has been making these things known from the beginning of the world. 19 Therefore it is my opinion that we should not put obstacles in the way of and annoy and disturb those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 But we should send word to them in writing to abstain from and avoid anything that has been polluted by being offered to idols, and all sexual impurity, and [eating meat of animals] that have been strangled, and [tasting of] blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had his preachers in every town, for he is read [aloud] every Sabbath in the synagogues.

22 Then the apostles and the elders, together with the whole church, resolved to select men from among their number and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, [both] leading men among the brethren, and sent them. 23 With [them they sent] the following letter: The brethren, both the apostles and the elders, to the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings: 24 As we have heard that some persons from our number have disturbed you with their teaching, unsettling your minds and [e]throwing you into confusion, although we gave them no express orders or instructions [on the points in question], 25 It has been resolved by us in assembly to select men and send them [as messengers] to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men who have hazarded their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 So we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will bring you the same message by word of mouth. 28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to lay upon you any greater burden than these indispensable requirements: 29 That you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from [tasting] blood and from [eating the meat of animals] that have been strangled and from sexual impurity. If you keep yourselves from these things, you will do well. Farewell [be strong]!

30 So when [the messengers] were sent off, they went down to Antioch; and having assembled the congregation, they delivered the letter. 31 And when they read it, the people rejoiced at the consolation and encouragement [it brought them]. 32 And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets (inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God), urged and warned and consoled and encouraged the brethren with many words and strengthened them. 33 And after spending some time there, they were sent back by the brethren with [the greeting] peace to those who had sent them. 34 However, Silas decided to stay on there.

35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch and with many others also continued teaching and proclaiming the good news, the Word of the Lord [concerning the [f]attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in God’s kingdom].

36 And after some time Paul said to Barnabas, Come, let us go back and again visit and help and minister to the brethren in every town where we made known the message of the Lord, and see how they are getting along. 37 Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark [his near relative]. 38 But Paul did not think it best to have along with them the one who had quit and deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 And there followed a sharp disagreement between them, so that they separated from each other, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.

40 But Paul selected Silas and set out, being commended by the brethren to the grace (the favor and mercy) of the Lord. 41 And he passed through Syria and Cilicia, establishing and strengthening the churches.

Acts 16

And [Paul] went down to Derbe and also to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer [she had become [a]convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of eternal salvation, and yielded obedience to Him]; but [Timothy’s] father was a Greek.

He [Timothy] had a good reputation among the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. Paul desired Timothy to go with him [[b]as a missionary]; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, all of whom knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way from town to town, they delivered over [to the assemblies] for their observance the regulations decided upon by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened and made firm in the faith, and they increased in number day after day.

And Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word in [the province of] Asia. And when they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

[There] a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man from Macedonia stood pleading with him and saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us! 10 And when he had seen the vision, we [including Luke] at once endeavored to go on into Macedonia, confidently inferring that God had called us to proclaim the glad tidings (Gospel) to them. 11 Therefore, setting sail from Troas, we came in a direct course to Samothrace, and the next day went on to Neapolis. 12 And from there [we came] to Philippi, which is the chief city of the district of Macedonia and a [Roman] colony. We stayed on in this place some days; 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the [city’s] gate to the bank of the river where we supposed there was an [accustomed] place of prayer, and we sat down and addressed the women who had assembled there.

14 One of those who listened to us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in fabrics dyed in purple. She was [already] a worshiper of God, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized along with her household, she earnestly entreated us, saying, If in your opinion I am one really convinced [that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of salvation] and that I will be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay. And she induced us [to do it].

16 As we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit of divination [claiming to foretell future events and to discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners much gain by her fortunetelling. 17 She kept following Paul and [the rest of] us, shouting loudly, These men are the servants of the Most High God! They announce to you the way of salvation! 18 And she did this for many days. Then Paul, being sorely annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit within her, I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her! And it came out that very [c]moment.

19 But when her owners discovered that their hope of profit was gone, they caught hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities in the forum (marketplace), [where trials are held]. 20 And when they had brought them before the magistrates, they declared, These fellows are Jews and they are throwing our city into great confusion. 21 They encourage the practice of customs which it is unlawful for us Romans to accept or observe!

