Psalm 16:11    You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with your joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 119:105     Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Proverbs 3:5-6     Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on his own understanding.  

Proverbs 16:9    A man’s heart devised his way, but the Lord directed his steps.

Proverbs 19:21    Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Proverbs 20:24   The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?

Jeremiah 10:23    Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps

Jeremiah 29:11    For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 16:24    Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Romans 12:2    Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

So often we allow others’ opinions and comments to dictate some of the choices we make.  Too often I have done this.  And, for me, it has led oftentimes to a tougher time than if I had followed what I was being nudged to do.  (And I will admit, I sometimes want to hear a louder, more direct voice or signal, rather than a nudge.)

We do have to verify with God when we are being urged to take a certain path.  If it’s from God, we get a sense of peace and an excitement to see what the next step of His plan is.  Is there some fear? trepidation?  Maybe.  Probably, especially if it is new to you to be seeking His will, and what pops into your mind seems SO over the top.   But He will continue to lead and direct you to follow HIS direction to the point you can NO longer say, ‘maybe this was a fluke, coincidence….’  But there are enough directional signs given and you have to admit He is guiding.  Do you follow?

Some choose not to.  Admittedly, I have used my brain—full of its anxieties, uncertainties, and stubbornness and insisted that I knew best.  And lost some peace of mind, certainly had struggles, and wonder just how different things would have been IF I had had the confidence to go forth in the direction I was quietly being invited to go.  But as with most humans, certainly I THINK I am in charge, and I know what is best…..Such hindsight. 

I will never know what would have happened if I had taken the other path He was directing me to take  The poet, Robert Frost also wondered about this in his poem (The Road Not Taken) . I believe that is normal for us…what would have happened if I made the other choice?  Where would life have taken me then?   Which might have brought me the greater reward? 

For those who don’t know the joy of following and having a relationship with God, their decisions are weighed as to which might bring immediate gratification.  And most often as humans we look at the financial rewards before we see the rewards that are God-given. 

What opportunities have I missed that would have blessed me; or that He would have used me to be a blessing to others?  And as I have grown closer to Him, I know the satisfaction of helping and serving in some way for others.  I wonder  how my life would have been different had I followed thew nudging to do different?   How handy to be George Bailey and see  how your life and the decisions you made brought pleasure/love/ or positive outcomes to others.  Or like Ebenzer Scrooge you can see how your actions have negatively impacted others. . .

Oh Lord, I have made so many wrong turns not being willing to wait for your timing, or wanting what seemed best, cool, appealing for the moment and I have chosen to DIVE in, and not being a strong swimmer, have had trouble floating or treading water.  I do not want to be so impetuous and arrogant.  I want to wait until I can see the plan You have for me.  However, don’t let me be overly cautious because of my past mistakes that I don’t move at all.  Your path and in Your timing for me, that’s my desire.  Let me be like Elisha sticking close to Elijah on Elijah’s last day so I don’t miss You in my haste.

Oh my Lord, don’t let me remain deaf or blind or stubborn when it comes to doing Your will for my life.  You have abundantly blessed me and mybellaviews.’

The Road Not Taken  Robert Frost

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow woods,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim

Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.   .  .

 

 

 

Genesis 1:26-28     Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that comes upon the earth.  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Deuteronomy 10:17     For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

Psalm 118:5     When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place.

Psalm 119:45     I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.

Proverbs 22:2     rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is Maker of them all.

John 8:36     So if the Son sets you free, you will be freed indeed.

Romans 8:21     …that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Galatians 3:28-29     There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs accord to the promise.

