My Father’s House

King Solomon’s temple with large basin call Brazen Sea and bronze altar on white background. 3D illustration

Solomon’s temple is in Jerusalem and is built with a similar pattern to the tabernacle, a mobile temple. It has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The Babylonians destroyed it in 587 BC and the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD. Along with the temple, Jerusalem and the Jewish culture were destroyed. Can you imagine what the people felt in their hearts when they were carried into captivity?

Solomon’s Temple is where Jesus taught in Jerusalem. His purpose in coming down from Heaven and living on earth was so people would believe, that they might experience love and forgiveness, peace and joy. Before Jesus suffered and died, He came to Jerusalem. “When he entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer.’ but you have made it a den of robbers” (Luke 19:45-46). In Jesus’ time some of the people called this the temple. Most people called it the House. Jesus called it “My Father’s House.”

“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6.

“Why were you searching for me:” Jesus asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2).

When you think of the Father’s House, think big; think lots of rooms, think more of a complex than a single building. There is room for everybody! When it says in Psalm 23, “and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,” it means a place with God, beyond buildings, a place in the heart of God. It’s a place you want to be–away from anxiety and fear, hatred and malice; a place of hope and love and blessing. It starts now. Life with God means you can live without fear of the future because He is with you. He promised He would never leave you but always be with you.

During the days I taught Sunday school to children, one of my favorite songs was “Big House.” Listen to the lyrics here:

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for opening our eyes to all you have for us, even for today. Help us to live our lives with eternity in mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

From Stone to Flesh

Buildings of Bethlehem city with flags and ads on walls, cloudy sky in background

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Following the death of her husband, Ruth chose to return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. You and I could make the journey from Moab to Bethlehem in less than an hour, but it was quite a hike over mountain roads and rocky ground for Ruth and Naomi. They passed by the shepherd’s fields, which are covered by city buildings today. The fields are where Ruth later worked with harvesters. Being the sole support of herself and Naomi, she was allowed to glean the sides of the harvest fields.

Ruth and Naomi also passed through Beit Sahour, which in Hebrew means House of Stone, before they entered Bethlehem, which means House of Bread. What’s in a name? From these two cities it is understanding. Ruth, a Moabite, learned about the God of the Jews, His mercy and compassion, from Naomi. As Christians we may think we are not evangelists or Bible teachers. Naomi wasn’t either. She lived her life faithfully in front of Ruth and that is what changed Ruth’s heart from stone to flesh. She grew more aware of God’s great love and mercy through the way Naomi lived. This is the life she chose for herself.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, where sacrificial lambs were raised in the shepherd’s fields for the Passover sacrifices held every year in nearby Jerusalem. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:48), and “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). Although this sounded cannibalistic to the people of His time, He meant it spiritually. He is bread for life when we feed on His life-saving word. He sacrificed His own flesh and blood on the cross for our forgiveness and eternal life.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for Jesus, the Lamb of God and Bread that came down from Heaven so we could live eternally with you. Help us to live as Naomi in the light of your grace and mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Village of Comfort

Lake Balboa, Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

I am blessed to live with my husband Dennis and pet dog Maggie in what I call Paradise. It’s on Lake Balboa in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. The spectacular views from every home are of a lake, a golf course or the forest. We have fabulous sunsets, gorgeous azaleas and crepe myrtle trees, a full palette of colorful flowers and shrubs and twenty churches of which to choose from. We can fish or golf or hike over 200 miles of wooded trails. We enjoy watching birds and dining with wonderful friends. It truly is a village of comfort.

Synagogue in Jesus Town of Capernaum, Israel

Israel also has a village of comfort. It’s Capernaum, Jesus’ hometown. The Hebrew root of Capernaum means “village of His comfort” or “shelter of His mercy.” Jesus healed the sick, accepted the rejected, forgave sin and brought about repentance wherever He ministered, but especially in Capernaum.

“It is in repentance, in turning to God, that you will find comfort, and mercy, and healing, and miracles” (Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn, Day 96). Although we find comfort in a paradise lifestyle, our real comfort is in knowing our sins are forgiven, living in the shelter of God’s mercy.

Prayer: God of our comfort, our peace, strength and hope, thank you for your great mercy and love. Send out your Spirit today that readers of this blog might experience your amazing love and know your presence in their lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Mystery of the Eighth Day

NETIVOT – OCTOBER 02: Israeli Jewish father and his son decorates their Sukkah on the eve of the Jewish holiday Sukkoth on October 02, 2009 in Netivot, Israel.

The Jewish people have several feasts during the year. They used to gather in Jerusalem for these celebrations, but today many celebrate where they live. The Feast of Tabernacles is the feast at harvest time, kind of like Thanksgiving in America. Originally the Jews would bring they family dwelling, makes me think of today’s camping, and stay in Jerusalem a week. The picture to the right is what many Jews do in their back yards durning the Feast of Tabernacles.

“Beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the Lord for seven days; the first day is a day of sabbath rest, and the eighth day also is a day of sabbath rest” (Leviticus 23:39).

How do we get an eighth day out of seven days? “It is the moment when the finite yields to the infinite,” Book of Mysteries, Day 89, by Jonathan Cahn. Ages go beyond time into eternity. The good news is we don’t have to wait till the end of time. We can live in the eighth day even now by living beyond our circumstances in the power of God.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for the mysteries in your word, and for your people who unlock the mysteries for us. Help us to live beyond our circumstances–to remember when we get to the end of ourselves, it is your opportunity to demonstrate your strength in our lives. Thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Mobile Mountaintop

Model of Tabernacle, tent of meeting in Timna Park, Negev desert

A high point in Israel’s history is Mount Sinai. Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to this mountaintop to experience the glory and the presence of the Lord. He took an offering from the people, and God gave specific instructions on how to make a mobile sanctuary, a tabernacle where He would meet with His people (Exodus 25). God wanted His people to always feel as close to Him as they did at Mt. Sinai, their mountain experience.

Strong men carried the Tabernacle from place to place and set it up for God’s dwelling place all the forty years the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness. He was with them as they traveled–a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. He never left them or forgot about them. He was with them in the very difficult times and the wonderful times. He provided for them and protected them.

When the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, they built the temple, which followed the basic plan of the tabernacle–the outer courtyard (Altar of Sacrifice, the Bronze Laver that held water for cleansing), The Holy Place (Golden Lampstand, the Table of the Bread of Presence, and the Altar of Incense), and the Most Holy Place that held the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus was the fulfillment of everything in the Tabernacle–The sacrifice, the cleansing, the bread of life, the light of the world, our intercessor whose prayers went up the Father as a sweet aroma and the law.

At Jesus’ crucifixion, the curtain in the temple that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was torn in two, top to bottom. It broke down the barrier between God and His people.They no longer had to go through a priest for the forgiveness of their sins. They had direct access to God through prayer and a relationship with Him.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). When we believe that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for our forgiveness and eternal life, we have immediate access to God. He never sleeps or slumbers. We can call on Him in the darkest of nights or in the bright light of day. He chose forty men over a period of six hundred years to write His word for us. The Bible is about people like you and me who find their strength in Him. We go from strength to strength in our journey toward God (Psalm 84).

Prayer: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2). O Lord most high, maker of the universe, you could dwell anywhere, but you choose to dwell in the hearts of your people. O thank you, Lord. Be in us today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE HISTORY BEHIND “THE OLD RUGGED CROSS”!

Happy Easter! We went back to church, the first time in a year. It was wonderful. I checked out a blog I follow when I got home and thought you would appreciate the song and its story. Be sure to listen to Guy Penrod sing “The Old Rugged Cross.” It doesn’t get any better!

The year was 1912 and George Bennard, an evangelist traveling throughout the Midwest, was heckled incessantly by several youth at a revival meeting in Michigan.

A Vision, a Melody and the Completion of the First Verse

Troubled by their disregard for the gospel, Bennard turned to Scripture to reflect on the work of Christ on the cross. He later recalled, “I seemed to have a vision … . I saw the Christ and the cross inseparable.”

The melody came easily, and the first verse was completed by Bennard during a series of meetings in Albion, Michigan.

Several months later, the remaining three verses were completed in Pokagon, Michigan, where Bennard was leading meetings at a local church.

The First Performance of the Hymn

After completing the hymn, he performed the song in its entirety for the sponsoring pastor and his wife, Rev. Leroy and Ruby Bostwick, in the living room…

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The Agony and the Ecstasy

Reposted for Holy Week 2021

A Closer Walk with God

The Garden of Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane is at the base of the Mount of Olives. Gethsemane means “pressing of olives.” Olive trees have grown there for thousands of years. However, when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they burned down the olive trees. The trees in the garden today are thousands of years old, but they probably grew from the roots of the trees that were burned.

Olives provide food for nourishment, fuel for light and oil for healing. Think of the parallels these have to the life of Jesus. He said, “I am the Bread of life” (John 6:35) and “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12). Jesus also healed the sick, made the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk. He cleansed the lepers and raised the dead. He is still in the business of healing our…

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Dead Sea Sunrise

Dead Sea Sunrise from Hotel Room

The morning we awoke in a Dead Sea hotel, this sunrise was God’s “Good Morning.” I imagined Sodom on the opposite shore. It’s where Lot, a rich man and Abraham’s nephew, lived. However, the people in Sodom and Gomorra were very wicked. God said He would destroy these cities because of their evil. He told Lot and his family, the only righteous residents, to get out of town and not to look back (Genesis 19).

