Awaken Warrior

I love the movie “War Room” and there is a scene where one of the characters declares: “I see in you a warrior that needs to be awakened.” I’ve found it easy to slumber, to become so worn down and weary by disappointment as I latch onto the lie that God doesn’t respond. I’ve journeyed into a dangerous place where I was trapped in spiritual slumber, a place where I forgot the most powerful ability I have is prayer. I’ve lived out the words from the wonderful hymn “What a Friend we have in Jesus”:

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Peace is forfeited and needless pain I bear when I forget that I can pour out my heart to God in prayer, I can plead for His help AND I can stand and fight in prayer! I desperately want to be awakened more and as I reflect on Father’s Day I pray that men and women are awakened. Father’s Day is an opportunity to bestow honour upon the men in our lives and one way that we can do that is to pray for them, to lift them and their needs to God knowing that He hears and responds.

Courageous Warriors

Let’s pray for the men around us to arise as courageous warriors, to have the insight and courage that Caleb and Joshua had. When these 2 men saw the insurmountable task ahead of them, they displayed an amazing amount of courage and faith. Instead of giving into fear they boldly declared: “let’s surge ahead for we will certainly conquer! If the Lord is pleased with us, He will bring us through the battle safely. Come on let’s go because what’s ahead is truly wonderful! Do not rebel against the Lord, don’t be afraid, for the Lord is with us!” (See Numbers‬ ‭13:30, 14:6-9‬). They urged those around them to grasp hold of the promises of God, to stand upon them AND act on those sure steadfast promises. It takes courage to lead and men are called to lead families. I pray they realize that the Lord is with them, guiding and directing them forward.

Helpful Warriors

Another way that we women can honour the men in our lives is to be who God created us to be – helpmates. In Genesis 2:18 God recognised that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and made a helper fit for him. Does that mean that women don’t have equal value or the opportunity to lead? StudyLight.org suggest that women have the ability to declare, teach, expound and reveal, and to be a pioneering leader out in front because as the new creation (woman) was created being neither inferior nor superior, but equal. Then going onto refer to 1 Peter 3:7 which explains that we are fellow heirs: men are to treat their wives with great gentleness, tenderness and tact. Husbands are to show their wives honour and respect for they are a fellow heir of the grace of life. With a warning that if they don’t do this then their prayers will be hindered or ineffective.
As wives we can make our husband’s leadership of us easy by living out 1 Peter 3: we are to be devoted to our husband, encourage him and enjoy him because he is a blessing from God. Our kind and godly conduct will win over our husband without us saying a word; we’re to let our true beauty come from the inside (a gentle and peaceful spirit) because that is much more precious in God’s sight than the most beautiful piece of jewellery or adornment we own; we’re to be submissive to our husband by entrusting ourselves to him knowing that he is accountable to God.
I pray that women rise up as helpful Warriors because God created women to be helpmates.

Warrior Families

It is my hope and prayer that men and women embrace the reflection of God that they were created to be, that they become more and more like Jesus, and live their lives flowing with the fruits of the Spirit. That husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, would raise up a mighty generation that truly knows and serves the Lord. That they would lift their voices in unity to declare: “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua ‭24:15‬b (AMP‬‬)

Let’s pray:

Father God, help us to embrace the reflection of God that we were created to be. Change and mould us to become more and more like Jesus. Holy Spirit impact our lives so that we flow with the fruits of the Spirit: an unselfish concern for others (love); inner peace (joy); the ability to wait well (patience); a sincere desire for the happiness of others and to outwork that by helping others (kindness); integrity, honesty and morality (goodness); that we be known for being devoted, loyal and stable (faithfulness); that we are tender-hearted and mildly mannered (gentleness); and we reveal the ability to control ourselves, our emotions and desires, especially in difficult situations (self-control). (Galatians 5: 22-23)
We pray a blessing upon the men around us, Lord help them to arise as courageous warriors, men who instil courage and confidence into those around them. Release to men their God-given voices, help them to grasp hold of the promises of God, to stand upon them AND act on those sure steadfast promises. Holy Spirit help husbands to treat their wives with great gentleness, tenderness and tact. To show their wives honour and respect so that their prayers will not be hindered or ineffective. (1 Peter 3:7)
We pray that women rise up as helpful warriors because God created women to be helpmates. Holy Spirit help wives to be devoted to their husbands. Let them encourage their husband and enjoy him knowing he is a blessing from God. Let wives display godly conduct in order to win over their husbands without the need of words. Let women embrace their true inner beauty by developing a gentle and peaceful spirit; let them no longer be overanxious but serene and spiritually mature. Help wives to be submissive to their husband by entrusting themselves to him knowing that he is accountable to God.
We lift our voices up in unity to declare: “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” We pray Your will be done in our lives Lord, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Many blessings,

