Tag Archives: Revelation

Esther 1-3; Psalm 139; Revelation 1

Hegai was very impressed with Esther and treated her kindly. He quickly ordered a special menu for her and provided her with beauty treatments. He also assigned her seven maids specially chosen from the king’s palace, and he moved her and her maids into the best place in the harem…

Before each young woman was taken to the king’s bed, she was given the prescribed twelve months of beauty treatments—six months with oil of myrrh, followed by six months with special perfumes and ointments. When it was time for her to go to the king’s palace, she was given her choice of whatever clothing or jewelry she wanted to take from the harem. Esther 2:9; 12-13

One of my spiritual moms has a ministry of anointing oils, and for many years held a perspective-changing conference called the Esther Experience. It was a chance for me to participate in the preparation of the bride, a chance to experience the twelve months of beautification over the course of a weekend, a chance to open my heart to God and seek greater understanding of what He has for me as His child.

O  lord, you have examined my heart

and know everything about me. Psalm 139:1

It is easy for me to think that I am the one who knows myself best. And, while that may be true in regards to how other people know me, I have learned that no one knows me better than my creator. He even is more intimately acquainted with the innermost workings of my heart, my mind, my soul than I am.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!

Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,

as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. Psalm 139:13-15

His understanding of me doesn’t just end with the miracles of how the human body works. His knowledge encompasses my personality, my quirks, my thoughts, my hurts, my failings…and when I daily offer myself to Him, lay myself at His feet, and trust His hands to mold me, I am cleansed, I am healed, I am offered life again.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Point out anything in me that offends you,

and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

Yesappa, Thank You for knowing me. And thank you for walking with me through this life journey, for healing me, comforting me, and encouraging me. Help me draw more and more near to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Esther, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Revelation

Zechariah 4, 6; Revelation 18

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts…Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. Zechariah 4:6, 8-10

I just finished reading a book called “Return to Me” by Lynn Austin. It is a historical novel based on the life of Zechariah during the years that God called His people back to Jerusalem, after having been exiled for 70 years in Babylon, and commanded them to rebuild His temple. After many years of disobedience, rooted in the fear of man, the people opened their eyes to God’s glory and were reminded once more that when God puts something in motion, nothing will stop it from happening.

I love reading the Bible, and yet sometimes, especially when I am reading from the Old Testament, I have a difficult time connecting to the story. Today seems so distant from the happenings that are shared about in the Word, and when I have so much going on in my present life, the past doesn’t always seem relevant to what I need right now. But the truth is that the past can teach me so much; the lessons that the men and women of the Bible learned are the same things that I need to understand for my own life.

Books that are Biblically and historically based, though of course mostly fictional (because no one alive today truly has a firsthand account of the actual moment by moment events), help me put a face on the impersonal stories that I have read over and over. They help me connect to the ‘person’ of the story and help me understand even better that they weren’t people who should be placed on a proverbial pedestal, people who never had problems, never had struggles or crises of faith. They were just like me.

One of my favorite parts of ‘Return to Me’ is when Zechariah is coming into his gifting as a prophet to the people of Jerusalem. God gives him the Word “Not by might, nor by power – but by My Spirit.” This is something that I have often needed to remember, especially in the midst of trials, when I start believing that I am all alone in my battles.

Everything that I do, everything that I accomplish, is because of God’s Spirit within me. When I do anything in my own strength and by my own power, it amounts to nothing. But when I fully rely on God to help me achieve what I know He has called me to do, trusting Him to complete a good work in me, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are I will always be successful. I don’t need to fear anything, I just need to depend on God and believe in His Truth.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your Spirit within me, always giving me strength and always giving me power. Thank You for never leaving me alone. And, thank You for bringing Your Word in my life to pass. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Return to me book image

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Micah 4, 5; Revelation 11

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,

who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,

from you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel,

whose coming forth is from of old,

from ancient days.

Therefore he shall give them up until the time

when she who is in labor has given birth;

then the rest of his brothers shall return

to the people of Israel.

And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,

in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.

And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great

to the ends of the earth.

