Faith, in the midst of fear.

I came across this verse and quickly was thankful for the events which unfolded Sunday evening, as well as reminded of a similar event that took place over 20 years ago. I selected this image of a road with this verse to symbolize and give an illustration to a story I am about to share.


Let’s start with Sunday then we will travel even farther back in time. This past Sunday was amazing, we slept in, still went to church, the start of the service with the praise and worship songs were moving, we had a fundraiser I was assisting in, and we listened to the sermon. Everything ran smoothly. We sold everything for our fundraiser. We looked forward to getting one step closer towards our goal.


After church was an evening spent at a family birthday gathering where my children got to meet some of their cousins. A blessed day over all despite some personal reservations. I was happy with the outcome and blessings of the day and was extremely thankful. Your probably wondering where does fear strike in all of this. As my family and I were getting ready to leave, we turn on our car and this message pops up:


We were like oh my God tomorrows school, we have work, what is going on???

We had just shared a story an hour prior about the engine we had to replace for our German car. So I go on the website / blog for the cars manufacturer to see if there’s anything we need / can do while we get a hold of the mechanic. I Read the blogs and though my face did not show my anxiety, had you taken my pulse you would’ve felt it. I casually go over to my spouse and share what I have researched. Our brother in law who is into cars comes by to take a look, gives a few suggestions and then poof, the message goes away. We decided let’s carefully drive home to get the kids to bed and see about getting the car over to the mechanic, we have an upcoming road trip and we don’t need any glitches. So we begin our commute.

As we begin driving along kings highway in Brooklyn NY our car jerked then suddenly our speedometer went from 25mph to 5mph. We couldn’t shift gears, nothing worked. This road we take is usually packed. By the grace of God and only God that evening it was empty. We crawled to a side road and were unable to move. The way the car jerked we all got scared, but in the midst of that I knew I needed to keep calm for my kids who asked “mommy are we going to die?” They understood the potential danger, they understood at any given moment a car could have clipped us.

As I reassured them we were fine I kept asking God please just lead us to safety, protect my family. Once we called AAA to assist in getting a flatbed over so we can lug our car to the mechanic, I reached out to my mom let her know what happened. Let her know we were fine. The kids and I walked home in that late hour while my husband waited for AAA. I packed our bags, and went by my mothers.

God is the only reason I know we were safe. God is the only reason I know we were not clipped by another vehicle traveling 45mph or more. God is the only reason we got home safely from where we got stuck .

Despite my dread & my fear I kept faith in not only knowing that God would get us to our destination safely but that he would resolve this for us.


Now let’s travel back to over 20 years ago.

This story that I shared is not the first scary vehicular incident I have experienced.

While all this was happening I had a flashback to 1996. I remember sitting in the back seat of our family Oldsmobile. I remember my siblings sitting next to me. My mom driving across the Brooklyn Bridge headed towards Manhattan so we can pick up my dad who was working late. As kids we used to play games, sing along, talk, or sometimes enjoy the view of our iconic NYC Skyline. Then I hear my mom calmly say, guys make sure your seatbelts are secure, because I don’t know what’s going on. All she kept saying was Jesus take the wheel.

Her brakes failed her while crossing the bridge, the car jerked and her speed was reducing on its own. She couldn’t shift any gears, everything was locked somehow. I remember being in the back seat holding on to my siblings as I realized we were swerving between cars from one lane to another. My mom looked focused, despite her fears and desperation seeing her 4 kids in the rear view mirror filled with fear. All she kept saying was Jesus take the wheel, get my kids out of here safely. Jesus take the wheel.

I don’t know how many of you have been on the Brooklyn Bridge pre 9/11. But Prior to 9/11 the exit that passes by one police plaza which is currently closed did like this whole wrap around infinity like loop that brings you to the other side of city’ hall park. My mom knew if she would’ve gone straight, we probably would’ve crashed in to pedestrians trying to walk across the bridge, if we would’ve taken the far exit we would’ve been setting up to a collision with those trying to get on the bridge towards the entrance on the other side. So she navigated towards the infinite loop as I called it, knowing many drivers didn’t opt to that exit back then, unless they were heading south in the city. As we completed the loop and swerved between cars, the Oldsmobile finally stopped in front of city hall park and didn’t move. Not one scratch on the vehicle, not one scratch on either of us, not one scratch on any pedestrian. God was good. He saved us, he saved those around us.

Jesus literally took the wheel. Jesus literally guided us with strength with our faith in him. He guides us to safety.


Both incidents were quite an adventure.

Both incidents were quite scary.

Both incidents tested our faith.

Both incidents despite our concerns we took comfort in God.

Both incidents we came out unscathed.

Both incidents Jesus took the wheel.

Both incidents God immediately answered our prayers.

I told my mom that I had experienced a flashback to that evening. My younger brother who was about 8 at the time said he remembers that night, it was one of the most scariest he ever experienced.

I think as a mom this was scarier than my first time. Yet I have an even more newfound respect for my mom experiencing what I did, knowing full well what she must’ve been going through that evening 20+ years ago.

God has given me strength beyond words could ever describe. God has helped us run like a dear. God has lead us to safety. He is the music director to my stringed instruments. I will follow God’s lead, follow his guidance, because time and time again God has said “I got you son” “I got you my daughter” “I got your back”. We just need to listen, trust and always keep faith.


