LUKE SIX – BLESSED WORDS

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READ LUKE SIX
This chapter is filled with so much meat. It begins by discussing the Pharisees insistence on not working on the Sabbath. Such things as eating some gathered corn from the field or healing the sick from their infirmity were considered labor by the elders of the church. Jesus quickly set them straight by stating that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. Those words must’ve stung deeply, as they were seen as a threat to the church itself.

By this time, Jesus had chosen all twelve of His disciples. They indeed were helpful to His ministry, as many of our own church elders can be of help to our officiating pastors. Jesus was a man and because of that He got tired and hungry. He needed time to pray, to rest and take nourishment just like we do. On the other hand, He is also God and could’ve easily provided for those needs, but it wasn’t part of His mission on earth.

We see in this chapter that Jesus prayed a lot. As our example, we can glean much from this. God is available to hear our prayers at a moment’s notice. We don’t always take advantage of that.

Jesus and his band of disciples covered a lot of territory. The crowds were growing. People came to be healed, out of curiosity and because the message was one they had longed to hear.

The Beatitudes are listed in this chapter. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh,” was one of them. These were akin to the proverbs of old, but they carried an entirely new meaning. He said things like, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  These words were foreign to them, but they certainly held their attention.

Jesus must’ve been an exemplary speaker. His voice would have to carry to great lengths to reach the many in His audience. Imagine the voice of God speaking directly to them and us. He was nothing extraordinary to look at, yet he commanded the crowds. When He told them not to judge others, but to forgive them as we will be forgiven. He told them to be good fruit and to build their lives on the foundation of God. By doing so they would not be shaken.

Jesus was bringing that foundation back to the people. He came to establish His kingdom in our hearts. Let us continually stay rooted in His Word so we continue to flourish and spread the Good News of salvation to all people.

We are definitely living in troubled times.  The church is being attacked on a daily basis.  The devil is using every tool in his toolbox to take advantage of us.  Don’t let Him in.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

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The feminist movement did great things for women.  It allowed them to leave the ties of housekeeping behind and venture into a whole new world.  It was a world which challenged their abilities, their brain power, their industriousness, their ingenuity, their organizational skills, their talent and their compassion.

Yes, I said compassion.  Now where in the world does that word fit into the world of commerce?  Up until then, compassion was woven into the fabric of nursing or caring for others.  The corporate world was and still is, filled with money driven men who were trying to change the world.  Not a lot of compassion was necessary  When women became part of that world, things changed a lot.

In the beginning men said women’s place was in the home, raising a family, tending to the chores of the day and caring for her husband.  The game was on.  Women started attending colleges for things other than secretarial or medical skills.  They proved that they could work under pressure and handle the stress of corporate life.  It wasn’t an easy road, because these same women still had the responsibilities of running a home, but they managed to do both.

Today women are deeply imbedded into politics.  They hold positions of power in the medical field, the corporate world, high finance and industry.  They have proven to be equal to men, but still fight the battle of equal pay. I’m sure that day isn’t far off

In the process, families have become accustomed to both parents working.   The material things that were put on the back burner until they could be paid for are now staples in most homes.  The home fires still burn, but most of the management of that place is being carried out by hired workers.

In the meantime, women have become equal with men.  In my opinion, they always were in God’s eyes.  Woman was created to be a partner for man.  I’m sure there are statistics that prove that men are the hunter/gatherers and women, the caregivers, simply because of the way they are made up physically.  Women are sensitive, intuitive and have the ability to listen.  The tenderness of their hearts is something that continues to exist, even though they try to put on an armor of toughness.  Women cry.  Yes, so do men, but women seem to do it more often.

As women take on some of the roles of their counterparts, they’re expected to be tough,  put their emotions aside and act like a man.  However, even in a society that wishes to determine their own gender, men are men and women are women.  The differences were designed to compliment each other.

Women do have a softer side.  Our emotions are often worn on our sleeves.  Our compassion is evident in the way we work with others and live with them and should be considered a medal of honor.  It’s not an attack on your character to say you can cry if you need to.  There will be days when the pressure of work gets in the way of family – when the demands of travel take you from those you love – when the extra hours of work keep you from kissing your children goodnight.  It’s OK to feel bad about those things.

