So all week I have been down with a sinus infection after pulling up some old rug upstairs 🙁. It's a different way the LORD "makes you lie down", Psalm 23:2a. But the lying down was necessary as He began the week telling me to "slow down". You heard that if you listened to Tuesday's podcast.
In the lying down to get better, I started reflecting on healing waters that I got to soak in at the end of June. And in that, I realized I hadn't really shared the experience with you the way I wanted to yet! So today is that post, complete with 2 videos and some pictures with captions for context....
If you've been getting the email blogs for last couple of months, you know that at the end of June, I went on a road trip that was part vacation, part ministry. I've referenced it a few times in email blogs I've sent and in some podcast episodes, but haven't shared many pictures or videos of the first part which was the "restoring my soul part". I've wanted to give the LORD public thanks for it. He was so kind to refresh me with natural beauty of His making, with quiet, still waters to restore my soul! Be encouraged as you read, that it is His nature to bless and restore His servants!
First how did this "restore my soul" trip come about? It came about as I started dreaming about "what if"...
"What if" I could go on a "healing waters" type of vacation within a reasonable budget? This made me remember that I always wanted to visit a place with natural healing springs. So I got on the internet and found a place within driving distance called Warm Springs, VA. Turns out they have a natural hot springs, one with a facility that was under renovation, but was recently opened in Spring of 2023. So I booked a bed and breakfast nearby, and hoped it would be a refreshing part of my get-a-way.
God answered big time!!!
Right below this post, is a video of one of the natural hot springs that I experienced! This is a natural stone basin whose octagonal facility recently underwent a $4M renovation. This place was established way back in 1761! It was the first spa structure in America! It was not covered by a bath house until the mid-1820s, at which point it was covered by an octagonal frame building. A second structure, the Ladies’ Bath House, was built in the mid-1870s. As you will see in my video, there are changing stations, as well as pool noodles so you can float easily and relax in the mineral rich waters! It was an amazing experience and soooooo relaxing! Float times are one hour and cost just $35.
One the day I went, it was an unusually cool and rainy summer day. Normally rain ruins a vacation, but for this experience it added to the refreshing! I was glad it was not a hot, sunny day because when your body is immersed in 99 degree water for one hour, I wouldn't want to be sweltering in sweat, sun beating down on me. It was wonderful to have a cool breeze to refresh me and living water from the sky (rain drops) gently falling. There is also a generous white noise experience from the sound of the spring waters tumbling out of the basin, and into the natural creek outside. I did a women-only soak, and it was just 8 of us ladies. And while they didn't have to do so, everyone stayed silent and simply floated in the water. It was absolute bliss for this introvert!
I was able to experience a second hot spring through a tip from the bed and breakfast owner where I stayed. He told me to make sure to visit Omni Homestead to just walk the grounds to enjoy it. He said that I wouldn't be able to use the facility since I was not a guest, but he said they let people walk the grounds.
So after the warm springs experience, I realized I had enough time to visit the Omni before sunset. I walked as much of the grounds and indoor areas as was accessible to me. It was amazing! During my wanderings, I grabbed the hotel activities brochure and noted there was a guest experience of pool and sulphur spring for hotel guests.
Initially, I was bummed that it was for hotel guests only, seeing priority first given to hotel guests also getting spa services like a massage. I saw the hotel was packed, so I figured with the number of rooms and the number of spa services, there was no chance of getting in.
But then next morning I felt stirred again to say, "What if?" "What if they don't have a lot people booked because it is cool again and forecasted to rain all day? What if they let me in? What if God steps in and gets me in?"
So I prayed and told the LORD that nothing is impossible with Him and and asked Him to help me. Then I called and told them, "I'm not a guest; and I do not have any spa services booked, but I would like to use the pool and spring facilities for the day. Will you let me do that?" The guy immediately says "Yes, what is your name? I'll reserve your spot right now." I squealed with delight upon hanging up! I knew my KING was in every part of that!
It did rain gently ALL DAY. And that was fine with me. I reveled in it. I realized because of the sprinkling, it kept people away! There WERE hardly any people enjoying the facilities! I had a blast! And typically I am not one to be in water for very long! I can't remember the last time I was in a pool for more than 30 minutes. But I spent 6.5 hours in and out of all of the water experiences! I cannot explain how truly refreshing it was to my soul!
The idea of the set up was that you are to go from hot waters to cold waters. It's a therapeutic activity called "contrast bathing". Blood rushes to your skin to help you cool down in the hot water and then blood reverses course and rushes to your organs to protect them from the cold. It strengthen your immune system and helps your parasympathetic nervous system engage for deep relaxation! It was so awesome! It makes me want to go back as I review these memories within this post!
