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

The Greatest Story – Chapter 16: Who Is Jesus?

A few days later, as Jesus prepared to leave, Mary lingered in the doorway “when will I see You again?” she softly asked. Jesus paused packing His things and turned to her “Mother, it is my time now. I must go forth as I’ve been sent to do.” Mary’s eyes filled with tears but she nodded and smiled, “I know Son, it’s just hard for a mother to let go.” Jesus embraced her and they spent some time chatting and praying.

Jesus eventually gathered His disciples and they made their way through the Judean countryside, soon the sun’s warmth forced them to rest and they made their way to the edge of the Jordan River. They found a sheltered spot to rest and it was here that Jesus started teaching people who sought Him out:

“Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Come! Draw near to God and He will draw near to you! Surrender your lives to God, take a stand against the devil. Run away from evil and into the loving arms of God. Turn from your own ways, acknowledge your sins and ask for forgiveness. Feel the weight and the pain of your sin, be sorrowful and weep! Let your minds acknowledge the feebleness of your own way, be humbled. Mourn for the wrongs you’ve committed, bow low before Yahweh and be exalted by His glory. Come back to God, for heaven’s kingdom realm is now made available and accessible to those who cry out for forgiveness. Come and be cleansed, receive a new heart and a new life!”

As the people listened and responded Jesus directed His disciples to baptise them. As the days progressed people travelled from near and far to hear Jesus’ message, receive healing and be baptised.

As the crowds grew John the Baptist’s disciples noticed the change and two of them left to investigate, they saw Jesus nearby and realized that many of John’s followers were now listening to Jesus. Returning they pulled John aside and told him of their findings, “Rabbi, your cousin Jesus is teaching and baptising people nearby, His followers grow while yours diminish. Aren’t you concerned?”

John laughed and declared: “remember when the Temple assistants sought me out and asked me: ‘who are you?’ I replied and declared that I wasn’t the Messiah.” John’s disciples nodded their heads and John continued: “they asked if I was Elijah or the Prophet that was expected and I explained to them that I am simply a voice shouting in the wilderness: ‘Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’ and when questioned over my authority to baptise I explained that I  baptise with water, but that the Promised One would baptise us with fire and great power.” John’s disciples nodded and one of the replied “yes we remember all of that and that you claimed not to be even worthy of untying His sandals.” (John 1:19-28). John nodded “that is right.” John’s disciples started to mumble and argue as their frustrations grew and one of them blurted out: “well the One you identified as the Messiah, is also baptising people. And everybody is going to Him instead of coming to us. What will happen to your ministry?” John laughed, “it is as it should be. All that we receive comes from the hand of God, I am merely fulfilling my role. I told you, and many others, that I’m not the Messiah so it should be of no surprise to you that another has come.”

John’s words did not alleviate the confusion, so he took a deep breath and continued: “I was here simply to prepare the way. I’m like a bridegroom’s friend who is simply happy to support his friend. As he stands by the bridegroom and listens to the vows exchanged a great joy floods his heart, he is happy that that his friend has found love and has a beautiful bride to now care for him. I take great delight and joy in my cousin’s success for I know that He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. I truly believe that Jesus has come from above and is far greater than anyone else. We are of the earth and therefore we speak of earthly things, but He has come from heaven and speaks of heavenly things. He testifies about what He has seen and heard, He speaks the truth. But how my heart breaks to see so few believe what He declares. His teachings are beyond what we’ve ever heard before but yet hard hearts still prevail. It is my prayer that His ministry grows and grows, that many will realise that what He says is true. For I know that He is sent to us by God. He speaks God’s words, for God has granted Him the Spirit without limit.”

John paused and then reflected “I was blessed to witness how much the Father loves His Son and to receive the insight that God has put everything into Jesus’ hands. I truly know that anyone who believes in God’s Son will receive eternal life and that those who don’t listen will remain under God’s angry judgment and never experience eternal life.” as that thought took root in John’s heart his eyes flooded with tears.

