He Is (at 32:45)

On the Rough Roads of Planet Earth

Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summer Fun 2018

Summer is here! At least for us in the northeast. Surely summer is always fun, happy, bright, relaxed... Hmm, probably not relaxed for many, more like hectic. It would be relaxed for students out of school but hectic for those doing summer jobs. It’s never relaxed for people working nine to five or night shifts, part-time, full-time, having two jobs! *o*

But this time let’s focus on “happy.” Like, "happy summer." Does it bring up pictures of leisurely beach walks, evening barbecues, a lackadaisical day with the kids at the park or lazy strolls down the neighborhood, donning shorts and tees for a hike to McDonald's to get soft-serve sweet, creamy ice cream...? You probably smell the flowers along the way, or glimpse at the neighbors walking their dogs, or you meet kids roller skating on the sidewalk, or playing basketball in a makeshift goal at the street corner, or you pass by a green patch and get chased by a buzzing bee. Or you bump into a friend at the 7-11 shop or the bunch of classmates who bullied you last Spring at gym. Oh, life. No, no, let’s focus on “happy” and “positive.” By now I guess you know my mantra: physical health is very much dependent on mental and emotional well-being. Happy emotions always point to good health, more motivation and success, whereas, sadness, loss and stress always point to poor health, low energy and less results towards achievement of goals. So, let’s think “summer” and “happy”. What thoughts come to your mind?

When I think of summer I always look forward to seeing things grow. I love gardening, if you would indulge my redundancy. I love watching plants grow. It’s one of the things that give me so much pleasure. I watch every leaf, every tendril reaching out for the skies; I hover over every plant, examine every bud and get excited by the slightest sign of a bloom or fruit. Maybe because with growing plants you see the results of your efforts so quickly; it brings so much satisfaction. Imagine if you’re a teacher and you hardly see your students improve in their reading or math skills. Downer. Or, ponder if you’re a parent teaching a child how to be consistent with going to school on time or making his own bed or washing his own dish. Or, picture yourself as a pastor and you’re counseling a person who can’t seem to get over his low self-image or his rejection. Or, suppose you’re a parent of a special needs child - like me - who’s teaching his / her child the life skill of folding the laundry but every time the child does not even have half the mind of being into it. Ugh. Most often it’s hard work and slow getting results when working with humans; but with plants, just a little water, some sunshine and good soil and voile, you have verdant produce in no time!

Maybe some of you get as much satisfaction caring for pets or farm animals. I have no pets so I focus on my plants. You must be wondering whether the rose bud I had last Valentine’s Day eventually bloomed. Well, it did six days later and my, how it flaunted many more flowers after that!

It was a Christmas rose I bought on, yes, Christmas Eve last year. It was among the last ones on the shelf so I didn't have much choice. It wasn't pure red, much as I wanted a simple red rose plant. It was mottled with white for that Christmas effect. It had four flowers but they soon dried up after Christmas. Most people would just throw the pot away but I trimmed it and kept it watered to see if it would survive. It did! And that's how I got those buds I had hoped to bloom on Valentine's. It had three flowers and when those dried up, I trimmed the plant again and it produced four more!
My winter rose which added life and color to my living room last winter.
Now that it’s summer I planted the bitter gourd seeds I collected from my harvest of two years ago. Yes, it’s been two years! I didn’t get to plant my vegetables last year but this year I am back puttering round my backyard again!
Low sprouting rate: one out of six!
I chose to plant bitter gourd once more because it is the easiest to grow and I have seeds from my produce of two years ago. I also hope to harvest enough to make them into smoothies this hot summer season. Speaking of hot, it hit 95 degrees Fahrenheit for us here a few times this past two weeks!
I made 5 mounds of bitter gourd plantings, all direct-seeded. I placed 5 or 6 seeds in each mound but only one sprouted in mound 1, another one in mound 3 and three in mound 4. None sprouted at all in mounds 2 and 5, so, I replanted them. Thus, as of today they are still seedlings while the ones that sprouted at the first planting are already vines.

However, I was surprised that not all of the seeds sprouted up. I dug up the mounds where no seeds sprouted but the seeds were all gone. How did that happen? Do squirrels actually dig them up? I didn’t see any signs of digging though.

