Saturday, April 30, 2011

God is love

Are you interested in reading through the Gospels? Join me at anytime! Today's reading is Matthew 26:1-35.

Now as they were eating,
He said, “Assuredly, I say to you,
one of you will betray Me.”
Matthew 26:21

I know this text doesn't exactly say that God is love. It's more of a direct revelation as to the heart of one of Jesus' disciples. However, if you look at the context, Jesus is having His last meal before He dies. He knows it! This should have been a time of bonding the disciples together, reminding them of what was going to come, and talking of the promises of Jesus rising from the dead.

While some of that did occur, Jesus also revealed that one of the disciples is going to betray Him. Jesus doesn't kick Judas out. He doesn't condemn Judas to hell, though He does say in this passage that it would have been better if Judas had never been born. Jesus doesn't get angry and scream at Judas. Instead, Jesus reveals the truth with sorrow.

To me, that shows a huge amount of love. Jesus is facing death. Betrayal. Punishment for the sins of every single person who has ever lived. And yet He is still sorrowful over one person who makes a tragic choice. That shows me that God still loves us even when we sin. We still have to face the punishment of our actions but God still loves us. If Judas had repented, Jesus would have forgiven him. That is love.

Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for loving me even when I sin and disappoint You. Please help me to accept Your love, to love You more, and to share that love with other people. I pray for this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

God reveals Himself

Today's reading is Matthew 24. I love this chapter! A focus on the second coming of Christ is hugely emphasized in my church, as evidenced by the Adventist portion of the denomination name.

We could spend a month talking about this one chapter and not exhaust all it contains. Alas, I had to pick only one verse.

But as the days of Noah were,
so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Matthew 24:37

There are two things I want to point out in this verse:

1 - " also will the coming of the Son of Man be." Jesus' coming is definite. We can look forward to it! He is coming and will take us home with Him. A perfect world. A chance to spend eternity with our Creator. I can't wait!

2 - "But as the days of Noah were..." God does not want us to be ignorant. Many times in the Bible we can find written the words "he who has ears to hear, let him hear." God does not leave us in the dark, wondering if He exists and if He will return. He gives us clear evidence, many signs in this chapter alone. We just have to open our ears and hear Him!

Father, thank You for sharing knowledge with us. Thank You for not leaving us in the dark! Even though some of the signs of Your coming are frightening, I know that You are with us. Please help me to rest in You instead of getting distracted by the things around me. I pray this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"For One is your Father"

Today's reading is Matthew 23. Woah. What an in your face chapter! Hubby sat down with me this evening and we read the chapter together. After finishing, I mentioned that it would have been really hard to be on the receiving end of Christ's rebuke. I can just imagine the group of men standing near Jesus as their faces get redder and redder and their bodies get more and more tense with anger. They deserved the rebuke but it would have been really difficult to hear in person!

That said, I can still seeking out more information about God's character. Here is today's gem:

Do not call anyone on earth your father;
for One is your Father,
He who is in heaven.
Matthew 23:9

I'm not certain that I fully grasp the meaning of this verse. At first, hubby and I discussed the possibility that it was instructing us to not call our biological father "father." That can't be it, though...

Instead, I think the verse is saying that we should not treat anyone on earth with the same measure of spiritual respect that we offer God. We don't need a human mediator to explain God, to forgive our sins, etc. Instead, we go directly to God in a one on one relationship. I don't have to approach another sinful human being in order to talk to God. I can talk to Him directly as He is my Father.

Father, I thank You for being my Father. Thank You for caring for me and for showing that I can come to You directly. Please help me to remember that I can approach You without fear because You are always willing to hear me. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The God of the living

I had to read through this chapter several times to figure out what I could learn about God's character. Several of the parables are really interesting but are more about us than about Him. Finally, I stopped on this verse:

I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
Matthew 22:32

I can't exactly put my finger on why this text is so awe-inspiring to me. Maybe because God is the same throughout history. He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob. Not was, but is. From generation to generation, God is the same.

He cares about the living. God cares about me. And you.

We have hope in a future life. Death is not the end. God is the God of those who have died but they will live again. If we choose to accept Him, death is not permanent. We can live again and live with Him!

Father, thank You for being my God. Thank You for being the same throughout history, for being Someone we can rely on and trust. Please help me to remember that You are eternal. Thank You for the hope that this life is not the end, that there is still more to come. Thank You for making that possible for anyone who chooses. Amen.

