Circles Around the Mountain

Journal, March 27, 2022:

The lines on the mountains are sheep trails. Shepherds lead sheep around mountains to feed on both sides. Psalm 23:3, “…He guides me in the paths of righteousness.” NASB

Those paths are circles on the mountain. In Hebrew, they are called circles of righteousness.

We are supposed to go around the mountains. Plants that grow at different elevations have varied nutrition. We learn everything we need to at this level before our Shepherd leads us higher.

The Bible gives us promises and corrections. Like sheep, we eat sweet greens and bitter greens. Bitter greens have more nutrients. We grow when we are corrected.

Those lines are sheep trails made by circling the mountain and feeding on both sides. This was taken on our way to Jerusalem from the Dead Sea.

My Top Ten List of Verses I Did NOT Want to Share This Month

  • 1. “I will deal with you according to your anger and according to your envy which you showed.” Ezekiel 35:11 NASB (Ouch.)
  • 2. “For everyone who goes astray or is naive; so you shall make atonement,” Ezekiel 45:20 NASB (There’s hope for me!)
  • 3. “Wisdom…sets her table.” Proverbs 9:2 NASB (It’s easier to eat on the couch. Sigh.)
  • 4. “When you shall eat the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you,” Psalm 128:2 NASB (This verse must be for my friends who have gardens and can their produce. What is the fruit of my hands?)
  • 5. “He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary.” Isaiah 44:12 NASB (Does sweet tea count?)
  • 6. “Then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it,” Daniel 7:1 NASB (Some dreams I would rather forget than summarize but I know God speaks through dreams.)
  • 7. “Daniel began distinguishing himself…because he possessed an extraordinary spirit,” Daniel 6:3 NASB (How is my spirit? Hopefully, it would not be described as bitter, jealous, or proud.)
  • 8. “Remove the false way from me.” Psalm 119:29 NASB (Ouch again.)
  • 9. “Give honor to their husbands, great and small,” Esther 1:20 NASB (No comment.)
  • 10. Finally, from Wednesday night’s sermon, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 NASB (I’m totally humbled now!)

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God Showed His Bondservants

As happens every summer, members of the worship team went on vacation. Unfortunately, one weekend I was the only instrumentalist and David was the only vocalist! Pastor Gary offered to sing with us.

Tuesday

The song list was posted. Usually, when I have to play alone, I stack the synth over the keyboard. I play strings with my left hand and piano with my right. But it takes several steps to change sounds on the synth.

At home, I practice on a keyboard set on the folded-down music stand of the piano. I pretended the piano was a keyboard bass.

For the service, I decided to set the keyboard on the top of the double stand and the synth on the bottom. It could be my “keyboard bass.”

I listened to the videos of each song and chose a sound based on the dominant instrument. I found a similar sound on the keyboard. I layered piano and strings for the first song, played only strings on the second, and switched to an electric piano on the third. I kept the bass line simple.

Friday

Pastor Monte announced that he would be preaching live in Fairfield on Sunday. (We normally watch the sermon on a large screen.) I looked to heaven and cried, “NO!!!” Our pastor has sung and played the piano all over the world. (I bought his Christmas CD for Mom.) He plays circles around me.

That night, I had a dream. Jesus was standing in the center of the platform with us. His hands were open and inviting but his face was tipped up. He was joining us and encouraging us to worship God, the Father. I felt at peace and stopped worrying.

Saturday

David sang along as I practiced for the final time. He didn’t like the sound I chose for the second song. I had dropped the pick-up lines I normally played on the piano. I had to switch back.

But I had peace.

When I got to church, I went to the platform and looked at the spot where Jesus stood in my dream. I had peace.

We set up both keyboards and I couldn’t find the bass sound on the synth. It has 2000 sounds and 50+ buttons. The book didn’t help!

I pushed all of the numbered buttons. It was 15-20 different piano sounds. (Sigh.) I was ready to put it away but I saw David walking away from me down the hall. The synth is heavy and expensive. I don’t move it.

Then, I wondered: “What if I shut the voice button off and pushed the control button?”

That showed piano sounds but as I kept pushing it, or maybe it was the second section of buttons, I found different instruments: trumpet, violin, cello, and strings. The last button was a bass.

Each button is the first sound in a list. I didn’t care about finding the perfect bass!