Galatians 5:1      Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:13-14     For you, brethren, have been called to liberty, only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For all the law is fulfilled in lone word, even in this” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Peter 2:16     Live as free people , but do not use  your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves

 

Many of the initial settlers who traveled across the ocean came for religious freedom, political liberty and economic opportunities.  The Church in Rome had become very ritualized and full of rules, much like the Hebrew churches led by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Sanhedrin.  These men, all sinners, fairly easily slid down into the mire of sin, corruption, greed, selfishness, arrogance and entitlement.  They were after all, the CHOSEN by God, in the lineage of Aaron to lead the people in ALL of God’s ways.  So also followed the church leaders who were supposed to be preaching all of Jesus’ tenets, teaching love, giving, sharing, and the eternal life from the death and resurrection of Jesus.  God carefully laid out His laws, and what the priests were to do, and how the people would offer their sacrifices and gifts to God to honor Him, and to seek forgiveness for their sins.  Yet, after a time, theses men also began to exploit the people, and showed their position as higher, more righteous, and entitled to extras–because the served God.  But they did not all do so with good and pure hearts.

But although God created all the world and creatures, He also created us with freewill–which means temptation for things that are NOT supposed to be for us, yet we may try, then seek, then want all the time.  This could include many things: money or goods, clothing, a pretty object, so one steals, it could be one thinks more highly of him/herself than another then begins to brag and feel justified to take, get, or charge others more.  It could be one yearns for something forbidden–certain meats and foods for them, idol worship that nearby tribes and peoples were ‘worshiping’.  There could be anger and jealousy when someone has more than you, and you want and may not steal, but may try to hurt or damage the property of someone else.   Obviously, the list can be much more inclusive.

Although God created us to be strong in body, alert and able to figure and think through various issues, that freewill is a slippery slope.  So as Europe was having a religious upheaval, made worse by the pope and English King, many decided they wanted a new land, a place where they could worship God as they saw fit.  Just over a hundred people climbed aboard the Mayflower and sailed to Massachusetts, landing there in December, 1620.   More settlers came–some were prisoners, sent from England to the New Land, some wanted religious freedoms, and held somewhat different views, so they built communities a bit further west than the original English who landed in Plymouth.  But they believed in God and wanted to worship Him as they saw fit and read in His Word.

Within a few years, from the early 1600’s through 1770’s, there grew to be 13 colonies.  Each had its own government, yet all were controlled by the British King.  Therefore, they fell into paying taxes to England, they got no benefit from England, and there were British soldiers; many living in the homes of the settlers–eating their food, taking up the beds of the families, so these families who were already poor now had to help British soldiers with their room and board.

As more British came to settle in the  New Land, the King realized they were losing tax money–just as the church of Rome had realized when King Henry VIII declared a new church.   This started religious unrest on top of the stress of taxes and political desires for freedom, since the royalty had the final say over the people.  So now it is time to find new ways to tax these colonies settling in the New Land.  As the years went on more and more taxes were demanded.   Many delegates from the thirteen colonies met in Philadelphia in 1774 and discussed the rules and desires of what they wanted to begin governing their new country.  Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and 56 men signed it, and it was voted for approval and therefore independence from England July 4, 1776; 248 years ago.   Some of these men were purported to not be followers of God, not even believers.  Yet each signed his name although this declaration declared God had given rights to all–‘all men are equal and gave them the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’   These were the tenets of Independence from Britain; these colonies wanted to rule and govern themselves6.  The colonies now became states unto themselves. 

One of the final straws came about in Boston when several settlers, wearing disguises boarded three British ships and tossed several chests full of tea into the Atlantic Ocean.  (I never understood the benefit of that since many of these people drank and enjoyed tea…however, it was thrown overboard and destroyed.)  All this unrest was the beginning of the Revolutionary War–the settlers in the colonies against the British Army.    England was not happy, and Britain attacked.  The war continued for eight and a half years. 

God had a plan for America and its new leaders.  

