Thank you: for a Relationship, Not Just Rules, Part 3 (A Weekday Paragraph, 6 of 6)

A Weekday Paragraph is a short scripture and a short paragraph (or two or three . . .LOL) of how it applies to my life. This is written by a Christian who is growing in her relationship with Jesus, for other growing Christians. Please be encouraged, challenged or both . . . and feel free to comment or reply.

Ephesians 2:4 – 6 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

God created me in my mother’s womb. I was created to have a relationship with Him. However, there was something in the way — my own sin, what this verse calls ‘trespasses’. God is holy and has a right to want holiness from his children, including me. I could pretend that I was doing okay on my own, because I hadn’t committed murder or adultery, but God’s law also demands no gossip, no covetousness and no lieing. Oops–I’m guilty of at least one of those!

When I could not meet God’s standard, He graciously allowed me to realize, that Jesus, His Son, had met the standard, and then died for me, so that I could have a relationship with Jesus and the Father.

Jesus is the Lord of Glory and I’m just me. Ordinary me, working at an ordinary job, living in an ordinary apartment, with an ordinary husband (okay, I guess I should say my husband’s wonderful . . . LOL). I do ordinary things: play the piano, write, take pictures, scrapbook, cook, wait on the customers of the business I work for . . . Yet Jesus still wants to spend time with me.

He wants me to spend time seated in heavenly places with Him. That means just hanging out, looking at the world (and my life) from his perspective. I can get overwhelmed by whatever it is I’m facing that day, (Oh yes, I should say I have ordinary problems too — that which we face is common to man.) I can get upset by what a co-worker or other person does or does not do. I have experienced health and financial challenges, as many people have. Yet, I don’t have to spend all my time focusing on the issues in my life — I get to spend some time hanging out with Jesus! And He is not overwhelmed by what is happening in my life or the world around me.

I encourage you — hang out with Jesus for at least a little while today. He wants to sit with you too.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

copyright: K Carswell, 2020

Photo credit: M Carswell

Thankful for: A Relationship, Not just Rules, Part 2 (A Weekday Paragraph, 5 of 6)

A Weekday Paragraph is a short scripture and a short paragraph (or two or three . . .LOL) of how it applies to my life. This is written by a Christian who is growing in her relationship with Jesus, for other growing Christians. Please be encouraged, challenged or both . . . and feel free to comment or reply.

Luke 18: 18 – 23

A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One–God. You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”

I have kept all these from my youth,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, He told him. “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

After he heard this, he became extremely sad, because he was very rich.

The rich young ruler had lived by good principles all his life. When he said he had not stolen or borne false witness, Jesus did not say he had. Yet, when he asked the young man to follow him, the young man became sad, because it would cost him all his riches. His riches were more important than a relationship which would allow him to inherit eternal life.

This passage acts as a vivid reminder that a good life does not guarantee eternal life: only a relationship with Jesus does. May we all walk closely with Jesus today, in whatever circumstances we are facing.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

copyright: K Carswell, 2020

Photo credit: M Carswell

Thankful for: A Relationship, not just Rules or Principles (A Weekday Paragraph, 4 of 6)

A Weekday Paragraph is a short scripture and a short paragraph (or two or three . . .LOL) of how it applies to my life. This is written by a Christian who is growing in her relationship with Jesus, for other growing Christians. Please be encouraged, challenged or both . . . and feel free to comment or reply.

John 1: 35-39: “Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!”

The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus.

When Jesus turned and noticed them following Him, he asked them, “What are you looking for?”

They said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which means ‘Teacher’) where are You staying?

“Come and you’ll see,” He replied. So they went and saw where he was staying and they stayed with Him that day. it was about 10 in the morning.

When meeting someone new, people often exchange names, occupations and details about their daily lives. Andrew was one of the two disciples who decided to follow Jesus, after following John. The disciples wanted to know where Jesus was staying so they could hang out with Him and get to know Him better. It was not enough for them that John thought he was the Lamb of God: they had to find out about this man for themselves.

It is interesting that Jesus did not tell them the physical address of where he lived at the time. He invited them to be where He was. Jesus was staying at more than a physical location in Israel: He was staying in the will of God. It was more necessary to Him than His daily food. In John 4:34, Jesus tells his disciples “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.”

It would be a neat experience to spend an entire day with someone who was in the will of God, who was perfectly following God, in attitudes and actions.

After spending a day with Jesus, Andrew was convinced that He was the Messiah. He went to get his brother Peter. Peter and Andrew then followed Jesus together. They walked closely with Jesus for three years. Discipleship involved a close relationship, not a distant one. They watched as he healed the sick, taught the people, feed the multitudes, calmed the seas and walked on water.

