Daily Word

Ephesians

Read Ephesians 1:1-2 – Back to book… Back to the Good Book.  Today we are going to return to our reading with the book of Ephesians.  It is in the New Testament.  The New Testament starts with the four gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They covered Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection.  Acts comes next and covers the early beginning of the Church, the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Stephen’s death (the first person martyred for the Christian faith), and Saul/Paul’s road to Damascus experience.  Then Romans, Paul’s letter to Rome, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth, then the shorter epistles of Galations, EPHESIANS, Philippians and Colossians.  

I learned an acronym GENERAL ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY, to keep these epistles straight.  My friend later taught me the Sunday school method – GO EAT POP CORN; isn’t that cute?  I hope  this is helpful.  I want you to know your way around the Bible as we go.

Ephesians was written by Paul while he was imprisoned in Rome.  If your bible contains an introduction to Ephesians, please read it along with verses :1-2:

“This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.  I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.  May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

Paul was chosen by God to be an apostle of Jesus… This happened after Jesus’s death, as Paul was on the road to Damascus with the intent to persecute Christians there.  It is an incredible conversion and you can read about it in Acts 9.  

Beloved, we are on a mission with Paul for more grace and peace found in Jesus.  God bless your day.

Daily Word

Confession – part 2

Confession part 2 – Back to the butterscotch – So I left off as I was walking outside to confess, but it seemed so benign. I started to prayerfully negotiate for a juicer confession, I mean what a cop out! I was just a kid. Jesus was firm though. So I confessed to stealing the candy.

The exercise was to confess, the other woman would place her hands on me and say, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” And then we would switch. That was it. No problem solving, or discussion, just confess, listen, touch, and receive forgiveness. It sounded too simple.

My partner placed her hands on my head…. it felt like she was placing a crown on me. She looked straight into my eyes and with great love and mercy said, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.” It was profound.

Then she gave me her confession. I put my hands on her head and said the same words. It didn’t even feel like I was the one saying them – it was a moment of perfect love, peace, grace, mercy and total forgiveness.

Afterwards, I said, “Wow, we are going to walk back in that room as brand new people! This was amazing!”

And halfway back to my seat, the LORD gave me a lightning bolt of clarity for the confession I wrote that made me cry. A decades-long burden had been lifted off my shoulders. And much later in the day, the LORD graciously let me know why the butterscotch sin was important. It was the first sin I consciously committed. It was my Adam and Eve sin.

Beloved, do you ever dismiss something the Holy Spirit lays on your heart? Do you categorize sins as big ones you must confess and little ones you can sweep under the rug? What is the first sin you can recall?

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 1:5

Daily Word

Confession – part 1

Confession part 1 – When I was about 5 years old I was shopping with my grandma at JCPenney.  They used to have bins of hard candy for sale by the register.   I asked for some butterscotch and she said no.   She never said no.  I decided in my heart that this was a mistake and that I really deserved that butterscotch. I took one. My grandma discovered my disobedience to her and my theft from the store…. The guilt and shame were awful! 

I hadn’t thought about that in forever, but the LORD put it on my heart recently and I have to admit, I was perplexed as to why.

At the retreat last month we did an exercise on confession.  We were to confess one thing on paper – that was all ours – we weren’t going to share it, no one was going to read it besides me and Jesus.  

I wrote mine, but didn’t know what to do next.   I saw it as a situation out of my control, and knew I would repeat the sin the next time it came around. That’s not repentance, the thing I’m supposed to do after my confession and his forgiveness.  

I started to cry which in turn caused my mascara to melt and burned my eyes. I got distracted from the emotion and had to go wash my face. That made me laugh, but still cry. I felt like a mess inside and out. 

By the time I got back we were on to the next thing.  We were to confess something else to a partner (we were instructed to go with a PG confession for this).  I silently asked the LORD what he wanted me to confess as I walked outside with a younger mom.  As clear as day, Jesus brought up the butterscotch!

Beloved, what comes to mind as you read my story?  Do you have guilt over something you did when you were little?  Do you recognize the difference between conviction from the Holy Spirit and guilt from the enemy?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”  Psalm 139:23-24

Daily Word

Remember

Remember – My grandma used to say that hindsight is 20/20.  Normally when I finish a book, like we just finished Matthew yesterday, I start to pray about where to go next and the Lord will lay the course before my prayer is even finished.  That didn’t happen yesterday or this morning.  So I opened my journal…

I went to retreat last month and the first words I received were CEASE STRIVING.  Since reviving my faith in 2004 I have had an unquenchable desire to know the LORD more and more.  I have said yes to so much, and it’s all valued, but now is the time to cease striving and simply rest in who Jesus is and receive his love.  

