Enter the Garden of Gethsemane

                                                                                              garden Jesus prostrate

THROUGH MATTHEW’S ACCOUNT, YOU FOLLOW JESUS TO THE GARDEN.

Matthew 26:36-38 36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
You feel deep sorrow, but you cannot truly reach the depth of His suffering. Knowing what fate awaits Him—you become painfully aware that He also knows, has known. You follow Him as He enters alone, leaving His three trusted disciples behind, per His request, to watch. Your heart is troubled and heavy for Him. You, too, have felt aloneness. You realize how deeply He knows your loneliness from His own.

Matthew 26: 39  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
You see Him drop down to the earth, to the dust where man was first formed, humbled. He, the Son of Man, requests relief from His coming trial. He knows the Father can change this ending on the cross. Yet, He leaves the decision to His Father’s will, not His own. You are awed at the trust, the love, the gift.

Matthew 26:40-41 (40) Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? (41) Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
You watch Him return to find His three friends asleep. Concerned for them. Perhaps, hoping to find comfort from them. He is disappointed in their lack of will and discipline to remain alert. He tells them now to watch and pray, concerned they might not be able to prevail. A short duration without Him-and they succumb to human weakness, failing to follow His directives. You wonder: Could I have remained awake and watchful for Jesus’ return?

Matthew 36: 42-43  (42) Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (43) And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.
You hear the same prayer to lift the burden from Him. Still, He renders obedience to His Father’s will. Yet, He has asked for this relief again. It is not lifted from Him. His heart is heavy as He, once again, returns to find his friends asleep. Unaware, unsupportive– these were the chosen ones who would speak after Him, yet they had no words to answer Him now.

Matthew 26: 44-45  (44) So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. (45) Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.”
You follow Him back to the garden to hear another prayer. The prayer is the same. The answer is the same. He leaves to find the disciples still asleep to what is about to come– the trial before Him that He has known from the beginning. Allowing Himself to be the sacrifice, He confronts the awaited hour alone.

While in the Garden, you have felt, you have seen, you have watched, you have heard, you have followed the man, the Son, the Christ begin the path to the cross. You leave the Garden more awake than you have ever been.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/22/15)   teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

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PRAYER VOICES

prayer sitting

PRAYER VOICES: DO YOU HEAR YOURS?

Voices… praise, penitent, present, patient.

Voices…cries, complaints, compromise, consent.

Voices…soft, sincere, solemn, submissive.

Voices…articulate, academic, artificial, announcer.

Voices…inaudible, innermost, introspective, intentional.

Voices…rote, rigid, repetitious, recitation.

Voices…joyful, jubilant, joyous, joy.

Voices: thanksgiving, transparency, trust, truth.

Voices…unspoken, underneath, unconscious, unresolved.

dad_son_sunset_prayer

What prayer voices do we offer to God? Our tone, attitude, purpose, approach, language in prayer all indicate something about our relationship with God. We know that He can listen even when we don’t physically utter words, because He is omniscient and all-knowing. I AM—in present tense—is always present when we use our public voices, our inner voices, and even our unconscious voices for prayer. Yet, as David’s prayers indicate, God will not listen and hear if sin is “cherished” in our hearts.

Psalm 66:17-20 17 I cried out to Him with my mouth; His praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!
Psalm 116:
1 I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.

What voice should we present before God–that He will listen to and hear the prayers we bring to Him? What heart must we have that He will listen to what has been uttered and hear what is really being said?

prayer-sunset

Like any father, God desires communication with His children. We owe Him a respectful voice; we owe Him our utmost presence; we owe Him our praise, our submission, our gratitude; we owe Him joy for all He has done for us. We owe Him a voice and a heart that demonstrates our love for Him, our Father. Hallowed is His Name and hallowed is our time with Him. Our prayer voices must be appropriate for this special time spent with our God.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/15/15) teacherforjesus.com

God’s Ways Are Not Man’s Ways

Your ways are not my ways

What did Joseph’s coat really look like???

Translations of Genesis 37:23
New International Version: So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe–the ornate robe he was wearing.
New Living Translation: So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing.
International Standard Version: As it was, when Joseph arrived where his brothers were, they stripped off the tunic that Jacob had given him—that is, the richly-embroidered tunic that he was wearing.
American Standard Version: And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him.
New Revised Standard Version: So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore.
The Message: When Joseph reached his brothers, they ripped off the fancy coat he was wearing.
New King James Version: So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him.

                                How many colors? What colors? Were there colors at all???                                                                                                                          DOES IT MATTER?

If you recently viewed or played the viral game to determine the colors of a particular dress that went online, you know the hues of this dress became a topic of much conversation and interpretation. A trivial post became important—online (through many shares), on talk shows, and even on the nightly news. Now, many people are trying to purchase that dress as a result of its “fame.”

The real importance of this event is how something so insignificant became THE topic of conversation so quickly. It went global via the internet and became a newsworthy item. The question to ask: How can what IS of actual importance—the spreading of God’s Word—be seen as significant and worth sharing by this many people? Should we sensationalize stories of the Bible with online posts showing variations of Joseph’s coat (from different translations of the Bible) and make it a color game that might lead to sharing of the Word?

This is not the way God would have us spread His truth. We can never trivialize His Word. What is trivial never lasts. It is excitement for a little while. The colors of that dress will fade and change; the dress will deteriorate. God’s Word lasts and never fades. It is the same always.