I figured out a circuit and spent most of my time outside. I went from the hot tub to the eternal springs pool (cold water) to the natural sulphur springs (99 degrees) to the natural cold spring shower, to the dry sauna, then back to the natural sulphur spring, then the cold pool, to sauna, to pool, to sulphur spring, to natural shower, to sauna, etc. Over and over and over again. 5 hours went by in a flash! Then I finished up in the women's facilities! They have a steam room with essential oils being released and little stone cubicles that you tuck yourself into and do not have to see anyone else! It feels like you are in it by yourself. Your skin sweats out toxins. After that you are encouraged to head to the cold shower experience where you push a button to release ice into a bowl to rub on your face and body, then press another button for cool air, then another button for a cool rain shower. To warm up, you lay down in heated chairs contoured to your body and rest. Those chairs were amazing! So peaceful!!!
I didn't do the sensory shower which included a thunder storm audible experience. I finished up by taking a shower, putting on a fresh comfy robe and heading up one floor to the relaxation room and brought my bible. I read and praised Him, and ate fruit and drank herb tea. I felt so pampered by the LORD. Truly it was all more than I ever expected! The LORD was so kind to me to surprise and delight and refresh my soul in this way! So thankful!
As a servant of God, this experience was rest I truly needed! He saw. He knew. He provided and encouraged me to dream a little and think "What if..."
So consider, are you pouring yourself out in service for ministry? To others? He promises to refresh the weary! Ask! Pray! Seek Him! Pursue the rest HE promises!
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul, Psalm 23:2b-3a.
Now take time to watch the videos and scroll through the photos! All glory to God! His handiwork! His provision! His goodness!
Believe! The LORD is your Shepherd! You lack nothing!
This video shows you the Warm Springs, VA hot springs pool. You are immersed in a natural mineral rich spring that is always at 99 degrees, as it releases from the earth! This spring is magnesium rich, while the one at Omni Homestead is sulphur rich!
This is a video from the horse stables down through a road that leads to the Omni Homestead resort. The resort dates back to 1766! There are many areas within the hotel that highlight George Washington! At the time he was a Colonel, and he gave a 300-acre land grant to Captain Thomas Bullitt to reward him for his services. Bullitt brought his militia to the hot springs in what is now Bath County, Virginia. In 1766, the Homestead hotel was constructed and named for the homesteaders who camped out in the area and built the hotel. The hotel was brought into national recognition in 1818 when Thomas Jefferson spent three weeks soaking in these pools to help alleviate his rheumatism. This area became an area known for its healing waters.
These are just a few snapshots from my travels which includes 1 night in a NY state park and then the rest are from Warm Springs/Hot Springs, VA. There are captions for each for a little context! Click to see full picture! Enjoy!
You were in the heart of God.
He’s had His eye on you for eternity.
He formed you in your mother’s womb.
You are not a mistake.
He formed you for His glory.
He alone knows the Way.
He has the answers.
Trust and obey.
He'll do it... in His strength.
He’s calling you to draw near.
You who wants to be held.
You who wants to stop processing.
You who wants a new beginning at any moment, every day.
You who needs healing and hope.
You who longs for affirmation and acceptance and a safe place.
You who will let go...
and let Him.
He doesn’t abandon.
He doesn’t lie.
He suffered to save.
You suffer to identify...
... to become like Him.
Turn from processing.
His promises fail not.
Believe little one.
Rush into His arms.
Tell Him everything.
Speak His life and promises!
You are not alone!
Call on His name and be still.
Listen for the whispers.
“I rescue. I save.”
“I know the way.”
"Look up little one."
"You are the apple of my eye."
"I am near."
"I am alive."
"Joy in my presence."
"You are mine."
Believers in Christ are given a promise that God will keep us as the apple of His eye. What does this mean?
How can we use that as an image to visualize, and spend time with God?
The word apple here is a Hebrew word that comes from another Hebrew word which means "little man of the eye", the pupil of the eye, black, obscure. In Hebrew culture, it's also known as the "daughter of the eye", i.e. "the little man of the eye".
"Keep me as the apple of your eye" is an expression of ancient prayer, but it's probably better known as an idiom to express how we treasure and passionately protect a loved one.
If you ask people what it means, most people would describe it as a term of endearment, versus a description of God's love for them or as a prayer on their lips. You've probably heard it used to describe a parent's love for a child. "Oh, she's the apple of her father's eye, he would do anything for her!"
True it is a term of endearment. But originally in its truest context, it is a divine expression. It is a child-like cry for God's help. It is a returned response from a covenant keeping God, with fatherly love and radical protection of His own!
Moses use this language in song. King David also uses this language in song. Two warriors of God not afraid to be childlike in God's presence, asking God to keep them as the apple of His eye!
In Deuteronomy 32, we can find the expression in a song that Moses wrote. See verse 10. It includes this lyric, "in a desert land, he found him in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him, He guarded him as the apple of His eye."
This is referencing God's tender care for His people. Moses could easily reflect on God finding him in his own desert wilderness. God calling to Moses from a burning bush, Exodus 3:1-3.