Detail of Mound 2. Two seeds sprouted at the second planting but one of them (arrow pointing) was badly pecked upon by birds.
I noticed a seedling or two turned up stunted, like they were pecked upon. I guess the birds ate the sprouting seedlings when they were tender and succulent? I never wake up early enough to catch them in the act but just to make sure that “seed viability” is not the problem, I planted six seeds in a pot in our window sill. (Yes, I threw away the dead rose plant but kept the pot and used it for this purpose.) That way I know no rodent or bird can dig up the seeds nor peck on the seedlings, the pot being safe behind the window screen. Cha-ching! All six seeds did sprout up! I believe the birds are the culprit and my two-year-old seeds are completely viable!
100% viability!

I know I had resolved two years ago to do seed starting in a pot like this but yeah, laziness just caught up with me again, I did a shortcut and this is really just what happens. (I also vacillated because I was hoping the rose plant in that pot would still grow despite the heat.) But now I understand that seed viability is not the problem, it's the garden animals (most likely birds!) that sabotage my direct seeding. Now I wouldn’t have space in my garden for these sprouts but I can keep them in this small pot and use the leaves for soups! I wish I have more window sills directly hit by the sun. I can probably proliferate this into window sill gardens! :D

Meanwhile, traipsing the parks on evening walks is so much more fun in summer because of the greens and the wild blooms! Here’s some of the stunning stills I got of those wild beauties I had spied upon! As it turned from pleasant spring to hot summer the foliage round the pond we stroll in grew thicker, and so did the wild flowers. Here they are... tada!!
Here comes the bride! The wedding colors of June.

Gold and bronze in the sun and shadows.

Morning glory in sailing colors.

Sky colors.

Teeming with life, this tranquil lake is where all these colorful weeds thrive around. It's complete with a proud pair of swans showing off their newest cygnets this summer. Just perfect!

On top of all these delights for the senses what makes this year's summer stand out among other summers is that I notice we have more fireflies! I do not know whether it's the good mix of hot and humid days and cool evenings or just the right amount of rainy days in between the hot spells, or some other peculiar reasons, but this year we definitely have more fireflies than I have ever seen before. I was kind of complaining about this muggy weather but if it brings these magnificent fireflies, I can't complain! God, our Creator God, is truly a God of balance. He created everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and He holds all things together by the power of His word. I believe He truly is the all-wise God who put us in the midst of these ecosystems, and physical laws that govern them and us, and thus, He made all things beautiful and good! It's a pity I do not have a powerful camera to capture them but they definitely add to the magic of this summer's evenings. What joy! To think our summer has just begun; I look forward to more!

Let me know your own summer joys in your very own corner of the sky by writing your comments below! (Or winter fun if you're from the other side of the hemisphere.) Summer or winter you may be in, tropical weather, or frozen ice all year through, I would love to hear from you all out there! Cheerio!

Belated happy 4th of July to my American friends!


If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand.(2018, July 8). Summer Fun 2018 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2018/07/summer-fun-2018/

This is a re-blog. If you wish to read more of my blogs please log on to www.purejoyland.com


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Father Abraham

The Bible says that the fathers of the Jewish nation are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But in many instances it also singles out Abraham as the father of the nation of Israel. His original name was “Abram” which means “exalted father,” but God changed it to “Abraham” which means “father of many nations.”

Genesis 17:5 No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

The footnote in the NIV (New International Version Bible) says that “Abram” means “exalted father” and “Abraham” means “father of many.”

Father of Many Nations

The apostle Paul explained in his letter to the Roman believers that anyone who has faith in the God of Abraham also becomes an offspring of Abraham by that faith, for sonship in God is by faith, and so with sonship in Abraham. Thus, through that faith God fulfills His promise to Abraham that he would become a father of many nations. He is not only the father of the Jews but also of all the believers of his God, Jew or Gentile. (Romans 4:12-18) Of course, God is ultimately the Father of all believers, the Divine Father of all believers from all nations, Jew or Gentile, through faith in Jesus Christ, an offspring of Abraham (through the tribe of Judah) and the one and only begotten Son of God (as conceived in the virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit).

God our Father is indeed the ultimate model for all earthly fathers for He is not only perfect as a Father but also perfect in everything - in love, holiness, wisdom, justice, power, knowledge, mercy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, etc. It is indeed God’s desire that we aspire to be like Him as individuals, and especially more so as fathers, if we are fathers. But today I would like to focus on Abraham. I had often wondered why God chose him to be the father of Israel and the father of many nations, through whom all nations would be blessed. Why not Enoch, or Noah, or Job or Melchizedek, etc.? What was special about Abraham?

