What Do You Worry About?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25 NET). 

I fidgeted with a snag in my jeans reflecting on my pastor’s questions: “What do you worry about?” The thread-pull got longer as uncertainties flooded my mind.

God has proven himself trustworthy repeatedly in Scripture, but I find nothing in there about good grades or post-grad school plans. Nothing about marital bliss, a job, or future sons and daughters accepting Christ. Acknowledging all of the uncertainty in the future makes me cringe. I do exactly what Jesus told us not to do—I worry.

But Jesus didn’t tell his listeners to get over themselves and then carry on with his day. He offered an explanation of why they shouldn’t worry themselves over the matters of this life: because He cares for them. If God takes care of the flowers in the field, will he not take care of us whom he values more? (6:26). He has freed us, his sons and daughters, of worrying. God values and cares for me; I have no reason to worry. Simple, but hard to trust. 

Lord, I recognize that I worry when I fail to trust you. Thank You for Your patience. When I look at the flowers, would You remind me of Your love and trustworthiness? Teach me to trust You. 

Corinne (TX)

A Living Hope

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…(1 Peter 1: 3-4 NIV).

When you have been friends as long as we have it isn’t unusual for you to sense when something is amiss, even at a distance. Even so, I was surprised when the day after a minor mishap sent me to urgent care for stitches, out of the blue my childhood friend texted me saying I had been on her mind for several days. As we brought each other up to date on our respective worlds, it became apparent her problems far eclipsed mine.

I knew her husband suffered from dementia, but its rapid progression has become alarming. She explained that she struggles along with him as he tries to reach through the mental fog to communicate. Even his basic self-help skills have deteriorated, leaving her to rejoice in the small victories of him still being able to feed and dress himself. Yet in the midst of all this tragedy, what struck me most about her revelations was the steely faith that ran like a silver thread throughout them.

Sandwiched between the words “faith” and “love” in the summation of the famous Love Chapter in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13) is the word “hope.” It is largely overlooked in the teaching of the scriptures, yet life is intolerable without hope, as is evidenced by the skyrocketing suicide rate among those desperate for the peace that only comes from well-grounded beliefs.

For believers, hope isn’t just a life circle to be embraced like a drowning man when the prospect of death looms. Rather, it involves day to day encouragement which makes it possible to weather the buffeting on life’s sea of trials and disappointment. 

While my friend has the good grace to have come to terms with what the future here on earth may hold for her and her husband, her sights are set beyond the horizon, where a bright future with their Lord and Maker awaits them both. Circumstances haven’t dimmed that hope, but rather enhanced it. 

Heavenly Father, May we train our sights on the glory you have promised us rather than focusing on the troubles we face here on earth. Amen.

Carol (NC)

Daily Delight

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (ESV)Bible Verse goes here 

Everyone wants the desires of their hearts fulfilled. We look to marriage, jobs, children, food, travel, friendships and other things to fulfill a space reserved for the Lord. God's word is clear-- our only real, satisfaction will come from seeking Him first. 

When I think about delighting in something, I think about when my children were first born. Those first few months of newness, when everything they did was precious, when I was always looking for the next "first" thing they did... rolling over, crawling, first solid foods, first tooth. Everything was delightful. They had my full attention. My heart was full. Life was good.

I wonder if that's how we should delight in the Lord? What if I was more aware of His presence, His work in my life? What if I paid closer attention to how He is orchestrating and moving? I wonder if I would be more fulfilled if I would just sit in delight of who He is, what He has done and what His Word promises me He will do. 

Sometimes, just as our kids reach milestones and get older, we pay a little less attention. They are eating on their own. They can dress themselves. They can do their own homework. We lose sight of the delightful moments in the tween and teen years, and before we realize those years are in the rearview mirror. 

Don't regret missing the moments right now to delight in the Lord. There are things happening right now that we can thank Him for, praise Him for and give Him glory. Don't miss it! Delight yourself in Him, His presence and character.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your generous promise to give us the desires of our heart when we delight ourselves in You. Help us to focus on what You are doing today. Don’t let us miss the daily delight of walking close to You. 