What's On My Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

I can't believe it's already time for a Nightstand Post. This month has flown by. My husband and I took a week off for vacation, I spent hours trying to find a bridesmaid dress, and hubby's work hours after vacation were crazy. It has been a great month, but busy!

Bruno checking out my to-read pile

I read too many fiction books this month. In May, I'm going to try to read more nonfiction.

Books completed in April (links are to my reviews)
Bento Box in the Heartland - 3 stars
Dawn's Prelude - 3 stars
Remembering the Kanji I - 5 stars
Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii - 4 stars
Courting Miss Amsel - 4 stars
The King's Daughter - 3 stars

Currently reading
Theology - Matthew (Bible) - I've been following the Blogging Through the Gospels schedule but haven't been doing much of the blogging. I really need to remedy that.

Theology - The Whole Bible Story: Everything That Happens in the Bible in Plain English (review copy)

Classics - The Castle, Kafka - My husband's classics challenge for me this month. Don't tell him, but I'm actually kind of enjoying it.

To-read in May

This is my "nightstand," which is actually an end table next to the couch. The pile on the right consists of a Japanese New Testament, KJV, NKJV, and NIV Bible. Right now I'm mostly reading out of the NKJV but I like comparing to the others when I come across hard passages. Under the Bibles is a small stack of magazines from my church. That stack will likely grow before it gets smaller...

The huge stack on the left is my library pile. Even when I go into the library with just one book on my list, I walk out with at least three. Surprisingly, I've been finishing almost every book I've checked out! As much as it pains me, I am trying to limit my library trips to ensure that I can complete every book.

Priorities for May:
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, by Francis Chan - YLCF's May read along

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas - I have heard great things about this book and was really excited when I found a copy at the library yesterday. I thought it would be months before I'd get my hands on it!

The Robots of Dawn, by Isaac Asimov - Hubby's May classic challenge. I don't know much about this book and I've never read sci-fi other than H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Two new recipes this week! I keep intending to complete this in advance but I'm still writing up my menu at the last minute. I'll try again to have a complete menu and shopping list by the end of the week.

Monday - Taco salad (new recipe from last week)
Tuesday - Soba noodles & gyoza
Wednesday - Tacos
Thursday - Orange chicken
Friday - Mushroom-Spinach Curry (new recipe)
Sabbath dinner - Homemade pizza
Sunday - Rigatoni with homemade sauce

I can't wait to try these new recipes, especially the taco salad. I cooked the black beans this morning so we're definitely having it tonight. Three weeks on the menu and we're finally going to try the recipe!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day! I believe that taking care of the earth is important because God gave it to us.

Then the LORD God took the man
and put him in the garden of Eden
to tend and keep it.
Genesis 2:15

God could have created this world in just an instant. After all, He spoke everything into existence. Instead, He took six days to create the earth, making it a perfect home for man to live in.

Although sin has destroyed much of the beauty, our planet is still beautiful. If you keep your eyes open, you can see the fingerprints of God. Just watch Planet Earth or Planet Seas to see some of the beauty. Or, take a look in your own backyard. God gave us a huge gift and told mankind to tend and keep it.

There are many, many things we can do to benefit our world. They don't even have to be environmental causes, per se. Taking care of our fellow human beings is also a great way to celebrate Earth Day.

Environmentalism, recycling, reusing, reducing our impact on the planet... all of these things have been on my mind lately. I think the tsunami in Japan brought the issue to the forefront of my mind. Looking at the photos and videos of some parts of Japan, I cry. Not only are the people forced to start their lives over, the environmental impact is huge. What do you do with all of the wrecked buildings? The cars? The trashed belongings? All of that trash has to go somewhere.

Lately, I've been looking into the zero waste lifestyle. Don't Waste Your Homemaking brought it to my attention by posting this video.

I'll be sharing more later about my first attempts at reducing my waste. Even though I have no intention of going this extreme, it's a great motivation!

Are you doing anything specific to celebrate Earth Day?

My God is powerful

Today's reading is Matthew 19.

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

When you look over the chapters we've read thus far, it's easy to see how all things are possible with God. So far, God has calmed storms, healed the sick, made the blind see, forgave sins, fed a huge crowd from just one lunch (twice!), and raised someone to life. God really is powerful!

And yet He has a soft side.

And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.
Matthew 19:15

To put this verse in context, little children had been brought to Jesus for Him to bless them. The disciples tried to keep the children away. However, Jesus intercepted them and laid His hands on them. The God of the universe who can raise the dead also takes the time to bless little children. What a God!

