And is there joy?

Esther's Petition

RejoicingJesusWars. Rumors of wars.

I was reading the Gospel of Luke and had arrived at Chapter 21.

I looked up from the page, thinking how closely today’s news lines up with those verses.

Jesus spoke those words to his disciples, warning them about the tragedy that would befall the people of Jerusalem in a few years (AD 70).

But he was also prophesying about the tragedy that was going to befall peoples of many nations in the following centuries.

The Holy Spirit’s voice interrupted my thoughts. It’s really dark out there, he said. Yes, it is, I agreed.

“Gloom, despair and agony on me?” he added. I nodded yes, recalling the old Hee Haw skit. (https://youtu.be/ZAAKPJEq1Ew)

He went on. Depression. Worry. Anxiety. Fear. Hopelessness. Agony of soul and body. There is such gross violence covering the earth.

Yes, I said, there is. This conversation was getting really negative…

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Holy Spirit, Trail Guide

We are really going to need our Trail Guide in 2019.

Esther's Petition

TrailGuideWho are you, Lord?I asked again recently, recalling other times I’d asked him that.

Trail guide, he answered. The Holy Spirit is your trail guide for the journey you’re taking.

Over the next few days, I thought about that. Now and then I asked him why he used that particular title – I don’t find it in the Bible anywhere, I said. At least, not in those words.

Here’s how our back-and-forth conversation and my meditations went, more or less.

About the trail…

A trail is not a paved road. It doesn’t lead through cities or towns. If you’re taking a trail, it’s because you’re not going through civilized country. It may meander, lead uphill sometimes and downhill sometimes.

A trail is for travel. It makes traveling easier through woods or wilderness. It doesn’t destroy the woods or wilderness, only disturbing them a little. More than a rough path…

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Distractions: weapons against you

Still appropriate; the distractions are getting worse for many people these days.

Esther's Petition

“We are not ignorant of the devil’s devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Or are we?

When you’re distracted, your attention changes. Your focus  shifts. Suddenly you’re side tracked, off target.

This doesn’t just mean an annoyance; if you’re a soldier in a for-real war, a distraction can be fatal. Wounded or dead, distractions prevent your objectives from being accomplished.

Enemies use distractions like slick magicians, but the result isn’t just a laugh or two, the result is death. Think suicide bombers dressed like pregnant women. Think Trojan War. Distraction is a well-known, well-used warfare strategy. (See below.) How is it that the church at large isn’t recognizing that fact?

If he can’t kill you outright, the devil will try to nullify your faith, thus your effectiveness. An attractive con man, Satan can be an enemy spy in the camp (i.e. the church, or in the mind of an individual). He’s pretty…

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What is it about shepherds

Esther's Petition

Photo by Sara Branstetter, April 2008. Used with permission.An angel brought an unusual message to a group of shepherds in the night, somewhere near Bethlehem.  They were watching a flock of sheep who were bedded down in a field, not in a stable or sheep cote.  A little history lesson – sheep were allowed in cultivated fields twice a year, after the fields had been harvested and after the poor of the community had gleaned the fields.  Other times they were elsewhere, either in the hilly uncultivated countryside or in the caves that doubled as stables, where feed and water troughs carved from large stones could be seen (otherwise known as mangers).

In any case, these sheep were in the fields with the shepherds watching them.  One minute they were alone in the darkness, the next minute the night sky lit up with a blast of light.  One minute there were only sheep and shepherds, the next minute…

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Thorns, grace, power tools

Esther's Petition

In II Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul asked God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” three times. He called it a “messenger of Satan,” given to him because of the revelations he’d received. Given to him by whom? For what?

Messenger = angelos, translated angel in all but three places in the New Testament, and those are all in the gospels quoting an Old Testament verse that applied to John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus.

Every other place angelos refers to an angel. Like Gabriel. Like the angel that delivered Peter from prison. Like the angels in the book of Revelation.

In the Old Testament thorns in the flesh were always pagan people that vexed God’s people. See Numbers 33:55 and Judges 2:3. Never does that word describe anything other than a person or personality. Angel of Satan. Demon-possessed person or demon itself.

Why does an evil personality harass…

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Hammer of God

“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29)

Esther's Petition

041110-N-5386H-004Hammer… Hammer of God, is that a real thing? I didn’t really think so, although God certainly uses people as instruments in his hand. Tools. Equipment. I wasn’t actually praying, not studying or even meditating when that question popped into my mind the other day. Maybe I was remembering the movie “Thor” that my daughter and I saw some months ago, I’m not sure what started this train of thought.

Along with that casual question, certain scenarios began to run through my mind. Hammering an enemy until he’s defeated, for instance. I gave the word a bit more mental focus and envisioned some physical, mental, emotional and spiritual definitions and uses of a hammer.

Nouns: tool, equipment, instrument, appliance, weapon; sign or symbol of position, power or authority.

Verb: to strike a surface with force; attack, beat physically or verbally; win, defeat an opponent or enemy; stress a point in a…

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