We hear the apple of His eye language again in Proverbs 7:2 through Solomon. He writes the following wisdom... "Keep my commandments and live, my law as the apple of your eye."
And of course, we have King David in Psalm 17:8 asking God... singing to God...to keep him as the apple of His eye.
Now, you probably know that the apple of your eye, the pupil of your eye, the black of your eye, is like a mirror. And this is where if you were to get your face close enough to a mirror, and get so close (in just the right light) and center in on one of your pupils... And look intently, you'd be able to see a tiny obscure reflection of yourself within the blackness of your pupil.
And if you were to do this exercise with a loved one, when you drew near to their face, and you looked at the center of their eye, into their pupil, you wouldn't see their reflection, you would see an outline of your own reflection. Think about that. How does that speak to you?
When you get so close to someone and look at them in the center of their eye, in their pupil and see your own reflection?
In holy covenant relationship, when you gaze this close to someone's eyes, there's trust, there is deep love. There is a softening, someone you deeply treasure. The one that you're willing to get that close to and linger there, is one you love without adequate words to express. You are wanting to look closely and find your reflection in their eyes.
Now let's think of that exercise in God's presence. Getting our face so close to Jesus, that we can see the pupils of His eyes. What is the reflection? First can you see yourself held within his gaze? Can you look closer and see that the reflection within the center of His pupil is you?
Maybe that's a difficult visualization for you. Imagining being that close to the face of Jesus. Maybe it makes you feel a little uncomfortable being that close to Him, because you feel like you're not good enough or you've failed.
That's a wrong perspective.
Because if Jesus is that close to you to look into your eyes, who's reflecting back to him?
If you get that answer, right, that is the heart of the gospel, that's a saving grace of the gospel!
Jesus, seeing himself in the center of your eye, is the Gospel! Christ in you, the hope of glory!
He see himself in you, because you've been made in the image of God! He sees himself in you because you have believed in Him! So now you are joined to the Lord, you are one Spirit with him, that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He is in you!
Ephesians 2:10 in the New Living Translation says that you are God's masterpiece that He created you anew in Christ Jesus, so that you can do good things that He planned for you long ago.
He created you for GOOD THINGS.
Your identity needs to be deeply rooted in the fact that He created you for good, and that when you draw near to Him, He draws near to you.
And when He's looking at you that closely, He's seeing himself. He's seeing you as a masterpiece, that was created anew (born again) for good, to do good things that He planned long ago.
Take some time to envision Jesus that close to you, where you are both able to see one another's reflections in the center of your eyes. Consider that as you look at Him, you can see yourself held. You are the apple of His eye, He gave his life for you! How great is the sum of his thoughts towards you? To do good to you and not evil?
He commands us to stay close to Him to abide in His love, to abide in His word. When we do so, our prayers are God-aligned, a reflection of Him. We can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us, John 15:7!
But if we walk away, if we stay distant from God, can you really see yourself as a reflection in His eyes? No, because He is too far away. Can you see Him clearly or know Him intimately when you don't abide in His Word? No.
We need to remain close in fellowship with Jesus. We have been called to die to this life because our real life is hidden with Christ and God, Colossians 3:3.
So take time to envision you seeing yourself in the pupil of His eye. And then switch it, and imagine Him seeing His reflection in your eye.
"Lord would you reveal mysteries of the Gospel to this one, as they envision themselves as the apple of Your eye? To see that they're held, how they're kept, how they're protected? Reveal to them that when You look at them, you are not looking at their flaws, but You in them. They are complete. You see the end from the beginning. You see the good purpose for which you've created them. Stir them to deeper fellowship, to discovery of the good things you've prepared for them. Root them in the fact that you see Yourself in them. And You don't destroy yourself! You don't harm yourself! God bring revelation that You long to do good things to them, things that You've prepared long ago, good and holy works for them to do. Their life is important; and, has divine design within it. You're transforming them, you're making them a greater reflection of Yourself because You are in them! May this one abide in you, and your Word for the supernatural revelation and transformation you promise. Amen!"
I'm not proud of my old life. And I'm also not proud of some things in my life after Christ, even up unto the last several months. Things that cause us shame can be a continuous onslaught against the vitality Christ promises.
I don't discuss my shame with most others because I don't want to be associated with that part of my former life, or viewed by others through those past/current failures.
Being in ministry full-time, I have to give testimony. So I speak about my life experiences in general terms. I admit being in dangerous and abusive relationships, worshipping false idols, experiencing deep depression, being self-absorbed, trapped for too long in strongholds built by intimidating people that successfully coerced me to do their bidding through gaslighting tactics and deflecting their shame on me.
Life is messy. The warfare is real. The onslaught intense.
Is this resonating?
There have been many layers of shame to heal in me, and, for protection, I do hide those details from others.
But I don't hide them from Jesus.
