A New Creature in the Lord: The Molting Process

 

21 When you heard about Christ and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4: 21-24)

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Flower petals wither and die as new blossoms bud;

Tree branches are pruned to create new growth;

Arthropods shed exoskeletons for development.

The process of nature, as created by God,

Evidences the need to change, to shed, to die

So the life within can break free and grow anew.

Departing from the old former ways, the past, the familiar, the comfortable is never easy. Change involves the unfamiliar, an uncertainty, the unknown, an anxiety. The shells we have created for the housing of our lives seem like safe refuge, but they do not allow us to grow and mature.

Something must be shed, discarded, removed, or pruned for the beginnings of new life to sprout. To live beyond this human existence, we must cast off the old self of sin to no longer be enslaved in the exoskeleton of this life and begin as new creatures in Christ.

For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. (Romans 6:6-8)

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22-23)

Shedding the exoskeleton of this life, our old shell, leaves us exposed and vulnerable as new babes in Christ. It is a time to find refuge in the safety and security of Christ, to gain strength and wisdom in the knowledge of the Word, and to seek fellowship with those who are more mature in the faith. The molting process of becoming the person God wants us to be is a time of growth, painful but joyous, as we see the change in us develop more and more clearly into the image of Christ.

17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

(Sharon G. Tate blog 07/23/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

 

Longing for Our Heavenly Home

2 “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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)

 HOME

He

Offers

Me

Entrance

We may have many “homes” in this life—in childhood, young adulthood, in marriage, with children, in retirement, at an assisted living, in a nursing home–but all are temporal and not truly our HOME.

Mom and dad, brother and sister, wife and husband, son and daughter, peers and roommates. Hopes and sorrows, realities and dreams, joys and sadness, tears and laughter. Our “homes” on earth may have special and dear places in our hearts, but there is still always a longing unfulfilled to go HOME.

Joy without sadness, no tears or sorrows, hope and longing fulfilled, dreams no longer needed, the reality of eternity with the Lord. HOME.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)

HOME: He offers me entrance. It is my choice to enter through Him.

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. (John 3:16-17)

 HOME: He offers me eternity. It is my choice to accept through Him.

 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)

 As we sojourn on this earth in “homes” of our making, let us always prepare for entrance to our true HOME with God. He is waiting.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 07/16/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Seeking God in His Creation

 

Through Him all things were made; without Him

nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:3)

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She lived in Texas on flat lands with short, scraggly trees.  Water was pumped out back for kitchen use. Small water tanks were located around the dusty farm land. Grandma had never been to MI before. When she came, we took her to see one of the Great Lakes. The body of water was immense with no end in sight. She was overwhelmed. And yet, she kept looking behind her, upward at the trees, in total awe. The trees had a visible end at the top, unlike the water which seemed to flow on and on, but through the treetops, light rays danced and played on the branches, shining through to the forest floor. She would gaze out at the water but always turned back to peer intently upward at the trees and the light.

The trees had been there for many years, solid and sturdy, weather-worn, but withstanding many storms of life. The older ones were living stories. The first story they could tell was of the Creator, the Light that grew the seed. There were layers to a tree, mysteries of creation within. Tree rings depicted its age, a circle of life.

We must look up to a tree. But how often do we actually stand, humbled, before God’s creation and truly stare upward in awe, capturing the beauty through the lens of the eye. Sometimes, Michigan is referred to as “God’s country.” Maybe the vast population of trees towering above the landscape, reaching upward to the sky and the light, reaching upward to God, is part of the reason for this appellation.

 “A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray.” 1

 Trees have always pointed the way to God, like all His creation. As they stand tall and dominant above us, we cannot help but seek the heavens beyond the treetops and capture the light in our own eyes. “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.” (Matthew 6:22)

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

 Did you ever carve your initials in a tree? Did you stop, look up,

and appreciate that God was there before you?

 “Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.” 1

1Kilmer, Joyce. “Trees.” poets.org

(Sharon G. Tate blog 07/09/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

GOD-GIVEN FREEDOM: Be Still and Know

 

Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom. 

(Isaiah 40:28)

The eagle silently soars across the expanse of sky; the butterfly lightly lands on a petal; a bee busily buzzes overhead; birds perch precariously from the high wires; and the eagle circles carelessly back, majestic in the sky. FREE!

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)

The man hurriedly rushes to catch the plane, climbing up the escalator steps, pushing past others as he ascends; the woman tends to her flowerbeds amid consistent interruptions of texts, messages, and Facebook posts–and  she must respond; the workers try to meet the schedule of tasks to be done during their shift, missing breaks, half devouring a sandwich for lunch; parents come home from work with fast food, pack the children in the SUV, drop one off at baseball practice, one at dance class, and the other at gymnastics while they do an hour’s worth of grocery shopping and watch the time for  synchronization of child pickup. FREE?