And he shall be their peace…Micah 5:2-5a

In a few short days, people all over the world will be celebrating Christmas. Everyone will be celebrating with their own traditions, unique to their families and unique to their cultures. Some will be making merry with the secular folklore of Santa Clause and his reindeer. And some will choose to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.

From the beginning, the coming of Christ was foretold. Throughout the generations the people of Israel anticipated the coming of the Messiah, hoped for the time to come when they would be liberated from the never ending line of oppressors.

Much of Israel imagined that their Messiah would come as a king and slay the enemy in a violent way to make room for his kingdom. Some people would come to realize that He came in a much different way –as a baby who would grow up as the rest of us do and redeem us in a much different way.

Micah was a prophet who spoke to the future of Jesus – the King who would stand up for His people, becoming like a shepherd to lead them to greener pastures, a bringer of peace. Micah’s prophesies gave the people the opportunity to glimpse into Jesus’ life hundreds of years before He was born, before He walked the earth.

God used Micah to encourage His people and give them hope about their coming King. He increased the eagerness of the people for their salvation and gave them something so important for them to look toward.

I think about the anticipation that I experienced over the past 9 months, from the time that I first heard the news that I was pregnant. It was amazing to have the opportunity to carry a child, knowing that he is full of potential and has an exciting destiny, a hope and a future. It was incredible to peek into the depths of my body to see the ultra sound of my little boy, to see his face with 3D imagery, a hint at what he would look like and who he may resemble. And, it was thrilling to finally meet him face to face and begin the process of getting to know who God made him to be.

Though Christ was born over 2000 years ago, I still experience a similar expectation when I read the prophecies about Him. I know that many of them have been fulfilled in His first coming and I look forward to the rest of them being fulfilled in His second coming. I am excited to get to know Him more, to see His face in the midst of my life. And I am glad to be able to experience His peace and know that I can find strength and security in Him.

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Joel 1, 2, 3; Revelation 4

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

 

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:8b, 11

There have been moments in my life when I believe that God has given me tiny glimpses of heaven. I haven’t had a near death, out-of-body experience, but I’ve walked away from those moments knowing that I had the chance to peek at what forever will be like.

Each one of those moments has been full of praise; they were times of worship and honor to my King. Some of the circumstances surrounding those flashes of heaven were full of joy and some full of grief, but they were moments when heaven met earth.

One of the first moments I experienced this was the night after my brother died. Some friends and I were worshipping the Lord, blessing Him in the bad as we do in the good. As we were lifting His name on high, a huge hail storm came out of nowhere and beat a torrent of ice balls on the corrugated roof. The sound was deafening, and it spoke to me of God’s glory and goodness.

Another time recently, singing corporately in church, praising His name together. I don’t even remember the song we were singing any more, but I could hear the angels singing with us. I was reminded that together we will sing God’s praises in the heavens for all eternity.

And this past week, as I have been reveling in the birth of my son and still experiencing the surreal truth that I am now a mother of three. I am grateful for an uneventful delivery and a peaceful newborn; and I am grateful for the help I have been receiving with my girls and with meals. I feel God’s presence giving me peace and rest and I praise Him for always being there for me and my family.

The Lord truly is holy and worthy of all praise, and to receive glory, honor, and power, forever and ever! And, together, on earth and in heaven, we who love Him praise His name always! Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Judah Benaiah David Richard

“My God be praised for our beloved son whom you created”

Born December 5, 2014  (9 lbs, 4 oz; 21.75 inches)

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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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2 Chronicles 36; Revelation 22; Malachi 4; John 21

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears this say, “Come!” Let whoever is thirsty come; whoever wishes may have the water of life as a free gift. Revelation 22:17 (NCV)

Jesus said to them, “Come and eat”…Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, along with the fish. John 21:12-13 (NCV)

The end of the year is a perfect time to remember my past, not in such a way that bogs me down and makes me depressed over my failings, but in a way that lifts me up and gives testimony to God’s goodness in my life. It is a time to reflect on His timely provision, His faithfulness, and His constant beckoning.

This year has been a difficult one for me. Spending the first half of the year in the U.S. as a single mom to my two daughters while my husband ministered in India and then spending the second half of the year re-adjusting to life in a third world country has made for a lot of stress and struggle. I have dwelled much of the year in a desert place – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – hungry and thirsty for more connection, especially with Jesus.

