The Writer’s Burning Heart

The Writer’s Burning Heart

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“What do you make of the stories being told?” Cleopas asked his traveling companion.

He shook his head as the two walked the dusty road. “I cannot make sense of it. The women had to be hysterical with grief.”

The two men grew quiet in the late afternoon shadows, until Cleopas opened his heart to his friend. “I hope the women spoke truth. We had all believed Yeshua to be Messiah. Hope for me died on that cross.”

“Shalom, friends.”

The two stopped in their tracks as a third man joined them and kept walking, not giving them opportunity to clearly see his face. “What are you talking about that makes you so sad?” He asked.

Cleopas and his companion took a couple quick steps to catch the one walking ahead. As the trio finished the seven and a half mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, they told the stranger of the crucifixion and supposed resurrection.

The traveler chided them. “How foolish you are for not believing all the prophets said about the Christ, his sufferings, and his glory to come.” He didn’t end there, but related all the scriptures that speak of the Messiah from Moses through the prophets, until they arrived at Emmaus.

“We stay here,” said Cleopas, “won’t you stop and break bread with us, since it’s getting late in the day?”

When Yeshua broke bread with them, the two men immediately recognized who they had been talking with. At the same moment, Yeshua vanished before their eyes.

“And they said one to another,

Did not our heart burn within us,

while he talked with us by the way,

and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

Luke 24:32

*

Cleopas and his friend now had a story they believed in—

  • a story that burned in their heart—“Did not our heart burn within us.”
  • a story prompted by a familiar picture of Yeshua—They saw the completed story in the breaking of bread.
  • a story with a purpose—to pass on the truth of the resurrection
  • a story for a specific audience—the eleven back in Jerusalem
  • a story they committed themselves to telling—it couldn’t wait until morning. They turned around and headed seven and a half miles back to Jerusalem.

When we set out to write our story, we can take these lessons to heart. We need to—

  • know if the story doesn’t resonate in our heart, we can’t expect it to resonate in another’s heart.
  • have a picture of where our story will take our readers and keep it in front of us.
  • understand why we are writing this story
  • know who the story is for.
  • commit ourselves to the task at hand, keeping our focus, so to complete it.

*

What story burns in your heart waiting to be told? What keeps you from sharing it? Don’t let the fire in your heart burn out. Someone is waiting for your story to be written.

Jesus’ Shield

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“Stand therefore …

Above all, taking the shield of faith,

wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Ephesians 6:14a, 16

Thousands of beautiful flawless lambs had their life laid on the altar and their blood received as a token of being freed from sin and death—a token of the one Lamb who would be the final sacrifice offered to free, once and for all, from sin and death. By the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the writer of Hebrews wrote of this Lamb.

“SACRIFICE AND OFFERING THOU WOULDEST NOT,

BUT A BODY HAST THOU PREPARED ME:

IN BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES FOR SIN

THOU HAST HAD NO PLEASURE.

THEN SAID I, LO I COME

(IN THE VOLUME OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME,)

TO DO THY WILL, O GOD …

By the which will we are sanctified

through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ

once for all.”

Hebrews 10:5b-7, 10

The night past too quickly. Jesus wanted to tell his disciples more, His heart ached for their confusion and the events about to unfold. Yet, He longed for home—to once again sit by his Father’s side. The road home would be long and hard, but his Father would be his shield. As the Lord God had been with him through his life to this point, He would not forsake him now. He had faith in his shield, for He knew the word of God.

  • “For the Lord God will help me;
  • therefore shall I not be confounded:
  • therefore have I set my face like a flint,
  • and I know that I shall not be ashamed(disappointed)*. Isaiah 50:7

The night grew darker as Jesus and his disciples made their way out of Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley, and to the Garden of Gethsemane—a place of solace where he met with his Father. Tonight the hour grew late and morning would come too soon. Jesus left the nine resting and wondering as He took Peter, James, and John over to a solitary area. His spirit groaned within him for what was ahead for his friends and for himself. All he wanted from his friends was to watch and pray while he sought His Father’s will. He knew what lay ahead. He had seen Roman crosses line roads with their victims. He prayed his final prayers in the garden, beginning and ending with the same desire.

“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me nevertheless not my will, but thine be done.” Luke 22:42.