God made tears for a purpose.  They come out when we grieve, when we’re frustrated or angry and even when we’re happy. The silent tears you pour into your pillow each night do not go unnoticed.

There’s someone who understands those feelings.  Jesus wept.  He knows all about sorrow.  He understands our pain.  He is also our comforter.  He hears our prayers and dries our tears, but He allows us to  bring all our burdens to Him, so he can carry them for us.

 

 

 

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WISDOM

” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Proverbs 9:10

Dear, Lord,

You know all things.  Nothing is hidden from you. You are the only consistent in our lives.  I pray that you guide our leaders to proceed with dignity and fairness.  Two people have been dragged through the mud and may never recover from what’s happened over the past few weeks.  Please give the men and women in the position of passing judgment, the wisdom to do your will.  Help us all to accept what is happening and what will happen because of these events.  You are also with every one of us. You’ve judged each of us with fairness and abundance of grace, giving us a freedom we don’t deserve.  May your Word be upheld.  May your will be done, in Jesus name.  Amen!

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JESUS, LEAD ME

 

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

You never cease to hold me safely in Your hand,

When everything my body does so blatantly demand,

You guide my steps, You hold me tight,

You strengthen me with all your might,

You lift me from the deep, dark pit of ever sinking sand.

 

I realize I’m just one speck upon this ground.

There are so many other folks around.

But still You find the time for me,

You gave your life to set my spirit free,

Your mercy lives, new life will now abound.

 

Through trials dark and fretful You do lead,

You purposely provide my every need,

You walk beside me when I need your hand,

You carry when I can no longer stand,

Your blood was shed so I don’t have to bleed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LUKE 7 – HE CAME FOR ALL PEOPLE

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READ LUKE 7

The first few verses of this chapter deal with another of Jesus’ miraculous healings. It was done from a distance, because the one being healed had representation from his employer.  The centurion was apparently was a good man who cared about those who worked for him.  He’d heard about Jesus and His healings.  When the servant grew ill, the Centurion contacted important leaders of the church to approach Jesus on his behalf.  Since he was not a Jew and not circumcised, he felt unworthy to approach Jesus himself.

Jesus went with them to the house of the centurion and was met by the great military man before stepping through the door.  The soldier demonstrated his faith in Jesus before He ever said a word.  His faith was the key factor in his servant’s healing.

Soon after this Jesus traveled to  Nain.  At the gate, a funeral procession was taking place.  A young man, the only son of his widowed mother, lay upon the bier.  They were taking him to be buried.  Jesus knew the woman’s situation.  He knew she would be alone and virtually helpless without her son.  He had compassion on her and told her not to cry.  He touched the bier and the son sat up and began to speak.  Jesus had raised the young man from death.  Word of this miracle spread like wildfire.  Surely this must be the promised Messiah they’d waited so long for.

Messengers from John the Baptist came to Jesus with a question from John. “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”  To which Jesus replied, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers  are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus continues by giving John, the Baptist a wonderful testimony, stating that he was the one who made the way straight for the coming Savior.  His call to repentance would prepare the people for the Messiah – for Him.

The final section of this chapter is regarding the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet and anointed them with oil, mixed with her tears.  The Pharisees condemned the action, but Jesus  tells the parable of the money lender and how he dealt with two of his debtors. The point of the parable shows how much more gratitude the one with the greater debt would feel the joy of forgiveness.

The same is so true of us.  We are all sinners in God’s eyes.  Each sin carries the same weight.  The wages of sin is death, but by God’s grace and the beauty of His plan for salvation, we can rejoice in our forgiveness.

Let us go through the rest of this Advent season, with not only repentant hearts, but joy in the knowledge that our sins have been washed from our souls.  We are free from the bondage and chains of death, because Jesus took our place so we can inherit His kingdom after our final breath.

 

 

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BLUE CHRISTMAS

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It’s that time of year again.  For almost two months we put ourselves through so much unnecessary stress.  We fret over Thanksgiving dinner and preparing the feast.  We make travel arrangements to accommodate a true family get together.  We struggle financially.  We often create impossible goals of perfection only to be disappointed or worse yet alone.

