Idolatry

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I visited a friend who had lost her loved one. She gave me a tour of her sweet little apartment. She came to shelving unit and tenderly picked up a figurine. I said, “She’s beautiful.” My friend said she prayed to her every day. I was shocked at first. Finally I said, “Becky, she has eyes that cannot see you, ears that cannot hear you when you need help, and a mouth that cannot speak comfort or encouragement to you. She cannot help you in times of trouble.” “Yes, but I can see her and touch her,” Becky said. My heart broke.

In ancient times as well as today, people have prayed to hand made objects, but that is only one kind of idolatry. Did you know that anyone or anything that takes first place (God’s place) in your life is an idol? It could be a hobby, a sport, a career, success, health, wealth or relationships. We long for fulfillment and meaning in life. This is the way God made us, but He wants to be what matters in our lives. He stands at the door of our hearts waiting for us to receive Him, but He will never force Himself on us.

THINK ABOUT IT

God made each of us unique and special. He knows all about us whether we know Him or not. Does that make you uncomfortable? Though nothing is hidden from God, He sees us with grace vision. He loved us so much that He gave His only son, so that whoever believes in Him will not die but have eternal life (John 3:16). Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to take away our sins, God the Father only sees us in our Robe of Righteousness. He does not see our shame and guilt. “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” (Isaiah 61:10).

PRAY ABOUT I

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus and the sacrifice He made for our forgiveness. Thank you that because He did this, you do not see our shame or guilt. Help us to live for you in light of our salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t Torture Me

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The disciples woke Jesus who was sleeping on a cushion in the stern of the boat. A squall had come down on the lake and water began to fill the boat. “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and the raging waters. “Where is your faith?” He asked.

After that, they sailed to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus stepped off the boat, a demon-possessed man met him. He had not worn clothes for a long time, and he lived in the tombs. He fell at Jesus’ feet and cried, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me,” for Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” he replied because many demons had gone into Him. They begged Jesus not to send them into the Abyss but to send them into a herd of pigs. He granted them permission. When the demons entered the pigs, they rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

The people from town came to see what happened. They found the man who had been delivered from the legion of demons dressed and in his right mind. Filled with fear, the town people asked Jesus to leave, and He did. The freed man begged to go with Him, but Jesus said, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you” (Luke 8:26-39).

THINK ABOUT IT

The demons recognized Jesus, and all they could say was, “Don’t torture us.” They didn’t want salvation; just not to be tortured. Wow! They didn’t want to go to hell, but did they think about heaven? This happened in the Gentile part of Israel, which explains why there was a herd of pigs. When the town people saw what happened, they were not happy for the man who was set free from the demons, but they were afraid of God’s judgement and asked Jesus to leave their region. The man freed from demons begged to go with Jesus, but He said, “Return home and tell what God has done for you.” His testimony is perhaps the only chance the town people had to reconsider the way they lived and repent. What about you? Are you afraid of God’s judgement because you’re not ready to change your lifestyle? You are not convinced about heaven, but you’re sure you don’t want to be tortured in hell. I want you to know God loves you so much He sent His only Son, so that if you believe, you will not die (and go to hell), but have eternal life (John 3:16). Without Jesus, Satan is free to destroy you as he did the herd of pigs. My prayer is that you will accept Jesus’ amazing love and a life of purpose and fulfillment in place of emptiness and despair.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Jesus, for your amazing love and your faithfulness to save us from sin, death and hell. Forgive us our sins and teach us by your Word to live for You. In your precious name, Amen.

The Wedding Banquet

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Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those he invited to tell them all was ready, but they refused to come. Again he sent servants to the same people to say, “My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet,” but they paid no attention and went off, one to his field and one to his business. The rest seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them. This enraged the king, and he destroyed the murderers and burned their city. Then the king had his servants go into the streets and invite anyone they found. The wedding hall was filled with both good and bad people. When the king came into the banquet hall, he saw a man who was not wearing wedding clothes, and asked him how he got in. The man was speechless. Then the king said, “Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For many are invited but few are chosen (Matthew 22:1-14).

THINK ABOUT IT

During Jesus’ time on earth, the father of the groom provided wedding clothes for his guests. The man who refused to wear the wedding clothes insulted the father, who could only assume his arrogance by thinking he didn’t have to wear the clothes provided. The parable defines how generations of people have mistreated and murdered the prophets who proclaimed an invitation to the kingdom of heaven–hope for tomorrow. The people who believed and accepted the invitation were provided robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). God the Father loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that those who believed would not die but have eternal life (John 3:16). Because of what Jesus did on the cross, when the Father looks at us, He only sees our robes of righteousness–not our sin and guilt. Although God knows all about us, today He sees us with grace-vision. The One who knows us best, loves us most. Those who believe will engage in the wedding banquet of all weddings–the one in Heaven when Jesus the Bridegroom will celebrate His bride, the church. Will you be ready when the trumpet sounds?

PRAY ABOUT IT

Holy Father, thank you for Jesus. He made a way for us to be with you forever, something we could never earn even with all our good deeds. Jesus redeemed us from sin, despair and loneliness, and we are forever grateful. Help us refocus our lives on Him so we will be ready when He comes again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Hidden Treasure

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Have you ever wondered what the kingdom of heaven is like. Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matthew 13:44).

What would it be like to give up all you had for something precious? Are there things you’d rather cling to? God found something precious in you. He loved you so much He gave His only Son so those who believed would not die but have eternal life (John 3:16).

THINK ABOUT IT

If God the Father gave His only Son for your eternal life, what is expected of you? I have treasured things and have chosen them over what is important. Finally I figured out the Hidden Treasure is in Jesus when I was in my 40s. I don’t want it to take that long for you, and that’s the reason I write this blog. I don’t want you to walk down a path of destruction, like I did. When I had messed up my life beyond what I thought was salvageable, I cried out to God. He was faithful to reach down and rescue me from my despair. I felt loved as never before and I didn’t want the feeling to go away. I dusted off my Bible and began to read. Every word spoke to my broken heart, and I began to pray. At first all I could say was, “Thank you, Jesus” over and over. I discovered that it is a powerful prayer. When my heart became grateful, I wanted others to know the treasure I found in knowing Jesus.

PRAY ABOUT IT

Thank you, Holy Father, for Jesus. Help me to live in light of my salvation and inspire others about the amazing love they, too, can experience in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.