Eager and Full of Zeal

Mark 3:16, “Simon was one of the twelve, and Jesus named him Peter.” CEV

When Simon became a disciple he was given a new name. Peter means “rock.” James and John were given a nickname, “sons of Boanerges, which means ‘Thunderbolts’.” v. 17. CEV

Every church needs a rock and a couple of thunderbolts! But what the church needs more is a majority who are eagerly following Christ regardless of what others are doing.

The second Simon was known as “the Eager One,” from a Greek word meaning zealous. In 2015, let’s continue to be eager and full of zeal.

Jesus Was in Town

Mark 2:1, “Jesus went back to Capernaum, and a few days later people heard that he was at home.”

I stopped when I read this verse because Jesus didn’t have a home, (see Matthew 8:20; Luke 9: 58). I looked at the CEV Bible Notes:

“At home: Or ‘in the house’ (perhaps Simon Peter’s home).”

The phrase here meant that he was in town. Jesus made Capernaum his home during the years of his ministry (see Matthew 4:13).

“…Capernaum can be translated ‘Village of Comfort.’…Archeologists use the term ‘insula’ to describe the style of homes in Capernaum. An insula (a kind of city block) consisted of several small roofed rooms clustered around a large open courtyard…here…people slept in the summertime on mats stretched on the ground.”  http://www.welcometohosanna.com/LIFE_OF_JESUS/026_Ministry6Capernaum.htm

Why Cana?

John 4:46, “While Jesus was in Galilee, he returned to the village of Cana, where he had turned the water into wine…”

John 4:54, “This was the second miracle that Jesus worked after he left Judea and went to Galilee.”

The first two miracles Jesus performed were in Cana:

  1. Turning water into wine.
  2. Healing the son of the official from Capernaum.

Why Cana? I looked up the meaning of the name Cana at http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Cana.html#.VKGFzMMEAA.

“The root-verb (qana) means to acquire or create. It’s the regular verb for a commercial purchase, which extends into the financed redemption of slaves (Nehemiah 5:8).”

Cana was chosen because God’s plan was to redeem us from being slaves to sin and paying for it with the blood of Jesus.


Bath Water to Wine

This morning, as I was soaking in the tub, I wished I had a larger tub because I would like to be under water up to my neck. Then I felt convicted because I had a tub full of hot water with just the turn of a spigot; and the water filling the tub was safe to drink. I thanked God I did not have to walk for miles to get 5 gallons of disease-filled water like many in this would do.

When I read today’s verse, I realized Jesus’ first miracle was even greater than we think. He didn’t just turn water into wine, he made wine out of dirty bath water!

John 2:6, “At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about twenty or thirty gallons.”

It doesn’t matter how dirty I feel, Jesus can use me to make something wonderful.

No One is Good Enough

Luke 3:16, “John said, ‘I am just baptizing with water. But someone more powerful is going to come, and I am not good enough even to untie his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.'” CEV

“Untie his sandals: This was the duty of a slave.” CEV Bible Notes

John did not feel he was good enough to be the slave of Jesus. None of us are good enough. It is Jesus in us that is good.

The One Who is Called the Word

“Who is Jesus Christ? John answers this question in the first chapter of his gospel. Using the words of an early Christian hymn, he calls Jesus the “Word” by which God created everything and by which he gave life to everyone (1:3, 4).” CEV Bible Notes

The Christian hymn was verse 1-14. Handel wrote an entire song from verse 14, “The Word Became Flesh.” It is part of “The Messiah.”

When I was choosing between two versions to read in 2014, today’s verse was the one I used in comparison.

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God.” CEV

Fall or Stand. Accept or Reject.

Luke 2:34, “Then he blessed them and told Mary, ‘This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him.'”

On this, his birthday, will we stand or fall; will we accept him or reject him?



In the days of Herod, the King of Judea

Was a priest, Zechariah, a son of Abijah,

And his wife, Elizabeth, a daughter of Aaron,

Who had no children, because she was barren.


Zechariah was serving as priest before God,

Chosen by lot, according to the Priesthood.

He was to burn incense in the temple of the Lord

While outside praying, worshipers stood.


An angel appeared at the side of the altar.

When he saw him he was fearful and he was startled.

“Your prayer has been heard; you will have a son

And you are to give him the name of John.


Many will rejoice because of his birth.

 In the sight of the Lord, he will have a great worth.

He is never to take fermented drink from the till

From birth, with the Holy Spirit, he will be filled.


