Monday, November 24, 2014

ASK--Ask, Seek, Knock--a WOW! moment on the Mount

Standing here on the hill where Jesus proclaimed the Sermon on the Mount and where He fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish, God's Word comes alive.

I remember one early morning about 2 a.m. when I couldn't sleep. I opened my Bible to the Scripture Matthew 7:7 and suddenly, like a light from Heaven, the word ASK jumped off the page: Ask, and it will be given to you; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened to you.

The first letter of each of the three action verbs, Ask, Seek, and Knock spell the word, "ASK"

WOW! How amazing, how mysterious, that at 2 a.m. my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would highlight the first letter of those three words in sequence.

He who spoke the world into existence, spoke these words in that sequence (as translated into the English language) and He revealed it to my delight in the middle of the night...because I was seeking Him.

Seek Him. Seek the One who called you. Seek to know Him. Seek a heart to love Him. 

Seek--the heart of the three words, Ask, SEEK, Knock.

Walking on the ground where Jesus walked, sitting on the mount by the Sea of Galilee where He taught His disciples, where He walked on the water, where He calmed the sea, brings me into a closer personal relationship with my Savior and my Lord, Jesus Christ.

I take away such Truth from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I realize the Sermon on the Mount is my call for getting to the core of life's meaning...f
or moving beyond the external to the internal...for discovering the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart...a matter of attitude, or as Jesus taught, our be-attitudes

Take a few moments to reflect on this rendition of I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

when You speak to me...

entrance to Capernaum, Jesus' home away from Nazareth
site of synagogue the centurion helped to build in Capernaum
site of the home in Capernaum where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law
column taken from synagogue with inscription

From the moment our Israeli tour bus stopped in Capernaum, attuning my senses to the sights, the sounds, even the smells, of this unique place where Jesus memories of Scriptures which mentioned Capernaum began to come alive...
When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:5-17)

Capernaum was Jesus' home away from Nazareth, and the heart of Jesus' Galilean ministry. He spent some two years there, teaching and performing miracles. Situated on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum was the home of the two sets of fishing brothers whom Jesus called to be apostles—Peter and Andrew, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

One of the most impressive of Jesus' miracles performed in Capernaum was the healing—at a distance—of the Roman Centurion's servant. This man deserves to have you do this, the Jewish elders said to Jesus, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue. (Luke 7:4-5)

Imagine my excitement, then, at being able to visit what is the site of the very synagogue which the centurion had helped to build, where Jesus spoke and the centurion's servant was healed.

Virtually adjacent to the synagogue was another much-visited site in Capernaum--the home where Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law of her fever.

As we were leaving the synagogue area, we saw a row of columns taken from the synagogue. On one of the columns is an Aramaic inscription dedicated to "Alpheus the son of Zebedah, the son of John," who had contributed to the building of the second synagogue from the second or perhaps fourth century. Our tour guide told us that it is altogether possible that there is profound significance in the names "John" and "Zebedah." Given the location of Capernaum and the fact that family names were passed down for generations, these men may have been descendants of the apostle John, the son of Zebedee.

Each step walking
where Jesus walked in Capernaum reinforces my faith, built upon the foundation of the apostles, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:20)

Take a few moments
to reflect on When You Speak To Me by Twila Paris...

When You speak to me, when I take the time to listen, I am more than what I think I feel, when You speak to me, when I sit and still the motion, there is nothing left but what is real...there is an answer to every question, the answer is You...

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with
Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

the majesty and wonder of our great I AM...

2,000 year-old olive tree in Garden of Gethsemane

Looking up to heaven through the branches of a 2,000 year-old olive tree

the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives

walking down the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane
Our Israeli tour bus stopped at the top of the Mount of Olives. As I stepped off the bus, and my foot first touched the Mount of Olives, I became so aware of the holy presence of our Lord. I remembered God's Word in Zechariah 14:4...On that day, His Feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west.

My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walked here, prayed here, ascended to Heaven here, and one day He will return here, splitting the Mount of Olives like the veil of the temple.

As I begin to walk down the steep incline down the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane, my eyes begin to fill with tears for the sweat drops of blood pressed from my Savior as He wept and prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as You will.

