Why would I want to glorify a cross? It’s a hideous instrument of torture by suffocation, taking days to die, and reserved only for hardened criminals? Because a part of you, Lord God, willingly died on it in my place. Why would I want to glorify the electric chair or a noose or the executioner’s needle? It’s for the most hardened criminals? If a part of you, my Lord, had died on it in my place, I would glorify any of them. I would carry a miniature gold or silver electric chair or noose or needle on a chain around my neck if that is how you died in my place. I would glory in the electric chair, the noose, the needle. Why? Because it would symbolize what you did to save me from hell and allow me into the safety of your heavenly home. All because you took my punishment for me, paid the ransom, and set me free. How I worship you.
Thank you, Lord, for modern forms of communication. I remember only hand-written or typed letters, the smudged newspaper, radios with a lot of static in them, messy mimeograph machines, and telephones that had to be plugged in at home. Everything was so slow and even slower if a message went to the other side of the world. Methods were slow then, but I thought they were fast. I did not comprehend fast, so I appreciated what I had. Now I have instant everything ~ telephones I can carry around with me and the internet. I can communicate all over the world instantly. Thank you. It helps me a bit to understand how you can hear everyone all over the world at once. But only a little bit. This whole communication thing is mind boggling, Lord. I wonder what you have in store for me in heaven.
The scripture for today, December 3 (12/3), is Romans 12:3 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
The context of this verse is members of a congregation getting along with each other. He explains that each person is given certain gifts such as serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing, and so on (12:6-8).
Within congregations, disagreements can come about because one person has an idea about a good work, and someone else has a different idea about it, and still, someone else says some other good work should be done. All sincerely believe their way is the best form of outreach, and each wants a committee to be formed to carry it out. Then egos tend to get involved.
Perhaps the best way to judge whether you are thinking of yourself more highly than you ought, is to ask yourself this: If I moved away or if I died, would this congregation survive without me? Of course, it would. Keep praying, Lord, help me see myself as others do.
It does not matter if you can get a committee formed to help you. If your heart is set on a certain good work, you can always do it alone. You do not need a committee. If your heart is truly set, stop waiting for others whose hearts may be on something else. If your heart is truly set, get out and do it.
Perhaps others will see your results and want to join you later. Perhaps not. Just keep following your heart. Be true to your heart. Be true to the souls that will be helped because you got out there and just did it.
My soul takes flight, my God, and soars to your throne. I leap from star to star in wonder. I arrive at your gate of priceless pearl and it is opened for me. I rush up your street of gold and purity, lined with the tree of life until I see ahead of me ~ ah, I see ahead of me your throne. There, in tears of love and rapture, I bow at your wounded feet. The feet that were impaled in agony in my place. You reach down and place your hand ~ the nail-pierced hand ~ under my chin so I can look at your lovely face. I ask your forgiveness once again as I have so many times in my life for my many sins. You smile and wipe away my tears, then invite me to sing a song with you. What joy. What unimaginable joy.
I was sad and you became sorrowful with me. I was overjoyed and you celebrated with me. I was tired and you rested with me. I was energetic and you ran with me. I was bereaved and you grieved with me. I was confused and you pondered with me. I was awestricken and you marveled with me. My Lord, you treat me as though I am the only person in the world. You are everywhere at once. You are in my heart, my spirit, my soul. Thank you for being God of the universe.
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The scripture for today, November 30 (11/30), is Proverbs 11:30 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.”
Remember back in the Garden of Eden? Going by the age of their three sons, Adam and Eve were in the Garden close to one hundred years. Instead of centering on what they did wrong, look at what they did right. They were sinless for nearly a century! Hardly any of us can accomplish that in 100 minutes.
Just think. Walking through a garden lush with the beauty of holiness. Walking through a garden with the water of life to drink. Walking through a garden with God (materialized) himself.
How many times did that snake Satan, raise himself up like a king’s scepter and perhaps with a crown of gold and ruby on his head, make his way gracefully through the garden, laughing and enjoying the company of newly made humans? How many times did he coil up his tail like a maelstrom spiraling through the heavens full of light and beauty as he watched the couple enjoy the fruit of the garden? How many times did this magnificent creature sway back and forth, back and forth as cobras do as he spoke hypnotic words to make them feel like gods?