God is happiness and freedom to those who believe, who seek Him and try to follow Him.  He has already given the freedom of choice, but when one chooses to follow Him, He blesses you from the freedom of guilt from your past sins once you confess and seek Him.  God blessed our country.  There are many beautiful countries in this world, but we live in one that was founded on freedom, democracy and many Christian beliefs.  These settlers needed one another to prosper and thrive–so the communities would help one another.  New settlers needed homes and barns–so there were barn raisings where the community came together with women cooking and supplying food, and the men cutting and having the logs fit into each other, raising one side at a time.  But it was working together.  Women supported one another when a neighbor was giving birth or was ill; they would assist with meals, with child care, with laundry and being available until health was resumed.   This was a country that believed in God’s rules of loving one another, giving and helping others.  They attended church and the only book most had if they had any was God’s Word.  This was read most evenings as the family sat together after dinner and before bed.  It was important that they learn God’s commands and know them and revere God, follow His commands and words in this new country; and celebrate independence respecting God for all He had done for these new settlers.   

Happy Independence Day, 248 years!  May our country recognize how gracious and blessed we are and HONOR YOU.

Thank You, Lord for my being raised in this wonderful country, independent of tyranny that many other countries suffer.  You have blessed me and ‘mybellaviews.’

 

 

 

Matthew 4:23-24     Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.  News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.

Matthew 8:11     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.

Matthew 24:14     And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Matthew 28:19     Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 16:15     He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

Luke 9:60     Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

John 3:17     For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.

Acts 26:17-18     I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles.  I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

 

Have you ever wondered what you could do–accomplish, finish successfully–in three years’ time?  Do you remember what you did accomplish, or perhaps fought your way through, over a three-year period?  I have a couple of three-year periods which were difficult; but I have a lot more years that were relatively stress free, happy, comfortable, and with a direction that seemed positive.  My self-esteem was professionally in a good place, my marriage was good for the most part, and my children were grown, successful in their careers and with wonderful and supportive mates.  During those times of stress, by the time they were about to end, (even though I was not aware that the end was close), I was tired and not willing to brag about believing in a positive outcome.  I was able to brag afterwards, but not while still dealing with the complications.  But He did bring me through to a positive outcome.

How about you?  Remember any rough patches wondering when they were going to end and how they would turn out?   Troubling times seem to drag by and feel longer because you are burdened, more stressed, and often times not able to see a positive outcome.  Stress is weight, and we all know carrying excess weight—whether it be groceries, luggage, tools or whatever, it increases the physical strain and you feel that extra.  It is the same with emotional weight—heavy and burdensome.

What would you do if you knew you only had three years?  The knowledge of what Jesus accomplished in that time is amazing.  Yes, of course, this was all the will of God, and God the Son accomplished it all for our freedom, for our release from bondage.  And when He returned to heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit—accessible to all of us if we believe. 

Jesus had about 28 years of being an older brother, the eldest son.  When it was time for His ministry to begin, His siblings should have had a good idea of the person and man he was.  Yet, they doubted and scorned Him.  Yet, Jesus knew He had only about three years to do all His Father’s will—to teach, to heal, to pray, to seek followers, to perform miracles, to encourage men and women to follow this new way that would lead them to God and away from the old rules and current admonishments.  His job was to offer the people freedom from the tyranny set out by their own religious leaders.  He could predict the demise of the Roman Empire, but as He was a peaceful and loving leader, not a military leader, His ways were different than what many of the Jews expected.  God’s way was so different yet would lead them to true and everlasting freedom.   But under the circumstances they were living with, many were depressed, despondent and without hope.

Jesus offered hope, He offered miracles, healing, peace and love, kindness, and gentleness.  His teaching, not always understood, but still drew people in.  They wanted to hear and try to understand more of what He said.  Even without fully understanding, they felt hope and love.  Yes, many of His miracles involved providing food the many.  Food is always a draw.  But they yearned for more when He taught.  He touched hearts, which is all God wanted when He walked in the Garden with the original humans—a loving, heartfelt relationship.

During the centuries from Moses getting the Laws directly from God, several religious leaders had decided to multiply the burdens, and the riches that God had ordained for the priests and Levites.  Their conceit and self-righteousness and sense of entitlement grew and were hurting the people. 