Father, thank You so much for revealing Yourself through the word. Thank You for being both powerful and compassionate at the same time. Please help me remember your compassionate side, not to be nervous about how powerful You are compared to how weak I am. Thank You for demonstrating that you care for each of us! Help me to show that love to others. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hear Him!

I've been keeping up with the reading but my blogging has been a bit intermittent in Blogging Through the Gospels!

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Matthew 17:5

This description echoes what happened at Jesus' baptism. At that time, a voice came from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Throughout Jesus's life, God gave evidence to man that He was well pleased with His Son.

I take this to mean that we are to both hear Him (as the Father commanded) and act like Him. Everything Jesus did was approved of by His Father. They acted as one.

Father, please help me to be like You. Like Your Son. Thank You for sending Jesus as an example of what You are like. Please guide me today, tomorrow, and after that. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

If you want to join us in the reading, please visit today's devotional guide and jump right in!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Only one new recipe this week. The rest are old favorites.

Monday - Orange chicken
Tuesday - Tacos
Wed - Soba noodles & gyoza
Thursday - Taco salad (a new recipe from the Boca Burger package)
Friday - Curry
Sabbath lunch - Ramen
Sabbath dinner - Pizza with mushrooms and red onions
Sunday - Rigatoni with homemade sauce

Here is a photo of one of our new favorites, Greek Delight. I've switched this meal to the occasional lunch as it requires very little assembly time (a much needed requirement for dealing with my husband's unpredictable schedule).


Sunday, April 17, 2011

This week's memory text - Psalm 28:7

I haven't posted a memory text is several weeks. This week I picked a verse that is an awesome praise to God and a wonderful promise.

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
Psalm 28:7

I look forward to memorizing it!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.
Matthew 12:8

I had plans to write a fancy blog post about the Sabbath but right now I just have thankfulness in my heart. No grandiose thoughts, only a heartfelt thankfulness for being blessed with the Sabbath.

My husband worked some crazy hours this week. On Wednesday night, he was up until 1AM. Thursday night, he wasn't finished with work until 3:30AM. We are tired. I don't stay up quite that late, but I stay up as late as possible to keep him company. We try to sleep in as much as possible but the cats start bugging around 5AM.

So, when Friday night comes around, we are usually exhausted but ecstatic that Sabbath has arrived. Last night we collapsed into bed at 8 and slept for 12 hours.

Anyways, I am really having a hard time putting thoughts together. I said all of that to say that I am so glad that the Sabbath did not end with Christ's death. We still have a weekly rest day, a day to spend in communion with God. We need the Sabbath every week. Christ knew we would need a day to recuperate and spend with Him. It was a huge gift to mankind and I am so grateful for it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Project progress!

I decided to hold off on posting my thoughts on today's Gospel reading. The verse I want to write about involves the Sabbath so I thought I'd wait until Sabbath to post it.

This week, I have been kicking myself off the internet and pushing myself to be productive. I have gotten so much done!

Projects finished

  • Taxes
  • Package for Japan
  • Package for hubby's parents
  • Remembering the Kanji - 3 month project
  • Ordered my bridesmaid dress - hopefully it fits!

Projects in progress - intended completion dates in parenthesis
  • My grandpa's quilt - next on the list, must finish! (end of April)
  • Several book reviews for various publishers (end of April)
  • Kanji supplement - only 98 more kanji to learn (out of 157, end of April)
  • Quilt for the church (beginning of May)
  • Order/find accessories for my bridesmaid dress - shoes, hair pins (end of May)
  • Clean/organize spare bedroom (end of June)
  • Homemaking binder (whenever)

Projects to start
  • Clean out oversized clothes in my closet and put together a list of clothes needed (Memorial Day weekend shopping trip planned)
  • Quilt for my nephew (end of June)
  • Overhaul my recipe book (whenever)
  • Research zero waste households (whenever)
  • Redo my blog design (July?)

It looks like quite a list but it feels like I've made progress just writing everything down and assigning due dates. Now to start tackling the list!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jesus reveals the Father

In my quest to learn more about God, I am finding more and more texts that I want to come back and study. I need to start a list! Right now I am trying to adhere to the reading schedule rather than diving into cross references and jumping ahead.

Today's challenging verse

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to who the Son wills to reveal Him.
Matthew 11:27

There are several jewels in this verse. Jesus is given all things by His Father. I'm not sure exactly what "all things" entails but I am sure it is huge. Power. Wisdom. Knowledge. Strength.