We rush into Christmas with a fervor that slowly beats us into the ground. We overstretch the budget or max out the credit cards in order to buy the perfect gift.  We hit the stores before the turkey has had a chance to digest.  Holiday decorations are put up and lights exhibit the perfect Currier & Ives example of the best thing since sliced bread.  On the outside we see beauty, but what lies behind the walls of those exemplary displays can often be the beginning of a very difficult season.

For those of us who rejoice in the true depth of the Christmas message, it’s often hard to understand how anyone could possibly be depressed during this time of the year. However, even those who know God’s promise to man was fulfilled on that first Christmas, are prone to sadness, melancholy and downright depression.

The slightest thing can trigger a memory of a lost loved one.  Hanging a special ornament on the tree can remind of us something that happened on past Christmases.  Opening a Christmas card from a friend you’ve not heard from in years can set off memories or sadness in an instant.  You may have lost your job.  You may have lost a loved one.  You might be alone for the holidays.  Your health may be in question.  Still, we’re almost expected to be joyful, just because it’s that time of the year

Depression like happiness cannot be turned on or off like those lights on the tree.  Our emotions act in the moment and we never know when they will hit us the wrong way.  Just knowing that we’re not alone in these feelings sometimes is helpful, but depression is a very real thing and should never be discounted.

Some of my most memorable Christmases occurred during the worst of times.  When you think about it, the whole Christmas story was steeped in trial and difficulties.  The events leading up to the birth of Jesus were anything but joyful.  A young virgin was impregnated by God, engaged to be married to her future husband.  They were poor, even though Joseph was a tradesman.  The had to travel over rough terrain to reach the little town of their lineage, with enemies at every turn.  They could find no place to rest and Mary was about to give birth.  Talk about depression.  Yet, the angels announced the birth to shepherds.  The sky lit up brighter than any Christmas lights.  The Son of God was born in a shabby birthing barn for calves.  God’s promise was being fulfilled.

Telling someone to cheer up at this time of year really doesn’t cut it.  Think about it.  This is the most emotional time of the year, yet God chose to come and live among us as our brother and take away all our cares, to heal our iniquities and to bring us to an eternal home in heaven.

 

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JULIE’S FRIDAY FUNNY

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REPLENISHED

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ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
Root bound and parched, replenished only by the restorative power of water,
Each tendril pushing – burrowing into the coolness of life sustainment,
Lapping up the refreshing, renewing, thirst quenching provision of God,
Our dried up bones long for the refreshment that comes from the Spirit of God.
Only He can renew, restore and revive dead and thirsting souls,
Through His love we are nurtured, brought back to life and survive,
And even when our days on earth are ended,

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HALLMARK LOVE

img_8554.jpgI must admit, I sneak a peek at them now and then, but I don’t feel I’m hooked.  However in thinking about the singular theme that weaves through these predictable stories, there is a direct link to the fairy tales we grew up with.  The  plot is much the same.  A young woman faces a difficult relationship. She may be overburdened with a problem.  She might be abused, unappreciated, unloved, unsure of the future.  Whatever the case, there is a problem to overcome and it usually involves a prince charming coming out of nowhere and sweeping our poor heroine off her feet.  Like that ever happens in real life!

I think because of the nature of women, we need to dream of happy endings, partly because God created women to be nurturers, caretakers, tender and loving.  He knew women would have the strength to carry children.  He knew men could gain good counsel and encouragement from women.  We are not the weaker sex.  In my opinion, we’re an extension of man – created from him – part of him – a helper for him and someone to share our love with.

The beauty of the Christmas season is summed up in that word – LOVE.  Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to it.  The pageantry, the beauty, the lights and music, the special presents, the church services, are just window dressing compared to the truth of the season.  Our Hero, Jesus, was born like any other child, yet He was unlike any other child.  He was conceived by God, born of a virgin and came to earth to live with us as a brother.  He had no place to call home, but He is in command of the stars. He did the unthinkable, so we could be together forever.  It all sounds like a fairy tale in a way, but this is truth.