From my experience, few others can be trusted to NOT use my shame against me.
But Christ CAN BE trusted to NEVER humiliate and expose me and heap abuses upon me.
He has a clear promise that those who look to Him, their faces are radiant✨. Their faces are NEVER covered in shame, Psalm 34:5.
What is this radiance the psalmist speaks of? It is likened to the dancing sheen of a flowing stream, i.e. the life forces of God flowing within, shining through you, beaming as an unquenchable light, reflecting like a sparkle, being cheerful.
Is this what you see when you catch your reflection unexpectedly?
Too many draw back or hide from God because they believe His gaze upon them is a microscopic view to magnify every flaw. Many feel dirty or unworthy, far from radiant.
What about you?
Do you feel the weight of guilt and shame at the mention of God? Afraid, the nearer you get to His presence, the heat of condemnation, the "ick" of sin will be a stench that rises?
Many feel this especially if in an active stronghold of sin. So to avoid perceived disappointment and expected chastisement from God, we wrongly reason that by staying away, the crippling feelings of shame will diminish. But, the opposite is true, it is only exacerbated.
Distance doesn't heal. Distance doesn't erase reality. Distance doesn't cover the skeletons in the closet of your soul that travel with you. Distance is death-knell to healing shame. It only perverts your perceptions of who He is.
"Who He is? Don't you mean who we are?"
God's word reveals to us that shame is not healed by looking more closely at our flaws. Shame is healed by seeking Him, asking to be rescued, by taking our eyes off ourselves and looking at Him.
Psalm 34:4-5 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
Look to Him. Take your eyes off your shame and instead look at His. His?! YES!
Hebrews 12:2- Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the SHAME, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
He endured YOUR shame, walked out a sentence of humiliating exposure before God the Father and his enemies and casual observers and family and friends and followers. His shame trumps all other shame.
Yet He despised it, thinking little or nothing of it. His eye was on seeing you set free. Jesus was focused on the joy of you being healed, of His radiance✨ resting on your face!
So if trapped by shame, realize the path to freedom is drawing near to the face of Jesus and looking closely at the details of His sacrifice for you. He will heal you and set your free!
Click here to listen to Thoughtful Thursday's episode on Psalm 34:4-7. Those who look to Him are radiant!
Draw near! Practice His presence! Use the simple prayer exercises available Monday through Friday on PEACE BE STILL DAILY PRAYER DOWNLOAD to see Him more clearly. The podcast is found on all podcast and music apps! 80% of our listeners use Apple podcasts to listen, then Podbean, then Spotify! Blessings in His presence!
#testimony #Shame #healingprayer #Jesus #faith #prayercloset #prayer #bibleverse #christianpodcast #christianity #Jesuslovesyou #psalms #christianpodcast #pray
As 2023 rolls in, let's keep talking about our time with God... and how it can be fruitful and fun! Let's start our year in a flow of His presence...
First we can give thanks and reflect that Jesus did all the hard work! We have very few valid excuses for not scheduling some special time with Him.
We can make comparison to the ancient Israelites. Three times a year Israelites would travel to Jerusalem to appear before the LORD with sacrifices of atonement and worship. Depending upon where you lived, it may involve extended travel by foot and inclement weather to make the trip to the temple.
It upended personal schedule.
Your best offerings were required.
Those sacrifices were mostly animal sacrifices. There were several other requirements, but will not detail them here.
Men were required to make the trip 3 times per year. Women and children could, and would come. We see that Hannah went with her husband Elkanah, 1 Samuel 1:7. And that Mary and Jesus went with Joseph, Luke 2:41.
Those 3 trips are no longer required. Jesus perfected the requirements of the law for us. It's great gift and so much easier to worship and serve and spend time with Him!
Under the New Covenant, we no longer follow the Old Testament festivals, Colossians 2:16. As well, we know that the temple in which we now worship is our body in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19. And we gather much more than 3 times per year, we are to gather in corporate worship on the Lord's day. And increasingly so, as we see the Day approaching, Hebrews 10:25.
So for scheduled time with God...
Are you back in person worshipping the LORD with other believers? Unless disabled or other great barrier, I greatly encourage you to break out of any habit of worshipping from home, and gather with other believers. May we surrender to that instruction for a greater measure of God's presence and peace.
Please pray for believers who won't return. I'm discovering it's an area of stronghold in many believers.
As one small example, before the holidays, I met with someone for prayer. She was really struggling over a decision, had confusion of mind, and great anxiety. I felt led to ask her if she had a church home. And then ensued a great wrestling match of wills 😌. She had strong feelings and thoughts against going back to church due to an offense she had experienced. She felt very justified.