That was bewildering news at first.  I came looking for my next assignment, and Jesus said cease striving.  But it became wonderful as I turned off the ‘shoulds’, the busyness of life, and simply spent time with the Lord… and myself for that matter.  Seeing how God delights in me just for me was long overdue!

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy ladened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Journal August 22, 2022:  Oh Lord, yes, rest.  May I take off the world and the things I can’t change.  (and I listed 5 people/situations that are constants in my prayers)  Thank you for the gift of time and free will – Lord, I pray they choose wisely, but I am released from the outcome.

Release… what a beautiful word, and only you can give it.  Jesus, you say:  “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart. and you will find rest for your soul.”  Matthew 11:29

Abba, I don’t know what this day holds.  I ask that you blind me from my day to day life and put me fully HERE.  Awaken my childlike faith.  May I be greedy for you.  May I seek you and find you in unexpected ways.  Thank you my Abba, my Love, my Savior – In Jesus name, amen.

Beloved, may you delight in remembering and pursuing the relationship with Jesus on your own unique and personal level.  He loves you so much!

Daily Word

Matthew 28

Read Matthew 28 – It’s a brand new day!  Beloved, everything matters because of Jesus’s resurrection!  Our Savior lives.  His atoning sacrifice, his very life was given and accepted as payment for my sin and yours. Yet, had he not risen he would have been no more than a good man.  Jesus’s resurrection is the ultimate display of God’s authority over life and death, and it is our assurance that we will also be raised from death to life, covered in Christ Jesus and alive with him for all eternity… but I am getting ahead of myself.

“Early Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.” :1-3

Where does one begin with all this great news?  For some reason, it tickles me to picture this mighty and fearsome angel sitting on the stone that had sealed Jesus’s grave…. The grave means nothing, death is conquered.   He speaks great truth to the Mary’s.  Can you recieve his words as if you were there? Don’t be afraid.  He is risen.  See for yourself…. :5-7  

Meanwhile the cover-up is going on in the city.  There are a few things wrong with this plan.  First of all, the guards would have been killed for falling asleep on the job and letting their one duty be taken.  Second, it implies that Jesus remained dead, yet we know he will be seen by many in the coming days.

Now, Jesus gives what we call THE GREAT COMMISSION in verses :18-20.  Go make disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them.  I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Hallelujah!  

Beloved, how can one keep quiet in light of this Good News???  May your assurance grow!  May your boldness grow!  Jesus is alive!  Hallelujah!!

Daily Word

Matthew 27, part two

Read Matthew 27:32-65 – take your time and consider each detail.   Jesus was offered sour wine… this would have had a narcotic effect,  but Jesus declined.   In trying times being numb might be tempting to the common man, but Jesus kept his full wits. :34

The humiliation continued throughout Jesus’s crucifixion.  They placed a sarcastic charge above his head which read,  “THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”  :37, but truer words were never spoken. 

At midday, the sky darkened for three hours… your bible may say the 6th-9th hour (counting hours from sunrise) or noon to 3.  This was a remarkable darkness. It is said to be,”the agony of creation itself in the Creator’s suffering. ” (David Gusik commentary)

Verse :46, serves as a marker for Psalm 22, and Jesus’s experience of true separation from God, having taken on our punishment for sin. It would have been something he never experienced before. 

Try to wrap your thoughts around the extraordinary events that happened at the moment of Jesus’s death in verses :51-53.  The veil was torn, the earth quaked, rocks were split in two, tombs were opened, godly men and women were raised from the dead and appeared to many… Wow, right?

Jesus is buried in a wealthy man’s tomb, Joseph of Arimathea. It was sealed with a stone and guards.  Those in authority feared Jesus’s words about being raised back to life in three days and took every human precaution against it. 

And many today want Jesus put away.  They want to cling to their illusion of control and will accept nearly anything but Jesus… That is one more reason why we must stay in God’s Word, living close to Jesus; our blessed hope and joy is a light to many.

Daily Word

Matthew 27, part 1

Read Matthew 27:1-31 – This is hard.   It’s hard to imagine this level of corruption as the religious authorities bully the governor to kill Jesus. It’s hard to swallow their callousness when Judas tried to undo his betrayal by returning the silver. Judas killed himself…. He was a disciple of Jesus Christ and sinned so harshly against him that he hanged himself. The religious leaders response is just sickening. :3-10

The people joined the religious leaders,  shouting to crucify him, when Pilot made a last ditch effort to set Jesus free.  And though it was Pilots responsibility to  judge fairly, he instead gave in to mob justice, ordering Jesus flogged and crucified. :11-26 

Beginning in :27 the soldiers mocked Jesus…. Why? Why? Why?  It’s so cruel, yet it is the fulfillment of prophecy and just one more part of the cost Jesus was willing to pay. 

