Wednesday, April 26, 2017

John the Baptizer: They People Were Tired of the Lies

By Mary Vee
Matthew 3
Mark 1
Luke 3



From John the Baptizer's Notes




Photo by Mary Vee - Desert near the Jordan River
My name is John. I live on my own in the desert and have for some time. I don't need much to survive. My clothes are made from camel's hair, and I have a leather belt. I eat locust and honey. I sleep under the stars.

To live in the desert, one needs a strong personality. I don't take time to say something with flowery words to make people feel good. If God gives me a message to tell, I tell it.

Recently God asked me to tell those who travel through the desert the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah seven hundred years ago.

These are Isaiah's words that I am saying:

A voice of one calling in the desert, 
Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. 
The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 
And all mankind will see God's salvation.

The more I spoke, the more men and women searched for me in the desert to hear the words. They came from the city of Jerusalem and all parts of Judea. They walked here from all areas of the Jordan. 

They didn't come to hear God's message. They came because it was the popular thing to do. Like I said, I didn't say things in a feel good way. God asked me to tell the people what they did wrong, so I did.

This was the message God gave me to say to the crowds:
"What do you think you're doing slithering down to the river to be baptized by me. Do you really think the water poured on your snake skin will save you from God's wrath? This is not a parade or contest. God wants men and women who have changed lives.

"Don't give excuses why you should be here. You say you are a son or daughter of Abraham so you have the right. This means nothing more than the clothes you wear. Wood that is dead deserves to be thrown on the fire. 

Your life is what needs to change and when you life is changed so that you obey God, then you can come to be baptized and show the people who stand on the shores your devotion to God.

The people who listened said to me, "What should we do?"

The look on their faces showed they really didn't understand. I took a breath and said, "If you have two coats and you see someone who doesn't have a coat, give them one of yours. Do the same with your food." 

Some tax men came to the waters where I stood to baptize those who had changed their lives. They said, "What should we do to show we want to change our lives?"

I answered them in all truth, "Quit stealing from the people. Collect only the taxes that are due."

Next some soldiers came and asked me, "What should we do to show we want to change our lives?"

Again I answered them in all truth, "Don't bully the people. Don't take their things that you want. Don't steal their money or accuse someone of a wrong they didn't do."

You know how sometimes you have a taste for healthy food instead of the bad food? I think that is what was happening here. The people were tired of the lies and ridiculous rules given by the priests and government. 

They came back to hear the words because they just wanted to hear the truth. 


Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary

Jewish History.org
*Jewish Virtual Library.org

*My research in Israel.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Jonathan Goforth-The Soldiers Who Fell Asleep on the Job

By Mary Vee
Year: December 1900
Jonathan Goforth-41 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal


My name is Jonathan Goforth. My wife, Rosalind and I are missionaries in China. 

The Boxer Rebellion is a time when Chinese people want to get rid of all foreigners. They believe terrible things about the foreigners, sadly some of it is true. Most Chinese people are very angry and want to kill any foreigner they see. This is happening right now for us.

I have been leading a group of missionaries from the northern area of China where we worked toward Shanghai where we can hire a boat to leave the country. It is a very long journey by ox cart. 

Last time I told about the villagers who thought they had killed me. They had only mostly killed me. My wife, Rosalind, helped me and our children to the next village where some Muslim Chinese people helped us.

I rested for a day then we had to leave. The sooner we arrived in Shanghai, the better our chances would be to escape China alive. We met our friends on the outside of the friendly Muslim village and continued on the journey.

At the next village I was not surprised to see that thousands of Chinese came to harm us. We hid inside an inn. The people yelled and called for us to come out.

The man who owned the ox cart volunteered to go and speak with the magistrate. He would be the only person who could help.

While he was gone, we were very concerned. The Chinese mob outside became angrier. Soon they would burst through the doors and try to kill us.

The owner of the ox cart arrived at dark. We all stood in one room to hear his message.

"I couldn't speak with the magistrate but I was able to leave him a message. After he read what you said, he said he would send armed guards to escort us out of the city." The ox cart owner came closer. "But then he said this softly. 'Take the foreigners down the road that forks to the left and by the tree have other soldiers there to kill them all."

