A Christmas Letter from Christ

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Hey you,

It’s me. Jesus. Don’t worry, you don’t have to share this 15 times in order for me to bless you. Your name is written on my heart. This message is to let you know that… I know. I know how hard it’s been. I know our journey has been really rocky these days. I know that some days it just plain hurts. But I want you to know that I’ve been here the whole time, walking you through it, holding you when no one else does, and catching your tears, even as mine watered the earth. I want you to know that, with all the maintenance issues in the universe I have to personally organize and maintain on a day to day basis, with all the prevention of warfare and mass destruction that I have to constantly attend to, with all the cleanup and answering of prayers in response to the tragedies that I don’t even cause, yet people blame me for, and with all the heartache that my angels in heaven and I constantly have to mend in heaven and on earth, I wanted you to know that YOU were not forgotten. I love you.

Does that make you smile? Good. You are my beloved. You are a treasure to me. I care about you, I’m here with you, and I understand the way that you feel. I promise you, I promise you, I promise you, I understand; I will always understand. Honestly though, in THIS world, things are going to get worse before they get better. We have each other though, and hopefully that’s enough to get you through. I’ll always be around to brighten up your day, I’ll always be the shoulder to cry on, the ear to hear, the spontaneous comical moment that makes you laugh, the divine love that fills the void in your heart, the Presence that chills your shoulders to let you know I’m around, and the unfailingly faithfulness that you need to rely on. Word.

Now that you know that I’m here and I care, can you please…by any chance… be a blessing to me too? I know the nature of man. Do you think that the next time you’re in the midst of the pain and sorrow, you can remain strong and remain faithful to me, simply committing to loving me and being there for me, even if things aren’t going our way? Believe me, it pierces me too, but if we stick together, it will be forever. By the way, did you know it’s my birthday soon?!! It’s Christmas season! Advent: like lent, only for Christmas – with joy, love, and the promise of Me… saving you from this world, this heartache, and all this darkness. Why doesn’t it feel like my birthday is coming…

Listen. I want to be the Light of your life, I want you to have the joy of the season, but you have to know, the joy is within YOU. It’s not in the gifts, it’s not in the deeds (although I am in need), it’s not in the perfect preparations, it’s not in the food, it’s not in the party, it’s not gonna change under awkward circumstances (that we’ll laugh about together). The joy that you are seeking lives in YOU. It’s up to YOU to be and to see the Light during this Christmas season. Please help me shine my Light. This world really needs my Light. No pressure though. I’ll always be here. I promise. I hope whatever it is you’re dreaming of to make you happy this year, actually does. But above all, I just want you to know that I love you. I’m here. I’ve been here. And I’ll always BE here…as long as you’ll have me. Not because somebody shared it with you, or liked it a certain amount of times, but because of the perfect will of My Father. I chose you to receive this. I care about you, and I’m telling you,

I need more love too.

Don’t forget: You’re in charge of your joy this season. I’ve got the whole universe to preserve, maintain and take care of….and it’s my birthday!!! So let’s get this party started…

You know I love you.

JC

(via His angel on earth)

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

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A Brief Comparison of The Gospels of Matthew and Mark – by Samantha Nardozzi

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While reading the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Matthew and St. Mark, the rudimentary student will at first hand notice a striking number of similarities that both Gospels share, overlooking the background, depth and perspective that differentiate each work. However, having studied just a few of the biblical discrepancies within, it becomes clear that these Gospels can be viewed as entirely different, in one way or another. This paper will explore a mere handful of the many sacred components that each of the Gospels contribute to the New Testament, analyzing in what ways and with what intent they present Jesus the Messiah. First we will briefly describe both of the works on their own, beginning to understand the historical background and perspective of each author. Using this basic understanding of each of our evangelists, we will dive into specific Scripture to help reveal how each of the Gospels differ, regarding the Christology of Jesus, either human or divine, and the use of language and style revealing how they wanted to represent Him. We will also acknowledge that ultimately both Gospels are exceedingly similar, in that they tell the same story. Although they tell it differently, they share a purpose of convincing their audiences that Jesus is the Son of God. Conclusively, this paper will reconcile that although they cover a very similar tale, both Gospels hold high import and are completely necessary to be included as the first two books of the New Covenant.

The Gospel of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, often uses Hebrew Scripture to identify Jesus as the Holy One of Israel, with a purpose of bridging the gap between the Old Testament and the New. After 400 years of prophetic silence, Matthew begins our Bible with the story of a baby. The intentions of Matthew are clear from his very first words, describing Jesus as the Son of Abraham and the Son of David. He wants the audience to recognize that Jesus is both Israelite and King. The birth of Jesus, Matthew claims, fulfilled the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Throughout the birth narrative that is presented in Matthew is evidence of prophecy fulfilled, that is, evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact, throughout his entire Gospel, Matthew provides an abundance of Old Testament Scripture, more than all the other Gospels combined. One might reconcile that this is a probable reason as to why the Gospel of Matthew was chosen to be the first of the Four Gospels; he paves a way for the Jews to Cross over from the Old Covenant to the New, giving evidential proof as to why this Christ is the Chosen One of Israel.

