What Is The Kingdom of Heaven? ~ where is it?

A father and baby

After this manner therefore pray ye

I most often use the New American Standard Bible [NASB], thinking it’s the closest word-for-word translation of the Bible in English. Young’s Literal Translation [YLT] would be another one. However, there are some verses and entire sections of the Bible where I gravitate toward the King James Version [KJV] for its exquisite beauty. What we call “The Lord’s Prayer” is one of those sections, and in it Jesus tells us about the kingdom of God. This is where Jesus teaches us how to pray. And if Jesus said it, I know I can absolutely ‘take that check to the bank’. It’s good.

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. ~ Matthew 6:9-13, King James Version [KJV]

I placed the above text in red because the words of Jesus are often shown in red to honor them and also to point them out. So what is He telling us about the Kingdom of Heaven? He says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” To me, to my mind and heart this is saying the kingdom of God is something that comes to earth and can exist on earth. And God’s will (the Father’s will) can be done on the earth as it is in heaven. That the kingdom of God is possible and available to us.

17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 14:17, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

This passage in Romans speaks to me saying the kingdom of God is here on earth in the Holy Spirit, and further than that in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we are made righteous before the Father. That is how God sees us, washed in the blood of His Son and as righteousness. With all my being, I think that believers who have truly made Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior do NOT wish to sin, do not seek to sin, but strive to do God’s will and to be in God’s will. And that is our job…to fully submit to the Father’s will. Fully submitted to the Holy Spirit is where we will find the kingdom of God on earth.

Brother Kenneth Copeland points to John 5:30 to show us the “kingdom process” here on the earth.

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Lighthearted ~ a word from the Lord

If we could lighten up some right about now, we’d all be better off.

I stood at the pumps, and it was one of those that gave a word for the day with its definition on a small screen. Today the word was lighthearted. In my spirit, I heard the Holy Spirit telling me, ‘That’s My Word for you. Only ponder the biblical aspects of lighthearted’. This verse immediately came to mind:

2“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-20 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Then I thought of the Hebrew word Chesed that Brother Kenneth Copeland and D.Min. Greg Stephens have been teaching and insisting believers should walk in for their own benefit, the benefit of others, and ultimately to please God. Chesed? (You actually pronounce the first two letters as if you were bringing up flem, but in American English the “C” is silent) What is the Hebrew meaning?

  • kindness or love expressed between people
  • the devotional piety of people expressed towards God
  • The love or mercy of God expressed towards humanity, the refusal by God to wash His hands of wayward, lost people

Right now in the world there is an absence of lightness of spirit. People all over the world are burdened, fearful, and depressed for a myriad of reasons. But Chesed, God’s loving-kindness His tenderheartedness, His joy, His peace doesn’t depend on circumstances. We can be in the midst of a global pandemic, in political turmoil, social unrest, economic distress and still walk in God’s Chesed…His peace, mercy, love, and lightheartedness. In the midst, we can love others intensely. Our hearts (inner being) can become lighter, not emotionally and psychologically dependent upon world circumstances. Actually, right now it’s imperative that we walk in God’s Chesed…for our sanity’s sake. We can find the humor in crazy circumstances instead of letting the circumstances drive us crazy. We are made in the image and likeness of God. If we have many ways to demonstrate a sense of humor, that would indicate that God has a wonderful sense of humor. Also He made us, and that’s pretty funny.

Then another verse came to me, and in my opinion, here Jesus is not talking about heaven. He’s talking about what type of life can be available to believers here on earth. And I think it has everything to do with walking and having our being in Chesed.

and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 18:3 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Then another verse popped up inside me.

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22: 35-40, New English Version [NEV]

Major Cookie Company Says,”cookie shortage for Christmas” ~ so make your own!

Gather the family, friends together in the kitchen to bake cookies ~

So, Pepperidge Farms, the largest cookie manufacturer has announced to the media, they will most likely have a cookie shortage this Christmas 2020. Don’t despair. Really, don’t. This is an opportunity, a time to look forward to fun. A time to make merry. Bake your own cookies for Christmas.