Gina (TX)

You're Priceless

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

As I rummaged up and down the aisles, the shoe department ahead with the caption “Prices Slashed” grabbed my attention. I tried on a pair of lace-less deck shoes. They fit and looked great—and a bargain at 25% off. But as I continued sampling other shoes, I noticed the value I placed on the slip-ons vanished.

It became obvious the shoes only had worth as long as nothing better came along. This was true with other things in my life, such as a navy blue suit I wore a lot, the phone I glared and swiped at all day, and the sedan I just about lived in. 

These possessions didn’t have inherent value in themselves but had value in comparison to other items of the same kind.

On the other hand, there is one thing that does have absolute value—and it’s each and every one of us.

But we often undermine our self-worth by comparing our qualities to those who possess the same kind of qualities. We may ask ourselves, "Since I’m not as educated, am I less admired? Since I’m not as successful, am I less valued? Since I’m not as popular, am I less respected?"

Jesus leaves us with no doubt we’re valuable inherently and carry within us a God-given dignity. Our value doesn’t hinge on the qualities we may or may not have. We’re beyond comparison.

God didn’t make a mistake when He created us. There is no need to compare ourselves to others to prove our worth.

Lord, thank you for helping us understand just how valuable we’re to you and reminding us we don’t need to ever worry about not being valuable enough in Your eyes. Amen.

Doug (CA)

Time Passes

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

Having been with the same company for many years I have seen people come and go, forged friendships and alliances, and had my share of differences with coworkers and management. During one particularly rocky period, I was told by someone whose opinion I valued that my staying power was due to good coping skills. I see the situation from a different perspective. 

The Bible teaches us the value of getting up every morning and facing what the day holds having accepted it is through God’s grace only that we will weather life’s tempests. Any good coping skills you have cultivated, while useful and even admirable, can only take you so far. When you are out in the deep, it is God you turn to, to throw you a lifeline.

By facing each day as an increment and not concentrating on and worrying about the big picture, we exhibit the patience and faith God longs to see in us. To live in the moment is a hard concept to accept, much less master, but surely it is at the heart of human existence. God wouldn’t have structured our lives in seconds, minutes, hours, days and years had he not wanted us to value each as a blessing. For some reason, it is human nature to want to skip ahead and see what unfolds, but by dwelling on this we cheat ourselves of the beauty and harmony God intended for today. Besides when all is said and done we are promised a new life where we will be more than compensated for any hardships we have faced.

Heavenly Father, Please cultivate in us the wisdom to rely totally on you for our welfare: physical, mental and spiritual. Amen

Carol (NC)

Forty Days

Blessed is the man who endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12 KJV).

In many Christian churches, the 40 day period preceding Good Friday, known as Lent, is a time of self-reflection and self -sacrifice. The tradition is to either give up something to which you are attached, (bread or chocolate are popular choices) or add some new activity which draws you closer to God for those forty days. The end result should be you approach Easter with a renewed spirit.

The practice has its roots in Christ spending forty days alone in the desert fasting before officially beginning his ministry. During that time Satan squared off with him, subjecting him to temptations which could have seduced a weaker man, but at every turn, Christ rebuked his tormentor and prevailed. When offered bread to satisfy his hunger his response was, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. “(Matthew 4:4 KJV, Deut 8:3). When it was suggested he tempt fate by hurling himself down from the pinnacle of the temple to see if the angels would swoop down and save him, Christ said “ Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7 KJV, Deut. 6:16) In the third temptation, the devil offered Jesus dominion over all the kingdoms of the earth, in exchange for Jesus falling down and worshipping him instead of God. Jesus answered “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10 KJV, Deut. 10:20).

In each case you will notice Christ had scripture at the ready as a rebuttal to Satan’s tempting offers, each time he cited his source, the holy scriptures, prefacing his remarks with “It is written.”. In the end, the devil left him and the angels came and ministered to his needs and he was ready to choose his disciples and launch his earthly ministry.

I wish I could say my Lenten discipline for this year was going as well. Rather than focus on food, I resolved to try and break a bad personal habit, one that distances me from God when I give into it. Only two weeks into the season and the tension to control it is getting the best of me and I have become difficult to be around.