22 The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. 24 He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25 But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened.

27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! 29 Then [the jailer] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling and terrified he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out [of the dungeon] and said, Men, what is it necessary for me to do that I may be saved?

31 And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [[d]give yourself up to Him, [e] take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well. 32 And they declared the Word of the Lord [the doctrine concerning the [f]attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and [g]bathed [them because of their bloody] wounds, and he was baptized immediately and all [the members of] his [household]. 34 Then he took them up into his house and set food before them; and he [h]leaped much for joy and exulted with all his family that he believed in God [accepting and joyously welcoming what He had made known through Christ].

35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent policemen, saying, Release those fellows and let them go. 36 And the jailer repeated the words to Paul, saying, The magistrates have sent to release you and let you go; now therefore come out and go in peace. 37 But Paul answered them, They have beaten us openly and publicly, without a trial and uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now thrust us out secretly? No, indeed! Let them come here themselves and conduct us out!

38 The police reported this message to the magistrates, and they were frightened when they heard that the prisoners were Roman citizens; 39 So they came themselves and [striving to appease them by entreaty] apologized to them. And they brought them out and asked them to leave the city.

40 So [Paul and Silas] left the prison and went to Lydia’s house; and when they had seen the brethren, they warned and urged and consoled and encouraged them and departed.

Acts 17

Now after [Paul and Silas] had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul entered, as he usually did, and for three Sabbaths he reasoned and argued with them from the Scriptures, Explaining [them] and [quoting passages] setting forth and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, This Jesus, Whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ (the Messiah). And some of them [accordingly] were induced to believe and associated themselves with Paul and Silas, as did a great number of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.

But the unbelieving Jews were aroused to jealousy, and, getting hold of some wicked men (ruffians and rascals) and loungers in the marketplace, they gathered together a mob, set the town in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring [Paul and Silas] out to the people. But when they failed to find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the city authorities, crying, These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, And Jason has received them to his house and privately protected them! And they are all ignoring and acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, [actually] asserting that there is another king, one Jesus!

And both the crowd and the city authorities, on hearing this, were irritated (stirred up and troubled). And when they had taken security [bail] from Jason and the others, they let them go.

10 Now the brethren at once sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea; and when they arrived, they entered the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [[a]concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore became believers, together with not a few prominent Greeks, women as well as men.

13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that the Word of God [[b]concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] was also preached by Paul at Beroea, they came there too, disturbing and inciting the masses.

14 At once the brethren sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained behind.

15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy that they should come to him as soon as possible, they departed. 16 Now while Paul was awaiting them at Athens, his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned and argued in the synagogue with the Jews and those who worshiped there, and in the marketplace [where assemblies are held] day after day with any who chanced to be there.

18 And some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him and began to engage in discussion. And some said, What is this babbler with his scrap-heap learning trying to say? Others said, He seems to be an announcer of foreign deities—because he preached Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the [c]Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], saying, May we know what this novel (unheard of and unprecedented) teaching is which you are openly declaring? 20 For you set forth some startling things, foreign and strange to our ears; we wish to know therefore just what these things mean—

21 For the Athenians, all of them, and the foreign residents and visitors among them spent all their leisure time in nothing except telling or hearing something newer than the last— 22 So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], said: Men of Athens, I perceive in every way [on every hand and with every turn I make] that you are most religious or very reverent to demons. 23 For as I passed along and carefully observed your objects of worship, I came also upon an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. Now what you are already worshiping as unknown, this I set forth to you. 24 The God Who produced and formed the world and all things in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade shrines. 25 Neither is He served by human hands, as though He lacked anything, for it is He Himself Who gives life and breath and all things to all [people]. 26 And He made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth, having definitely determined [their] allotted periods of time and the fixed boundaries of their habitation (their settlements, lands, and abodes), 27 So that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him, although He is not far from each one of us. 28 For in Him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your [own] poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

29 Since then we are God’s offspring, we ought not to suppose that Deity (the Godhead) is like gold or silver or stone, [of the nature of] a representation by human art and imagination, or anything constructed or invented. 30 Such [former] ages of ignorance God, it is true, ignored and allowed to pass unnoticed; but now He charges all people everywhere to repent ([d]to change their minds for the better and heartily to amend their ways, with abhorrence of their past sins), 31 Because He has fixed a day when He will judge the world righteously (justly) by a Man Whom He has destined and appointed for that task, and He has made this credible and given conviction and assurance and evidence to everyone by raising Him from the dead.

