Jesus and Divorce

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Marriage is not always as wonderful as it was on the wedding day. Divorce is a hard thing to consider, but it’s something many think about when trouble comes, whether it’s the relationship, financial problems, health or parenting issues. One day some Pharisees came to test Jesus by asking Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

“What did Moses command you?” Jesus said.

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” said Jesus. “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Mark 10:2–9).

THINK ABOUT IT

Today as in Old Testament times, divorce might seem like an easy solution to marital problems. It is not, especially if children are involved. Sadly, the children might think they caused the dissolution, that it was somehow their fault. They might even have feelings of guilt if they are old enough to choose which parent they want to live with. In times of abuse and unsuccessful times spent with marriage counselors, divorce is the only solution to end the pain. Although God hates divorce, He does not want someone to remain in a dangerous situation. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin. We live in a world filled with sin and things like divorce happen. Jesus died for our sin and is available to comfort and counsel in our times of loneliness and despair.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Father God, our hearts break when marriage doesn’t work out. Help us to find the least painful solution. Heal the hurt felt by everyone in the family, and teach us to show respect and cooperation even in the midst of conflict. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let the Children Come

It was customary for parents to bring their children to Jesus on their birthdays so He would bless them. This happened one time and the disciples sent them away, which made Jesus indignant. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14). Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them.

The disciples thought Jesus should spend more time with the religious leaders, not children, to improve his status, but He didn’t have to improve His status. He was true man and and true God. I don’t think the disciples really understood this until He ascended into Heaven, and they received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Then they were empowered to pick up the ministry of salvation and take it to the ends of the world, which was Jesus’ last will and testament: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

THINK ABOUT IT

Jesus said the Kingdom of God belongs to such as kids. Children trust willingly and are dependent on their parents. Jesus wants us to look to Him as a child looks to His parents and teachers. He wants to have a relationship with us. We can do that when we spend time reading His word and talking with Him in prayer. Max Lucado said, “If He (Jesus) had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.” You are precious in His eyes!

PRAY ABOUT IT

Holy Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for your amazing love and care for us. Teach us to be more like Jesus, flexible with our time, even with children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Forgiveness

After spending the night on the Mount of Olives, Jesus returned to the temple courts where He had been the day before. People gathered around Him, and He sat down to teach them when the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. Their intent was to trap Jesus so they could accuse Him. “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses’ law said we should stone her. What do you say?” 

Jesus bent down to write on the ground with His finger. The men continued to question Him. He stood and said, “He who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus stooped to write in the dirt again. The accusers began to go away, the older ones first, until only the woman was left with Jesus. He stood and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go and leave your life of sin” (John 8:1-11 my paraphrase).

THINK ABOUT IT

Moses’ law commanded that both parties to adultery should be stoned. The Pharisees disregarded the law by arresting the woman without the man. If Jesus said the woman should not be stoned, they would accuse him of violating the law. If He urged them to stone her, they would report Him to the Romans because they could not carry out Jewish executions. Jesus caused each man to reflect on his own life. When no one could be found without sin, Jesus forgave the woman and commanded her to end her lifestyle of sin.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for this example of your great mercy and forgiveness. Thank you, too, for forgiving us, and help us to live in light of the new and eternal life you gave us. In Jesus’ name, Amen

No Condemnation

Woman at the well

Jesus, tired from a journey through Judea to Galilee, rested at Jacob’s well near the town of Sychar. It was noon when a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink. This seemed strange to her because He was a Jew and Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans. “How can you ask me for a drink?” she asked.

Jesus surprised her. “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” She asked Him where would He get this living water. “Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself along with his sons and animals.” Then Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. It will become a spring in them and well up into eternal life” (John 4:1-14).

Can you imagine this woman’s head spinning from all Jesus said? She was ready for the living water that would quench her thirst forever. He told her to go get her husband, and she said she didn’t have a husband. Jesus confronted her. “It’s true you do not have a husband, but you’ve had five husbands and the man you have now is not your husband.” I’m quite sure the woman wanted to flee, but she stayed to ask questions about God and worship. Then she went to town and told the people she met a man that knew all about her. “Could He be the Christ?” she asked.