I was gentle, but urged her with all I could, to return to a church of some kind that was bible-based. She was missing regular communion, a time we are to examine ourselves before the LORD, 1 Corinthians 11:23-32. (Some of us are sick and weak and worse, because we are skipping communion, 1 Corinthians 11:29-30). She was missing worship, a time we are to be singing together with the saints, Ephesians 5:19. She was missing hearing the word of God which is how our faith grows, Romans 10:17. These are just a few foundational things, that when missing, can easily take us off path... leaving our emotions and thoughts in chaos.
So for time with God... As 2023 begins, are you aligned with His instructions for worship, corporate fellowship, and maturing in Christ?
And as a bonus, have you penciled in any time with God that is just between you and Him? The pictures above represent an adventure I dedicated to Him this past Monday.
It involved stealing away and setting up by quiet waters. I imagined Jesus with me. We started out on the wrong foot because I became quite frustrated when my kindling didn't catch for the fire to start. I had to repent from pouting and complaining 😅😁. After, I got ahold of myself and didn't give up on the fire, and 30 minutes later, it was dancing happily. After that, everything fell into place and it was fun.
It's fun to sit by the fire and read my Bible. It was fun to talk to Jesus as if He was sitting next to me. Fun to gaze upon the quiet waters, and feel the warmth of the winter sun on my face. Fun to watch the flames dance. Fun to keep the fire burning. Fun to barbecue asparagus and fish, and roast a couple of marshmallows. Fun to take some photos of His glory all around. Fun to walk by the lake edge, and repeat a few scriptures over and over for memorization and deeper meditation.
21 When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
It was fun seeing him holding my hand as we walked and watched the sunset. I declared that He is guiding me with his counsel. He's coming back for me. He coming back for you. He will take us into His glory!
Time with Jesus is fun! Make it fun! Ask God to help you!
What do you enjoy? Take Him with you! Maybe a day painting a picture as you listen to worship and talk to the Great Artist? Maybe whittling a piece of wood into a cross and talking to Jesus about heart things? Maybe sitting by a fire and reading a book of the bible and making notes about what you learn about Jesus' personality? Maybe a long walk repeating a scripture for revelation and memorization?
Oh that we would take extended time with God, not because we have to, but because we want to. ❤️🔥.
BLESSINGS AND HIS FAVOR BE UPON YOU AS YOU SCHEDULE A DATE WITH YOUR SAVIOR!
he word that God put on my heart during today's exercise is "brave".
THIS IN RESPONSE TO THE BREATH PRAYER OF "WHAT DO I BELIEVE ABOUT JESUS?"
THE SPIRIT PUT ON MY HEART "HE'S BRAVE."
So my meditation today, and this week, and throughout the year needs to be, "How will the bravery of Jesus affect my choices, my belief, my pursuit of His supernatural help?"
BECAUSE HIS BRAVERY IS MY BRAVERY.
JESUS IS NOT REQUIRING ME TO BE BRAVE. HE IS CALLING ME TO BELIEVE IN HIS BRAVERY THROUGH ME.
RIVERS OF HIS BRAVERY FLOWING WITHIN ME...
That one word can transform my year. I'm excited to take more time this afternoon to go deeper into what that will mean, to go deeper into the waters of the Spirit's revelation!
How about you?
What might the LORD put on your heart?
Experiencing His promises begins with belief! Radical belief in Him.
Belief on Jesus' terms goes beyond believing that He is real. Belief on His terms means commitment, unshakeable confidence, being FULLY persuaded.
So when the Spirit put on my heart that I believe that Jesus is brave, that means I am deeply committed within that my Savior is brave! I have unshakeable confidence that Jesus is brave. I am fully persuaded that my God is brave! And that so resonates with me! I do deeply believe that Jesus is brave!
Now what? How will that affect my thoughts, my actions? Because my year and my days are not supposed to be built upon what I believe about me. My year and my days are to be built upon what I believe about Him.
Eyes off of ourselves. Eyes on Him.
So take the challenge today and ask yourself what you believe about Jesus. Let the Spirit help and direct you. It can be a very challenging and encouraging question!
What do you REALLY believe about Jesus? Sit with it. Breath and pray into it. Meditate. Write down what comes.
Because what you really believe about Him will drive your actions; and be the foundation of what you believe is possible! He promises "Rivers of living water flowing within!" Where could His supply take you this year? BELIEVE!
Here is today's exercise via browser access. OR CLICK ON PIC ABOVE TO LISTEN ON APPLE PODCASTS! Start your year with belief! What do you believe about Jesus?
John 7:37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Today, we’ll go into ancient times and take a look at how children were viewed under Roman rule and why Jesus’ circumcision is an important detail not to skip over!
Yesterday, those who receive emails from the ministry got a blog devotional about the "science" behind Jesus being circumcised on Day 8. It was also yesterday's podcast. (Scroll down our podcast page and listen to Wed 12/21 or find Peace Be Still Daily Prayer Download on your favorite podcast app and listen there. 80% of our listeners use Apple podcasts!)