Father God I thank you for your love, mercy and forgiveness which endures forever.  God I thank you for your protection and guidance.  Father I thank you for helping us run like a dear, I thank you for leading us to safety.  You are the music director and I am your stringed instrument.  Thank you for always taking the wheel, for always guiding us to the right path, for always keeping us out of harms way, for always keeping innocent bystanders out of harms way as well. Amen

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The One He Speaks Through

The One He Speaks Through is the 6th Devotional by Mandisa.

 

Scripture:

 

18And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 KJV

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 

Romans 8:26-27 KJV

 

1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

Ephesians 5:1 KJV

The One He Speaks Through

Devotional by Mandisa

It all started with a billboard. I can’t remember what it was advertising now, but I do remember that the name of the brand was “Jenni’s.” It was that unassuming billboard that prompted a random thought of an old friend from high school. Jenny’s face flashed in my mind as I was driving down Interstate 24, and I actually commented out loud, “Hmm…I haven’t thought about her in ages.” Over a decade to be exact.

But, on that rainy Monday morning, I couldn’t get Jenny out of my mind. So I prayed for her. I wasn’t sure exactly what to pray for, so I asked the Holy Spirit to intercede through me (He does that, you know!) After I said “Amen,” I wish that I could tell you that I later heard an amazing story about how Jenny was on the brink of disaster when God intervened, performed a miracle, and Jenny put her faith in Jesus on the spot. That would be a cool story, wouldn’t it?

But the truth is, I never heard anything about Jenny. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t thought much about that moment until I sat down to write the song, “The One He Speaks Through.” I may never know if that billboard and my subsequent prayer was simply a coincidence or God supernaturally loving on Jenny through my act of obedience. I’ve asked God to let me know when I finally get to heaven. In the meantime, I rest in the fact that in light of eternity, no whispered prayer, act of service, or loving gesture is ever wasted.

When God wanted to show the world His love, He sent His Son, Jesus, in bodily form. When Jesus ascended, He said that WE are the Body of Christ! Our Heavenly Father uses His children (that’s you and me), to be His very hands and feet. As His representatives, let’s make the most of every opportunity to reconcile the world to Jesus. The Holy Spirit can use our prayers and our actions to shine light into darkness. So ask the Lord to attune your heart to feel His nudges and hear His whispers. You can be the very one He speaks through.

 

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Father God thank you for these words by Mandisa, allow us to be moved and motivated by her testimony to be able to feel your nudges and hear your whispers.  May we be attuned to you at all times each day so that we too can be vessels in which you speak through.  Amen.

 

 

 

Prove Me Wrong

The 5th devotional in Mandisa’s series is called Prove Me Wrong.

Scripture:

“The apostles did not stop teaching the people. They continued to tell the Good News—that Jesus is the Messiah. They did this every day in the Temple area and in people’s homes.” Acts 5:42 ERV

 

“How long will you forget me, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you refuse to accept me? How long must I wonder if you have forgotten me? How long must I feel this sadness in my heart? How long will my enemy win against me? Lord my God, look at me and give me an answer. Make me feel strong again, or I will die. If that happens, my enemy will say, “I beat him!” He will be so happy that he won. But I trust in your faithful love, Lord. I will be happy when you save me. Then I will sing to the Lord because he was so good to me.” Psalms 13:1-6 ERV

 

“Lord, don’t criticize me when you are angry. Don’t discipline me in anger. You have hurt me. You punished me and hurt me deeply. You punished me severely, so my whole body is sore. I sinned, and now all my bones hurt. My guilt is like a heavy burden. I am sinking beneath its weight. I did a foolish thing, and now I have infected sores that stink. I am bent and bowed down. I am depressed all day long. I am burning with fever, and my whole body hurts. I hurt so much I cannot feel anything. My pounding heart makes me scream! My Lord, you heard my groaning. You can hear my sighs. My heart is pounding. My strength is gone, and I am going blind. Because of my sickness, my friends and neighbors will not visit me; my family will not come near me. My enemies say bad things about me. They are spreading lies and rumors. They talk about me all the time. But I am like a deaf man and cannot hear. I am like someone who cannot speak. I am like those who cannot hear what people are saying about them. I cannot answer to prove my enemies wrong. Lord, you must defend me. Lord my God, you must speak for me. That’s why I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies smile at my pain. Full of pride, they will laugh if I stumble and fall.” I know I am guilty of doing wrong. I cannot forget my pain. Lord, I told you about the evil I have done. I am sorry for my sin. But my enemies are alive and healthy, and they have told many lies. I did nothing but good, and they paid me back with evil. I try to do what is right, but that only makes them turn against me. Lord, don’t leave me. My God, stay close to me. Come quickly and help me. My Lord, you are the one who saves me.” Psalms 38:1-22 ERV

 

Prove Me Wrong

Devotional by Mandisa

“..for the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart. The LORD has already appointed him to be the leader of his people…” 1 Samuel 13:14b NLT

Do you ever wonder what made David “a man after God’s own heart”? I realize that Jesus is only one perfect Man who ever walked the earth, but come on! David? The same man who used his authority to have an affair on a woman, got her pregnant, and then had her husband (who was fighting in his army) murdered? That David was the one God says was a man after His own heart?

Admittedly, while I can think of many things that would cause God to bestow this incredibly honoring title on David, I suspect that one of those reasons is that David walked in close relationship with God. I believe that the best relationships are those of complete honesty and common sharing of feelings. If David did nothing else, he was certainly honest with God.

After watching my friend Lakisha die, my hope was deferred, my heart was sick, and I was anything but honest with my feelings toward God. I shut down and ignored Him. I can learn a lot from David. Maybe you can too.

