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.

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.

Your Inheritance

Did you know you have a royal inheritance? If you accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are adopted into the family of God, and you have a mansion in Heaven, a robe and a crown.

Check this out: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me in garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of His righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10). When you accepted God’s amazing love for your life, He provided you His robe of righteousness. So now when the Father looks on you, He does not see your sin or shame or guilt. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for you on the cross, your sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12).

Furthermore, when we enter Heaven and hear the words, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21), God will hand out rewards, one of which is a crown. “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). What we do for God’s glory on earth is not forgotten–preaching, teaching Sunday school, leading Bible study, mentoring, evangelism, serving the poor, singing in the choir, playing a musical instrument . . . The list goes on, but if you have done any of these or other things, which facilitated someone’s salvation, God has rewards. He loves us and wants us to live today and forever abundantly.

Now we have a robe and a crown. There is more–a mansion created just for you and another created just for me. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-4 NKJV). Listen! There is room for everybody! It seems too good to be true! Most of the time here on earth when things seem too good to be true, they are. This is different. God said it, and that makes is so.

THINK ABOUT IT

If God is so loving and generous, why would He send anyone to Hell? Be sure, He does not send people to Hell. But by their own choices, they choose Hell–choices to live for themselves and not God, to follow their own compassions and desires instead of God’s.

But if they knew about their inheritance, why would they choose to ignore it–to live for themselves, to choose things of this world and not for God’s kingdom? Maybe they don’t know. Maybe someone needs to tell them. Will that person be you? Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37). Who is it that you know who needs to know Jesus and His amazing love? Will you think of a way to reach them of God’s glory?

PRAY ABOUT IT

Father God, thank you for adopting us into your family. Thank you for Jesus and the sacrifice He made so we could enjoy your presence and your abundant life today and forever. Help us to reach as many as possible for your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bury the Dead

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Could you cast away a forest? After living in California, I know how forests are destroyed. It’s very scary! Fire has destroyed much of California’s forests. It destroyed the city of Paradise. My heart breaks at the destruction and the loss. The question still stands. Could you cast away a forest? The answer is, “yes,” but it doesn’t have to be by fire. If someone gave you a bag of seeds to grow a forest, you could get rid of the seeds. You don’t have to plant them. No fire. No danger. No loss.

So then, what about the seeds of death in our lives? Do we have the power to destroy them before they destroy us? What if we could bury things that bring death, physically and spiritually? What if we would resist the temptation of unforgiveness before it becomes bitterness? or lust before it becomes adultery or fornication? or worry before it becomes fear or anxiety? or anger before it becomes malice? The longer we entertain temptation, the harder it is to defeat sin, and sin out of control in our lives is death.

Life that dwells on unforgiveness, lust, or worry reaps a whirlwind of consequences: illness, pain and suffering. Scripture supports this truth: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15). “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25). “I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly–my mind still guiding me with wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 2:3).

THINK ABOUT IT

Our Lord Jesus knows about temptation. “He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:17).

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus. Please send your Spirit on us in the issues of our lives: shame, despair, anxiety or loneliness, and keep us from temptation into sin. Empower us with your word to stand tall with the truth and with your compassion and your love. Help us to become the people you created us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Agent

white dove carries a gift for the feast , wild nature

When Abraham was old, he commanded his servant to go as an agent to his homeland to get a wife for his only son Isaac. The servant took ten camels and gifts of gold to Nahor where Abraham’s relatives lived. At the springs he prayed that the woman who gave him a drink would volunteer to water his camels, and she did. Rebekah was beautiful and willing to go back with the servant (agent) to marry Isaac (Genesis 24). The servant’s name was Eliezer, which means “God is the helper.”

Before Abraham began to think about a wife for Isaac, God asked him to do something unthinkable. He asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Although heartbroken, Abraham obeyed. He traveled to Moriah, built an altar and took his son to slay him. God said, ” Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). God provided a lamb caught in the thicket for the sacrifice.

God did not spare His only Son, but gave Him to be a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus promised His followers a helper, the Holy Spirit, symbolized by a dove. His bride is the church made up of believers, and He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us live our lives pleasing to Him.

THINK ABOUT IT

Since God gave all He had, His only Son, for His bride, the response of the bride is to devote her life to loving Him and others. That’s challenging in today’s world. It was just as challenging in the world Jesus left to be with the Father. But we have a helper, the Spirit of the living God, who counsels us, comforts and encourages us when we reach out to show love and compassion as He shows love and compassion.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father, for giving us Jesus our Lord. Raise up your people in the church to reach a sick and dying world so those who come to believe in you will not perish but have eternal life. 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.