A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22 [New King James Version]

Everyone loves Snickerdoodles. They’re cinnamony and sugary and just right for Christmas. They’re perfect for a family and friends Christmas baking experience, especially with children. This is an easy, ‘no fail’ Snickerdoodles recipe even the most ‘baking challenged’ among us can handle. Get your family and friends together and have a ‘Snickerdoodles Christma Baking Party’, then eat them…perhaps with eggnog or hot apple cider. Don’t fore get to leave a few for Santa!!! LOL

Easy Snickerdoodles

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
1 C butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 1/2 sugar
2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar (the secret ingredient)
1 tsp baking sod
1/2 tsp salt
Make cinnamon sugar (2 Tbsp sugar to every 1 tsp powdered cinnamon)

1. Let butter or margarine come to room temperature. In a medium or large bowl cream the butter or margarine, add beaten eggs and stir well until smooth. Sift in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt. Stir until completely combined.

2. Shape into 1 inch balls. Roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture twice to get them well coated.

3. Place the balls 2 inches apart (they will flatten and need space) on a baking sheet well coated with cooking/baking pan spray.

4. Bake at 400 degrees fir 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool. If you don't have a wire rack, remove to a plate to cool. You may have more cookie dough. Then repeat steps 3 and 4.

 

If it’s not a perfectly formed ball, that’s okay. The point is to have fun. It will taste great anyway. So, you’re NOT a baker? So, what? Don’t be hyper-self critical. Make merry in this Christmas season, and be of good cheer.

**Such a good Scripture for this Christmas season threatened with world-wide Covid lockdowns and political unrest.

“…These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33 [New King James Version]
 
 
 
 
 

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God Loves Beauty ~ that’s why He made you

flower garden

I’m a huge Genesis lover

 

8 And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, Eden, and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowldge of good and evil. 10 Now a reiver flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it devided and became four rivers. Genesis 2:8-10 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

I believe the Lord God planted a gorgeous garden for Adam and Eve, a garden so luscious in its magnificent beauty we can’t even imagine it. This proves to me that God loves beauty. Beauty and goodness, and kindness, and love was His original idea. And that was also His original idea when He planted each of us in our mother’s womb. He had not changed his mind about us. In His sight we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The thing is, He gave humans free will. He did not want to be loved by a bunch of robots. He did not desire to be loved and obeyed by billions of ‘stepford people’. He wanted us to chose to love Him. He wanted us to see that His way for us is best. It leads to peace, oh and how humans need peace, God’s peace, the real peace…it leads to kindness…to love, the real love (not Hollywood transient romance, not fair-weather friends), God’s deep and abiding love.

It’s through God’s perfect love that we see how beautiful we are. As believers we are called to know how eternally beautiful we are.

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth Psalm 96:6. [King James Version, KJV]

The beauty of holiness is a different kind of beauty than the world offers. It’s an inside beauty. It start with one’s character, a loving nature, and one with kindness, but also with a sense of self-worth. I want to point out that “fear before Him” means to have deep and awesome reverence for Him.

We, believers, are children of the Most High God, and that’s something very big indeed. The beauty of holiness shines through our eyes and a genuine, caring smile. It’s transformative. When your eyes shine with warmth and your smile is the real deal, people see you as beautiful. And you yourself feel your genuine worth and you take better care of your body, and your health, and your presentation. You are presenting as a child of the most High now. Not any old thing will do, not any old sloppy way of going into the world is right anymore because truly…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

A woman worshiping

 

ribbon pink

Brookyn PI Veronica “Ronnie” Ingles has beauty and self-worth issues and it doesn’t get better when he husband leaves her for another woman. In HARMFUL INTENT, Ronnie finds herself in Texas (what’s a Brooklyn girl doing in Texas?) where her husband is murdered and the stalwart, coffee loving sheriff’s deputy has her as his prime suspect.

Harmful Intent 400 P

Deep Healing Prayer ~ during a pandemic

 

AA Bible

Rests upon peace with yourself and forgiveness.

Love and forgiveness, first of ourselves, is the foundation of soul healing and also physical healing. So many of us are fearful of contracting Corona Virus. Some have chronic diseases that make them vulnerable to C19. Others have already contracted the virus and are fighting it.