He will bring back to the Lord the people of Israel

And go in the Spirit and power of Elijah,

To turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children

And the disobedient to righteousness and Godly wisdom.”


“How can I be sure, I am an old man?

And for all of these years, my wife has been barren.”

“I am Gabriel, I stand before God.

I have been sent to give you this news that is good.”


Now you will be silent, not able to speak,

Until this happens because you didn’t believe.

The people were waiting and wondering why.

But he could not tell them he only made signs.


When his time was completed, he returned home,

His wife became pregnant and remained alone.

Elizabeth said, “God has shown me His favor,

Taken away my disgrace from among the people.”


Gabriel then went to Nazareth, in Galilee,

To Joseph’s fiancée, the Virgin Mary.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored.”

The angel said, “With you is the Lord.”


Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered

“Don’t be afraid, You’ve  found favor with God.

You will be with child and give birth to a Son.

The name of Jesus, you will bestow upon Him.


The Son of the Highest, he will be great

And God will give him the throne of David.

Forever He will reign over the house of Jacob

And there will never be an end to his kingdom.”


“Since I am a Virgin, how can this be?”

“The Holy Spirit and Power will overshadow thee.

Called the Son of God will be the Holy One,

Ad Elizabeth, your relative, is in her sixth month.”


Then Mary said, “Nothing is impossible with God.

I am the Lord’s servant, may it be as you said.”

Mary hurried to Elizabeth’s town;

At Mary’s greeting, the babe leaped in her womb.


With the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth was filled

“Blessed are you among women,” she said.

“And blessed is the child that you will bear,

But why am I favored, that you should come here?


As soon as your greeting reached my ears with sound,

For joy, the babe in my womb leaped around.

Blessed is she who has believed

That what the Lord said, will be accomplished.”


And Mary said, “My spirit glorifies the Lord.

My spirit rejoices in my Savior and God.

He has been mindful of the state of his servant

From now on all generations will call me blessed.


The Mighty One has done great things for me

His mercy extends, his name is Holy.

From generation, He’s performed mighty deeds with His arm

And scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.


From their thrones, He has brought down the rulers of men,

Lifted up the humble and the hungry, He filled them

With good things, but sent the rich away empty.

He helped His servant Israel to remember mercy.


Elizabeth received a son when she had her baby.

Her neighbors shared her joy and the Lord’s great mercy.

“Zechariah is a great name for a son.”

“No,” his Mom said, “His name is to be John.”


“There’s none of your relatives who have that name.”

They asked Zechariah, but he wrote the same.

Writing, “His name is John,” loosened his tongue

Immediately his mouth opened, he began praising God.


The neighbors throughout the country of Judea

Talked about the miraculous son of Zechariah.

Everyone who heard this wondered, asking,

“God’s hand is with him, what’s this child going to be?”


Zechariah was filled with the Spirit and prophecy

“Praise God He has come and His people redeemed.

For He has raised up a horn of salvation

In the house of His servant, the King David.


As he said long ago through holy prophets of His

Salvation from our enemies and those who hate us.

To show mercy and remember His holy covenant

The oath that he swore to our Father Abraham.


From the hand of our enemies to rescue us,

And to serve Him without fear to enable us,

In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days,

My child, go before Him to prepare the way.


To give His people salvation – sins are forgiven.

Tender mercy of God comes to us from heaven,

To shine on those living in the shadow of death,

Out of darkness to guide us to a peaceful path.”


“A census should be taken,” decreed Caesar

And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph went to Bethlehem – A town of David

To register with Mary who was expecting a child.


While there she gave birth to her Firstborn, a son,

Placed him in a manger – there was no room in the inn.

Shepherds nearby, watching their flocks by night

Were terrified by angels in glorious light.


“Don’t be afraid, I bring news of great joy

To you a Savior has been born – it’s a boy!

Christ the Lord has come and this will be a sign,

Wrapped in cloths, in a manger, a baby you’ll find.”


The angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest

On earth peace to men whom His favor rests.”

When the angels had left and gone back to heaven,

The shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem.


Mary, Joseph and the baby in the manger were found.

After seeing, what had been told them, they spread it around.

All who heard were amazed what was said by the shepherds

Mary treasured these things and in her heart pondered.


The shepherds glorified God for the things they had seen.

He was given his name before he was conceived.

Next stop, Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord

And to offer a sacrifice in keeping God’s word.


