In Yosemite this past month, we encountered some smoke but only at the higher elevations. It was so refreshing when the following day (after this image was captured), we experienced a deluge of rain, cleansing the atmosphere.
Whether the air is subpar with smoke or freshly humidified with rain, I love Yosemite views!
This passage in Ephesians is not meant to discourage us with words like predestinated or adoption. The smoke of human allusions to these words could be negative or may cloud our understanding of the spiritual perspective.
How much better to see it as a mystery, high elevation beauty that exudes God’s goodness. How can God be inclusive with a word like predestined? Or is it the phrase “adoption to himself” that clarifies the intent of God’s heart?
Even those of us who are not Israel have been shown mercy and grace, being included as adopted sons and daughters.
The Holy Spirit guarantees the inheritance for us. Jesus Christ the Lord bought the inheritance for our redemption from sin. God the Father foreknew (planned) what would happen because it was in His heart to rescue all of mankind.
Today, take a look at the view and be awed by the mystery. When He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) (to those who love God and are called according to his purpose), He really means that His purpose will stand. #mystery
In spite of my brokenness, He is making things more beautiful than I can ask or imagine.- Teresa #loveGodfirst
Ephesians 1:3-14 (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee[d] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,[e] to the praise of his glory.
In the movie, “Hacksaw Ridge”, Desmond Doss portrays true reliance on God’s strength to bring his comrades to safety. His words “just one more” became his prayer during the whole ordeal. *
It’s because of the way God loves me (as a fortress and steadfastly), that I can sing like David. Although David was in a dire place and men were sent from a place of authority to kill him, he still sang praises to God.
If I am surrounded by enemy fire (like the soldier, Doss) or faced with unimaginable odds (like David), then I must trust that the refuge God provides is more powerful than human aid.
His refuge may take on the form of something we had never considered (i.e. retirement) or it may appear as a new career (in a whole new field). But one thing is certain, He will provide.
David started a new career as King of the nation of Israel after many years of running like a fugitive. His faith was well-placed and this vulnerable relationship with God was reflected in his songs (the Psalms).
You are the God who shows up with steadfast love!! How can I withhold my song of praise? – Teresa #justonemoreday
*watch “Hacksaw Ridge”, the movie (2016)
Psalm 59:16,17 (ESV)
16 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress. 17 O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
Destroying strongholds does not happen with fleshly human power. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not the boldest person in the room who wins or even the one with the loudest voice.
The believers at Corinth were chiding Paul for his meekness. Paul was one tough guy. Most likely he was the boldest and loudest voice in the room (at least prior to his conversion).
The Savior did something so dramatic that it literally changed his character (and name) on the road to Damascus. It was there he encountered a blinding light and was saved.
Paul understood the need to be touched at a spiritual level. Jesus was the one who touched him and changed him. What argument or lofty opinion has raised itself up in your life to keep you from the change God has for you?
Paul obeyed Jesus Christ the Lord and became his mouthpiece of peace to both Jews and Gentiles. He helped build the church in Asia Minor and despite the harsh treatment he endured (beatings and prison), he was still able to write the majority of the New Testament. His legacy lives on for us today.
What act of obedience has God called me to? Am I entering into this time with weapons that have divine power to destroy strongholds? #meekness
In order to recognize it, I have to change my mind by joining my steps to the Holy Spirit’s leading. God is in the common places of our lives, we don’t need to search far to find Him. In fact, we may be surprised to know He has been waiting for us to recognize His presence with us even now.- Teresa #knowGod #Holybible #obeyChrist #completeobediencemeanssurrendered.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (ESV)
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
God’s gift is not the perfect human specimen but is the pleasure of eating, drinking and being able to provide (aka work).
When God puts eternity in the heart of man, He inserts a longing for heaven. We may not understand the fullness of that longing but can relate to the feeling, as C.S.Lewis describes it.*
Everything is made beautiful in time by our great Creator. Someday, when we join our Savior in heaven, we will reflect the Father’s glory. It is His plan and purpose exponentially understood and experienced that creates perfect beauty.
Be encouraged because although things are not perfect here, we can still partake of God’s gift.- -Teresa #resting #enjoying #expecting
* (see Focus on the Family Canada), Written by Subby Szterszky “Longing for a far country never visited”.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-13 (ESV)
The God-Given Task
9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
A good name and favor are from God, reflecting the character qualities that He seeks to develop in us.
Great riches, silver or gold are from the world, wages for our labor/contribution to society/or even inheritance from our biological family.
Some have chosen the latter and forfeited their good name to obtain it (i.e. scammers, criminals, shady dealers, wishy-washy Kings who lost their faith).
The writer of this passage in the wisdom literature (Proverbs) exhorts us to choose a good name and favor, first and foremost. Many believe Solomon wrote this chapter in the book of Proverbs, which makes it even clearer. Realizing that his character reputation as the “wisest man on earth” was tarnished, Solomon may have had to own up (eat crow) for the reason he lost faith. By turning to wealth, not God, he became a follower and no longer a strong, godly leader in his home or marriage(s).