Keona

Word of encouragement: God’s Strength

As you’ve probably guessed I’ve hit another ‘wall’ with The Greatest Story piece.  I’ve been struggling with lots of different things. A few weeks ago I wasn’t feeling well but I was able to get to my Church’s monthly event called Encounter. I was really struggling because I’d felt prompted to invite God to allow His Word to do a work in me. I could feel God’s piercing gaze and the dividing and cutting away of stuff, which meant that I felt extremely raw and emotional therefore I struggled to speak.

One of the ladies there, Noreen, did an amazing exercise with us which revealed just how connected we are but it also revealed to me that:

  • The times I’m weak someone lends me their strength.
  • The times I have no voice someone will speak for me.
  • When I have no encouragement to give someone will encourage me.

Reminds me of the words that Paul heard when he was struggling: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (New King James Version)

I know that you’re reading this and you may be struggling, you may feel weak, unable to speak and so discouraged. I know it can be hard to ask for help but Jesus can grant you strength when you’re weak; He will be the voice to speak for you; and be the encouragement to break through your discouragement. Just ask Him for help and He will readily respond.

Inviting God’s Word to do a work in our lives is painful because His Word pierces our hearts, it cuts and it divides. These are all extremely painful things but the piercing highlights an area in our lives that needs to change and if we allow God to cut away and divine those things from our lives we find life everlasting that truly transforms us. For example:

Death can be replaced with life.

The darkest fear can be replaced with a powerful peace.

Weakness can be replaced with strength.

The deepest grief can be replaced with overflowing joy.

Discouragement can be replaced with encouragement.

Doubt can be replaced with faith.

Sickness can be replaced with healing.

Wrong thoughts can be replaced with the right thoughts.

Lies can be replaced with Truth.

All through the mighty name of Jesus and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

I pray today that it will be so. Amen.

I’m holding onto those promises tightly and praying God will breakthrough for me in many areas of my life. I started my weekly blog in response to the Call to write. I’ve loved the journey that God has been taking me on and sharing the words given is the greatest privilege. Right now I’m struggling to write the next part of The Greatest Story, I don’t want to do any injustice to the story so I’m taking a break from blogging to do some more research and work on other projects I feel called to concentrate on right now. I pray I’ll have something to share again with you soon.

Thanks for your support and I appreciate your prayers.

Blessings, Keona

Greatest Story Part 19: Like Children

Jesus smiled as the sun’s rays hit His face, what a glorious sunrise it had been. As He had watched the world wake up His spirit had been renewed and revived. The sounds around Him had grown and Jesus knew that His disciples would soon come looking for Him, He rose from His place of prayer and gathered His things. Making His way down He paused to take a look at the hills around Him and smiled as He watched the shepherds gently rousing their sheep, a prayer tumbled forth: ‘Father help me to rouse those around me, empower me to pull them from their slumber.’.