1 Be honest with emotions—David was regularly grumbling to the Lord about things he felt God and other people did to him. I’m not suggesting we make a habit of complaining, but if we’re going to do it, it seems to me that it is better to voice it to God than anyone else.

2 Be quick to repent—David made a lot of mistakes in his life, but when he was confronted with it, he was very quick to admit his wrong, repent, and receive God’s forgiveness without wallowing in shame.

3 Be joyful in praise—David was a worshipper! It seems that he was always dancing, singing, and loudly proclaiming the goodness of God. I imagine that he’ll be a blast to hang out with in heaven!

I was still very much in the dark when I wrote “Prove Me Wrong,” a song that expresses my heartbreak at Kisha’s passing. Interestingly, months later, when I was out of the dark and listened again, I felt as if the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “Mandisa, you challenged me to prove you wrong. I just did.” I can’t help but wonder if finally bringing my broken heart to God allowed Him to heal it and usher in the grace He longed for me to have. I think David was onto something!

Do you carry any anger, resentment, or disappointment towards God? I encourage you to take some time as you read these scriptures to honestly express your heart to Him. He can handle it. He might even delight in it and see those who do it as men and women after His own heart.

 

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I wanted to add this:

 

 

Psalm 51 New King James Version (NKJV)

A Prayer of Repentance

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just [a]when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.

Meditate on Davids words, just as he asked God to be forgiven of his transgressions, we should as well.
Now repeat:
Lord I repent of all the sins in my life. I repent of the sins that I know that I have committed, I repent of the sins that I don’t know of.  If there is any sin that I don’t know of, that I am unaware of, dear lord please bring it to my mind that I may repent of that sin as well.  Please forgive me Oh Lord of any pride, rebellion, vanity, jealousy, judging, distrust, prejudice, dishonesty, theft, greed, spiritual adultery or fornication, or any spiritual murder.In the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit Amen.

 

Here is the Salvation Poem from the show Superbook which I watch with my kids to help them learn certain themes in the Bible:

The Salvation Poem
©
Jesus, You died upon a cross
And rose again to save the lost
Forgive me now of all my sin
Come be my Savior, Lord, and Friend
Change my life and make it new
And help me, Lord, to live for You

Nehemiah Unit study

I have been pretty busy studying the word and preparing unit studies for my students, which has left me more focus on being prepared for them and not blogging as often as I had liked to….

So I will be posting some of my unit studies.

 

Kids Ministry: Nehemiah Study Guide

 

Subject: Working together for God’s purpose.

 

A few weeks ago we began our discussion on Nehemiah.  Within the next 2 weeks we will complete our discussion and finish rebuilding our Lego Model of Jerusalem and the walls. Last time we also learned that Nehemiah was concerned about God’s reputation. Jerusalem was God’s city where His people lived (Nehemiah 1:9). It was in ruins and Nehemiah wanted to do something about it so God’s name would be honored and exalted in the land.

 

Verse of the day:  Nehemiah 1:10 “They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.”

 

Nehemiah’s Story:

Nehemiah’s name means comforted by Jehovah…

 

  • His Character: He was a humble servant of the Lord whom God allowed to use to lead his people to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.  He was faithful to God. He overcame danger and those whom mocked him to complete a task for God. Nehemiah was the cup bearer to the king of Persia. Nehemiah asked the king for permission to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city walls. Nehemiah led and organized the people to complete the job in only fifty-two days with God’s help! Nehemiah was a fearless and caring leader who trusted God and always gave Him credit for his success.

 

  • His sorrow:  to see the city of Jerusalem in ruins.

 

  • His joy: To rebuild the walls and city of Jerusalem.

 

  • Key scriptures: Book of Nehemiah.

 

Nehemiah is a Jewish man still living in Susa working for the king. Susa is located in Persia.  Nehemiah lived in Persia because most Jewish people had been forced from their homes when Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C. Nehemiah’s brother Hanani and some other Jewish men came to visit Nehemiah, they told him: the temple was fine, but the Gates were burnt to ashes and walls were crumbled. Nehemiah shows us what we can do as believers when our hearts are broken. Nehemiah shows us that prayer enables believers to see that God answers by giving wisdom to know what to ask for and see His provision and His hand of blessing in our lives.

Lesson Q& A

 