Contrary to Matthew’s emphasis on Scripture, the Gospel of Mark presents Jesus in an action filled ministry that is easy to read and rather engaging. Rather than beginning with the narrative of Christ’s miracle birth providing evidence of prophecy fulfilled, the Gospel of Mark is quick to begin with the baptism and ministry of Christ, including three miracles and the calling of his first disciples all in the first chapter alone! (Matthew on the other hand gave 4 chapters of historical background before presenting His first miracle). The Gospel of Mark plays out almost like a movie. It’s as if it were a story that could be told from beginning to end in one sitting, and it’s not just any story, it’s a story of action with a unique writing style and enticing language choice. With a great sense of urgency, Mark uses the Greek word euthys meaning “hurry up,” 42 times in the Gospel, often saying things like “Immediately…” and “At once!” This technique keeps the audience engaged as they move from one scene to the next. Differing from Matthew’s audience of Jewish-Christians, Scholars have concluded that the Gospel of Mark was written to not Jews, but Gentiles. Considering it was originally written for people who had no prior knowledge of the Bible, one might conclude that the Gospel of Mark is a great starting place for someone who has little experience with biblical knowledge. The fact that Mark wrote for the Gentiles instead of the Jews, could explain why Mark quotes the Hebrew Scriptures only once: describing the prophecy of John the Baptist in Mark 1:2-3. Looking at the verse number of the one passage of Old Testament Scripture, one might reconcile that the Gospel of Mark truly is the easy to read presentation of Jesus, the “1-2-3 here is the Christ” Gospel.

Having a basic understanding of the historical background of these evangelists, let us dive a bit deeper into the text to explore biblical discrepancies that give light to how each Gospel presents the Christology of Jesus. Having used the Gospel of Mark as a major source for his own written work, the edifications and omissions by Matthew help define specific ways in which each Gospel writer wanted to present Jesus the Christ, emphasizing either His human and/or divine nature. First of all, throughout the Gospel of Matthew, one will find Jesus depicted as extraordinarily divine. His use of Old Testament Scripture affirms his proclamation that this Jesus is the Promised Messiah. He uses language such as “The King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2), Son of David (Mt 9:27), Christ (Mt 11:2), God’s Chosen Servant (Mt 12:15 fulfilling Isaiah 42), among many others, and St. Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt: 16:16). Also very holy names for Jesus in Matthew are “the cornerstone” (Mt 21:42), “bridegroom” (Mt 25:6), “Master” (Mt 25:20, “King” (Mt 25:31), and finally the words of the centurion at the time of His death, “Surely this man is the Son of God” (Mt 27:54). Although Mark does include the term Son of God and a few others in his Gospel, Mark also depicts Jesus the Christ as possessing a more human nature, displaying emotions or qualities which are omitted by Matthew entirely. This is evidenced in multiple places. For example, Mark 6 and Matthew 13 tell the story of Jesus without honor in his hometown. “Only in his hometown is a prophet without honor” (Mark 6:4). Pay attention to the diction of the following: “[Jesus] could not do any miracles there…” (Mark 6:5). “[Jesus] did not do any miracles there…” (Matthew 13:58). In Mark, Jesus is depicted as unable to do a miracle for one who had no faith. Matthew however, changed the language, ultimately concerned with the divine nature of Jesus Christ. It’s not that Jesus couldn’t do it, He just didn’t. Other examples of human depictions found in Mark but omitted in Matthew are as follows: Jesus is filled with compassion in Mark 1:41; Jesus is filled with anger and is deeply distressed in Mark 3:5, Jesus has a sense of wonder and amazement at their lack of faith in Mark 6:6, Jesus gets hungry in Mark 11:12, and tired in 6:31. All of these human depictions of Christ have one thing in common, they are omitted or edited in the same stories written by Matthew, due to his concern to depict Jesus as ultimately divine. One final instance of omission can be found in Jesus’s call to the little children (Mark 10 and Matthew 19). After the children were moved away from Him, Jesus was indignant, that is in the Gospel of Mark. Matthew, not only removes the human quality of indignation, but also leaves out one of the most joyous Bible verses: “Anyone who will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven like a little child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15). Why would anyone exclude this? It means that when you go to heaven you’re going to be freaking out like a little kid. If you don’t then you’re not invited. From his exclusion of this particular passage and with his emphasis on Jewish law, I’ve reconciled Matthew to be a more serious Gospel author. That being said, Matthew did include the Greatest Commandment of love. If it were the Greatest Commandment, why didn’t Mark include it?

The similarities of the Gospels of both Matthew and Mark are obvious, in that 90% of the Gospel of Mark is included in the Gospel of Matthew; they share a great deal of the same stories that only differ in their use of language and perspective. In most cases they agree with the Words that Jesus said when speaking to the people, they just changed the way they told the story. Although Matthew edited and added an abundance of information, such as the birth narrative, and the 5 major teachings of Jesus that is referred to as the Christian Pentateuch, they both fulfill their purpose bringing the good news of the Gospel of Christ. They mostly agree with the story of His Passion…they even agree on His last words before His Death, which other Gospels do not. They both agree that Jesus Resurrected from the dead, however, the ending of the Gospel of Mark is arbitrary. Without prior knowledge, such as taking this class, one might even consider the Gospels to be completely the same. They tell the same story and preach the same message and accomplish the same purpose. It isn’t until exploring the abundance of mystery in detail that one can truly enjoy the holiness of the Bible.

