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

In the Likeness of Christ: The Other before Me

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb? (Isaiah 49:15)

 M O T H E R

Other is the focus,

Child before her.

Mirroring selfless

His likeness to see.

 IF ONLY we could care for each other like the mother who loves her newborn child—unconditionally, tenderly, wholeheartedly embracing the responsibility of loving, caring, and giving to the “other” over self. This love may be likened to God giving His Son to us. We did not earn His act of love any more than the child born from his mother’s womb who feels the secure love of his mother’s embrace immediately. God’s embrace is there for us every moment of our lives. We are each the “other” who must accept His love, so He can keep us close to Him.

 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37)

 We must be willing to accept this embrace of Jesus. The figurative language used in the passage above is of a mother hen protecting her young chicks with her own wings. The chicks are secure, while the hen has exposed herself to bear the burden of any external onslaught against her babies. Jesus, similarly, bore the pain and weight of the sin that would harm us eternally. His protection and security are there when we seek refuge with Him.

 As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you;
And you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13)

The mother’s comfort is tender and compassionate. The similar comparison is made to the Lord’s comfort in this passage. It is the kind of giving, selfless love that we should strive to mirror and reflect in our own words and actions.

Other is the focus,

You before me,

Mirroring Christ

His likeness to see.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/14/17) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word

Choosing the Path of Christ

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.” 1

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Someone once asked me, “Why do you always insist on taking the hard road?”

I replied, “Why do you assume I see two roads?” 2

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The Lord took one road, one path. It was one that had never been traveled before. Others have tried to follow the path in His footsteps, yet it is still “one less traveled by.”

The path Jesus took: Coming down to earth . . . learning to walk as a toddler . . . traveling the road to Jerusalem to sit with the teachers at the temple . . . sinking His footprints in the sand to call out those disciples who would become “fishers of men” 3. . .  hiking up the mountainside to deliver the Sermon on the Mount to the multitudes . . . going to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead … walking the path to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane . . . carrying the cross to die for us all on the road to Calvary. . . rising from death to return to the Father.

It was the hard road. It was the only road Jesus saw, in spite of the fact that another path was offered and could have been chosen. Satan’s temptations did not alter Christ’s path. His focus did not lead Him in any other direction but the cross.  And this has made all the difference for you and for me.

To follow Christ, we must follow the hard road. It may take us to those who would betray us. It may lead us to suffering and cruelty. It will direct us to those who would walk with us on this journey. It will lead us to the destruction of our earthly bodies. It will take us back from death to the path of life with Christ.

Choosing the right road, the path of Christ, does make all the difference. It is the way to salvation, the path of Christ, the road to death and back again to life.

1 Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” https://www.poets.org

²Author Unknown. http://www.wisdomquotesandstories.com

3 Matthew 4:19

(Sharon G. Tate blog 05/07/17)  teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

God’s Blessing of Friends

FRIENDSHIP

F: Faithful

R: Real

I:  Interwoven

E: Enduring

N: Nurturing

D: Discerning

S: Sharing

H: Hearing

I:  Involved

P: Personal

BIBLICAL EXAMPLES:

FAITHFUL: “Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel.” (2 Kings 2:2)

REAL: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 12:13)

INTERWOVEN: Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” (I Peter 3:8) Saul, the one who had tortured and killed Jews, gained new sight on the road to Damascus and followed Christ. Barnabas accepted him, becoming involved at the risk of his own reputation and life, for they were like-minded in a common purpose—to teach and preach the message of Christ.

ENDURING: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  (Proverbs 17:17) In a world of transience and impermanence, the love of a friend who is there at all times, good and bad, is a true blessing from God, the One whose love endures forever.

NURTURING: Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” (John 12:26)  To follow Christ and be where He is, with the Teacher who instructs with love, compassion, reproof, and direction to become more like Him. Friends, likewise, nurture the best in us.

DISCERNING: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)  Helping you become a better person as you, also, help him or her in the same manner.

SHARING: Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

HEARING: Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Proverbs 19:20)  We like to give advice, but how often do we listen. A real friend’s advice or criticism is given out of concern and love for us.

INVOLVED: 12 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father.’ ” (Proverbs 20:12-13) To know what is happening in your friend’s world and become involved, even at personal cost.

PERSONAL: The only way to have a friend is to be one.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson

FRIENDSHIP FROM GOD: “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8)

                            Through personal examination, what kind of friend am I?                                                                  What kind of friend could I be in the Lord?

¹www.brainyquote.com

(Sharon G. Tate blog 04/30/17) teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

Coming to the Place of Healing: Seeking the Great Physician

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” 1

The man on the gurney, immobilized by straps across all limbs;

A woman in a wheelchair, pain grimacing through her face;

The toddler coughing and wheezing in his mother’s weary arms;

A man at the door, eyes widened with fear and uncertainty.

The Hospital ER Waiting Room

A man sitting in the back pew, held back by unseen bonds;

The woman in the middle pew, struggling with inner pain;

A toddler, tired and whining, cradled by a weary mother;

The man in a front pew, uncertainty and fear behind his eyes.

Sunday Worship from the Pew

 The struggling, the hurting, the innocent, the fearful;

Coming to this place for a remedy, a respite, a release;

Seeking a physician to heal hurts within, pains without;

Finding him in the Man of Sorrows, who died, yet lives.

Golgotha, at the Cross

 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 2

 His promise, our need, our action to “Come.”

We are the hurting, the desperate in ER;

We are the struggling, the bound in the pews;

We are the ones who need His healing touch.

Arriving at the Place of Healing

The struggle ended, fear dispelled, bonds broken;

Hearts open to receive healing from within;

Mercy and Grace beyond our comprehension;

Love enduring, joy unending, hope fulfilled.

Reaching the Place of Restoration

 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 3

1 Isaiah 41:102

2 Matthew 11:28

3 Revelations 21:4

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/22/17)  teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word