As believers, we fight more effectively when we are free of self-condemnation. Don’t let self-anger, self-loathing, self-pity, or any of the other selfies get in the way of healing.

Make a list. Make it as an act of prayer, submitting to Him. If there is anything we hold against ourselves, let’s write it down on paper, in detail, all of it. Be honest, what is that ‘thing/s’ we seldom talk about?  If writing this thing/s is extremely hard, make a cup of tea, put on some soft worship music, and then write…but write! As believers, we know God has not only forgiven us, He doesn’t hold that/those sin/s against us, and in fact He remembers it/them no more.

I, even am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. ~ Isaiah 43: 25 9 [New American Standard Bible, NASB] 

If God doesn’t want to be weighted down with our sins, it might be a good and healthy idea if we let go of them too. There is a spiritual principal here for health and healing. How can we fully come before the throne and worship God when we secretly harbor these self-condemning feelings? Let them go, For His own sake.

Make a prayerful, quality decision to let the self-condemnation go. A firm decision. Take communion over it. If we’re used to carrying this self-condemning burden, we might have to let it go more than once…in fact, numerous times if we’ve carried it for years. That’s okay. God’s not counting. He doesn’t even remember the sin/s.

Since God doesn’t even remember the sin/s, destroy the list. Rip it up with bare handed, or shred it. Remember, if feelings of self-condemnation for sin God has already forgiven come back…banish them, again and again until they cease and desist.

When we have let go of this burden, we can come before the throne of God refreshed, more joyous as we ask for continued renewing of our mind, healing of our soul (mind, will, and emotions), and physical healing.

10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ ~ Isaiah 41:10 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

 

ribbon blue

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.    CD Cover

 

 

 

The Spirit Believes ~ the flesh doubts

Cel Sisterhood Bracelet

The Great Commission

16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. ~ Matthew 28: 16-17, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

These are Scriptures I’ve read many times, over the course of the years I’ve been saved, probably heard it preached from the pulpit or on Christian television shows well over a hundred times.

Last night I attended a Sisterhood Workshop at my church, Celebration Church in Julington Creek, FL. The subject was “Unwavering Resolve: Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” I even got a sisterhood bracelet, pictured above.

We were given a worksheet. So, this morning I sat down with my spiritual notebook and my Bible and looked up the first Scripture they’d given on that worksheet which was Matthew 28: 18-29.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [NASB]

As I usually do, I went up a couple of verses to Matthew 28:16-17 and started reading and something hit me…doubtful. These were the eleven disciples after the resurrection. They’s spent three years with Jesus,  knew He had in fact died on the cross, had been prepared for burial, was sealed in a tomb, and as reported by Mary Magdalene, three days later He was risen.

Here they were seeing the risen Lord, Jesus the Christ, and yet some doubted. When preachers I’d heard over the years got to that verse, they often preached it in a scoffing or judgemental tone. That some of these disciples were at this point somehow spiritually less than or deficient.

Then it hit me with such power…the question…What had changed? How did all these men later become on fire for the Lord? And it came to me, on the Day of Pentecost they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

We need the Holy Spirit to live a life surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit to believe. The flesh doubts, the flesh is weak, the flesh is afraid of seeming foolish, the flesh has fear of man, the flesh wants to take control and run the show according to desire or investment in mental ability. There is no use and it makes no sense to castigate ourselves when our flesh doubts. What else would it do???

When that happens, if we want the life of joy and peace and blessing that Jesus offers, we must seek the Holy Spirit and let Him guide us to a better space for ourselves. That place is under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The more we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives, the less we will doubt, the less we will fear, the less we will harshly judge and condemn ourselves. The more we will be free, unbound, joyful, and content in our blessings. The more we will live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

I Don’t Dream ~ and I don’t cry

Emil Navor, WWII
Emil Michael Navor,  WWII, US Army, Pacific Arena

Yet, this morning I woke up dreaming about my dad’s memorial service, eighteen years ago, when I couldn’t stop crying. I don’t usually do either of those things: dream in my sleep that I can recall, or often cry.

That morning, the tears seemed to come up from my toes. I dremt an exact recall of how my BFF childhood girlfriend Christine Sloat White comforted me on the way out of the sanctuary. Christine died way too early of ovarian cancer, and as was her own personal style, carried herself with extreme dignity, right tot he end thinking of others.