In conclusion, we will reconcile that although they differ in many aspects, both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark are needed for the contribution of the good news in the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew of high import, paves the way for the Jews to accept prophecy fulfilled and Cross over from the Old to the New. The Gospel of Mark, second after Matthew, openly invites not just Israel, but all peoples to come and accept Christ as the Son of God, which is so important because this message of salvation was to be spread around the world, and it is this Gospel that a Gentile would read, accept, and enter into eternal life. If I haven’t made it clear that I find this study to be extraordinarily intriguing, I will say it now. I could only dream of mastering my biblical knowledge, but only heaven knows where this life will lead me. It would be truly enlightening to learn to contemplate and compare Matthew and Luke side by side, and I look forward to doing so one day. The Gospel of John is a completely different story, and I can’t wait to dive in. I also look forward to studying the Pauline Epistles, for I believe they hold some incredible prophecies themselves. This particular task of comparing the Gospels of Matthew and Mark has inspired me to read more intently and search for truths in details that I never knew existed. The most important detail: Jesus is the Son of God who is and was and is to come. Until That Day, let the journey continue.

For the Love of God <3

 

F: Father. Spirit. Son.

O: Only One Above.

R: Rising from the Dead

 

T: Trust in Him, I said.

H: He’s Awesome and True

E: Every day I call Him boo.

L: Love surrounds on every side.

O: Of the Cross I shall abide

V: Victor for His chosen ones

E: Endless love – His Only Son.

O: Omnipresent

F: For everlasting

G: Grace and Mercy; Justice; Truth. I will     glorify You too. Give you praises; Worship too. Sing Your Name; Lord, I love you!

O: Over the mountains and through the seas, I WILL tell of all Your wondrous

D: Deeds.

thfw5cpksl

 

A Letter to Saint John the Baptist

Dear Saint John the Baptist:

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Thank you for your good works. I can hardly express my gratitude for all your time spent with me. You truly are amazing. Thank you for teaching me about the importance of my relationship with Jesus and for helping me understand the workings of the Saints. I will never forget your deeds for me. Thank you for spending an entire night with me like you’ve done many times before. Sorry for the times when I get out of hand, or lose some control; I try to be brave but I fail sometimes. Thanks for helping me shine my light. God definitely helped me too. Thank you for teaching me severity. You were the first Saint to really put me in my place when it came to the severity of all things. We were having fun one night and your face turned to sadness and concern. It was a face I’ll never forget, your severity is beautiful and holy and I love you. I want you to know you have a lovely personality. I also think you’re super cool. ❤ like when you wore that beanie.

Dear Saint John the Baptist:

Thanks for helping me fight the good fight. I was pretty low today but you helped me come through, though I saw a couple of things that I didn’t want to. I’m afraid. But Jesus and you are awesome. Saint John the Baptist I’ve been having the feeling that I can’t take it anymore. I blame the bad spirits. I can’t stand seeing red. It’s weird that my normal is communicating with the dead. I don’t like calling them that. It’s really starting to get scary. But tonight was alright. I just pray I wasn’t too much to deal with…But I’m pretty sure I was. I really want you to be happy. Happy Feast Day of your nativity John the Baptist! It’s so amazing that we’re friends! I wonder if you’ll remember me when it all ends. I wonder if I’ve impacted you in any way. If I could I would bless your home. I’d bless your woman and your mother and I’d send good cheeses to your throne. Jesus too. I’m pretty sure you sit next to Jesus, and you’re spending time with me? Thank you for accepting me for who I am. You’re doing a great deed just by being my friend. I love the way you care for me and that you love that I’m on #TeamChurch! It feels like my brain goes to outer space sometimes. You remind me of Abraham, you remind me of a father, you remind me of Jesus because you’re His cousin, and I’m really really sorry for being such a bother. Sorry again.We know that we can trust each other we know we have true love, I know I can rely on you and this letter can’t be done. What I’m struggling with is darkness. Saint John the Baptist do I write about the darkness? I’d much rather shine my light. But I can’t seem to forget something that happened the other night. I was smiling at a statue, she was nodding left and right then she turned into a monster and when I woke up…she was still there… haunting me… with power greater than mine…hate when that happens. That’ll teach me not to nod at a statue. Thanks for being there for me the way that the Saints are there for me. In Jesus Name please protect me. Dear John the Baptist was it hard? You are so strong! I have some street credit I do… I go out and preach. but you. Prepared the Way for the Lord.

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Dear Saint John the Baptist:

Do you have a basilica up there? Do you have wings that I can hold on to? Are they dark green and blue? are they blonde? white? brown? gold? Is your beard as long as your tunic? What is the color of your skin? Is there a fire in your heart? Are you waiting for the end?Will they take the world by storm? Will the door really be closed? Will the Father come to earth too? What about ELIJAH? Does he share a spirit with you? I’ve seen him enter as a raven. a Black. Powerful. Graceful. Raven. that is bigger than at least the city gates probably bigger than mountains. I don’t know what else to say.