  1. Who gave God’s people in Persia permission to return to their homeland? Cyrus
  2. What was their first task [Ezra 1:1-5]? , rebuild the House of God [the temple]
  3. What problems did God’s people face in the rebuilding process? [Ezra 4:4-5] Their enemies mocked them, frightened them, and discouraged them.
  4. Who was Ezra? What was his job?   [Ezra 7:1-10] a priest, teacher of the law.
  5. Where did Nehemiah live?   [Nehemiah 1:1 ]   Susa,
  6. How did Nehemiah respond to the news that Jerusalem was in ruins? (He wept, mourned, fasted, and prayed)
  7. What are things that Nehemiah prays? (Reminded God of His promises, confessed his/the peoples’ sins, asked God to give him success as he asked the king for help)
  8. What was Nehemiah’s job? He was a cup bearer.
  9. How many chapters in the book of Nehemiah? 13
  10. What news made Nehemiah sad? [Nehemiah 1:3-4] Jerusalem’s walls were in ruins, the people had given up on the rebuilding the wall.
  11. What did Nehemiah ask the king? Nehemiah asked the king:  To return to Jerusalem to rebuild it. (2:5) for letters that would provide him safety as he travelled to Jerusalem. (2:7) A letter for Asaph asking for wood from the king’s forest to build the walls and gates and for a place for him to stay while doing the work. (2:8)
  12. What did king Artaxerxes give Nehemiah permission to do? [Nehemiah 2:1-9] Appoint new leaders, organize the rebuilding and teach the people God’s Laws.
  13. Who were the enemies of God’s people? Nehemiah 2:10 these men [Sanballat and Tobiah] were enemies of God’s people.
  14. Did the Leaders of Jerusalem agree to help Nehemiah? When Nehemiah told the leaders why he was in Jerusalem they agreed to begin the great work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:18)
  15. What danger threatened the rebuilding process? [Nehemiah 4:7-9] Their enemies were planning to attack them; they were weary and discouraged.
  16. What was governor Nehemiah’s solution? Nehemiah 4:16-23 Guards were posted and workers were armed with weapons
  17. How long did it take to rebuild the walls? Nehemiah 6:15 – 52 days.
  18. How did God help Nehemiah? (The king gave him permission to return to rebuild, provided for him and protected him)
  19. Who helped rebuild the walls and gates of Jerusalem? Nehemiah 3 Eliashib the High priests and his fellow priests (Sheep Gate), The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them. The Fish Gate was rebuilt by the sons of Hassenaah. Meremoth son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz, repaired the next section. Next to him Meshullam son of Berekiah, the son of Meshezabel, made repairs, and next to him Zadok son of Baana also made repairs   (FAMILIES WORKED TOGETHER TO FIX THE WALLS AND GATES) The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa,. The Jeshanah[b] Gate was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah Next to them, repairs were made by men from Gibeon and Mizpah—Melatiah of Gibeon and Jadon of Meronoth—places under the authority of the governor of Trans-Euphrates the Broad wall was fixed by Goldsmiths and perfume makers with the help of Shallum with the help of his daughters. (Yes even girls helped).  The Levites & priests helped.
  20. Who didn’t work? Neh. 3:5:  (Nobles of Tekoa)
  21. How was the work done? Orderly (Laid its beams and put its doors and bolts and bars in place-) Zealously 3:20
  22. What promise does God give His people if they humbly pray and confess their sins? Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. “and if my people who are called by my name become humble and pray, and look for me, and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
  23. What did Nehemiah do when his enemies mocked him and plotted to hurt him? Read Nehemiah 4:1-4; 6:9. Nehemiah Prayed.
  24. What did Nehemiah tell the people would be their strength? Read Nehemiah 8:10 “the joy of the Lord will make you strong.”
  25. Does everything always go smoothly when we obey God? Read John 16:33. “I have told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have troubles. But be brave! I have defeated the world!”
  26. What should we remember if things seem to go wrong? Read Matthew 14:27. But Jesus quickly spoke to them. He said, “Don’t worry! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.”
  27. Many years after Nehemiah lived, another man in the Bible was cruelly mocked. Can you guess His name? Read John 19:1-3  and Matthew 27:37-44. [Jesus]

Recap:

Nehemiah was concerned about God’s reputation. Jerusalem was God’s city where His people lived (Nehemiah 1:9). It was in ruins and Nehemiah wanted to do something about it so God’s name would be honored and exalted in the land.

 

Nehemiah shows us that we can pray and talk to God about the problem and ask for His help. Nehemiah 2:1-3 which is what Nehemiah did, he prayed then asked the king for help, once God guided him with the specific things to ask the king for. Because Nehemiah had prayed and asked God for help, God gave him wisdom to know what to ask for and he was able to see God’s gracious hand on his life through the King’s response to help him, Not only did the king allow him to have letters for the governors throughout the land who would protect him as he traveled the king sent army officers and cavalry along with him.

When Nehemiah told the leaders why he was in Jerusalem they agreed to begin the great work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:18)  Together they rebuilt the walls, the Gates and the City of Jerusalem.  It took them 52 days, they faced obstacles, they faced challenges, they were threatened, but they prayed.  They had faith in God to provide for them and answer their prayers despite any obstacle that came up.  In 52 days they completed this task, because they put God first in all they did, they trusted in each other, they worked together and most importantly because this was God’s will for them to do.

Locations of the Gates:

  • Sheep gate: Located in the northeast corner of the city, called the sheep gate because it was where the sheep which were to be sacrificed in the temple courts were kept.
  • Fish gate: The Fisherman of Galilee and the coast brought their fish into the city through this gate.
  • Jeshanah gate: In Hebrew means the Old Gate; located in the northwest corner this gate represents the old ways of truth.
  • Valley Gate: Located in the Southwestern corner of Jerusalem.
  • Dung Gate: In this gate is where all the garbage and corrupt things of the city were brought to the garbage dump in the Hinnom Valley outside of Jerusalem.
  • Fountain Gate: Located at the end of the pool of Siloam, low in the valley in the south.
  • East gate: It is on the eastern side, opposite the temple area and facing the rising sun. The gate that speaks of hope and expectation, the gate through which the return of the e messiah will enter the city of Jerusalem.
  • Inspection gate: In Hebrew means the appointed place.  Where Things would get inspected before entering.
  • Horse gate: located in the easternmost point in the city wall; a gate through which one could reach the Kidron Valley
  • Water Gate: led to the main source of Jerusalem’s water, the Gihon spring.

Nehemiah’s Legacy:

Praise God: that nothing is impossible with him.