As we practiced, the vocalist asked for more. More lead lines. More fills. I looked to heaven for more help! I could tell by their excitement that the vocalists could feel the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, I feel the Holy Spirit on my hands and I can’t play a wrong note! I relax and enjoy my fingers running along the keyboard. I hoped that would happen today.

It didn’t.

No goosebumps. No tingly fingers. No feeling of someone else playing through my fingers.

But – I had peace.

They call it “peace that passes understanding.” It’s peace without fear or nervousness. It’s a peace that tells you to just play what you practiced.

At service time, I listened to the metronome on my phone for the correct tempo. I played the tempo on the bass for two measures for the vocalists. I played the introduction to the first song as Pastor Gary welcomed everyone. I don’t remember mistakes. I remember the peace. (Pastor Monte said it sounded good.)

Why did God give me a dream? It wasn’t because I am his favorite keyboardist. I was just one of the thousands who played in His churches all over the world. I am His bondservant. But God shows things to His bondservants.

Revelation 1:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bondservants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bondservant John.”

New American Standard Bible

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God Showed John, the Bondservant

“…John, the ‘beloved disciple,’ Jesus’ best friend…He and his brother, James, the sons of Zebedee, were among the first disciples Jesus ever called to follow Him – tempestuous hotheads known as the ‘sons of thunder,’ willing to call fire down from heaven on a Samaritan village because they did not give Jesus an appropriate welcome. It’s fascinating to see how the love of God has shaped and tamed John’s heart over these many years.”

“…John was the disciple who laid his head on Jesus’ chest when they were reclining at a meal one night. I imagine being able to hear the heartbeat of God does something to you…truth is more caught than taught.”

The Founder’s Bible,
The Origin of the Dream of Freedom,
Introductions to 2 John and 3 John

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John wasn’t perfect. He was a bondservant. I kept seeing that term as I read through Revelation.

  • We have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads, Revelation 7:3.
  • Hurt only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads, Revelation 9:14.
  • The time came to reward your bondservants, Revelation 11:18.
  • He has avenged the blood of His bondservants, Revelation 19:2.

While We Were in Israel

After touring Jericho, Elle told us about the 150 kinds of flesh-eating birds that are currently living in Israel. The winds have changed. The birds cannot fly any further north. The Israelis are concerned because they don’t have enough food for them. Pastor Monte directed him to Revelation 19:21.

Revelation 19:21, “And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.”

New American Standard Bible

***

The pieces are falling into place for the battle of Armageddon. The birds are ready and hungry!

But we have nothing to fear. We are bondservants and God takes care of His bondservants. He shows us what will happen in the Bible and He gives us peace.

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Paul Gathered a Bundle of Sticks

After the shipwreck, Paul could have said, “I told you so!” Or “Now do you believe that I am an anointed man of God?” Or “You should have listened to my prophecy!”

Instead, he gathered sticks and threw them on the fire, Acts 28:2. He worked to meet the physical need of everyone. It was raining; they needed warmth.

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When we were on tour in Israel, we took several bathroom breaks a day. There were times no one needed a break.

Our guide, Elle said, “It doesn’t matter how informed I am. I can give you a ton of information but if you need a bathroom, you won’t remember or appreciate it.”

A mural outside of a bathroom in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem.

A person’s basic needs must be met before they can listen. Instead of preaching, we could ask, “Do you need anything?” Or “How can I serve you?”

They will automatically ask questions because we are different from everyone else. We give; others take.

Acts 28:8, “And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid hands on him and healed him.”

New American Standard Bible

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Once again, Paul met a physical need. This time it was through a work of God, not his physical work.

Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”

New American Standard Bible

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“How can I serve you?”

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What Has Been Appointed for You to Do

I have been appointed to:

  • Sing, for as long as I can remember
  • Play the piano, age 12
  • Write, age 13
  • Marry, age 20
  • Work in a church office, age 21
  • Have children, age 24
  • Become a grandmother, age 39

My appointment to work in a church office and be a full-time mother is completed. I will receive new appointments. (Grandma Moses didn’t fulfill her appointment to paint until she was 80!)

This year I was appointed to write a book about our trip to Israel. Someday, I will be a great-grandmother!

Acts 22:10, “…you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.”

New American Standard Bible

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Each appointment has times of joy and times of trials. I dreamed of being a writer since I was a young girl. Writing while housebound was not part of my dreams!

I knew I would serve in a church office. I didn’t know it would include several months working in a garage, and using an outhouse, while I was pregnant with our first child!