Today, we continue where we began yesterday, taking notice of Luke 2:21 which says that He was officially named on the 8th day, the same day that he was circumcised. Big deal? Yes or no?
Turns out that detail is pretty interesting and very important! Let's look more closely at ancient culture to understand.
In the time of Jesus, the Romans ruled. And so we are to take note that Luke writes his account to Theophilus, Luke 1:3. He calls him “most excellent Theophilus”. In Roman culture, this implies a Roman title of respect and official importance. So we can make a strong assumption that Theophilus was an important Roman official. Luke also writes the book of Acts to Theophilus. See Acts 1:1. Luke is clear that his account is an orderly account, Luke 1:3.
In his Gospel account to Theophilus, Luke carefully includes the decree issued by Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. It is the reason Joseph and Mary go back to Bethlehem. They are to be “registered”. There is an official count happening of the entire world, Luke 2:1-5.
To understand this better, I'm referencing an exhaustive work written by a man name O M Bakke. It’s called “When Children became people- The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity”. In it, he explores theological and social history of Greco-Roman and early Christians towards abortion and child prostitution, pedagogy, moral upbringing, and their value within society. It is a shocking and insightful read, especially considering the direction our world is now heading, or should I say reverting to. I highly recommend it.
Related to birth, in the Roman way of life, Bakke notes the father was LEGALLY allowed to decide whether his newborn would live or die! Think of that in modern view. He was legally allowed to decide if the newborn would live or die after birth. He could do so within the first 8-9 days.
So if he accepted the child as a family member, they would hold a ritual known as a day of purification. It was on this day that a child was given its name and LEGALLY REGISTERED. The ceremony for boys was held on the 8th day, and the ceremony for girls was on the 9th day. Under Roman law, the ceremony marked the child's social birth, as compared to biological birth. Read these 2 pages from Bakke's book below.
Pretty upsetting right?
With Roman rule in mind, re-read Luke 2:21 again-
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Luke is making it clear that Jesus was officially counted in a worldwide census! As a Roman official, Theophilus could check the record! Can you hear him ordering the Bethlehem census be brought to him?
And just think about this detail as it relates to the many arguments that Jesus never existed. "Jesus is a fictional figure. Jesus is a fairy tale." No. He was real and counted in Caesar Augustus' worldwide census! The promise of Good News for all was included in a worldwide census! The most important One to ever be counted and included in a census!
How awesome is it that we have this holy record! That Luke wrote his account to a Roman official, including significant details that validate Christ, not just under Jewish covenant of circumcision, but along with Roman mandate of legal registration! How awesome that he lets Theophilus know the words of the Angel to Mary…
Luke 1:31-33- 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This might cause quite a stir within Theophilus don’t you think? If you were a highly influential government official today and received word of a king being born whose kingdom would have no end, would you take a closer look at the careful details shared about him?
May this stir you to notice the tiny details in scripture that maybe you gloss over, skip over, or dismiss off-handedly. Meditate on scripture. The revelation of Luke’s intent to highlight Jesus being officially registered came as a result of digging deeper and wrestling with scripture. Dig deeper to uncover the hidden treasure!!!
NEXT STEP: Consider how thousands of years before Roman rule of 8 days for males to be official and socially registered, God picked the 8th day for males to be circumcised. This brought them under the holy covenant given to Abraham and his descendants! Read about the covenant of circumcision in Genesis 17! As a believer, you are included under that covenant. How does it affect you? Do you know by memory what it includes before reading it again?
We are so blessed to live in a time of solid biblical resources. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and lead you to Spirit filled revelation! May you and yours have a blessed day of celebrating our eternal King and His coming Kingdom! The greatest gift of all!
(It's year-end. Does this ministry bless you? Will you consider a year end donation? Click the donate button above to give through PayPal. Thank you so much for saying a prayer for the ministry’s reach and impact by the power of the Holy Spirit!)
This week I had a few conversations with people who suffer from anxiety. In one situation I was praying with a woman who has been struggling with heaviness and feeling overwhelmed by anxious moments.
The LORD put Proverbs 12:25 on my heart. As I began praying over her, thoughts started coming to share with her, about the power of kind words; and also what happens when we are NOT COVERED in kind words. It was a revelational moment for both of us about anxiety and the power of good words to heal. Truly God is Wonderful Counselor!
She is someone who, from childhood, has been subjected to harsh, critical words and family who have abused, betrayed, and abandoned. It is just over the last year that she has made a cut from those ties.
