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It’s Something Only God Sees

“I had always felt life first as a story—and if there is a story there is a storyteller.”

G.K. Chesterton.

We are characters living out subplots, our life-stories, within God’s Story.

I began this morning considering Simon Peter and King David. Their stories are alike. David lived before Christ’s time, Peter lived during and after Christ’s time.

Both of them were known for delighting God.

They were nobodies when God chose them. David, a youth tending sheep had been overlooked and discounted by his own father and brothers when the Prophet Samuel came looking for God’s future king to anoint. Peter was an outspoken, impulsive fisherman the day Jesus made him one of His closest friends. To Peter Jesus handed the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.  Accepting a leading role, Peter helped Jesus usher in God’s Kingdom on earth.

What made God choose such unlikely characters anyway?  David became the most beloved king of Israel, the nation claimed by God to be his own people. He was such a significant person in God’s larger story.   Jesus identified himself as the expected “Son of David.”

Peter, whom Jesus nicknamed “the rock” was the first stone (the first to believe Jesus was Messiah and Son of God) to be laid in the foundations of the Spiritual Temple of God made up of all believers in Jesus.

David and Peter were put in leadership roles. Both carried the kingdom of God forward. And, yet, both of them were a mess at times. They sinned. They disappointed God. They were unworthy of the favors given. Sometimes they walked beside God in the Light, other times they chased shadows.  They didn’t merit the Lord’s love, calling, or gifts. But God saw something about them that much affected Him.

God chose them because of something only God sees.

The Lord chose David and Peter because of their hearts. That was the real attraction. God proclaimed that David was a man after His own heart. Jesus said many endearing things about Peter.  He is the only man who walked on water with Jesus and was the first to use Jesus’ healing powers with words of his own mouth.

What affects God most when He sees us? Our hearts.

These thoughts are helping me to put my priorities in order at the start of this new year. I pray the Lord will look at my heart and help me put the foolish things behind me in order to enjoy walking in the Light beside Jesus, and to even walk on water with Him this year.  My desire is to realize that my little life can be like David’s or Peter’s—this is my time in history to do my little bit for Him and His Kingdom. But, mostly, it is my time on earth to appreciate the Lord’s love, care, and favor.  I want to live the Story God sees for me. If I live out of my heart, it’s what only God sees, but it is what He likes.

Priority One: Delight myself in the Lord.

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Once Upon A Time – The Fullness of Love was Born

Once Upon A Time – The Fullness of Love was Born

At first sight, Miriam shares her joy . . . 

I loved Yeshua so much I cried. He was mine. He came from God, and he was mine.

I studied his fingernails, each one so tiny and delicate. I marveled at his eyelashes, so beautiful against his face. His nose, his chin, everything about him was perfect. Curled little fists, I easily opened them to examine baby-soft palms. His mouth, a flower bud, puckered while he slept.

How many times I kissed his head I don’t know. I couldn’t deny my lips from his crown of fine hair.

His newborn smell was like no other scent. I had heard my women relations speak of it, of how a new babe’s smell steals the mother’s heart and binds her fast. I was his long before this. But, by all that is holy, holding him in my arms, well, I never knew love could feel so wonderful and strong.

He brought his finger to his mouth and began sucking it so hard it made smacking sounds. This thrilled me and I realized I should nurse him. When I tried, he preferred his finger. This, too, amazed me; he had a mind of his own, even while he slept, and only minutes old.

I thought to wake him so he would properly nurse. “Come on, little one! Come on, precious, open your eyes! Come on.” I moved him this way and that way until he began to stretch his small body, arms reaching above his head. His voice squeaked and he squeezed his eyes tighter, all of this part of the stretch. Then his eyes fluttered open and he was awake.

Are you looking at me? I gasped with delight, but the words were silent in my head. “Shalom, little one. Shalom. I’m your mama.” I touched the tip of his nose with my finger. He blinked.

My mind filled with joy. Adonai, Elohim, he is straight from heaven, straight from heaven! You are the Holy One of Israel and you have done a wonderful thing to me.