Someone suggested I had chosen something too hard to give up, but isn’t the very fact I am having such difficulty evidence in itself that it was the right choice? Then it hit me, were the temptations Christ faced alone and hungry in the wilderness easy ones? No, they appealed to the same basic instincts we all face as humans. And Satan perceived an advantage and approached him when he was most vulnerable. He uses the same strategy with us today, offering the easy way out. In James 3:7, we are told to “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” If you are in doubt as to how to accomplish this, arm yourself with scripture for those times when you find yourself in a one on one with Satan. That is what Christ did and he prevailed. It is the best tool to have in your arsenal.

Dear Lord, Please help us to hide your word in our hearts to use to fight temptation. Amen

Carol (NC)

Pictures Painted By God

"You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19 (NASB)

Having another bad day, my life before I got right with the Lord brought waves of sorrow.

I was having a hard time forgiving myself for a youthful life that was a prodigal life. It was often harder for me to forgive myself than to believe the Lord had forgiven me. I bowed my head and asked for help. Only the Spirit of God can teach a troubled soul in times like I was experiencing. Three verses came to my heart:

"For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation. But the sorrow of the world produces death." II Corinthians 7:10

"You will cast all their sins into the depth of the sea." Micah 7:19

"I have wiped your transgressions like a thick cloud, and your sins like a heavy mist." Isaiah 44:22

My soul relaxed understanding it was alright if I had residual sorrow about my prodigal days that blew in like a dark mist sometimes because, I now had an honest, repentant heart.

Let God paint living pictures of forgiveness in your soul with the brush strokes found in the Word of God.

Thank You, Lord, You are the master painter, paint my heart with the pictures You want to live there. In Your name, Amen. 

Dr. Bob, AZ

Praying Out Loud

The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and, give thee peace. Number 6:26, KJV

Thought for the Day: It is more effective to pray as God leads.

The lady I took care of had trouble staying asleep. I worked the night shift, so I got to see a lot of her sleepless nights.

One night I wanted to pray for her. The thought came that I should pray out loud for her. I did not like to pray out loud. I gave the excuse I did not know how she would take it. I just wanted to claim a verse about peace and trusting, and let God do the rest. God had tired of me claiming verses to make Him do what I wanted. I wanted to use John 14:27, KJV “Peace I leave with you”. God did not want me to use that verse. The burden to pray out loud strengthened. Not only was I going to have to pray out loud, but I was also going to have to do it without a verse.

I went to her and held her hand. I prayed out loud for a peaceful, good night's sleep. A verse, Numbers 6:26 (KJV)came to mind. I quoted it: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and, give thee peace. I took her back to bed. She didn't wake up the rest of the night.

The next day I talked to one of her friends who told me my lady said she had the best sleep she ever had. 

Prayer: Thank you our prayers lead to learning lessons and helping others. Amen.



"These things I have spoken to you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:11 

Recently, the Lord brought to my mind why He taught His children about the Vine and the branches in John 15. I was so blessed that I wanted to share this with you this morning.

He gave the reason in John 15:11. I had never before realized how much Jesus was interested in me having joy. I felt very grateful. Always before I had stopped at the three promises that grew from abiding in Jesus: 1. Much fruit (v.5); 2. Answered prayer (v.7); 3. Experiencing Jesus' love (v.10)

I checked for input from God's great teachers and found: "we all know the value of joy. It alone is the proof that what we have satisfies our hearts."; "There is no proof of the reality of God's love and the blessings He bestows, which men can feel, as when the joy of the Lord overcomes trials."

I think the reason all this means so much to me is that the abomination that New York just passed has been robbing me of joy recently. Then, I remembered that Jesus said: "Come to Me and I will give you peace."
In His arms, I now feel better and knowing He is in control gives me back my joy.

"Dear Lord, there is so much ugliness and demonic activity surrounding us that when we are drawn away to look at it we feel we are sinking in a toxic sea. Help us to keep our eyes on You. Amen." 

Dr Bob (AZ)

How Does This Benefit Me?