His friends had fallen asleep, but his help came when an angel strengthened him. His Father, his shield had not forsaken him. He knew the Lord God would not. Yet, twice more he prayed with such an intensity his sweat fell to the ground in droplets of blood. But here he humbled himself as a man—

“and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

Jesus was ready to face the final trials of his faith with his shield secure, as he readied himself for his adversary. His shield was nearer and stronger than his adversary. His shield would not fail him.

  • “He is near that justifieth me;
  • who will contend with me?
  • let us stand together:
  • who is mine adversary?
  • Let him come near to me.” Isaiah 50:8

The darkness kissed Jesus and bound him with ropes. The darkness whipped him until his flesh hung in shreds, pulled his beard from its roots, slapped, and spit on him. Then darkness condemned him to die. Yet, he trusted in his shield of faith—the Lord God.

  • “Behold, the Lord God will help me:
  • who is he that shall condemn me?
  • lo, they all shall wax old as a garment;
  • the moth shall eat them up.” Isaiah 50:9

As the darkness warred to swallow up the light, soldiers hammered spikes through Jesus feet and hands and dropped his cross into the ground. Others mocked him, tempted him to disobey the Father and come off the cross. In his darkest hour Jesus cried out to his shield, his Father, his God.

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

That is to say,

MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?”

Matthew 27:46.

*

Did Jesus drop his shield? Did he believe his God, his Father would no longer help him? Some teach, God had to look away from the Son for he carried the sin of the world in his flesh. But looking to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament words, forsaken is translated from the Greek word ENKATALEIPO, which denotes being left behind or left surviving, helpless.

At this point of suffering, Jesus, being human, wanted to die. He wanted his work completed. Did God abandon him? Not at all. After speaking those words, he stated he was thirsty, was given a drink of vinegar, and then cried out for the last time—

“It is finished.” And he, “yielded up the ghost.”

His deliverance from pain and suffering came at that moment. His full deliverance came with his resurrection. His shield, his God, his Father, did not fail.

The psalmist David recorded Jesus’ question in the beginning of Psalm 22—known as the crucifixion Psalm. He also, answered our question as to whether God did forsake Jesus.

“Ye that fear the LORD, praise him:

all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

For he hath not despised nor abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted;

neither hath he hid his face from him;

but when he cried unto him, he heard.

My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation …”

Psalm 22:23-25a

Our darkest hours come when we look for understanding rather than have faith in the One with all understanding. Our pain and suffering cry out for deliverance. Isaiah tells us—

  • “Who is among you that feareth the LORD,
  • that obeyeth the voice of his servant,
  • that walketh in darkness, and hath no light?
  • Let him trust in the name of the LORD,
  • and stay(rest)* upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

For—

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him,

upon them that hope in his mercy;

To deliver their soul from death

, and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waiteth for the LORD:

he is our help and our shield.

For our heart shall rejoice in him,

because we have trusted in in his holy name.”

Psalm 33:18-21

If your shield of faith is the Lord you have this promise:

“for he hath said,

I will never leave thee,

nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say,

THE LORD IS MY HELPER,

AND I WILL NOT FEAR WHAT MAN SHALL DO UNTO ME.”

Hebrews 13:5b-6

How has the Lord shone himself to be your shield of faith?


*words in parenthesis my addition

Running Shoes

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“Stand therefore … with … your feet shod

with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:16

As a child, you would find me, more times than not, barefoot. I paid the price for it—stubbed toes, bee stings, and bruises. Shoes do protect the feet from injury, even as our gospel of peace shoes protect us from stumbling over the enemy’s attacks. This we saw in my post, “A Shoe That Lasts.” That shoe is our walking shoe for facing the trials of every day life. But we have two feet, which means we need a second shoe—our running shoe.

It serves for protection when we should—

“Now flee youthful lust,

and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace,

with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

2Timothy 2:23, NASB

As much as I enjoyed going barefoot as a child, I don’t want to be caught without my gospel shoes for protection and for being ready to run, not only from evil, but to righteousness.

In running to righteousness—

  • We will always be ready to go when the Lord says.

“Go ye therefore,

and teach all nations baptizing them

in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 28:19

  • We will be ready to give hope to the hopeless.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:

and be ready always

to give an answer to every man that asketh you

a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

1 Peter 3:15

  • To those who will hear, we will have beautiful feet bearing the good news.

“FOR WHOSOEVER

SHALL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

And how shall they preach, except they be sent?

As it is written,

HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THEM

THAT PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE,

AND BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”

Romans 10:14,15

Our Gospel Shoes of Peace make us ready when the Lord comes.