I brought him to my breast and his head trembled in search for the nipple. Then, with sudden discovery, he hungrily latched on. I was been made for him. I gazed at him and listened to his sucking sounds. I held more than a miracle close to my heart; he was Heaven’s surprise and promise.

He – is – wonderful.

***

Scriptures to Meditate upon this Season of the Year:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him,
and without him nothing was made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:1-5

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given;
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with
justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

“Do not be afraid, Miriam; you have found favor with God.
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Yeshua.

He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:29

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Fools for God

Sometimes my beliefs seem crazy. What Christians believe have the surface appearance of really farfetched tales of fiction. I sense this sometimes when speaking to one of my grandchildren about heaven and hell, creation, angels and demons, and more. Stranger than that are the people of biblical record. One man built an ark before the world was purposely flooded by the Creator. A reluctant preacher spent three days inside a whale because he refused God’s call to warn the people in a certain city. A donkey talks to a prophet while an angel nearly runs him through with a sword for being uncooperative. Really?

If any of these examples were in headline news today, we’d scoff. What would you think if you heard an undefeated, famous weight lifter with a long ponytail say that he’d lose all his strength from a haircut? We’d call him a nut case for sure.

And, what about the BIGGEST one of all? Jesus, the only man-God to grace our planet. You’ve read the Scripture that forewarns this one as a fool’s Reward, right?
[ Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom ] For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Therefore, we “fools” can be ecstatically thankful that God left His throne to live among us before He died on a cross to save us. We claim His shed blood makes us as white as snow. We hear God’s voice and are members of a spiritual family with a King and a Kingdom to belong to. One day we plan to celebrate a wedding feast with the majestic, glorious Bridegroom, the Love of our hearts and lives. Yes, this is what it means to be a fool for Christ.

Praise our wonderful God, the rewarder and Reward of our faith, for He has given us unquestionable proof and EVIDENCE for all we believe.

Earth’s past, present, and future is a book God is writing; it’s a Divine Drama of love, romance, adventure, conflict, sacrifice, complete with a Hero and happy ending.

When I was in third grade I heard my first lesson of faith. The teacher wrote on the chalk board the following:

Question: Why did God make you?
Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.

I didn’t know at the time that God would pursue me relentlessly the rest of my life. It would be a while before I would learn about His relationship and plans for people on earth, with Israel in particular as a major part of the plot, of the unfolding revelation of Himself and His desires. He wants our hearts.

Faith was never meant to be rules to follow or doctrines and truths to grasp. It’s a crazy, wild love affair. It’s funny how God operates. He confounds those who are wise in their own eyes and gives depth of wisdom to the simple. So, fools rush in!

 

I tried to upload a document for EVIDENCE of our faith: THE JEWISH MESSIAH- Prophecies of the Bible and How Jesus Fulfilled Them. However, it didn’t work on this blog site. If you go to http://www.mmontreuil.wordpress.com – you’ll see the same blog post “Fools for God”  and at the bottom of the page is a link to a pdf file.

 

Or, send me an email and request it from me.     mmontreuil@ymail.com  

Then pass it along to anyone or everyone you know. It is especially convincing for Jewish people that Jesus (Yeshua)  is the long-awaited Messiah.

 

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Surprise! Unwrapping God’s Presence

God came to us as a stranger. Nobody expected to see the Messiah come in the way He came. God fulfilled the prophecies about Himself but not in ways anyone could grasp. Really, not even those closest to Jesus understood who He really was, not until after the resurrection. Even then the realization came slowly.

 

God in a manger was a scandal. But, what glory it was in reality. If one could fully grasp the significance of the event, the wonder of it . . . well, of course, we cannot.

He hid Himself for our sakes.

And, today, in our personal lives and stories, it seems the same is true. Jesus can, anytime He decides, unveil His awesome power (that glorious Divinity), to prove His presence with us in similar ways He did during the days He wore sandals. He showed His glory through miracles and loving wonders and still does. We long for those times, don’t we?

He lived 30 years without any sign of being anything but an ordinary man. And, for about 3 years only did He unveil the beauty, the wonder, the mystery, of His presence.

