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Lent devotional 22

Petra-

The first people to inhabit Petra were Nomads called the Nebataeans. When they first found the rock Fortress they used it as a stronghold for their families and their merchandise. Later they gained control of the central incense and spice trade; and then, due to necessity, began using Petra as a Market Hub because it was located conveniently between Asia and Arabia. We know about these people and what they did and how they lived because of detailed, yet sometimes hard to decipher, wall “journals”. Scribes had etched into the stone walls a history of the nomads who first inhabited here. When and how these people were driven out, or simply chose to leave, is vague. Later in the Kingdom years, the city belonged to the Edomites who we know from their battles with Saul and David. It has been suggested by Scholars that the Fortress / Safe Haven of Petra fell to ruin because Edom gave aid to Nebuchadnezzar when he destroyed Jerusalem. It is believed that in Jeremiah 49:16,

You have been deceived by the fear you inspire in others and by your own pride. You live in a rock fortress and control the mountain heights. But even if you make your nest among the peaks with the eagles, I will bring you crashing down,” says the Lord .
Jeremiah 49:16 NLT

God is speaking of Petra or Sela. Now the once-vibrant city lies as a reminder of what happens to those who harm God’s people. This city makes me think of Helm’s Deep from Lord of the Rings. Helms Deep was assumed to be a fortress where you could hide in times of attack; a place to keep your goods and your valuables so they wouldn’t be stolen by Raiders, and yet it wasn’t powerful enough to protect the people. In the end it was just a stone building waiting to crumble. Petra was seen as a fortress not only by the nomads who discovered it but also by the Edomites who conquered it later. But the stone Fortress was turned into nothing but a reminder of the devastation of God’s hand. He claimed he would make Edom like Sodom and Gomorrah. And he did. All Edom did was aid Babylon, but they aided Babylon when Babylon was besieging God’s holy city and God’s people and that was a mistake. God will never leave your battles unfinished, you may never even see it happen, but someday the stronghold your enemies hid in as they attacked you will lay empty as a sign of what God has done for you.

Footnotes :
American Natural History Museum
NLT
Got questions- answers to Bible questions 

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I believe in you

A friend is someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.
It is so easy to doubt yourself. All most people see is their failures and that’s so sad. Why do people ask for someones opinion and then get angry when they don’t like what the other person says? Because we are all insecure and need someone to pat us on the back and say ‘well done kid!’ We search for compliments and assurance from others because we don’t really believe in ourselves. That’s why we need friends whom we can trust. If a trusted friend gives their opinion you are more likely to accept that it is true. A real friend will always cheer you on and spur you forward, but will also give you advice and hold you back from reckless things. If JRR Tolkien hadn’t had great friends to encourage him he might have never published the Lord of the Rings. Usually our friends can see more to us than we can see ourselves. You know what I am about to say. Jesus is the one true friend we all have and He is known for spurring us forward in the right things and holding us back in the wrong. Listen to Jesus because He believes in you. Even if He is pulling you back it’s not because there is something wrong with you,  it’s because there is something wrong with the situation. Trust His words and His timing, He is a friend who will always believe in you, you just have to believe in Him.

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A warning?

`Warning? Warning against what? ‘ said Boromir sharply.

‘Against delay. Against the way that seems easier. Against refusal of the burden that is laid on me. Against-well, if it must be said, against trust in the strength and truth of Men.’

The breaking of the fellowship, LOTR

Hard times come; some of which we can choose whether or not to accept. If we hold back from God’s will because we know the road will be hard, isn’t that wrong?
Tonight I heard my mom praying for the courage of Paul, it filled my heart. Paul’s courage was challenged and tested and yet still he fought on because he knew Jesus. He knew there was a greater reward. Never once did Paul hesitate to do God’s will and never once did he trust in the truth or strength of men. Now he is one of the most well known and debated upon authors in the Bible. Why? Because he refused the voice of the devil when he called him away from God. Paul had spent enough time doing the devil’s work that he knew it held no reward. Paul trusted in the God who saved him, Paul did not delay or deny God’s task. Paul went forth in courage because his faith was in God.
Oh, the things we can learn from God’s disciples.

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Prostrate before Him

Has God fallen off His throne somehow?
No? Then why don’t we treat Him like our King anymore?
Jesus is our Best Friend, that is true, but if you are best friends with the King you still treat Him as King.
In Lord of The Rings, when the Elves come to fight for Helm’s Deep Aragorn still bows to his friend, before giving him a big hug. Aragorn is no less of royalty (by birthright) but he still shows respect, one may even go as far as to say that he shows reverence to the Elvin lord, why? Because that is what you do. That is what is right.
(If my memory on that scene is a little off please forgive me, it has been some time since I last read those masterpieces of literature.)
We have an inheritance with Jesus, that is very true, but even younger siblings bow to older siblings within a royal household, because their birthright gives them that respect.
Always bow before our King’s throne, before running to Him amd giving a big hug. He deserves worship, but He also loves us and having us as His friends.