Paul’s Appointment

Paul was appointed to speak to the Gentiles, see Acts 22:21. That involved years as a prisoner in Capernaum and other cities!

Acts 23:35, “He said, ‘I will give you a hearing after your accusers arrive also,’ giving orders for him to be kept in Herod’s Praetorium.”

New American Standard Bible

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The jail under Herod’s Praetorium. (Why I post blurry pictures.)

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His appointment to speak included time on trial.

Acts 24:10, “When the governor had nodded for him to speak, Paul responded…”

New American Standard Bible

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This was Paul’s view as he spoke to Governor Felix. David is standing in the Governor’s spot.

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Your Appointments

Acts 22:14, “And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.”

New American Standard Bible

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God wants you to know His will for your life. He whispers it to you in your dreams. Remember Satan will work against you.

“…First you assume you won’t fail, so you’re unprepared for Satan’s attack when it comes. Next you allow problems and pressures of life to make you forget that your first commitment must always be to the Lord. Finally, you end up spiritually defeated. You say, ‘That will never happen to me.’ That’s what Peter said! The reason ‘Satan hath desired to have you’ [Luke 22:31] is because he knows when you become passionate about doing God’s will, you will be unstoppable. So, never lose your passion for God.”

The Word for You Today,
July 10, 2022

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We don’t find our passion; we fulfill our purpose. Our passion belongs to God.

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When He Came to Himself

Our trip to Israel was postponed three times, canceled, and then reinstated. David and I joked that we wouldn’t believe it until we stepped on Israel soil. It was a dream.

After flying all night, we were ushered through the Tel Aviv airport by a guide. We shuffled through another COVID test and were led to our bus.

Elle, (short for Elijah), talked and told jokes to keep us awake on the drive to our hotel. Tel Aviv is a growing city. I gawked at the architecture, statues, and sculptures. We stopped at many “roundabouts,” each with its statue and flower garden.

I fell for all of Elle’s jokes.

“This is Israel’s national bird.” He pointed to the cranes next to buildings going up.

The hotel in Netanya was upscale and it felt like a weekend get-away. Caesarea Maritima, Tel Megiddo, and Mt. Carmel reminded me of a school field trip. Israel is a history explosion!

At the Sea of Galilee, I started waking up. Jesus preached here.

It was at Capernaum, standing in front of the ruins of the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught, that I came to myself.

The White Synagogue was built upon the remains of the Synagogue of Jesus.

David said it best, “Nothing else matters except for believing. That is what life is all about.”

We looked at the remains of Peter’s house where Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. I went back to the bus and filled my notebook with notes. I went over each picture and wrote down what Elle taught us.

At dinner, Elle sat by me. I didn’t say a word. I wanted to learn everything.

I set my alarm for 4 am. In the predawn hours, I pored over the pictures and notes. I wrote down what Elle said, what I felt, the weather, what we ate, and the things that happened.

I was no longer dreaming. I had come to myself.

I understand how Peter felt when the angels freed him from prison. It was too good to be true and yet it was true!

Acts 12:11, “When Peter came to himself…”

New American Standard Bible

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His Grave Was Assigned

It was a beautiful, sunny day; one of the first days of spring. A man was in one of the raised flower beds on his knees pulling weeds. I noticed the dirt was exposed and only flowers, trees, and bushes grew there.

Joseph of Arimathea had a beautiful garden. We wandered through, working our way downhill to the tomb.

Isaiah 53:9, “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in his death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.”

New American Standard Bible, May 21, 2022

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(Jesus was crucified between two criminals. Yet, he was buried in a rich man’s grave. Joseph of Arimathea gave him his own grave, see Matthew 27:57-60.)

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There was a grape press facing the tomb. Just as the juice is pressed out of the grapes, so was Jesus’ blood pressed out of his body. Wine comes from the juice; life is in the blood.

The grape press in the Garden of the Tomb.

The original round stone and a replica were destroyed in two different wars. The second replica was resting in a garden bed to protect it.

A replica of the stone that covered the tomb.

There was a group ahead of us. We enjoyed the garden as we waited.

Only a couple people could enter the tomb at a time. There were 2 spaces carved out. Joseph made room for his wife! It looked like a pillow was carved out of the rock.

The tomb where they buried Jesus.

(I felt like I was visiting a hotel with a sign that said, “Jesus slept here.” Why wasn’t I in awe? God raised Jesus from the dead in this place.)

But God and Jesus left the space two thousand years ago. I thought I would feel something like I did at the “Wailing Wall.”