I felt like the LORD was putting on my heart that her anxiety will go away as she is healed by the kind words of the LORD. The LORD was encouraging her to rest and to take time to mourn. He emphasized rest and letting go of control, to trust Him to provide. To allow herself to rest and be regenerated in His presence. He repeatedly emphasized REST! She has been pushing herself in many ways and striving. God was calling that out and calling her in to His presence for kind words that cheer her heart! This brought her real relief; the Spirit helped her stop holding her breath. She was able to release some emotion too. God's kind words to her helped her breathe and rest in His arms. Her countenance was completely different by the end of our time compared to the heaviness of the beginning. (Note: if you would like to inquire about a similar type of session, my Prayer Coaching email is firstname.lastname@example.org)
In another situation this week a woman was reflecting on her childhood experience that was similar and was thinking she may have ADHD as a result and be clinically anxious forever. Again the LORD brought up Proverbs 12:25. The message to her was the same. She has been under the weight of others negative feelings and thoughts since childhood. It has created great anxiety that weighs down. I felt God wanted her to know she should not categorize herself with a mental diagnosis. He is instead calling her to come closer and be healed by His kind words that will be hope filled and comforting. His kind words speak life and cheer burdened hearts. We think in terms of human diagnosis. God thinks in terms of His love never failing.
How are you processing your anxiety? As a diagnosis or as something that God wants to heal?
After I had those moments with both women, I realized that I myself needed that counsel. There's an encounter I've been processing and indeed it has weighed heavy. God used that scripture to show me how hurtful words were causing me great heaviness. He was calling me into His presence for kind words to comfort me and lift my spirits. It worked!
In addition, the Reflective Writing Meditation event held on October 29th was time with God in the same way. 14 people ended up signing up, so that was great! The time with God in the session was a time of breath prayer, active listening, meditating on promises of His love, visualizing some moments with Jesus, and writing down messages of love from Him to each one!
He does write a love letter upon our hearts! We must position to hear and receive it!
God's kind words heal. They cheer weary hearts. They reframe thoughts. They overcome lies. They comfort and hold. They strengthen and bless.
Are you positioning to hear the kind words of the LORD? Do you need help with this? Are you able to hear God speak His promises to you?
Practice time with Him by doing the prayer exercises within the podcast! Practice hearing from God by talking with Him! If the podcast episodes bless you, please take time to leave a review also! Reviews help people decide whether or not to listen!
For me personally, one of the most insightful questions Jesus ever asks in the scriptures is, "Do you want to get well?"
In other words, are you resolved to pursue healing? Are you determined? Is it a real desire? He asks this of the man who had been an invalid for 38 years, John 5:1-14.
"Do you want to get well?"
Verse 7- “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
He didn't directly answer Jesus' question. It's hard to say why he answers like this. He was probably forlorn, i.e. feeling sad, lonely, abandoned, deserted, helpless. When people say they have no one to help them, often they are communicating loneliness and longing for someone to help.
A closer look at the pool tells us that he would have needed help.
The KJV of the account says that it was only the first one into the troubled waters that would be healed.
He didn't have good odds of being first into the pool on his own. The account says there were a great multitude of blind, lame, and crippled. Clearly many waiting there did not have good odds of getting into the water first.
And then there was the issue of size and depth of the pool. Scripture records there were 5 porches. That implies a HUGE pool. How deep was this pool?
In 2015, I was able to tour the Bethesda pool that John 5 references! It was excavated in the late 19th century! It indeed has 5 porches! It is a HUGE pool and VERY deep. Here is picture of it that I found on the internet that gives you perspective.
So when you see the depth of the waters, you have to think it would be scary to jump in, since only the first one got healed.
You would need some assistance. “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
What about the others? How did the blind see the waters stir? How did the lame make it down the steps in a rush in order to be first? How did the crippled maneuver their way into the pool and then not drown?
More than likely many were terrified of an attempt; and so would find themselves staying close to the waters, but not attempting to get in.
Isaiah prophesied, "Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you." Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. Isaiah 35:3-6.
Your God will come...
Jesus has come; and He demonstrated that He is the manifestation of Isaiah's wild prophecy. In John 5:1-14, He picked out one invalid at the pool to show He is after the one. His eye is on the sparrow. He sees the lonely one. He sees the oppressed one and broken one. The one who is ashamed, crippled, blind but will respond when He tells them to do things that make no sense, like, "Get up. Pick up your mat and walk."
He sees faith in people, Luke 5:20.
He knows who will respond to Him. And if that is you today, He is still asking, "Do you want to get well?"
There is a prayer class coming up on Saturday, October 29th at 9:30am EST. It is a positioning to experience the love of God. It's based upon the prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:19!
"May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
Visit the home page and sign up!Sign up for the session by clicking on the image about the event above
God is so good! I’ve been waiting to share, but haven't, because the testimony isn’t complete yet, but will share in part. Recently, I received a HUGE and unexpected blessing! Someone who wants to remain anonymous gave me a check for $30K to go get a new vehicle!!! So generous and kind!!! And he had no idea about how precious and touching the timing was related to a deep heartache I recently experienced. I burst into tears when he offered the gift .
The timing of the gift was a clear message to me, that God sees me and is with me and He is my provider!
I'm guessing most of you know that I am in ministry full-time.