Offer thanks: When working together for God’s Glory all things will work itself out despite any obstacles faced

Confess: Any sins directly to God that interferes with his will

Ask God: To Guide us like he did with Nehemiah, like Nehemiah ask for forgiveness, for direction, for understanding and even for words to be used at any given situation.

Pray: Heavenly Father, we praise You that we can come to You for all of our needs. Help us wait patiently for Your answers. Father God I thank you for all that you do in my life.  Father I ask for forgiveness for my sins, the sins of my family, the sins of my church, the sins of my friends and the sins o my community.  I ask dear lord that you guide us in all that we do, so that it can be done for your glory and your will.  Father I ask that you lead us, even when opposition comes before us.  I ask that you guide our thoughts and our words when facing people like Tobiah and Sanballat, for we know we will face many people like them who want to deter us from doing your will.  I humbly thank you for your love, your mercy and your forgiveness. God, help us trust in You whenever we face difficult times. Please fill us Your joy, which is our strength!  Praise be our Lord God, for no one is mightier than you. Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross and forgiving my sins. Help me share Your love and kindness with others In the name of the Father, In the Name of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World

Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for repairing the world.

It’s Holy Week, Holy Saturday in fact. Yesterday Jesus died at the cross of Calvary. Tomorrow he will ride and leave his tomb empty.

Tikkun Olam. This is all I can think of. Why is this lil old Christian girl citing Hebrew words?

Tikkun Olam began as a verb “to make straight” in the Hebrew scripture. Rabbis have used this phrase, this saying in their legal discussions in the Talmud.

I am currently moved and inspire to write about how Jesus came in to my life in order to Tikkun Olam me. He set me straight, he saved me, he repaired me when I was broken, weak and in need. Thank you ABBA Padre.

Kaballist followers referred to Tikkun Olam as a concept of cosmic repair in the Middle Ages.

Today, some use the term Tikkun Olam in reference to social activism – to heal the world.

The Hebrew verb TKN (Tikkun Olam) is only found four times in the Scripture. Which means to make straight, establish, arrange, or repair.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we see the verb TKN mentioned 3 out of the four times mentioned in scripture.

Before we get into those scripture let’s speak about the book of Ecclesiastes.

Purpose and Teaching:

The author of Ecclesiastes puts his powers of wisdom to work to examine the human experience and assess the human situation. His perspective is limited to what happens “under the sun” (as is that of all the wisdom teachers). He considers life as he has experienced and observed it between the horizons of birth and death — life within the boundaries of this visible world. His wisdom cannot penetrate beyond that last horizon; he can only observe the phenomenon of death and perceive the limits it places on human beings. Within the limits of human experience and observation, he is concerned to spell out what is “good” for people to do. And he represents a devout wisdom. Life in the world is under God — for all its enigmas. Hence what begins with “Meaningless! Meaningless!” (1:2) ends with “Remember your Creator” (12:1) and “Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13).

With a wisdom matured by many years, he takes the measure of human beings, examining their limits and their lot. He has attempted to see what human wisdom can do (1:13,16-18; 7:24; 8:16), and he has discovered that human wisdom, even when it has its beginning in “the fear of the Lord” (Pr 1:7), has limits to its powers when it attempts to go it alone — limits that circumscribe its perspectives and relativize its counsel. Most significantly, it cannot find out the larger purposes of God or the ultimate meaning of human existence. With respect to these it can only pose questions.

Nevertheless, he does take a hard look at the human enterprise — an enterprise in which he himself has fully participated. He sees a busy, busy human ant hill in mad pursuit of many things, trying now this, now that, laboring away as if by dint of effort humans could master the world, lay bare its deepest secrets, change its fundamental structures, somehow burst through the bounds of human limitations, build for themselves enduring monuments, control their destiny, achieve a state of secure and lasting happiness — people laboring at life with an overblown conception of human powers and consequently pursuing unrealistic hopes and aspirations.

He takes a hard look and concludes that human life in this mode is “meaningless,” its efforts all futile.

What, then, does wisdom teach him?

1. Humans cannot by all their striving achieve anything of ultimate or enduring significance. Nothing appears to be going anywhere (1:5-11), and people cannot by all their efforts break out of this caged treadmill (1:2-4;2:1-11); they cannot fundamentally change anything (1:12-15;6:10;7:13). Hence they often toil foolishly (4:4,7-8;5:10-17;6:7-9). All their striving “under the sun” (1:3) after unreal goals leads only to disillusionment.

2. Wisdom is better than folly (2:13-14; 7:1-6,11-12,19; 8:1,5; 9:17-18; 10:1-3,12-15; 12:11) — it is God’s gift to those who please him (2:26). But it is unwarranted to expect too much even from such wisdom — to expect that human wisdom is capable of solving all problems (1:16-18) or of securing for itself enduring rewards or advantages (2:12-17;4:13-16;9:13-16).

3. Experience confronts humans with many apparent disharmonies and anomalies that wisdom cannot unravel. Of these the greatest of all is this: Human life comes to the same end as that of the animals — death (2:15; 3:16-17; 7:15; 8:14; 9:1-3; 10:5-7).

4. Although God made humankind upright, people have gone in search of many “schemes” (for getting ahead by taking advantage of others; see 7:29; cf. Ps 10:2; 36:4; 140:2). So even humans are a disappointment (7:24-29).

5. People cannot know or control what will come after them, or even what lies in the more immediate future; therefore all their efforts remain balanced on the razor’s edge of uncertainty (2:18;6:12;7:14;9:2).

