16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually,
18 give thanks in all circumstances
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“I miss you Grandma to I wish we cud go up to your house”
This was the email I recently received from my six-year-old grandson. We have not seen each other in person since Labor Day weekend in September 2020. It is difficult to be apart, as most everyone reading this post knows in some way from 2020 experiences and restrictions that continue into 2021.
As a retired high school English teacher and reading specialist, the grammatical errors in my grandson’s email stand out to me like bold, enlarged print. Yet, these errors do not matter to me at all. The message is perfect, sincere, and heartfelt. It brought forth both tears and smiles when I read it.
Do we think about our communications with God, how they are spoken in our prayers and how they are received by Him? Jesus criticized the Pharisees who prayed elaborate prayers before others, for the human audience.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
Our prayers to God need to be heartfelt, not an appearance of humility and not perfect in elocution. Communication with God does not require the skill of “clearer and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation.” 1 In our personal prayers, we must show our respect to our Father, our God. Yet, the communication should, also, be intimate with Him, the Father, whom we know will hear us and respond to us. Such prayers can be “on the spot” in a walk, on a drive to work, while putting clothes in the washer. In those moments, we can rejoice, be thankful, and tell Him our heartaches and hopes. The early morning hour, mealtime, and/or bedtime prayers, on the other hand, can become routine or even ritualistic, if we are not more conscious of this time with Him.
The simple, sincere expression of love in my grandson’s email touched my heart. How do our words and how we speak them, whether aloud or in our thoughts, affect our Father when we pray? Are we reaching out to Him in a way that clearly shows we have a close relationship with Him? Do we want to spend time with Him, now and eternally?
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)
. . . pray continually . . . (I Corinthians 5:17)
We want to be with you, Father, in your house forever.
One day. . .
Until then, we come to You in our prayers.
1 Elocution. Definition from Google’s Dictionary-Oxford Languages. Google
(Sharon G. Tate blog 02/21/2021) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
Whenever my grandchildren come to visit, they know they will get this emphatic question from me when they enter my home: “Where are my grandma hugs?!” If you are a grandparent, you know how special it is to be on the receiving end of hugs from your grandchildren, especially when there is no asking, and they just offer hugs freely and sincerely with love.
In our COVID culture today, hugs are not encouraged. In fact, hugging is discouraged. Yet, I suggest that lots of “hugging” has been occurring in different ways—through prayer, phone calls or texts, messages on cards, groceries purchased, meals prepared and delivered, tagged Facebook posts, Messenger messages, caregiving in different ways, and more. The physical “touch” of hugging is missing, but the love is felt.
Our Lord never physically hugged anyone reading this post. Yet, He has hugged each one of us in so many ways, freely and sincerely with His love.
Have you felt His hugs–
–As He left the Father to come to this earth as a baby, subject to the physical frailties of being human.
–As He started on the path to following His Father’s Will at age 12 with the scribes in the Temple.
–As He sought moments of solitude from the crowds who came to be healed by Him–yet returned to meet their needs.
–As He appealed to His Father in the Garden to take this cup from Him, weeping tears as of blood, His agony so great—yet obedient to God’s Will, not His, for us all.
–As He faced Pilate and stood silent. As He took the punishment, the torture, the mockery.
–As nails were pounded into His hands and feet and a crown of thorns was pushed into His scalp.
–As He hung by nails on a cross where He struggled to breathe and dealt with excruciating pain.
–As He called out to His Father, asking to forgive for “they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
–As He told the thief on the cross that He would be with Him in Paradise that day. (Luke 23:43) The promise is real. We each have the opportunity for redemption. Paradise is the place where Jesus is.
–As He cried out to the Father, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) The wrenching cry of the Son to the Father as the Son took on the sins of mankind, alone and separated from the Father. He chose the cross.
–As He said to the Father, “It is finished.” The Will of God, His Father, was fully obeyed and completed that we all might be saved. (John 19:30)
Jesus gives reassurance to His disciples and to us: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
The HUG: “I will come again and take you to Myself.”
HUGS across time, throughout all time, from our Lord and Savior. And we can feel them in our hearts every moment until He comes again.
How will we return His hugs while we wait for that day?
(Sharon G. Tate blog 02/14/21) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all Thy works.
Walking past the pew,
Feeling the presence,
The voice still heard.
No longer there in body,
Yet still part of the Body,
His church, our family.
Past presence in the present.
We, often, strive to continue past our demise by leaving a legacy through money, statues, status, writings, songs, acting, deeds, honors, awards, patents, wills, children, more and more–so we humans can live on. Yet, nothing continues forever here. Human legacies fail, crumble, are forgotten, and succumb to mortality.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-20)
A legacy that lives on must be from the inside, in a heart where God dwells. The influence of His Light helps others see that a true, abiding presence in this world is His Presence within.