From the stories in the Old Testament we can tell that God chose certain personalities to accomplish His special purposes. David was “a man after God’s own heart,” thus,  he was chosen to be king of Israel, and to him was shown by God where the temple would be built, and its location was also shown to be in “the city of David.” From him also the Messiah would come, the true king of Israel, and the world - the King whose government would have no end. On the other hand, Moses was chosen through whom God would give the Torah (Teaching / Law;  the first five books of the Bible). He was known to be the most humble man on earth.

Numbers 12:3 Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (NIV)

Noah, the man whom God chose to build the ark and to be preserved with his family in the Great Flood, together with the animals, was known as “righteous” in his age, an age of great violence and moral degradation and spiritual defilement. (Genesis 6:9) So, what was special about Abraham?

The Man of Faith

Abraham was a man of faith.

Genesis 15:6 Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

In fact, because of his faith he became known as God’s friend.

James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

So the narrative goes. Abraham is so highly commended in the Bible for his faith that in Hebrews 11, the chapter of the “Faith Hall of Fame,” Abraham’s acts of faith are mentioned in detail over a total of six verses in all, in contrast to the others whose acts of faith are described only in one verse each (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) Truly, Abraham lived a life of faith as He was challenged by God in many ways to believe Him so that he could fulfill the highly important role of founding the Jewish nation that would bring forth the Savior / Messiah to the world. Henceforth, God was able to fulfill His most important promise to Abraham, that he would be blessed and through him all the peoples of the world would also be blessed. What an overwhelmingly awesome promise! Amidst the pain and sorrows of our earthly curses of poverty, sickness, wars, prejudice and hatred against one another, and one’s self, just think, God said one person will be a blessing amidst all these. That person was Abraham. In fact, for bringing forth the Messiah, Abraham indeed brought THE blessing that exonerates us from all our earthly curses, IF we choose to be exonerated! Such was the pivotal role of Abraham in the history of the world.

Personally, I believe that the most powerful evidence of Abraham’s faith was the fact that he  could believe that God would raise Isaac from the dead even if he sacrificed him at the altar in Moriah according to God’s command. For one thing, this was the son he was waiting for, the same son God promised to him through whom all His other promises would be fulfilled, one of which was that of becoming a father of many nations. There had been no event of resurrection performed by God in the history of man in Abraham’s time. The only event known in the Hebrew recorded history related to death and resurrection was the translation of Enoch to Heaven. It was close but it wasn’t exactly the resurrection that Abraham thought God would or could do. Even miraculous physical healing was not ever mentioned before Abraham’s time. In fact, the first event of miraculous physical healing was performed by God through Abraham himself when he prayed for Abimelech and his household and they got healed.

Genesis 20:17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls so they could have children again,
18 for the LORD had closed up every womb in Abimelech’s household because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

The word “navi” which translates to “prophet” in English is also first mentioned in the Bible in that particular account, and it refers to Abraham. (Hence, I would say, one trait of a prophet is that he / she is able to heal the sick through prayer to God.)

Genesis 20:7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die.”

Now as I write this I wonder if the fact that because Abraham saw how God healed Abimelech’s household through his prayer it actually led him to think and believe that if God can heal then He can certainly resurrect a dead body as well. Now this illuminates how Abraham’s journey of faith, as led by God, enabled him to receive the promises that God had given him, one step at a time, from glory to glory. Actually, if we study the life stories of all the important Bible characters we would be able to see how God dealt with them and how they responded and grew in their faith and fulfilled the destiny that God had for them.

The Great Mentor

So, definitely, the most prominent trait that stood out in Abraham’s character was his faith in God.

But there is one other item that recent teachers have been highlighting about Abraham. I first heard this from Sid Roth of “It’s Supernatural!”, a Jewish believer in the Messiah Jesus who is an evangelist, teacher, tv producer and healing minister. He says that this other trait of Abraham is what made God choose Abraham to be the father of Israel.
As a Messianic Jew, that is, a Jewish believer in the Messiah Jesus, and one quite senior at that, I actually kind of look at him as a father figure of the Christian faith for our present-day generation. By taking on the mammoth task of evangelizing the Middle East through television, and the rest of the world, too, he is doing a great job of gathering the people of Israel, and the nations, to a saving relationship with God our Father. So very much in line with the call of Abraham as a blessing to the nations! What he’s saying about Abraham is nothing new. It’s right there in the Bible. But he is the first person I came across who has emphasized this. Maybe other preachers have also taught this, and are teaching this now, but I give credit to him for bringing it to my attention first.