The sorrow gradually dissipated, and John looked deep into the eyes of those surrounding him “please” he implored them “do not fret or worry over my ministry but instead take heart and be of good cheer, for I’ve been obedient and now Jesus will take over.” (John 3:22-36)

John could still see the confusion, he took a deep breath and continued, “we’ve spent our days shrouded in darkness but now we can say that we see a brilliant Light! Though we may still be surrounded by dark shadows,  we can know that God’s Light is shining bright. Though we still live in the land of death we can declare: “The Dawning Light arises, we praise You God for we can see the brilliant Light!” (Inspired by Matthew‬ ‭4:16)

As the crowds that sought out Jesus swelled the Pharisees began to murmur and complain “who is this Jesus?” they questioned, “who does He think He is?”. Jesus’ disciples heard of their questioning and warned Jesus, upon hearing the news He knew that it was time to move on. Jesus and His disciples packed up and began to make their way to Galilee. (John 4:1-3)

 

Notes:

Jesus’ cry to the people has been inspired by Matthew‬ ‭4:17‬ and James (Jacob)‬ ‭4:7-10‬.

Did Jesus baptise? John 3:22 states that He did baptise but John 4:1-3 states that He did not personally baptise. These little details can leave me feeling confused but The Southern Cross article explains that “Whether Jesus took a hand in this preparatory baptismal routine or not, is immaterial.” The main thing is Jesus ministered to those in need and whatever form that took surely it doesn’t really matter?!

I know sin and repentance are tough words to grapple with. Sin is basically any wrong doing, this can be a lie or lustful thoughts or harboring anger or even committing a crime. No wrong doing is worse than the other, they are all seen as something we need to repent of. Which gets us to the second tricky word: repentance, this is simply acknowledging we made an error, asking for forgiveness (God’s and other people’s if necessary) and embracing God’s plan.

If you would like to study more, here are some links:

www.allaboutgod.com

www.allaboutgod.com

The Greatest Story – Chapter 15: Salt and Light

The wedding celebrations had lasted until the early morning, but Jesus and His disciples had left as soon as they could because they would be traveling to Capernaum with His family. It was here that Jesus tried to prepare His family for the time to come and in particular He felt a longing to explain to His mother all that would unfold. After much prayer He gathered His family and His disciples together and shared with them the words His Father had given Him:

“In the beginning the Word was with God and the Word was God, for the Word already existed. God created all things through the Messiah and for the Messiah, nothing was created without Him. The Word gave life to everything and everything was created to bring God glory. The light shines brightly in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:1-5)”.

Jesus paused and prayed for the right words as He allowed the truth to sink into their hearts. After moments of silence Jesus softly continued “Our ancestors walked away from God as they wandered through the wilderness, they constantly grumbled and complained. God heard their disgruntled protests and sent poisonous snakes among them. Many were bitten and died.” Jesus looked around at the solemn faces and continued: “When the people’s hearts were gripped with terror they cried out to Moses: ‘Forgive us! We have sinned against the Lord our God and against you, please speak to God for us and ask Him to remove the snakes.’ Moses did as the people asked and spoke to God, he was instructed to make a bronze replica of the snake and attach it to a pole. When people were bitten they could look upon the bronze snake, remember the Lord God and be healed! Just as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole for deliverance so must God lift up the Son of man and place Him on a cross.” (Number 21:4-9 & John 3:14-15) Mary gasped as fear gripped her heart, “what are you saying?”, Jesus grabbed her hand and said: “It must be done so that everyone who believes will receive eternal life.” Mary collapsed into Jesus’ arms sobbing as His family and disciples looked at Him with confusion and concern. Jesus’ heart felt heavy with the burden and He murmured: “You MUST always remember that the light shines brightly in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it”.

