Author Archives: akleslieprice

About akleslieprice

I am an author of good books, novels intended to be self-help books that entertain. I am writing the Baker family saga and have published the first four on and That night, with a body throbbing from the jolting ride and a soul sore from a sense of great loss, Evelyn sank to the ground and wondered who was going to cook their supper. They had brought lunch baskets, from the cook, but had left the cook (that most necessary constituent) behind through some lack of understanding as to where one gets one's meals. Perhaps Father didn't know where his meals came from. Evelyn did know from whence came hers. Lawrence did something with the animals and walked slowly back to the wagon. "We didn't bring any servants," he reminded Evelyn gently, "so the women will have to cook the evening meal." Evelyn looked at him as though he had lost his mind. "What women? “She asked. "We were never taught to cook. Someone should have thought of that before we left all the servants behind. I knew we would need them." As it turned out Evelyn's sister Julie's husband let some of the older boys take care of his stock while he went from wagon to wagon giving the incredulous women instructions on how to prepare a meal for their starving families. As for Evelyn, she made a horrid meal of hard black beans, and flat bread that tasted like the dishrag smelled. "It’s not fit for anyone to eat," she said "I did exactly as I was told and it just didn't work. SOMEONE IS GOING TO HAVE TO TELL ME HOW TO DO IT RIGHT AND I SHALL HAVE TO START OVER," she cried through her tears, forgetting all the lessons about not showing her emotions that she had ever learned. Lawrence put his arm around her, and patting her back with a very tired hand, said in a tired voice, "No, we don't have time for you to prepare another, even supposing that the other would be better. We will eat this one. Evelyn jerked away from his embrace and said sadly, "How can we eat this mess? She pointed to it as if it were a nest of vipers, and added, "It’s simply not possible." I am 74 years old and live in Gypsum, Colorado with my youngest daughter and her husband - her family is grown and on their own. i am an ordained elder with a belated BA in history, acquired after i was 65 years old. I enjoy water aerobics and hiking, and seeing this beautiful country with my daughter and her husband.

Chapter One from Radical Social Change

Chapter One – The Writers

Paul identified himself and Timothy as the writers of this letter. He qualified his identity with the fact that he was in prison for preaching the Good News about Jesus Christ – Yeshua ha Mashiach. Paul had gone to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey to take a relief offering from the Gentile churches to the Jewish churches in Jerusalem who were suffering because they were poor and the non-Christian Jews wouldn’t help them anymore – after they put their faith in Yeshua – Jesus – as their Mashiach. Luke went with him, and at least six others. They visited James and he was glad to hear about all the Gentiles that had been saved, but told Paul, “You see, brother, how many myriads there are among the Jewish people who have believed—and they are all zealous for the Torah. They have been told about you—that you teach all the Jewish people among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk according to the customs. What’s to be done then? No doubt they will hear that you have come.”[1] James had a plan though. He said, ““So, do what we tell you. We have four men who have a vow on themselves. Take them, and purify yourselfalong with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. That way, all will realize there is nothing to the things they have been told about you, but that you yourself walk in an orderly manner, keeping the Torah.”[2]

Paul did as advised and at the end of the seven days of purification Jewish leaders from Asia mobbed him because they thought he had desecrated the temple by bringing a Gentile into it. They were afflicted with so much religious spirit that they didn’t really care if they were believers or not, as long as they appeared good and they looked good. Most of the inhabitants of town of Capernaum, where Jesus did a lot of his preaching and miracles, just did not believe.

Are you and I simply religious people? Do we live in our own personal Capernaums? Because looking at the destruction of that city, we can see where good works, good will, good heart, and a good view of things leads to. No one does good. Man’s heart is full of evil. And although we may look like great Christian workers and/or peacemakers, that’s not what counts. We need to believe in the ultimate sacrifice that was made on our behalf, so God will no longer see us as sinners, but as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”[3].

The Jewish leaders from Asia made an untrue hypothesis and started a riot. The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to remember what the consequences of making assumptions – even very well intended conjectures about others – and spreading opinions about those suppositions can generate. Jesus said not to judge another person – God is the only one capable of judging people because he is the only one that can read our hearts.

Roman soldiers rescued Paul – from the murderous crowd that resulted from the gossip – and took him into their custody. Paul then became entangled in the Roman judicial system. All Jerusalem was in chaos. The commander of the cohort took soldiers and centurions and rushed down to them, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains. The commander asked the crowd who he was and what he had done. Some in the mob shouted one thing, some another. Since the commander couldn’t learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. When Paul came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, ‘Away with him![4]

When Paul asked the commander in Greek for an audience he said, “You know Greek? Then you’re not the Egyptian who stirred up a rebellion some time ago—and led four thousand men of the Assassins out into the desert?”[5]

Paul told him that he was a Jewish man from Tarsus in Cilicia, and reminded him that that made him a citizen of a significant city. Then he requested an audience with his people.

The commander gave him permission, and he stood on the steps and motioned to the people with his hand. When there was a great hush, he spoke to them in Aramaic,[6] saying: “Brothers and fathers, listen to my defense which I now present to you.[7]

The crowd got quieter and when Paul spoke to them in Arabic, they became even quieter. He told them who he was – gave them his credentials – and his history.