We talked among ourselves not knowing what to do. If we went outside to leave on our own the mob would kill us. If we waited for the soldiers to escort us they would take us to the place where soldiers would ambush us.

I shook my head. "There is nothing we can do but trust God." So we lay on the floor and went to sleep. 

When the soldiers arrived in the early morning, it was still very dark. We packed the carts and left.

Down the road we traveled. Not far out of the village one of the missionary women ran to our cart asking if we had seen two of the missionaries. No one knew where they were. We looked and did not find them. 

"I won't go any farther without them." She ran back to her cart and took some people with her back to the village.

The rest of us stayed with the carts and waited for a while then decided the best thing to do was to keep going and let the other missionaries catch up. The soldiers grew sleepy. They slept in the carts. The driver of the cart became sleepy, too. 

I and the other missionaries prayed for those left behind and for our safety.

We came to a fork in the road. The driver had fallen asleep so the oxen walked on in the direction they wanted to go. The first cart veered to the right. The second cart followed.

When the sun rose, the soldiers woke. They rubbed their eyes and yelled, "Where are we?" They looked at their surroundings. "We are on the wrong road!" They hit each other and yelled, "What will we do? If we go back the magistrate will have us killed for not obeying orders."

The soldiers leaped out of the cart and walked away.

As for us, I smiled at God's plan to keep us safe.

There is more to this story. Come back next time.

Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

John- The Man Who Lived in the Desert

By Mary Vee
Matthew 3
Mark 1
Luke 3



From John the Baptizer's Notes




Photo by Mary Vee - Desert near the Jordan River
My name is John. I live on my own in the desert.

My father was a high priest. His name was Zachariah. He and my mother, Elizabeth, didn't have any children for the longest time. 

This is the funny part. When an angel visited my father in the temple and told him he would have a son, my father didn't believe him. They were really old, way past the time when people have children. No one ever had a child this late in life except, maybe, Abraham and Sarah.

Any way, when the angel saw my father didn't believe the news, the angel said he would not be able to speak until I was born! Unfortunately I didn't get to see that.

My father came out of the temple with a weird look on his face. The priests asked him what happened and he couldn't answer. For nine months my father couldn't speak. When my parents took me as a baby to the temple to give me my name, my father suddenly spoke.  

Photo by Mary Vee - The Jordan River
Yeah, I like that family story, too. Since then, weird things kept happening to our family.

My parents took care of me through my childhood, but not long after I chose to go out on my own and live in the desert. I had learned a lot from my father. He expected me to become a priest like him. I spent long hours learning the Scriptures and their meanings. I couldn't have asked for a better father.

The older I grew, the more I saw problems with the government and the priests. In my heart, I felt truths about God. What I saw in the government, the people living in the cities, and what the priests said and did caused me to want to live away from them in the wide open desert. I learned to eat the desert's food. Roasted locust and fresh honey. I didn't want a fancy house or special clothes. What I wanted was to be with God.

Terrible things happened in my country. The Romans had control over our land. 

During the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar's rein, Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea  which was near Jerusalem, Herod was the tetrarch of Galilee in the north, his brother, Philip, was tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis to the northeast, and Lasagnas was tetrarch of Abilene to the far north.

Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests.

At this time, the word of God came to me while I walked in the desert. I was given a message by God to tell all who would listen. I went to all the country around the Jordan River and preached to any who listened telling them they should stop doing evil. If they did, they would be forgiven for their sins by the God of heaven. For those who did, I baptized them in the waters of the Jordan River as a witness to everyone they had turned from evil and chose to follow God. 

The words I was told to speak are the same ones in the Scriptures which God told Isaiah the prophet to write.

Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary

Jewish History.org
*Jewish Virtual Library.org

*My research in Israel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Jesus had Four Brothers

By Mary Vee
Luke 2



From Mary's Notes


My name is Mary. I never expected the blessings God has given to me. What girl would expect an angel to appear and tell her she would have a child who would save people from their sins--when she'd never been with a man? And that this child would be God's Son? No girl ever had. And because He was God's only Son no girl ever would after me. 