Although I grew up the daughter of an Air Force service man, and moved around a lot as a girl, I once lived in a house more than twenty years. Memories of children and grandchildren; Easters and Christmases and graduations are still there. When it came time to leave, tears flooded my soul. I left in a truck pulling a trailer and I didn’t look back. I’ve often thought of Lot’s wife. I had time to plan and pack and move. Lot and his family had to get out of town without preparation or be destroyed with Sodom. I imagine they heard the sulfur blast and the powerful fire. I’ve thought Lot’s wife is not different from me. She looked back and became a pillar of salt. I sympathize with her and think I might have been tempted to look back too; back to the only life I knew, life by the beautiful sea.

The salty coast of the dead sea lit by the evening sun

The Dead Sea is 30% salt. Even though fresh water flows into the sea from the Jordan River, it has no outflow. Today the Dead Sea produces minerals for healthcare products as well as potash.

The Dead Sea is beautiful to see and quite amazing to float in. Bible history surrounds the lake; Moab on the East and Israel on the West. Jesus and John the Baptist walked there. King Herod’s Masada fortress overlooks the Dead Sea, as do the springs and waterfalls of En Gedi on the western shore. Places along the sea coast have salt formations, even short pillars–not what I would expect to see of Lot’s wife.

I’m not sure why the Bible did not name this woman. She is only known as Lot’s wife, but she is a teacher by her example, what it is like to dwell on our pasts. God says when we believe in Him, we are new creations. “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).

Prayer: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10). Make me pliable in your hand and empower me to live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Snares of Death

Traces of Roman Camps Below Masada

Traces of Roman camps dot the desert floor surrounding the northern side of the fortress of Masada. The mountain fortress was once a refuge for David when he ran for his life from King Saul. His fear drove him into the presence of God so much that even when Saul took relief in one of the caves where David camped, he spared the king’s life. Hundreds of years later the fortress was inhabited by Herod the Great. It was one of several of Herod’s fortresses so that when one was threatened by enemy attack, he would flee to another.

The last Jews to live at Masada were the Sicarii. Roman encampments surrounded them and the army built a siege ramp up the mountain in broad daylight. How could these people sleep at night? When I think we live in hard times, I have to think again about these Jews. Did they sleep holding firmly to Psalm 23? “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Maybe they considered Psalm 116:3. “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. Then I called on the name of the Lord: ‘O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul.'” Even though the Sicarii had God’s precious Scripture to hold on to, they chose suicide rather than death or slavery by the Romans.

We live in difficult times, times when we don’t see a way out of our trouble. I have found that these times are God’s opportunity. “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Whatever it is you are going through, hang on to the hope we have in Christ Jesus. He loves you more than you know. Suicide is not the answer. It makes God out to be a liar–that He didn’t love you enough to save you and always be with you, no matter what. Look for His amazing love in His word and let it encourage you.

Joshua encouraged the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land. “Be strong and very courageous,” (Joshua 1:7). Peter encouraged the early church. “The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Paul said, “Put on the full armor of God that you will be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). Moses said, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Jeremiah said, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Call on our Lord. He will hear your cries. He never sleeps nor slumbers and is available in the dark of night or the light of day. God bless you, my friend.

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for your word. It gives us courage and faith especially in difficult times. Help us to put on the full armor of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Wilderness Refuge

Judean Wilderness

The Jews were oppressed by the Romans during the time Jesus was on earth. Where could people go to escape the chaos in the cities? John the Baptist and Jesus went to the Judean Wilderness. An old monastery hangs on the side of a mountain cliff. The Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found is in this wilderness. As strange as it may seem, others escaped to this wilderness to experience some peace and quiet. Jesus said, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you and more than a prophet” (Matthew 11:7-9). He spoke of John the Baptist who wore camel’s hair and a leather belt. I imagine him with unruly hair and beard, loud and outspoken. Yet, he preached the truth about repentance and salvation. People went out of town to see him and were baptized in the Jordan River. After John baptized Jesus, He went into this wilderness for forty days and forty nights. Even though He escaped the raucous in town, He did not escape Satan who took opportunity to tempt Him. Thanks be to God, Jesus overcame temptation with Scripture. We can too! This is why we need to read it regularly, because we do not know when the tempter will come. God’s words must be written on our hearts to avert the devil’s craftiness–his lies and deception.

Where do you go to get away from trouble? I am blessed to have a sun room where I go to talk with my Lord–read His word and spend time with Him in prayer. He knows every concern before I tell Him. He is faithful to show up in every crisis. I speak His words and have peace. What about you? Where do you meet with God? If you don’t have a refuge like mine, I suggest you make one–a comfortable chair, a table, a Bible and devotional books. I also take my iPhone with me so I can access praise music on YouTube. Set aside a specific time every day. Your little refuge will be a place of worship.

Prayer: O Lord, thank you for your presence in our lives. Thank you for your word. Send your Spirit on us to help us retain your word for such times as we might need it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.