They also watched as he dealt with challenges to his ministry from the religious leaders. They were with him when many of his followers turned away, to the point that he asked them whether they would also leave.

Jesus wants to walk closely with His followers today as well. He wants us to know where he is staying. He wants us staying with Him — in the will of the Father.

Yes, there are principles to follow in Christianity. To read about them, the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes are two good places to start. But Christianity is not just about following principles: it is about a relationship with Jesus.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Thankful for: Prayer (A Weekday Paragraph, 3 of 6)

A Weekday Paragraph is a short scripture and a short paragraph (or two or three . . .LOL) of how it applies to my life. This is written by a Christian who is growing in her relationship with Jesus, for other growing Christians. Please be encouraged, challenged or both . . . and feel free to comment or reply.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray constantly.

When I pray, my life starts to come to order.

God wants me to talk to Him! He is willing to listen. Even my husband does not always want to hear what I have to say, but Jesus is always there to listen.

I am thankful for the prayers of fellow Christians — they have encouraged me much. I am also thankful for the ability and opportunity to pray for others.

I am also thankful for corporate prayer meetings — I met my husband at one! It is a wonderful experience when a group of people flow together and hear God. It is wonderful to know His will and pray it back to Him.

I’d also like to share a recent favorite quote on prayer: “don’t prayer until God hears, pray until you listen to God”. I love the fact that prayer is a two-way street. It is a huge building block to a deep relationship with God.

Photo credit: M Carswell

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Thankful for: A Christian Family Heritage (A Weekday Paragraph, 2 of 6)

A Weekday Paragraph is a short scripture and a short paragraph (or two or three . . .LOL) of how it applies to my life. This is written by a Christian who is growing in her relationship with Jesus, for other growing Christians. Please be encouraged, challenged or both . . . and feel free to comment or reply.

2 Timothy 1: 3-5 “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy, clearly recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also.” (Paul wrote this about Timothy.)

My Christian heritage comes to me from my parents and both sets of grandparents.

I am thankful for my parent’s example. I never had to ask what we were doing as a family on Sunday mornings: I knew we were on our way to church. My parents both served in the church, as had my grandparents on both sides. I started serving at a young age: my mother was Sunday School superintendent and I was asked to teach the four and five year olds when I was in grade seven. I taught with another young woman and enjoyed the experience.

My baptismal gown reminds me of my Christian heritage.

My husband also has a Christian heritage, and for that I am thankful.

A shared Christian heritage is a neat experience. I had a wonderful visit with a cousin and his wife this May. It was made even more wonderful by the fact that we could pray together. I thought about our grandpa and grandma looking down from Heaven and I’m sure they were both pleased! My husband and I also got to pray with one of his cousins last February.

My Bible cover reminds me of my Christian heritage, as it belonged to my Mom.

Photo credit: M Carswell

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Thankful for: Salvation (A Weekday Paragraph, 1 of 6)

A Weekday Paragraph is a short scripture and a short paragraph (or two or three . . .LOL) of how it applies to my life. This is written by a Christian who is growing in her relationship with Jesus, for other growing Christians. Please be encouraged, challenged or both . . . and feel free to comment or reply.

Life sometimes feels disorganized. There is still always something to be thankful for.

John 3:16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

I could not write a series on what I’m thankful for without getting back to the basics, the start. Jesus choose to die for sinners, including me. That allowed me, as a Grade 5 student, to sign the back of the New Testament the Gideons handed out to school children that was a prayer for salvation. It allowed me to accept his mercy at a greater level when I met with a Youth for Christ worker when I was in Grade 12. He gave me the strength to testify at a Campus Life meeting – watch when you say “Lord, I’ll testify if the lights flicker” — because the lights might do just that!

God has promised that those who believe in him will not perish and I haven’t. He was with me through college and is with me as in my working life. Sometimes my working life was not easy — It included stress leave at one point – but I did not perish. I remember a customer encouraging me at such an opportune time, that I wondered if he was an angel. He was with me through years of singleness. He is with me in my marriage (which happened in my late 40s by the way). He was with my when I lost my Dad, and years later, when I lost my Mom. He continues to be with me as I live my life, which includes a serving in my local church.

Jesus has been with me throughout my life. And I don’t have to fear death because he came to give me everlasting life.

copyright: K Carswell, 2020

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by Permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Lenten Letter # 2 Praying for our Enemies

Matthew 5:43-45: You have heard that it was said Love you neighbor and hate you enemy. But I tell you, love you enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

This is a verse of scripture that challenged me today. I did pray for someone, who I feel gossips about and uses me. This scripture does not give any guarantee that the person will change. It only tells us to pray. It even suggests that good things will happen to the person we are praying for. It does not guarantee all our problems will be solved.