What presence will we leave behind,
To carry on beyond our passing,
Lingering in thoughts and hearts,
Dwelling in moments remembered.
Our legacy, human and temporal;
His legacy, divine and eternal.
Christ within, impressions remain
His Words and Love living on.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
(Sharon G. Tate blog 02/07/21) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
HOME. This world is not.
Growing up through childhood and even adolescence, I never felt like I wanted to leave the home my parents provided for me and my brother. Some of my friends would talk about doing this and some even acted on it, but I did not have a reason to even give it serious thought. My little brother, however, did pack a few things into a wagon once when he was quite young and decided to leave home over some incident that upset him. But he was back to eat not long after. Home was safe, warm, and loving. Mom was always there. Dad always came home from work. My brother and I now realize how blessed we were to have a home like this. It was a home we could—and always did—come back to in adulthood. Yet, it was temporary, for the physical place remembered as “home” changed and our parents passed from this world to enter their eternal home.
The true HOME we await as Christians is that eternal home with God and our Savior Jesus. He has promised a place for you and for me there–if we accept Him as Lord and follow His path and commands. The path we must take is not an easy one. We each have our own crosses to bear in this life, as Christ bore His—not just at the end but throughout His life on earth. How did He leave a home that was so loving with His Father, to come to a place where He was homeless during His ministry?
19 And a scribe came up and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:19-20)
HOME. This world is not.
It was not His home, yet He came. For you and me, He entered this earthly realm, humbly, as a baby. For you and me, He suffered mocking, torture, and the most grievous pain of separation from His Father as He took our sins onto Himself. The One without sin did this for us all, that we might be forgiven and saved.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, la’ma sabach-tha’ni?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)
HOME. This world is not.
(Mark 15:37) And Jesus uttered a loud cry,
and breathed His last.
(Matthew 27:50)And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit.
Where He waits,
For you and me
To be with Him,
A place prepared,
With the Father–
(Sharon G. Tate 01/24/21 blog) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer
In hospital with COVID. On lots of oxygen.
Will get plasma, cocktail of meds.
Maybe a ventilator. You have medical directive. Pray.
Message to my son on November 20th, 2020.
Due to prior lung disease/damage from autoimmune disease and a compromised immune system, the odds were not in my favor to avoid a ventilator or even total respiratory failure and death. The ER doctor said I was almost too late; I could not inhale. He asked if they had permission for chest compression and a ventilator if needed. I nodded permission. The message was sent to my son after I was taken to the COVID wing.
You have medical directive.
But truly, the medical directive was in God’s hands.
I knew, by faith, that if It was His Will for me to live and not be vented, then this would be the medical decision. I prayed and asked for prayers. The prayers of many were heard, from people I did not even know, and I beat the odds through His grace.
14 And this is the confidence which we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His Will He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask we know that we have obtained the requests made of Him. (I John 5:14-15)
AMEN and AMEN.
During the darkest of days, His Light is always there.
Seek the Lord and His strength,seek His presence continually! (I Chronicles 16:11)
These words still speak to us today.
There are those in our church family going through serious health struggles, confronting the unknown. All of us have struggles to deal with daily. God knows our concerns, our heartaches, our trials. He can remove them instantly. Yet, we are to seek Him. The sacrifice by Jesus opened a pathway for us to reach God. Prayer is the direct communication to seek His strength, His presence, His mercy, and His grace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)
LET US PRAY TO HIM ON BEHALF OF EACH OTHER.
20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
(Sharon G. Tate blog 01/17/21) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
Revised Standard Version:
19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz′edek. (Matthew 6:19-20)
18-20 We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek. (Matthew 6:19-20)
Our hope in God’s steadfast promises is the
“anchor” and “lifeline” for our soul.
Space X and NASA recently launched four astronauts to the International Space Station. It is a daunting journey to lift off and defy earth’s gravitational pull. That firm foundation God placed on this earth is an anchor that holds us securely in place. We cannot drift upward as those astronauts will experience in space.
I was reading a book by Scott Kelly regarding his year on the International Space Station, titled Endurance: My Year in Space. A Lifetime of Discovery when this November 2020 launch happened. One emphasis Mr. Kelly makes when performing a spacewalk is to ensure, absolutely and repeatedly, that his tether is securely attached. If it becomes detached, he knows he will drift away and, likely, die alone in space.
Our anchor, our lifeline, our tether is not gravity on earth. It is God Himself. We hold to His promises, His love, His grace, His hope to secure our, otherwise, wayward drifting in life. God is the anchor securing us steadily on the right walk.
When we think another lifeline is available to us, we risk drifting away, lost and alone, without hope. Jesus came to earth to provide the true lifeline to God. When we securely attach to Him, we have the hope and assurance of God’s promises, the anchor for our souls.
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
(Psalm 62: 5-6)
(Sharon G. Tate blog December 11, 2020) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven . . .
