Spiritual Blessings

So, here it is a couple of days into February and the sun is out and my outlook on life is getting somewhat better. January has to be the longest month of the year as it seems to last 31 months and not 31 days. It may just be me but January seems to be nothing but cold and gray. There is very little blue sky above and not much to see or do. Just gray everywhere.

In an effort to move away from the gray gloom and doom from the opening paragraph, I will now attempt to move forward. I have been threatening to (get ready, and be still my heart) take my camera out and try to challenge myself to find a photo somewhere that would be worthy of taking. That may not seem like much to you, but for whatever reason, (in other words I’m not entirely sure why) I have been neglecting the Nikon for a long time.  I have seen several from other photographers so I know that the photos are still out there, I just need to find one that I can take. So, that’s one thing that’s on my list of things to do.

The other thing I have been working on is trying to focus on spiritual blessings that God has given me. Sometimes if we aren’t careful, we start looking at material blessings which leads us to comparing our “blessings”  with other peoples” blessings” which then makes us feel that because our “blessings”  and possessions aren’t as good or as much as someone else’s possessions, we haven’t been blessed as much as they have.  And then we start wondering why God isn’t blessing us. We wonder what we have done wrong. We think God doesn’t hear our prayers, doesn’t care about us and lots of other thoughts that only feed our very mixed up and wrong feelings. And our feelings then continue to make us feel worse. 

During the last few days I have been reading and studying the first chapter of Ephesians. I felt that God was drawing me to read this book and it didn’t take long to see where I was headed. In fact, verse three got right to the point.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ~ Ephesians 1:3

There it was. SPIRITUAL BLESSING! And then it hit me. I was making the mistake of looking at worldly things when I need to focus on spiritual things. So for the last few days I have been reading and rereading this chapter.  Looking for those spiritual blessings  and I have been finding them. I was reminded that I was chosen in HIM before the foundation of this world, that I was adopted by HIM into HIS family, that I was redeemed by HIS blood and had forgiveness of my sin by HIS grace that he freely lavished on me. I was reminded that I have been sealed in HIM with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is given as a pledge of my inheritance with a view to the redemption of  God’s own possession to the praise of HIS glory. (Verse 14) Then verse 19 – 23 Paul summed it up talking about the power of God as he raised Christ from the dead and seated HIM at His right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and every name, not only in this age but in the age to come. All things are in subjection to HIM and under HIS feet and HE is HEAD over all things to the church. WOW

Notice how that all the blessings mentioned are what GOD has done for us, not connected to how good we are but directly connected to the work of Christ on the cross, HIS grace, HIS work. The last few days took me back to things that I knew, but that had gotten lost on the battlefield of life. I thank God for reminding me that HIS blessings for me are just that. HIS! As I think on all this, the problems of this life have been placed back in their proper place. Make no mistake, they are still there and still real, but they are not going to last forever. This week God took me back to the basics, and that’s a good thing. When this life gets us down, there is nothing better we can do than to set our mind of what God has done. Focus on God and HIS work, and thank Him for all that HE is doing. HE IS WORTHY!

Have a great day and know that God loves you!    

Monday Morning

I’m sitting here looking at this blog and the only real theme I’ve been able to create with this blog is that I don’t have time to post things and I seem to constantly be behind and out of date.

Anyway, it’s Monday morning and the weather forecast for the next couple of days includes some snow and some really cold temps. So in an effort to help me feel better, I have included the photo below taken under blue skies and in lots better weather. Seems to work for me. At least for a while.

View form the valley of Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

I hope you have a great day and know that Jesus loves you. Stay safe and warm. I’m looking forward to warmer and sunnier days.


Crown of Thorns

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 When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” ~ Matthew 27:29

This week I started thinking about the crown of thorns that the soldiers put on Jesus as they were crucifying Him on the cross. The middle of my mind was asking if there was something special about the thorns. So I tried to wrap the rest of my mind around that thought. All this thinking led me to these two conclusions.

Thorns were part of the curse God put on man after man sinned in the garden.

Thorns were part of the mockery man put on Jesus as He was removing the curse.

First, thorns didn’t exist in the Garden of Eden. They were never a part of God’s wonderful creation. Thorns came into existence as part of the judgement of God after SIN entered the creation.  Genesis chapter 3 records the fall of man and the resulting judgement. God dealt with the serpent, then He spoke to Eve and finally, God gave His judgement to Adam.  That’s where thorns are mentioned as part of the curse on the ground that man would now have to work in order to eat. It’s like God made the thorns to remind man of his sin. A physical symbol of fallen man that would have to be dealt with as man worked the ground.

Later, thorns would play a role in another judgement. This time though it would be when man judged Jesus and condemned Him to die. But death was not enough. For some reason a crown of thorns was used to ridicule and mock Jesus.