Jesus gave up His throne in heaven, to take our place.  He suffered for our sins.  He died for our transgressions.  He paid the ransom and guarantees us eternal life in paradise. Now that’s what I call a real happy ending.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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LUKE 5 – FOLLOW ME

Laborers   READ LUKE 5

Jesus was beginning to gather large crowds.  His message was one they’d been longing to hear for ages.  The promised Messiah was in their midst and they were eager to hear what He had to say.

It was the end of the work day for the fishermen of lake Gennesaret.  Jesus had been pressed by the crowds and saw a boat, which belonged to Simon and asked him to pull out from shore so He could speak to all the people. When He finished speaking, He requested that Simon take the boat out further and let down the fishing nets.

Simon had been fishing all day without success. He was tired, sweaty and parched by the sun, but he followed the Master’s instruction.  The nets became full to the point that some had broken through.   They had to call on others to help them bring in the abundance of fish.  This miracle frightened Simon, because he didn’t feel worthy to be blessed in such away, but his faith in the Master was what caused it to be.  Jesus assured  that this was just the beginning.  He said to all of them, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Thus the first disciples gave up everything and followed Jesus.

The group of vagabonds covered a lot of territory.  Jesus did many healings, including those with leprosy or diseases which had disabled them from birth.  The crowds continued to grow and even the leaders of the church were anxious to hear what this man had to say.  They became suspicious at the faith of the people and the words of the man.  How could this Jesus heal the body and mind? He also claimed to forgive sins.  This wasn’t acceptable.  No one can forgive sins except God.  It was probably then that the leaders began their plot to kill Jesus.

Levi, the tax collector, was the next disciple to be called.  Obviously tax collectors had a bad reputation in those times, because they often skimmed off the top and pocketed a great deal of those taxes.  A letter from the IRS, can cause us to go into panic mode. Imagine how these poor citizens felt being overtaxed by thieves.  Jesus’ mission was to bring the grace of God to all sinners – which means all of us.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of His expectations.  We are equal in His eyes.  It’s by God’s grace that we have forgiveness.

Each of the disciples had their own gifts and talents and Jesus knew exactly how they could serve the work of His Father.  We’re called to be disciples of Christ.  Are you ready to answer that call?

 

 

 

 

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RUGGED ROAD

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WOOD SCULPTURE  & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

A child just turned a woman, became the chosen one,

To hold the Son of God within – to be her firstborn Son.

She wasn’t someone special – a lowly servant girl –

But God had special plans for her and also for the world.

 

Through Mary’s contemplation of this high exalted state,

She knew that God would come to earth to wipe away all hate.

To bring to man forgiveness from his every single sin.

Fulfill His word of promise and make us clean within.

 

 

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OVER THE MEADOW & THROUGH THE WOODS

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“Over the meadow and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” These were words of excitement for us as we prepared to spend the Christmas holiday with our children’s grandparents. The words changed into tremendous challenge as we packed our little station wagon with suitcases, a playpen, dog kennel, dog, gifts, diapers, food and the five of us.

Almost every time at least one of the kids was sick and the others crabby. There was invariably a blizzard. In thinking back on those trips, I can’t help wondering what Mary and Joseph were thinking as they traveled across rough terrain, with a child about to born at any minute. The trip from Galilee to Bethlehem was about 80 miles, with some side-tracking to avoid the Samaritans, because they were their enemies.

They had no fancy chariot to get them there. They had no hotel room waiting for them. It took almost a week for the treacherous journey. They faced danger at every turn, but they knew they were part of God’s extraordinary plan for salvation.

My little inconveniences while raising a family were nothing compared with what this young couple went through. An unwed mother, impregnated by God, rejected by her friends and family and her betrothed husband, still reeling from the revelation from an angel – they plodded their way across a dismal landscape to register for the census in Bethlehem – the town of their lineage.

The thoughts that must have filled their minds. We can only imagine the faith these two displayed as they relied completely on the God of their fathers. All of this was done to fulfill God’s message to the prophets of old.

Dear, Jesus, as we celebrate your Advent, remind us that you are God in the flesh. You were born for the sole purpose of laying down your life for all sinners. Your birth was the beginning of the greatest love story ever told. Amen!