THINK ABOUT IT

Although Jesus knew about this woman’s past and her bad reputation, He showed her love and respect instead of condemnation. In response to His love, she witnessed about Him in town, and brought people to meet Him. As a result, many in Sychar believed and invited Him to stay with them a couple days. This is good news even for us today. I have often related to the the woman at the well. The truth is, we have all been that woman, standing in the presence of God in the need of salvation. Be encouraged for, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Believe in Jesus and accept His amazing love as did the woman at the well. Today is the day of salvation.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you Lord, for Jesus, for His amazing, life-changing love. I pray for those reading this story for the first time, that you send your Spirit on them and help them to believe you, trust you and follow you into eternity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Rich Young Ruler

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A rich young ruler came to Jesus one day and asked Him what good thing he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus said, “Keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” asked the young man.

“Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, honor your father and your mother, and love your neighbor as yourself,” Jesus answered.

“I have kept all these,” the young man responded.

“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said, “go, sell all your possessions and give to the poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me” Jesus said.

The rich man walked away sad because he had great wealth and possessions (Matthew 19:16-22).

THINK ABOUT IT

The rich young ruler had done everything right he knew to do, but he still felt empty. I’m sure from his question he thought there must be more to life than the day-to-day eating, working, resting, finding pleasure. His riches only left him wanting more, but apparently nothing satisfied. Jesus wanted to change that for the young man by changing his focus–stop his reliance on money and possessions and think about things that are true–loving God and loving others. Not only are these fulfilling; they cause us to build up treasures in heaven. It is not a sin to be rich, but God wants us to share what we have, to give generously and trust Him, not our wealth.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Lord, thank you for the life you have given us. Make us good stewards of our blessings–to spend and save wisely and to be generous. It would be easier for us to be selfish and think we deserve what we have. Teach us how to be loving. Show us opportunities we can help others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Jesus Believin’ Roman Centurion

Wikipedia

The Jesus Believin’ Roman Centurion

Dressed in his armor, a Roman Centurion,

Called on Jesus in the town of Capernaum.

He said, “My servant lies sick, at home in his bed,

Please come and heal him from his toes to his head.”

That merciful, compassionate Jesus got ready to go,

When suddenly the Centurion said, “Oh, Jesus no!

“I’m not worthy for you to come where I dwell;

Just say the word and my servant will get well.

“For I myself am a boss in command,

Of hundreds of soldiers at my right hand.

“I say to this one “come” and he comes;

And I say to another, “Do this” and he does.”

Well, the Centurion’s words amazed the Lord Jesus;

He said to His followers, “Such faith I’ve not witnessed.

“Many will come from the east and the west,

To take their places at my heavenly fest.

“Some surprisingly will be left outside,

From pain and suffering they will not hide.

Jesus said to the Roman Centurion,

“Go! And just as you asked, it will be done.”

Each one of us has a choice to believe,

Or to be left outside to hurt and to grieve.

So follow the faith of the Roman Centurion,

And believe, as he did, in God’s holy Son.

THINK ABOUT IT

The poem is my paraphrase of Matthew 8:5-13. The Roman Centurion believed in Jesus and knew He didn’t have to be present for his servant to get well. That’s why he said to Jesus, “Just say the word . . .” The Roman’s faith surprised Jesus and He said, “Go! And just as you asked, it will be done.” Jesus is a man of His word. He is faithful.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus. Help us to be more like Him, as good as our word. Help us to be compassionate, and please Lord, help us to have a faith as strong as the Roman Centurion. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

An Unhurried Life?

Janell Stratton Marton in Mountain Bicycle Race

Do you agree we live in a hurry-up and wait world? I am in the habit of over scheduling myself and wondering why I’m so tired. My daughter, Janell Stratton Marton, and her son Luke enjoy mountain bicycle racing. That’s a little faster than I’ve ever dreamed of going. However, my daily to-do list has often been over the top. Yet, I’ve enjoyed checking off accomplishments as I finished them.

In contrast, when I look at the life of Jesus, I can’t imagine Him having a to-do list or a schedule to keep. He allowed interruptions in His ministry. For example, on the way to Jairus’ house to raise his daughter from death, He healed a woman who had been sick for twelve long years. Another time He paused His day to heal a man born blind.

As a mom, school teacher, real estate agent and mountain biker, Janell’s days are scheduled pretty tight, but she allows interruptions if she sees a person in need. As she was leaving a super market one day in a hurry to get home and cook dinner, she saw an older woman who apparently lost her car keys. “Can I help you?” Janell said. Focused on the ground, the woman replied, “I dropped my keys and can’t find them.” Janell said, “I’ll be right back,” and went to her car to get a blanket. She laid down the blanket and crawled under the woman’s car. “Found ’em!” she said. This act of kindness didn’t take but a few minutes before both women were on their way.