Your Protection

Armor of God collection of elements. Long sword of the spirit, readiness wooden shield of faith, armour helmet of salvation, breathpate, sandals of readiness, belt of truth. Vector illustration

Did you think when you accepted God’s amazing love through salvation that life would be easy? Not so! Trouble is part of life for believers. Our enemy was not happy the day Jesus entered our lives. It was all hands on deck for the devil and his buddies. He uses every doubt or failure or sickness or weakness to discourage us. He is the father of lies and destruction.

Paul said, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12). Paul used metaphors from the Roman centurion’s armor to describe the protection we need every day as a Christian. He said, “Stand firm then, with:

The belt of truth buckled around your waist;

The breastplate of righteousness in place;

With your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Take the helmet of salvation,

And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:13-17).

THINK ABOUT IT

Did you notice that? Nothing works without prayer. It’s the glue that holds the armor together. Truth is the foundation of our faith and protects us from the lies and deceit of our enemy. It’s the piece of armor that holds the other parts in place. The weight of the breastplate on a man’s shoulders would bring him to his knees without the support of the belt. In the same way, truth supports the righteousness imputed to us at salvation. The feet were fitted with a readiness for battle. The soldier’s shoes were a combination of sandals and boots–strips of leather, adjustable, with layers of leather on the soles. Think of the gospel of peace as the shoe that enhanced the soldier’s (believer’s) mobility. Then take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Be certain, we are in real warfare, but not without protection. Each piece of armor is for our advantage, and prayer is what God uses to partner with us and make us victorious over our enemy. He is always with us and will never leave us to fight alone.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for being our defense. Teach us to be aware of the snares the devil uses against us. Help us to know your presence and trust your protection. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sick and Tired

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Are you sick and tired? Tired of all the stress and struggle at work? Tired of feeling like your kids’ taxi driver? Tired of the news? the world situation? I have felt all these things. That’s why I love this Scripture: Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

That’s the answer! Rest for your soul. When my head hits the pillow at night, I still feel like I’m spinning, like on a merry-go-round, and I whisper a prayer to God, “Give me rest and peace.” He says to me, “Be still.” It takes a while before the spinning stops, but I keep pleading for help. I fall asleep praying, “Help me, Jesus. Help me Jesus.” And God is faithful. He is always with me to comfort me and give me peace.

THINK ABOUT IT

When my heart returns to Matthew 11:28-30, I think of being yoked with Jesus. In middle-eastern thinking, a yoke is a teaching. It makes the next phrase make sense to me: “learn from me.” I particularly like the next part–being yoked (as with oxen) with Jesus. He is gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. Being yoked with Jesus is like partnering with Him. He is with me to help me, encourage and strengthen me. He bears the load with me. This makes my work easier. Even Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, that you partner with me to lighten my burden and give me rest. Help is what I need. Rest is what I long for. Be in me today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Into Your Hands

Silhouette illustration of the ascension of Jesus Christ

Jesus did not retaliate when He was spit on, mocked, beaten and blasphemed. Through six fake trials He did not speak out, but when His sacrifice on the cross was finished, He called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Then He breathed His last.

THINK ABOUT IT

Jesus’ teaching, healing, miracles and sacrifice all had a purpose–to change people’s lives. Not just for those He walked this earth with, but for us too. What good does it do to read His word or go to church unless our lives are changed? Two things amazed Jesus: the faith of a Roman Centurion when Jesus healed his servant, and the lack of faith of many of His followers in Capernaum, Bethsaida and Chorazin where He taught in the synagogue and performed miracles.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Father God, we want to live for you. Teach us how to confess our faith before others and bless your holy name by the way we live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It’s Done

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After Jesus fulfilled Scripture by enduring the cross of crucifixion for the forgiveness of our sins, He said, “It is finished.” Today it’s acceptable to say, “It’s done.” I learned in school that cakes are done and people are finished, so it’s hard for me not to correct someone who says, “I’m done” with . . . whatever, or “When you’re done cooking . . .”

The point of today’s post is that Jesus did it all. His statement, “It is finished,” meant that the Father’s will had been fulfilled, justice had been served, sin’s debt had been paid and the perfect sacrifice for sin had been given. Jesus exchanged the filthy rags of our sin with His beautiful robe of righteousness. The Father does not see our sin and shame. He only sees the righteous robe. We are now co-heirs with Jesus of a rich inheritance. Although believers still claim residence on earth, we can live as if we were with God in heaven–showing the same love, compassion, forgiveness and mercy that Jesus shows us.

THINK ABOUT IT

“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easy entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Father God, for Jesus, His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, so we could be forgiven and experience eternal life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.