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

One day at work, I noticed a repeating theme running through my head as I checked my inbox and talked to colleagues. I got a request to attend a meeting at 9 o’clock. I asked myself, “How does this benefit me?” Later that morning, a few of my colleagues asked if I wanted to join them for lunch to discuss one of their upcoming projects. Again, I asked myself, “How does this benefit me?” 

This me-first way of thinking sneaked into my personal life. I wanted something in return from family members and friends for my help. At times I even asked for more than I deserved. As a Christian, I knew better than to accept the view that says it is right to put yourself first. My selfishness bothered me more than I care to admit.

Challenging today’s me-first culture is what Jesus is asking of us.

Christ wants us to value others more than ourselves. However, we shouldn’t view this as another obligation that just gets in the way of our happiness. 

No, it’s not what Jesus intended.

Each act of sacrificial service for the benefit of others, whether big or small, strengthens the relationship bond with Christ. And when we’re inspired to serve others with this view of wanting to draw near to God, we will gain from the people we help more than one can imagine, especially from our Father in heaven. 

Christ promised an abundant life for those who choose to serve others before themselves—because far less happiness is achieved when we choose to serve mostly ourselves.

Lord, give us the grace to prevent selfishness from consuming our lives that we fail to reach out in love to you and to those who are in need of our help. Amen.

Doug (CA)

Crying In a River

"Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 

Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine, via Facebook, down in Africa. He had posted a picture of his congregation standing in a river crying.

They were crying because the previous day, their pastor, Pastor O, had been killed in a car accident. They didn't know what to do.

I want to share with you what I told them as these thoughts may help in what you are going through or will be soon: During these "Only God knows why times", let's try to remember that only He knows the big picture and what is best. You are not alone brother, you and yours are in our thoughts and prayers. Our loved one has moved to a beautiful retirement home prepared for him and is filled with joy. We miss him and cry warm tears that cleanse as they are healing medicine from our Lord. But, we shall keep looking up and pressing on in the power of the Spirit, that is what Pastor would want us to do.

We come to You, right now dear Jesus for You have told us: "Come to Me, you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Thank You, Amen."

Dr. Bob, AZ

Using God's Gifts

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,- so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;- if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; - if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12: 4-8 NIV)

Little wonder she chose the local post office as the spot where she would stop on her daily rounds to distribute free copies of the inspirational book she has written. In this age of all forms of social media and the drive to make us a paperless society, when the time comes for the mail to be up, people still converge on the local post office as if a dinner bell has been rung. The lady with the books has found a way to capitalize on this age-old habit.

Dressed in athletic attire that complements the good shape she is in, particularly for her age, a baseball cap added as a flourish, she seeks out someone she feels is either deserving or in need of a boost. She cheerfully fishes a copy of the small, colorful book from the zippered pouch she wears around her waist and hands it to the day’s recipient. She is clearly on a mission.

The day I was the lucky person she chose, she explained her desire to share her book by singling out people she feels God has put in her path. I have to admit I was curious about what was between those two covers, as I had watched her go about her business on several prior occasions.

From the text, it was clear she is passionate about her faith and wants to inspire others to join in her pursuit. The brief bio at the end of the book describes her rich, vibrant life which is still going strong in retirement. A proponent of a good health regimen and time spent daily in devotions, she feels these are the means by which we reap the hope and encouragement that make for a well-lived life.

You never know what might happen on a routine trip to the post office. You just might get a lesson in being creative about how you share your faith. As I watched the lady disappearing into the bank parking lot across the way, it struck me she has found an unconventional avenue for hers which, as just another example of God’s great mystery, works.

Dear Father, May each of us find the best outlets in which to use our God-given gifts in ways that will glorify Christ and be supportive of your kingdom. Amen.

Carol (NC)

Bearing the Cross

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23 (NIV).

Having had the good fortune to come into possession of a tabletop sculpture of the Last Supper, I spent years moving it here and there, trying to find a good, permanent home for this statement piece. Finally, I settled on making it the centerpiece of a grouping of Christian keepsakes I have collected over the years. 