Jesus had a new, an easier yoke to carry; He had a new covenant to offer—one of love, peace, not hurting your neighbor, sharing burdens, sharing and giving to others if they were lacking.  He offered grace and freedom of sins if only they would love, ask forgiveness of sins, show kindness and seek Him in all their ways. 

His message was clear: love others, be kind, honest, and give to those who are in need, watch your thoughts and stop judging and speaking ill of others.  Love, that is the most important aspect of Jesus’ s message.  He came to earth to show all men how to love and serve others, to show all how to live with a heart for God, and to show that many of the Hebrew laws mandated by men, not God, were ridiculous, and showed that even those who demanded the laws be followed (the Pharisees and other high religious Hebrew leaders) were not really God- fearing men.

He rose from death, was seen by a multitude of people, and several of His followers watched Him ascend to heaven in a cloud.  He was returning to His Father and going to prepare a place for any who repented of sins and believed in Him.  He was offering eternal life; your body would pass and return to dust, but your soul would live forever with God in heaven.  Your relationship would be eternal with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

Wow!  What an amazing and miraculously successful three years Jesus had!  I am so glad I have You to walk my life journey with.  I don’t believe I could do it without You.  Thank You for all You have done for me and ‘mybellaviews.’

 

Matthew 4:18-22     As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother, Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow Me,: Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.:  At once they left their nets and followed him.  Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the  son of Zebedee and his brother, John.  they were in a boat with their father Zebeedee, preparing their nets.  Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and followed him.

Matthew 28:16-20     Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they say him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  Then Jesus came to them and said, ” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I ha e commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Luke 6:12-16     One of those days Jesus went to a mountainside to pray, and spent the ight praying to God.  When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, who he also designated apostles: Simon,(whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Tomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Luke 8:31-32     So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  

Luke 8:34-36     Jesus replied, ” Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

John 9:34-35     “A new command I give you: Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love ne another.”

John 11:47-52      Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  “What we accomplishing?” they asked.  “Here is this man performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”  Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people that that the whole nation perish.”  He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only that nation but also for the scattered children of  God, to bring them together and make them one.

John 15:16-17     You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other.”

Acts 1:8     But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  

Acts 2:42-48     They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Timothy 2:8-10     Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead. descended from David.    This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.  But God’s word is not chained.  Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they once too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

 

Jesus collected many men from mostly mundane workers–He was a carpenter, and gathered four fishmen, men who had followed John the Baptist, and so forth.  One, who was quite well educated, Matthew, was a tax collector who figured the taxes the Jews owed to the Romans, and laid out the penalties when the taxes were not paid.   He was not highly regarded by these men who worked hard for their money to support their families, only to have Matthew giving the majority of it to the Romans.  There was also a religious zealot, who had spent years find-tuning his beliefs and body to be a fierce warrior, defending the beliefs of the Jewish people.

In those early days following Jesus’ execution, much of the Bible had been spread by word of mouth by the men and women who had experienced Jesus’ love, care, and presence.  They had felt forgiveness of their sins, seen healing both physical and emotional, and learned what non-judgment and love looked and felt like. 

Up to this time, the priests, Levites, Pharisees and Sadducees had done all of the teaching.  But they were no longer teaching according to God’s mandates.  They had added many more “LAWS” and “DICTATES” which they claimed God had decreed, but that was not so.  God wanted things simple.  He wanted us to have a relationship with Him, not be buried under all sorts of rules and regulations.  Should be simple, right?  Sounds simple. 

But because of our selfish, sinful, prideful nature, it is NOT easy to show love to all other persons, let alone to love God and be entirely obedient to Him.   His message was to love Him, not desire anything more than Him, and to love others.   Again, that seems on the surface fairly easy.  But it is not.  Intrinsically, we are born with a desire to have our wants filled and satisfied if not immediately, then it should be soon.  We do not like to wait or even worse, to be told “no” you cannot have that.  