I have heard a lot of people say that God the Father and God the Son are almost polar opposites. That Christ is loving, gentle, kind. God the Father is harsh, judgmental, easily angered. And yet, here we see that everything Jesus possesses was given to Him by His Father. Can an unloving God give His Son such gifts?

There is another verse where Jesus says "if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father." I believe part of Jesus' purpose on this earth is to show people what the Father is really like. To overcome people's perceptions of an overly harsh, judgmental, and angry God.

"...and the one to who the Son wills to reveal Him." How do we know God the Father? By Christ revealing Him. Yesterday I briefly talked about what God's will is. One aspect of Christ's will is to reveal the Father. I love that thought. Jesus reveals His Father.

Father, thank You for sending Christ to this earth to witness about You. Please help me to better understand You, to come to know you more. Thank you for being such a wonderful God. Amen.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this text?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Everything happens according to the Father's will

This is a really hard text for me but it's a topic I need to continue studying.

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
Matthew 10:29

My Bible has a footnote that says that a copper coin, the cost of two sparrows, is only 1/16 of a day’s wage. Their value is so low and yet God knows everything that happens in their lives. netBible has a footnote on this verse that says the sparrow does not fall “to the ground without the knowledge and consent of your Father.” It goes on to show that the Greek word for apart means “without one's will or intervention.”

This text shows that God cares about the little things. Everything happens with God’s knowledge and consent. Does that mean God causes the bad things? I don't believe so. God allows the bad things in my life but He is by my side the entire time. God doesn’t prevent the hard things; in fact, sometimes He sends us to deal with hard things (see verse 16). But even when we fall, when we struggle, God knows about it. He doesn’t leave us to deal with it alone.

Lord, thank You for sharing hard truths with me. Please open my heart so that I can accept them. Facing difficulties is hard and I often shy away from them. But You are in control and I know You are always with me. Thank you! Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We were on vacation last week, a stay-cation. We stayed home most of the week, ran a few errands, and visited the Phoenix Art Museum. It was great!

Usually I write our meal plans on Thursdays and have a shopping list completed by Friday afternoon. That makes it easy for us to shop for groceries if we venture out on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. Because of our vacation, I didn't do my normal menu planning for this week and ended up picking pretty easy dishes. Next week, I'll get back to trying new recipes!

Sunday - Tacos
Monday - Greek pitas
Tuesday - Soba noodles & gyoza
Wed - Spaghetti (jarred sauce)
Thursday - Hot dogs
Friday - Riblets and mashed potatoes/gravy
Sabbath lunch - Mushroom Udon (not homemade, unfortunately. Must learn how to make this!)


I am blogging through the Gospels. Would you like to join me? You can jump in at any time! Here is this week's reading schedule.

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

The people were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. It sounds like it could be describing our world today. Jesus looked at the people and was moved with compassion. I love that phrase. “He was moved with compassion.” My God is a God of compassion.

Thank You, Father, for caring for me. Thank You for being compassionate. Thank You for not looking on me when I am weary and scattered and judging my lack of faith. Thank You for having compassion on me instead! Please help me to turn to You when I am tired instead of feeling lost. Amen.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

God is all powerful...

... and yet He still cares about the individual.

But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Matthew 8:26, 27

If I am with Jesus, I have no need to be afraid. He is powerful, controlling even the winds and the sea. This is the same God that is willing and able to cleanse a Centurion’s servant simply because the Centurion had faith in Him (vs 13).

Today's reading reminds me of a song I sung as a child.

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
The mountains are His
The rivers are His
The skies are His handiworks too
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do

Father, help me to remember that You are in control. Thank You for caring about the big stuff and the little stuff! Thank You for displaying Your power and letting me see how big and powerful You are. Please be with me today and help me to be afraid of nothing, as You are here with me. Amen!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

God is a gift giver

I love how I keep finding more and more wonderful characteristics of God. Today's reading (Matthew 7) had a lot of interesting verses and I keeping finding passages I want to study further.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Matthew 7:11

God is generous! God is family. In this verse, Jesus is speaking to His disciples and calls God their Father. God is my Father. And He is a gift giver.

Father, thank You for being so good to me, for being my Father. Thank You for giving us the Sabbath, a day to rest and spend with You. Please be with me today. Spend time with me. Teach me. Thank You for the good gifts You give if we just ask. Please help to me to remember that You are good and worthy to be praised. Amen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

God forgives!

