Capernaum – To Walk Where Jesus Walked

Capernaum –                                                     To Walk Where Jesus Walked

Capernaum was a busy fishing village with a population of about 1500 located on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Archeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other. A house turned into a church by the Byzantines is said to be the house of Saint Peter. (Wikipedia) It became an important stop for Roman soldiers. Jesus called His first disciples from the area and spent a lot of time in Capernaum and He may have lived with Peter’s family while here or other disciples.

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14  so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:  (Isaiah 9:1-2)    Matt 4:13-14 (ESV)

Since recently visiting Israel my scripture reading now includes better insights of how IMG_2003and where they lived and ministered. Peter’s house was right across the road from the synagogue!

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. Mark 1:29-33

IMG_2012Today this spot is surrounded first by an octagonal wall that was a 4th century church marking the historicity of the place and today a modern Catholic church hovers over the excavated area with a window in the floor for all to see the room where Jesus may have preached.

In this one town we read about people from many different walks of life coming to see Jesus. Unlikely people who would not have otherwise spoken to each other came in droves for healing and to hear the teaching from this incredible man of God. These stories of faith are filled with healing and restoration. There were no hospitals. The sick and lame were a burden to their families if they could not work. They were forbidden to enter the synagogue because they were “unclean”. Life changing miracles of restoration include not just body and mind but of life and purpose. Yet despite witnessing the power of God, Jesus later admonishes this town too for their unbelief.

Peter’s mother-in-law helped host many people in their home while Jesus was in town preaching. How often did she help serve the hungry band of disciples? One time the house was so packed four friends cut a hole through the roof to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus. Maybe they were out working together and he fell down the steep hillside…a terrible accident…would Jesus restore their friend?Magdala

A Roman centurion would have had total disgust for the Jews in general. But one understood Jesus’ power and authority and he humbled himself to ask for healing for his beloved servant. Jarius was synagogue leader that asked Jesus to heal his little girl while at the same time a woman, suffering from a bleeding disorder for twelve years, reaches to touch His robe and is instantly healed.

                         REAL  PEOPLE.  REAL  STORIES.  REAL  LIFE  SITUATIONS.

 The world has vastly changed in building, knowledge, technology and travel; but people have not changed! That is one reason why the Bible is so relevant for today.  We too have family, friends, government, work and worship.

 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.   John 21:25 (NLT)

 My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 

  I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”    John 16:33 

God stepped out of glory in the form of Jesus to live and share real life with mankind; all of it – the joys, fellowship, sadness and hurt. He understands. Come to Him in the middle of your mess or in your greatest joys… then share your story so all can hear of His love and life changing power.

Ariel view of Capernaum today    CapernaumAerialView

Days Without the Sun

Days Without the Sun

Spring has been so dreary in New England this year.  April only had four days of total sunshine. Gray clouds and light sprinkles to pouring rain have continued to drag our rainyhandweary bodies and souls down. Oh how we long for the sun and warmth! Nature still takes its course despite the weather and the days grow longer. We watch the birds return, buds sprout on trees and flowers push their way up through the ground.

But what a difference the sun makes! I watched with gladness when my perennials shot up five inches after only two days of sunshine. I enjoyed coffee on my patio in the brief warmth and felt a sense of relief. It gave me a renewed feeling of energy and a better attitude.

sunny patioThis is true of our spiritual lives as well. A day without the SON is also a little bit dreary. Without spending some time in prayer and reading God’s word my day is not as focused and my spirit can sag.  

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matt 11:28-30 (NLT)

Jesus calls us to come to Him. We are to leave our worries and problems with Him believing that He loves us and is at work in our lives. Our God is not a harsh task Master but has promised good things to us. So many people misunderstand God because they don’t really know Him.

               My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.      John 10:10 (NLT)

We all have days in our lives that are gray and seem never ending.  I find a lot of encouragement in the book of psalms and chapter 42 is a favorite of many because it describes the weariness of the soul. If you are feeling blue, I encourage you to read the whole chapter.

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and6 my God!     Psalms 42:5-6 (NLT)

Even on the dreariest day I can have Sunshine in my soul.  Anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows I love music. I’ll end today with the words to a dear old hymn.

There is Sunshine in My Soul

There is sunshine in my soul today,
More glorious and bright
Than glows in any earthly sky,
For Jesus is my light.

O there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine,
While the peaceful, happy moments roll;
When Jesus shows His smiling face
There is sunshine in my soul.

There is springtime in my soul today,
For when the Lord is near
The dove of peace sings in my heart,
The flowers of grace appear.

There is gladness in my soul today,
And hope, and praise, and love,
For blessings which He gives me now,
For joys laid up above.

 

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Just a Touch of His Robe

Just a Touch of His Robe

She was exhausted, out of resources, rejected, alone and in deep agony of body, mind and spirit. Three of the gospels re-tell the story of a woman who suffered for twelve long years and they don’t even give her a name.