He told them that he had been brought up in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, trained strictly according to the Torah, and he was very zealous for God. He added that he knew that they, too, were Jews that were energetic about their religion.

He told them that he had persecuted the Way – Christianity – to the death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prisons as the kohen gadol[8] and all the council of elders could testify He explained that he also received letters from them to the brothers, and went to Damascus to take the Christians from there to Jerusalem in chains to be punished.

Then he told them about his meeting, on the road, with Jesus. He told them that it had been about noon and they were almost to the entrance of Damascus when a great light from heaven suddenly flashed all around him and he fell to the ground.

Then he heard a voice that said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?”

Paul told the crowd that he asked who was speaking and was told that he was Yeshua ha Natzrati[9] – the one he was persecuting.

Paul told the mob that the ones that traveled with him saw the light but did not understand what the voice was saying. When he asked the Lord what he should do he told him to get up and go on to Damascus and he would be told what he had been appointed to do.

Paul explained that he couldn’t see because of the brilliance of the light and had to be led by the hand into town where a man named Ananias who was devout according to the Torah with a good reputation, among all the Jewish men living there, came and stood in front of him. Paul told them that he looked up at the man and he could see again.

Then he explained that Ananias told him that the God of their fathers – the great I Am, Yahweh – had handpicked Paul to know his will. He had been handpicked to see the Righteous One and hear him speak, because he was to be a witness for him, to everyone, of what he had seen and heard. Then the man told him to get moving – to be baptized in Jesus’ name.

Then Paul told the crowd that when he returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, that he fell into a trance and saw Jesus. Jesus told Paul to get out of Jerusalem quickly because the Jews wouldn’t accept Paul’s witness about him.

Paul told the crowd that he had argued with Jesus, telling him that the Jews knew that he had been beating and imprisoning anyone who believed in Yeshua. He reminded him that even when Stephen was killed, he was standing close by, approving and guarding the clothing of those who were killing him.

Paul told his listeners that Jesus told him again to go because he was sending him (Paul) to the Gentiles.

At that, the crowd stopped listening to Paul and began to scream for his death. They were throwing off their clothes in preparation for another stoning when the Roman soldiers again intervened.

The commander ordered for Paul to be brought into headquarters. He said Paul should be examined by lashing, so that he might find out why they were shouting against him. But when they stretched him out with straps, Paul asked the centurion standing there if it was legal for him to scourge a Roman citizen without due process. He knew that it wasn’t, of course and the centurion immediately reported Paul’s citizenship to the commander.

The commander asked Paul to confirm that he was a Roman citizen, and when Paul told him that he was, the commander remarked the it had cost him a lot to buy his own citizenship. Paul told him that he was born with Roman citizenship and everyone drew away from him.

Roman citizenship carried some important privileges including protection from execution and torture without judicial process.[10]

The following day, the Roman Commander commanded the ruling kohanim[11] and all the Sanhedrin[12] to meet, and he brought Paul and set him before them.

They questioned him again and after a while a big dispute developed, and the commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. So, he ordered the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and to bring him into headquarters.

More than forty of the Judean leaders formed a conspiracy and bound themselves by an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. They told the ruling kohanim and elders and the Sanhedrin to serve notice to the commander to bring him down as though they were about to investigate his case more thoroughly. They would be ready to kill him before he came near the Sanhedrin.

However, Paul’s nephew heard about their plot and warned Paul and the Roman commander and the commander got him a horse and large escort, and sent him to the governor, Felix, in Caesarea who gave orders for Paul to be guarded in Herod’s Praetorium.

Felix gave the centurion orders for Paul to be kept in custody, but he also gave instructions for a certain amount of freedom for Paul. The guards were not to prevent any of Paul’s friends from attending to his needs and he was able to spread the Good News from his position as a prisoner. However, two years later, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and he left Paul in prison.

Festus went to Jerusalem on his way to his new position. The ruling kohanim and the leading Judeans hadn’t forgotten their grudge and asked Festus to have Paul sent to Jerusalem, planning an ambush to kill him on the road.

Festus told them that Paul was being guarded at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to go there shortly. He told them to send their prominent men to go with him and they could accuse him together.

When he got to his new post, Festus asked Paul if he was willing to go up to Jerusalem to be tried before him in Jerusalem; and Paul refused. He told Festus that he was innocent of any wrongdoing against the Judeans and appealed to Caesar.

When Festus had consulted with the council, he resolved to send Paul to Caesar, but he was able to give his testimony before the king first. King Agrippa told him that if Paul hadn’t appealed to Caesar, he would have been set free. Paul considered himself a prisoner of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and knew that God was sending him to Rome, When God sends an ambassador somewhere, we don’t ask him why – we just go. So Paul went to Rome for the sake of the Gospel.

After a long, hard trip, Paul arrived in Rome and testified there. He remained two whole years in his own rented quarters and continued to welcome all who came to him—proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ – Yeshua the Messiah – with all boldness and without hindrance.