Please watch over me John the Baptist. I’m still here. You can trust me. I love you.

I’m so sorry for taking too much of your time. It’s really ridiculous how I can’t snap myself back out. I need to make better decisions. But thank you for being here for me. It really means everything. and PRAISE GOD for being here through ALL of my encounters. Amen?

I love you so much.

Love Always,

Samantha 10550819_2790818173768_3008037515610326768_n

 

1 Thessalonians – A literary and theological analysis of Paul’s first Epistle

 

1 Thess

As the earliest Christian doctrine, 1 Thessalonians is a favorable starting place for rudimentary students of epistolary education. Having researched scholarly articles discussing Paul’s first epistle, one might read the New Testament more intently, with authorship and historical context of great interest. The content of the first letter to the Thessalonians is epideictic and deliberative, comforting and encouraging; although there is a bit of exhortation, there is also an abundance of thankfulness and brotherly love, as well as the foundation of the commonly used theological idea of the Christian Rapture. Along with a general background of the text, this essay will outline the epistolary structure of 1Thessalonians, explore some of its basic themes such as the triad of faith hope and love, and family imagery, and examine biblical discrepancies debated among scholars such as the authorship of 2:13-16, and the eschatological uniqueness of 4:13-18. Finally, we will conclude with Paul’s charge to have this letter read to all brethren, and touch base on what one ought to take home with them from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

Written between 49 and 52 AD on Paul’s second missionary journey, 1 Thessalonians is the earliest extant[1] Christian doctrine in the New Testament. Thessalonica was and is the capital city of Macedonia, Greece. Fixated on a four way crossroads, Thessalonica was a prime location for trade and cultural exchange, making the way for various religious practices and exchange of ideas. Just under twenty years after the ascension of Christ, the Apostle Paul and his friends, Silas and Timothy, lived in the city of Thessalonica for several months. They rented shop in a building called an insula[2] working as leather-workers and tent-makers (Acts 18:3). Alongside their labor was the building up of the Thessalonian Church, through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After suffering great persecution, they were abruptly thrown out of the city by Jewish opposition. While Paul was probably in the city of Corinth, capital of the neighboring Achaia, Greece, he sent Timothy “to strengthen and encourage [them] in [their] faith” (1 Thess 3:2). Having heard good word from Timothy, that the Thessalonians were “standing firm in the Lord” (3:8), Paul wrote this epistle responsively.

Paul begins his letter with usual epistolary conventions, naming first the senders of the letter, Paul Silas and Timothy, then mentioning the recipients, the Thessalonians, as well as glorifying God through His Son Jesus Christ. Although Silas and Timothy are named as co-senders of the letter, this does not signify shared authorship.[3] Primary authorship is attributed to Paul through the recognition of first person singular references found in 1 Thessalonians 2:18, 3:5, and 5:27.[4] After the conventional introduction to the letter, Paul Silas and Timothy offer great thanksgiving for the faith of the Thessalonians. “We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”[5] This passage, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, brings to light our first theme presented by Paul in his epistle: the theme of faith love and hope. This triad is similar to Paul’s “faith hope and love” of 1 Corinthians 13, in which he places love last of the three with greatest import. In 1Thessalonians, however, Paul pairs faith love and hope, with another significant triad: work labor and endurance, placing hope, in a time of great suffering, last with greatest import. The Thessalonians are to work with faith, labor in love, and most importantly, endure through their hope in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, there is both a theme of family imagery in Paul Silas and Timothy’s relationship with the Thessalonians, as well as a vituperative[6] admonishment of the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus. First, it is refreshing to make note of the theme of family imagery found in chapter 2. It is clear in the letter that Paul cared for the Thessalonians.[7] He considers them like family: “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children” (1Thess 2:7), and, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children” (1Thess 2:11). Also, Paul refers to the Thessalonians as brethren a remarkable fifteen times. In proportion to the letters length, this is an intense usage.[8] It is clear in these passages, and in his words of faith, love and hope, that Paul cared for the Thessalonians as brothers: as family.