Sometimes I like to try to get into the mind of other people as I try to understand their actions. These men who had been beating Jesus and soon would put him on the cross, decided to mock Jesus before they finished the job. I wonder if somehow the soldiers knew that when they made a crown using thorns, they were using what God had made for judgement.  ONE HUGE DIFFERENCE THOUGH, they were using it as a mockery of God’s authority. I thought about how far we had gotten from God. In the garden, Adam and Eve still feared God even after their sin. We read in Genesis 3 that when God came into the garden, they hid from God. Shame had driven them from wanting to be in God’s presence. And now at the cross, men were mocking the authority of God without fear. It’s like if we only would look we can see clearly the depravity of man.

All my life I’ve heard about how satan thought he had won the victory when Jesus died on the cross. As I was thinking about this crown of thorns, I could almost imagine that satan was there when they pushed it down onto the head of Jesus. I can almost hear satan saying “Here’s your judgement! Here’s your punishment!” And the ironic thing is, all judgement and punishment was placed on Jesus. He suffered the wrath of God so that I didn’t have to. The crown of thorns was a reminder at the cross of where sin started and at the same time where sin was dealt with once and for all.

I still don’t know for sure why they made a crown of thorns. I think the question came to mind to make me take a closer look at the cross and what it all means. I do know this though. Jesus died on the cross for our sin. Mine and yours. He gave up His life freely. For you and for me. My prayer is that somehow these thoughts that I have shared will make you stop and consider the crown, the King, and His sacrifice on the cross.

Is Jesus your Lord and Savior?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16

Lord, May I Please Enjoy This Ride….

This is Charli Jane as she is preparing for her first ever ride on the Big Wheel. She seems a little nervous, and I’m not sure but it looks like she is praying. This photo was taken last fall when we took a day off and went to Dollywood.  I like memories like this and just thought I would share it today.

It’s been a while since I have been here to post anything. Seems like that is a recurring theme with this site. I have great plans, wonderful ideas, but can’t seem to find the time to do this. I thought time was all I would have when I retired, but I seem to have less of it each day.

Have a great day, know that God loves you and desires to know you through His Son Jesus.

Hannah’s Prayer

This week in Sunday School, we took a look at Hannah’s prayer. Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah and we find her story in the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Peninnah was the other wife and part of the source of Hannah’s problem. Hannah had no children and Peninnah had given children to Elkanah. The fact that she had no children was making Hannah depressed and as the scriptures tell us, she had a bitterness of her soul. She was hurt very deeply. Verses 3 through 8 tell us how that Elkanah would go once a year to Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifice to the Lord of Hosts, and he would give meat to Peninnah for her sons and daughters and he would give a double portion to Hannah, even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Peninnah would taunt her because the Lord had kept her from conceiving. So, each year, Hannah would be reminded how she was barren and be taunted so much that she all she could do was cry and she would not eat. She had a husband who loved her but her life was incomplete without children.

As I was preparing to teach this lesson, I was reading the Bible and something stood out to me that I thought was a little odd. First in verse 9 we read that Hannah got up after they had eaten and then immediately we are told that the priest Eli was sitting in a chair by the doorpost of the Lords temple. My first thought was what does the priest sitting in a chair have to do with Hannah getting up? Verses 10 and 11 record her prayer and the vow that she made to God. Then in verse 12, I found this. Eli the priest was watching her pray, specifically watching her mouth. Her lips were moving but she made no sound. This looked so weird to Eli that he thought she was drunk and told her to get rid of her wine. Now I was hooked. Sometimes I have to stop and ask God why he included certain pieces of information in the scriptures. This is one of those times. Why mention the priest, where he was sitting, and even the part about him watching Hannah pray? Seemed weird to me to include that.

Then it hit me. Hannah was praying in an animated way. She was pouring out her heart to God and talking to God in a personal, this is me and I have a big problem kind of way. I was reminded of a day that I had experienced some bad stuff and I wanted so much for God to come and help me that I prayed with much emotion. So much that I was even using hand gestures. All this while driving down the road. I’m sure that if someone had seen me, they would have thought the same as Eli thought about Hannah, or probably worse. But I started to thinking about how  we pray. So often we are so worried about our outward look that it influences our inward praying. Like when we feel the need to go to the altar to pray but we refuse because we don’t want the rest of the people there to know I have a problem. We are more concerned about the world around us than we are the God above us. Hannah had gotten to the point that she no longer cared about ritual, habits, or whatever. She just wanted to reach God.  And here’s the most important part. She was praying to a God that she knew loved her, a God that would help her, and that she didn’t need to worry about how God would receive her prayer. So often we think that God’s response to us is determined by our lives. But it’s not. God has a plan for each of us. And that plan is to draw us closer to Him. There’s a gazillion ways that God uses circumstances in our lives to accomplish His plan in our lives. We just need to learn to pray to a heavenly Father that loves us and trust that His will is enough.  After Hannah prayed, she returned and ate and no longer looked despondent. She was trusting God to work things out. And later in the chapter, we read about the birth of Samuel, Hannah’s son.  Thanks to God for loving us and for hearing us when we pray. And I for one want my prayers to be like Hannah’s prayer. Filled with trust in God.