Action Will Begin

“After centuries of using a lunar calendar, which failed to accurately keep pace with the seasons, in 46 B.C. Julius Caesar switched over to a solar calendar. The new calendar would last 365 days with a 366th coming once every four years. And on January 1st, 45 B.C., New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1st for the 1st time.”

I enjoy challenging myself with the trivia questions from I read this paragraph about New Year’s Day and wished I had read it a year ago.

I was having dinner with a well-educated lady I respect and admire. At one point in the conversation, we were talking about the term, “B.C.” I said it stood for “Before Christ.” She corrected me, “No, it’s for ‘Before Calendar.’ “


They followed the lunar calendar until 46 B.C. In 45 B.C. Julius Caesar switched to using a solar calendar. How can “B.C.” stand for “Before Calendar,” if it marked the year of the switch from one calendar to another?

I debated contacting my friend but didn’t. Sometimes, it is not what you say, but how you say it.

  • Jesus spoke with faith. John 11:4, “…It will become an occasion to show God’s glory…” The Message
  • Thomas spoke sarcastically with unbelief. John 11:16, “…Come along. We might as well die with him.” The Message (Sometimes sarcasm covers fear. They called Thomas “the twin” because he looked like Jesus but he didn’t sound like Him!)
  • Martha repeated what she learned. John 11:24,  “…I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection…” The Message (Repeating something, does not mean we believe it.)
  • Then Martha stated facts. John 11:39, “…’Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead for four days!’ ” The Message (Truth trumps fact. It’s a fact humans cannot fly. But the truth is they fly in planes all the time.)
  • The Pharisees spoke out of fear. John 11:48, “…the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have.” The Message (What is my motivation?)
  • Caiaphas, the Chief Priest, spoke prophetically. John 11:51, “He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied….” The Message (God can speak through anyone!)

I don’t have to speak at all. Words will never change an opinion, only the Holy Spirit can do that. Today’s verse confirms “B.C.” stands for “Before Christ.”

Luke 17:37, “Trying to take all this in, the disciples said, ‘Master, where?’ He told them, Watch for the circling of the vultures. They’ll spot the corpse first. The action will begin around my dead body.’ ” The Message

B.C. is Before Christ’s birth, A.D. is Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord.” There is no year zero,…A.D. 1 immediately follows 1 B.C. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed everything!

“God wins his greatest victories through apparent defeats.” “Streams in the Desert” by L. B. Cowman

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What is Dropsy?

When I read this story before I pictured an old man – possibly recovering from a stroke. But reading it today in The Message, I realized it could have been a young man.

The King James Version called it “dropsy.” The Modern English Version called it “edema.”

Luke 14:2, “Right before him was a man hugely swollen in his joints.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“The edema that occurs in the diseases of the heart, liver, and kidneys is mainly caused by salt retention….”

Edema is treated by curing the underlying condition. Jesus cured his heart, liver, or kidneys.

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Jesus’ Primary Concern

The first verse I read today told how the crowd was unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes. It numbered in the thousands.

The details of life are the same way. There are a thousand things we should do or could do, and they compete for our attention. Jesus showed us how to handle crowds.

Luke 12:1, “…But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples,…” The Message

My primary concern is for my husband and children. Am I putting them first? Or do they get what’s left of my time? How can I juggle it all?

Luke 12:15, “…That’s what happens when you fill your barn with self and not with God.” The Message

When I put God first, He clears a path through the urgent to the important.

©2009-2018 All Rights Reserved.


Three Square Meals

When I was a kid, Mom gave us two menu options: “Take it or leave it.” Dad had a few things to say, too…

“You don’t eat to taste, you eat to fill.”

“You eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

Jesus gave his disciples special instructions when He sent them out to minister in pairs.

Luke 10:8, “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you,…” The Message

I heard that verse quoted a lot also. Dad thought the three “P’s” were bad for you – pizza, pop, and potato chips. We drank milk with every meal. Not one of us broke a bone.

My kids preferred Kool-aid – pop was too expensive – and all three of them broke bones! Dad was right.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, they asked for daily bread.

Luke 11:3, “Keep us alive with three square meals.” The Message

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Ask “What” Not “Why”

Bad things happen because there is evil in this world.

John 9:2, 3, “His disciples asked, ‘Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?’ ‘You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.’ ” The Message

When bad things happen, we are not to ask why, but what. “What would you have me do, Lord?”

John 9:31, “It is well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does His will.” The Message

Act – pray, give, encourage – because actions speak louder than words.

John 10:25, “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorized by my Father, actions that speak louder than words.’ ” The Message

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Simple and Elemental

My study book this week is Christopher Lowell’s “Small Spaces.” It inspired me to rearrange our front room. It would be great – the couch would face our large window and there would be room to add a bench in front of it.

I got out my architect’s ruler and the floor plans I drew to scale years ago. I cut out a rectangle the size of our couch and found my arrangement would not work. 😦

I had to go back to the bare elements to see it. Our current arrangement is for watching TV, one chair for reading and another near the door for removing boots. Simple.

The best arrangements are simple. Stick to the simple and elemental things.