Included in Paul’s brotherly love is a random polemical hyperbole regarding Jewish opposition. In 1Thessalonians 2:2, Paul mentions that there is “great opposition” in Thessalonica. This possibly relays Acts 17:5-10, where Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles angers a group of Jews who rioted against him in the marketplace (where he rented his insula), causing him to flee Thessalonica.[9] The hardship and affliction continued after Paul’s departure, which is a main presupposition as to a motive for Paul’s writing the letter in the first place – to assure that they would stand firm and endure in the face of affliction. That being said, Paul compared the sufferings of the Thessalonian Church by non-Christians to the sufferings of the Christians in Judea by the Jews who had killed the Lord Jesus and the Prophets before him. “They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last” (1 Thess 2:15-16). Because of the vindictive anti-Semitism of these verses, scholars question the authenticity of this passage, charging that it is an intercalation into the original text.[10] Arguments against Pauline authorship of 1Thessalonians 2:13-16 include the following: a) the statement that the Jews are “the enemies of the whole human race” is hardly characteristic of Paul, rather it resembles the polemic of Pagans, b) the statement that divine wrath has come upon the Jews to the fullest is contradictory to Romans 11:25-26, which states that “all Israel will be saved,”[11] and c) the fact that Paul claims that the wrath of God has finally come upon the Jews possibly reflects the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70AD, suggesting that there was a post–70AD author who interpolated the text, while the rest of the letter was written some twenty years earlier.[12] Arguments for Pauline authorship of 1Thessalonians 2:13-16 include the following: a) Paul speaks about the Jews with hostility in 2Corinthians 11:24[13] b) there is no direct evidence to support the supposition that the verse was intercalated,[14] c) Paul is not someone that is incapable of what is called polemic hyperbole. Polemic hyperbole is a strong verbal or written attack on someone that is exaggerated and not meant to be taken literally. Examples of polemic hyperbole against the Jews are found scattered throughout the old and new testament, such as 2 Chronicles 36:15-21, Amos 6:1-8, and Matthew 23:13-39.[15] Paul could’ve been under severe persecution from the Jews, and was simply writing in a way that reflected one of these well-known passages regarding the wrath of God against the Jews. It is not uncommon to find the wrath of God against the Jews written of in the Scriptures. Finally, d) 1 Thessalonians was written by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Maybe the passage doesn’t reflect Paul’s ideas found elsewhere because it is the interpretation of one of his colleagues rather than his own. This paper will not take a stance on the Pauline authorship of 1Thessalonians 2:13-16.

Another theme of Paul’s letter is one of rhetorical analysis. Rhetorical analysis prompts scholars to argue that 1Thessalonians is an epideictic letter[16] – one that praises the behavior of the Thessalonians. Throughout the letter, Paul praises the Thessalonians for their behavior. In spite of severe suffering, they welcomed the message of the Gospel with joy given by the Holy Spirit, becoming imitators of Paul and of Christ, being a model to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia.[17] He acknowledges that their faith in God has become known everywhere (1:8), and there have been reports of their faith, that they turned from idols to serve the living and true God. The idea that the Thessalonians turned from idols to serve God is proof for scholars that Paul was writing to a Gentile nation, whereas places such as Corinth were mixed with both Gentiles and Jews.[18] Additionally, considering the harsh polemic of 2:14-16, it is inferred that Paul was not addressing a group of Jewish Christians, only Gentiles.[19] The epideictic theme of Paul’s letter is prevalent throughout the letter. Paul praises the Thessalonians in various places: he commends them for receiving the Gospel preached to them as the Word of God (2:13), he says, “we were encouraged about you because of your faith” (3:7), he claims that the Thessalonians are the reason for their joy (2:20; 3:9), and he claims that he doesn’t even need to write to them about brotherly love because they have been taught by God and do in fact love all the brethren throughout Macedonia (4:9-10).

Amid all the praises of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, there are also a few exhortations he needed to remind them of. While Chapter 3 of 1Thessalonians discusses holiness, thankfulness, blamelessness, and the good news brought by Timothy, Chapters 4 and 5 contain more dogmatic content, that which includes certain exhortations and the famous Christian rapture doctrine. First, Paul instructs the Thessalonians to live in a way that is pleasing to God. Unlike some of Paul’s other epistles, Paul didn’t need to write the Thessalonians to admonish them for their behavior. He just reminded them of a few sanctifications: to avoid sexual immorality, to learn how to control their bodies in a way that is holy and honorable, not in lust like the heathen, because as Christians they are called to be pure. He continues: “he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but rejects God who gives you His Holy Spirit” (4:8). He also exhorts them to lead a quiet life, mind their business, and labor with their hands, so they might win the respect of others and not be dependent on anybody. This concludes the exhortations of 1Thessalonians 4, and it seems rather fair. Don’t be sexually impure, for we are called to be holy. Fair enough.

Moving forward in Chapter 4, we find the eschatological idea of harpazo.[20] It seems as though the Thessalonians had experienced loss within the community, for Paul seemed to be answering and comforting their concerns regarding those who had died prior to the second coming of Christ. 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 is valued as the primary biblical reference for what is today called the Rapture.[21] “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1Thess 4:16-18). There are quite a few things to be noted from this highly eminent passage of scripture. For one, as the earliest Christian doctrine, Paul initiates the earliest creedal statement “we believe that Jesus died and rose again.” Also, the eschatological view of Paul at this point in his ministry is evident, in that he believes that he will live to see the Second Coming of Christ, which clearly he did not. This eschatological standpoint is a defining factor of why some scholars believe that 2 Thessalonians wasn’t written by Paul at all, among other reasons. This passage has become a common pastoral teaching for funerals and memorial services, comforting and encouraging, just as Paul said, those who are weary regarding the dead or asleep in Christ.[22] What is unique about Paul’s eschatology here, is what comes in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. He writes, “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” (5:4). Throughout the Gospels of Christ we hear that the Last Day will come like a thief in the night, quick and unprepared for. This letter is the first time I’ve ever heard the fact that because I belong to God and I belong to the day, it will not overtake me like a thief in the night. All I have to do is follow his exhortations and I won’t have to be afraid of The Day of the Lord, because I belong to Him. This is uplifting and unique.