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IN THE WILDERNESS

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READ LUKE 4

All four Gospels share the good news of Jesus, Christ, the Messiah.  Jesus was flesh and blood, just like you and me, because he was born in the same way we were.  He was subject to pain, hunger, exhaustion, loneliness and temptation, but because He is also God, He was able to overcome those things.

In Luke 4, we see the Savior, after 40 days in the wilderness – His time of preparation for the beginning of His earthly ministry.  He was at a low point and Satan knew it.  This is the time when the devil strikes – when we’re weak, tired, emotionally and physically exhausted, hungry and in need of restoration.  The evil one knows all the right buttons to push and used them to tempt the Savior before He began His ministry.

With Jesus’ final answer, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test,’” the devil left him for the time being, but this was just the beginning.

I think it’s interesting that the Bible often references a time in the wilderness – usually 40 days and nights or 40 years.  A time of fasting is usually 40 days.  The Israelites walked in the wilderness for 40 years.  A wilderness can also be a time of waiting, testing, contemplation, renewal and decision making.  Jesus was about to begin the greatest ministry ever.

When he defeated the devil with His words, it was just the start of the battle between good and evil.  Jesus was ready to start His mission, so He returns to Galilee to spread good news to the poor, to teach in the synagogue and be praised for His skill and knowledge.  When he returns to the place He spent His childhood, it’s a different story.

He preaches with great authority.  The crowds are amazed, yet they remember Jesus as the little boy who helped His stepfather, Joseph, make chairs and tables for a living.  When Jesus revealed the fulfillment of the prophesy through Him, there were those who thought He was crazy and tried to throw Him off a cliff.  Jesus walked through the crowd and on His way.

Jesus pushes on to Capernaum and delivers a man possessed by an evil spirit.  He shows His God side by releasing the man from the clutches of the demon. Those in the crowd couldn’t believe what they saw. A simple man had the capacity to heal those afflicted by the devil himself.  They followed as he continued on to Simon’s home and healed his mother-in-law of a disabling fever .

By the time evening came, Jesus was exhausted.  The people continued to bring their sick and demon possessed.  Jesus healed many and drove out demons who verbally acknowledged that this was the Son of God.  By morning, Jesus retreated to a solitary place to get some much needed rest. The crowds continued to pursue Him, but he said,

“I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 

He continued to preach in Judea.  This account of the time after Jesus’ temptation is slightly different than the other Gospels.  Some may call them contradictions, but each one was written by a different author under the inspiration of God.  There will be differences, but none of them affect the basic truth of the Gospel.

” For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

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THE CHRISTMAS MOUSE

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POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER©

‘Twas right before Christmas and in our simple old house,
Not a creature was stirring except one small mouse,
He wasn’t too big, but the sight made me cringe,
A mouse in the house meant he’d surely infringe,

So off to the hardware store, money in hand,
We picked up a mouse trap, we thought it was grand,
Guaranteed to trap mice with no trace of the dead,
We hoped it would work then we went off to bed.

That night I heard nothing, just the sound of my breath,
It saddened my heart to put someone to death,
After all he had siblings, a mom and a dad,
And it was so close to Christmas, it made me feel sad.

There must’ve been mice in that stable of old,
They went there for refuge from danger and cold,
When they looked at the Christ child, a sight to behold,
A Savior had come as once had been foretold.

I smiled and I thought of that sweet little child,
And the animals watching so meek and so mild,
The trap is still empty, no sight of the mouse,
A timely reprieve for the guest in our house.

 

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AND THE WATERS CAME …

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL T. & KATHY BOECHER©

Tempestuous waters seeped up from within the earth
And gushed forth with astounding power,
The skies opened at the direction of God’s voice,
And poured upon a once rainless earth,
Cutting a path of destruction.
Severing trees,
Washing away the ugliness,
Only the faithful remained,
A family of eight survived,
Along with two of every species,
The rage of God could be tested no more,
But even in His anger,
He created beauty from destruction,
The sound of His voice carved canyons out of granite,
Waters laid to rest in lakes and rivers,
Mountains laid low as valleys rose up to meet them,
When the deluge subsided,
The Master Architect had once again.
Created a new world,
His work could not be destroyed,
His love endures forever,
Man’s disobedience continues to corrupt today,
How much more will God endure,
Did we learn nothing from our past?