By the time Jesus joined the disciples breakfast was ready and they were eager for the day to start, they quickly ate and made their way to the Temple courtyard, and as the crowds gathered Jesus began to teach. A voice called out: “Rabbi, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus smiled and called a young child closer, “I tell you the Truth, it is those who turn from their own ways that God smiles upon. Repentance and a humble heart is what He desires. Come to God like a child, trust Him utterly and completely, for that is who the greatest in the Kingdom is.” Jesus could feel the confusion in the crowd and prayed for the right words before continuing: “welcome children into your midst for then you’re welcoming Me also. Take heed that you do not hinder children, do not lead them into sin but teach them how to love the Lord God with all of their hearts, all of their minds and all of their souls. Model this for them and show them the way”. Parents began to press their children forward to be blessed by Jesus and the disciples tried to turn them away, “do not bother the Rabbi, He is teaching.” But Jesus called out: “Please allow them to come, have you not heard what I’ve been saying?” as the children gathered around Him Jesus blessed each one and again called out: “remember the Kingdom of Heaven belong to those such as these, those who are humble and trusting. Do not look down upon them for I assure you that their angels are always in the presence of My heavenly Father. What is done to them is seen and noted, both good and bad deeds are recorded, and you will be responsible for every single act.” Jesus released the children back to their parents and prayed for His words to penetrate hearts: “Become like a child, trust God completely by casting all of your cares and concerns upon Him, for He longs to help. He is a kind and gracious and loving Father; He has compassion upon those who fear Him; and He lavishes His love upon His children.” Jesus turned to face a father and son standing by and asked: “If your son cries out to you in the middle of the night do you ignore him or do you race to his bedside?” the father smiled down at his son “at the sound of his cries I quickly awake and I run to him as fast as I can”. Jesus smiled, “and if he were to ask you for a fish would you give him a snake instead” the father laughed and shook his head “of course not!”. Jesus turned to the crowd, “at the cries of your children you rush to their side to comfort and console them. You work hard to provide for their every need and you grant their requests appropriately.” The crowd nodded and Jesus continued: “if you sinful parents can care and love your children, then why do you doubt that a pure and powerful Father can care and provide for you?” Jesus turned back to the father and looked deeply into his eyes “if your child misbehaves do you ignore his bad behaviour and let him run amuck?”, the father shook his head. Jesus turned to the crowd: “do you allow your children to run off the edge of a cliff? Or stand back as they seek after destruction?”. The crowd murmured and Jesus spoke with great force: “Do not be dismayed if you find yourself being disciplined by God, for He rebukes and corrects those He loves. When He sees you misbehaving or racing along the path of destruction, He lovingly steps in. Only the foolish are quick to ignore loving correction. Do not allow your prideful hearts to harden against wise advice, reveal your great love for God by embracing His correction.” Jesus thought back to the sheep He had seen in the early hours of the morning and again prayed that the words would awaken their hearts, “Don’t be afraid but I urge you today to heed My advice and instruction, for those who love and obey My teachings reveal their love for God. Those who love Me love My Father and He makes a home within their hearts. Know that He longs to give you the Kingdom, in fact it gives Him great joy! So I implore you to passionately seek the Kingdom of God above all else and He will give you all that you need.”

Those whose hearts had been stirred pressed forward and Jesus blessed each one. He invited them to join Him at the river to be baptised and many raced ahead with great excitement.

Notes

The greatest in the Kingdom: Matthew 18:1-10 Mark 9:33-37,

Jesus blessing the children is found in Matthew 19:13-14, Mark 10:13-16 & Luke 18:15-17

God as a loving Father: Psalm 103:13; Proverbs 3:11-12; Proverbs 15:5; Matthew 6:6; Luke 11:11-13; Luke 12:31-32; John 14:23; 1 John 3:1

I’ve featured my most recent sunrise picture captured from my balcony. There is something so wonderful about watching the world wake up, I’m always astounded by the colours that burst forth. No sunrise is ever the same and when I think upon that I smile knowing that God is so clever and creative. Whenever I watch the world transform from darkness to light, as the things around me slowly came alive, it’s a powerful reminder of what God does. It’s also a personal reminder that God is getting me there, bit by bit He is restoring and reviving me, I just need to be patient.

How wonderful it is to trust in Him for God has called us out of the darkness into His wonderful light! See 1 Peter 2:9b

Greatest story Part 18: Celebration

The next day Jesus and the group headed out to participate in the many activities and celebrations taking place. The usually small town had swelled to six times its normal size so getting from place to place was a challenge but despite the overflowing number of people the mood was one of celebration and joy. The only cause for tension was the increased Roman presence in order to keep the large crowds in order. Jesus skillfully wove His way through the crowds, shielding His mother from the pushing and shoving as much as He could. As they gathered in the Temple courtyard the shofar rung out and all paused with awe. The High priest recited the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NKJV)

The crowd replied: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God.” Another priest stepped forward with a scroll, he gently unrolled it and recited: “The Song of Moses. Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them; they sank to the bottom like a stone. Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces. And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; it consumed them like stubble. And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; the floods stood upright like a heap; the depths congealed in the heart of the sea.  The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation. The people will hear and be afraid; sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away. Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as a stone, till Your people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over whom You have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” Exodus 15:1-18 (NKJV)

The crowd replied: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord our God. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will enter into them, I will give thanks unto the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter it.’

The priest continued: “For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” Exodus 15:19-21(NKJV)

The crowd replied: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God. Forever worthy of our praise! Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice and let me sing always, only for my King. Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee. Take my silver and my gold not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use every power as you choose. Here am I, all of me. Take my life, it’s all for Thee.

Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine. Take my heart it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne. Take my love, my Lord I pour at Your feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be ever, only all for Thee. Take myself and I will be ever, only all for Thee. Here am I, all of me. Take my life, it’s all for Thee.

Here am I, all of me. Take my life, it’s all for Thee. Here am I, all of me. Take my life, it’s all for Thee. Here am I, all of me. Take my life, it’s all for Thee.”

The next priest stepped forward and gently unrolled his scroll: “David blessed the Lord before all the assembly; and David said: “Blessed are You, Lord God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You. For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, as were all our fathers; our days on earth are as a shadow, and without hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You. O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep this forever in the intent of the thoughts of the heart of Your people, and fix their heart toward You.  And give my son Solomon a loyal heart to keep Your commandments and Your testimonies and Your statutes, to do all these things, and to build the temple for which I have made provision.” Then David said to all the assembly, “Now bless the Lord your God.” So all the assembly blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and prostrated themselves before the Lord and the king. 1 Chronicles 29: 10-20 (NKJV)

The crowd replied: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God. Forever worthy of our praise!” and each person knelt down slowly, lowering their faces to the ground. As their foreheads hit the ground a song of praise rung out: “To You my God is my passion, in You is my desire and love. To You is my heart and my kidneys, to You is my spirit and breath. To You are my hands, to You are my legs and from You is my character. To You myself, to You is my blood and my skin with my body. To You are my eyes and my ideas and my shape and my form. To You is my spirit, to You my strength and my trust and my hope. To You I’ll sob and not resemble until You will illuminate my darkness.  To You I’ll call for, to You I’ll cling until my return to my land. To You is kingship, to You is tide. To You is my craving adoration. To You is help in time of trouble, be my help in time of trouble. And what am I and what is my life? And what is my strength and my power? As a fallen straw pushed aside, and how will You remember my mistake? And hidden light in front of You, let it be my hideout and my abode. And under Your wing’s shade please allow my presence.”

The High priest stood and issued the final blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26 (NKJV)

Jesus and the group wove their way back through the crowds and spent the rest of the day enjoying the celebrations before enjoying a meal together back at Rufus’ home.

Notes:

Written with help from:

https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/passover-in-israel-past-and-present/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/temple.html

https://www.thattheworldmayknow.com/he-went-to-synagogue

“OPEN TO ME” Lyrics from Psalm 118:19-20, song lyrics link: http://hebrewsongs.com/?song=pitchuli

“Take My Life”, written by Christopher Tomlin & Louie Giglio. YouTube link.

“TO YOU MY GOD” Lyrics: Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra, link: http://www.hebrewsongs.com/?song=lechaeli

‘To You’ Hillsong YouTube clip

This is also a really interesting and in-depth explanation about Passover here:

http://www.jewfaq.org/holidaya.htm

Many blessings, Keona

Greatest Story Part 17: Passover

As the days dragged on Jesus’ heart grew light despite the tiredness of the travel, He smiled as they crested the hill that would take Him to the road that flowed to His village. Oh how good it would be to see His family. As they wandered the familiar streets Jesus breathed in deeply the sounds and smells that took Him back to His childhood. He waved and smiled to the stall holders that recognized Him and hugged the relatives that rushed to Him. He purchased some fresh supplies to aid with tonight’s meal and made His way to His home. Walking in He was quickly wrapped in a big hug from Mary, she didn’t seem to want to let go “Oh it is so good to see you Son, welcome home!” Jesus laughed and relished in her words and embrace. Jesus made His way through the house to the adjoining workshop and found James and Joses busily working away, “hello!” He called out and they quickly dropped what they were doing and embraced him with whoops and hollers, “ah He has returned! Just in time to help us get this order done.” Jesus laughed, “of course you’d put me straight to work!”. The brothers caught up on the news until Mary called them in for dinner. The tiny home barely fitted the extra bodies, especially with many of Jesus’ family wanting to cram in to catch up with Him. The night passed quickly with much joy and laughter filling the home, Mary had to wipe the happy tears away from her eyes many times. In a particularly poignant moment Jesus caught hold of her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. The next few days passed with Jesus helping out in the workshop and He revelled in crafting things again, He worked hard to ensure that the large order would be finished before they all left for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The days passed quickly and before He knew it Jesus was back on the road.