Since that moment, nearly every day has brought surprises. I didn't expect the responsibility. What mother wouldn't be shocked and upset to find her child missing? But then, find him in the temple talking with the priests and Rabbi's, understanding their questions that went beyond the typical Bar Mitzvah questions.

So much has happened that has cause me to ponder and think about God.

Since Jesus' birth, God has blessed Joseph and me with children. We had four sons, James, Joses, Jude, and Simon. We also had daughters.

Our family lived in Nazareth. Joseph worked hard as a carpenter. He provided for our family, and we had what we needed. He trained our sons to carry on his work as a carpenter. 

A lot happened during the eighteen years after Jesus' Bar Mitzvah. Since He was the oldest, the duty fell on him to support us when Joseph was gone. Jesus worked hard. The people liked Him and His work. He listened to people, really listened to what was said then always had the right words to say back. 

His brothers didn't see Jesus as I did and their mean words hurt me. I hope and pray that God will help James, Joses, Jude, and Simon to one day understand who Jesus really is.

Living in Nazareth is a safe place to raise a family. Our town is nestled in the mountains, away from trading routes. The issues with politics and the Romans rarely reach our small community, which has kept us safe. I am so glad we live here. It is a good home to raise a family.

Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary

Jewish History.org
*Jewish Virtual Library.org

My research in Israel.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Jonathan Goforth-The Muslim Samaritans

By Mary Vee
Year: December 1900
Jonathan Goforth-41 years old


Jonathan Goforth's Journal


My name is Jonathan Goforth. My wife, Rosalind and I are missionaries in China. 

The small group of missionaries that we have fled our Chinese missionary compound with have been under attack. We'd stopped at a village on the road and paid for a room. Seconds later villagers hurled rocks at us. They took their swords and guns and continued their attack.

One man gave us mercy and directed the crowd to loot our wagons. He whispered to me to get my family away while the people were distracted.

We tried. I called for Rosalind to climb down from the cart and bring the children. I was of no help to her. I could barely walk. My arm had been run through with a sword, my head was bleeding from rocks, my leg may have been broken. 

The crowd went crazy yanking our belongings off the cart. Rosalind hurried the children to catch up with me. The crowd saw us leave and followed. They threw more rocks. I wanted to move faster but couldn't. Rosalind pushed the baby into my arms, and I held him close to me. She faced the crowd and shouted at them in Chinese to kill her but spare the children, they had done nothing wrong.

That was the last I saw. I held the baby close to me to protect him as I collapsed against the ground. Faintly, in the distance a few loud voices from the crowd said they'd killed the man. They cheered. Their voices faded, so I assumed they walked away.

Rosalind shook my good arm and shouted at me to get up. "There is a village just beyond the hill. Maybe someone from there will take mercy on us and help you." She tugged on my arm. "Get up, Jonathan."

I forced myself to stand. She pulled my good arm over her shoulder to support my weight. We struggled to the next village. But when I saw another mob with stones I lost my strength and fell to the ground again. All I heard was Rosalind's sobs and my little ones touching my face asking me to wake up.

Some time later, I have no idea how long I slept. But some time later I opened my eyes and found myself in a small brick room. There was hay on the floor. It looked like a jail cell. Rosalind spoke to me. "How are you, Jonathan?"

I tried to speak but only raspy sounds eked out. "What happened?"

"Lay still. A man helped to pack your wounds." 

I blinked. Her face came into focus. She had bruises, blood on her, and her face was swollen. "Are you all right? Where are the children. What about Ruth?"

"Shh. You need to rest. Ruth isn't with us yet. When you fell, people from the next village came to see what the problem was. The women asked the men to help us to safety. They locked us inside here for our safety and have passed food and water through that window up there."

I thought of the others and the carts. "Do you know if any of the other missionaries escaped?"

"No." 

The rest of that day and night, Rosalind and I helped each other, washing our wounds and caring for our children. We prayed for the other missionaries that God would protect them.