Matthew 18:4, “Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.” The Message

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Changed from the Inside Out

There are many terms we use to describe a bride walking down the aisle – radiant or glowing are two of them. She is lit by the love she has for her groom. When we ask Jesus into our life, God fills us with His Love.

Matthew 17:2, “His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from His face. His clothes were filled with light.” The Message

We are changed from the inside out, until one day all we see is Jesus.

Mark 17:8, “When they opened their eyes and looked all around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.” The Message


Jesus Was Impressed!

In last night’s sermon, “Confidence with God,” Pastor Monte Knudsen shared from Romans 4:1-3.

  • It’s not what Abraham achieved, but what he believed.
  • God blesses Abraham even in his fear.
  • Abraham repeated the same sin and God still blessed him.
  • Our confidence is in what God does, not what we do.

* * * * * * *

Mark 7:24-26, “From there Jesus set out for the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house there where He didn’t think He would be found, but He couldn’t escape notice. He was barely inside when a woman who had a disturbed daughter heard where He was. She came and knelt at His feet, begging for help. The woman was Greek, Syro-Phoenician by birth. She asked Him to cure her daughter.” The Message

* * * * * * *

“The woman from the borders of Tyre and Sidon whose daughter Jesus healed is described as ‘a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race’ (Mark 7:26), and again as a ‘Canaanitish woman’ (Matthew 15:22). This seems to mean that she was of Canaanite descent, a native of the Phoenician seaboard, Greek in religion, and probably also in speech. The names of Syria and Phoenicia are both applied to the same region in Acts 21:2, 3. Syrophoenician may therefore denote simply an inhabitant of these parts….”

Jesus knew her ancestors. He knew her religion and where she lived. He knew everything about her and helped her anyway!

Matthew and Mark remembered their conversation a little differently. Yesterday we read Matthew’s account…

Matthew 15:28, “Jesus gave in. ‘Oh woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get.’ Right then her daughter became well.” The Message

Here is Mark’s account…

Mark 7:29, 30, “Jesus was impressed. ‘You’re right! On your way! Your daughter is no longer disturbed. The demonic affliction is gone.’ She went home and found her daughter relaxed on the bed, the torment gone for good.” The Message

Jesus knows my fears. He knows I fail repeatedly. He knows my ancestors and where I live. He blesses me anyway!


“Woman, Your Faith is Something Else!”

Our Christmas tree broke on Christmas Day. One string of lights flickered and another string shorted out. All the bulbs on that second string turned black.

Before I decorated the tree, I wired 10 branches back together. Two branches sagged in spite of the repair. David removed the decorations, took it apart, and threw it away.

We had dangerously low temperatures during those two weeks and David didn’t want to go shopping. After work Monday night, 41°, we went looking for a Christmas tree.

We have a small living room with enough floor space for a pencil tree. In two towns there were only 4 trees left and they weren’t pencil trees. I was heartbroken.

I whined on Facebook and my sister and a friend both offered to give me a pencil tree. But after discussing it, we decided I might have problems with animal dander on a used tree. We had rewards on our credit card from Christmas shopping and decided to use part of it to purchase a new tree.

Yesterday I drove 25 miles to O’Hara Hardware because they are known for their Christmas decorations. They had several trees left. One was the right height but a few inches wider than our former tree. It was also $25.00 more than we had hoped to spend.

I drove 19 miles to the next town but their trees were gone, too. I went back to O’Hara and tried a different approach. I took a picture of the branches and sent it to David in a text, “These branches won’t shed.”

He quickly responded, “Get it!”

Matthew 15:28, “Jesus gave in. ‘Oh woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get.’ Right then her daughter became well.” The Message

Joshua conquered the Canaanites hundreds of years before. Many moved away but some were driven back into the hills. This woman came down from the hills and was willing to beg. When that didn’t work, she used a different approach and got what she wanted!

Matthew 15:22, “…a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.” The Message

By calling Him the “Son of David,” she was acknowledging He was King. She recognized that He had the authority and knew He was the only one who could help her daughter.


Produces a Harvest

In the Greek-speaking word of that day, there were two levels of language: formal and informal….

If someone were to sit down and consciously write for posterity, it would of course be written in the formal language with its learned vocabulary and precise diction.

But if writing was routine – shopping lists, family letters, bills, and receipts – it was written in the common, informal idiom of every day speech, street language.

And this is the language used throughout the New Testament.

Some people are taken aback by this, supposing that language dealing with a holy God and holy things should be elevated – stately and ceremonial.

But one good look at Jesus – his preference for down to earth stories and easy associations with common people – gets rid of that supposition.

Jesus is the descent of God to our lives, just as they are, not the ascent of our lives to God, hoping he might approve when he sees how hard we try.

Introduction to the New Testament in The Message

* * * * * * *

Jesus told many stories or parables. He would later explain them to his disciples.

Matthew 13:20-23, “The seed cast in the gravel – this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm.

(21) But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

(22) The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

(23) The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” The Message

Am I producing a harvest? If not, I need to ask myself:

  • How’s my character?
  • Am I led by emotions?
  • Am I worrying?
  • Am I wanting everything under the sun?
  • Am I listening, really listening?
  • Am I taking in what I hear?