6. God keeps humans in their place (3:16-22).

7. God has ordered all things (3:1-15;5:19;6:1-6;9:1), and a human being cannot change God’s appointments or fully understand them or anticipate them (3:1;7;11:1-6). But the world is not fundamentally chaotic or irrational. It is ordered by God, and it is for humans to accept matters as they are by God’s appointments, including their own limitations. Everything has its “time” and is good in its time (ch. 3).

Therefore wisdom counsels:

1. Accept the human state as it is shaped by God’s appointments and enjoy the life you have been given as fully as you can.

2. Don’t trouble yourself with unrealistic goals — know the measure of human capabilities.

3. Be prudent in all your ways — follow wisdom’s leading.

4. “Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13), beginning already in your youth before the fleeting days of life’s enjoyments are gone and “the days of trouble” (12:1) come when the infirmities of advanced age vex you and hinder you from tasting, seeing and feeling the good things of life.

To sum up, Ecclesiastes provides instruction on how to live meaningfully, purposefully and joyfully within the theocratic arrangement — primarily by placing God at the center of one’s life, work and activities, by contentedly accepting one’s divinely appointed lot in life, and by reverently trusting in and obeying the Creator-King. Note particularly 2:24-26; 3:11-14,22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-10; 11:712:1; 12:9-14 (see also any pertinent notes on these passagoes link can be found in footnotes)

Outline of Ecclesiastes:

• Author (1:1)

• Theme: The meaninglessness of human efforts on earth apart from God (1:2)

• Introduction: The profitlessness of human toil to accumulate things in order to achieve happiness (1:3-11)

• Discourse, Part 1: In spite of life’s apparent enigmas and meaninglessness, it is to be enjoyed as a gift from God (1:12;11:6)

• Since human wisdom and endeavors are meaningless, people should enjoy their life and work and its fruits as gifts from God (1:12;6:9)

1. Introduction (1:12-18)

1. Human endeavors are meaningless (1:12-15)

2. Pursuing human wisdom is meaningless (1:16-18)

2. Seeking pleasure is meaningless (2:1-11)

3. Human wisdom is meaningless (2:12-17)

4. Toiling to accumulate things is meaningless (2:18;6:9)

1. Because people must leave the fruits of their labor to others (2:18-26)

2. Because all human efforts remain under the government of God’s sovereign appointments, which people cannot fully know and which all their toil cannot change (3:1;4:3)

3. Because there are things better for people than the envy, greed and amibition that motivate such toil (4:4-16)

4. Because the fruits of human labor can be lost, resulting in frustration (5:1;6:9)

• Since people cannot fully know what is best to do or what the future holds for them, they should enjoy now the life and work God has given them (6:10;11:6)

1. Introduction: What is predetermined by God is inalterable, and people cannot fully know what is best or what the future holds (6:10-12)

2. People cannot fully know what is best to do (chs. 78)

3. People cannot fully know what the future holds (9:1;11:6)

• Discourse, Part 2: Since old age and death will soon come, people should enjoy life in their youth, remembering that God will judge (11:7;12:7)

• People should enjoy their life on earth because their future after death is mysterious, and in that sense is meaningless for their present life (11:7-8)

• People should enjoy the fleeting joys of youth, but remember that God will judge (11:9-10)

• People should remember their Creator (and his gifts) in their youth, before the deteriorations of old age and the dissolution of the body come (12:1-7)

• Theme Repeated (12:8)

• Conclusion: Reverently trust in and obey God (12:9-14)

Now that we have an overview on Ecclesiastes, back to references of TKN:

Human endeavors are meaningless:

“What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.”

Ecclesiastes 1:15 NLT

The author has described that we humans do not have authority to fully make things right, make things new, or repair. We are limited.

“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?”

Ecclesiastes 7:13 NLT

Who are we? Can we really fix something that God has made, created? Allowed to happen? God has his reasons for why things go the way they do. We have to accept what we cannot change, we have to accept in our limited abilities and capabilities of the flesh. We do not have the power God has. We do not have God’s abilities.

“Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew. He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them.”

Ecclesiastes 12:9 NLT

We have to reverently trust and obey God.

““When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.”

Daniel 4:36 NLT

In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, Daniel interprets it and Nebuchadnezzar‘s dream came to pass., he then exalted and glorified the lords name. Nebuchadnezzar was restored, straightened and renewed. TKN.

Consider what God has done: Who can straighten [Takkan] what he has made crooked?”

In the book of Deuteronomy we see where the concept of Justice and moral duty to society originates:

“Let true justice prevail, so you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Deuteronomy 16:20 NLT

In the book of Amos we find a Hebrew prophet who condemned Israel’s disregard to Widows, orphans and foreigners in his time. Here he uses this reference towards doing what is rightness, to denounce Evelin, to love what is good, to turn towards justice for all the living.

“Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”

Amos 5:14-15, 24 NLT

Now that we have see. Peace, and setting things right or repairing with the Hebrew word Tikkun Olam, then came the concept of repairing the world peace. The Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, first appeared in Spain in the late thirteenth century. The author used tikkun olam to describe the cosmic benefits of when a Jew performs mitzvot.

A mitzvot is a commandment, referring to precepts and commandments commanded by God. According to the Torah there are 613 commandments. In the Bible we have 10.

Now back to the book Zohar, out of this book and cosmic benefits of following the commandments a new philosphy of thought emerged called kabbalah.