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.

(Isaiah 40:29-31)

 FREEDOM IS GOD-GIVEN.

Freedom is our choice to accept.

God made it simple:

 Do not worry about your life.

Your eternity is prepared.

I AM is there, waiting.

I AM is here, strengthening.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

(Isaiah 40:31)

 A call to faith, a call to choose freedom through the Lord and end our servitude to the hurried rush of this world. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

(Sharon G. Tate blog 07/02/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Keeping the Word in our Hearts

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  (Matthew 4: 1-3)

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The weakest moment.

The challenge.

The test.

The answer.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone,

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

When tested

Be ready

To answer

With the Word.

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The weakest moments. The voice whispering, “Go ahead. It’s okay. Just this once won’t hurt. Try it.” How will we respond to the prompting, the teasing, the tempting, the urging and still hold true to faith—unless we have the Word readily before us as our reaction, our response, and our action.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

The Savior understands our weakest moments.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

The test given. The weakest moment. Forty days of fasting. Hunger.

The response made. The living embodiment of the Word spoke the Word of God: “It is written.”

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) 

The tempter’s challenge met.

When tested

Be ready

To answer

With the WORD.

   (Sharon G. Tate blog 06/25/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Leading children to God the Father

“Do not call anyone on earth your Father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9)

ONE EARTHLY DAD

DADS .  . .  Strong hands lifting us up to the sky.  Sitting on top of his shoulders, seeing the world from his view.  Holding us in his lap while reading the same story again and again with the same emphasis and emotion.  Sending us to our rooms for time out.  Praying to God at the dinner table. Patiently helping us learn how to ride a bike.  Clapping loudly and yelling out our names when we sing our one solo line at the fourth grade choir performance. Sitting downstairs in the chair asleep, waiting for us to get home from that first date.  Writing the first check toward our college tuition. Walking us down the aisle on our wedding day.  Proudly holding the first grandchild, while remembering holding us for the first time.

DADS . . . The scent of after shave. The feel of a scruffy beard. The touch of calloused hands. The tall presence with big shoes.  The stern voice. The patient voice. The whisper of love

DADS . . . God gave each of us a dad. Some were present in our lives; some were not, even when physically present. Other dads gave us a sense of the one Father we share, as we were sheltered under his protection, discipline, and love.

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ONE HEAVENLY FATHER  of us ALL

FATHER: We each share the same One.“Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6)

FATHER: He created us from the beginning. “But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

FATHER: His love is beyond earthly parenting. He blessed us by calling us His own children. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1)

FATHER: He has given us blessings beyond this temporal world. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Peter 1:3)

FATHER: He is merciful to us who do not deserve mercy  and the giver of all comfort when we seek Him. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

FATHER: He provides for us in all ways, even when we do not ask, even beyond what we can ask. “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” ( Matthew 6:26)

FATHER: He disciplines us with love to lead us on the right path. 11My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3: 11-12)

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Dads who follow the Lord and trust fully in Him can be the example for their children, showing them a glimpse of the character traits of the Father.

Dads can help lead their children to the Lord.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 06/18/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

WHO ARE MY MOTHER AND BROTHERS?

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to Him. 47 Someone told Him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to His disciples, He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)

WHO IS MY SON?

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10: 25-29)

Jesus answered the expert in law’s question with a parable of a man who was beaten, robbed, and left to die. Three people reacted to the man’s plight—two passing by on either side of the road, one stopping and going the extra mile to provide assistance and healing.

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied,

“The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37)

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My mother is the 85-year-old woman in the nursing home who looks out the window waiting for someone to come;  my brother is the unemployed father of three who stands in line with 500 others hoping for a job; my son is the recently discharged soldier grappling with PTSD and depression; my neighbor is the child fleeing from a country where he is underfed and abused.
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Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family, neighbors. We tend to have a very limited view of family and neighbors. God’s perspective is much larger, broader, and inclusive. The bloodline of family with God is really from Christ, not from our great-great-greats…. down the lineage of personal ancestry. My neighbors are, also, my family, each one created by God.

In every person, I can find a common heritage, a common Savior, a common love. I should not see with eyes that only view similarity; I must, also, look into the differences and find commonality in them. The commonality is from that portion of God’s divine nature imbued in each soul. It is my directive as well to show acceptance, mercy, and love to others who are my “neighbors.” I, too, must “Go and do likewise.”

And what if everyone followed this directive. . .

(Sharon G. Tate 06/11/17 blog)  teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

BROKENNESS Made Whole Through Christ

 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.         