Just a challenge to myself to keep praying.

Another reminder: when I feel that people are watching, ready to pounce on any mistake I make and use it as fodder for gossip, I need to remind myself that my Heavenly Father is also watching over me closely, but He is watching over me with love and care.

Katherine’s “Lenten Letters”

History and Personal Decisions

Day 1 – Thoughts on Matthew, Chapters 1 and 2

(Reading done Matthew Chapters 1-3)

I desire to observe Lent by reading at least one chapter from the Gospels every day. Today I read Matthew Chapters 1 to 3, and want to record a few thoughts. (This is not meant to be a detailed Bible study, just a few of my thoughts on the passages.)

The first is that: history matters. Our personal family history matters. The gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. I feel blessed to know my family’s history on both sides, thanks to an aunt who did the family history on my father’s side, and a cousin who did it on my mother’s. Knowing where we came from helps to teach us who we are.

Out personal decisions matter. Joseph had decided to divorce Mary, but changed his mind after hearing from an angel. He married her, providing protection for her and her soon-to-be born son. It is interesting to note that the angel told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. This seems to suggest that had he divorced her, it would have been due to fear. Joseph obeyed the angel, giving the name Jesus to the new baby, as the angel had suggested.

Today, many Christians believe we can be led by the Holy Spirit in our decisions. We need to take time to ponder, to listen to the Lord.

Matthew 1 is a personal chapter, dealing with one man’s lineage and his very personal decision: the choice of a wife. Politics gets involved in chapter 2, as wise men from the east, come to Jerusalem to worship the newly born King of the Jews. They had been guided by a star, but went to Jerusalem to see King Herod, to ask about the baby. “When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed and all Jerusalem with him” (Matt. 2:3). King Herod found out where the baby should be born and sent the wise men to worship him, telling them to report back to him. After their visit with Herod, the star appeared, and led them to the boy, who may have been two years old. The wise men worshiped, but did not return to Herod. They were warned in a dream not to do so.

King Herod flew into a rage when he realized he had been outwitted by the wise men. He then ordered the killing of every male child in and around Bethlehem. This sad act fulfilled a prophesy that is recorded in Jeremiah 31:15. Jesus was protected because Joseph obeyed when an angel told him to take his young family and flee to Egypt. This was again to fulfill prophecy.

Joseph’s obedience impacted history. It also fulfilled prophecy.

I need to realize that obedience matters in a major way. I need to realize that my personal decisions matter. My part is God’s plan is far smaller than Joseph’s, but still it needs to be done.

Join me in spending extra time with our Lord this Lenten season. Let’s listen, obey and fulfill what God has called us to do.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, Copyright 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible, Holman CSB and HCSB are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.)

Crying out to you

We’re crying out to you, Lord.

We’re crying out to you.

We’re crying out to you.

It’s all we can really do.

We need your mercy,

we need your grace,

but most of all

it’s your presence that we need.

We’re crying out to you, Lord.

We’re crying out to you.

We’re crying out to you.

It’s all we can really do.

In your presence, we can see your face.

In your presence we can walk by grace.

In your presence, we can take a stand.

In your presence we hold out our hands

prepared to serve both You and man.

We’re crying out to you, Lord.

We’re crying out to you.

We’re crying out to you.

It’s all we can really do.

Copyright 2019, Katherine Carswell

As High as the Prairie Sky

Lord, I needed to picture your grace

and I looked above:

Your grace is as high as the prairie sky.

Your grace is as wide as the prairie sky.

The height of God’s grace,

draws me to my knees;

The width of His grace,

draws me closer to his side.

Your grace is as high as the prairie sky;

Your grace is as wide as the prairie sky.

Sometimes I feel a little dry

and rain comes from the sky.

God’s refreshing, cooling rain,

Pouring down his grace.

Grace high as the prairie sky,

Grace wide as the prairie sky.

Thunder rolls as lightning flashes,

Storms of life occur.

Still your grace shines from above

Coming down with your great love.

Grace high as the prairie sky,

Grace wide as the prairie sky.

Grace so vast I cannot see its end

God’s grace shining freely down on me.

Grace so high is draws me to my knees;

Grace so wide, it calls me closer to His side.

Grace high as the prairie sky,

Grace wide as the prairie sky.

______________

Copyright 2019, Katherine Carswell

Photo by Katherine Carswell