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Month: February 2018 Page 1 of 4

Wednesday 2/28 ~ Is it possible to know for sure?

The scripture for today, February 28 (2/28), is Jeremiah 2:28 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah.”

Today we think the whole thing is ridiculous. How could people believe in a multitude of gods? Further, how could people make statues of them as though anyone knew what the gods looked like? On top of that, many of them looked like dumb animals.

Apparently, it was the popular thing to do. In fact, a person discovering yet another god would be highly esteemed. And it seemed logical that the more gods one believed in, the more holy a person was. Or the bigger the statue of a god in one’s home, the more dedicated a person was.

We today call them myths ~ things that were made up out of people’s imaginations. Yet they thrived in their time. Why? Because of “mass hypnosis” in a sense. Humans are social beings and we don’t like being ostracized. We want to be accepted.

Do we do the same thing today? There are evangelists on television who draw crowds of hundreds and thousands. They seem so right and so holy. Yet they contradict each other. So it cannot be a measure of rightness and holiness that a lot of people believe something.

The measure must be the Bible. Many religious leaders in antiquity and up to today have duped peopled because they look and act so holy. Remember, no matter how many thousands upon thousands follow a religious leader, that leader will be judged by God just like everyone else.

There are a lot of religious contradictions out there.  We cannot say “all religions are right in their own way”. Is it ever possible to sort through all the contradictions and come up with what is the truth? Is it possible to know for sure?

Let us read the Bible for ourselves. Let us study the Bible for ourselves. Let us not search the scriptures for something to prove our opinion right, or a certain leader right, or our family right, or a particular religious idea right. Let us try to erase all our pre-conceived religious notions, and read with an open mind what God himself has to say to us. It is possible to know for sure.

 

Tuesday 2/27 ~ Satan exists too?

The scripture for today, February 27 (2/27), is Jeremiah 2:27 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“ ‘Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,’ declares the Lord.”

More and more people are blaming God for bad things happening in their life. That is their excuse for rebelling against God and declaring he does not even exist. Their view of God is a Santa Claus or Genie in a Bottle who grants their every wish and keeps them from all harm. No one ever dies, no one ever sins, and it is heaven on earth.

Other people sometimes blame God for bad things happening in their life because blaming is one of the ways they handle their grief. They don’t really want to blame God because they want to think God loves them. But there is no one else to blame.

No one else to blame? Oh, yes, there is. There is Satan. We tend to forget Satan is out there too. It is Satan who causes bad to happen, not God.

Is that what you’ve done lately ~ blame God for bad happening, then rebel against him? Or do you know someone who is going through many problems not of their doing or choosing? Are they blaming God and rebelling against him? Help them. Remind them of Satan.

People want to blame someone. They will be relieved to be reminded that Satan exists. Now they can put the blame where it belongs. 

Let us not blame God for the bad. Instead, let us thank Him for the good. Ah, yes. God does love us after all and is the source of everything good.

Picture It

Monday 2/26 ~ Paralysis or freedom?

The scripture for today, February 26 (26), is Ecclesiastes 2:26 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Are you happy regardless of how much wealth you do or do not have? Do you require things in order to be happy? Solomon, who wrote the above scripture, was the wealthiest man in the world, but he found it to be meaningless, a chasing after the wind. In another place in Ecclesiastes (5:10) he said that a man loving money never has enough.

Indeed, centuries later, the highly educated and intelligent apostle Paul, who did not own a home or much of anything else, explained his happiness: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11b-12).

If you lost everything tomorrow, would you panic? Or would you use God’s wisdom and knowledge to create a new happiness?  Might you look around and begin doing something you have always wanted to do but were too tied down with things to do?  If you lost everything tomorrow, might it bring a new freedom to you or paralyze you?

Sunday 2/25 ~ Can you hold on?

The scripture for today, February 25 (2/25), is Revelation 2:25 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“Only hold on to what you have until I come.”