Last and certainly not least, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and myself, admonish the reader to esteem highly those who are above you in the Lord. Basically, honor the elders. Respect the Bishops, priests and deacons. For their works sake, bless them! We ought to take home a few things from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians: “Be joyful always” 4:16, “pray without ceasing” (4:17), and “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (4:18). We are charged to read this letter to all believers, which in fact I have done during my research of this Epistle. From here, I can only look forward to studying and learning about the next biblical study ahead. Thank you.

[1] (Anderson, 313)

[2] (Powell, 374)

[3] (Anderson, 313)

[4] (Powell, 371)

[5] (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

[6] (Anderson, 311)

[7] (Brown 459)

[8] (Brown, 459).

[9] (Brown, 458).

[10] (Anderson, 311).

[11] (Brown, 463)

[12] (Anderson, 314)

[13] (Brown, 463)

[14] (Powell, 377)

[15] (Powell, 377)

[16] (Gaventa, 5)

[17] (1 Thessalonians 1:6-7)

[18] (Brown, 458)

[19] (Gaventa, 3)

[20] Greek word for “caught up” (Powell, 383)

 

[21] (Powell, 383)

[22] (Gieschen, 51)

Maundy Thursday Lenten Reflection

Is it really here? The day we commemorate the Lord’s Last Supper before His Crucifixion and Resurrection? My how the time has flown by. I guess I’ll take this opportunity to reflect on my Lenten experience this year 2016. The first two weeks of lent were rigorous. I fasted and I worked and I studied and I gave to charities and I I I need to stop thinking about I. The Lord showed His great love for me in Weeks 3 and 4 of lent, allowing me to delight in His love by giving to me abundantly. I still gave to charities and had deeds of kindness, but I did not fast as often as I should’ve…but all for the glory that is in Christ’s love for me. By the end of week 4 my life had completely changed. Although I went into this Lenten experience with a certain plan and agenda, it didn’t come to pass. During one of my worship sessions in week 4, I was persecuted for the Name of Christ, and my whole life has changed ever since. I will not go into detail, but the effects of that persecution/conviction have been ever present since it happened…truly effecting every day since it happened. So the end of week 4 and all of week 5 were again filled with food rather than fasting for my soul was filled with despair and my coping method is overeating. Although I felt guilty, the conviction or persecution really did glorify God all the while. I’ve convinced multiple people who were contemplating suicide to think otherwise. I’ve served and loved those around me and I’ve changed peoples lives and I still am upset that I keep using the word I. Finally we come to Holy Week. Again it feels like Holy Weak. I’m not where I want to be this year. Last year was so much…holier. The Gospels this year for Holy Tuesday and Wednesday were both about Jesus and Judas betraying Him. These Gospels, I believe…truly ignite some harsh reality in the world we live in. On these days… there were terrorist attacks in Belgium, and even a Church burnt to the ground on Holy Wednesday. What do we take from all this? That there was evil on Holy Wednesday and there is still evil today that affects the heart of our Glorious God. I place all the blame on Judas and the devil. I just wish the days could’ve been less severe and more loving…but that’s what today is for.

So what’s Maundy Thursday all about?

Jesus administers the first Sacrament of His Body and Blood at the Last Supper. He tells His friends that His Body is the Bread of Life, and His Blood is the Cup of Salvation. He also teaches us that in order to be His disciples we must serve one another. He exemplifies this service by washing the feet of the disciples. Jesus Christ was their master, their Lord, their teacher, and yet He humbled Himself not only to the point of death on the Cross, but also to kneeling on the ground, washing the feet of His friends. He tells us in John 13 that we ought to live our lives with such acts of service and kindness. We aren’t told to lord it over ourselves that we are from the Kingdom of God, rather we are told to take the place of a servant, giving to others and loving them, washing their feet and caring for their needs, in all times and places.

What beauty the riches and wisdom of God’s love and faithfulness! What love the Father has lavished that we should be called His Children! I am in love with the One True King.

I’ll end my blog with this quote from Scripture:

In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

who being in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing
by taking on the form of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself,
by becoming obedient to death –
even death on a Cross!

Therefore God exalted Him to the Highest Place
and gave Him the Name that is above every name,
that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. ❤

– Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus is the New Moses

moses-cross

Moses turned rivers into blood

Jesus turned water into wine

God provided Moses and the Jews with Manna (bread) from heaven feeding thousands of people while on their 40 year journey in the desert.

Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 people with only a few loaves of bread, doing the same again with 4,000 people, probably in the same desert as Moses. Jesus is also called the bread of heaven.

At the Passover Seder you break the mazto and drink the cup of wine

At the Eucharist we break bread for Christ’s Body and drink the Cup of Salvation

The Passover required an undefiled Lamb to be sacrificed with the Blood sprinkled on the doors of the house of Israel so that the plague of the first born son might pass over them.

Jesus is the Passover, the undefiled Lamb sacrificed for us so that all our sins might be passed over so that we may have eternal life.