My heart aches at these verses. Our silent Savior let these heinous things play out upon him.  This is Jesus paying the cost of my sin and yours.   

Beloved,  let the weight of these verses sink in.   This is love in action, his love for you.   If there would have been any other way to reconcile us to the LORD,  then these things would not have had to happen. Jesus is the way,  the truth and the life and no one gets to the Father except through him. (From John 14:6)

Daily Word

Matthew 26 part 2

Read Matthew 26:31-35 and :69-75 again. Jesus’s love of Peter is so wonderful to me. I just want to spend a little more time with them.

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 13 that captures what is going on here. It says: FOR NOW WE SEE ONLY A REFLECTION, AS IN A MIRROR, THEN WE SHALL SEE FACE TO FACE. NOW I KNOW IN PART; THEN I SHALL KNOW IN FULL, EVEN AS I AM FULLY KNOWN. 13:12

Peter thought he knew himself, but Jesus knew him even beyond Peter’s own comprehension. I think I know myself, but sometimes I do things that take me by surprise. Can you relate to that?

Peter told Jesus he would stand with him, even if it meant death. I think that was meant to encourage Jesus. He was probably expecting Jesus to say thank you. It must have been bewildering when Jesus responded the way he did.

Jesus fully knew Peter and loved him still. Jesus fully knows you, and still loves you. Let’s be honest, that is amazing love!

And when Peter starts blending in with the crowd, saying Jesus who? I don’t know him, over and over again like Jesus said he would…. Oh beloved, what did that feel like? Think of a time when you disappointed yourself…. Is shame still ruling in your heart or were you able to bring your fall before the LORD in confession and repentance?

Think about the way Jesus loved and did great things through Peter even though this abandonment happened. What if Peter would have stopped there? What if he would have let shame hold him prisoner? We get to see the difference Peter made through the gift of Scriptures. What will your story say about your love for Jesus? Will you trust him and get up when you fall, knowing He still loves you and has great things to accomplish through your surrendered life?

Daily Word

Matthew 26

Read Matthew 26 – To be humble is to have strength restrained. Jesus, our Lord and Savior, shows us ultimate humility in our chapter. 

As you read, think about Jesus the man, who fully knew and understood the sacrifice that lay before him on this night.  Read these verses and listen like you would if a friend were telling you the story. 

In verses :9-13 Jesus includes the precious moment when a woman comes in and pours expensive perfume on his head. The disciples are indignant and Jesus stops them, calling what she did a beautiful thing. 

Beloved, Jesus cares about every act of love towards him. 

The night progresses, the disciples are told one of them will betray Jesus and all of them will fall away before the night is through. :21-35.  The act we call Communion, is recorded for the first time in :26-29 (it’s also recorded in Mark 14, Luke 22 and 1 Corinthians 11).  May Jesus explaining it here in Scripture always echo in your heart when you take Communion. 

Jesus’s prediction to Peter is very special to me… I’ll share on that tomorrow. 

Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane, asking the disciples to watch and pray, but they kept falling asleep… :36-46. He is betrayed by Judas’ kiss, arrested and handed over to the council.  :47-68. Beloved,  this is BIG stuff.   What pierced your heart as you read what our Savior did for you? 

Daily Word

Matthew 25

Read Matthew 25 – And again, live ready! Jesus gives us two more parables about living ready.

I have a question, why would the five bridesmaids bother waiting for the groom without enough oil? Another question is why do many people hope to go to heaven, without walking with Jesus now? Beloved, faith is not something a person can borrow from another when the time comes. That is why what we are doing is so important. Read God’s Word, pray and seek Jesus, live humbly and ready.

In the parable of the three servants, we read about a man going on a long trip. :14 Jesus has been away from this earth a long time. But he sent the Holy Spirit during his absence, who resides in each believer. The man in the parable gives silver to his three servants to care for in his absence in varying amounts. We all have spiritual gifts to care for and multiply in varying amounts.

When the man returns, he calls his servants into account for what they have done with his money. :19 Which of the three servants best represents you and what you are doing with the spiritual gifts the Lord has given you? Notice what the man said to the one who buried the money, “Why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.” :27 Are you doing even the very least and safest thing to increase the value of what the Lord has entrusted to you?

Beloved, Jesus is coming back in all glory and righteousness, may we each hear him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”