[1] Acts 21:21, 22 TLV

[2] IBID 23, 24

[3] From Amir’s Bible Bites Devotionals

[4] IBID 31-36

[5] IBID 38

[6] IBID 40

[7] IBIDChapter 22:1

[8] High Priest

[9] Nazarian

[10] The Archeological Study Bible, Zondervan, 2005, page 1930

[11] Priests, descendants of Aaron – cohenen or kohnen

[12] the highest court of justice and the supreme council in ancient Jerusalem


The Outsider’s Welcome News: Meditations on the Revelation of Ywhweh to his people through Luke (Meditations on the Gospels Book 3) – Kindle edition by Kohn, Allison. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ AmazonSmile.

The story of Jesus is a wonderful harvest of the Holy Scriptures and the history that took place at that time. Luke used information gathered from the original eye witnesses who served Jesus – the Word made flesh who walked among the humans living on earth at that time[1].

In the sixth month – the month of vav –God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary. The early readers of Luke’s account would have known that the concept of the number six is preparation[2]and that the letter represents connection. Gabriel went to prepare Mary for what was happening to her and the birth of Mary’s son and Elizabeth’s son have a very strong connection.

The fact that Mary lived in Nazareth of Galilee is significant because Nazareth was humble in size as well as its place in the world.

Mary was a young virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph who was a descendant of David. During the interval [3] – between the time when Joseph paid the price for Mary when the terms of the marriage contract began and the actual ceremony and consummation – while Mary was still in her father’s house Gabriel appeared before her. His greeting identified her as highly favored by God and told her that Yahweh was with her so she would know that what he had to say next wouldn’t leave her feeling defenseless. Mary was baffled because Gabriel’s greeting was unexpected and not the usual greeting heard daily in Nazareth. The common greeting would have been Shalom – peace responded by Aleichem Shalom – peace is upon you. Gabriel told her again that she had nothing to be afraid of because she had found favor with God and would give birth to son. Gabriel told her that she was to name her son Jesus[4] and that he would be great and would be called the Son of the Most High[5]. He told Mary that Yahweh would give Jesus the throne of his father[6] David to reign over the house of Jacob in an eternal kingdom.

Mary was confused. She wondered how a virgin could have a baby. She told Gabriel that she was a virgin[7] and he explained that the Holy Spirit of God – the power of the Most High – would cover her. A wondrous Divine purpose embraced Mary’s life. The Spirit of God that breathed upon the face of the waters at creation – a power completely in charge – would breathe new life into Mary’s womb. Gabriel explained that was how the holy child born to her could be called the Son of God. Then he told Mary that her relative Elizabeth was with child even as old as she was – she who was identified as barren. He told her that Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy to reinforce his statement that anything is possible with God.

Mary was ready to accept everything Gabriel had told her. She recognized herself as the servant of the Most High God – Yahweh – and bowed to his will and power in her life. Mary left for the hill country of Judea where Zachariah and Elizabeth lived. As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting of Shalom her son leaped in her womb and she was filled with the Spirit of the Most High God and responded – not with the typical response of “Upon you be peace,” but with an affirmation of what Gabriel had told her. Mary was set apart from every other woman on the earth to carry the son of God in her womb. He was set apart from every other male child born on the earth because he was God’s only begotten Son. He was the only one produced in the womb of a human woman without the aid of a human man. He was conceived in the womb by the power of the Spirit of the living God – his DNA was free from the corruption that all the descendants of Adam were born with[8].

Through the power of the Holy Spirit Elizabeth expressed awe that the mother of her God – Yahweh – should go to her. She was aware that the Spirit of God had led Mary there and even the baby in her own womb identified the Son of God in Mary’s womb. The Spirit of God told Mary – through Elizabeth – that she was blessed because she believed that he would do everything that he – Yahweh – told her that he would do when he spoke to her through Gabriel.

Mary told Elizabeth that from the depth of her being she was dancing with joy and mindful of the honor he had bestowed on her by choosing her to carry his Son in spite of her simple status and the lowly – even poor – region she came from. She knew that what the Mighty God was doing for her by choosing her to carry his Son would be remembered forever and she repeated words that had been inspired by God through the ages and passed down and repeated by her ancestors. In the paraphrased words of Eugene Peterson, she said something like, “His mercy flows in wave after wave on those who are in awe before him. He bared his arm and showed his strength, scattered the bluffing braggarts. He knocked tyrants off their high horses, pulled victims out of the mud. The starving poor sat down to a banquet; the callous rich were left out in the cold. He embraced his chosen child, Israel; he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high. It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.

Luke’s early readers would have remembered the political climate that he was talking about when he said, “During the rule of Herod, king of Judea”. History tells us that Herod the Great rose to power during the chaotic period of Roman’s civil wars. Herod sided with Anthony and Cleopatra until Octavia (Caesar Augustus) defeated them and then he quickly swore allegiance to the winning side. Luke’s early readers knew that Herod’s father Antipater was forcibly converted to Judaism so Herod was a nominal Jew and – besides the many temples and cities that he built to the many gods of Rome – Herod overhauled and added to the Second Temple of Jerusalem. Herod held on to his power by killing anyone including his own children – which he thought might be a threat to his control.