“Oh, look at the fruit on that tree over there? God told you never to touch it, but God is wrong. Go ahead. Touch it. That’s right. Did anything bad happen to you? Of course not, because God is wrong. How about touching it with your lips? That’s right. You’re not really eating it. You’re just touching it. Smell it too. Have you ever smelled anything so wonderful? God doesn’t want you to have it. He knows you will learn what evil is and then be as smart as him. God is jealous of you. Go ahead. Take a tiny bite. It won’t hurt you. See there? Are you dead like he said you would be? No. You are still alive. God is a liar. I am the only one who tells you the truth. I am on your side. God hates you. Sure, go ahead and take another bite, and Adam might like some too. It’s harmless. Do not believe anything God says. He hates you. I am the only one who loves you.”
How many thousands of times did Adam and Eve chase him off, only to have him back in their lives a few hours later? How many thousands of times did they try to resume what they were doing and try to put him out of their minds? How many times did they do it right? One stumble was all the enemy needed.
That was a long time ago. Now the Tree of Life, which God withheld from Adam and Eve, is in heaven waiting for them. Waiting for you.
And as you wait, win souls. Snatch them out of the beautiful flower-strewn web of mankind’s enemy number one. He is still out there, still beautiful, still suave, and still lying.
The scripture for today, November 29 (11/29), is Matthew 11:29f as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“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.”
Ah, Lord Jesus. I am so weary worn. It seems everything that could ever go wrong in my life is happening right now. Just when I think I have one problem at least partly under control, another raises its ugly head. Or should I say Satan raises his ugly head? Satan, why are you doing this to me? It is you who is causing all the diseases and problems at work, and the car wreck and progressive blindness. Was it you who set me up in that posh job which you knew was never popular in the company and would only cause me grief? Was this new house I bought with my pay raise worth it after all?
I am so tired. Help me, God. I don’t know which way is up anymore. God? I’m calling for you. God? Don’t you even care?
“Let’s trade, my child. I’ll take your burdens, and you take mine.”
But, Lord, I do not understand. What could your burdens possibly be? You’re all comfortable in heaven.
“My child, my burden is to reach out to everyone and tell them how much I love them. My burden is to take their burdens on my shoulders. You can do it too. You can write encouraging messages to my children every day. You can open up the newspaper and pray for everyone in it by name. You can call someone who is depressed like you and sing them a sweet song.”
But when, Lord? When would I find time?
“Use your brooding time, your crying time, your anger time. Let loose of them so I can brood, cry, and be angry for you. Remember, it’s a trade.”
The scripture for today, November 28 (11/28), is 1st Corinthians 11:28,31 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup [of the Lord’s Supper]….If we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.”
“When they met on THE first day of the week to break bread” (Acts 20:7), these first-century Christians were meeting to keep the Lord’s Supper, for the word (“met”) in the original Greek of the New Testament means a religious meeting. Interestingly, the word “the” in the original Greek means each and every without exception perpetually.
Even if we did not know the Greek, look how the Jews (and we) interpreted “Remember THE Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” They did not remember the Sabbath day monthly, quarterly or yearly, but weekly. Therefore, , the first-century Christians realized that “When they met on THE first day of the week to break bread” (Acts 20:7), it meant every Sunday.
We can sing, pray, teach, and read the Bible any day of the week. What makes Sunday special is that’s the day Jesus came back to life, the day Jesus ascended back to heaven, and the day the church was established. Today, on the special first day we are to meet to take the Lord’s Supper, the Communion ~ the bread representing his body dying in our place, the wine representing his blood dripped out of his body in our place.
During the Communion, we consider Jesus’ terrible sacrifice in order to save us from hell. And we consider our sins that made his sacrifice necessary to save us from hell. Today’s scripture tells us that. During our weekly partaking of the Communion, we should be examining ourselves, comparing ourselves to Jesus. It is kind of like taking weekly exams, so we will be ready for the big final exam on the Day of Judgment.
