We spent Sunday in the Negev which is desert in the southern part of Israel. This is the area where the children of Israel wandered for 40 years before entering the Promised land.
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them: and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as a rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing… (Isaiah 35:1-2)
In 1948 the desert area was 84% arid, unusable land. At this time it stands at 62% unusable land. By using drip irrigation, the Israelis are reclaiming the land for farmland. They have just finished their harvest of wheat. The desert is truly “blooming”!
We also rode camels and slept in a Bedouin tent, similar to what Abraham and Sarah had done. What an interesting lifestyle!
Wheat fields of Negev
Camel ride at Bedouin Oasis
Sunday morning our pastor asked us a question: “Did you spend 5 minutes in prayer to prepare yourself to worship God in church?” We had an especially good service Sunday, titled “Worship from a Hollow Heart.” If you would like to watch it, click on:
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand…” (Psalm 95:6-7, KJV).
Worship is not just singing, but service to God in obedience to His Word. Worship comes from a true heart.
Affairs of the Heart
For the last several years, I have been working on this quilt. It’s still not finished; I have about half of the quilting to do.
Our Christian lives are a lot like a quilt–work progresses a little bit at a time, in spurts. Little by little we become more like Christ.
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Recently, I decided to make a sun hat to take on my trip to Israel. I pulled out the pattern, “sort of” measured it, to make sure the crown of the hat would fit, and quickly put the entire hat together, brim and all, before carefully measuring. As you may see from the picture, the crown was not shaped properly. Of course, the hat didn’t fit the way I wanted it to, so I had to take it apart the restitch the crown.
In the Christian life, we often get ahead of what God would have us to do. We think we are fully prepared for something, and merrily go ahead with our plans, thinking everything will be okay. I thought of this following verse, knowing that God would want me to be more careful, even in my sewing.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish (Luke 14:28-30, KJV).
Of course, in the passage in Luke, the Lord Jesus was talking about discipleship, and giving up everything in order to serve Him. He wants us to be willing to surrender to His leading completely. Then, as we follow His directions for our lives, He perfects us to be more like Him.
Some of you may know that I will be going to Israel on a tour in a few weeks. My sister, who is the organizer of tour, recently wrote this to the group that is going:
I’m sure you will be celebrating Christ’s Resurrection in the next few weeks. We will be too, beginning this weekend, with our granddaughters (4 and 6 yrs old). In our Bruce family tradition, we’ll act out the Easter story again and again, changing who gets to be Jesus, or the angel, or whatever. Sometimes a hole in the bushes doubles as the tomb; last year the tomb was under the piano bench. They have a great imagination, but I’m thrilled that they are learning the Scripture truths so well.
The “Hill of the Skull” just outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem has been overtaken by a modern bus stop. While you get the sense that one of our holiest places has been desecrated by smelly buses, in a sense that is appropriate, because Jesus was crucified right on the main thoroughfare, where all travelers could see the spectacle of the Son of God carrying our sin on a rugged cross.
There is a walk-in tomb near Calvary that might have been the tomb of Jesus. If so, it was once sealed tightly shut, but the seal on the door wasn’t strong enough to keep the Son of God inside. After three days he rose again, alive and victorious over death!
That tomb is certainly empty today, and we can visit it. In fact, we plan to celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection with communion together there.
Blessings, Les & Kathy Bruce
Job 8:7 – “Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.” (Job 8:7 KJV)
Ecclesiastes 7:8 – “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 KJV)
Why I Want to Have a Blog!
I would like to share my thoughts about following Christ. In addition, I want to share how patterns in sewing or crafting can be examples of following my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“According to all that I show thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” (Exodus 25:9)
Our Lord God instructed Moses to make the tabernacle and all its accessories according to His specific patterns. In the same way, He has commanded us to “be…holy, for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16). In the coming days, I hope to be able to share a little of what God has taught me about following His patterns for living. I have by no means obeyed all the time, and have made many mistakes through the years. But, praise God, I have been forgiven!