Today's reading was full of little nuggets of truth. There are many verses that I could spend all day contemplating. However, I had to pick just one! As I'm still looking for truth about God, I picked:

S: Scripture

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

O: Observation

God forgives.

A: Application

Such a simple observation, but something I struggle with. God forgives. We forgive others and God forgives us. There are no grudges, no reminders that we have sinned, just simple forgiveness. This verse doesn’t say I have to earn my forgiveness, that I have to undergo physical torture or mental anguish. It is just a very simple reminder that “your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” My heavenly Father will also forgive me.

P: Prayer

Father, please help me to forgive others. Help me to accept Your forgiveness. Thank You that we don’t have to live in the past but can instead look forward to a future with You. Help me to remember how loving and kind You are instead of being afraid. Thank You for never giving up on me!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blogging Through the Gospels - Matthew 5

Today there was so much packed into the reading. Words of encouragement, the sermon on the mount, further explanation of the Torah. However, during this study of the Gospels, I am trying to focus on what I can learn about God Himself. I hope to discover further insight into some of the questions such as: "Is the God of the Old Testament different than the God of the New?" "Is God the Father more demanding/frightening than God the Son?"

S: Scripture

Matthew 5:2 “Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying:”

O: Observation

God wants us to have wisdom and knowledge. Jesus sat down and personally taught the disciples, explaining the Torah to them.

A: Application

I don’t have the opportunity to talk to Jesus face to face. But I can still read His words in the Gospels. In this chapter, Jesus shares encouragement, further clarification on the law, and instruction on how to be more like the Father. We are not left in the dark.

P: Prayer

Lord, thank You for sending Jesus to this earth. Thank You that I can learn more about You through the words that Christ taught His disciples while He was here. Please help me to listen and learn more about You. Amen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blogging Through the Gospels - Matthew 4

S: Scripture

Matthew 4:16 “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”

O: Observation

I love the line “light has dawned.” These people were given a great opportunity to see Christ. Simply by Him being in the area, the people who were formerly in darkness saw a great light. In their life, light had dawned.

A: Application

I need to focus more on Christ and less on me. The Bible has a great deal to say about me and what I do or don’t do, what I believe or shouldn’t believe. However, the Bible is a revelation about God. HE is the most important part in it.

P: Prayer

Father, thank You for giving me time every morning to read about You. Please help me to focus on You and what I can learn about Your character instead of being selfish and wondering what I can get out of the reading. Thank You for sending Jess to this world, a great light in the darkness. Amen.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blogging Through the Gospels - Matthew 2 & 3

S: Scripture

Matthew 2:6 “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.”

O: Observation

Another Old Testament prophecy fulfilled. Jesus would come out of Bethlehem. Another promise for the people. That Ruler will shepherd the people. God’s people. We are His.

A: Application

God cares about the details. He has promised us many things in the Bible. I just need to be more aware. I am God’s. Jesus was sent to shepherd God’s people. I belong to God.

P: Prayer

Thank You Lord, that I belong to You. Thank You for giving me a place to belong. Thank You for caring about the details and showing Me that You are all powerful. Help me to see You better and to follow You.

God is so good!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blogging Through the Gospels - Matthew 1

S: Scripture-Write the ONE scripture that I feel God is using to speak to me in today’s reading.

Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

O: Observation-What might He be telling me with that scripture?

Jesus means “the Lord is Salvation.” There is depth in everything about God, even down to naming His Son. Jesus, the Lord is Salvation, for He will save His people from their sins.

A: Application-How can I apply it to my life?

There is so much to know about God and so much depth in the Scriptures. I need to pay attention to the details so that I can understand Jesus better. He is my Salvation.

P: Prayer-What is my prayer to ask God in helping me to make that application?

Father, I ask that You help me to focus on You during this reading time. Help me to understand You better so that I am not afraid of You.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blogging Through the Gospels

Amy, over at Mom's Toolbox, is hosting a new Bible study called Blogging Through the Gospels. Starting tomorrow, we'll be taking a 14 week trip through the Gospels.

I'm really excited to begin this study. Lately, I've been reading a lot in Romans and Psalms but have felt a bit aimless without a structured study. This couldn't have come at a better time! I'm not sure how much I'll blog about it, if it will be every day or several times a week. But I will definitely be keeping a personal journal throughout the reading.

Week 1 reading schedule
Day 1 devotional guide

Won't you join us? This is an excellent opportunity to know Christ better!