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LUKE THREE – MAKE WAY FOR THE LORD

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READ LUKE THREE

Luke opens this chapter by telling us who was ruling at the time, where this was taking place and the prophesy that was being fulfilled through it all.  John, the Baptist was now 30 years old and had begun the work God had set for him to do.  He would be the forerunner of the Messiah – the one who led people to repentance and prepared them to be ready for Jesus and His message of salvation when He appeared on the scene.

Isaiah, the prophet of old had written about the event many of years before it occurred.

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
And all people will see God’s salvation.”

He wasn’t much to look at.  Imagine living in the wilderness, with only animal skins to wear and insects to eat.  Yet he spread the message of repentance for forgiveness of sins to those around Jordan and many came to hear and be baptized.  This simple washing became the cleansing of sins and the acceptance of the Holy Spirit into those being baptized.

John taught them about producing good fruit as a result of their gratitude for God’s forgiveness.  He told them to prepare immediately for the judgment of God, because the Messiah would be there soon.  He even told Herod to repent of his sins – including his marriage to his brother’s wife, along with other evil deeds.  Herod promptly placed John in prison.

Before his imprisonment, John converted many people and made them take a good look at themselves.  Until then they had forgotten the way of the Lord.  They were drifting away from their beliefs and had adopted other religions and philosophies, much like today.  The baptism was new to them, but a necessary gift whereby the Holy Spirit could enter their hearts and return them to the One True God.

Jesus is also baptized at this time.  John immediately recognizes Him as the One he’s been preaching about –  the one whose sandals he felt unworthy to tie. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, because He was sinless, but He insisted on it.  Eventually He would carry all the sins of the world to the cross.  When Jesus was doused in the water, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove.  A powerful voice from the heavens rang out for all to hear.

“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

This chapter then goes on to list the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam, the son of God.  Through this blood line, we see God’s covenant with man being fulfilled.  Jesus was about thirty when he began His public ministry.  He was also about to change the entire world.  May we be revitalized with John’s message of repentance during this time of preparation.

Lord, make our hearts ready to receive you as our Lord, King and Redeemer.  You alone can save us from the hold of the devil.  You’ve already conquered him.  Arm us with your Holy Word.  Help us bring others to your truth.  Make us ready for your second coming. Amen!

 

 

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THE MOUNTAINS DECLARE YOUR GLORY

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ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
Cutting through the depths of granite, crushing stone along the way,
Even though our God has planned it, it still takes our breath away,
Mountains high and surface rugged, deep crevasses cut within,
Rests the hand of One so tender, who destroys our every sin.

Waters surge and pour refreshment, cleansing all within its path,
Though we simply don’t deserve it, Jesus calms His Father’s wrath,
Takes us to the realms of glory, when our days on earth are done,
In the rock of our salvation, sin is dead, the victory won.

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LUKE TWO – UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN

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READ LUKE TWO

To those of us who have attended Sunday school classes – or  have read these words during a church service – we easily remember the account of the birth of Jesus.  The first twenty one verses are often the key part of the nativity of our Savior.

Luke sets the stage beautifully, along some commentary about what’s going on in the world at this time.  Caesar Augustus was emperor and sent out a decree to for a census to be taken.  The people were all to gather in the land of their ancestors and be counted.  We hear about the huge numbers of people in the little town of Bethlehem – the birthplace of Mary and Joseph’s relative, King David.  There was not a room for them, so they stayed in an animal stable – their only shelter from the elements – and the place where Jesus would be born.

The story continues out in the fields, where we find shepherds resting after a hard day of herding the sheep and finding lush pastures for them to munch on.  The sky always seems to be filled with the brilliance of the galaxy lighting it in a most glorious way. As they were nodding off, the angels appeared to them and told them that their Savior had been born.  Can you imagine the sight and sound?  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of angelic voices singing praises to God and lighting up the sky with a luster only God can create.