Several years ago my 91-year-old mother left this life. Some say that at the moment of death, one’s life flashes before their eyes. In the case of my mother, at the moment of her death, her life flashed before my eyes.

I suddenly imagined her as a baby in her mother’s (my grandmother’s) lap. Then she was a toddler playing in their yard. Then I saw her in school, then as a young bride to my father, then at home with her husband and children gathered around her. Then I saw her as launching a career after we were grown, then retiring, then eventually going into the nursing home.

And when that brief moment of envisioning her whole life was gone, I whispered, “You made it, Mother! You made it! You never faltered. Through all those years of ups and downs, you never wavered in your faith in Jesus Christ. You stuck it out. And now you’re home!”

May we all live our lives in such a way that, despite our ups and downs, we never wander from Jesus. We stick with him through every storm, every flood, every blast of tragedy, every tumbling of dreams. Let us hold on to what we have until the day we leave this temporary life and enter our true eternal life.

Saturday 2/24 ~ I don’t do big sins, so I’m going to heaven

The scripture for today, February 24 (2/24), is 1st Peter 2:24 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Many people do not understand what Jesus dying on the cross has to do with us going to heaven. After all, if we don’t murder, steal, abuse others and only lie a little, God has no choice but to take us into heaven.  But God is perfect, so cannot co-exist with imperfection ~ even one tiny sin.

Romans 3:23 says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. And Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death. So, all through the Old Testament era, whenever we sinned, God allowed us to kill/sacrifice a perfect animal and spill its blood to collect the death wages in our place. Notice, the animal had to be perfect and this was a temporary fix.

Eventually, God sent his own Son to come to earth and live in a human body and be tempted in every way that we are (see Hebrews 4:15). Jesus resisted all temptations and lived his entire life sinless. He was perfect morally, just as the sacrificial animals were perfect physically.

Then as the perfect Lamb of God (John 1:29), Jesus became the final sacrifice. He took the blame for all our sins and died in our place. He took the terrible wages of death for our sins. On the cross, he died spiritually (forsaken by God) and physically with blood dripping from the wounds in his hands and feet. Then God basically told the world, “I will consider you perfect too; all you have to do is believe in and follow my Son.”

It is explained further in Romans 6:3-4. Just as Jesus died bearing our sins, we die to our sinful nature ~ the part of us that sins and doesn’t care. Then just as Jesus was buried in his tomb, we are buried in the watery tomb of baptism. And finally, just as Jesus rose up out of his tomb the Savior, we rise up out of our watery tomb the saved ~ born again to a new life.

He left heaven to do all this for you and me. Indeed, by Jesus’ wounds you and I can be healed. We fall at his feet and say, “I am a sinner and so unworthy. Thank you.”

 

Friday 2/23 ~ Both begotten and eternal? Huh?

The scripture for today, February 23 (2/23), is 1st John 2:23 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

When you speak into a tape recorder and your voice then comes out of that machine for other people to hear, that doesn’t make you two.  You are still one; you have just chosen to put your voice in something where you can be heard by people away from you.  That tape recording is just another form of you. You can also put your voice and body in a movie. That doesn’t make two of you ~ one on the screen and one in your physical body. You are still one.

God is One, and yet he revealed a part of himself in a burning bush to Moses just like you revealed a part of yourself in the tape recorder or movie.  Does that mean there were two Gods ~ one in heaven and one in the bush?  No.  God can and has sometimes revealed himself in different ways. Remember how he walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?

Some say, “If Jesus was God on earth, when he died, God was dead.”  No. That temporary body was dead, but God’s Spirit, God’s Soul, God’s being continued to live. Jesus, the Word of God, did not depend on a body to be alive.

Why would Jesus be called the Son of God, since he was not a son created in the literal way we have sons?  You have thoughts and those thoughts have existed as long as you have.  But you still created those thoughts.  When your thoughts become hearable or seeable, people call that your “brain child”.  In that same sense, Jesus was God’s “brainchild” ~ God’s thoughts in hearable and seeable form. 