During the time after the birth of John – when Mary was still pregnant with her firstborn son – Caesar Augustus – the Caesar who was Octavia – issued a degree that a census was to be taken. Luke wanted his reader to know that it was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Luke’s early readers would have known that Quirinius was governor of Syria twice and understood the significance of Luke’s recording. The important thing for today’s reader is that everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be recorded. Since Joseph was a descendant of David he had to go to Bethlehem where David was born to be registered. He left Nazareth in Galilee – along with Mary because she was his espoused wife. The marriage hadn’t been consummated yet but she was heavy with the new life that the Spirit of God – the Spirit that breathed upon the face of the waters at creation[9]–breathed into Mary’s womb. Luke wanted his reader to know that while they were in Bethlehem Mary gave birth to her firstborn son[10]. Luke emphasized the humble home that Jesus – God made manifest in the flesh[11] – came from and dwelt in while he was here on earth by telling his reader that Mary wrapped Jesus and laid him in a manger because his parents couldn’t get into the guest-room it was so crowded. He was born in a humble home where the mangers were built into the lower end of the floor – mangers were carved out of the floor to feed the sheltered animals at night. They were in the main family room. The people of that era and area lived close to nature so Luke’s early readers wouldn’t have even considered that Jesus was born in a barn as barns and houses were one and the same[12]. It is important for you and me today to remember that God came into the very world that he had created[13] and he was born in a humble home to humble parents from a humble village. He was laid in the lowest part of the house when he was born and he was wrapped in swaddling clothes just like any other baby born in that area and era. Nothing on the earth that he created was too unassuming, lowly, poor, or unsophisticated for him. He is our example so we should know that everything that life brings our way – no matter how crude or un-important that it looks to us – is from God so it is good and it is important.

Bethlehem was crowded with the descendants of David and others whose ancestors had been born there. The guest rooms of the houses were full. God could have worked it out so that Joseph and Mary arrived in the town before the guestroom was full so that Jesus could be born in that room. Instead he chose the family room where he shared his first bed with lowly animals – in a manger where the sheep dwelt at night – for the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world[14].

Luke wanted his reader to know that there were a lot of sheep in the field[15] nearby with their shepherds watching over them through the night. In spite of the fact that shepherds were one of the most important workers in that society in that era and area they were despised by the upper echelons of society. Their place in the world was even more humble than that of Mary and Joseph, Nazareth, or the house that sheltered them in Bethlehem[16]. God chose to go to the shepherds with the good news so his angel appeared to them in the field and the glory of the Lord shone around them[17]. The shepherds were afraid that God was judging them but the angel told them not to be afraid. At every significant moment in history God has always told his people not to be afraid. God is the God of good news. Bad news in a person’s life is the absence of God in his or her life. When God is not in one’s life it is because he or she has made the decision not to let him in – so bad news is the result of his or her bad decision.

Luke wanted his reader to know that the angel told the shepherds that he had great news for them. He told them that the good news was for everyone in the world. That very day a Savior had been born in Bethlehem – the city of David. The angel told the shepherds that the Savior was the Mashiach[18] – the Lord[19]. He was none other than the Lord of glory – God incarnate. They would know that they had found the Mashiach because he was wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger. They wouldn’t find him in a palace. They would find him in the humble house of one of the descendants of David – not in the guest room but in the lowest part of the home. Then the angel of God was joined by a great company of angels singing “Glory to God in the highest and peace and good will to people on earth” – a message to the world from its creator. Our magnificent God wishes his human creatures well and offers us peace.

As soon as the angels were out of sight the shepherds made their way to Bethlehem to see the Mashiach. They believed what the Lord had told them and wanted to see with their own eyes. They found Jesus lying in the manger and told everyone what the angel had said to them about the Mashiach. Then they went out and spread the good news. They extolled and praised God and what he had told them to everyone they met.

Months before God’s Angel Gabriel had told Mary that her son would be the Son of God. Mary believed God and it was accounted unto her as righteousness[20]. Mary wasn’t perfect. She was born in the corruption of her ancestors like everyone else, but she believed God and; therefore, she received the promise. She hoped – and against all hope believed God – because she was persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised. After her son was born the shepherds increased her understanding when they told her that the angel of Yahweh had told them that her son was the Son of David – the Mashiach. She knew what the prophet Isaiah had said about the son born to God’s chosen people[21]. For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this. Mary didn’t understand that there was a connection between those prophetic words and Isaiah’s prophesy of the one who would be despised and rejected of men – a man of sorrows acquainted with grief[22]. Luke wanted his reader to know that she held the knowledge that she did have in her heart and meditated on it. She didn’t demand an explanation, but instead she put her metaphorical hand firmly in the hand of her Savior and walked humbly with her God.

[1] John 1:14


[3] Sometimes as much as a year

[4] Yeshua means Yahweh saves

[5] Yahweh – the great I AM

[6] Ancestor

[7] A young woman who has not had sexual relations Isaiah 7:14

[8] Romans 5:12

[9] a power completely in charge

[10] Which implies that she had more children after Jesus was born

[11] John 1:1-4, 10, 14; Matthew 1:23


[13] John 1:10

[14] John 1:29

[15] In a common pasture probably in September

[16] Luke 1:52 he has exalted the lowly

[17] The angel of God reflected the glory of God signifying the return of God’s presence and mercy to his chosen people. Ezekiel 8, 9, 10

[18] The Son of David – the anointed one

[19] Kurios – Yahweh

n[20] Romans 4:1-22.