Towards the back of the table is a copy of an unstaged photo our assistant pastor snapped, showing our youth pastor transporting the lifesize cross our church displays to commemorate the crucifixion from storage to a spot in our sanctuary. He is not a small man, yet he appears to be straining to shoulder the weight of the massive wooden cross. 

Recently I had the idea to move my neglected photo from an inexpensive frame to one worthy of its subject, pristine white in the Baroque fashion. Only now do I realize the ornate frame, instead of accentuating its subject, detracts from it. Not only has this motivated me to return the photo to its original unadorned frame, but also to relocate it to a more noticeable space up front in keeping with its powerful message. 

Too often, in our peculiarly modern way of reducing grisly facts into manageable symbols, we wear a replica of the cross as jewelry, failing to focus on the fact the real cross on which our Savior hung was designed by the Romans as a torturous execution device. We tend to think making the cross of precious metal is a sufficient nod to the extraordinary sacrifice made that dark day on Calvary. To do so is to trivialize just how far the Son and the Father were willing to go to conquer death and open the door to eternal life for those who choose. Christ was ever mindful of his fate and echoed it when he challenged the masses to take up their own cross and follow him.

Following Christ comes at a cost and we should use the symbols we have at our disposal of art and mementos to keep us focused on the gravity of the subject matter. Yet Christ’s life and message doesn’t stop with the crucifixion. At the opposite end of my table is a fitting counterpoint --a resin scroll depicting the empty tomb and bearing the scripture from Matthew 28:6---He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. May we take joy and comfort from Christ making his promise a reality.

Blessed Jesus, Help us to better understand the lessons from your life and put them into practice in ours. Amen 

Carol (NC)

Healed Is Better Than Hidden

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

As I watch the huge snowflakes fluttering softly to earth, the world outside my window takes on a peaceful beauty. When the soft blanket of white covers everything, it seems my world has been made new.

The fresh white carpet hides the stubbly brown grass and softly drapes the ghostly bare arms of trees. All that had appeared tired and grimy takes on a fresh, clean look.

It is so good while it lasts…but it doesn’t last.

Sometimes it is only a few hours before the sanding trucks, snow plows, and car exhaust leave a dismal gray edging to lawns that briefly frosted wedding cakes. The white purity was only a brief illusion. This truth becomes clearer when the snow melts, leaving sodden yards and muddy streets.

The fleeting effect of snow on a winter landscape illustrates my attempts to right my own wrongs, to clean up my sin problem. At first, my efforts at self-control and my good works seem to do the job. But all too soon, the underlying sin stains show through. When I grow weary and abandon my attempts at cover-up, the mess that’s left behind is worse than before.

The only lasting solution to the ugliness of sin is the cleansing blood of Christ, which redeems and restores. New life in Christ conquers what is dead in me, in all of us, just as spring brings beauty to the brown landscape of winter.

Dear Father, thank you that rather than trying to cover up our sins, we can confess them to you and receive grace. Help us to live joyful lives as forgiven people.

Susan, Iowa

Light Equals Life

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life." John 8:12 TEV

I was given an amaryllis bulb for Christmas. The outdoor temperature hovered between 10 degrees above zero and 10 degrees below zero. The bulb had a six inch white shoot that desperately needed light. How was the plant ever to thrive? 

In the King James Version of the Bible, the word "light" is found 272 times. In the Old Testament God's Countenance is referred to as "light." In the Gospels The Light dispels the darkness; it leads us along dark paths lest we stumble. The Gospel of John tells us "Jesus IS the light of the world."

The temperature on my sun porch stays above freezing for a few hours each day, so my amaryllis plant now has a little color. It desperately needs the sun's rays. And we desperately need the Son's rays -- Jesus, the Light of the World -- for our spiritual health.

Lord, shine your light upon us. Fill us with your pure and Holy light that we may never walk in darkness. Amen.

Madeline, Nebraska, USA

Lonely Eyes Sometimes Cry

"God shall wipe away all their tears" Revelation 7:17

As my wife and I approach seventy and eighty, we have found today's verse has often applied to our life. We have found a secret that has taken us through life's trials. I wrote a few words to her in an anniversary card, and she is glad to share them with you if they will help even one of God's children.