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding.26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse.27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe.28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.”29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it.33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and told him what she had done.34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”         Mark 5:25-34 (NLT)

Twelve years of pain,weakness and suffering from expensive “cures” that failed over and over.  The Law, found in Leviticus 15, demanded that anyone with a discharge was to live separately and considered unclean. That meant if anyone touched her or sat on the same furniture as her, would also be ceremonially unclean. She could not go to the Temple or celebrate the feasts. She would be ridiculed and scorned because she would bear no children and was considered an outcast. What a miserable life.

womantouchrobe2She overheard about a Great Teacher named Jesus who was doing amazing miracles and that He was in town not too far away. “The villagers will not even let me near enough to hear him”, she thought. “Maybe if I can sneak in close enough to just touch His robe, I might be healed”.  Somehow she did manage to get close enough to do just that and immediately she knew she was completely healed.

Jesus called her out of the shadows. The woman shakily came forward and told her whole story in front of the crowd. Jesus looked at her and lovingly called her Daughter, sending her home with complete healing and peace. Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace means wholeness.  Jesus gave her wholeness of body, mind and spirit. There was a whole new life of community, happiness and possibilities ahead of her now.

Whatever your current circumstances, no matter where you have been or what has happened in life – reach out to Jesus.

 

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Reach Out to Jesus by Ralph Carmichael

Is your burden heavy as you bear it all alone?
Does the road you travel harbor dangers yet unknown?
Are you growing weary in the struggle of it all? 
Jesus will help you when on His name you call.
He is always there, hearing every prayer, faithful and true.
Walking by our side, in His love we hide all the day through.
When you get discouraged just remember what to do.
Reach out to Jesus, He’s reaching out to you.

Are You a Blessing or a Basketcase?

Are You a Blessing or a Basketcase?

basket-artI have a very large “collection” of baskets in my home and I don’t even know where most of them came from!  Some are from gift or flower baskets and some have a more specific purpose like my Longaberger pie basket. My baskets are varied in sizes, shapes and colors. I have used part of my collection to visually share that we are uniquely designed by God for a purpose. We have different abilities, backgrounds, spiritual gifts and talents.

The term basket-case comes from WW1 British English, indicating a soldier missingstress-collage both his arms and his legs, who needed to be literally carried in a litter or “basket”.In common slang it is used to mean one made powerless or ineffective, as by nerves, panic or stress.

On the other hand a blessing can mean:  1.some kind of divine or supernatural aid, or reward. 2. good fortune   3.a thing one is glad of

The account of Jesus feeding the 5000 is in all 4 gospels but John gives us a little more detail.  “Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him 4 (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.)5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to fishandbreadfeed them!”8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up.9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.)11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.”13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.”    John 6:3-13 (NLT)

I’m asking you, “What’s in your basket?”  You may feel like you don’t have much to offer but Jesus asks us to give whatever we have back to Him. He especially delights in using the broken fragments of our lives to help hungry, hurting people. When we are willing to do that, nothing is ever wasted.

So are you a blessing or a basket case? Are you totally incapacitated by apathy, some pain in your life, fear or stress? Give it all to Him and let Him heal your wounded heart. God designed each one of us with a void in our lives that can only be filled by Him.  Are you using your gifts and abilities for God? God created you in a unique way – one of a kind – and you were made for a purpose. I encourage you not to hide your abilities under a “basket” but instead find a way you can serve Him and others!

 

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I Can Do It…

I Can Do It…

My son is participating in Special Olympics speed skating competition this weekend.  Remy proskateYes, the son that had open heart surgery at six months of age, born with club feet and cognitive disabilities. He started with a tentative shuffle and learned how to step and glide with the boots holding his ankles firm and secure. The doctors had said not to shelter him but instead let him try to do whatever he can.  It has been a long road to get to where we are. I could never have dreamed of the places we would go or the people we would meet in our journey with special needs.

Special Olympics involves a huge community of family, friends, coaches,volunteers, and sponsors that come together for sport, encouragement, healthy living and teamwork with a positive attitude.  There is no “I can’t” and lots of “you can do it”. Milestones are recorded and progress is acknowledged.  Everyone tries their best but many strive for the gold!

race-marathon The apostle Paul used the analogy of  sports and “running the race” several times in his letters.

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.26 So I run with purpose in every step.   1 Cor 9:24-26 (NLT)

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.      Phil 4:13 (NLT)

There are many things in life that can be challenging.  Studying for exams is one example.  Beloved evangelist and professor at the Word of Life Bible Institute, Wendell Calder,  challenges and encourages the students every year by having them memorize this rally cry,

  I will not quit. By God’s grace I can do it.”  

What would our churches look like if we all worked together as a team? What if we all church memorialdisciplined ourselves in reading and studying God’s word – our rule book and guide to life?  What if we encouraged each other during the highs and lows of life with compassion and persistence?    Would our congregation look and feel different if we welcomed people of all abilities?