For the rest of the day Jesus’ family wandered around in a daze of confusion while Jesus took His disciples to the nearby hills to teach and encourage them. As they gathered on the highest hill, He sat with them and declared: “To this world, which is shrouded in darkness, you are the light. Just like a light on a hill cannot be hidden your light will shine for all to see. When it becomes dark inside our homes, we quickly light the lamp and place it on the table for all to gather around. We do not light the lamp and place it in a basket under the bed where it would be of no benefit, no we place it where all can see and gain benefit from its light. So will be the same for you, people will gather around your light and you must never hide it. Let your good deeds shine forth brightly for all to see, for your works will draw everyone to praise our heavenly Father.” Jesus looked around and made eye contact with each of His disciples before continuing: “you are the salt of the earth. Preserve well the words you hear from me and the works I reveal. Remember that salt is only useful if it still has its flavour, keep to my teachings. Do not become like salt without flavour, for it is quickly discarded. Food tastes best with the right amount of salt, too much and it is inedible but too less and the flavour is not changed at all.” Jesus spent time answering the many questions the disciples had and as the sun began to sink they made their way back to the others.

As darkness fell Nicodemus sought out Jesus, as a Pharisee he knew the laws and had awaited the Messiah with great anticipation. The reports that he heard about Jesus pointed to Him being the One they had waited for and Nicodemus was curious. As they sat and chatted Nicodemus asked: “Rabbi, I believe that God has sent You to teach us. I have seen the miracles You’ve performed and I know that God is with You. What is it that You want us to know?” Jesus looked intently into Nicodemus’ eyes and thought of the various things He longed to say and reveal, praying for wisdom He eventually replied: “I tell you the truth, unless you’re born again you cannot enter the Kingdom of God”. Nicodemus looked at Jesus confused “how is this possible? Even a small child cannot enter its mother’s womb to be born again.”. Jesus lovingly replied: “I assure you that no one can enter into My Father’s Kingdom without being born again through water and the Spirit. Humans reproduce human life but the Holy Spirit births spiritual life. That is why I say: ‘you MUST be born again’. Think of the wind that blows where it wishes, you can hear it but you can’t tell where it is coming from or going to, the same goes for the Spirit.”. The more Jesus talked the more confused Nicodemus became, “I really don’t understand, how is it possible?”. Jesus smiled kindly and replied: “Nicodemus you’re a respected and well-known teacher but yet you do not understand the deep meaning of the Scriptures. I assure you and most solemnly declare that I speak of eternal truths, I speak of things I’ve known, experienced and believe in. My testimony has no faults but yet you struggle to believe. If you do not believe Me when I speak of earthly things, then how can I possible reveal the heavenly realm to you?” Jesus paused and Nicodemus replied, “I want to understand, please be patient with me.” Jesus smiled and nodded, “No one has ever gone into the heavenly realm and returned but the Son of man has come down. God loves the world with an incomprehensible love, so much that He has gifted His one and only Son. All who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God has sent His Son not to judge and condemn the world but to save it. Those who believe in God’s beloved Son will no longer live under condemnation and the Light of the world will flood them with life and hope.” Jesus sat back and watched as Nicodemus tried to process all that he had heard. They chatted late into the night with Jesus patiently unpacking all that He had revealed. (John 3:1-21)

Notes:

To find out more about Capernaum visit Bible Walks.

Thank you for your patience. I received some great insights as I spent time in the mountains. I will use the timeline obtained from the Bible History website as a guide but I also feel prompted to try and collate chapters into themes, therefore my chapters may not seem to unfold with great historical accuracy but I pray that the story will still greatly impact your heart. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Many blessings, Keona

 

Doubt

I’ve just finished watching a sermon titled: “Doubt”, 14th April 2019, by Petty Mudzingwa at C3. Petty is a friend of mine and I love her wisdom. I’ve put together the notes from the sermon as well as a few of my own thoughts. I pray that it is a great encouragement to you.

Jesus’ last words: “it is finished” sound like “I am finished”.

Trapped between a mountain and the Red Sea do you:

  • doubt,
  • get discouraged,
  • disappointed
  • or feel deserted?

The 4 d’s: doubt, discouraged, disappointed and deserted.