Jesus and His family travelled with many cousins and friends; their large group ensured safety along the sometime treacherous road. Thankfully their trip proved to be an uneventful one and before they knew it the long journey had ended. The mood was one of jubilation as Jerusalem came into view, how all their hearts lifted. Mary had organised for most of them to stay with Rufus and Merry again, however this time it would be in their new home which was a larger place on the outskirts of town. As they departed from and made their way there Jesus looked at the hills and smiled, what fond memories He had of racing through there with His cousin John. Jesus was hoping that He would get a chance to catch up with His dear cousin, but Elizabeth had mentioned that she wasn’t sure He would be able to make this trip. Jesus prayed that they would connect again soon. Rufus and Merry’s new home was stunning, as they walked in they were guided to a large banquet hall that was busily being set up for the Passover celebration. The weary travellers gratefully sat down and allowed the servants to dip their feet in the cool water, Jesus felt as if the refreshing water washed off His dust and fatigue. They were next shown their rooms and quickly settled in. Once she had unpacked and freshened up Mary helped with the preparations. Jesus was shown the private garden by a beaming Rufus, he had painstakingly picked the plants for this area and the result was stunning. Jesus commented at how peaceful the area was and Rufus chuckled “Oh I’m so pleased to hear You say that, I really wanted it to be an oasis for our guests, a place where they could pray and be reminded of the garden of Eden.” Jesus smiled “It’s pretty close.”. They both stood and absorbed the peace of the garden before being called to help. With all the extra hands the preparations were quickly completed, and everyone took some time to change and have a few moments alone. Rufus ensured that the kitchen staff had a break before the evening festivities began and then spent some time praying in the garden. This Passover felt different and he couldn’t quite put his finger on why, after much prayer the answers hadn’t come so he sighed and quickly changed before calling everyone to the banquet hall. As people arrived downstairs they quickly took their assigned seats, Rufus and Merry were seated first, then quickly followed by the oldest to the youngest. Once all were seated the servants stepped forward and performed the ritual handwashing. Once every hand had been washed the first cup of wine was brought forth, when the jug was presented to Rufus he prayed:

“Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.  And you, O Lord our God, have given us festival days for joy, this feast of the unleavened bread, the time of our deliverance in remembrance of the departure from Egypt. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to enjoy this season.”

Rufus handed the jug back to the servant who proceeded to fill each cup, as Jesus held His the smell the warm red wine filled His senses. Once every cup had received some of the wine Rufus continued: “We remember Your promise, oh great and mighty God, to bring Your people out of the yoke of the Egyptians.”

Rufus then placed his cup down and indicated to the Karpas: “Let us now partake”, he joined Jesus in dipping the bitter herb into the vinegar and then the items were passed around the table. Once everyone had completed this ritual the servants cleared the plates and the second wine was presented to Rufus, he looked around “we will now sing the first of the Hallel Psalm:

“Hallelujah. O Servants of the Lord, give praise; praise the Name of the Lord. Let the Name of the Lord be blessed now and forever. From east to west the Name of the Lord is praised. The Lord is exalted above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who, enthroned on high, sees what is below, in heaven and on earth? He raises the poor from the dust, lifts up the needy from the refuse heap to set them with the great, with the great men of His people. He sets the childless women among her household as a happy mother of children. Hallelujah.”

“When Israel went out of Egypt, when the house of Jacob fled from a people of strange language,  Judah became God’s sanctuary and Israel His dominion. The sea saw God’s hand move and fled; the Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills were like lambs. What ails you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan, why is it that you turned back? What caused the mountains and hills to skip? It is because the whole earth trembles at the presence of the Lord, the whole earth listens to the God of Jacob. He is mighty and turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters. (Psalm 114)”

As the words faded from each lip the servants brought forth the washing basins. Rufus declared: “Lord God we thank You and praise You for the bread we are about to enjoy.” The servants washed each hand and then brought forth the lam, vegetables and unleavened bread. Rufus indicated to Jesus who prayed: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to eat unleavened bread.” Rufus broke the bread and dipped it with Jesus into the charoseth and bitter herbs. Jesus then turned to Mary and repeated the actions, Mary then turned to James and repeated this; the pattern continued until each person had shared the bread with the person sitting next to them. As the youngest finished eating Rufus served some lamb to Jesus and He in turn repeated the action. The mood was light and joyful as everyone enjoyed the delicious meal. As the last morsel was devoured the servants cleared the plates and presented the third wine to Rufus along with the last of the bread. Rufus prayed: “Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments, and commanded us to eat unleavened bread.” Then lifting the cup he continued: and every voice joined him: “The name of the Lord be blessed from now until eternity. Let us bless Him of whose gifts we have partaken: Blessed be our God of whose gifts we have partaken, and by whose goodness we exist.”