"Deep inside hearts , loneliness can create islands of doubt which then can grow into dim dens. Succumbing to darkness, nurturing light no longer appears. Eyes made for the light fail to serve in the darkness, producing doubt and fear. Lonely eyes toil for relief when lost in darkness, and lonely eyes sometime cry.

Now, many years have passed, but we have found what has made us last. We have scars hidden beneath our wrinkles, but we still run to each other's arms and find the Spirit's peace when this world tries to tear us apart. Together, we claim Jesus' promise: Come to Me you who are heavy laden and I will give you peace. Together, in His arms, we find the strength to go on. Truly, we are one. 

I love you, Happy Anniversary, Bob."

Help us Lord Jesus to truly believe that You are the way, the truth and the life. Thank You.

Dr. Bob, AZ

Sunrise, Sunset

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8 NIV

On the way in to work this morning, crossing the bridge span that connects the mainland to the barrier islands, I happened to look, not to my left, where the repair crews and equipment seem to be perennially clustered, but to the right, at the sound. What a glorious sight it was. The water was like glass, so instead of being stirred by wind and waves, it reflected the opposite shoreline, jagged, like a page torn haphazardly from a book and the newly risen sun, announcing the beginning of a new day. The colors ranged from the blue-gray, a melding of all the trees and wild growth to the graduated shades of coral from the sun. It was the stuff of which landscape paintings are made.

Now I do not advocate taking your eyes off the men working so precariously close to the traffic lane, but I am thankful God saw fit to call my attention to his handiwork. It is so easy to be caught up in the daily routine of getting yourself out of the house on time, getting your car defrosted, and making it safely through school zones and the seemingly endless string of stoplights interspersed along the way, and fail to notice the natural beauty of your surroundings. Yet when you do fix on some aspect of God’s grand display so readily available, it can make the difference between a ho-hum day and one that is inspired.

God didn’t have to make our earthly home an inviting place. He could just as easily have made it a barren landscape devoid of beauty, like the photographic evidence we have of the surface of Mars. Instead, each clear day we are treated to a reminder of God’s mercy in the form of the sunrise, which signals a chance at a new beginning and at the end of the day, an equally majestic sunset which is God’s way of saying He is willing to close the books on any mistakes we have made along the way. May we take advantage of His gracious offers.

Dear Father, We praise you for so generously providing us with a world that is a feast for the senses, causing us to pause and reflect on the privilege of having a close relationship with You. Amen.

Carol (NC)

Listen to The Spirit

"Of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" I Corinthians 1:30

Recently, I had a hunger to live closer to Jesus, as I knew no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God, I opened my Bible to satisfy my craving.

I found one passage stood out as a summary of who and what Jesus is to each child of God, I Corinthians 1:30. I learned that:

1. Abide in Jesus as your wisdom for the Father made Him our wisdom. He is the revelation of all God is and has for His children. When I need wisdom- I go to Jesus.
2. Abide in Jesus as your righteousness. If I want a better character (which I do). I'm to yield to the Spirit of God to produce what is in Jesus. Don't try by yourself to have a better character.
3. Abide in Jesus as your sanctification- experience His power to make you holy in spirit, soul, and body. You can't become more holy without Jesus.
4. Abide in Jesus as your redemption- live here as an heir of eternal riches- you are a rich kid born into wealth.

I found out our relationship with Jesus contains everything we need for life and after our graduation to heaven shores.

Ending Prayer: "Dear Lord Jesus, You are my way. my truth and my life. Please help my heart to open to you when I don't know what to do. In Your Name, Amen.

Dr. Bob (AZ)

The Misunderstood Jesus

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Isaiah 53:3 KJV)

From the time he was twelve and stayed behind in the temple following Passover in Jerusalem while his parents journeyed back home to Nazareth, Jesus was misunderstood. When they frantically found him and confronted him about worrying them, Jesus’s frank response was, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? (Luke 2:49 NKJV)

His fellow Jews mistakenly thought his mission was to usher in a new political regimen replacing the tyrannical rule of the Romans. It wasn’t just the general public who misunderstood the nature of the kingdom he spoke of being at hand. His own disciples did as well, thinking it was the sort of place where insiders jockeyed for a plum position.