[21] Isaiah 9:6, 7

[22] Isaiah 53

Conversation on The Book of Revelation

Revelation 13.

We know the predictions of Daniel and Yeshua have been partially fulfilled, but the eleventh chapter of Daniel says the king of the north will take up with those who betray the holy covenant and then he will march into the sanctuary and desecrate it and the citadel. He will set up the obscene sacrifice in place of the daily sacrifice. That happened with Antiochus IV Epiphanies but Yeshua said to be ready to run for it when you see the monster of desecration set up in the sanctuary as the prophet Daniel described. If this is not a future event, he would have had to be talking about the Dome of The Rock, which has caused not only Jews, but Christians too, untold misery. If it is a future event, and we don’t know that it is, the temple will be rebuilt soon. Stay alert! Watch and pray. Remember we are looking at birth pangs, not death throes.

The themes of the book of Revelation encourage us because

God is in control. We have access to fearless confidence

We are confident of our Saviors sure return, and wait patiently, watching diligently

We can be sure no one who wants to come to God will be left out.

About the book of Ephesians

Copied from Belief and Behavior, by Allison Kohn , available on Amazon

Paul wrote to expand the horizons of his readers. His teaching shows us how to repair what has been broken by corruption in our lives, damaging our behavior. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians shows us how to live out the purposes of God in the practical life of a believer. Eugene Peterson said, “He begins with an exuberant exploration of what Christians believe about God, and then, like a surgeon skillfully setting a compound fracture, “sets” this belief in God into our behavior before God so that the bones – belief and behavior – knit together and heal.” [1]

In other words, he showed them how to practice their position in Christ.

Jesus endowed the members of his church with spiritual “fruit” to enable them to minister to one another and in such a way that will promote unity and maturity. The unity of the church under the headship of Christ pictures the unity of “all things in heaven and on earth” under Christ. Paul pictured the new life of purity and mutual respect opposed to the old way of life without Christ. We see that we who are “strong in the Lord” have victory over the enemy of our souls in the great spiritual conflict.

Ray Stedman says, “Ephesians sets forth what no other book of the New Testament describes so completely — the nature of the body of Christ, which is the true Church. This letter, in many ways, is the crowning glory of the New Testament.”

[1] Introduction to Ephesians, page 1611, The Message Bible, Navpress, 2012

In the Greco-Roman world, letters allowed people to maintain contact with others across the miles. Ancient letters typically began with the identification of the sender and the recipients followed by the greeting. Paul introduced himself as the writer by qualifying his identity with the statement that he was a special agent of Christ Jesus – an apostle chosen by God.

His letter was addressed to the faithful believers in Ephesus and he greeted them with the grace and peace that was poured into their lives by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ[1].

The Holy Spirit of God put the words of this letter in the heart of Paul as he wrote, guarded the letter as it traveled down to you and me through the ages, and speaks to our hearts as we read it. The Holy Spirit of God has always had total control over the canonization of his Word – what we call the Holy Scriptures – so we can agree that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”[2]

A short statement of thanksgiving often followed the introduction. Paul preceded his thanksgiving with praise for the God of our salvation – the reason for his thanksgiving.

He told them – and the Holy Spirit of God is telling you and me – to hold the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in reverence. We are reminded that God has favored us with every spiritual advantage in the sublime company of our Mashiach, Jesus.

He chose us in the Messiah before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before Him in love. He predestined us for adoption as sons through Messiah Yeshua, in keeping with the good pleasure of His will – to the glorious praise of His grace, with which He favored us through the One He loves![3]

Long before the foundation of the world God loved us and choose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His plan has always been to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. We praise God because he poured his wonderful kindness out on us and purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son – and our sins are forgiven.

Paul reminded his readers – and the Holy Spirit of God is reminding you and me today – that we have been redeemed in Jesus Christ. We were bought back – from the chains of sin and death – through the Blood of the Lamb.

God showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Paul said, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.”

In Christ, we find out who we are and what we’re living for. From before the creation of the heavens and the earth God’s plan was centered on Christ. He designed it according to his good pleasure. You and I couldn’t have conceived such a plan, but God planned all along that at the right time he will bring everything in heaven and on earth together under the authority of Christ. Through Christ, we have received an inheritance from God. He chose us from the beginning and everything happens the way he decided it would all along.

Paul told his readers that they, who were the first to trust in Christ, praised our glorious God; and then, the ancient Ephesians heard the truth and the Good News that Jesus saves. When they believed in Christ[4], God identified them by giving them his Holy Spirit just as he had promised long ago.

The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that, when we believed[5], God gave us his Holy Spirit as a guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. That is one more reason for us to praise the God of our salvation.