This new philosophy is birthed in the concept of how through the fall of Adam, the universe was “ruptured” in both the physical and spiritual realms.When a Jew carries out the mitzvot cosmic repairs are made in the invisible spiritual world. The benefits then “flow down” into the physical world and slowly repair the damage done on earth by the sin of Adam.

We know that through the fall of man in genesis, sin was born. Satan became the prince of this world. Willing and able to deter, destroy, manipulate all of God’s creation.

Kabbalist state with their philosophy of cosmic destruction due to the fall of man that God’s presence was scattered in the same way a clay pot is shattered and the shards scattered. These pieces were called “divine sparks.” Famed Kabbalist Isaac Luria (1534-1572) explained that the Jews were dispersed throughout the world in order to “elevate” these sparks and restore the unity of God’s presence.

As Christians we know that yes the fall of Adam and Eve birthed sin, yet the death of Jesus restore us, heals us, Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World, not the physical world but spiritual world.

For centuries Jews waited the arrival of the messiah, so a new Jerusalem can be formed, Where their king can ride up and rule for all eternity. The prophecy has been mentioned throughout the scriptures of hour our savior would come, live, be mistreated, pay for our sins and ride back up. (Isaiah 53).

Jesus did just that. The spiritual world is saved. Jesus repairs our hearts. Jesus repairs our souls, Jesus repairs our mind, Jesus repairs where we will spend our eternity…. as long as we believe in him, follow him, trust in him.

“The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.”

Isaiah 53:4-5 ERV

The phrase “tikkun olam” remains connected with human responsibility for fixing what is wrong with the world. It’s a trait that comes from within. People whom are passionate about fixing this world are invested in grassroot initiatives, working for the people, to stand up against anyone whom do not do right by the people. These people do community activism, work in social justice, some go into politics, go into health care, the legal system and even ministry, so that in the areas they believe and are passionate about they too can do right for the people. The problems of this world can be jeweled and mended if we all take the appropriate steps towards salvation. To love each other wholly they say the Bible reaches us. To respect one another as the Bible reaches us.

Jesus came to this world mend our hearts, save this world, to repair this world from the sin caused by the down fall of mankind. Jesus came by dying in our place for our wrongdoing, thereby wiping our slate clean and giving us shalom (peace)with God. Jesus is our Tikkun Olam, but what he comes to repair, is not this physical world but the spiritual world. Our battle is a spiritual battle. Our journey here on earth determines our spiritual journey.

Yet here we are today, Holy Saturday, and you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this.

When Jesus died at Calvary, his followers, his disciples were mourning, they felt broken, they were in pain. Some were probably questioning was this really the son of God? Some were probably questioning will he return? Some were just in pain. Loosing a friend, especially at a young age is never easy. They had to silently wait for what was to come next, while they mourned.

Put yourself in the place of Jesus ‘ disciples.

‘I just lost my teacher. I just lost my mentor. I just lost my friend. I just lost my best friend. I just lost my brother. I just lost my son, he was only 33.’

Let those words sink in for just a few seconds.

Have you ever lost a teacher you highly regarded and respected? A mentor who guided you? A close friend? Your best friend? Your brother or sister? Your son?

His disciples were in pain. Yes they believed his teachings. Yes they lived, breathed, witness and spoke of the miracles of Jesus, yet here, in this world, in this flesh, they were still in pain.

When someone dies, no matter how they die, at first it’s hard to accept that they are no longer with us in the flesh.

Recently I lost a dear friend. It was a freak accident in my eyes. In the eyes of the Lord, it was time. I do not need to know the why, the reason, no matter how much I question what did happen, how come he died, I have to accept that God has his reason, and his reason is not mine to know. Yet this death, hurt me, shook me to the core. This death shattered my home to a million pieces. This death caused pain we didn’t know exist. We lost a friend, a brother, a best friend, a teacher.

The pain was raw.

The pain was real.

The emotions were indescribable.

We have all lost someone.

Take these feelings and apply them to the disciples.

I was broken with my losses.

They too were broken.

We also become broken when we sin.

The day after the crucifixtuon of Christ , they too mourned. Their pain, their feelings were raw. Their anguish was real. They were broken. Despite their faith, despite knowing that the prophesy needed to be fulfilled, they were broken and in real pain, the same pain you and I feel when we loose a loved one.

Today, I can think of Tikkun Olam, Jesus repairing the spiritual world. Today in mourning, broken, in pain over the loss of our savior, channeling the pain the disciples must have felt today, I find hope, comfort and peace knowing tomorrow he will rise. Tomorrow he fulfills the prophesy. That tomorrow he proves that he is the messiah, that my sins have been forgiven, that he paid my debts. That I shall praise and worship his name because he has allowed me to have an opportunity to enter the gates of heaven. I have found the Golden Ticket…. my ticket is Jesus. He has repaired my world, he has repaired my spiritual battles, he has healed everything that was broken in me.

Jesus repairs. Jesus heals. Jesus mends. Jesus is my Tikkun Olam: he has repaired, straightened and healed me.