“But for you who honor me, goodness will shine on you like the sun, with healing in its rays…” Malachi 4:2 (NCV)

As I look back, I am reminded of the oases that God offered me throughout the year, havens that allowed me to be refreshed, to heal, to be encouraged, to taste and see that He is good:

  • My family’s support. Though my parent’s house became overrun with baby paraphernalia and toddler’s toys, Nick Jr. and Sprout cornered the TV airways, and temper tantrums and time outs were a moment by moment occurrence, they welcomed us with open arms. They helped me love my kids on purpose and made it possible for me to care for myself as I transitioned into a mom of two.
  • My friends’ encouragement. I was re-united with women I’ve known for years and I experienced divine encounters with new friends. Bonding over coffee, playdates, and MOPS meetings gave me time for adult conversation and helped me remember that I am not alone in my journey as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother.
  • My church body’s acceptance. I am blessed to call many places of worship ‘home’; communities where I am readily received whether I’ve been there every week or only visit once in a blue moon. The people are caring, the corporate prayer and worship is a breath of fresh air, the pastors’ messages fill my spirit, and the nursery workers are God-sent, allowing me precious moments to spend time with God without worrying about my children.
  • My husband’s and in-laws’ provision. I grappled with the thought of returning to India because our living arrangements in the past had been less than ideal (150+/- square feet of living space without a place for a kitchen and without running water). When my daughters and I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by an apartment on the second floor of my in-laws house which tripled our living space and provided a kitchen, a bathroom on the same level, and running water.
  • My daughters’ unconditional love. No matter how unruly and high-spirited my girls are, no matter how many times they do things that infuriate me and break my heart, there is nothing in the world quiet like the sweet, and sometimes sticky, hugs and kisses from my children. Their expressions of love melt my heart and strengthen my revelation of love with the Father.

The end of the year is also an opportunity to think about my hopes for the coming months. It is a time to make future plans, to make choices about what paths my journey will take. It is a time to listen to what the Lord is saying about His will for my life.

The Lord has been whispering the word ‘COME’ to me recently. “Come near to Me. Be connected to Me. Position yourself in My arms. Let Me be your priority. Let Me give you what you need, the desires of your heart. Let Me give you joy. Let Me show you the truth about who I made you to be. Let Me be your fulfillment. Let Me feed you and give you drink. Let Me give you peace, freedom. Rest in Me.”

The follower whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say this, he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water. John 21:7 (NCV)

When I hear these words spoken to me, I want to dive into His Glory. I want to drink His living water, His new wine until my thirst is abated. I want to be renewed by the rivers, baptized in His restorative blood once again. I want to run toward my Creator, my Savior. I want to embrace Him and never let go. I want to abide in His oasis and be filled by His daily bread. I want to draw close to His heart and rest forever in His presence. And, I am grateful that I am His daughter, His beloved.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May it be your best year yet, full of abundance and blessings!

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Malachi, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation

2 Chronicles 32; Revelation 18; Zechariah 14; John 17

Living in the West, it’s easy to take Jesus for granted. Our calendar, names of the cities and states, basic freedoms and rights, the institutions I rely on (hospitals, medical care, etc.) all have their roots in the life of Jesus Christ and those who followed him. History was forever changed when he came to earth. His existence stares me in the face everyday,  yet I can so easily miss his presence.

I think that’s why I like Christmas so much. It’s the time of year (regardless of whether or not people call Jesus “Lord”) when we more or less recognize his coming to earth. I remember as a child, gazing into the tiny private world of the family creche. There was  Mary and Joseph peering over the vulnerable form of Jesus in the manger. The lamb and calf, the rough looking shepherds, the three wise men. The tall angel in the background and at the top of the creche, the bright star. It was the tiny drama surrounded by the busyness of our home.  As a child, the mystery of the creche called out to my imagination. I would gaze at it for what seemed like hours and wonder what it all meant.