The church leaders had their own ideas about what Jesus was up to. Instead of embracing him as the long-awaited Messiah, they felt threatened by his simple message of the forgiveness of sin and love for God and their fellow man. They held a death grip on the considerable power they wielded over the masses in their distorted, oppressive application of the Mosaic law, and went on to prove they would go to any lengths to preserve it. They deliberately fed Pilate misinformation, falsely leading the governor to believe Jesus was bent on overthrowing the sitting government by some insurrection or coup.

Pilate doubted their arguments given the demeanor of the accused who stood before him but went along with the ruse rather than cause further disruption. He allowed the Roman soldiers to beat his captive within an inch of his life, and then mock him by parading him in a scarlet robe (supplied by Herod), wearing a hastily constructed crown of thorns, placing a reed in his right hand to serve as a scepter. The mockery wouldn’t stop there. When he was hung on the cross on Golgotha, they placed a sign over his head bearing the inscription “King of the Jews,” is not one but three languages, just in case someone missed their point.

Most significantly, Jesus was misunderstood by even Satan himself, who felt having him crucified would put an end once and for all to his troublesome foe and the grassroots movement he had started. He never dreamed there would be a resurrection to follow, which would be the impetus for a religion that would cross language barriers and spread across continents that hadn’t even been discovered yet.

Fortunately for us, God had a plan that was executed flawlessly by his son, Jesus, at great cost to himself. May we never lose sight of the heavy price he paid for our salvation.

Dear Father, Please steer us towards a better understanding of both you and your dear son, Jesus. Amen

Carol (NC)

Christmas Expectations

And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (I Timothy 6:8) NKJV

None of us ever figured out how she did it. Granny always sat in the third pew from the front at church and the night of the Christmas pageant was no different. At the end of the service, as soon as the hymnals were stowed in the pew racks and the minister had said the benediction, she somehow made it from her seat to the vestibule in the rear of the church ahead of the rest of us.

It was there that the men of the church were handing out fruit and nut bags the women had assembled in one of the Sunday School rooms in the basement hours before. There really wasn’t that much to them---a couple of apples, an orange, a few unshelled nuts and a couple of pieces of unwrapped hard candy, delivered in an unadorned brown paper lunch sack. 

Granny may have been old but she was spry enough to muscle her way to the front of the line. It wasn’t as if she never got those things. I always felt it harkened back to the time in her memory of her childhood in the 1890s when an orange in the toe of a stocking on Christmas morning was cause for celebration. 

She was no stranger to adversity. In her youth, she worked in an urban cotton mill during the time it was basically a sweatshop. Then, after her marriage to my Granddaddy, who was a farmer, she lost her only son as an infant and took on the life of a pioneer woman. In the very time she should have been enjoying her golden years, she was the caregiver to a string of three relatives, two of whom were her junior. Fate dealt her many cruel blows, but, in spite of it all, she was a remarkable woman who soldiered on and rarely complained.

As a result of this austere upbringing, she was able to, as the writer so aptly put in Hebrews 13:5, “Be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” Granny lived with this reassurance all of her 89 years. 

Granny managed to keep her bearings in the midst of the consumer-driven economy of mid-twentieth century America, when I grew up, which gave birth to the likes of Barbie and GI Joe. In contrast, my life, like that of many of my peers, is a testimony to problems of my own making. 

When I think of Christmases past, thoughts of my Granny immediately spring to mind. It didn’t take much to stir feelings of childlike wonder in her because she never lost the ability to see it through eyes of faith and hope which grounded her. They not only sustained her through the dark times but also held the promise of a bright future which she caught a glimpse of every year at Christmas. We see this spirit in the story of the first Christmas and still may, like my Granny, see it this year if we will only pause to reflect. 

Thankfully, we are not denied that privilege because of poor choices we have made.

Prayer: Our Father, May we learn from our elders the lessons of simple, joyful living that are taught in your Scriptures. Amen

Carol (NC)