After reviewing materials yesterday from my last “coping skills” class on boundaries, I thought of five incidents in the past few weeks where my lack of boundaries made me vulnerable and opened the fortress (so to speak) of my good character/name. No amount of money/wealth is worth that.
As an exercise for myself, I made 5 “rules” to help maintain the fortress (my healthy boundaries) and keep me looking to Jesus: 1. don’t over give, 2. let it go (when it’s another’s misperception, not my issue), 3. recognize and never compete with a psychologically unstable person- (no matter how many degrees they have after their name), 4. always be kind but keep it truthful and 5. maintain a safe distance, both physically and emotionally (from those who are explosive).
I am grateful for Solomon’s wisdom as he had God-given favor. I am also grateful for time to consider how I can improve, personally. – Teresa #Godswordistruth #nonverbalcommunicationcansaylovebest
Proverbs 22:1English Standard Version
22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Queen Esther was taken in as a child by Mordecai, a family relative. She looked to Mordecai as a father since he protected her.
Even in the palace, Esther followed Mordecai’s instructions. She was blessed because of it. Not only was she blessed but the entire Jewish nation was blessed. Mordecai feared God and followed Him first.
Who do you know that has modeled following God first? I’m not talking about someone with only elaborate prayers/words but also able to walk steadfastly and faithfully, caring for the 10 relationships that God entrusts to each person. #GilSteiglitz #leadership #ptlb (principles to live by)
Anger can cause action, as in this passage when King Ahasuerus “fired” Queen Vashti. This week, I attended session 5 of coping skills and learned that anger can sometimes be misplaced. For example, if I’m in an emotionally abusive relationship but continue to take responsibility for its success, anger/frustration can turn inward (when it should actually be a signal to walk away from said relationship).
Those who cannot recognize their worth because of the load of dung deposited on them by others are not thinking truthfully. Poor Esther, she had to be the Queen after Vashti. Ahasuerus sounds to me like he may have been emotionally abusive (at the least we know he surrounded himself with very poor advisers). #narcissist #showoff
Esther did not react like Vashti, however. She trusted God’s deliverance and her kind heart at convincing the king that proud Haman was deserving of death (for pronouncing extermination of the Jews).
Sometimes we cannot escape the “said” relationship, but God is able to provide wisdom and support. Surrounding Ahasuerus with grace, Esther blessed his life as well.- Teresa #trust #courage
Esther 2:1-18 (ESV)
After these things, when the anger of King Ahasuerus had abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what had been decreed against her. 2 Then the king’s young men who attended him said, “Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. 4 And let the young woman who pleases the king[d] be queen instead of Vashti.” This pleased the king, and he did so.
5 Now there was a Jew in Susa the citadel whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, a Benjaminite, 6 who had been carried away from Jerusalem among the captives carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away.7 He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, the daughter of his uncle, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter. 8 So when the king’s order and his edict were proclaimed, and when many young women were gathered in Susa the citadel in custody of Hegai, Esther also was taken into the king’s palace and put in custody of Hegai, who had charge of the women. 9 And the young woman pleased him and won his favor. And he quickly provided her with her cosmetics and her portion of food, and with seven chosen young women from the king’s palace, and advanced her and her young women to the best place in the harem. 10 Esther had not made known her people or kindred, for Mordecai had commanded her not to make it known. 11 And every day Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem to learn how Esther was and what was happening to her.
12 Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Ahasuerus, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— 13 when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go in, and in the morning she would return to the second harem in custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch, who was in charge of the concubines. She would not go in to the king again, unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.
15 When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. 16 And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, 17 the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown[e] on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king gave a great feast for all his officials and servants; it was Esther’s feast. He also granted a remission of taxes to the provinces and gave gifts with royal generosity.
Nehemiah not only wept over the broken walls of Jerusalem but he also took the appropriate action (fasting and prayer). He remembered God’s promises to Moses and spoke them in his prayer.
When we speak God’s word in prayer, he is honored. When we trust Him for His intervention, He will prosper the actions built on His word.
At every moment of nervousness or uncertainty, Nehemiah prayed and God opened the door for him.
We should not worry about the distraction but allow it to help us become more determined to notice what is going on inside. Inside of Nehemiah was intense sadness/grief.
I felt that the learning I received yesterday (from Coping Strategies #4) applied even to this passage. When my mind gets distracted by the rubble around me- I can still be mindful of the Lord’s plan in the midst. My emotions are signaling what I need to process (grief, pain, the discomfort of change).
What if my own life’s walls have come to disrepair? (relationships, trauma, illness)… Have I taken time to grieve and build up what is most important? (The joy of the Lord is your strength- Nehemiah 8:10)
When God opens the door, I can then be ready to step through with confidence!! #prayedup
Here’s some music to restore strength aka the “joy of the Lord”… Egypt by Cory Asbury. He is great and we can always remember His word, because of His covenant nature.-Teresa #embracedistraction
Nehemiah chapters 1 & 2 (ESV)
1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.
Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”
4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments,6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Now I was cupbearer to the king.