(Psalm 34:18)

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BROKEN. Shattered pieces surrounding him. The boy looked down in despair. Where would he start? How could he make it whole again? Dropping to his knees to pick up the bigger pieces first, he began the attempt to form the outer shape. It was like a jigsaw puzzle but with uneven, jagged edges. He sloppily glued the pieces together the best he could until, gradually, piece by piece, a vase was somewhat identifiable. It was his great-grandmother’s vase, a family heirloom. How could he present it to his mother, who cherished the vase? The pieces did not fit as they should. The breaks were visible everywhere.

The boy waited in anxious anticipation, fear, and shame for his mother to come home. When he finally heard the key turn in the lock, he carefully lifted the makeshift object, sighed loudly, and brought it to his mother. Head drooped, he held it out to her. The mother looked intently at her son, reached for the poorly glued shape, carefully inspected it, and then walked over to the stand where the vase had always been, placing it on her mother’s beautiful handmade doily. The boy watched this scene with confusion and fear, still expecting repercussions from his careless act of playing too rough near the vase.

But the mother came to him, held him close, and led him over to the vase. She said the vase was more beautiful with the scars. “It is brokenness,” she said, “that unites us all, from great-grandma to grandma, to me, and now to you. The pieces of our lives may shatter around us, but we get on our knees, try to glue the broken edges back together to continue on in this life, and realize, although the scars still show, that we can be whole through the One who had scars in His hands, feet, side, and body. His brokenness allows us all to be whole inside while carrying with us the scars of life.”

The boy knew his mother was speaking of Jesus. She had taken him to Bible class every Sunday. BROKEN with SCARS. He now realized everyone in Bible class and worship was this way. And the jagged edges and visible breaks were there to remind us that we could never be the Potter who makes the clay into the vessel of a perfect, seamless creation.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter;

we are all the work of Your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

BROKEN. Scarred. Humble in spirit before the Lord, our Creator and our Redeemer. This is our sacrifice to Him who was broken for us.

 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
You, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17)

 (Sharon G. Tate 06/04/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Remembrance of Sacrifice: Giving One’s Life

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

 MEMORIAL

Memory

Engraved-

Mindful

Ongoing

Remembrance-

Internal

Abiding

Legacy

Memories memorialized: In deeds. In minds. In hearts. On gravestones.

During this time of year, Memorial Day, when we share a special time as a nation to remember those who served our country, some giving the ultimate sacrifice of their lives and all sacrificing in ways that changed them forever–

 LET US NOT FORGET.

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During every time of year, every month and every day, let us always remember the One who gave the ultimate sacrifice for all humankind. Memorialized in communion on the Lord’s Day, remembered in our words during prayer, thankful for in our hearts when we consider the blessings in our lives, reflected upon in our minds when we realize we are the ones changed forever by His sacrifice, as we can now live eternally with Him–

LET US NEVER FORGET.

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During each and every day, let us remember our duty to sacrifice to God, first and always, and to sacrifice for others.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.(Hebrews 13:16)

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

LET US NOT FORGET.

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 (Sharon G. Tate 05/28/17 blog) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

WITH CHRIST: Joy on the Path of Life

You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence,

with eternal pleasures at Your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)

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The little girl with curly ringlets in her hair walked away from her mother, down the path on her own. A smile swept across the mother’s face, watching her daughter’s baby steps of independence. The expression soon changed to a thoughtful gaze as she envisioned her daughter walking ahead, forward in time–growing up, facing challenges, enduring trials, embracing life, holding another hand, her own baby’s steps leaving footprints ahead. There was joy in the mother’s heart and tears blurred her eyes, as she watched her little girl continue to move ahead of her, down the path. . .

Sadness with joy. It seems contradictory. Most would agree that happiness and joy complement each other, but how can one have sadness and still be joyful?

James says to Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)  Our characters can be transformed, reshaped, and renewed through such trials, so that we reflect attributes of Christ. The pain of the labor brings forth a new joy. We become more like Him, who took on pain, great suffering, abandonment by God, and our sin so we could live with Him eternally.

 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:8-9)

What “glorious joy” it will be when we can see Him!  John wrote to the church family: “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 1:12) How complete our joy will be to see Christ, stand in His presence, and talk with Him!

 …fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

As the mother watches her little girl take baby steps independently down the path ahead, we know there is, likely, another scene where the child looks back to make sure the mother is still there and yet another scene where she returns to her mother’s arms. God watches our steps of independence and waits for us to turn back to Him. We may encounter ruts, sinkholes, flooding, barricades, and more along our independent path before we look back– and go back– to Him, but when we do, the joy surpasses any tribulation we will confront and endure to arrive at the place where He is.

The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing. (Proverbs 10:28) Our prospect is our choice. But only His way, His path is the one that leads to eternal joy.

(Sharon  G. Tate 05/21/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word