Sid Roth says the secret of why God chose Abraham to be the founder of the nation of Israel is found in the following passage:

Genesis 18
17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?
18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.
19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

The ONMB (One New Man Bible) version says it a bit differently and sheds more light on this passage:

Genesis 18
17 And the LORD said, “Will I hide from Abraham that thing which I am about to do,
18 seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?
19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they will keep the Way of the LORD, to do acts of loving kindness and judgment, so the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.” (ONMB)

If we combine these two translations, it would mean that God chose Abraham because He knew him, that he would command (teach) his children and household to be faithful in keeping the Way of the LORD. The ONMB footnote says that “acts of loving kindness” means “going beyond the requirement of God to be just, to do right.” So, God knew Abraham would teach his children and his household the Way of the LORD, and go beyond just fulfilling the basic requirement of a righteous and just life, but by being truly pleasing to God. So, did Abraham really teach his children and household well?

Abraham’s Disciples

We can see how Isaac feared God, that in fact, one of the titles of God in the Bible is “the Fear of Isaac”. (Genesis 31:42, 53)

Isaac was obedient to the point of death, a true shadow of the Lamb of God, Jesus Himself, who would eventually take away the sin of the world. For truly, Isaac was a shadow or type of Christ. He was the Promised Son, and so was Jesus. God demanded that he be sacrificed on an altar in one of the mountains in Moriah. Abraham faithfully complied, wholeheartedly, without delay. The Bible account makes it sound like Isaac was a child when this happened but according to the ONMB (One New Man Bible) translation footnote Isaac was 37 years old and Abraham 137  when this happened. Isaac could easily have escaped from that sacrifice if he wanted to defy his father Abraham. Truly, he was obedient to his father Abraham and to Father God, even unto death, just like Jesus Himself. Here, in this account is exemplified before us the person of Abraham being a shadow or type of Father God Himself. Both are willing to give up their begotten son to fulfill the purposes of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind.
Eventually, Abraham too would become a father of many nations through his sacrifice of Isaac, the Promised Son he had waited for for so long, and as such he foreshadows God the Father who truly is the Father of all nations, being the Creator of the universe and all worlds and of all mankind, and the Father of Jesus Christ, the Promised Son. For being obedient to God the Father to the point of giving up his own beloved son Isaac, Abraham was proven by God, and received the confirmation of the promises God had given him in the beginning - becoming the father of a great nation from whom the Messiah would arise, the father of many nations, and the dominion and supremacy of his descendants.
That Isaac himself lived a faithful life, sired and taught Jacob who eventually would become the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, is evidence enough that Abraham taught his son Isaac well.