A righteous and devout man called Simeon

Was waiting for consolation, the Holy Spirit upon him.

He would live to see Christ – it had been revealed.

He was there when the parents did what was required.


Simeon took Him in his arms and praised God.

“Dismiss your servant as promised Sovereign Lord,

For my eyes have seen your salvation

In the sight of all people, your preparation.


A light to the Gentiles for Revelation

And to your people Israel – glorification.”

His parents marveled as Simeon blessed them

And when he shared all that was destined.


“The rising of many in Israel and the fall

To be a sign that will be spoken against by all.

So the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed

And your own soul, too, a sword will be pierced.”


Ann, the prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel

Never left the temple for she was a widow

But worshiped night and day, fasting and praying

For the redemption of Jerusalem to all who were looking.


The virgin will be with child – the prophecy fulfilled.

She’ll give birth to a Son they’ll call Immanuel.

It’s a name which meant – God is with us.

So Joseph gave him the name of Jesus.


Jesus was born during the time of Herod, the king

When Magi from the east came to Jerusalem.

“Who has been born King of the Jews? Where is He?

We have come to worship following his star in the east.”


King Herod was disturbed, all Jerusalem with him,

“Where is he to be born?” the teachers, he asked them.

“In Bethlehem for this is what the prophet has written,

Out of you a Ruler over all rulers will be sittin’.”


Herod secretly found out when the star had appeared

He sent the Magi to Bethlehem to look for the child.

“As soon as you find him, report back to me.

So that I, too, may go and worship and see.”


After they had heard the king, they went on their way,

Followed the star to the place where it stopped and it stayed.

When they saw the star they were all filled with joy

To see Joseph and  Mary and her little boy.


They bowed down and worshiped and opened their gifts,

Presented him treasured gold, myrrh, and frankincense.

In dreaming, were warned not to go back to Herod.

They returned to their country by another road.


An angel to Joseph, in a dream, appeared.

“Get up, take the child, and escape from Herod.

Go to Egypt, and until I tell you, stay there,

For Herod will search for the child to kill.


He took the child and his mother during the night.

To the safety of Egypt, was their perilous flight.

They stayed until Herod’s life was over and done.

The prophet said, “Out of Egypt, have I called my Son.”


Herod realized he’d been outwitted, he was furious and blue.

He gave orders to kill the Bethlehem boys under two.

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled,

“Rachel’s weeping and mourning could not be stilled.”


In a dream, to Joseph, appeared an angel,

“Take the child and his mother to the land of Israel,

For those who were trying to take the child’s life are now dead.

Archelaus is reigning in Judea in his father’s stead.


Stay away from Judea for the sake of safety.”

They went to Nazareth, the district of Galilee.

What was said through the prophets was clearly now seen,

Jesus would be called – a Nazarene.


Pamela L. Fishel



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The Favorite Gift Jesus Received

Today the men start their Christmas shopping. (Just kidding.) But, today is the last chance to get the perfect gift for your loved ones.

One year, we decided to buy 1 large, expensive gift for each of our children: Our oldest son received a custom-made metal guitar case for his new acoustic electric guitar; our daughter received a small refrigerator because she was a senior in high school; and our youngest son received an acoustic guitar with a case, strap, picks and a lesson book.

Yes, their screams were loud, but that was not my favorite Christmas. It was the year they received clothes, but found in the bottom of their stockings an inexpensive iPod shuffle.

This year they will each receive three gifts – just like the wise men brought to Jesus. Which one was the favorite gift? The fourth gift.

The fourth gift is mentioned, but not recognized. He actually received it first. It is found in Luke 2:14. It was a gift of praise from the angels when they sang, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth, peace and goodwill to men.”

Mary knew the best gift she could give God was a song of praise.

Luke 1:46, “Mary said: With all my heart I will praise the Lord…”

What gift can you bring to Jesus on his birthday? The gift of song. Go to a Christmas Eve Service, or Midnight Mass, or just gather around the piano, get out the guitar, or turn up Pandora and sing with all of your heart.

Psalms 69:30, 31, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with Thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.”

Sacrificing an ox or bull would be a pretty huge gift, but singing pleases God more.


A God-Fearing Home

Ruth 1:16, “Ruth answered, ‘Please don’t tell me to leave you and return home! I will go where you go, I will live where you live; your people will be my people, your God will be my God.'”

I believe Ruth had put her faith in the God of Israel. Going home to her parents meant she would be going back to a place without God.