And with the Roman rule subjecting the Israelis to work, give money to the Empire, and to subject them to a dismal existence, AGAIN with another Empire laying down the laws, this is when God had deemed the time was right to send His Son to save.  He chose men, hard working, with mostly little education, who could be changed by His ways, by His message and teaching of love and forgiveness.   This quiet, soft spoken man did not seem like the Messiah, the leader they had dreamt of for centuries.  Jesus did everything with gentleness, forgiveness, even scolding or rebuking them, they were not made to feel ashamed–they were simply and lovingly, corrected.  Yet, although they were somewhat hopeful for a revolution and a means to declare they were now free, something about this Man held them.  And over time, they came to believe-to KNOW–He was the Messiah; the prophecies were coming true.  This must in time lead to their freedom, their salvation from the Romans, there must be some kind of revolution to come.  But that was not God’s design.

As tensions increased, they knew the Romans and the Pharisees wanted Jesus gone.  Jesus came to show people a new way.  They were never supposed to be oppressed by church leaders, to have heavy burdens placed on them.  That was NOT God’s intention.   Jesus came and rebuked the Pharisees and other religious men who felt they were higher than others.  The chief priest, Caiaphas, proclaimed it was better for one man to die than for the whole community to suffer.  He was so wrong!  That one death saved the world for any who believe it and cling to the promises.

After, Jesus’s death, He returned to them, spoke with them and continued teaching.  although they had all witnessed His death on the cross, He was alive.  And they had a mission.  They were tell tell all of Jesus, the Son of God, and with His death and Resurrection, for those who believed, THIS was the salvation–eternity in heaven.   The disciples were to tell the world with voice and letters, visiting the many different areas, and showing how to live Jesus’  from the disciples to the various churches started for Followers of the Way.  These disciples—mostly men, but some women passed the news that Jesus was the Messiah, had performed countless miracles, was killed and three days later rose from the grave and it was then witnessed 40 days after He rose, He ascended into heaven.  Many of the men and women had witnessed these events.  They preached confessing sins, following Jesus, and spreading His good news—eternal life was available for any who believed in Him, repented of their sins, and followed Him.  Theirs was not an easy life.  All except one was martyred–skin stripped from body, burning in oil, sawed in half, hung on a cross, beaten, imprisoned and so forth.   So not an easy life, but a simple message.   He is the Son of God, He died, taking on every sin for all time–past, present and future because He loves us; and if we believe and accept Him as Savior in our hearts, living as much of His message as possible, we will meet Him in eternity and spend forever there.

God Father, Lord, Jesus, and my Holy Spirit thank You for guiding me, correcting and rebuking me, loving me and showing me the Way, the Truth and the Light/Life.  I love Your guidance for me and ‘mybellaviews.’

.

 

Isaiah 11:2     The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord

Micah 3:8     But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.

John 3:6     Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit

John 14:16-17     And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.  The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him.  But you know hi, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 16:8-15     When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.  I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear.  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.  He will not speak on his own: he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.  He will glorify me because it is from me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine.  That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.

Acts 1:8     But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth

Romans 8:12-16     Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”   The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

2 Timothy 1:7     For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

 

God is so impressive, so creative!  He made man so we could be friends with Him, and live closely with Him.  We fail often (almost always) because we are a selfish bunch, wanting our desires and not necessarily what He wants.  Sometimes we (certainly I) jump the gun…He has said we can have something, BUT LATER.  We don’t want to wait, so disobey, move out of His perfect timing, and therefore sin.

But when Eve and Adam sinned the first time, God already had a plan to redeem us and punish Satan.  We know in the Old Testament God was in close contact with Noah, Abraham, and many others.  The people did not fully understand, but knew God had a plan for deliverance.  Yet think of all the times they were laid up as slaves–the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire,  never mind the 400+ years they were in Egypt before Moses was sent–by the Spirit of God–to lead them to freedom and blessings.  There are people who were temporarily touched by the Holy Spirit and gained power, conviction, and confidence to head out to do as God commanded. 