Many may not know however, that I live by faith in terms of financial provision. I could post screenshots of the 8 or so texts that I have received from my bank with alerts of balances below $50 over the past year.
Yet, I have NEVER been without and God ALWAYS provides!
Over the last 6 years of ministry God has moved in various people to gift me money at various times!!! People suddenly step in and have taken care of things. It has happened over and over at just the right time. But in the midst of it, there have been real times of stretching my faith and trusting in very humbling moments. In it, God has taught me to be content in all circumstances.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NIV
When I started ministry 6 years ago, my church covered my mortgage for a month and paid for me to get my car fixed. At the same time, a leader told me to just do ministry as a hobby and go get a job. There were real moments of challenge to buckle under human reasoning and critics. Or I could choose to believe in God’s promises and step out in faith.
God led me to work part-time (2 days a week) and do ministry as main focus. After 4 years of working part-time, He moved me to believe in full support and within 2 weeks of that decision, the donations were there!
In first years, the part-time job and donations did not support my needs. So God sent people who came to me saying, “God told me to give this to you” and gave me money. And over all years, others have come and taken care of house things… buying me new windows, a lawnmower, a humidifier, a dishwasher (hand-washed for 2 years), new gutters, electric work, new kitchen and bath fixtures, plumbing repair, etc. One very special person has cared about my work/rest balance and arranged for me to get away 2 times this year and also been beyond generous with sudden blessings!
God has gifted me with faithful monthly donors, all of whom I am so thankful! Some have been donating monthly for 6 years!
I AM SO THANKFUL FOR EACH ONE WHO SUPPORTS THIS MINISTRY AS A MONTHLY OR YEARLY DONOR! For the one who gives $10 a month up to the one who gives above and beyond the others, I am so very thankful!
This is a boast in His provision and faithfulness, not that He owes me anything at all! It’s always been evidence of His promise that I do not provide for myself; He provides for me. I am just to keep Him first and serve Him as led. Walking this way has been so humbling and amazing!!! His favor and kindnesses have always been perfect timing and supernatural expression of the promise of Matthew 6:33.
I pray that you will consider the promise of Matthew 6:33 if you have not. (Many of you have your own testimony of this provision. If you would like to tell me your story, I would love to hear it! My email is email@example.com.)
Some people are about to go into tough times and will need to know where hope will come from. We have just hit 2 successive quarters of negative GDP growth, i.e. recession. God promises to provide as you trust in Him and walk with Him. Remember Psalm 23:1 and read Hebrews 13:5 above again.
In my research on how to buy a vehicle yesterday, I learned that car repossessions are already at 2.2 million for first 6 months of 2022. Compared with the previous 12 months of 1.8 million. Predictions are for auto prices and home prices to start major correction. Some will be upside down soon on car loans and mortgages. Layoffs are beginning and inflation continues with interest rates rising.
Times are setting up for many to call on the Name of the LORD to be rescued.
He can help you. He wants you to ask for Him for wisdom and help.
As practical example of asking for wisdom... for a vehicle purchase, God has been putting on my heart to “wait”. I didn’t understand why until I stopped looking and started researching what was happening in the auto industry. Now, I understand that the market is about to be flooded with repossessions and dealers will be desperate to sell.
I had been hearing "wait", but stopped looking when God stopped me from making a wrong purchase last week. I prayed on the way over to a dealership that if He didn’t want me to buy the vehicle I was interested in, that He would intervene. When I got to the dealership, I could not get the key out of my Jeep ignition, neither could the sales manager or the sales person. This meant my battery would drain while I was there. So I could not focus and left. When I got home, my key came right out! And so this weekend I took time to learn more, and saw the bubble is about to pop. So I will heed God’s good counsel and wait.
I share this as evidence that when you ask God for wisdom, He answers. See James 1:5-8. I could insist on my own way, but have learned (the hard way at times) to heed the whispers (mostly ).
Where do you need God’s help today? In what areas of your life do you need supernatural provision and wisdom? Ask to know Jesus in these ways. He is not a vending machine or a genie though. He is a Savior who forgives, rescues, redeems, sets free, heals, and supplies beyond what you deserve. I pray that you ask Him for what your soul needs today.
“Lord Jesus, I lift this one up to you. I pray for their heart to be open and receptive to your grace and truth. Move upon the waters of their heart and soften them towards your ways. Flood their soul with light, the light of Christ. Prompt them in the direction of your will. Humble them to surrender and trust in any area of self-sufficiency. Lead them into fellowship in the Body of Christ, to safe relationships and bible filled counsel. Thank you for being merciful to this one. Thank you God for gifting all who call upon your Name with a supply of life and power that we do not deserve. We are not worthy of such kindnesses, but that is who you are. May we know you this way and so seek first the kingdom of God. Then all that we need shall be given to us. Amen.”
Hope this encouraged you! Please forward to a friend who needs to hear of God's faithfulness!
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Prayer is Gift!
Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!