Sometimes we doubt and question God when:

  • the battles are the roughest and toughest ever fought
  • or when the burdens are the heaviest ever carried
  • or the wait for a prophecy or promises seems unbearable
  • or when pain increases rather than healing coming
  • or when things do not make sense

John the Baptist was doubting Jesus: “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”” Matthew 11:2-5 NIV

 “Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!”” Matthew 11:6 MSG

John touched Jesus when he baptised Him, John saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and John heard the voice of God declare: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased and delighted!” (Matthew 3:17b Amplified Bible)

But John couldn’t see any miracle coming, there were no signs of release so his faith was being tested and tried. John reviewed the checklist from Isaiah 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to”:

  • proclaim good news to the poor
  • bind up the brokenhearted
  • freedom for the captives
  • release from darkness for the prisoners
  • the year of the Lord’s favour
  • the day of vengeance of our God
  • comfort all who mourn
  • beauty instead of ashes
  • joy for mourning
  • garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair

John wasn’t released so how was Jesus the fulfiller of the prophecy? John had unmet needs and started doubting so he sends a message through his disciples to Jesus because John wanted confirmation.

Doubt brings up questions because it requires more information and clarity.

Doubt can result in unbelief.

Jesus knows our struggles and that doubt resolved becomes faith.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God, we need to hear the gospel every day. We all waver and we need to be encouraged and strengthened by someone’s testimony. Which means that we need to share our testimony as well to build other people’s faith, we need to be like Aaron and Hur and hold other’s arms up.

When we’re stuck, we can ask: “When is my breakthrough coming?”

Many others have doubted before us:

  • Sarah doubted becoming a mother
  • Moses doubted being the deliverer
  • John was doubting as he was stuck in prison

We need to find the root cause of the problem – doubt.

James 1:6 explains that when we ask for things with doubt we are thrown about like a stormy sea: “Just make sure you ask empowered by confident faith without doubting that you will receive. For the ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like the rough seas driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and tossed down the next.” James 1:6 The Passion Translation

Doubts is like a weight and we need to throw it off so we can press on, see Hebrews 12:1.

FAITH

Live by faith for the just shall live by faith (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38)

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.” Corrie Ten Boom.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1  NIV

“Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen” Hebrews 11:1 The Passion Translation

Trusting God that when He promises something then He will fulfil it! Walk by faith and not by sight. Decree and Declare!

Jesus has felt forsaken like us so we can readily pray for forgiveness and assistance: “God forgive me for doubting, help me, please remove my doubt and unbelief.” (see Mark 9:23-25).

Trust and obey

Trust and obey and God for He will transform your test into a testimony; your mess into a message; He will take you from the prison to palace; and HE will turn your doubt into confidence and faith!

Jesus is aware of our ‘prison’ situations and can set us free!

Jesus is EVERYTHING we need!

Genesis – He is the Creator

Exodus – He is the Redeemer

Leviticus – He is the Sanctifier

Numbers – He is our Guide

Deuteronomy – He is our Teacher

Joshua – He is the mighty Conqueror

Judges – He gives victory over enemies

Ruth – He is the Kingsman, Lover and Redeemer

1 Samuel – He is the root of Jesse

2 Samuel – He is the Son of David

1 & 2 Kings – He is the King of kings and Lord of lords

1 & 2 Chronicles – He is our Intercessor, our High Priest

Ezra – He is our temple, our house of worship

Nehemiah – He is the mighty wall protecting us from our enemies

Esther – He stands in the gap to deliver us from our enemies

Job – He is the arbitrator who not only understands our struggles, but He does something about them!

Psalms – He is our song, our reason to sing

Proverbs – He is our wisdom helping us make sense of life and live it successfully

Ecclesiastes – He delivers us from vanity

Song of Songs – He is our Lover, our rose of Sharon

Isaiah – He is the mighty Counsellor, Prince of Peace and everlasting Father

Jeremiah – He is the balm of Gilead

Lamentations – He is the forever faithful One, upon whom we can depend!