I think He lets us miss Him, lets us yearn for answers, watches us grope in the dark for His will—all for good reason. I think it is so that He can surprise us. The favors come on His timetable, though, not ours. He sets us up in situations and circumstances that make us need Him. It is unavoidable, this dependence we have on Him. Yet, in this way, He is continually changing us and wooing us closer. Our faith grows. We begin to see Him more clearly, in places we hadn’t expected to find Him.

 

God became a crying baby in diapers, for Heaven’s sake. He was truly the Creator of the universe, don’t forget. This is in keeping with His character.

 

No doubt about it, Jesus enjoyed shocking His friends. He did it often. His first miracle was in the production of an extravagant amount of wine. Imagine the glee on Jesus’ face as he watched the wedding guests laugh and dance. He healed everyone He came across and showed generosity at every turn. His anger surprised folks, too. He turned to stone occasionally—because He couldn’t surprise the religious leaders with His generosity, with His desire to forgive and dazzle people. No, Jesus wanted people to enjoy His presence, not shun His kindness. He wanted to steal hearts, after all—that’s why He came.

 

I think Jesus graces us with similar miracles today—ones He often never gets the credit for. I have personally experienced quite a few. Even so, I often feel like my prayers are not being heard because I don’t see immediate results. Or I feel confused and unable to make decisions, with what seems like no direction from above. But, if we ask for guidance and we hear crickets, does it mean God isn’t listening? No, I don’t believe that for a second. I have to remind myself, He answers at the perfect time and in the right way. He has always been this way. Above all, He wants us to know He is truly with us. He is present.

 God loves to surprise us.

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THE GARDENS OF THE LORD

CHAPTER ONE:

A GARDEN CALLED EDEN

 

When God created the heavens and the earth, He made an especially beautiful, delightful place. He put a lot of thought into its design, its function, its beauty. He planned and dreamed about it with an expectant, loving heart. It turned out to be a paradise.

It wasn’t elaborate with golden streets smooth as glass; nor were there walls with foundations of precious stones. There were no gates made of pearls. This place wasn’t glorious as heaven’s New Jerusalem is described.

In fact, there wasn’t anything majestic about it: no mountains or valleys with breathtaking views like in other parts of the earth. It had no massive and powerful ocean nearby, no windswept desert landscape, no powerful waterfalls from heights of the earth. Rather, it had an enclosed and private feeling to it. This special place was made with a distinct purpose in mind.

It was a garden. God named it “Eden,” which means “delight.” And that’s the kind of place it was.

The great decorator designed and planted everything in it Himself. It was beautiful, teeming with life so green, full of trees and colorful flowers. It had gentle brooks running over rocks, chirping birds, singing creatures, soft velvet carpeted grass, hidden coves under veils of ferns and vines, and gentle breezes carrying aromatic scents. It was blissful.

His delight in beauty was, of course, expressed everywhere on earth and in the universe all around it, but nowhere was it expressed so romantically, so hopefully, than in this garden.

He planted trees and plants bearing fruit. He created water and gave it to the land, carving out brooks and streams to nurture all the life He brought forth. He gave this new world sunshine lighting and warming it. He thought of air, of wind, and He ordered it to be gentle.

The Creator prepared everything, readying the garden just so. Then the big day arrived. Surrounded by His watchful angels, the Lord God knelt down on the ground in the garden. Bending over the soft, rich earth, He took dirt and formed a man in His own image. Breathing into its nostrils, the man came alive. The Lord called him Adam.

Adam was not like the other earthly creatures God made because he was alone, without a mate. Like God. But God saw that all was not good in this regard. Adam should have a mate.

 

Romantic love. There is nothing more delightful than being in love. If a male and a female have love that is pure, and if they can be together, there is no finer thing on earth. It can be passionate and stronger than death. This kind of love is sweeter than the love between parents and children. It is better than the love between siblings. It is more precious than the love between good friends. It is the best love.