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The Wailing Wall was segregated. We walked down the women’s side. I waited for a space to open. When the Jews leave the “Wailing Wall” they walk backward for several steps. It was as if they didn’t want to leave the place where they felt the closest to God.

Women walked behind the white partitions to approach the “Wailing Wall.”

Some of our group had requests written on paper. They tried shoving them in the crevices.

(“What would I request? A husband for my daughter? No, I prayed that prayer when she was a tiny girl. We are just waiting for the answer. I think I will just touch the wall.”)

I stretched out my right hand and it felt like a magnet pulled it forward. You could feel the prayers of God’s people. They shimmered like heat waves and the invisible cloud was a foot thick. It wasn’t something you could see but it was something you could feel.

God spoke to my heart, “Pray for the Jews!”

I did and I continue to do so.

(The voice of God sounds like your conscience. You hear it clearly but no one else does.)

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It was a somber week. My friend laid her dad to rest today. Yesterday, my thoughts kept returning to my Dad who served in the Korean War. I thought of Matt G., Levi A., and John Ginger P. who came home safely from deployments and died on American soil. So many things I do not understand.

The verses I wrote down were sober.

Isaiah 56:5, “To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”

New American Standard Bible, May 22, 2022

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Isaiah 63:9, “In all their affliction He was afflicted and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, and He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.”

New American Standard Bible, May 24, 2022

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Jeremiah 2:25, “Keep your feet from being unshod and your throat from thirst…”

New American Standard Bible, May 27, 2022

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Jeremiah 2:3, “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger.”

New American Standard Bible, May 27, 2022

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Jeremiah 3:12, 13, “Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the Lord; ‘I will not be angry forever. 13) Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God…and you have not obeyed My voice.’…”

New American Standard Bible, May 28, 2022

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Jeremiah 5:19, “It shall come about when they say, ‘Why has the Lord our God done all these things to us?’ then you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken Me [God] and served foreign gods in your land…'”

New American Standard Bible, May 29, 2022

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Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.”

New American Standard Bible, May 30, 2022

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Jeremiah 9:1, “Oh, that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”

New American Standard Bible, May 31, 2022

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Today the children killed in Uvaldey Texas were laid to rest in the graves assigned to them. I would not have chosen this. I know they will be remembered. I know God will carry their families through the rest of their days.

Each day I will put on my shoes, drink my water, and pray for them. I will seek the Lord and acknowledge my iniquity. I will obey God and serve only Him. I will take refuge in Him even in times of great grief.

Because Jesus is no longer in the grave assigned to him!

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The Heat of Summer

We experienced all four seasons while we were in Israel. It was the last three days of winter but it felt like fall – cold and rainy. We were on top of Tel Megiddo when a storm hit. Our umbrellas turned inside out and on some, the material tore off of the spokes! Peggy Knudsen, our Pastor’s wife called it a monsoon!

On the third day, the high was 39 degrees. I didn’t bring a coat!

I put on the capris and long-sleeved Henley top that I planned to sleep in. I layered a tee-shirt, 3/4 length sleeve tee-shirt, and jeans over them. I put on my cardigan sweater and stowed protein bars in my backpack.

When we reached Caesarea Maritime, I put a hooded rain poncho over all of it. I cinched my gardener’s hat, aka tourist hat, under my chin and kept my hands under my poncho. I looked like a soldier with a full pack!

David did not do as well. He didn’t bring a coat either. When we were packing, I asked him if he wanted the black raincoat or the red one. He packed the black one.

They were rain pants!

We left the red raincoat at home! He wore two shirts and a hoody and carried our umbrella.

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We drove through the Golan Heights while they were getting 3-5 inches of snow! The bus driver and guide had never seen so much snow. I pulled a scarf out of my backpack to wrap around my torso under my sweater.

I didn’t need it. We drove down the mountain and the snow turned to rain. Flowers seemed to bloom right in front of our eyes. Spring had sprung!

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Two days later, I struggled to corral my curls into a scrunchie. Peggy asked me what I was doing.

“Probably tying my hair into knots,” I replied.

We were at the Dead Sea and it was hot! I had to get my hair off of my neck and back. People were wearing shorts.

Not only was it hot, but it was also dry. Our guide kept reminding us to drink water.

We took a cable car to the top of the MASADA fortress. The sun beat down on us and the wind parched us. They had a water station at the bottom and the top to refill our bottles.