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Soldiers

Soldiers

Home is behind, the world is ahead, (J.R.R. Tolkien). I usually see this phrase of this song as a sentence of awe and thrill. Images of camping and wooded trails, tall mountains and pounding waterfalls overtake my mind and I breathe deeply. However that was not the scene around this statement. In the Lord of The Rings masterpiece epic, ( I mean the novels) Pipin sings a song of what would seem to be great adventure, in fact it is a song of war. They left their homes behind and took to war. Trenches and hill tops and beaches. Skies, oceans and forests. Deserts and mountains and jungles. Comfort left behind, loving arms and gentle words long forgotten as feet ache in heavy boots and backs sweat under heavy packs. You almost don’t dare make friends because you don’t know how long you will get to hold to these people around you, but you become family. Our soldiers learned the line Jesus said about true friends, and what Paul said, Rare for a person to lay down their life even for a righteous person; perhaps for a good man one would dare to die for.-Paul ( this is not a direct quote)
Our soldiers dared to die for those they never met. War is UGLY! Suffering and death happen and it is awful! But freedom doesn’t come by hoping for it. We should always honor those who suffered and died, AND those who suffered and live, because our freedom came from their blood. Hate war always, hate our soldiers NEVER! They did not ask for the wars they fought and fight in, but they saw the suffering of the innocent and had the courage to stand up and do something about it. God bless our soldiers! Semper Fi.

I found the cover image on the internet and hope that it is okay that I used it because it is so powerful. My uncle was in Vietnam and this painting reminded me of the few stories that he was able to tell when he got back.

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Dragons and kings

God is not like smaug, the great dragon from the Hobbit, where when we come into His lair trembling and say “I had heard stories about you but I did not believe them,” he stands back from us flexing the scales across his chest and blowing a snort of smoke out of his nose he proplaclaims, “and do you now?”
In contrast when we come up to Jesus trembling saying, ” I had heard stories of you my Lord, but I did not believe them.” He looks at us with love and responds, “I know, I have been waiting for you to come and see me for yourself.” Then He hugs us and all our fears and sins and scars melt away and not only do we believe the stories we now know the man they are about and we know He loves us. His gentle embrace following us everywhere we go until we get to live with Him in His kingdom. There is no dragon pride, just the gentle/powerful/all knowing/unending love of a king.

(Credit to owner for the cover image)

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Let go my wandering spirit part 2

Nothing we desire is coincidence. Now don’t misread this, some desires are set in us by the devil because he wants to lead us to sin, and some are simply human desires because we are, well, human; but many if not most of our desires are given to us by God because He is guiding us to become the person He wants us to be. I am often overtaken by a longing for the Ocean, not just to stand on her shores and admire her beauty, but to be out on her, sailing, so far out that I haven’t seen the shore for days and have no idea what lies ahead on the vast depth of horizon. I often wonder why I desire this, is God drawing me to something that involves the ocean? Am I going to end up somewhere out at sea with no connection to the land? Maybe, or maybe I read too many Jules Verne novels. But if God did end up sending me out to sea, to search the oceans, I would not be spiritually wandering from Him, I would be physically wandering with Him. Missionaries travel this whole world, because they are wandering in the guidance of the Spirit. Sometimes if your soul seems to be yearning to go someplace and/or do something it’s because God is sending you onto your next horizon, it’s because HE wants you to share in an adventure with Him. When Gandalf came to Bilbo’s quiet countryside home and found the hobbit smoking his pipe on a bench he already knew that the journey needed Bilbo, and Bilbo needed the journey; he wasn’t searching for just anyone to go with him on his adventure, he was searching for that one, particular hobbit because no one else would do. When God starts to make our souls uncomfortable and makes us desire to wander it’s because He knows that the journey needs our special touch, our unique character, and He knows that we need the journey and that in the end we will be even closer to Him. Because the amount of times we fall on this journey and the amount of times God catches us add up to make our faith stronger and our focus more clearly on Jesus as our goal. So let go wandering spirit and wander away, you never know what your wandering is preparing you for.


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Let go my wandering spirit part 1

My absolute favorite quote from Tolkien is: Not all who wander are lost.

This statement makes me dream of far off places and uncharted road trips. I can imagine and visualize deep woods thick with ancient trees, their boughs reaching to me as if to guide me along my path. I picture chill mornings by a soothing campfire with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, my dog nestled on my knee and morning doves starting to sing a greeting to the day. Beautiful thoughts these may be, but what if we take a closer look at that phrase? Not all who wander are lost. Tolkien became devout Roman Catholic so there are Christ like connections to His novels and His quotes (whether he intended them or not). Many have written devotionals linking the “Hobbit” and “the Lord of the Ring” with the Bible; no one could possibly know if Tolkien would have approved of these derivative works or not but I doubt he would have minded. Looking at Tolkien’s Faith I wonder what He meant when he said “not all who wander are lost”? Scripture talks about a heart that is prone to wander from the will of God and from God Himself, but that is a different wandering than Tolkien meant here; Tolkien speaks of a physical wandering, a “letting go of the feet” if you will. Here is the point I get from “not all who wander are lost,” not all who wander physically are lost spiritually. Some of us have what may be referred to as a gypsy soul, a restless spirit that makes it so we must constantly be on the move. This may be the result of seeking a longing that only Christ can fill, a longing to know Him because we have wandered from Him, or never knew Him to begin with, but it may also be a need to wander set in us by God.