What if I tried my best everyday? What if instead of making excuses I looked up and trusted God to be there in the middle of my mess.

There’s a joke about a lady praying, “Lord, its been a beautiful day so far and I am so grateful. But in a minute I will be getting out of bed and I don’t know what’s going to happen so I’m going to need your help…”

college-football-crowdTherefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus,   Heb 12:1-2 

We can transform the place where we live by the power of God’s spirit. We can share His compassion, faithfulness, mercy and hope for tomorrow with the people in our lives.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.     Heb 10:23-25 

Each day is a new start……Run well…..

 

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Holding on to Grace

Holding on to Grace

I’ve just finished a long season in life caring for my Dad. When he passed away in December I realized I don’t have to pay his bills, check his clothes and advocate for his care.  Someone has already taken his bed at the nursing home and I don’t belong there anymore. I no longer will bring him a Dunkin and a muffin. I guess part of what I feel is grief in saying goodbye but also a loss of my position as daughter and caretaker.

My children are grown and are trying to establish their own lives in this world. Jeremy – our special needs son – lives at home and will always need supervision and support to manage life but he too has a job and daily routine that doesn’t include my direct care.

Not quite 60 I have retired from my career as an operating room nurse due to health concerns. Although I mostly worked part-time it has been a challenging, highly skilled and exciting part of my life and meaningful part of my person-hood.

I am a person that likes “to do”, be busy and be involved. But at this juncture in my life when I should feel free and relaxed, I started hearing an old voice of insecurity!  “You are too young to retire, you are lazy, nobody cares, what are you going to DO with your life?”  A friend hit the nail on the head when she commented , “I think you are under spiritual attack .You’ve got to give yourself grace. You have been through a lot the past few years!”

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.       Eph 2:8-10 (ESV)

I’ve always been told Grace means “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Jesus paid it all for gracerockmy salvation and I don’t do anything to earn it. So what does grace look or feel like?  What are some of God’s riches for me at this point in my life?

It is FREEDOM –

  • no regrets in how we cared for my Dad or my Mother-in law – no guilt.
  • to rest – I don’t have to work a very physically and mentally demanding job .
  • to choose – I don’t have to beat myself up for not going to the gym or whatever lie the inner voice says

My IDENTITY is not defined by what I do!  It is WHO I AM.

  • In Christ, I am a daughter of the King! His Princess! His beloved Child
  • In My relationships – I am a wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend and neighbor- I can focus on, enjoy and pray for them all!

37 And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”     Matt 22:37-39

My RESPONSIBILITY in this new season

  • is to love God first and foremost with heart, soul and mind. I cannot do that without daily spending time reading His word and in prayer.
  • right now is to just BE and to WAIT for Him to show me what the next step is. He isn’t finished with me yet!

“Be still, and know that I am God”.       Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

 “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”    Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.       Heb 4:16 (ESV)

 My PRAYER

  • Dear God, help me to stop striving and just hold onto GRACE.

 

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Living in Gratitude

Living in Gratitude

Throughout the month of November we hear a lot about “Thanksgiving”, as in the holiday story and being thankful for basic needs being met. But peculiar to America, the day after we nostalgically fill our stomachs we have “black Friday”, a time of racing off to shop for the best deals and display full blown commercialism and greed.  What happened?

thanksgiving-2903166__340The words gratitude, thankfulness or gratefulness  come from the Latin word gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’ , it is a feeling of appreciation . We can be grateful for something that gives us pleasure or contentment  and or supplies comfort or alleviates discomfort.  The definition of thankful is to be ; 1.conscious of benefit received or for what we are about to receive – makes us truly thankful – a feeling. 2. it is expressive or 3. we are well pleased

How do we live a life of gratitude? How we choose to look at life or our circumstances can be either dismal or hopeful. Being grateful comes from a healthier perspective. Here are some points to ponder:

  • It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be thankful that you have a perspectiveglass and there is something in it.
  • Be grateful for what you have already while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have , what makes you think you would be happy with more?                  Ray T. Bennett
  • Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessing, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of “I want”, “I need” ,”I gotta have it too”, while comparing ourselves to others. The marketing and media industry wants us to focus only on temporary things but God wants us to value the eternal things.

16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.                           1 John 2:16 (NLT)

6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.     1 Tim 6:6-8 (ESV)

Watching the news this past year has caused me to stop and count my many blessings more than ever.  Our country has suffered massive destruction coast to coast – storms and floods, volcanic eruptions, and massive forest fires. I pray for victims and first responders but also stop and thank God for my home and all the things I have. I have so much! We all have so much!

I believe that true gratitude comes from a heart that recognizes we deserve nothing but God gives us everything we need. We are given so many blessings every day but are entitled to none. I can learn to be content with what I have. I was recently challenged to write down one thing I am grateful for everyday over the next 30 days. Maybe that would be a good exercise for you and your family too because a thankful heart is a happy heart. Let us live with an attitude of gratitude.

 

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