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.

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.

Bare or Blessed?

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Bare branches do not produce fruit and must be pruned so more fruit will grow. Trees have limited resources and energy. If they are not well tended, their energy will be zapped by the unfruitful branches. Pruning might give an initial appearance that the tree loses too much, but later the pruned tree produces more fruit.

It is the same in our lives. We might take our losses too seriously and wonder how we can go on with our lives, but we can actually benefit from our losses. When I have experienced the loss of a family member or a relationship, with God’s help, I have grown stronger. What about the loss of a job or a home? When I was laid off from one job, I found a better one. A man who lost his home in a hurricane, found these words written on the foundation of his home: “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” and it inspired him to want to know God, and he started going to church.

THINK ABOUT IT

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). His life flowing through us will make us more like Him–loving, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, helpful and giving to others. However, if we stop His life flow with self-centeredness, anger, anxiety, malice, bitterness, worry, or selfishness, our lives will not be fruitful. Seek God today and He will bless you. He will rescue you from the negative issues of life and give you a new and abundant life.

PRAY ABOUT I

O Lord, help us not to settle for an ordinary or unfruitful life, but to trust you for a life flowing with your love to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Lessons from a Widow’s Offering

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Jesus was in the temple near the treasury where people gave their offerings. He saw a widow put in two copper coins and said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on” (Mark 12:42).

Widows during Jesus’ time on earth did not have Social Security or dividends or help from the community. Their position was very desperate, but not for this widow. Her hope was in God, her Provider, and He did not disappoint her.

God spoke of widows through the prophet Isaiah: “Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame . . . For your Maker is your husband–the Almighty is His name–the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:4-5).

THINK ABOUT IT

Only these few words were told about this woman, but she set an example for us to follow: When we go through tough times, they are not times to withhold our tithes and offerings. Like the widow, we give in faith, knowing God is our Provider.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). This is a principle we can rely on.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for examples in the Bible of people who have experienced hard times and did the right thing. Help us to trust you in times of loss and despair. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Mystery of the Magi

January 6 is the day during the year when we commemorate the visit of the Magi to Mary, Joseph and Jesus in Bethlehem. The Bible says in Matthew 2 that they came from the East–probably not as far east as China, but more like Babylon or Persia, modern day Iraq or Iran.

They are believed to be astrologers since they followed a star that led them to Bethlehem where Mary and Joseph lived following the birth of Jesus. Was the star part of a natural phenomenon or a miraculous event? It’s a mystery.

Another mystery is in the gifts the Magi gave to Jesus: Gold for a King, frankincense for a Priest, and Myrrh for a Savior. Did they know that the newborn king would be all these in one person?

THINK ABOUT IT

Who is Jesus to you? King? Priest? Savior? Teacher? Comforter? Counselor? Friend? Although Jesus lived on earth only thirty-three years, He changed the world more than any one person ever has or ever will. His great love penetrates hearts and restores souls. His great act of forgiveness on the cross paves the way for us to have a relationship with a living God.

To answer my own question, Jesus his all those to me and more. He gives my life meaning and purpose. Hope has displaced despair. I have peace instead of anxiety and new mercies every day instead of feelings of apathy. Friend, all these are available to you through the amazing love of God. Seek Him. You will find Him. He promised that.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the gift of Jesus, His amazing love and forgiveness. I pray for my friends who have not experienced your love–that you would make them aware of your presence in their lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Help with an Attitude Adjustment

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Are you easily controlled by your circumstances? Then I have good news for you. Things that happen in our lives are not always fun or pleasant, but there is a way to change how we respond.

We have three incredible resources–time spent in the presence of the Lord, our Bible and the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Making good use of these changes our perspective in nine ways as we develop the gift of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.

  1. Love–Freely we have received God’s love and freely we should give love to others.
  2. Joy–A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22).
  3. Peace–The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
  4. Patience–Be patient with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).
  5. Kindness–Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).
  6. Goodness–Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act (Proverbs 3:27).
  7. Gentleness–Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).
  8. Faithfulness–Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other (Psalm 85:10).
  9. Self-Control–Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city (Proverbs 16:32).

THINK ABOUT IT

I don’t always wake up with joy, but when I open my devotional guide, my heart begins to say, “I love you Jesus.” As I linger in God’s presence, my composure changes and the day has a beautiful beginning. However, things happen during the day, sometimes hurtful or frustrating things, and I have to pray for an attitude adjustment. God is faithful. His mercies are new every day.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for your love, your presence and your word. Let these change the way we respond to challenges we face each day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jesus on Giving

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Do you like to give to others? I like it a lot. Giving makes me feel good. I think it makes everyone feel good. Some people like it so much they talk about it, which sounds a lot like boasting. Jesus has something to say about doing good and giving. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father inheaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4).

I recommend a habit of giving, but let the good feelings be your reward, just between you and God. We live in a selfish, self-centered generation where people seek satisfaction and instant gratification, but we can rise a step above the rest to be compassionate as Jesus is compassionate, whether we give gifts of flowers, smiles, money or time.

THINK ABOUT IT

Giving is a stumbling block to many people. Yet when we resist the temptation to selfishly hold on to things and reach out to others instead, the results are amazing. We can actually avert depression and despair when we think of someone else besides ourselves and our problems. Let this verse be key in your giving: “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Look for opportunities to help someone today by giving of your time, talent, ability or blessings.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for all the ways you bless us. Help us to respond by loving you and others. Teach us ways to show compassion as Jesus shows compassion. Empower us to step out of our comfort zones to bless another person today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.