Autumn on display in all its splendor. The color tours. Driving the back roads. Walking trodden paths in the woods. Looking upward as the leaves swirl downward. The ground below covered in fallen beauty.
A season lasts for the time ordained by God. The leaves fall and cannot be put back on the trees.
14 . . . whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. (James 4:14)
We take the tour through life, witness the beauty, experience the loss, ponder the questions.
. . . But how can a man be just before God? (Job 9:2)
. . . If a man die, shall he live again? (Job 14:14)
God gives the answers through His Son. Through Jesus and our faith in Him, we can come before God when our life season ends on earth and have an eternal home with Him.
23 . . . since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 they are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as an expiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins; 26 it was to prove at the present time that He Himself is righteous and that He justifies him who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26)
“Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
Snow covers fallen leaves. The final season. We look back at our spring, summer, and fall. Memories. People. Places. Transient passages. If we have followed Christ, our focus shifts forward to a permanent home with God–
A season that never ends.
(Sharon G. Tate blog 10/11/2020 blog) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
“When I stand in a blessing, my first question is
“How can I be used?” 1
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)
3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4)
If we have been given a blessing, it is our responsibility, per God’s Word, to look to the needs of others. It is not just what we can give in a physical sense but, also, in a personal way:
“HOW CAN I BE USED?”
Can I be used to help someone through a cancer diagnosis, because I have been through one and am now cancer-free? Can I be used to teach a young couple how to deal with their financial debts, because I was helped by a caring, older couple when I faced a similar issue in my marriage? There are as many possibilities as there are blessings.
We should—and must–be grateful to God for the blessings in our lives, but what about the use for the blessings beyond ourselves. Have we prayed for wisdom to share and give in appropriate ways? Have we asked for the sight and insight to recognize opportunities?
24 “He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’”
God does expect us to make good use of the blessings He bestows. With all the problems in the world today, the way we can each make a positive difference is to share what we have been given with a good heart, a heart striving to be more like that of our Lord and Savior.
HOW CAN I BE USED, and HOW CAN I USE THE BLESSINGS
I HAVE BEEN GIVEN BY GOD TO HELP OTHERS?
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
“Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.” 2
1 Nash, Niecy. Quoted in Reader’s Digest. September 2020. p15.
2 Oatman, Jr, Johnson. “Count Your Blessings.” 1897. https://library.timelesstruths.org/music.
(Sharon G. Tate blog 10/04/2020) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word
Snow-capped mountains, violet valleys, peaceful sands;
Earthquake ruins, flooded towns, tsunami whiplash.
We view the beauty, witness destruction, wonder why.
With mortal eyes, we watch; with spiritual eyes, we see.
Human vision is dim; Spiritual faith is Light.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7 )
With all that our eyes can witness and watch in the world around us and beyond us, we cannot truly see/understand the creation of God and the ways of God unless we have the faith that suspends physical sight, interpretation, explanation, and analysis. Science demands a logical, tested, proven reason and answer. Faith accepts the Creator—and He is the reason and the answer.
When we close our eyes, the full panorama of the mountains, the valleys, and the sands can be seen, not merely the captured snapshot of what is physically before us with open eyes. What we can envision in this “blindness” is far greater than what we can view in the limitation of physical sight. Such is the power of inner light, what we see “by faith, not by sight.”
Through the outer light of physical sight, we view the destruction–the earthquake ruins, flooded towns, tsunami whiplash. Through the inner Light of spiritual faith, we see beyond the destruction and find the child under the collapsing debris, the woman unable to swim in flood waters, the man trapped in the pull of the wave. We change our focus to see the person, the need, and we listen to hear their cries. This happens through a God-Light within us that emits Light when we obey Him in faith.
“Behold, a King will reign in righteousness…
The eyes of those who see will not be dim,
And the ears of those who hear will listen.” (Isaiah 32:1-3)
When we follow the King, we walk by faith, we see with faith, and we hear in faith. In the physical sense, we are blind to the world’s view- but we are not blinded, for we have our faith and can see much more than those who view life without God-Light. Our eyes are not dim, for by faith we gain understanding and perception; our ears are not dull, for through faith we are able to listen, not just hear.
A computer can “see” mountains, valleys, sands, ruins, floods, tsunamis. It cannot close its eyes and activate a God-Light within its parts and pieces. It has no conscience, no consciousness, no soul-and human scientists cannot create this inner Light. The sight of blindness, illumed in faith from one Source, will light our way up the mountains of life, down through its beautiful valleys, and across its scorching sands. It will lead us out of the debris of self-pity, save us from the floods of emotion, and lift us out of the tsunami waves that threaten to drown us in discouragement and loss of hope. If only, we walk by faith in the sight of blindness to shine His Light within us.
(Sharon G. Tate blog 09/27/2020) teacherforjesus.com Meditations on God’s Word