God’s love can be all kinds of relational love. He loves with unconditional, sacrificial love. He loves as a perfect parent who loves His children. He loves as a brother through Jesus. He loves as a friend. And. And, with the strongest and best of all types of love, He loves as a lover in the fullest sense. That’s why He revealed Himself as our Bridegroom. It was His idea, not ours.

He wanted to be in love. He wanted “another” to love. Just like Adam wanted a “someone.” God, who created love, who is love, will not miss out. This special kind of love exists for His sake, as well as ours. However, human “eros” love is but a shadow compared to the original.

When God planned the first garden, He had a long-range plan. He knew how Adam would feel and did feel. He had planned to give Adam a mate all along. A part of Adam would be missing, but it would be in his “other” . . . and God smiled at the very thought of her.

God put Adam in a deep sleep and opened his side, removing one of his ribs. From it He formed Eve, his counterpart, who became Adam’s beautiful mate. She was very much like Adam, but almost opposite in some ways. She was smaller, softer, weaker, in a delicate, fragile sort of way, very sensitive, and extremely lovely. Together, they were complete. They were the image of God.

 

The Creator had in mind a way to someday find a counterpart, someone to fulfill His desires for love. He would, like Adam, have someone, too. He wouldn’t make her just from dirt, alive from His breath alone, she would come “from “ Him. She would take her place beside Him, to join Him, not just in daily life but in eternal life. His bride would come to be much like Eve. She had been formed from Adam’s side. The Creator’s beloved would be formed from His Spirit, since He was spirit.

The Lord God loved Adam and Eve. They loved Him, and they loved each other, as well. This greatly pleased the Lord.

In the midst of the garden, God gave Adam and Eve two special trees that bore fruit. They ate freely from one of the trees, but from the other one, the Lord forbade them to eat.

It was a matter of love—those two trees. For when they chose to obey their Maker, they truly showed Him their love and trust. And the Lord watched them together and enjoyed their love for each other and their love for Him. But when they disobeyed Him and ate fruit from the tree that was forbidden, everything changed.

The Lord God told them that if they ate from the forbidden tree, they would surely die.

God’s enemy, the fallen angel who had rebelled in heaven, tempted Eve telling her that they would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit, but that if they ate of it they would become like God, knowing good and evil.

Both Adam and Eve ate that fruit in spite of what God had told them. Part of what the devil said was true. Knowing good and evil, the next thing they knew after eating the fruit was that they were naked.

God found them hiding from Him, afraid to death of Him. No longer did they know innocence. They had changed. Everything else changed, too.

That’s when they realized they were cold. They’d never been uncomfortable before. They’d never been afraid before.  Something very bad was happening to them, they feared.

Their intimacy and openness, their nakedness in the presence of their Maker, was gone.  They did not want God to see them like this. They had withdrawn from Him already.

Something terrible, sin, had come between them and the Creator.

They trembled at God’s voice when He called to them, looking for them. “Adam, Eve, where are you?”

 

The Lord God knew already, knew when He couldn’t find them that they had disobeyed Him. When He found them cowering from Him, He spoke softly yet sternly to them about what He would do to help them.

First, He covered their guilty nakedness with the skins of an animal. This was hard for God to do, for He loved the animal He killed for their sakes. And, He knew, this was only the beginning . . . His children would need to use this bloody ritual of sorts, to be repeated over and over in the days ahead.

Blood sacrifices and offerings would pave the way for something so terrible, and so wonderful, that God kept this part of His plan to save them to Himself.

God came up with a long range plan, a way to cover sin by means of innocent blood. This, He knew, would only cover their shame; one day He would remove it from them. That day would prove His love and faithfulness to them. That day He would enter into death Himself and awake from it, swallowing up death with His life—his innocent blood the price to pay. Afterwards, no longer would anyone die if His life was in them. And, like Adam, who was put into a deep sleep while Eve was formed from him, so, too, God’s holy and innocent Son would be put into “death’s sleep” so that His bride could be formed from Him, made from His very nature and being. This was His secret, His future plan, and the only thing that could comfort Him that sad day when sin and death came to His beloved Adam and Eve.