God thought of everything ~ weekly remembering the sacrifice of our Lord so that we never take him for granted, and weekly remembering our sins. And, in the process, our souls fall at his feet and whisper, “Thank you.”
Ah, my Lord, from the cross that day, drops of grief fell with your blood. From those hands pierced through with nails, drops of shame fell with your blood. From your feet stabbed through with a rusty spike, drops of sin fell. From your side where your exhausted heart burst, drops of disgrace fell. I can only begin to understand what you went through in your spirit on the cross that terrible day. That day of horrors which you turned into a day of victory. That day of degradation in which you were crowned with glory.
You are my bread of life that feeds my hungry soul as it yearns for you. You give drink to my heart that longs to be refreshed in springs of mercy. You provide a path for my wandering spirit as it seeks to join you in that holy of holies, heaven. You keep me alive when I am weak, breathe your love into me, and hold me in your everlasting arms. How can I thank you for loving me this much? I worship you.
The scripture for today, November 22 (11/22), is Genesis 11:22 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.”
How can it be that people could live so long in the early centuries of the world? Isn’t that stretching things a bit? Isn’t it just folklore? Here’s more.
Noah had his first son at age 502 (Genesis 5:32, 11:10). Noah lived a total of 950 years (Genesis 9:29). Noah’s son, Shem, had his first son at age 100 and lived a total of 600 years (Genesis 11:10-11). Now we have Serug, the 7th-generation grandson of Noah, who had his first son at age 30 and lived a total of 230 years (see above).
Do you see the trend downward of ages after the flood? Most of Noah’s life was lived before the flood. Some of Shem’s life was lived before, but most of it was after the flood. All of Serug’s life was after the flood.
Many scientists believe that the earth originally had a constant cloud covering like the planet Venus does. Genesis 2:5-6 says it had not rained yet, but a mist rose to water everything. The King James Version of the Bible regarding the flood in Genesis 7:11 says the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 8:2 says the windows of heaven were stopped.
Notice, it did not say the windows of heaven were closed; they were just stopped, meaning it could rain again periodically after that. If, indeed, Earth did have a constant thick cloud covering before the flood, then humans would have been protected from radiation from the sun, and therefore could live longer. After the change in Earth’s atmosphere after the flood, humans beings exposed to more radiation, would have lived shorter lives.
Something to think about…. And, one more thought ~ rainbows wouldn’t be possible with a constant cloud covering. The flood brought us rainbows! (Genesis 9:13).
The scripture for today, November 21 (11/21), is Acts 11:21 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
What had just happened? Some Christians in Phoenecia (today’s Lebanon), Cyprus (the Mediterranean Island), and Cyrene (in today’s North Africa) went to Antioch, a major city in Northern Syria near the southern border of today’s Turkey. There they established a congregation.
This little congregation ended up being the home congregation of Paul and Barnabas for many years. It started small; we don’t know the size it grew to. Regardless of the size, it had foresight and Eventually, did great things.
Perhaps you live in a town full of churches, but you’ve compared them with the New Testament, and none of them follows the original pattern. Perhaps you have even given up going to church because of this problem. What is stopping you from beginning a little congregation after the New Testament pattern in your home?
New Testament churches were simple ~ not elaborate like those mega-churches out there. And those simple churches have always been dynamic in their simplicity. Who knows but that your new little congregation will someday produce a Paul or a Barnabas….
The scripture for today, November 20 (11/20), is Hebrews 11:20ff as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons….By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones.”
Do you have children that were loving and good when they were young, but when they became older, they changed? Do you sometimes wonder, “How could I have gone so wrong with my children?” True, they have free will. But do you feel like a failure because your children did not turn out the way you had hoped and prayed?
Have faith ~ the faith of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Isaac blessed his sons with his land, even though he did not yet own the land. Jacob blessed his sons with power, even though they did yet not have power. Joseph blessed his sons and his brothers’ sons with the land, yet they no longer lived there.
Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all blessed their children with something they believed would happen someday, even though they did not have those things yet. Why? Because they had faith in their children? Actually, it was mostly because they had faith in God. They had faith in what God would do someday for their children.
Don’t give up. Keep trusting God. Never stop having faith in what God (even after we die) will (not can, but will) do for your children.