The angels told them a star would guide them to the place where would find baby in a manger, wrapped with snuggly strips of cloth to keep Him warm.  Just a tiny baby –born like every one of us, but completely free from sin.  Angels came to worship.  Lowly shepherds were personally invited to be a part of it.  So we know that Jesus came for all people. This tiny child was born to be our equal and to bear the sin of the world on His back.

Like the angels and shepherds, we sing for this glorious birth – Joy to the World, the Lord has come.

The next section deals with the time eight days later as Jesus is taken to the temple to be circumcised and  named.    Mary and Joseph took their son, at the time of purification to follow the law of Moses.  He was named Jesus. They offered a sacrifice of two pigeons as well to complete the obligation of the law.  Someday, Jesus would become the only sacrifice acceptable to God.

While at the temple, the priest, Simeon took the child in his arms and raised his voice in thanksgiving for being able to see the Messiah – to hold him tightly – to know that the law of God was fulfilled through this tiny baby. The prophetess, Anna, also held her Savior in her arms.  The words spoken that day, must’ve made a deep impression on Mary.  She would tuck them tightly into her heart so she could call on them when necessary.  There would be many of those times.

The next session talks about how Jesus was preaching in the temple as a young twelve year older and his parents left town, thinking Jesus was already in the caravan returning home.  When discovered missing they quickly returned to Jerusalem and found Him.  Often we lose track of Jesus too.  We walk away from Him, thinking we can go it alone, but soon discover how necessary He is in our lives.

The last verse gives us all the information about Jesus childhood that we need to hear.  Last year I did a series on the early life of Jesus – THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – there are nine installments for you to read if you wish.

 

 

 

 

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LUKE CHAPTER ONE

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The opening verses of the first chapter of Luke are a dedication of sorts to a prominent citizen of Antioch who was a contemporary of the author.  They were both men of wealth and education. Luke felt it necessary to write all the facts down regarding this Jesus who everyone was talking about.  It was important that the truth be told based on actual eyewitness events and from those who were there.  Luke was also God’s instrument for getting this information down in writing for future generations.

In verses 5-25 we read the story of the priest named Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth.  They were both faithful servants of the Lord, following all the commandments and requirements of the law.  They were in their golden years and had all but given up the thought of having a family of their own.  There was a stigma attached to being barren in those days, but they had two things going against them.  Not only could Elizabeth not have children, they were also too old.

When visited by the angel, Gabriel,  Zechariah was naturally shocked.  He was doing his priestly duties when this happened.  At first he didn’t believe and his unbelief cost him his voice until his future son arrived.  Zechariah was given specific directions on how the child should live and what he should be named.  The child would be named John and he had already been chosen by God to call the people to repentance and prepare the way for the Messiah – fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah chapter 40:3 “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

Zechariah came out of the temple without a voice and one of the greatest bits of news he’d had in his entire life.  He went home and managed to let his wife know what was about to happen and they both waited.

In the sixth month of her pregnancy, God sent His angel, Gabriel to Nazareth to visit Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary.  The words seemed impossible to Mary.  How could she have a child without ever being intimate with a man?  She soon learned that nothing is impossible with God.  She accepted what was about to happen with a completely child like faith and submission to her Creator.  During this time she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth and stayed with her for the next three months.  When Mary arrived and Elizabeth saw her coming, the child in her body leaped.  The perfect sign that this was something extraordinary.  Can you just imagine what they had to talk about?  None of this made any sense to either of them, yet they accepted it, because they knew it was from God.  So they waited.

On the eighth day after John’s birth, he was taken to the temple to be circumcised and named.  Everyone thought he would be named after his father as is customary, but Elizabeth said, “His name is John.”  Zechariah  wrote the name “John” on a writing tablet and his mouth was immediately opened.

There are two amazing prayers in this chapter of Luke.  Mary’s Magnificat, which honors God and humbles Mary.  It shows her complete faith in God’s plan for her life, even though she didn’t yet understand it.  Zechariah’s prayer at the end of the chapter shows the completion of God’s covenant with man – that a Messiah would come.  His own son would prepare the way for this mighty king and the promise would soon be fulfilled.