Rufus declared: “We praise You Lord for redeeming us with Your outstretched hand and with great judgments (Exodus 6:6).” All drunk of the wine and the servants brought forth the forth cup. Rufus smiled and invited all to join him in finishing the Hallel Psalms:

“Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine. We praise You Lord, You have taken us as Your people and You’re our faithful God. Your mighty hand brought our ancestors out from the burdens of the Egyptians (Exodus 6:7)” Then each voice rung out in song:

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say: ‘Where is their God?’ For our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him. The wicked put their trust in their idols made of silver and gold, made by the hands of men. The idols have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear; noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel; feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them and so will all who trust in them. Hear O house of Israel, trust in the LORD — He is our help and shield. Hear O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD — He is our help and shield. Hear you who trust in the LORD — He is our help and shield. The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the LORD — small and great alike. May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man. It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD”. (Psalms 115:1-18)

“I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!” The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For You, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I cried out: “I am greatly afflicted.”; in my dismay I said: “All men are liars.”. But O Lord how You alone delivered me. How can I possibly repay the LORD for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. O LORD, truly I am Your servant for You have freed me from my chains. I will bring a sacrifice, a thank offering, to You and call on the name of the LORD. See Him in the courts of the house of the LORD — in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.” (Psalms 116:1-19)

“Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.” (Psalms 117:1-2)

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”  Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever.” The Lord has heard our cries and set us free. The Lord is with us, we will not be afraid. What can mere men do to us? The Lord is with us, He is our helper. We will look in triumph upon our enemies. It is far better to take refuge in God than trust in men. It is far better to take refuge in God than trust in princes. All the nations surrounded us, but in the name of the LORD we cut them off. Though they surrounded us on every side, in the name of the LORD we cut them off. They swarmed around us like bees but died quickly, like burning thorns, for in the name of the LORD we cut them off. We were pushed back and about to fail, but the LORD helped and delivered us! The LORD is forevermore our strength and our song; He has become our salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous, loudly they proclaim: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! Though we were chastened severely, He did not give us over to death. We will not die but live and forever we will proclaim what the LORD has done. Open for us the gates of righteousness; we will enter in and give thanks to the LORD. We will give You thanks, O God, for You answered us; You have become our salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone; the LORD has done this and it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD grant us success. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God and He has made His light shine upon us. With boughs in hand we join in the festival procession up to the horns of the altar. You are our God and we will give You thanks; You are our God and we will exalt you.  Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalms 118:1-29)

The festivities lasted late into the night with many more songs of praise sung.

Notes:

The past few weeks I’ve felt swamped with sickness and study, trying to write this story has simply eluded me. I didn’t feel that I had the capacity to give the story justice. I think that the fear of failure also had me paralyzed.

Praise God! I got my major assignment submitted and slowly recovered from a cold. I’ve surrender to an afternoon nap a few days this week which has also helped me to get things back into focus.

I needed a bit of a visual picture and found a map of Jesus’ ministries extremely helpful, thanks to The Bible Journey. But again I apologise as I’m not 100 % sticking to those events.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me, I REALLY appreciate it. I have semester break coming up so I plan to dedicate quite a bit of time to this story to ensure that I can keep the momentum up when I resume studies again in August. I’ll also catch up on some much-needed rest and relaxation.

I’m absolutely fascinated by the Passover rituals and I have based the events from an article I found on Bible.Org.

 

Hear you who trust in the LORD, for He is your help and shield.

He will bless those who fear the LORD, both small and great alike.

(Psalms 115:11,13)

A Southwest Adventure

it’s simply too amazing that I simply have to share! The above image, taken by my friend Elisa, conveys some of the excitement in my face, let me unpack the adventure for you…… It all began on the 28th of April, as hubby and I drove home for our family’s shack in the Central Highlands. I was reflecting on what a blessing it had been for us to have a getaway for a night just the 2 of us and thinking about how amazing Tassie is. As we drove through the mountains I began to pray into being able to see more of my amazing home state. Not long after I received a message from Elisa inviting me on an Par Avion Southwest day out on the 5th of May. I was extremely excited and cried happy tears.