John’s record of Jesus’s prayer in chapter 17 works up the same kind of wonder in my mind today. What if Jesus’s words are really true? What if I really belong to God?  What if the glory of Jesus really is worked out in my life? What if the Holy Spirit really lives within me? What if this word that I read does sanctify me? What if?

The truth is that those all those “what ifs” really are “what is’s.” More than often, I am just too busy to stop and let my imagination soak in the reality of truth that is alive and well.  What does this miracle of Emanuel, God-with-us mean to the moment by moment, day to day workings of this life? Christmas is the invitation to pull up the chair, gaze into the creche and with childlike faith, wonder at the truth God wants to work  in our human lives.

Kathy

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2 Chronicles 29; Revelation 15; Zechariah 11; John 14

I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire. All of those who had won the victory over the beast and his idol and over the number of his name were standing by the sea of glass. They had harps that God had given them. They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb:

“You do great and wonderful things,

Lord God Almighty.

Everything the Lord does is right and true,

King of the nations.

Everyone will respect you, Lord,

and will honor you.

Only you are holy.

All the nations will come

and worship you,

because the right things you have done

are now made known.” Revelation 15:2-4 (NCV)

I’ve got to admit. I’ve been having a difficult time ‘getting into’ the Christmas season this year. It is tough to be listening to holiday songs that are singing about the snow and the cold when it is in the low- to-mid 90’s during the day. It is tough to be decorating a tiny, fake tree with tacky plastic ornaments when sweat is rolling down my back from the heat. It is tough knowing that my extended family and my friends will all be gathering together while I am feeling lonely on the opposite side of the planet missing everyone, missing the holiday rituals I grew up with. It is tough knowing that tomorrow, instead of spending time with our little family of four celebrating, we will be spending the day at church ministering to the widows and orphans.

Oh.My.Gosh! Even as I write this I am feeling selfish and shallow. I know that songs I sing in the season, trees that I decorate, and family and friends gathering together isn’t remotely what Christmas is really about. I need an attitude check…Right! Now!

I adjusted my Pandora station and changed the holiday music I was playing to carols that honor Christ – O Come, O Come Emanuel, The First Noel, Joy to the World, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Angels We Have Heard on High, Away In A Manger, Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus, O Holy Night (my all-time favorite), etc. I spent the first half hour with tears in my eyes, singing lyrics celebrating Jesus, remembering the true reason for the season.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me…Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.” John 14:1, 6, & 21 (NCV)

I celebrate Christmas because it is the day all believers celebrate His birth. I celebrate Christmas to recollect His life, His miracles while on Earth. But most of all, I celebrate Christmas to remember the gift He gave to me. The real gift was, and is, and will always be His death and resurrection, His sacrifice, His grace, His mercy, His love. It is a gift that I don’t deserve at all, but it is a gift that He gave to me willingly and without reservation. All He asks is for me to trust and obey.

Hezekiah said, “Listen to me, Levites. Make yourselves ready for the Lord’s service, and make holy the Temple of the Lord, the God of your ancestors. Remove from the Temple everything that makes it impure…My sons, don’t waste any more time. The Lord chose you to stand before him, to serve him, to be his servants, and to burn incense to him.” 2 Chronicles 29:5; 11 (NCV)

And so, I choose to offer myself as a living sacrifice, good and pleasing to the Lord, because He chose me for this work. I will make myself, my heart ready for His purposes. I will honor Him by honoring others. I will serve Him, by serving the widows and the orphans. I will minister God’s never-ending love to them in the spirit of giving freely, as I have freely been given. I will lay down the Christmas customs of my childhood and alongside my husband and my daughters, create new traditions that will teach my children the real meaning of Christmas and strengthen our faith in the Joy of Our Salvation.

Yesappa, Thank You for coming to set me free from my fears and release me from my sins. Thank You for giving me rest and bringing joy to my longing heart. Thank You for coming to earth to taste my sadness and to give me gladness. Thank You for being my Redeemer, my Shepherd, my Friend. You were born to deliver me. You were born a child, and yet a King. You were born to reign in me forever, to rule in my heart alone.* Thank You for showing Yourself in the midst of my bad attitude and helping make change in me. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*Based on the lyrics of “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation, Zechariah