Does God Change His Mind?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Is there a place in Scripture where you would think God changed His mind? Yes, I think of the time when Moses spent forty days and nights with God on Mt. Sinai. The people He rescued from slavery in Egypt grew impatient waiting for him to come down the mountain, and they convinced Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship. It seemed reasonable to them because the surrounding nations worshiped golden calves.

God became so angry with them that He said He would destroy Israel and make a great nation out Moses.

Moses replied, “Why would you do that? The Egyptians will think You brought us out into the wilderness to kill us. O Lord, turn from your fierce anger and do not bring this disaster on your people” (Exodus 32:9-12). Then the Bible says God relented and did not bring about the disaster He said He would.

THINK ABOUT IT

Did God think in His heart, Moses has a point. I think I should show mercy and not judgement? If Moses could change God’s mind, He is not God. Instead, He looked for someone to stand in the gap for His people and He found Moses.

God still looks for those who will stand in the gap and intercede for His people. God loves all people so much that He sent His only Son as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sin. Will you stand in the gap? Will you pray for your friends and family who do not know the love of God?

PRAY ABOUT IT

Father God, thank you for Jesus who made it possible for us to reconcile ourselves with you–Holy, Faithful and True God. Raise up your people, Lord! Bring revival to this world. Bring repentance and justice. O Lord, only You can heal our land. Only you can turn this world right side up again. Empower us to partner with you, to speak boldly for the salvation of many who need to know Your amazing love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Increase

Photo by Josh Sorenson on Pexels.com

Jesus’ last words to the apostles were, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4).

His friends waited in Jerusalem. The gift Jesus spoke about was the power of the Holy Spirit. It came on Pentecost when people from many nations were in Jerusalem. Tongues of fire rested on each of the apostles and they began to speak in languages the people could understand. Peter explained, “This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:16:21).

Peter had the attention of the people and continued to speak with great power. He said, “Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, who you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” The people felt helpless and asked what they must do. Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:36-38). Peter used many other words to warn the people, and that day about 3,000 people accepted the message and were baptized.

While the apostles were still in Jerusalem, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John. They were disturbed because the apostles proclaimed the resurrection of the dead in Jesus. Even though they seized Peter and John, the number of believers grew to about 5,000 (Acts 4:4).

THINK ABOUT IT

The same power that raised Jesus from the grave was at work in Peter and John. These were not educated men, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, they made convincing statements that led people to believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. This same power is at work in believers today. We are a kingdom of priests, called to tell the truth. Will you rely on this strength to speak boldly about God’s amazing love to a dark and dying world? I assure you, many people need to now the love of Jesus–mercy instead of judgement, peace instead of anxiety and hope instead of hopelessness.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Jesus and His sacrifice that brought about the forgiveness of our sins. Help us to live in the power of our salvation, to show compassion to others and to speak of your love to those who need to hear it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

WAIT!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

The disciples walked closely with Jesus for three years. They saw Him rejected, persecuted and crucified. Jesus surprised them when He rose from the grave at the resurrection. Death could not hold Him, and He spent forty more days with them before His ascension into Heaven.

One time when He was eating with them He said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about” (Acts 1:4) and “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

This happened at Pentecost, the birth of the church. The disciples were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of the. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues so that everyone could hear what was said in their own language. At first the people from other nations thought the disciples were drunk, but Peter said, “It’s only 9:00 in the morning.” With power Peter didn’t have before, he explained, “Let all Israel be assured of this; God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36).

When the people heard this, it broke their hearts and they felt helpless. They asked, “What shall we do?” and Peter said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

THINK ABOUT IT

This is why Jesus said “wait.” All this was new to the disciples. Do you think they felt the power of the Holy Spirit come into them? Remember when the woman touched Jesus’ garment? He asked, “Who touched me?” It seemed like a silly question because the crowd was pressing against Him. But He said, “I felt power leave me.” So if Jesus felt power leave Him, I think the disciples felt the power come into them. It’s what made Peter so bold in his preaching! He grew to be the rock of the gospel. The disciples all received power to boldly carry the message of salvation. They weren’t running scared anymore.

The same power is available to everyone who believes. As Peter said, “Repent and be baptized . . . and you will receive the Holy Spirit.”

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for your message of the good news. Thank you that those who believe and are baptized can have the same power as Peter and the disciples. Empower us with the same confidence as the disciples. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Run for You Life

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

When God called on Jonah to prophesy to Ninevah (in today’s Iraq), he boarded a ship going to Spain. That is in the opposite direction. Do you wonder why? Well, Jonah knew that the people in Nineveh were very mean. They didn’t need a real reason to behead or impale people. That was part of their wickedness and Jonah was not taking any chances. He ran for his life. Wouldn’t you?