He said, “It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Paul’s thanksgiving for the holy people was for their strong faith and love for the family of God – their reputation that he heard of from others. Everywhere Paul traveled He heard of his reader’s strong faith that resulted in loving acts for other Christians. He told them that was why he prayed for them – with thanksgiving for them – that God would give them spiritual wisdom and understanding so that they could grow in the knowledge of the glorious Father of their Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul prayed for his readers – and the Holy Spirit of God wants you an me to pray for each other – that our hearts would be flooded with light so that we can understand the wonderful future he has promised for those he has called. Paul wanted his readers to know – and the Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know – the wonderful inheritance he has given to his people.

Paul said, “That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral[6] to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.”

The Holy Spirit of God told his readers through Paul that he wants us to know what the exceedingly great power is toward us who believe in him – us who keep trusting Him—in keeping with the working of His mighty strength[7].That amazingly great power is for us – the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. We are seated with Christ at that place of honor in heavenly places[8]. Jesus is far above any ruler, authority, power, or leader – or anything else in this world or the world to come.

[1] Yeshua ha Mashiach

[2] II Timothy 3:16

[3] TLV

[4] Put their trust in Christ for the redemption of their souls.

[5] Put our trust in Yeshua ha Mashiach for the redemption of our souls.

[6] Secondary, minor, sideline

[7] TLV

[8] 2:6

Running the Race as a Winner – the second thirty days

Day Forty-five

“God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out[1].”

As winners in the race we will stand our ground against the rulers and authorities of the unseen world of those mighty powers of darkness that rule this world we live in. We have truth to wear like a belt that holds everything else up. We wear the righteousness of Christ like soldiers today wear bullet-proof vests against the “fiery darts” of the Devil – doubt, discouragement, deprecation, disobedience, and despair. We stand in the peace that comes from believing the Good News that Jesus paid it all. He did everything and we are justified by his death and resurrection. God gave us faith and we exercise it continually so that it will stop the darts of disobedience, discouragement, doubt, and despair that the devil throws at us. Salvation covers us and the Word of God is hidden in our hearts because we study it every day. It is full of living power – sharper than the sharpest knife and cuts deep into the innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes every one of us as we really are. Nothing in all creation can hide from God – everything in all creation is exposed before his eyes.

We are equipped to be winners in the race. Because we have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the Gospel of Peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of Salvation we are strong in the Lord and can stand against the works of the Devil – the enemy of our souls.

War are seated with Christ[2] far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world that is to come: high above all other government, authority, power, dominion, and every title of sovereignty used either in this Age or in the Age to come.[3]

Prayer: Lord, I will use the equipment you have provided me with to reject the darts of doubt, discouragement, deprecation, disobedience, and despair that the enemy of my soul tries to use to destroy me – and my witness that you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I will use your written Word to reject the lies that my enemy throws my way. I will exercise my faith and it will be stronger and bigger than any doubts that my enemy throws my way. I will hang every thought, every word, and every feeling on the knowledge of the truth that is in your word. You have put your law in my mind so I can understand it and written it on my heart so that I will obey it. You are my God and I am a child of your love. You have forgiven my sins and there is no need for me to offer sacrifices to appease you. Jesus paid it all and I am free to live in victory. I am wearing the righteousness of my Savior and I stand firm of the Good News of Peace. I am covered with your Salvation and look forward to what you will do and are doing in this chaotic world of my temporary residence. No matter what is going on around me that scares everyone, I will put my trust in you. You are my hiding place. And blessed be the name of the Lord God from this time forth and forevermore.

[1] Ephesians 6:10-18

[2] Ephesians 2:6 NIV

[3] Ephesians 1:21 NIV

“The Need For Discernment”


Foggy morning sunrise

Most of our photos are of the sunset to the west but this week we had a foggy morning and saw this sunrise view peeking through the fog. “The Need For Discernment
Message summary: May we not only read about God’s statutes but seek to understand their meaning so that we are very intentional in applying them to our lives.

Listen to this message on your audio player. “I am Your servant; give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes” (Psalm 119:125).

These days we are barraged with information that deals with every subject imaginable. Our increased access to this information grows almost daily. Now we can have the latest news from practically anywhere in the world instantly on our smart phones as we find ourselves trying to keep up with all that’s going on.

The “information superhighway” just keeps getting bigger and bigger and provides an abundance of information that can be very useful and informative. But there’s also lots of information that will confuse or sidetrack the more important message. Not only life-giving truths but disastrous errors crowd the information superhighway.

Psalm 119 is well-known as the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses. What is less familiar is that each verse, in one way or another, has a reference to God’s Word; His laws and statutes, etc. I believe the various Scriptural expressions are used synonymously and all reveal the heart’s desire of the Psalmist; to live by God’s revelation.

Another interesting feature in this long Psalm is that it consists of 22 parts, according to the number of the letters in the Hebrew alphabet, with the names of which these letters stand for between each part. Each part consists of eight verses, all of which begin with the same letter in the Hebrew: thus, for instance, the first eight verses begin with the letter a, “aleph,” and the second eight verses begin with the letter b, “beth,” and so on throughout; hence the Masorah calls this Psalm “The Great Alphabet”. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible)

In today’s Scripture the Psalmist prays in humility, “I am your servant.” I find blessing in the Psalmist’s humble approach to God. We must always remember who’s in control; He is the Master and we are the servant.