The next day the door opened. My friend, Mr. McKenzie found us. "Jonathan! You're alive!" He came to the place where I lay. 

"Have you found anyone else?" I asked.

"Yes, Jonathan. Everyone is alive. Dr. Leslie is seriously injured, but he will mend in time. I was sent to find you so we could continue on our journey."

He helped me stand. The movement tore open my wounds. We had to leave, though, if we expected to survive. We walked out of the hut. The villagers gathered around us. Not like an angry mob. Instead they held gifts for us, an old blanket to keep the children warm, a worn pair of shoes for Rosalind's bare feet.

I couldn't help but ask them, "Why are you helping us?"

One man said, "We couldn't face our God if we harmed you."

I was surprised but so grateful. I don't know what will happen during the rest of our journey. Will you pray for us that God will protect us until we can reach safety? We need to reach Shanghai as soon as possible.

There is more to this story. Come back next time.

Jonathan has many stories to share. Come back each Monday to find out what happened next.



Resources Used for This Series
Being, Janet, and Geoff Benge. Jonathan Goforth: An Open Door in China. Seattle. WA: YWAM Pub., 2001.Print
Doyle, G. Wright. Builders of the Chinese Church: Pioneer Protestant Missionaries and Chinese Church Leaders. Eugene Oregon: Pickwick Pub, 2015. Print.
Goforth, Jonathan, and Rosaline Goforth, Miracle Lives of China, London" Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1931, Print.
Goforth, Jonathan. "By My Spirit" Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1942. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Climbing; Memories of a Missionary's Wife. Chicago: Moody Pub, n.d. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How I Know God Answers Prayers; The Personal Testimony of One Life-time, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921. Print
Goforth, Rosalind. Jonathan Goforth. Minneapolis, MN: Bethan House, 1986. Print
Goforth, Rosalind, How God Answers Prayer: The Mighty Miracles of God from the Mission Field of Jonathan Goforth. USA: Revival, 2016. Print Original copyright not stated.
Jackson, Dave, and Neta Jackson. Mask of the Wolf Boy: Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1999. Print.
McCleary, Walter. An Hour with Jonathan Goforth: A Biography. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1938. Print.
Meloche, Renee Taft., and Bryan Pollard. Jonathan Goforth: Never Give up. Seattle, WA: YWAM, 2004. Print.

.

Let Jonathan hear from you!
Leave a comment below.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We Found Jesus--in the Temple Talking with Rabbis. He Was Only a Boy.

By Mary Vee
Luke 2



From Joseph's Notes


My name is Joseph. My wife is Mary, and we have a son named Jesus who was given to us by God. We have other children too.

Last time, I told you about our trip to Jerusalem for the Passover and for Jesus celebration from boyhood to manhood. During this celebration Jesus was asked questions by the Rabbis and priests, as is typical of all boys. I mean, I had to go through these questions as well back when I was a boy. This was a test to see that our young men had learned what they should have from the Scriptures.

After the week of Passover, we packed our things and left Jerusalem with all our relatives to go back to Nazareth. The large group had walked a day when I thought about Jesus. Since he was a man now, he should be riding up with the men instead of back with the children. I went back to look for him and didn't see him. I asked Mary where he was. She said she thought Jesus was with me.

That's when we panicked.

The uncles, aunts, cousins and every other relative searched for Jesus. When he couldn't be found, Mary and I left our family and walked back to Jerusalem.

"Joseph," Mary said. "By the time we get there Jesus will have been on his own for two days. He must be hungry and thirsty. Where did he sleep?"

I didn't know the answers, but I had a peace. "God is watching him, Mary. We can only do our best."

That next night we arrived back in Jerusalem before the city gates closed. We searched everywhere we could think. "Mary, we need to sleep somewhere tonight and begin searching again tomorrow."

"Joseph, I can't sleep. Not until I know where he is."

"He won't be in the streets. Everyone has gone in their homes. There isn't anyone to ask. We'll search again tomorrow."

So we found a place to sleep. But neither of us slept very well. The next morning we ran to the temple hoping to find him there. Maybe the priests took pity on him and gave him food and a place to sleep. 