Did he teach his household? Oh yes, he did. Even Hagar, a servant in his household and the mother of his son Ishmael had a fear of God though she was of Egyptian descent. I believe she developed that faith through the role modelling of her master Abraham. Hagar’s faith in God was so real that when she tried to run away from Sarai (who was later renamed by God “Sarah”) her mistress, the angel of the LORD appeared to her in the wilderness. He instructed her to return and submit herself to Sarai, was told she would have a son and will have to name him “Ishmael” and that he will also be a great nation, having numerous peoples. Later, when Isaac, the Promised Son, was born to Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael were eventually sent away and would have died in the wilderness had not the God of Hagar appear to her again and showed her a well to quench their thirst under the scorching desert sun. (Genesis 16:7-16, Genesis 21:11-21)
Even Ishmael was taught well by Abraham. He was circumcised the same day his father Abraham was, just like all the men in Abraham’s household, when God commanded that all the males in Abraham’s household be circumcised. Ishmael may have been jealous of Isaac, because the latter was made the lawful heir of their father Abraham, and for that he and his mother Hagar were sent away, but Ishmael did not turn into an outright "godless" person like Esau (Hebrews 12:16). His sons became heads of the twelve tribal rulers that God promised He would bless Ishmael with but they did not turn into archenemies of the descendants of Isaac and Jacob, unlike the Moabites and Ammonites (descendants of Lot) and the Edomites (descendants of Esau).  They did not figure prominently as hostile to the children of Israel in the Bible account, although eventually the Ishmaelites became known to have spawned the present-day Muslim nations, as they refer to Ishmael as their "father." Neither did Ishmael remain hostile to Isaac as he even came back at the passing away of Abraham, to bury his father together with Isaac. Genesis 25:18 says, "His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers." (NIV) However, the ONMB states it differently: Genesis 25:18 And they dwelled from Havilah to Shur that is before Egypt, as you go toward Assyria; he died in the presence of all his brothers.
Hence, I would say, Ishmael was well-trained by his father Abraham, too. Nowadays many among the Muslims get dreams of Yeshua, Jesus, the Messiah, and because of those dreams they turn to the God, the Father of Jesus Christ and the God of their father Abraham. It is not surprising as Hagar had declared that He is the God who sees her. (Genesis 16:13,14) Indeed, He is the God who sees each one of us, His Creation, especially in our direst need.
He didn’t only teach Hagar and Ishmael. There was also his head servant Eliezer of Damascus. Traditionally, it is believed he was the chief servant of Abraham who was sent by Abraham to the house of his brother Nahor in Aram to bring back a suitable bride for his son Isaac. Eliezer himself had such a real faith in God that when he was tasked of finding a suitable bride for his master’s son Isaac he prayed for God to guide him every step of the way and he was spot on! God guided him so clearly that he actually found the rightful bride Rebekah, granddaughter of Nahor (brother of Abraham), daughter of Bethuel, sister of Laban, the very one intended by God for Isaac. It was a perfect match and Rebekah brought happiness to Isaac and comfort to him after the death of his mother Sarah. (Genesis 24)
Then there were the 318 men born and trained in Abraham’s household. Were they his army? According to the account in Genesis 14 there were these wars between Kedorlaomer king of Elam and his allies and the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah and their allies where Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was caught in the cross-fires and was carried away as booty with all his possessions and his whole household. Abraham and his 318 men pursued the raiding party and successfully brought back Lot, his household and all his goods. It was nothing short of a miraculous rescue. Who were these 318 men?
Genesis 14:14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. (NIV)
According to the glossary notes in the One New Man Bible the Hebrew word for “trained” in Genesis 14:14 is “hanikh” and it means “trained or educated” but certainly not trained for war. Apparently, when Abraham, Lot (his nephew), Terah (his father) and Sarah (his wife) moved from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan there were people who came along with them. Whether they all came from Ur or they joined Abraham’s party only along the way (they tarried in Haran / Paddan Aram for a while) is not clear. If they were “trained or educated” by Abraham it looks like they were taught by him about God and His call and purposes for his life. 318 men would mean many more women, children and older men who would be with that contingent.  In the ONMB translation they are mentioned as “disciples” not trained men:
Genesis 14:14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his disciples, born in his own house, three hundred eighteen, and pursued them to Dan. (ONMB)
Abraham had disciples! He truly was a teacher / mentor of many! They were not soldiers trained for battle, as this was the only war that Abraham ever fought, but they were shepherds and herdsmen trained by Abraham to have the same faith in His God. The ONMB notes on Abraham even goes as far as saying he was an "evangelist" because those "disciples" were his converts who continued on to follow him, even moving to Canaan with him. Thus, the successful rescue operation! It was a battle of the LORD and it was a miraculous success.

He healed the sick. He had encounters with angels. God spoke to him directly. He led a miraculous combat-rescue operation. I think he was some sort of an Old Testament "apostle"!

After Sarah died Abraham married again ad his wife Keturah had six sons, from among whom were, most prominently descended, the Midianites. A daughter of a priest of Midian, Zipporah, later became Moses' wife and the priest, Jethro (Reuel) became his father-in-law. They were Midianites and were a refuge for Moses at a low point in his life when he was running away from pharaoh. It was at that juncture in time when he was commissioned by God to bring the children of Israel from Egypt back to Canaan. (Exodus 2:15-4:17) That there was a priest of God who was a Midianite whose daughter was suitable to be Moses' wife, is evidence enough that the sons of Keturah followed in faith and obedience to the God of Abraham, their father. Indeed, Abraham taught them well.
And what about Lot, you would say. If Abraham was a great mentor and role model to this great community he had brought along with him into Canaan as well as among the children he bore with his wives and concubines, why was Lot lost? I believe Lot was mentored, too, but he had his sight on the fertile lands of the valley of Sodom. His end would have turned out glorious as well had he chosen to live within the security of Abraham’s community. He had his own worldly ambitions and it led him astray. This is one example of one who may have been taught well but still missed the way because of his own foolhardiness.
How about Sarah? Was Abraham’s faith a great inspiration to Sarah? She was the one who suggested “helping” God fulfill the promise of an heir by giving her servant girl Hagar to Abraham as wife, thus they had Ishmael, which later caused a lot of problems for their whole family. I would say Sarah didn’t have as much faith as Abraham did? Indeed, God's promise of an heir was to Abraham, not necessarily a son through her but surely a son of Abraham. Probably she thought the heir didn't necessarily have to be through her. Thus, she thought of giving her servant girl Hagar to Abraham to be his concubine. However, even later when God visited them and promised that the heir will come through her, she laughed. (Genesis 18:1-15) Sarah may have had lows in her faith as they struggled waiting for their son but the Bible does give her credit for being submissive and respectful to her husband, despite the fact that he exposed her to the danger of lustful and murderous men two times! She did not give in to fear but instead trusted in God to deliver her. (1 Peter 3:5,6) 