He knew all the pain, suffering, sickness, sin, evil—even murder—which would follow them and their children. And He knew they would not know Him intimately, nor live in harmony with Him, as they had. Though His heart was full of pain, He gave the orders. They were forcefully driven out of the garden. An angel was commissioned with a heavenly weapon, a sword of fire, to guard the entrance. They were not allowed near the one special tree that gave life anymore. They couldn’t come back into Eden—not for a long, long, time.

 

The Lord dreamed of another time—He would make good come from all of this. But it wouldn’t be easy. It would cost Him dearly. The tree of life would be carved into the shape of a cross. He’d see to it. It would be love at its best, and hate at its worst. But to display love at its best, He decided it would be worth it.

He wanted a mate—a counterpart. He wanted to be a devoted lover. Yes, after it was all over, it would be worth it.

He could see His bride even now, in His mind’s eye. She was beautiful, pure and holy, like Him. She would love Him completely. He would buy her costly robes of righteousness and adorn her with precious, rare jewels. Not earthly ones. These would be spiritual: refined, priceless gems. He would forever cherish her, would lay down His life for her—O, how he wanted her! She would be His forever. And she would reign with Him. He would cherish her and give her His life. Passion and love would blaze between them for eternity.

 

Check back soon for Chapter Two: A Garden in Israel

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Shining

I read a verse of Scripture today that struck me in a way that felt so much bigger than the words themselves. Philippians 2:15: “… so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world . . .”

These words stood out to me: “blameless, pure, of God, in a crooked and perverse society . . . shine as lights”—and with these holy words, a vivid memory played out in my mind.

A couple of days ago I rented a movie, a comedy. After watching it for a while, I jumped out of my chair in a race to shut the thing off as fast as I could.  An extremely nasty, graphic scene still plays out in my mind, stubbornly stuck in my memory. How can I get rid of it? I can’t fathom how the movie was produced for public viewing. I can’t even begin to imagine what the actor in the scene must have felt like in having to play the action he did . . . I mean, how deep into filth is our culture going to nosedive?

Now that I think of it, aren’t most comedies these days incredibly raunchy? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy humor as much as anyone. But, honestly, what comic entertainment, if any, these days could be enjoyed by Jesus, who has a tremendous sense of humor?

Our culture is degrading itself more and more. It is shameful not just stupid.

What does it mean to “shine as lights in the world” anyway? I like to laugh, and I truly get caught up in love stories; I’m an average human being living in the 21st century. At the same time, I am a person of the Word of life. I intimately know the Maker of heaven and earth. I have a love relationship with a Person who is called “the Light of the world” because He is the glory of heaven itself. He lived among us once and has given us who believe in Him, His very own Spirit, to carry inside ourselves. We can be the Light of the world as well.

I have to ask myself, Am I shining?

Ok, so I have written books that I hope shine the light of Jesus. But are words enough? Jesus left many of His creative, powerful words to shine in the world.  I don’t think even His words would be enough. No, I believe what we need is His presence. We need Him. And that is precisely why He went to Heaven and sent His Spirit to live in us.

The people who beheld Jesus saw the shining face of God. Can it be true, when people see one of His true followers, they see the Light of heaven in us?

Once when Jesus healed a man, blind from birth, He said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

While I am in the world, am I the light of the world because Jesus lives in me? I can’t shine at all if I stay hidden, of if I am part of a blinded society that has lost its way in the dark.

I know that Jesus isn’t legalistic; He sets captives free to live His life. He is all about the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. I get that. I am turned off by religiosity.

So, how do we shine? How do we live in the world but not become part of it?

Maybe it is a matter of which way we face. Are we moving towards the light? In every moment?

What if we turned our faces towards Heaven, and lived 100%  true to Jesus? What if, all day long, every single day, we cared most about our own relationship with Him than anything else? Would we then live IN God?

Lord of heaven and earth, am I turned towards the pure, brilliant Light of your presence? Am I reflecting Your brilliance? Jesus, shine me as much as You’d like. Amen.

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