The temple grounds were very big. We asked every person we saw if they'd seen him. Finally we found him in the temple courts. He was sitting with a crowd of people around him. He was asked questions and he answered them, surprising those listening with his answers.

Mary ran to him. "Jesus! Jesus!" He looked up at her. "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."

Jesus stepped away from the crowd and walked closer to her. "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"

In truth, I didn't understand what he meant by that. "Time to go home, son."

Jesus said his goodbyes to the priests and walked with us as I asked. As we journeyed, I asked him what he and the priests talked about. He told me their questions and his answers. I had no idea he knew so much about the Scriptures.

Once we arrived home, Mary told me she treasured the conversation and thought about the questions from the priests and Jesus' answers.

In the years that followed, Jesus continued to show us his respect. He worked hard and learned so much. Actually, I often wondered how he simply knew things. I've seen this child that God has given us grow from an infant to a young man and can witness that he grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.


Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary

Jewish History.org
*Jewish Virtual Library.org

My research in Israel.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

We've Lost Jesus!

By Mary Vee
Luke 2



From Joseph's Notes


My name is Joseph. My wife is Mary, and we have a son named Jesus who was given to us by God. We have other children too.

Each year, I take my family and join our other relatives for the annual trip to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Passover.

Jesus is twelve years old this time. It is the custom of the Jews to have a celebration for a boy turning into a man at his birthday. A ceremony is held for the family. We sing, eat, laugh, and celebrate the man who was a boy. Then, the boy must answer questions from the Rabbis. 

Between Mary's relatives and mine, our family has become quite large. We pack enough to last several days then meet our relatives for the long walk through the mountain passes toward Jerusalem. 

I've noticed that this is the week of the Passover Feast for you as well. How fitting that my story is being told at this very time! God be praised.

When we travel, the men go first. There are so many of us, we have plenty to talk about as we walk. There are a lot of political issues, ways to do this and ways to do that, all must be discussed over and over because I may think this way but my cousin thinks another. Actually, I think he is wrong and should listen to what I say.

The women ride with the children in the carts. I can hear them talking and laughing at times. These family times are so important to us.

Photo by Mary Vee A Bar Mitzvah
held at the top of Masada
When at last we reach Jerusalem, we go about the usual Feast requirements. We offer sacrifices, at the Temple, make our food, hold the ceremony for Jesus who was soon to be proclaimed a man. The week flies by before I realize it. And when the week ends, we pack to go home.

With all the family there, the children play with one another and ride with cousins. This is nothing new. I ride in the front with the other men, and Mary rides with the women and children. 

The day is about near to the end, and we've planned to camp. I start thinking that Jesus should be riding up front with the men. After all, he had his celebration. He no longer should be with the children. I pull away from my cousins, saying, "I'll be right back." I turn back to the wagon that Mary would have ridden in and ask for Jesus to come join me up with the men.

She looks at me like I've asked for some rare jewel. She says, "Because he is now a man, I thought he was with you already, Joseph. I haven't seen him."

"He isn't up with the men."

She holds her hands to her face. "Joseph, we need to search the caravan."  

I hurry to the front of the line and ask the men to stop. "Jesus is missing."

Each family searches the entire caravan. Jesus is nowhere to be found. I rush back to Mary.

She is frantic. "What should we do?"

"We have to go back to Jerusalem and find him," I say. "He'll be all right." This is one of those moments when I wish an angel would visit me and tell me what to do. But none do this time. I have to figure this one out and believe God will show me what to do.

Come back for the next story.

*********************************************************************************************


sources: 
*A Harmony of the Gospels for Historical Study, An Analytical Synopsis of the Four Gospels by William Arnold Stevens and Ernest DeWitt Burton, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York 1932
*New International Version, New King James Version. 
*My Bible College training.
*My notes and walk through classes I've taught in Children's church. Answers to student questions, etc.
*Pastoral sermons on this time
*Matthew Henry Commentary
*F. LaGard Smith Commentary

Jewish History.org
*Jewish Virtual Library.org

My research in Israel.