Jesus is of course referred to as the Messiah to come, the Redeemer, and there are more than 100 prophetic verses about Him, and of course all were fulfilled once He came, including being born in Bethlehem, having a bright star lead the shepherds’ way to Him, and so forth.   How wonderful that some poor, smelly, rather ‘homeless’ men were the ones chosen to be the first to see the star and knowing it was significant, followed it to the rough shed where our Savior lay.  He came as a tiny babe, raised by two loving parents, a mother who had a secret—a child born not of man and woman union, but by the Holy Spirit.  Her husband knew this and once reassured in a dream the marriage should proceed, he also kept the secret of his ‘son’s’ birth and raised him to learn carpentry skills and how to be a good and loving man.

Jesus always knew His true Father was God.  He was always, even as a young boy, in touch with Him.  He left his parents and friends’ caravan after the annual Passover Festival and remained in Jerusalem teaching in the temple.  He stayed behind and listened to the priests in the Temple, learning and also teaching–which surprised all the priests, all those learned men.  I believe, although his earthly parents knew He was the Messiah, sometimes it seemed hard for them to see that clearly.  So often, He seemed like a healthy growing, NORMAL boy.  But He was the Son of God, and when He stayed behind, found in the Temple, it was impressed on them more deeply that this child had a mission from His Father.  Although they did not know what or when, they had to have some fear, some anxiety.   Imagine being a twelve-year-old carpenter’s son and repeating the scriptures and explaining some to the older men. 

Then we learn nothing about the following years, until He is about 30 years old.  He began to gather hard working men according to Scripture, and they followed Him and listened attentively to all His teaching.  They watched the way He lived, living what He taught.  Jesus loved, healed, prayed, interpreted scripture, lived simply, and performed miracles.   Jesus encouraged these men to change their manner of living–curb impatience, violence, anger, and learn and offer forgiveness, help and love to others.   This Man who lived so simply, made such a wonderful impression on these few men, then to others He met who needed healing, forgiveness and teaching.  He fed people the basics–food and then offered teaching, healing, and love.  He reached out to others in all manner with love and openness and acceptance.

Being Jesus, God–the Son of God–He knew all the selfish, lying, conceited, vicious things people did to one another.  He knew how easily our sinful natures reared and thrust to the forefront, causing sin–often not even recognizing it as sin–as we can so easily “justify” it.  I believe most people try to raise their children to recognize being mean to others, hurting or taking another’s toys, displaying tantrums, striking out in anger to hurt another–sibling, friend, pet, parent–and explaining that is not ever acceptable behavior.  But because we are all selfish creatures at our base, we need to be taught how to curb those sinful behaviors.  That does not ameliorate the desires, it only teaches how to curb them, how to modulate and maintain good social behavior.  The inborn desire is to feed ourselves with what we want; and that leads to us sinning.  We continuously want our desires fulfilled, and if we want to not be sinning and to be most pleasing to God, the trinity, we need to follow the inspired words of God and not live in our selfish, self-centered world.  

Once we meet Jesus, we want to be pleasing to Him. Yet our base nature is sinful–selfish, impatient, arrogant, snide, pompous at times–not at all the representatives God is looking for.  But that is why, one of the reasons, we have the Bible.  It explains what is disobedience, what sin can do in our lives, and eventually in our community–Jerusalem and Israel being taken captive, enslaved at different times, killed, tortured and so forth throughout the different ages.  Humans sin.   We may grow toward improving, but we still fall short–we still sin. 

My path certainly feels upward and strewn with stones, mostly big, but difficult to walk around.  (Not just because I am clumsy, but there are different areas where it seems I sin more regularly than other times.  But sin is sin–it is just me who feels there are some sins (large stones) I have to climb over and find more difficult than some of the other rocks.)  I can say I see growth and improvement over the years, but certainly I see I am still basically selfish and sinful. 

Yet, Your grace and mercy continue to reassure me of Your love, guidance, and the assurance I will see You face to face in eternity.  Lord, I am so very thankful that you are leading me and guiding my steps living and writing ‘mybellaviews.’

 

 

 

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