What Jonah didn’t realize is that he couldn’t run away from God. The ship he boarded was caught in a terrible storm. Jonah confessed to the crew that it was his fault, that he was running from God. He told them they should throw him into the sea, which they did. The wind and the waves calmed down. Then a big fish swallowed Jonah and he lived in there for three days. When he cried out to God, the fish spit Jonah out onto the beach.

God commanded Jonah a second time to go to Ninevah and he did. He proclaimed that if they didn’t change their ways in forty days, God would destroy them. That’s what Jonah wanted to happen, but the Ninevites repented. They stopped their cruelty and did what God said. 

THINK ABOUT IT

Mission accomplished, right? Yes, Jonah preached to Ninevah and they repented. But it seemed very wrong to Jonah. It seemed to him like the people got away with murder. He said to God, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2). As far as Jonah was concerned, he’d rather be dead. 

There is more to this story, but my point in this part of the story is that if God can show mercy to 120,000 residents of Ninevah, even after all their cruelty, then He can forgive you. You may think that is impossible, but nothing is impossible for God. He loves the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life with Him. New life begins the day you believe.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for sending Jesus to be our Savior and Friend. Help us to accept your love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Daily Bread

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on Pexels.com

The disciples asked Jesus how to pray. Do you wonder why? Maybe they saw Him withdraw to lonely places to pray to the Father. Maybe He prayed with them.

Jesus responded, “. . . when your pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to the Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew6:5-6).

We don’t have to babble on with big impressive words. God knows what we need and is ready to help us. He gave us a pattern of prayer in what is known as the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).

If God knows our needs–the need to live for Him, to have our needs met, to forgive and to guard from temptation–then why does Jesus’ pattern of prayer include these things? The key is in the asking and the receiving. It’s in a relationship with a holy God.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). Everything we need is in Jesus. He has us in the palm of His nail-scarred hands. He loves us and cares what happens to us. Being in relationship with Him, we will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty, because Jesus is always with us. He will never leave or forsake us.

THINK ABOUT IT

When the Israelites moved through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land, they learned that God was their Provider. He gave them the right amount of manna every day, but many were greedy and collected more than they were told to. Maggots swallowed up the extra the Israelites gathered.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Friend, there is enough for everybody! We don’t have to stockpile God’s mercy or grace or sustenance. He gives generously because He loves and cares for us.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for providing for us. Thank you for Jesus, for love and new mercy and compassion every day. Thank you that we will never have to worry about your presence in our lives. Thank you for a wonderful inheritance in the Kingdom of God that starts when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. In His great name, we pray, Amen.

On the Wall

Mary Magdalene and Jesus

A woman entered Simon the Pharisee’s house with Jesus at dinner time. When guests took their place at the table, she took her place on the wall behind Jesus. She washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. She kissed them and poured perfume on them. Have you wondered how this woman had enough tears to wash Jesus’ feet. Women, during this time, collected their tears in lachrymatories (tear bottles). When a woman’s husband came home from battle she showed him her lachrymatory to demonstrate how she grieved in his absence. It was also customary in Jesus’ time for outcasts, sinners and the poor to line up on the wall away from the table where people ate.

Simon said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner.” Knowing the Pharisee’s thoughts, Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven,” and “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).

THINK ABOUT IT

Simon ignored the cultural rules of hospitality–to give a kiss of welcome, to offer water to wash his guests’ feet and a towel to dry them; to anoint guests with oil. The woman let down her hair in public, washed and dried Jesus’ feet and anointed them with perfume. Could Jesus have met her before? Could she be Mary Magdalene? The Bible didn’t give her a name. Maybe that’s so we could put our names there. Jesus rescued this woman from a life of sin by forgiving her. He does the same for us. He cares what happens to us.

“Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll–are they not in your record?” (Proverbs 56:8)

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for Jesus. Thank you for forgiveness and new life with you. Thank you for examples of worship found in your word. Help us to live in light of our salvation as the woman on the wall did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Who is Asenath?

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Do you know who Asenath is? She was the daughter of an Egyptian priest, but she is in the lineage of Christ. How could that happen?

It happened with Joseph, a son of Jacob who had visions. His brothers hated him because he was Jacob’s favorite, and they sold him to some Midianite merchants who took him to Egypt. He served Potiphar the governor until he was falsely accused and put in prison.

Years later because he had the ability to interpret dreams, he was allowed to tell Pharaoh about the coming of a famine. The king put him in charge of the harvests, and he stored up food to feed the people during the famine.

He married Asenath and she bore him two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who became two of the twelve tribes of Israel and ancestors to Jesus.