Nehemiah Sent to Judah
2 In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”4 Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven.5 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6 And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time. 7 And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, let letters be given me to the governors of the province Beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph, the keeper of the king’s forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress of the temple, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall occupy.” And the king granted me what I asked, for the good hand of my God was upon me.
Nehemiah Inspects Jerusalem’s Walls
9 Then I came to the governors of the province Beyond the River and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant heard this, it displeased them greatly that someone had come to seek the welfare of the people of Israel.
11 So I went to Jerusalem and was there three days.12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. And I told no one what my God had put into my heart to do for Jerusalem. There was no animal with me but the one on which I rode. 13 I went out by night by the Valley Gate to the Dragon Spring and to the Dung Gate, and I inspected the walls of Jerusalem that were broken down and its gates that had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal that was under me to pass.15 Then I went up in the night by the valley and inspected the wall, and I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, and I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, and the rest who were to do the work.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite servant and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they jeered at us and despised us and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?” 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim[a] in Jerusalem.”
Daniel was without guile, the king was going to appoint him over all other rulers in his kingdom. Until, the “leaders” at that time proved they were green with envy. Envious enough to have Daniel thrown to the lions. For what crime? Because he faithfully prayed to Yahweh three times a day. They maliciously thought, “we will have everyone pray to the ‘king’, knowing Daniel will not.” The king was tricked into executing his best employee.
What was Daniel’s response? He kept doing what he knew was right, honoring the first commandment. (No other gods before YHWH)
He is not called the “only wise God” for nothing, He deserves glory. He rescued Daniel because He was the ultimate judge (not the “leaders”). He determined that Daniel was innocent and therefore protected him.
God shut the mouths of the lions. He can also shut the mouths of any devouring Spirit, hell-bent on destruction. Have I put Him first in my allegiance? Have I trusted my vulnerable life to His authoritative outcome?
This was my 3rd week of attending coping skills. I learned that the unbidden emotions that sometimes erupt out of nowhere can actually be useful and reveal what the “hot oven” is in my circumstances. Can I change it or do I ultimately have the peace/ability to accept it?
I think Daniel was able to accept his fate because he knew that God was the ultimate authority. #strengthened
His “fate” ended up being a tremendous display of glory to God. #victory #justice #peace- Teresa
Romans 16:25 (ESV)
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Daniel 6: 19-27 (NET)
In the morning, at the earliest sign of daylight, the king got up and rushed to the lions’ den. 20 As he approached the den, he called out to Daniel in a worried voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, was your God whom you continually serve able to rescue you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel spoke to the king, “O king, live forever! 22My God sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not harmed me, because I was found to be innocent before him. Nor have I done any harm to you, O king.” 23 Then the king was delighted and gave an order to haul Daniel up from the den. So Daniel was hauled up out of the den. He had no injury of any kind, because he had trusted in his God. 24 The king gave another order, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and thrown into the lions’ den – they, their children, and their wives. They did not even reach the bottom of the den before the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones. 25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and language groups who were living in all the land: “Peace and prosperity! 26 I have issued an edict that throughout all the dominion of my kingdom people are to revere and fear the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God; he endures forever. His kingdom will not be destroyed; his authority is forever. 27 He rescues and delivers and performs signs and wonders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions!”
David’s life was filled with persecution. His words spoke prophetically of the Son of Man’s experience as well.
In my life, when it appears that the worst will happen I am faced with an important decision- to keep trusting the LORD. Mocking or scorn may make this difficult, especially from an earthly perspective.
From a heavenly perspective, however, I am encouraged to see the “porch view” of my heavenly mansion. Jesus promised us a heavenly home. A dwelling place that He is preparing for us. (John 14: 1-4)
Being “in Christ” means that I am already dwelling in the realization of His atonement for me. One day, where He is- there I will be also. The dwelling of God will be the believer’s home as well.
Who alone can break the curse of sin? Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Thank you, Lord, for enduring persecution. – Teresa #focusontheFather #yourwillbedone
Psalm 22:1-18 (ESV)
22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises[a] of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; 13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet[b]— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.Read full chapter
It’s been hot here in Northern CA. You can see from this photo I took last Saturday that only the plants near the water are really green. #staynearthesource
The fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom, yet how much time do I spend, showing Him reverence? #natureisHisanctuary
If I truly believed that harm would not visit me but rather I would rest satisfied, surely I would cultivate this time spent with Him.
In my second coping skills class, I learned about “unhealthy” ways to deal with stress, that actually bring harm to the individual. We talked about everything from ruminating to hostility. By acknowledging the way I deal with stress, I can understand myself better. #acknowledgetheHolyOnetoUnderstandbetter
What I desire is steadfast love, which is not always given in family relationships. Truth is important (especially being honest with myself). What do I truly need? Finding those needs met in the LORD, I can rest in faith.
It takes faith to let go of my desires and take hold of God’s word. – Teresa #faithfultoHim
Proverbs 19:22-23English Standard Version
22 What is desired in a man is steadfast love, and a poor man is better than a liar. 23 The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Proverbs 9:10 NET The beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and acknowledging the Holy One is understanding.