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.

High Places

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

Yehudim

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

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.

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

Photo by Rudolf Jakkel on Pexels.com

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.