THINK ABOUT IT

As Asenath was a pagan to Israel, we were too. We were lost in our selfish, sinful lifestyle until we experienced God’s amazing love. He demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). By no effort of our own, Jesus brought us salvation from sin and gave us new life, abundant life (John 3:16).

As Joseph had an Egyptian bride, Christ does too. His bride is the church, which is made up of people who believe Jesus’ sacrifice was for them personally and who became a kingdom of priests so others might be brought in to God’s family. Listen! There is room for everybody! If you have not received God’s amazing love, it is not too late. Do these three things and you will be joint heirs with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven: Admit you need Jesus’ love, believe that He is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6), and confess Him as Lord of your life (Romans 10:9). Then find a Bible teaching church and be baptized.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for Jesus our Savior. Teach us to live in the light of our salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Birthright and Blessing

Silhouette of two greedy and selfish men can not divide the crown. Concept of selfishness in politics and society

“The babies jostled each other within Rebekah, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ The Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:22-23). The first child born was Esau and the second was Jacob. Esau, Isaac’s favorite, grew up to be a skillful hunter. Jacob, Rebekah’s favorite, grew up to be a quiet man and stayed among the tents. Desperate after hunting all day, Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew that Jacob had cooked. Later Jacob deceived his father Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing. After that, Esau plotted to kill his brother, but Jacob escaped to Paddan Aram.

Esau’s descendants were called Edomites and Jacob’s descendants were the Israelites. The Edomites lived under the dominion of Israel until the days of the Roman Empire. An Edomite, Herod, became King of the Jews, and when he heard about the birth of the Messiah, the real King of the Jews, he plotted to kill him by ordering the death of all baby boys under the age of two years old.

THINK ABOUT IT

Because Esau lost his birthright and blessing, he spent his whole life in an effort to compensate for his loss. Esau and Herod were not the chosen leaders of Israel. Jacob and Jesus the Messiah were the men God chose to lead Israel. Through Jesus Christ we have redemption and blessing. Have you aligned yourself with Him or with the false leaders of this world? God so loved the world that He gave His only Son Jesus so that whoever believes in Him will not die separated from Him, but will live eternally with Him (John 3:16, my paraphrase). Did you know that you will live forever–even after your physical death? Choose today whether you will be in Heaven with our Lord or in hell, totally separated from Him.

PRAY ABOUT IT

O Lord, our God, I know you don’t want anyone to live outside of a relationship with you. I pray that you open people’s eyes to the truth of who you are that they might experience your presence and amazing love in their lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thirsty

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink” (John 7:37). He spoke of a spiritual thirst of which only He can relieve.

A time came when Jesus was physically thirsty. After six fake trials, the beating, carrying the cross through Jerusalem, wearing the crown of thorns and enduring the crucifixion, His body ached and His mouth was parched. He was dehydrated and thirsty. “One of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink” (John 7:48).

After drinking from the sponge, Jesus cried out in a loud voice and gave up His Spirit. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. Would you like to have been the man who gave Jesus His last drink? The drink made it possible for Jesus to make one last cry for humanity.

THINK ABOUT IT

Did you know that twenty-eight prophesies were fulfilled on the cross? Psalm 22 and and Isaiah 53, to mention only two, were written hundreds of years before Jesus was born on earth. Friend, if you have a hard time believing Jesus, Heaven and Hell are real, believe in the prophecies. The Bible proves the truth of all these things. God used forty men over a period of six hundred years to write His word. Amazingly, all Scripture–Old Testament and New Testament–points to and finds fulfillment in Jesus.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving your only Son to be the sacrifice for our forgiveness and eternal life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Abandoned

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jesus suffered in every way as we do, but we will never suffer the way He did. When He hung between Heaven and Hell, the Father could not look on Him because He had our sin on Him. That’s when Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

What are the first words out of your mouth in hard times? In the past, my first words were curse words. Praise God, He forgave me for all those times. Yet, in the midst of Christ’s suffering on the cross, He quoted Psalm 22:1, Scripture written more than a thousand years before Jesus. It is worthwhile to memorize verses from God’s word so that when hard times come, that is what we say.

THINK ABOUT IT

Have you ever felt abandoned? No one knows better what that feels like than Jesus. He was persecuted, rejected, abandoned, ridiculed, spit on, beaten and crucified. That was the price He paid for our redemption. Jesus cried out to the Father what He truly felt from the cross. He said, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34).

Jesus was honest. He spoke about His real feelings, but He quoted Scripture that defined His suffering. This means that in our deepest, darkest moments of despair, we can be honest with God. May what comes out in our despair be the overflow of our hearts.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, His teaching, sacrifice and presence in our lives. Help us to focus on your word so we might glorify you even during hard times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.