The Lord says,
“I will forgive them for leaving Me.
I will show them My love without limits,
because I have stopped being angry.
I will be like the dew to Israel.
Israel will blossom like the lily.
He will grow like the cedar trees of Lebanon.
His branches will grow,
and he will be like a beautiful olive tree.
He will be like the sweet smell
from the cedar trees of Lebanon.
The people of Israel will again live under My protection.
They will grow like grain.
They will bloom like a vine.
They will be like the wine of Lebanon.
May we be employed, absorbed with the Creator of all things rather than consumed, depleted by things created.
Your love should be for Christ alone,
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap loyal love.
Break up for yourself fallow ground;
it is time to seek Yahweh
so He will come and rain
righteousness upon you.
When God plants His Seed of Faith in your heart, there is but one thing you must do: guard your heart even as a farmer
tends his field. Day and night he sleeps and yet the Lord makes the sun shine and rain fall to water the earth to bring
forth an abundant harvest.
Make the One thing your One & Only! See first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be
added unto you. Nurture His Seed of Faith with feeding on His Living Word and Watering it in the Refreshing Presence
of His Holy Spirit who pours out the love of God continually in your heart, leading and guiding you every step of the
way in truth and life. Life, Life and more Life!
His banqueting table is open to whosoever will taste and see that the Lord is good. No good thing does He withhold
from those who walk uprightly WITH Him. Why are you down cast oh my soul, hope continually in the Lord! For He
is your Husband, your Maker and the Lifter of your head! All your fruit is found by settling down AT HOME in Him.
and satisfy your soul in a barren land,
and He will strengthen your bones,
and you shall be like a well-watered garden,
and like a spring of water whose water does not fail.
just as a pure maiden saves her love for one man only, for the one who will be her husband.
But I am frightened, fearing that in some way you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to our Lord,
just as Eve was deceived by Satan in the Garden of Eden. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)
“Mary, Mary, quite contrary*, how does your garden grow?“
opposite in nature, direction, or meaning.
how does your garden grow? your fruit is only found by abiding, taking your nourishment, drawing strength
from My love which is your very life for I am the source and destination of all you were designed to become.
- They Make a Picnic Out of Religion
“Wine and whiskey
leave My people in a stupor.
They ask questions of a dead tree,
expect answers from a sturdy walking stick.
Drunk on sex, they can’t find their way home.
They’ve replaced their God with their genitals.
They worship on the tops of mountains,
make a picnic out of religion.
Under the oaks and elms on the hills
they stretch out and take it easy.
Before you know it, your daughters are whores
and the wives of your sons are sleeping around.
But I’m not going after your whoring daughters
or the adulterous wives of your sons.
It’s the men who pick up the whores that I’m after,
the men who worship at the holy whorehouses—
a stupid people, ruined by whores!
Nothing destroys the beauty of Christian community more aggressively than these kinds of patterns–
negativity and criticism are exhausting behaviors.
Eternal One: I am bringing charges against everyone who lives in your land
because there’s no truth and no faithfulness and no knowledge of God in the land.
There is only cursing and lying and killing and stealing and adultery—
so that one act of bloodshed follows right after another.
It’s because you’re breaking My most basic directives
that the land will mourn with grief and even dry up like a desert plant.
Those dwelling in it waste away,
As the wild animals, the flying birds, and the swimming fish are all dying.
“Addicted to idols.
Let him go.
When the beer runs out,
it’s sex, sex, and more sex.
Bold and sordid debauchery—
how they love it!
The whirlwind has them in its clutches.
Their sex-worship leaves them finally impotent.”
They traded in their glory for shame.
They pig out on my people’s sins.
They can’t wait for the latest in evil.
Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding.
They’ll eat and be as hungry as ever,
have sex and get no satisfaction.
They walked out on Me, their God,
for a life of rutting with whores.
You can’t walk with God while holding hands with the devil–for how can two walk together unless they agree?
Unless they are heading the same way?
No One Is Faithful
“But don’t look for someone to blame.
No finger pointing!” (Hosea 4:4)
We should seek to be loving but also firm when the situation demands it.
We should be quick to offer forgiveness to and seek reconciliation with those who turn back from their divisive actions.
That’s what Christ Jesus did.
The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made.
He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”
The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”
The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”
When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.
Immediately the two of them did “see what’s really going on”—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.
When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.
God called to the Man: “Where are you?”
He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.”
God said, “Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?”
The Man said, “The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it.”
God said to the Woman, “What is this that you’ve done?”
“The serpent seduced me,” she said, “and I ate.”
God told the serpent:
“Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed,
cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals,
Cursed to slink on your belly
and eat dirt all your life.
I’m declaring war between you and the Woman,
between your offspring and hers.
He’ll wound your head,
you’ll wound his heel.”
He told the Woman:
“I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth;
you’ll give birth to your babies in pain.
You’ll want to please your husband,
but he’ll lord it over you.”
He told the Man:
“Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree
That I commanded you not to eat from,
‘Don’t eat from this tree,’
The very ground is cursed because of you;
getting food from the ground
Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife;
you’ll be working in pain all your life long.
The ground will sprout thorns and weeds,
you’ll get your food the hard way,
Planting and tilling and harvesting,
sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk,
Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried;
you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.”
The Man, known as Adam, named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living.
God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them.
God said, “The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!”
So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life. (Genesis 3:1-24)
Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions:
“Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple.
“And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.
“If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.”
Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits. (Mark 6:7-13)
Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it.
Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights.
That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test:
“Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said,
“Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs. (Matthew 4:1-11)
This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
they lie down and then can’t get up;
they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for Myself,
a people custom-made to praise Me.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.
The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
I am fatherless and a widow but You wrapped Your arms around me and sustained me!
Supper for Five Thousand
The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat.
So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them.
When his disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.”
Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.”
They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”
But he was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”
That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.”
Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper. (Mark 6:30-44)
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.“ (Revelation 3:12)
Yet I am so thankful to God, who always marches us to victory under the banner of the Anointed One;
and through us He spreads the beautiful fragrance of His knowledge to every corner of the earth.
In a turbulent world where people are either dying or being rescued,
we are the sweet smell of the Anointed to God our Father. To those who are dying, they smell the stench of death in us.
And to those being rescued, we are the unmistakable scent of life. Who is worthy of this calling?
For we are nothing like the others who sell the word of God like a commodity.
Do not be mistaken; our words come from God with the utmost sincerity,
always spoken through the Anointed in the presence of God. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
Heaven becomes home eternally
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white.
I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life,
but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.
For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.