The colors of Joseph’s coat are not important but the coat itself is significant, because this gift evokes feelings of jealousy, resulting in acts of violence by his brothers against him when they view the coat as a symbol of favoritism from their father Jacob. God, then, uses that coat, demonstrating how He can cause a small item to be one of great significance in future events—saving many from famine, giving the example of forgiveness after a grievous wrong, showing how one can rise to a place of importance to make a Godly difference when following Him as a lowly servant, and much more. The description of Joseph’s coat is not a trivial addition in the Word for us to debate for significance, color, or merit. It is an important inclusion, showing the power and authority of God in the design of events in this life.

God has always employed the seemingly small in His larger plans: A rod becomes a tool used to change the hardened heart of a mighty Pharaoh; five loaves and two fish feed 5,000 with leftovers to continue feeding those who hunger; faith the size of a mustard seed moves mountains. God shows us how to spread His Word among the people. He has colored our world with beauty and wonder, not always with spectacle, but often in the smallest of ways. You and I, two of the “smallest of ways,” can make a significant difference in this world. We are the ones who must share His Word, using His ways.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/06/15)   teacherforjesus.com  Meditations on God’s Word

READ to KNOW the TRUTH

This is the way to truth

2014 Movie Noah
Shem:  “ I thought you were good.  I thought that was why He chose you.”
Noah:  “He chose me because He knew I would complete the task.  Nothing more.”
From The Bible: (Genesis 7:1) God to Noah: “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.”

2014 movie Noah
Noah to Ham: “ We broke the world.  We did this.  Everything that was good was shattered.  This time there will be no men.  If we were to enter the garden, we would only ruin it again.  Mankind must end.  Creation will be left alone, safe and beautiful.”
From The Bible: (Genesis 9:1) So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
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Let’s get the story straight. The movie version may be more entertaining with wonderful visuals, technological creativity, powerful acting, epic scenes– but such dramatic license portrays a different adaptation of the real story. Reading the actual Book provides clarity regarding additions, omissions and misinterpretations from the movie. The cinema Noah intends to murder his family under the assumption that God wants no human alive, just the animals that are pure from the Garden. However, in the true story recorded in the Bible, God wants Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply.”

Noah is not the only “religious” movie that has been brought before the public in a theater. These stories have been portrayed on a movie screen since 1903 with the silent version of Samson and Delilah, later remade in 1949 with sound, progressing to The Ten Commandments, which became a blockbuster in color in 1956. (Cited from “The Bible in Film” wikipedia.org) Although the Bible was the source for the films, each version made use of dramatic license in the retelling of the Biblical story.

We may conclude that, at least, the Bible was brought to the attention of the  public. However, the danger is that those who see these movies can retain the images from that version of the story in their minds, thus holding onto the memory of a false perspective, which may be passed on to others. The movie version of the story can become the “reality” in one’s perception of Biblical events and characters, when the only true reality is found in the Word of the Lord as told to us in scripture:
John 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 

John 18:37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

The story is made straight in scripture through the voice of the Lord in His Word. “Religious” movies can serve a purpose, however, as the impetus for a discussion about the Bible and the truth that is only found in scripture. This follow-up responsibility is ours–to make sure the real truth is made known.

**From an English teacher and reading specialist: Always read the book. The movie version is inferior and incomplete. I think God intended for each of us to read His Word in mental conversation with Him, so we could fully know Him. To do so, we must READ the Bible.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 03/01/15)   http://teacherforjesus.com

DEVOTION TO PRAYER WITH PERSEVERANCE

                              THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
                           prayer with candle 

                   1 Thessalonians 5:17 translations:

Pray continually.                                                      1599 Geneva Bible

Continually be prayerful.                                      International Standard Version
. . . pray constantly. . .                                            Revised Standard Version
Be unceasing in prayer.                                         Amplified Bible
[praying perseveringly]
Pray without ceasing.                                            American Standard Version
. . . and never stop praying.                                Contemporary English Version
. . .pray at all times. . .                                           Good News Translation
Pray without ceasing.                                       King James Version
. . .pray all the time . . .                                         The Message
. . . without ceasing pray ye; . . .                       1382 Wycliffe Bible
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The message across time and translations remains the same: constant, continual, unceasing prayer. One version included this addition in brackets: “ praying perseveringly.” To “persevere” means the following: “persist, continue, carry on, go on, keep on, keep going, struggle on, hammer away, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, keep at it, press on/ahead, be tenacious, stand one’s ground, stand fast/firm, hold on, go the distance, stay the course, plod on, stop at nothing, leave no stone unturned, hang on, plug away, stick it out, hang in there” (google.com).

                                                         TO PERSEVERE MEANS TO ACT.

Prayer changes lives, events, attitudes, history. What could be different if we each prayed with unceasing perseverance? How would our lives be changed? In what ways would the world be altered? How could the Father of Lies ever confront, intercept, or halt such a barrage of unceasing prayer?

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” ( Mark 11:24). This means WE are responsible. Our personal prayer lives matter; our church family prayers matter. Our belief is crucial. The world we live in desperately needs our intervention. The means to do this is through “praying perseveringly” to God who can—and will—respond. “And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:15).      

                                                         WE MUST PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.

(Sharon G. Tate blog 02/22/15)