Leading up to the day my excitement grew and grew. Then the day before our planned day, at 3pm, Elisa messaged me to say that because of the poor weather the trip would have to be delayed. I was hit with such deep disappointment. As I felt the despair growing, God reminded me of a prayer when I felt I was drowning in disappointment, on the 26th March 2018 I prayed: I’m trusting confidently in God’s greatness. My future is in His hands, so I trust in His perfect timing! Lord let Your favour shine on me, Your servant. In your unfailing love and lovingkindness guide each moment of my life! (Inspired by Psalm 31:14-16)

I was reminded that I’m trusting His perfect timing.

I let go of my disappointment and prayed.

Then the lyrics to one of my favourite songs, “It Is Well” by Bethel, started to play over and over in my head: “the waves and wind still know His name”. I was reminded that the weather still knows and responds to Jesus’ name. This is revealed In Mark 4 where Jesus and the disciples were in a fierce storm, Jesus is asleep and His disciples are terrified, so they woke Him saying “Teacher, do You not care that we are about to die?” (Mark 4:38 AMP) Jesus woke up and rebuked the storm, He commanded the seas to “Hush! Calm down! Be still!” All at once the wind stopped howling and the water became perfectly calm.” (Mark 4:39 TPT). It is also described that a great calm and a perfect peacefulness resulted (AMP)

As I thought about that I prayed that the day we flew it would be such amazing weather that even the pilot recognised it as a divinely appointed moment! Declaring that I was trusting my God and His greatness.

Well praise God because my friend and I had an amazing day and the weather was truly wonderful, we flew through a little rain but it didn’t rain on us when were there and even cleared up a bit before we left. The pilot’s comment was the weather had been “unbelievable”. Elisa and I laughed at that and said we’d been praying. We both embraced the day as such a blessing from God.

I just have to add that there were many times that being up in a small plane (it was a 4 seater in total if you really squeezed people in) left me feeling extremely vulnerable and a few times I felt a panic attack threatening. I had to keep praying and declaring: “I’m trusting confidently in God’s greatness.”. I felt that my life was completely and utterly in God’s hands and although I had declared that I didn’t believe my life would end that day it still felt scary at times.

SW adventure plane
Our little plane

This was us before we left, we were like kids on Christmas morning!

sw excited

When landed we did a little boat ride, it was a bit chilly so we were pleased we had packed our extra layers.

We then docked for lunch where we climbed a little hill. Here I am standing on that hill with Bathurst Harbour behind:

me on SW adventure

Elisa and I on top of the hill:

sw e and I

This was where we docked for lunch, we ate in the original homestead which was exciting. I think I’ll have to do a large print of this and hang it somewhere to remind me of this great adventure.

SW adventure looking out over Bathurst Harbour

There is a 7 day walk that starts near where we landed in the plane and ends at Cockle Creek, the furthest point south that you can drive by car. This is the inlet near Cockle Creek (I’m pretty sure).

SW adventure Cockle Creek

I was again really nervous on the way home but the sun bursting through the clouds brought a smile to my face and put a complete pause on my worry. As I gazed upon the sun breaking through I was able to reflect upon God’s great glory. My life was completely and utterly 100% in His hands and it was secure. What a blessing!

SW adventure sun breaking through clouds

On the way home we flew right over Iron Pot, I can see this lighthouse from my home so I was ‘jumping’ with excitement! Ok, I didn’t actually jump as that might have bumped the plane even more!

Sw adventure Iron Pot

I share my adventure with you as a word of encouragement also. I know that delay is frustrating and can be heartbreaking. I pray that you can let go of the disappointment of delay, lay it down and trust in God’s perfect timing. Allow God to unfold the right thing at just the perfect divine moment. I encourage you to declare: “I’m trusting confidently in God’s greatness. My future is in His hands, so I trust in His perfect timing!”

If you’re facing a fierce storm right now I want you to know today that Jesus is declaring over your storm: “Hush! Calm down! Be still!”.

I pray for the Holy Spirit to impart to you blessed assurance about God’s greatness. I pray that your entire being is filled with an assurance that floods you with great calm and perfect peacefulness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Many blessings, Keona

Word of Encouragement: Ruins to Residence, Restored to be a Restorer

This week I’ve been battling a cold. Stuck back in bed at first I was quite grumpy and I was feeling miserable but yesterday I managed some study and I have done some writing, so God is at work. Unfortunately, I haven’t felt I’ve had the energy to work on “The Greatest Story” but I do have a word of encouragement that I pray blesses you.