The Heart Factor

So why was Abraham zealous for the LORD, in obedience and trust in Him and also in teaching others about him? The Bible says he was a friend of God.
Isaiah 41:8 “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,... (NIV)
2 Chronicles 20:7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? (NIV)
According to the ONMB version the Hebrew texts for these verses are rightly translated as:
Isaiah 41:8 But you, Israel, are My servant; Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham who loves Me. (ONMB)
2 Chronicles 20:7 Are you not our God, Who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and gave it forever to the seed of Abraham who loves You? (ONMB)
So there, that’s the secret. Abraham was one who loved God. Everyone is loved by God but not everyone loves God. Again, my first life verse speaks there. Jesus summarizes intimacy with God here:
John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
Abraham heard the command of God and He immediately obeyed. That’s how he loved God and he loved Him so much he couldn’t help but teach whoever was willing to be taught about God. Such was his passion for God and such was God’s favor for him in return. When God shows Himself to you, you get to see His glory! The glory of the LORD is His goodness! (Exodus 33:18,19) Truly, Father Abraham is a great example to us all, especially to us who are fathers!
Happy Father’s Day Week, everyone!
All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified.
Reference Cited:
Morford, W.J. (2011). The One New Man Bible. Travelers Rest, South Carolina: True Potential Publishing, Inc.
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2018, Jun 23). Father Abraham [Blog Post]. Retrieved from  http://purejoyland.com/2018/06/father-abraham/
This is a re-blog. If you wish to read more of my blogs please log on to www.purejoyland.com

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Lenten Season Meditations 2018

I know that God's thoughts for me are countless because of the following passages:
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139)
Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. (Psalm 40:5)
11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29)
But it thrills me even more that Jesus had me particularly in mind when He went to the cross. Of course, that means you and me. How do I know that?
Just listen to this song. Whenever I hear it so many Scirpture passages come to mind. They are so appropriate for the Lenten Season that  I listed them down for my meditation. I wonder if you guys would agree with me. Is it too long to read? Just listen to the song then. It’s a fav of mine because it’s so “loaded.”
A blessed Good Friday and Holy  Saturday to all. May the LORD prepare our hearts for the joy of Resurrection Sunday!
John 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

Luke 2
46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Isaiah 11
2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him -
The Spirit of the wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD -
3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

Matthew 3
17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

John 1
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’
31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to israel.”
32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.
33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

John 1
50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.”
51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Psalm 50
10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.

Isaiah 46
9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.

Hebrews 1
1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Colossians 2
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,...

John 10
17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Hebrews 10
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God.’

Matthew 26
53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

Philippians 2
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!

John 15
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.

Romans 5
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 6
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 14
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 
10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the  Father.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
14 You may ask for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 18
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Hebrews 8
26 Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

Hebrews 9
11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.
12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.
25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.
26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

2 Corinthians 5
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 John 3
5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.

1 Peter 2
22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

John 8
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 3
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 5
24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.

Isaiah 50

4 The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.

5 The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back.

6 I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.
7 Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.
8 He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me!
9 It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me.
Who is he that will condemn me?
They will wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.

Psalm 22
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
12 Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
13 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death,
16 Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.

Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Romans 1
17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 3
21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Titus 3
4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Romans 8
9 ... And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

1 John 5
11 And this is the testimony: God has
given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Philippians 2
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hebrews 12
2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified.

If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2018, Mar 31). Lenten Season Meditations 2018 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2018/03/lenten-season-meditations/


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The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D