How was he the only begotten Son? God has only one Word ~ the Bible.  “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).  When God spoke the world into existence, that was Jesus. Every time God spoke, that was Jesus.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given…Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). God has always been one.

Thursday 2/22 ~ God does not dwell where?

The scripture for today, February 22 2/22), is Ephesians 2:22 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“And in him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

Another place in the New Testament, 2nd Corinthians 6:16, says we are the temple of God. A lot of things in worship under the Law of Moses were a literal version of what Christians someday would enjoy in a spiritual and deeper sense.

We have no need for the temple in Jerusalem, for now, God dwells in Christians. We have no need for the altar of sacrifice at that temple because Jesus was our final sacrifice (Hebrews 10:4-12). We have no need for the cymbals, harps and lyres played in worship because Christians play on the strings of their hearts (Ephesians 5:19).

We have no need for the priestly system in the Law of Moses with the special vestments and titles because all Christians are priests (1st Peter 2:5). And how do we serve as priests? Romans 12:1 explains it: “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.”

What a concept! God does not dwell in temples or church buildings!

He dwells in Christians.

      He lives and moves through Christians.

          What a privilege.

              What a responsibility!

 

Wednesday 2/21 ~ Sometimes bright, sometimes dark

The scripture for today, February 21 (2/21), is Daniel 2:21 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

“He [God] changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

It seems there is always some amount of restlessness within each nation regarding who is ruling. Some people like the ruler, some do not. Or people may start out liking the ruler, but later dislike him. Some rulers are okay, a few are considered outstanding, and a few others are outright evil.

But God sets up the rulers of nations and deposes them. Many places among the prophets of the Old Testament, God explains that he may raise up a cruel leader just because he is strong enough to get rid of other cruel people. After that, God deposes the cruel leader.

In the midst of all this, innocent people are always hurt. That is why it is important for us not to complain, but to bear up under a hard government with patience and courage. It is in hardship that the true heart of a Christian is revealed. And it is in hardship that many people turn to God who might never have done so.

God knows what he is doing, even if we do not understand ~ at least, on this side of eternity. Remember Romans 8:28 ~ “All things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” Do not run away from your country during the bad times. What will happen to your country if all the Christians leave?

Life is a mosaic of many colors ~ sometimes bright and sometimes dark ~ but in the end, it can be beautiful.

Tuesday 2/20 ~ After the insult, take a deep breath and…

The scripture for today, February 20n (2/20), is Galatians 2:20 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The apostle Paul wrote this. He had been an angry, spiteful, and hateful man in his younger days. He had been a terrorist and had even declared holy jihad against Christians.  He had gone around the country rounding up Christians and sending them either to prison or to their death. He hated Christians.

But once Jesus got his attention and Paul realized he was persecuting those who could tell him the true way to heaven, he switched sides. Jesus had to do it himself because all the Christians were afraid of him. Then Paul, so to speak, crucified his old self, and let Jesus and his words live in him instead.  All his tremendous energy that he had used for hate was now used for love, and he turned his part of the world upside down for Christ.

Is there someone in your life or that you know of who is angry, spiteful, and hateful? Dare to talk to that person and tell them how much God loves him/her. S/he will argue with you and maybe even be meaner to you than ever. But when things calm down, try saying something else, perhaps about what Jesus did or said once in his life.

It may take you months or years. S/he will be curious why you keep coming back when s/he is being so mean to you. And eventually, this same person who uses all his enormous energy in a negative way, just might turn that same enormous energy around and use it for Jesus in a great way.

Give it a try. If you are crucified with Christ, then nothing anyone says can hurt you because your ego is dead. Keep trying to reach this enemy of Jesus. Keep trying to help this person become Jesus’ friend and defender.

You may be the only one in his or her world with the courage to do it. Keep trying. Cry in private after the insult, then take a deep breath and try once again. And once again. And again. Never stop. Who knows?

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