 

Christine Sloat White

Christine Sloat White, Titusville, Fl

 

 

 

 

I only have one digital photo of my dad. So, I dragged out the two boxes of photos I have in my house in NYC, thinking I’d try to take a digital shot of an old snapshot. However, I couldn’t find any. Most of my photos (copious amounts of them) were shipped to Florida, as I’m in transition for a retirement move south. Likewise I only have one digital shot of Christine stored in my computer.

 

As I got out of bed this morning, I flashed to my father’s hospital bedside after the stroke that left him speechless in 1997. My dad had spent a lifetime angry at God over the very early death of his own father, which thrust his mother, sister, and himself into years of hardship. Using the GI Bill, he turned to education and philosophy for answers and obtained a college degree. Much later in life he added two masters degrees. He spoke three languages. None of this made him less angry with God. He spent the overwhelming portion of his adult life as a highly vocal agnostic. Honesty was his strong suit, and he freely admitted thinking about death made him very uneasy.

I visited my dad in the Catholic hospital in upstate New York, following his stroke. He couldn’t speak, but he had full use of his hands. A retired English high school teacher, speech teacher, debate coach, and high school senior play director, he had no trouble using words. He described on paper how he had been drawn to a particular statue of a baby, actually what appeared to be a Middle Eastern mother, father, and infant. He’d ask the nurses or aides to push his wheelchair into the waiting room where the wooden statue was displayed. He’d sit there gazing at it, he said, in a total peace he had never felt before. He wrote on his notepad, “Why do you think that is?”

I asked my dad, “Do you know who is depicted in that statue?” He didn’t know. So, I told him it was the Holy Family. The baby he was so drawn to, the one where gazing upon the infant carved in wood gave him such peace, was in fact, the baby Jesus. He was nonplussed. A shy smile crossed his face.

He also told me in writing how a particular nun who worked in the hospital would come to see him every day and something happened. She lit up the room. He couldn’t wait to see her. I later sought this nun out in her office to thank her for such kindness to my father. I was overwhelmed. I explained to her he’d been an agnostic most of his life and somehow he’d seen light in her. I told her how he had been drawn to the statue of the baby Jesus, and how I believed he’d had a profound experience of the Savior. For the first time in his life, he had experienced the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.

That little visit didn’t go well. She was shocked and horrified. I came to believe, she saw  a man who was going to hell if he didn’t get baptized, make his First Communion and get confirmed. Born again Christians might say she had a religious spirit. That’s a spirit of man-made religious stuff that’s not in the Bible. I’m not being antiCatholic. Christians have in the past, and some still do, make up all kinds of stuff that’s not in the Bible, such as you can’t dance or drink alcohol.

My Bible says Jesus turned water into wine for his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. I’ll bet there was plenty of dancing at that wedding. Jews always dance at weddings. I lived next to a religious Jewish family in Brooklyn for over 13 years. It would be quite usual on Friday evenings and on Saturday for friends to come over to celebrate the Sabbath. I’d often hear them laughing, singing, and feet-stompin’ dancing. And let’s not forget Jesus changed water into wine. That was after the guests at the wedding at Cana had consumed all the wine the host provided. The Bible says wine enough to fill six, large, stone purification water jars. These jars usually held 20 – 30 gallons. That’s a lot of wine. Some Christians insist the ‘wine’ they drank was really grape juice. I take my Bible literally. If it says wine, it means wine. It also says, the headwaiter told the bridegroom this last wine was the best. I’ve never been at any kind of social occasion where anyone has said, “This last grape juice was the best.” However, there have been endless hours spent talking about the merits of one particular wine vs. another.

But I digress. I believe, this precious nun was dismayed because she saw in my dad, a man going to hell. I was so grateful to her for being a representative of Jesus, walking into his room. I was grateful to the nurses and aides who pushed my dad’s wheelchair into the waiting room where he could spend time with the Holy Spirit who obviously did a work in him. I saw a man who had had an encounter with the living God who loved him, offered him peace, and extended an invitation to one day go to heaven.