We wait again.  We pray for our Lord’s second coming.  He will return and when He does, every knee will bow.

 

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THE BOOK OF LUKE

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The season of Advent is upon us.  The word is derived from the Latin “adventus”,” which means ‘to come. ‘ Literally the word references the appearance or coming of someone important or of noble birth.  There are many traditions connected to Advent.  There may be mid-week services held to prepare the way for the Lord, with special choir music or pageantry.  The addition of Christmas decorations to the sanctuary and angels of gold might be added.  Some count down the days to Christmas by using an Advent calendar.  Recently I heard of another way to walk to Christmas with the reading of the book of Luke, which includes 24 chapters, just enough to get us to Christmas Eve.  So this is in my plan for a new Advent tradition beginning this year.  Starting tomorrow, I will begin with Chapter 1 of Luke.

Luke was a follower of Jesus, Christ, but he never actually met Him.  It was assumed that he was friends with Jesus’ mother, Mary.  The second chapter of Luke, deals with her story and is written from her perspective. He became acquainted with two of the most important evangelists for Christianity – Peter and Paul. He is considered one of the original church fathers and was the writer of the Gospel of Luke along with the book of Acts.  He was a Greek, born in the city of Antioch.  He was known to be a physician and a educated man.  His knowledge of history is apparent as he delved into the book of Acts.  Many hours, spent with the Apostle Paul were actual interviews with him.

Luke has the complete life of Christ written in his book.  Inspired by God, he penned the words that would show the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy and the truth of God’s perfect salvation for man.  Since I’m not a theologian I don’t claim to know much about the man – only what I’ve read about him.  The important thing about Luke, was his sealing of the facts of the virgin birth, the treacherous journey to Bethlehem, the difficult life of poverty, following the carpenter’s trade of his step father, the ministry of Jesus and His eventual walk to the cross.  The final chapter deals with the resurrection of Jesus and what that means to all of us.

Each day I’ll ask you to read a chapter from Luke.  Then I will discuss some of the highlights of each of them and ask for your thoughts too.  We are about to begin a wonderful adventure as we travel trough the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Christ.

 

 

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MORNING MOTIVATION

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ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©

The crisp mountain air fills blissful valleys with a haunting haze,
Just enough to mute the colors ever so slightly,
Beyond the fog, lies a green pasture where the rest of the day will be spent,
Taking in nourishment, basking in the sun, delighting in God’s garden,
Savoring the beauty,
Enjoying the warmth,
Indulging in some quiet time,
Before the night again enfolds where danger hides in every corner,
Where fears may over take,
Where time stands still,
And God steps in again,
Comforting,
Protecting,
Enfolding,
Ever watchful.
Rest in His loving arms.

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BARREN WASTELAND

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Barreness means without life or unproductive. In this Advent Season, let’s focus NOT on the things that fill time, take our energy, destroy our joy, but rather on the fulfillment of God’s promises to us. Don’t let the busyness of this Season take away from the glorious peace that comes with the birth of our Savior and turn it into a barren wasteland of materialism.

Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas. When we put our eyes back on that information, there’s a calmness about it. We don’t have to feel the stress of getting things done. Depression doesn’t have to creep into our thoughts. Our minds can wrap around the Savior as tightly as the swaddling clothes Mary dressed Him in.

Christmas and the season preceding it have become a time of preparation, but we often forget what we’re preparing for. Is it the huge dinner we’ll serve – the festive parties – the cookies to be baked – the gifts to buy – the amount of money we spend? Or is it the gift from God in the form of a little baby that makes our hearts glad?

The barrenness of life is not limited to the womb.
We all face empty moments that our souls slowly consume.
We hide from time – we cloak our heads – In closets safe we stay.
We cannot face the guilt or dread. We often run away.
The truth is we can’t hide from God. He sees our every move.
He watches us and let’s us fall – His faithfulness to prove.

He’ll never let us walk alone or ever leave our side.
He loves despite our frailties. He always will abide.
So when you’re feeling empty – like life has passed you by.
Just ask Him to be with you. He answers every cry.
He does it in His timing. He knows just what to do.
His love is everlasting. It’s there for me and you.
Kathy Boecher©

 

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