Consider your ways … Jesus loves you

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“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified,” says the Lord. Haggai 1:5-8

Continue reading Consider your ways … Jesus loves you

Gecko rest

Gecko climb - 1

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. James 1:17-18

If I can only climb high enough on the rocks, I can bask in the warmth of the sunlight.

The sun is moving. Better climb a little higher. There!

The higher I get, the warmer and brighter the light. Mmmm. That feels good!

Ever feel like Mr. Gecko in your relationship with God?

I scramble through challenges to get to a higher level in my relationship with God, and I’m basking in His warmth, then He moves, or maybe I move, and I have to climb to a higher location.

That’s how God led the Israelites through the desert. He covered them from the heat in the day with a cloud and warmed them at night with a pillar of fire. When the cloud moved, it was time for the Israelites to pack up camp and move. All the while, God provided the perfect food for them, mana, a honey-like wafer, the perfect gift for them and a symbol of the Firstfruit to come, Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Matthew Henry writes:

The end and design of God’s giving renewing grace is here laid down: That we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures-that we should be God’s portion and treasure, and a more peculiar property to him, as the first-fruits were; and that we should become holy to the Lord, as the first-fruits were consecrated to him. Christ is the first-fruits of Christians, Christians are the first-fruits of creatures.

Mr. Gecko had a lot to say to me that day. He climbed the steep rocks, reached the light, and rested in its warmth, until the sun moved, and it was time to climb again.

Physical effort and rest.

Physical effort and restful waiting for the Son’s guidance.

My prayer

Father of lights, thank You for the lessons You have placed in nature and in Your Word. They are sweet glimpses into heaven. Bless Your children with every good thing that You have given and every perfect gift that we should be a kind of firstfruits that point others to Jesus. We love You, Lord, and want to bask in Your Son’s Light.

Share how you bask in the Son’s Light

Is God your strength? Sing for Joy!

Calla Lilies
Sing for joy to God our strength;
Shout joyfully to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song, strike the timbrel,
The sweet sounding lyre with the harp.
Blow the trumpet at the new moon,
At the full moon, on our feast day. Psalm 81:1-3
Father, the God of our ancestors, the God of the Israelites, I praise You. I lift my voice towards heaven, and sing You a new melody. I clap my hands and lift my hands. You alone created the marvelous light. You hung the moon and the stars in the heavens to light our darkness. We set aside a feast day to celebrate what You have done for us.
Indeed, when we waited upon You, You said:
You called in trouble and I rescued you;
I answered you in the hiding place of thunder Psalm 81:7
You led the Israelites by the hand into the Promised Land, and You lead Your children, Your followers today into the promises You have for us.
Thank You for Your steadfast faithfulness, lovingkindness and Your own dear Son, Jesus, the Messiah.
Sing for joy to God our strength!
Share the joy … tell the readers how God is leading you.

Thanksgiving … a gratitude celebration. What are you grateful for?

Vegetables

 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

That first Thanksgiving celebration in America was a celebration of survival, a celebration of freedom, a celebration of worshipping God, and a celebration of new friends, the Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims and Puritans how to survive.

After a year of sickness and fleeting food, the Pilgrims and Puritans reaped a bountiful harvest. In 1621, an American tradition was born, a gratitude celebration.

Our God is a God of celebrations. He established the Passover and commanded the Israelites to celebrate the Passover to remember the time of their departure from Egypt and to point them to the future Messiah.

Another celebration God established was the Feast of Tabernacles:

13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Deuteronomy 16:13-15

A time of departure.

A time of harvest.

A time of work.

A time of joy.

All to be celebrated.

What are you celebrating today?

My prayer for you:

Father, we thank You for Your bountiful provision, for Your protection, for Your guidance, and for Your works. Thank You for establishing times to reflect upon the milestones in our lives and the life of America. May we live in gratitude and remember that it is You who bless us and provide for us. Thank You, Lord, that You love us. In Jesus’ holy name, we pray. Amen

Three love words

Love

In Taipei, Taiwan
 

Therefore, behold, I will allure her,  and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. Hosea 2:14

God’s love for His people endures forever, even when they reject Him for other gods. In God’s mercy, He speaks of alluring His people back just as a man might court a woman.

God told Hosea, a prophet in the days of Uzziah, to marry Gomer, a harlot, and have children with her. She had two children with Hosea and she left him and went back to harlotry.

She left Hosea and pursued her lovers, but she was not treated well. Some think that she became a cult prostitute, while others think she might have become the property of another man.

God speaks of Israel leaving Him and acting like a harlot. Hosea 2 indicates that God punished Israel, and later, He speaks of her lovingly, planning to allure her to Him.

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20

God told Hosea to love Gomer as a picture of how the Lord loves the Israelites. Hosea bought Gomer for 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley, worth another 15 shekels of silver, the price of a slave.

What a picture of the love of God towards His people AND the love of Hosea as a husband! Hosea reflected God’s love towards Israel as he redeemed Gomer and brought her into a restored relationship as his faithful wife.

In the New Testament, Paul urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, His bride:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27

Three love words

  1. Gave himself for her. God betrothed (engaged) the Israelites in righteousness and justice. Jesus betrothed the church by taking our sins upon Himself and paying the price, death on the cross. He rose from the dead three days later and sits at the right hand of the Father, speaking on our behalf.
  2. Cleansed her by the Word of God. God allured Israel and brought her to Him in steadfast love and mercy. We see that love and mercy through the Word of God.
  3. Presented her in holiness, without blemish. God engaged Israel in faithfulness, so that she would know Him.

What if husbands allured their wives and spoke tenderly to them?

What if husbands gave themselves fully and sacrificially up for their wives?

What if husbands read the Word of God to their wives?

What if husbands presented their wives in holiness to the Lord?

How would wives respond?

My prayer for you:

Father of love and mercy, thank You for Your tender love that surpasses our understanding. Give us the capacity to reflect Your love to others and especially to our spouses. Restore marriages and our relationship to You, so that we may know You in all Your fullness and in all the promises and plans that You have for us.

How will you show your spouse how much your love is?

Flames balloon lift to wings of the dawn

“For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.” Exodus 40:38

This morning, Keith & I ballooned over Temecula Wine Country. Flames lifted the balloon to the wings of the dawn.

God led the children of Israel through the desert with a cloud overshadowing them by day and kept them warm by night with a pillar of fire.

God always overshadows His children with the cooling cloud in the heat of the day and the warm flames of the pillar of fire in the cold desert night.

Yet, we also go through trials of fire. Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were tossed into the fire because they would not bow down to the image that King Nebuchadnezzar made. Dan 3:13

There are many different reason why the flames of fire might be engulfing us. Sometimes, it takes the flames of challenges and trials to lift us to the stratosphere, so that we can see the overarching vision God has for our lives. Other times, the flames might be the Refiner’s fire that is making us pure, so that the Refiner can see His reflection in our lives.

“He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.” Mal 3:3

My prayer for you:

Heavenly Father, show these dear readers the warmth of your overshadowing pillar of flames to keep them warm in the cold darkness of the desert, and when they are in the midst of the heat of the flaming trials, enable them to recognize your loving refining as you carefully control the heat, so that they become more like You and reflect Your holiness in their lives.