Touching this huge olive tree, estimated to be over 2,000 years old, I suddenly realize, He could have prayed here that night, beside this very tree. That night when He went further still after asking His disciples to pray with Him for just an hour...the place where Jesus was betrayed with a kiss.

Picturing the scene
from John 18:4-6, Jesus knowing all that was going to happen to Him went out and asked them, Who is it you want?" When Jesus said, "I AM," they drew back and fell to the ground.

I hear my dear Lord saying, "I AM," right here where I am standing now. My God and my Savior Jesus Christ, the great "I AM."

What power knocked 600 armed soldiers to their backs? The God of all creation, El Elyon, the Sovereign and Supreme Most High God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob stood before them in living, breathing flesh and uttered His perfect, divine, and holy name: "I AM!"

Remembering Acts 1:11-12, This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives.

I will never be the same again...Lord Jesus, open the blocked artery that connects my head to my heart. Open my mind that I may understand the Scriptures, to have Your Feast every day until I see You Face-to-face. In the precious and holy name of Jesus Christ, I pray, amen

Take a few moments to lose yourself in the majesty and wonder of our great "I AM" in the lyrics of this song by Mark Schultz.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I'd love to hear from you!

Linking up with Holley Gerth's Coffee for Your Heart as an encourager.

Monday, November 3, 2014

from this day forward...

It is 8:30am on a cool Monday morning in March 2000. The sun is shining brightly through the trees surrounding the Jordan River baptismal site called Yardenit.

As my bare feet step into the chilly water, I am immediately aware of the Presence of the Divine. It was here, in this water, this same water, that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ placed His Perfect Spirit Feet shod with flesh. He was baptized, and immediately coming up out of the water, as He looked up to this same sun, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him, and His Father's Voice came out of the heavens: You are My beloved Son, and in You I am well-pleased.

I see the bright sun shining through the trees above me, I feel its warmth on my face, and as I am baptized in the chilly Jordan River, I experience once again the cleansing feeling of being buried with Christ in baptism, and raised to walk in a new way of life. This is a recommitment of my life to the One and Only Son of God, Who loved me so much that He took my sin upon Himself, nailed to that Cross, I come to Him again. I bow before Him, and look up to His thorn-pierced brow, and feel His Blood flow over those thorns to cover my heart, giving me His Robe of Righteousness to wear.

From this day forward, I am a bond-servant to You, Jesus Christ. I am willing to be willing to surrender to You, Your Plan, Your Hope, Your Future for me. I will go where You want me to go, I will do what You want me to do, by the power of Your Holy Spirit Who dwells in the innermost part of me, taking authority over my soul—the seat of my emotions, and my body—my fleshly desires and appetites.

This is the only place in the Scriptures where the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—appear all-at-once...Mark 1:9-11..."In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: 'You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.'”

Take a few moments to enjoy this wonderful song Seeing For The First Time by Britt Nicole, which she wrote following her recent baptism.

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I’d love to hear from you!

Linking up as an encourager with Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart.

Friday, October 31, 2014

how I came to be...expect a mystery

Ellis Island Interior

Ellis Island Exterior
In many ways, it’s still a I came to be. During a visit to Ellis Island's American Family Immigration History Center, I was delightfully surprised to be able to locate and obtain an authentic copy of the ship manifest page from the ship, Princess Irene, which brought my maternal birth grandparents, Olympio and Vincenza from their home in Scontrone, Italy, through the port of departure in Naples to Ellis Island on August 30, 1906. Just seeing their two names listed one underneath the other on the ship manifest page gave the mystery such a tangible basis in reality. She was only 16 years old, he was just 24, and they were on their way to live with cousins in Chicago. What compels a 16 year old girl to board a ship in Italy, facing days on the ocean in most likely uncomfortable, even dangerous, conditions for a destination yet unknown to her?
Somehow she and her fiancé, Olympio, were so motivated to start a new life in a new country that they left their home in Scontrone, Italy, and traveled to New York City, eventually settling in Chicago. They married and had a daughter, Lydia, in 1911.