I looked over the edge and saw a new, straw hat below. I was grateful for the cord that kept my hat secure. The wind caught it twice but the cord kept it from blowing away.

I can’t imagine how uncomfortable Jonah was sitting on the east side of Nineveh.

Jonah 4:4, “The Lord said, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry?'”

New American Standard Bible

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The landscape on the Dead Sea.

God delivered Jonah from his discomfort on the first day with a plant that shaded him, Jonah 4:6. The next day, the plant died and God appointed a scorching east wind. The sun beat on his head until he felt faint and begged to die, Jonah 4:8.

God cares about our comfort. But God does not want us to get so comfortable that we forget about others. Our first concern is for those who don’t know Him.

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Surrounded

Since returning from Israel, several have asked me if I was afraid while I was there.

Nope. Israel has the best intelligence and defense in the world. They have to because they are surrounded by their enemies.

2 Chronicles 21:10, 21, “So Edom revolted against Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time against his rule, because he [Jehoram] had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers. …21) Then the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the spirit of the Philistines and the Arabs who bordered the Ethiopians.”

New American Standard Bible

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Edom was a country southeast of Judah. Libnah was a city southwest of Jerusalem. Philistia was a country west of Judah and Israel to the north. Ethiopia was southwest.

“Rest from enemies is part of God’s blessing for obedience in Chronicles (14:5-7; 15:15; 1 Chronicles 22:8-9, 18). Righteous kings have victory in warfare (Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Hezekiah), while wicked rulers experience defeat (Jehoram, Ahaz, Joash, Zedekiah).”

New International Version Study Bible notes on 2 Chronicles 20:30

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2 Chronicles 20:30, “And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.”

New International Version

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When I don’t have peace on every side, I need to examine my heart, motives, and intentions. Every day, I need to evaluate my attitude. I can’t rely on anything in the past. God commended Jehu for doing well, executing what is right, and following His heart, 2 Kings 20:30.

2 Kings 21:31, “But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.”

New American Standard Bible

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My first glimpse of Jerusalem.

The result of carelessness? The Lord began to cut off portions from Israel, 2 Kings 21:32, 33.

Carelessness will cost me!

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She Owned the Land

The ruins of the homes in Jesus’ day were small. We toured a few replicas of ancient homes in the Nazareth Village. Most only had 2 rooms.

The landowner had more rooms and a second story. He had a cistern and olive press. He had rights to everything grown on his land – even when he moved away.

2 Kings 8:6, “When the king asked the woman, she related it to him. So the king appointed for her a certain officer, saying, ‘Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now.'”

New American Standard Bible

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Why was everything restored? Because she owned the land. Those who raised the crop got workers’ wages but she got the income from the former seven years.

The landowner’s water ran down the channel on the left. His olive press is behind him.

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All Is Well

Several times a day, Eli the guide gathered us together and counted us. Then, before moving on, he would ask, “All is well?”

He meant, “Is there anything you need?” He would direct us to the nearest restrooms. That was also when he answered questions and checked any malfunctioning “whisperers.” (We could hear him whisper in our earpiece.)

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We read three variations of that phrase today.

2 Kings 4:23, “…It will be well.”

New American Standard Bible

Her son was dead but she told her husband, “It will be well.” She had faith that God could raise her son if Elisha prayed for him.

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2 Kings 4:26, “…It is well.”

New American Standard Bible

Her faith had grown into full confidence. She knew God would answer. She didn’t rush back to her dead son but traveled slowly with Elisha.

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2 Kings 5:22, “He said, ‘All is well.’ …”

New American Standard Bible

Gehazi was not putting his faith in God when he used the phrase. He was getting what he wanted through deception instead of waiting for God to provide. It didn’t bring a blessing but a curse.

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While we were in Israel, someone hacked into our router. They connected two devices and were enjoying free WIFI at our expense. The router was from 2008 and I already patched it once.

I ordered a new router. I connected the computer, tablet, and phones on the first day.

All is well.

I tried again to connect the printer for two more days.

It will be well.

I connected the two Blu-ray players to the new router. One works, and the other turned to a black screen.

It will be well.

Yesterday, I found the set-up disk for the printer in my “Office Warranties” file. I put it in and was finally able to connect to the new router.

All is well.

My immediate needs are met. I still have a black screen on one Blu-ray player and I don’t have everything I want or desire but…

All is well!

Eli is ready to adjust a “whisperer” for one of our group members in the synagogue at Masada.

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