32 Now when they had heard [that there had been] a resurrection from the dead, some scoffed; but others said, We will hear you again about this matter.

33 So Paul went out from among them. 34 But some men were on his side and joined him and believed (became Christians); among them were Dionysius, a judge of the Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and some others with them.

And the worshippers of God raise the “Amen”

#lessonsfromlent

Isn’t it something that everywhere the Spirit of Jesus goes we find people being “disturbed”, being “troubled” . . . . might I be so bold as to say these are the by-products of being convicted?

Think about yourself for a moment. Do you always react well when Jesus shines the light on a habitual transgression, a pattern of reactionary offense, or—and this one for me is probably the most pointed—a cozy sin? What I mean by that is a sin that I’ve made space for in my life. I’ve cleared a path for it, built it a well-protected place to live, hung pictures on the walls and put out throw pillows for its comfort . . . I’ve made it cozy. Do you have any of those?

Full confession is that even though Christ has torn down my self-constructed walls and snatched the pillows from under the heads of many of my cozy sins, His Light continues to shine into the darkest parts of me. He loves me, and He loves you, too much to allow us to keep the welcome mat out for anything that harms us. And Sister, sin harms us.

The most recent offense Christ has told to pack up its wall décor and go is worry. I made every excuse to hang onto that habitual, reactionary, cozy sin. It was the trifecta of offense –habitual was the fear of losing control, reactionary was anxiety, and cozy was the head of the snake . . . worry.  I had given myself permission to keep that transgression close and when Jesus decided to uproot that thing and send it packing . . . I was “disturbed” . . . I was “troubled.”

And this is the plain language the Holy Spirit used with me:  Worry is the tangible expression of mistrust. Mistrust is the product of unbelief. Unbelief is the failure to understand the Love of God. Failure to understand the very Essence of the God I profess to love is a lack of knowledge of the Who of Him.

Worry was the manifestation of my “unknown god” because the lack of knowing the Who of Him allowed it to make a home in my heart. When Jesus issued its eviction notice . . . I was “disturbed” . . . I was “troubled.”

Just like Herod who dressed himself up to look like a king, I had put royal robes on that thing and sat it on the throne. It wasn’t a conscious decision that it would keep me from knowing God but Girlfriend, that’s the nature of an idol. It gets devotion, it gets energy, it gets worship, it gets room in our lives that belongs to God.

We read about the idols, crafted from silver and gold at the hands of man, and we wonder how they could worship something their own hands had created rather than the One that created them but I don’t think we’re so far apart from those artisans.

If I truly look, and you truly look, at the Mars Hill meeting place in our own hearts what will we find? Is the way clear or is it cluttered with objects of worship? I know the home my heart built to make worry look beautiful—dressed up in concern, robed in sharing the burden—were no less created by me than the idols hand crafted in Athens. The products of my human imagination, the things I created—worry, anxiety, fear – became silver and gold shrines that crowded by mind and left little room for the One who created me.

And the thing is that sin, no matter how cozy of a space we create for it or how inviting we try to make the walls we attempt to constrain it with . . . it won’t be contained. It always wants more space. It always wants more room. And before you know it God has been given a small altar in the corner – one object of worship among many. Whew! That’s some truth that “disturbs” me . . .that “troubles” me.

Fear not Sweet One . . . Jesus paid the price to have you and He will not let you go. He is going to come with eviction notice after eviction notice for all those cozy sins. The Messiah does not mind disturbing or troubling us one bit. He has no hesitation in pulling away those throw pillows, shaking the pictures from the walls and sending the sin we’ve made so comfortable packing. He knows that for us to KNOW the Father, if we’re to have any hope of finding Him, of living and moving and having our being in Him, every other god has to go.

creation swap throw pillows 15545_Abandoned_Sofa ribbet

 No throw pillows allowed . . . #lessonsfromlent

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