Ezekiel – He is the One who assures us that dead dry bones shall live again

Daniel – He is the ancient of days, who never runs out of time

Hosea – He is our faithful lover always beckoning us to come back to Him

Joel – He is our refuge keeping us safe in times of trouble

Amos – He is the husbandman whom we can depend on to stand by our side

Obadiah – He is the Lord of the kingdom

Jonah –   He our salvation bringing us back into His will

Micah – He is the judge of the nations, a jealous God

Habakkuk – He is the Holy One

Zephaniah – He is a witness

Haggai – He overthrows enemies

Zechariah – He is the Lord of hosts

Malachi – He is merciful

Matthew – He is the King of the Jews

Mark – He is the servant

Luke – He is the Son of man feeling what we feel

John – He is the Son of God

Acts – He is the Saviour of the world

Romans – He is the righteousness of God

1 Corinthians – He followed Israel

2 Corinthians – He is the triumphant one giving us victory

Galatians – He is our liberty, setting us free

Ephesians – He is the head of the church

Philippians – He is our joy

Colossians – He is our completeness

1 & 2 Thessalonians – He is our hope

1 Timothy – He is our faith

2 Timothy – He is our stability

Titus – He is the Truth

Philemon – He is our benefactor

Hebrews – He is our perfection

James – He is the power behind our faith

1 Peter – He is our example

2 Peter – He is our purity

1 John – He is our life

2 John – He is our pattern

3 John – He is our motivation

Jude – He is the foundation of our faith

Revelations – He is the coming King!

Believe again in the powerful and mighty name of Jesus.

“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I pray that this sermon encourages and spurs you on.

Many blessings, Keona

 

Notes:

YouTube Sermon link 

Live by faith: The Bible verses noted are from BibleGateway.com. If you would like to read more about this Christian Courier has an article written by Wayne Jackson.

Martin Luther King Jnr: For more quote by Martin Luther King Jnr check out the following links: blog.capterra.com & www.crosswalk.com

Corrie Ten Boom: The quote by Corrie Ten Boom was found at AZ Quotes.

 

God’s Love, a word of encouragement

My family and I are blessed to have a home with stunning water views, on a clear day we can see a long way across the bay to cliffs.

Recently a fog rolled in and I couldn’t see past the railing of my balcony, the view was completely obscured from view.

fog 1

If you had visited me that day you might not have believed my gorgeous view.

God spoke to me as I looked out into the mist.

He said that the fog of sickness and circumstances in my life had obscured me from seeing God’s love. When I was in the depths of despair I felt so distant from God’s love. I couldn’t see it and I definitely couldn’t feel it. All I could see and feel was overwhelming defeat.

As I sat and looked out at the fog and prayed a wonderful thing happened- slowly and steadily the fog rolled back. At first the rooftops came into view, then the edge of the water, then iron pot and finally the cliffs on the far side.

As I sat and watched I knew that’s what God had done in my life. When sickness trapped me in bed God healed me and bit by bit and He has been restoring my strength. Each day I’m feeling more of His gracious love and His great goodness.

I share this with you because I want to encourage you that even though it feels like it there is a wonderful promise that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. When you’re surrounded by the fog of despair His love is still there!

I know this because of what God has shown me and its confirmed in Romans 8:38-39: So now I live with great confidence, in fact I’m convinced beyond any doubt, that there is nothing in the universe that has the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m truly convinced that His unlimited passionate love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels and all created things. I know that Jesus has conquered our past, is at work in our present and will triumph in our future. Because God’s extravagant love is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

I want to encourage you today that if circumstances or situations have you feeling trapped in a fog that is obscuring your view of God and feeling His love then please hold tight. Declare that there is NOTHING that can separate you from God’s love and allow Him to roll back that fog from your heart and mind.

I’ve been battling a bit of a writing fog when it comes to ‘The Greatest Story’ but I’ve set aside some time next week so I’ll try to get back on-track with it after Easter. Thanks for your patience, prayers appreciated.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture – Pixabay