The nature of the Psalmist’s request is urgently needed by those who live by faith today: “Give me discernment”. The Hebrew word for discernment means “to separate mentally.” We need to be clear-minded in properly discerning many things. Certainly each generation needs to have those who are like the men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32).

But the specific request regarding discernment made by the Psalmist is “that I may understand Your statutes”.  God’s statutes, His laws and precepts are intended not only for our good, but He desires His very best for us. The longer we walk with Him the more we come to understand His rules for governing our lives. We need to fundamentally realize that God’s statutes are always for our good. Nehemiah stated, “You gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments” (Nehemiah 9:13).

We do well to oft repeat the Psalmist’s prayer; “Give me discernment that I may understand Your statutes”. May we not only read about God’s statutes but seek to understand their meaning so that we are very intentional in applying them to our lives.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne WeberDaily prayer: Father, I ask for discernment that I may understand Your statutes. I pray for understanding that I might know how to implement these truths into my life. I also pray that I will grow to love and embrace Your laws so that it becomes a natural outflow of my commitment to love and adore You, and follow after You in all my ways. Amen.

Foggy morning valley

Running the Race as a Winner Day Thirty-nine

I read the words of Habakkuk at the end of his book at a time in my life when the circumstances weren’t the cheeriest. Like Habakkuk I could say, “I have heard all about you, Lord and I am filled with awe by the amazing things that you have done. In my deep need I ask you to help me like you did in years gone by.” God had done wonderful things in my life in the past. He had sent his angels – in human form twice so that I could see them with my physical eyes – to help me out of a tight squeeze more than once and had saved me and my children and grandchildren from physical harm a number of times.

Nevertheless, I was depressed. My writing wasn’t selling and my children were all grown up and living their own lives. My dog and my cat were both dead. I had planned a life where I was living out my life with my husband and frequent visits from my grandchildren. Reality proved to be much different.

Then I read those last verses of Habakkuk’s prayer and decided to adopt his attitude as my own.

Though my books never sell and I never have a home of my own again, though I can never have another dog or cat of my own and my car has to go to a mechanical graveyard I will sing joyful praises to my God. My soul will jump for joy in God my Savior. I will take heart and gain strength in the knowledge that I can count on God’s rule to prevail.[1]

As a winner running the race you can make Habakkuk’s attitude yours as well. You can adopt that joy – the joy of the Lord – and let it be your strength. You can live above the circumstances of your life – no matter how bad the atmosphere is around you. As a winner, you will make the choice to thank God for an empty spoon when there is no food to put in it or a car that has no gas. You can praise God for the sky when it is covered with clouds and pouring down rain. God inhabits the praises of his people and you will feel his presence and grab the hope and peace that permeate God’s presence.

Prayer: Thank you my precious Lord, for your presence. Thank you for the sure knowledge that you will continue to work everything in my live together so that I will become conformed to the image of your dear Son. Thank you for your law – your instructions for living your character out in my life.

[1] Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
    I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Running The Race As A winner, The Second Thirty Days

Day Forty-four

I Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith! Take hold of the eternal life—you were called to it, and you made the good confession for it in the presence of many witnesses.[1]

We must wage war against the Devil’s attempts to erect strongholds of doubt and division in the Church. We must be careful not to fight with each other, but for each other.

It is hard for us to be separated because of the corona virus. Christians wonder if it is a government scheme to take away our power by driving a wedge between us. As Christians who are running the race as winners, we know that Satan uses things like this to try to make us weak. He knows that there is strength in numbers. He encourages division in the Church because he thinks it will weaken the power of God. He is a liar and deceiver. He comes among us as an angel of light and tells us we have something to fear – like this virus or other Christians that have different needs and personalities. He wants us to think that we understand everything perfectly so if the conclusions about things that have no eternal significance – like the way we worship when we come together, the type of music we prefer, whether or not we use symbols in our buildings, what we believe about healing, and on and on and on – are different than other Christians that we shouldn’t have fellowship with any of those members of the family of God. We need to cement our relationship with all the other members of the body of Christ. It the members of my physical body were to decide that some of the other members were “out of line” and refused to cooperate with them I would be in a physical mess. That would impede my power to do the things necessary to accomplish the functions of my physical survival. The same is true of the Body of Christ. We have a job to do and when we listen to Satan and allow him to divide us for any reason, it makes the job we have to do less effective. Satan cannot weaken God but he tries to weaken the Body of Christ. We must not allow him to use us in his useless attempt to destroy the mighty works of God. 

We must fight the good fight of faith and use the mighty weapons of God whose word is full of power. God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword. It comes deep into our innermost thoughts and desires and even divides life from the breath of life. With God’s word we can tear down any strongholds that the Devil erects, and with His word we can pour strength into our spirits and live in the realm of eternity.

Prayer: Eternal King of my heart and life, I adore you and worship you. I will remember that you Body is here on this earth and has been for about two thousand years. I will not be intimidated into thinking that a single part of your Body is unimportant or less than any other part of it. My personality may not appreciate one member of your Body as much as another but I will not let that induce me to belittle those that I am not as attracted to. I will love all of my neighbors as I love and care for myself because they are all part of you; and I will bless your name both now and forevermore.