Thank you Lord for sending your only son to be our sacrificial lamb. Thank you for having him take my sins upon the cross. Thank you for allowing me salvation through your son. Lord this act has allowed us salvation. Allowed us a bridge and relationship with you. To be able to feel your spirit. To be touched by the Holy Spirit. To be loved and inspired by the Holy Spirit. To grow with you in our spiritual journey so we can join you when our time comes. Lord I know things will happen, temptations and test will come, the enemy will try to break me, but you have already repaired me. Today over two thousand years ago, the disciples mourned the passing of Jesus, tomorrow we shall rejoice and celebrate that we worship the one true living God. Amen

References:

https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v20-n03/tikkun-olam-repairing-the-world/

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tikkun-olam-repairing-the-world/

http://bible.com/116/ecc.1.15.nlt

http://bible.com/116/ecc.7.13.nlt

http://bible.com/116/ecc.12.9.nlt

http://bible.com/116/dan.4.36.nlt

http://bible.com/116/deu.16.20.nlt

http://bible.com/116/amo.5.14-15,24.nlt

http://bible.com/406/isa.53.4-5.erv

https://www.biblestudytools.com/ecclesiastes/

While we were still sinners….

bible.com/406/rom.5.8.erv

Think about the ultimate sacrifice God has made for you. He sent his son, to pay for our sins, even before you and I were born. Jesus was our sacrificial lamb. He has redeemed us. He died so we too can join his father our lord one day in heaven. He died so we too can receive salvation.

He rose from the grave to fulfill a prophesy, a promise from God. To show God’s love, compassion and grace. To show that God wants all his children with him, saved in heaven. Not subject to be lost in the catacombs of hell, not to be destroyed by the enemy. The lord gave us free Will, we freely choose whether we want to accept him or not. Our choices determine if we can achieve salvation.

Jesus death at the cross of Calvary is not something to be taken lightly. His whole experience, the torment he had to undergo, the suffering, the beatings, the tears, the agony of his flesh, the name calling, the shouts, the hatred that many had towards him. He went through all this so we, you and I shouldn’t. He paid our debts, so when you make it to judgement day, you can go debt free. All you have to do is believe and accept our lord as your lord and savior.

All you have to do is start anew. Repent, believe, follow Jesus. Follow him with all your heart and soul.

Pray with me.

Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you decided to repeat this prayer and repent of your sins and receive Christ today, welcome to God’s family. You are now my brother or sister in Christ.

Now, there are a few things you need to know to grow closer to Christ. Build your relationship with God. As a way to grow closer to Him, the Bible tells us to follow up on our commitment.

• Get baptized as Christ has commanded us.

• Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.

• Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.

• Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.

• Find a local church where you can worship God.

Good luck on your spiritual journey.

May God Bless you.

Awareness – day 7

 

As I mentioned in the previous post I am currently reading another devotional series.

This is a 7 day devotional entitled

Seeking Wisdom‘ If you want to read the full devotional click on the hyperlink. If not just wait daily and for the next  few days for the completion of the 7 day devotional. I will post their devotional with my own reflection piece.

These Past 6 days these devotionals touched on: Awareness, Assistance, Advice, Assumptions, Acceptance & Application. Today’s subject will be on Awareness.

Associated scripture with today’s devotional:

 

“Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”

Jeremiah 33:3 ESV

 

Jeremiah is one of my favorite prophets. He prayed often. He is also known as the prophet who cried often. There is a song which I sing at church which speaks of that.

The song is in Spanish it goes like this

“Como Jeremías, oraba y lloraba

así quiero yo, orar y llorar.//

//Dios le contestaba la petición que hacia,

asi quiero yo que conteste la mía.//“

In English it roughly translates to:

Just like Jeremiah, prayed and cried

That is how I want to pray and cry.

God answered the petitions he made,

That is how I want god to answer mine.

His prayers were always answered. He lived knowing that God would answer his petitions. He had faith. He believed. He trusted. When he prayed he didn’t say I hope. He was determined he said God I know you can….

We should all pray like Jeremiah. With so much faith, trust, passion, fervor and belief in the one true and living God.

This passion, this trust, this much faith and belief leads me to today’s last devotional from the series.

Day 7 Mala Ministries:

Affirmation

Be reminded today that God knows, understands and even cherishes your diligent pursuit of wisdom.  As you seek, He is waiting to be found, and wishes to reveal to you “great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  Our desperate search for answers can sometimes blind us to the ultimate answer – the source of all things. As we read earlier this week, King Solomon was wise to acknowledge the source of His blessings. If we believe whole-heartedly in the source, there is then no room for fear or doubt, for we know that “from Him and through Him and for Him are all things” (Romans 11:36).

With the pursuit of a goal comes obstacles, challenges, mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. This journey is no different. We have learned over the last six days that the process of seeking wisdom entails being aware, asking for assistance, receiving advice, being cautious with assumptions, practicing acceptance, and perfecting application – all these actions must be performed deliberately and diligently, with focus and intention. That being the case, another “to-do” may not seem appealing; but you will be happy to know that when it comes to affirmation, the only action required is that we receive it with open hearts.

So to you, friend, God is speaking, loud and clear. He tells you that you can stand affirmed, assured and secure in the knowledge that though the answers to some questions remain uncertain, His supply of wisdom, strength and guidance is certain. It is vast and abundant, and knows no bounds. That promise, as stated in Jeremiah 33:3, is a clear picture of His limitless resource of wisdom, which is yours to claim.

My closing prayer.

Father God most high, only you are worthy of so much praise. You know created the heavens and the earth. You who created man and the animals. You who are the one true living God. Guide me in supplying wisdom, strength and guidance to those in need deer lord. Guide me to the be more like Jeremiah in my prayers dear lord. I will call to you with all my might so that just like you answered Jeremiah you can answer me. I will always keep my eyes, my ears, my mind and my heart open for you dear lord, willing and ready to receive your blessings and word. In the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.