WAIT!

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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

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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

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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.

High Places

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Israel fell into the pagan practices of neighboring nations. On hills and under spreading trees they built altars to the gods Molek, Baal, Ashteroth, Zeus and more. Each altar required a sacrifice. Israel sacrificed their sons and daughters to Molek and had sex with temple prostitutes to satisfy Ashteroth. Even though Hezekiah smashed down the idols and destroyed the altars, the sacrifice continues, even to today. A sacrifice is whatever it is in our lives that takes the place of our Creator God and Savior–power, money, sex, pleasure, success, beauty, comfort, wealth. There is a price to pay for the idols in our lives–your peace, health, integrity, marriage, family, and other relationships.

Our churches have altars in them, but it is not our sacrifice that is required. God sacrificed His one and only Son on an old rugged cross for the forgiveness of our sins so we could live with Him and for Him for eternity. We have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God, and it starts the moment you believe in Jesus as our Savior.

THINK ABOUT IT

Are there idols or gods in your life? Things that take you away from the worship and commitment to your life with God? He loves you and wants you to be in relationship with Him by reading His word, talking with Him in prayer and reaching out to others so they might be drawn to God. What is your response to God’ amazing love?

Paul said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Father God, thank you for Jesus and the sacrifice He made to give us a life with you. Help us to be beacons of your light and love in this world. In Jesus’ name, 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.

God Will Not Forget

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A doctor asked me when I was a teenager if I wanted to have babies. It seemed like a silly question at the time, but I said, “yes.” I wanted to get married some day and have a family. The doctor commented that child bearing would be easier if I wasn’t overweight, so I lost the extra pounds. It was so much easier then than now!

The miracle of new life came to me, and I loved taking care of my babies. Holding, feeding, dressing, and bathing my babies were precious moments I didn’t forget as they grew into toddlers, then children, then teens and adults. I loved and prayed for them and still do.

Today my heart breaks to know how some babies are treated. They are not treasured but abused, and I am thankful for organizations that rescue suffering children. We need more and more of them because the abuse is out of control.

THINK ABOUT IT

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16). This is good news from God for everyone. Whether you have suffered from abuse or illness or other infirmity, God has not forgotten you. He loves you with an everlasting love. You may think because you suffer, God doesn’t care. That is not true. You can know His presence and love. “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).

Is it hard to believe that God’s mercies fall down on you all the time? It’s true! So you ask, “How can I experience this amazing love?” The key to receiving God’s love is in the asking. Prayer unlocks the door! God stands at the door of your heart, waiting for you to invite Him in. You may not know how to talk to God. At first I didn’t either, but I found some of the most powerful prayers are “Help me, Jesus,” “Thank you, Jesus,” and “I love you, Lord.” Be blessed today as you seek God’s presence in your life.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Holy Father, thank you for your amazing love. Thank you for your faithfulness. Be present in our lives today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let the Son Shine In

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On cloudy days, we say the sun is not shining. It’s not true. The sun is always shining, but clouds cover the earth and block the sun. Plants, flowers and trees concealed from the sun do not receive the sun’s energy for life and growth. Fortunately, clouds move out of the way and life goes on.

Did you know that as the sun is always shining, God is always pouring His amazing grace down upon you? His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). During hard times or suffering we may think God is far away or maybe He doesn’t care. That’s not true. However, our stress and worry are like clouds that block God’s mercies. His love is constant, unstoppable and never-ending.

THINK AOUT IT

Will God take us out of our circumstances? Probably not, but we can access His peace by letting go of the tension and trusting Him to carry us through. When I have been sick with a high fever, all I could think about was my suffering. All I could say in prayer was, “Help me, Jesus! Help me!” I knew in my heart that God would never leave me, that He was right there with me. That truth made me thankful, and I began to praise and worship God in my heart.

I found that praise and worship are powerful. As I waited on the Lord, He restored my soul. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Oh Lord, help us to let your Son shine His light into our darkest days. Heal us and revive us so we can serve you again with more strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Yehudim

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The Hebrew word for the Jewish people is Yehudim. It means praise, thanksgiving and worship. A Jewish existence is that of praise and worship, thankful for all they have. How then did the name, Jew, become a profane term or a curse word? Because of sin–our own selfish, self-centered choices to live for ourselves and not God.

Jesus’ life as King of the Jews is a perfect example of Yehudim–praise, thanksgiving and worship. Yet, He was hated, persecuted and finally crucified. The sign over His head on the cross said, “King of the Jews,” and that is what He was/is. Jesus lived and taught what it is like to live for God. He lived a life of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus’ life was that of praise and worship. Even in death on the cross He glorified the Father in Heaven. His resurrection was an act of giving and faithfulness.

THINK ABOUT IT

Jesus was not destroyed by all the evil attempts on His life. He overcame evil with good. He blessed those who cursed Him. He even died for their forgiveness. If this is how Jesus lived, believers are called to live by His example. We are to be Yehudim–praising and worshiping God, thankful for all we have.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you Father God for Jesus. Help us to live our lives by His example and teaching. Empower us with your strength and boldness to stand firm in this dark world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Who is Asenath?

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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.

The Summer Harvest

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What thoughts come to your mind when you think of summer? Time at the beach, river rafting, lake fishing, kayaking, hiking trails, mountain biking? Summer is the time for vacations and relaxing, but that’s not all. It is the time between the Spring harvest and the Fall harvest. Is there a Summer harvest?

One hot summer day after a long journey, Jesus came to Jacob’s well and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. It was the middle of the day–not when most women came to the well. But Jesus had to talk with her. She had questions about worship, and she was the first person to whom Jesus announced that He was the Messiah. Inspired by such news, she ran into town and to tell others about a man who knew all about her. Could He be the Messiah?

While she was gone, the disciples returned and urged Jesus to eat something. He said He had food they knew nothing about. They thought someone else brought food to Him, but He said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:34-35).

Jesus was talking about the harvest of redemption when He said, “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. One sows and another reaps . . . I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits or their labor” (John 4:36-38).

THINK ABOUT IT

The woman at the well understood! She was the first evangelist in the Bible–not educated or prolific in speech. Moved by her time with Jesus, she shared things Jesus said. Could He be the expected Messiah? She got their attention, and they went to the well to hear what He had to say. Then they believed.

Listen! Jesus said to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). As you go on your way, will you consider how you can enter into a conversation with others to tell them how they can experience God’s amazing love and inherit eternal life? Someone needs to know!

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for Jesus who demonstrated simple ways to strike up conversations that impact people for eternity. Open our eyes to see opportunities and empower us to reach out with your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.