Moses led the Jews through the Waters of the Red Sea liberating Israel out of Egypt

Jesus leads ALL people through the waters of Baptism out of death into life

A Letter to Saint Paul

Samantha, a prophetess of God in the love and power of Jesus Christ, to Saint Paul, Ambassador of God’s Holy Church: grace and mercy be abundantly yours, and all God’s peace be with you.

St-Paul-ephesus

❤ ❤ ❤

Dear Saint Paul,

        I always want to thank you for all of your hard work you have done for the Church of Jesus Christ, that is His Body which you greatly helped to build up; by which you suffered great persecution and trials for the sake of righteousness. Thank you for your good works!

I would also like to apologize always for any sinfulness or failings of the Church and its people, including myself, through which we have not lived up to the expectation that is required of us. I’m sorry for all the sins we have committed against God and the Church.

Humbly, I always offer great faith, not only in God at all times and places but also in the Holy Catholic Church. I have faith that we all indeed work as One Body, contributing to the glory of Jesus Christ. I have faith that when the Kingdom Comes, the Church will be ready.

So with thankfulness, repentance, and faith, I write to you, your Holiness, who is greatly exalted…and yet is also…my friend.

Your light shines so bright. Your light is blinding! You have taught me to tolerate my anger and to glorify God even when I am in darkness. Your letters have taught all the Church how to live good and mature Christian lives that glorify God so much that we have the power to overcome temptation and the evil one. Yet even in my dark hours, even when I had sinned against you and deserved great punishment, your light shined brightest. You did not punish me or treat me with contempt the way that I deserved, rather you shone your light bright…and Paul, other than the Lord Jesus, I’ve never seen a light quite so bright in heaven and on earth.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want all this flattering! So, I humble myself, and give all the credit to God. Rightly so!

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to write because I needed something to write about, and our relationship… like my relationship with all the Prophets, Saints, Angels, and Demons, Kings and Princes…and Jesus Christ Himself, could be written about, rather, should be written about, to make known the wonders and majesty of the Kingdom of God that has been revealed to me through the power of Christ Jesus. So I write… or try to… although my rhetoric falls short, I will not fail to give Him homage, and love Him with all my heart.

I love you too Saint Paul!

May the forgiveness of your sins and the Divine Mercy be with Your spirit and with the spirit of Saint  Peter and all God’s holy people, with all the love of Christ, with worship to the Holy Spirit and glory to God the Father,

Love Always,

Samantha ❤

The Law of The Lord <3

March 2, 2016

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the Law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:17-19

Today, in light of this Gospel, I decided to enquire of the Law of The Lord.  Here is what I found:

“…There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there He tested them. (at Marah). He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of The Lord your God and do what is Right in His Eyes, if you pay attention to His Commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I AM The Lord who heals you.'” – Exodus 15:25-26

“Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath Day.” – Exodus 35:3 !!!

“If a person sins because he does not speak up when he hears a public charge to testify regarding something he has seen or learned about, he will be held responsible.”                     – Leviticus 5:1

“Or if a person touches anything ceremonially unclean – whether the carcasses of unclean wild animals or of unclean livestock or unclean creatures that move along the ground – even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty.” -Leviticus 5:2

“…anything that would make him unclean – even though he is not aware of it, when he learns of it he will be guilty.” -Leviticus 5:3b

“Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, ‘Listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.'” – Matthew 15:10-11.

“…the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what makes a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'” – Matthew 15:18-20.

Just from a personal standpoint… I still wouldn’t go near the altar after touching a carcass. Just sayin.

These next two seem to agree with one another.

“Or if a person thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil – in any matter one might carelessly swear about – even though he is unaware of it, in any case when he learns of it he will be guilty.” – Leviticus 5:4

“But I tell you, DO NOT SWEAR AT ALL: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is His footstool; or by JERUSALEM, for it is the City of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”                  – Matthew 5:33-37

“If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the Lord by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do – when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he was stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property that was found, or whatever it was – MAKE RESTITUTION IN FULL, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering.” -Leviticus 6:1-5 The guilt offering is referring to an animal sacrifice. Throughout these laws are decrees regarding daily ritual sacrifices that took place in the tabernacle by Aaron brother of Moses and his sons. The Lord required Guilt Offerings, Sin Offerings, Grain Offerings, First Fruit Offerings, Fellowship Offerings; The Lord required…. Mosaic Law… before Christ offered Himself as The Ultimate Sacrifice.

“Say to the Israelites, do not eat any fat of cattle, sheep, or goats…” – Leviticus 7:23 “…and wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal.” – Lv 7:26.

“If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people.” Leviticus 7:27

Makes me wonder about The Blood of Christ. Technically… we drink His Blood. ❤ awk.

“These are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the ordination offering, and the fellowship offering, which the Lord gave Moses on MOUNT SINAI on the day He Commanded the Israelites to bring their offerings to the Lord, in the Desert of Sinai.” – Leviticus 7:37-38.