I’ve been watching a show called “Restoration Australia” each episode shows how a historic building, that is on the brink of complete collapse, is lovingly restored. Stone walls are rebuilt, walls are re-plastered, roofs are made watertight etc. Now I’m telling you this because God is the God of restoration. I desire to encourage and challenge you today.

Ruins to Residence

Encourage you that if you feel like you’re a bunch of ruins about to collapse that God wants to begin to restore you today and take full residence in your heart.

In Jeremiah 30:17 the Lord declares: “I will restore health to you and I will heal your wounds!” Though you’ve been an outcast feeling as if no one cares for you, Jesus loves you and He proved it by dying upon a cross to set you free.

From His gloriously unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. As Christ takes up residence in your heart He begins a process of transformation, as you trust Him more and more God’s love keeps you strong (see Ephesians 3:16-17).

I urge you to cry out to God, thank Jesus for being the great Restorer and invite the Holy Spirit to breathe His breath of life. We CAN live restored to God and reconciled to the body of Christ (see Ephesians 2:16 TPT)

God’s life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to the heart. (see Proverbs 12:25 TPT)

YES! Let me declare boldly:

I am COMPLETELY and utterly convinced that our great God will FULLY satisfy every need you have. He will pour it out from His abundant riches of glory, which have been revealed through the Anointed One, Jesus Christ! God our Father will receive all the glory and the honour throughout the eternity of eternities! I pray that right now you overflow with the grace and favour of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen! (Philippians 4:19-20, 23 TPT paraphrased)

Restored to be a Restorer

The challenge is that God desires restored people to become restorers. In Nehemiah we read about an unlikely leader who rose up to call the Jewish people to the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem. The Jewish people had returned from exile to a ruined Jerusalem, moral was low and the task of rebuilding the wall was overwhelming. But after encouragement the first part went well because the people worked with enthusiasm but then excitement waned, and the wall only got half built.

Nehemiah receives a word that there is an imminent attack, the Jewish people are in danger, so he commands each family to be responsible for the part of the wall that was nearest to their home. Each family member, so each individual, took part in rebuilding the entire wall! Here is what Nehemiah declared at completion;

“So on October 2 the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.” (Nehemiah 6:15-16 NLT)

I believe we’re called to be restorers and that God will help us with the work to be done.

I know you’ve been given a very specific individual role that will contribute corporately to the life of your church.

I invite you to join me in this prayer:

O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps His covenant of unfailing love with those who love Him and obey His commands (Nehemiah 1:5).

Lord please hear my heart crying out to You today. Where I’m distant from You, I ask You restore me back to You Lord. Where I’m weak, remind me of Your great strength.

Though I’ve felt like an outcast, as if no one cares for me, Jesus You promise that You love me and proved it by dying upon a cross to set me free. I thank You Jesus for being the great Restorer and I invite the Holy Spirit to breathe His breath of life.

Lord from Your gloriously unlimited resources please empower me with inner strength through Your Spirit. Christ take up residence in my heart and begin a process of transformation, as I trust You more and more God’s love will keep me strong (Ephesians 3:16-17).

Lord please restore health to me and heal my wounds! (Jeremiah 30:17)

God Your life-giving word of encouragement can do wonders to restore joy to my heart (Proverbs 12:25)

Let me be COMPLETELY and utterly convinced that my great God will FULLY satisfy every need I have. He will pour out His rich blessings from His abundant riches of glory, which have been revealed through the Anointed One, Jesus Christ! God my Father will receive all the glory and the honour throughout the eternity of eternities! I pray that right now I will overflow with the grace and favour of my Lord Jesus Christ! (Philippians 4:19-20, 23)

God I invite You to grow me, shape me and mould me. Restore me so that I can become Your restorer.

I praise You that I CAN live restored to You and reconciled to the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:16 TPT). Reveal to me the individual role I’m to play corporately to see lives restored.

Let the work I set my hands to drawing people to You Lord, let them see the work being done and know that it’s done with the help of my God (Nehemiah 6:16b).

Holy Spirit come and breathe upon my life in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Go forth restored to restore others.

Many blessings, Keona

restored people