The COVID isolation has slowed down my days. The social calendar is not so full, but I find time to kayak or go on boat rides with my husband or spend time with friends. I don’t feel guilty for resting like I used to. In fact, one of my favorite Scriptures is Matthew 11:28-30: 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.”

THINK ABOUT IT

Can you imagine what it might be like to be yoked with Jesus? I think it would be an adventure, but not at all stressful. One of the best things I’ve done in my life since I retired was to take off my watch. I’ve never worn one again. What peace! What freedom! My days go smoother because I’m not watching the time. This has freed me to be aware of others who might need my help.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Lord, for Jesus and His example of an unhurried life. Teach me to be more like Him. Help me to recognize opportunities, like Janell, to show compassion along the way to wherever I’m going. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothes

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Jesus cautioned the disciples about false prophets–people who preach what they think is right but not what the Bible says. Sometimes statements like, “State it and claim it,” or “Believe it and receive it,” are misused concepts of prayer. If you ask a friend if they know whether or not they are going to heaven, some may say they don’t know. Others might say they think so based on their good works. Brothers and sisters, we all sin and fall short of God’s glory. God created us in His image, so we have choices in life. Without God, we will choose the selfish, self-centered, sinful way.

This is the Good News: God loved us so much He gave His only Son to take the punishment of our sin on the cross so we could experience His love, His forgiveness and be reconciled to Him. Death did not hold Jesus. He rose from the grave and was seen by more than five hundred people before He ascended into heaven. When we accept this and believe that Jesus paved the way for us to have a relationship with God, we have eternal life with Him. We are co-heirs with Jesus in His kingdom. Revelation 21 tells what that will be like. It’s glorious.

Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. You’ll recognize them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:15-16).

THINK ABOUT IT

The world is filled with attractions in media or advertisements that cause us to want more than we have. The ads are based on our desire for more wealth, possessions, friends . . . Don’t be misled by anyone who says, “If it feels good, do it,” or “You’re the most important person.” God is supreme, and as we seek His word and hunger and thirst for more of Him, He promises we will be filled to overflowing.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Lord, help us to live in light of your word and salvation. Make us beacons of your love and compassion so others might come to experience your love and know you in a personal relationship. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Well Done

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Two words I want to hear when I get to Heaven are, “Well done!” Will my teaching, writing, mentoring or helping others count for the kingdom?

Jesus told a parable about a man who went on a long journey and entrusted his wealth to his servants. To one he gave five bags of gold. The second one he gave two bags of gold and the third one he gave one bag of gold. After a long time, the man returned from his trip. The first man returned the five bags of gold along with five more bags of gold. He had doubled his masters wealth, and the master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant? You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:19-21). The second servant also doubled his master’s money, and the master said the same thing to him as the first servant.

The third servant judged his master: “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you” (Matthew 25:24-25). His master called him a wicked and lazy servant. He said the servant could have at least put the money in the bank so it would have received interest. The master said, “Take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” Then the master said, “Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:28-30).

THINK ABOUT IT

What we do on earth comes down to this: Did we love God? If we did, did we show it by loving Him and loving others. Our work will count for something because our purpose is to know God by reading His word and spending time with Him in prayer, and to make Him known by telling others all God has done through history and in our lives. God is the one who multiplies our efforts. He is humble, generous and faithful. He wants us to have the abundant life He willingly offers.

PRAY ABOUT IT

O Lord, we need your help to accomplish all you have for us to do. Show us opportunities to reach out to people with your love and to serve them as serving you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I Never Knew You

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Four little words I never want to hear Jesus say to me are, “I never knew you,” but Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus goes on to say that everyone who hears His words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down and the streams rose. The winds blew and beat against the house, but it did not fall because it had a strong foundation (Matthew 7:24-25). On the other hand, everyone who hears His words and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. When the rain came down and the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against the house, it fell with a great crash (Matthew 7:26-27).

So what is the difference? The people in the first paragraph defended themselves with all the good things they did, but Jesus still said, “I never knew you.” Maybe it’s because all our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Unless we serve others with the love and compassion of Jesus, our good works don’t count for eternity. Remember this: “Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:21).

THINK ABOUT IT

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). We are the light of the world when we respond to God’s love by loving Him and others, by serving others–helping them; encouraging, comforting, telling them about God and all He has done. Let these Scriptures guide you: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23)., and “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

PRAY ABOUT IT

Heavenly Father, teach us to be more like Jesus, to show compassion, to be a beacon of your light in this dark world, to love each other. Lord, we need your help. It would be easier not to step out in faith. Empower us to fulfill your plan for our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.