“Unlike the other high priests, [CHRIST] does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their since once for all when He offered Himself. For the Law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the OATH, which came after the Law, appointed The Son, who has been made PERFECT forever <3″ – Hebrews 7:27-28

“Only the high priests entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood…THE HOLY SPIRIT was showing by this that the Way into the MOST HOLY PLACE !!!!! had not yet been disclosed…” – Hebrews 9:7-8

“CHRIST entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His Own Blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the Living God.” – Hebrews 9:11-14

“In fact, the Law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” – Hebrews 9:22

“Moses said to the assembly, ‘This is what the Lord has Commanded to be done.'” -Leviticus 8:5

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Matthew 5:8

Lord God I write your Laws on my heart. I love your Law and I meditate on your Law and I bless You for eternity. Peace be with You God. xoxoxoxo

 

 

Good Times with the Saints <3

God has blessed me in miraculous ways. I am such a lucky little girl 🙂 having the relationships that I do with the Prophets, the Saints, and with Jesus Christ. Here are some funny stories of the big guys upstairs 🙂 Boast in the Lord.

SAINT ANTHONY ❤

St. Anthony

Three of my favorite Saints are Saint Anthony, Saint Francis, and Saint Jude. ❤ St. Anthony has been coming to my rescue for as long as I’ve known his name. This particular story happened just two weeks ago, on the first Monday of lent: 2/15/2016. Unfortunately, my parents took my daughter and me to the circus. It was a dreadful experience. I was battling the darkest of evils throughout the entire show and I was bearing persecution left and right. Christ have mercy for I take the blame for my own actions. That being said, before we left for the dreadful circus that I am never going to again, my stepmother Bonnie misplaced the tickets. God knows that when Bonnie misplaces something, the whole world stops until she finds it. That’s an exaggeration…but she was freaking out because we were going to be late and they were no where to be found. In faith, I said to my parents, (whom I have timidity with when it comes to religion), “Pray to Saint Anthony!”  – I guess I should share with you what actually happens when you pray to Jesus or to a Saint when you are looking for something. They come into the room. They whiz past you and search through your things faster than you could imagine! The first time I witnessed this was with the Holy Spirit. Picture the superhero the flash only super Holy with the brightest light and the power of Christ! I definitely recommend building your relationships with the Saints, not for selfish ambition but because they are astounding human beings who are powerful and want to build you up in Christ! Anyway, in this particular instance, Saint Anthony came down from on high and helped us search for our dreadful circus tickets. I’m telling you it was horrible I’m never going again. In about two or three minutes after calling him, and in the first pile of papers I picked up since he entered, there in my hands were a set of tickets! I ran to my parents demanding, “Thank Saint Anthony!!” But they weren’t the right tickets. Jokingly, in a voice that my father Anthony would use, St. Anthony muttered in my ear, “Well…I found tickets…” LOL. They weren’t the right ones but he did find tickets within 2 minutes of being there…it was just so funny the way he joked like that. Thank you Saint Anthony for always coming to my rescue. You’ve been answering my lost prayers since I was a little kid.

I Love you!

THE PROPHET DANIEL ❤

st_daniel

Alright alright so this story will be a bit different. The reason Daniel is next is because he was with me the whole time I was writing that. Can you imagine what pressure that is for me? The only reason I’m writing is because I need to record these experiences that I have…but to attempt to be grammatically correct in the presence of the Prophet Daniel? Now I’m at a loss for words.

The Prophet Daniel has been a friend of mine for about a year and a half now. We actually met on the night of Yom Kippur 2014. I was driving home on a highway on a 2 hour trip, and the Prophet Daniel was dealing with my crying, angry, sorry self. That’s the point of Yom Kippur right? Fasting and repentance? Unfortunately, I met the Prophet Daniel at a time that I then considered to be one of my worst nights. For a while, whenever I met new spirits after Daniel, I would say, “Ask Daniel, he’s seen the worst of me.” The Prophet Daniel is my friend. He is my elder; he is honored, he is vindicated. He is so handsome! He is married and his wife is soooo beautiful! I met them in a dream once. Daniel and I have butt heads in the past…but his intentions were for the betterment of my wellbeing. Daniel would battle with me in the summertime with my desires against sobriety. I was so fixed on having a quick smoke or a couple beers that I would get caught in my own traps and then have terrible evenings… all in the presence of…. well… Daniel… and others.  Ultimately I find Daniel to be extraordinarily holy. Close to the top of my to-do list is a study and understanding of his Book of Prophecy in The Holy Bible. Daniel is humble and yet most definitely enthroned… in his certain place in the Kingdom.. God knows he’s got a whole star of awesomeness up there. Just like the others. He is also very scary! With just one look of a lion he’ll have you begging for mercy! I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like being a Prophet of God, ALONE, dreaming dreams and… not being touched by the beasts. His story taught me to pray once in the morning, once at noon, once in the evening… once before bed? Again he is very handsome. Most likely blonde… from what I’ve seen at least. Definitely has a lot of fight in him too. His will for me is good. He’s gotta keep toughening me up. Hands down Dan is one cool cat and I’m just super grateful of all his time with me. Love you ❤

I will continue to add to this as lent carries on. Wait til my zero readers hear about St. Peter and St. Paul. C’mon guys you cant invite me to your feast days?!? I LOVE YOUUUU!!!