[1] TLV


Chapter 7

Paul said that, with promises like this – “I will live in them and I will walk among them. I will be their God and they will be my people. Therefore, … separate yourselves from [unbelievers] says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty,[1] that the Corinthian Christians should all cleanse their selves from everything that could defile their bodies and spirits. The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that the same promises from God should cause us to make a clean break from everything – both in and out of our bodies – that defiles or distract us from our goal – to glorify God – reflect his glory. We must make our entire lives – everything we think, do, and say – in private or in public – fit and holy so that we are suitable and godly temples for the worship of the living God. 

Paul asked the Corinthian Christians to open their hearts to him and Timothy. He told the Corinthians that as their leaders they had not done wrong to anyone – not led anyone astray or taken advantage of anyone. Paul anticipated the accusations that immediately try to take root in the Corinthian Christian’s hearts and told them that he and Timothy were not defending themselves by reproving the Corinthian Christians. He reminded them that he and Timothy had told the Corinthian Christians that he and Timothy were with them all the way no matter what. He assured the Corinthian Christians that he and Timothy had the greatest confidence in them and were very proud of them even with all their troubles.

Paul told the Corinthian Christians that they had greatly encouraged him and made him happy in spite of all of their troubles. The Holy Spirit of God is telling you and me today that Christian leaders are his servants labouring for his family and need followers’ encouragement and support. Followers don’t know the trails and tribulations that leaders have. They encourage and bless those who follow them and need the encouragement of followers as well as other leaders.

Paul described the atmosphere in Macedonia – northern Greece – where he and Timothy were labouring for the Gospel. They were there to encourage and teach the Christians as well as bringing the Good News to unbelievers.

Paul said, “Outside there was conflict from every direction, and inside there was fear. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus. We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!”

Paul told the Corinthian Christians that he was sorry – for a while – that he had written the letter – that we call I Corinthians – to them because he knew that it was painful for them. However, he was no longer sorry because he knew the pain that he caused them stimulated sorrow and repentance on their part. The remorse his letter caused resulted in the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have. God uses that kind of sorrow to help us humans turn away from sin and seek salvation. Sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. In other words, sorrow that doesn’t cause a man, woman, boy or girl to turn from self to God is destructive.

Paul said, “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”

Paul told the Corinthian Christians, “Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.” Paul was a human being and had all the emotional trails that every other human being has. The Holy spirit of God wants you and me to know that those who are responsible for leading and teaching need our understanding, love, and encouragement just as we need theirs.

Paul and Timothy were greatly encouraged when the Corinthian Christians realized their error and drew closer to God, doing everything that they could to make things right. They were more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more passionate, and more responsible. Paul told them that they had come out of the situation with purity of heart and that was what he had hoped for when he wrote the letter of admonition to them. Paul’s primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong – or even the one wronged – but his concern was for the Corinthian Christians as a whole. His desire was for them to realize and act upon the ties between Paul and his associates and the Corinthian Christians. Paul and timothy were delighted and doubly blessed by the fact that Titus – another leader and teacher of the Corinthian Christians – was encouraged and blessed from the spiritual advancement of the Corinthian Christians.

The Holy Spirit of God wants you and me to know that when we yield to the direction of our God and Savior – reflect the glory of our God and enjoy the life and freedom of our life in Christ with its blessed results – we are a source of blessing to the ones who labor to draw us closer to maturity in Christ.

[1] II Samuel 7:14

Running the Race as a Winner Day Thirty-nine

I read the words of Habakkuk at the end of his book at a time in my life when the circumstances weren’t the cheeriest. Like Habakkuk I could say, “I have heard all about you, Lord and I am filled with awe by the amazing things that you have done. In my deep need I ask you to help me like you did in years gone by.” God had done wonderful things in my life in the past. He had sent his angels – in human form twice so that I could see them with my physical eyes – to help me out of a tight squeeze more than once and had saved me and my children and grandchildren from physical harm a number of times.

Nevertheless, I was depressed. My writing wasn’t selling and my children were all grown up and living their own lives. My dog and my cat were both dead. I had planned a life where I was living out my life with my husband and frequent visits from my grandchildren. Reality proved to be much different.

Then I read those last verses of Habakkuk’s prayer and decided to adopt his attitude as my own.

Though my books never sell and I never have a home of my own again, though I can never have another dog or cat of my own and my car has to go to a mechanical graveyard I will sing joyful praises to my God. My soul will jump for joy in God my Savior. I will take heart and gain strength in the knowledge that I can count on God’s rule to prevail.[1]

As a winner running the race you can make Habakkuk’s attitude yours as well. You can adopt that joy – the joy of the Lord – and let it be your strength. You can live above the circumstances of your life – no matter how bad the atmosphere is around you. As a winner, you will make the choice to thank God for an empty spoon when there is no food to put in it or a car that has no gas. You can praise God for the sky when it is covered with clouds and pouring down rain. God inhabits the praises of his people and you will feel his presence and grab the hope and peace that permeate God’s presence.

Prayer: Thank you my precious Lord, for your presence. Thank you for the sure knowledge that you will continue to work everything in my live together so that I will become conformed to the image of your dear Son. Thank you for your law – your instructions for living your character out in my life.

[1] Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty, I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
    I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19