Lydia & Vincenza on Mother's Day, 1953
beth 1953
beth and Lydia 1983
I met my birthmother, Lydia, in 1983, when I was 30 years old, and Lydia was 72. Lydia explained to me the circumstances of my conception, birth, and adoption. During a Memorial Day holiday get-away weekend with a gentleman in 1952, Lydia, at age 41, became pregnant with me. When she realized she was pregnant, she told the gentleman with whom she had spent the weekend and he was unwilling to help her. Her mother, Vincenza, did not want her daughter, a single mother at age 41, to disgrace her family with an illegitimate child, so Lydia left Chicago to live with a relative in Miami, Florida. In October, around the time of Columbus Day, she went to a back-alley abortionist to abort me, but when the abortionist examined her and realized she was over four months pregnant, he told her the abortion might kill her, and he refused to do it. Lydia made arrangements with the Salvation Army hospital in Jacksonville to give me up for adoption. On Friday the 13th she gave birth to me, and signed the papers giving me up for adoption on Valentine’s Day 1953.

I was adopted on Easter weekend 1953 by loving Christian parents. I grew up in church, active in Sunday School and missions organizations. I prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of 10, and was baptized by immersion following my salvation. I have a Master's degree in Education, in curriculum, instruction, and supervision. I write articles on a variety of topics to inspire and encourage others. My expertise as a creative and critical thinking specialist is steeped in years of experience as a writer, presenter, educator and former Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education. Seeing others' lives transformed by the truth of God's Word is my passion and purpose. I am married with two adult children, and two adorable grandsons.

During an awe-inspiring trip to Israel in March 2000, I was baptized in the Jordan River as a recommitment of my faith. I grow closer to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every day through prayer, worship, and the study of His Word. I believe there are no “accidents” and every conception and every birth is part of God’s Sovereign Plan. I rest and find comfort in these life verses: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:13-16) 

My prayer, the desire of my heart is, “Lord, I want to delight in you! Center my heart in knowing you more and loving you more day by day. Help me to discover that there is fullness of joy in your presence and to take great delight in my relationship with you. May my heart desire you above everything else.” It’s been many years since I first began to pray this prayer in March 2000 after returning from my trip to Israel in which I walked beside the Sea of Galilee and on the Mount of Olives, to all the historical sites in Jerusalem, Capernaum, and Bethlehem. During this time in my study of the Scriptures, I came to a place in my life where I wanted, more than anything else, to love God more. I began to pray, “Lord, I want to delight in you!” God is so inconceivably good. He’s not looking for perfection. He already saw it in Christ. He’s looking for affection. That’s why every lasting change will invariably be a change of heart. He’ll even supply the heart, if we’ll ask him.

My daily prayer continues to this day, “Lord Jesus, give me a heart which yearns for Your Presence, a yearning for You that draws me over and over into Your Presence, a yearning that makes only a few days without time in prayer and Your Word seem like an eternity. Give me a heart which is motivated first and foremost by a desire for You, not for what You can do for me, but a yearning for Your Presence. Give me a heart that wants You more than anything else You could give, to love You and know You more than anything in life. Give me a heart that takes what You have made known to me and makes You re-known to everyone else, a heart that makes Your name and renown the desire of my heart. Give me a heart to feel Your Holy Spirit woo me once again to the place where I meet You. In the simplicity of my prayer time, give me a heart to be suddenly confronted by the majesty of my Redeemer—the One Who is responsible for any good in me. Lord, each morning, give me a heart that seeks Your forgiveness for past sins, and welcomes Your fresh mercies which fall like manna from Heaven, and once again move my heart. I surrender all. Morning after morning.”

My daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.” I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, are needed to help me become all that He created me to be. I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known...until then, I will expect a mystery. It is His plan that’s important, not my desire. I didn't bring myself into this world, and I can’t take myself into heaven. I really don’t know what is best for me or for those I love. I ask God to make me sensitive to the reality that He is in control, and that He is using this--even this--to conform me to the image of His Son. I want that most of all. I train my mind to acknowledge God’s hand in whatever it is I'm living with. I practice words like, “I don’t know,” “I will trust,” “I can’t explain,” “I release it all,” because God is sovereign. He is the beginning, He will be the ending, and in between, by His grace, He lets us be part of His perfect plan, for His glory and for our good. In the meantime, I will expect a mystery.

Take a few moments to be encouraged by Darlene Zschech's Revealing Jesus...

Was this encouraging to you? Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below. I’d love to hear from you!

day 31 of 31 days of encouragement...


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