“Therefore be ye also ready:

for in such an hour as ye think not

the Son of man cometh,”

 *Behold, I come quickly …”

(Matthew 24:44;Revelation 22:7a, 12a, *20b, not exact quote—Behold is changed to surely.)

We will hear the Lord’s voice and answer with Isaiah—

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,

Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?

Then said I,

Here am I; send me.”

Isaiah 6:8

For Thought: One shoe for walking and a second for running appear to be a mis-matched pair. In fact, they are one pair and one size that fits all who will put them on. Jesus is the one size. Are your feet hurting? Maybe you’re walking barefoot or wearing the wrong shoes—shoes you were never meant to wear.

Our Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we have heard your call and received the Gospel of Peace. Thank you for the peace we have with you, freeing us from fear of your wrath and bringing us into the knowledge of your love. Thank you for Jesus Christ who is our peace with you.

As you have given peace to us, may we be ready always to share the good news of your Gospel of Peace wherever you lead us—for time grows short and many are still barefoot.

Truth Comes in One Size

Belt of Truth.

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Okay. I confess. When I started blogging a couple of weeks ago with righteousness as my theme, I didn’t know what, if any series, would evolve. But the Lord keeps bringing me back to His armor—because there is a battle going on, and He doesn’t want us caught by surprise. He wants us strong.

The strength we need is a mindset founded on truth, and truth prepares us to defend the battleground of our minds. This is where the battle is won or lost.

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth …”

Ephesians 6:14a

My loose paraphrase, “Don’t get caught with your pants down!” Be sure to wear the right belt—too big because it’s extended by lies, hypocrisy, and earthly standards, leaves you just as ashamed as no belt. A belt that’s too tight with human laws, traditions, and condemnation squeezes the very life and freedom out of you that truth is meant to bring.

The belt of truth is not found in any store or school of human wisdom. Jesus is the only belt that fits every size. He tells us where truth is found.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him,

If ye continue in my word,

then are ye my disciples indeed;

And ye shall know the truth,

and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31, 32

Free from what? Satan’s lies. Hypocrisy hiding in the human heart. Unjust judgment.

Truth exposes lies.

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light,

neither cometh to the light,

lest his deeds should be reproved.

But he that doeth truth

cometh to the light,

that his deeds may be made manifest,

that they are wrought in God.”

John 3:20,21

Truth exposes a heart that is not sincere toward God.

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.

When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

He that is of God heareth God’s words:

ye therefore hear them not,

because ye are not of God.”

John 8:44-47

Truth exposes the ropes that bind us by others opinions, judgments, and traditions.

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother?

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For it is written,

AS I LIVE, SAITH THE LORD,

EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,

AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL CONFESS TO GOD.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Romans 14:10-12

Satan uses a belt of deceit to squeeze the truth from our hearts and minds. We must know the truth so as not to be entrapped by the devils lies.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free,

ye shall be free indeed.”

John 8:36

Free from condemnation and the power of satan over us.

“There is therefore now no condemnation

to them which are in Christ Jesus,

who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus

hath made me free from the law of sin and death …

Stand fast therefore in the liberty

where with Christ hath made us free,

and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

Romans 8:1,2; Galatians 5:1

Jesus is our belt of truth.

“Jesus saith unto him,

I am the way, the truth, and the life:

no man cometh unto the Father, but by me …

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord,

so walk ye in him;”

John 14:6;Colossians 2:6

Be sure your belt is the right size or you will be caught with your armor at your feet and your sword rusty.

  • You will doubt your righteousness in Christ,
  • be robbed of the peace found in knowing God,
  • find your faith in Christ being eroded,
  • wrestle with the assurance of your salvation,
  • and not know how to handle God’s word against the enemy’s attacks.

It is time we,

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth …”

Praying Together:

Our Father in heaven, You are our strength. Jesus Christ is our armor. May we start each day putting on Christ and walk fully suited in Him— where no enemy can come against us, where victory is promised, and your name is our banner.

Forgiveness Promised and Delivered

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“And forgive us our debts,

as we forgive our debtors.”

Matthew 6:12, KJV

*“I can’t do it, Tom.” Sam wrung his hands and hung his head. In a shaky voice, he explained. “I know what you say is true. Jesus did die to forgive my sin. He paid my penalty—But I’m afraid I can’t live it—afraid I will fail Him.”

Sam did not truly believe Jesus had the power to save him from himself. He did not know the promise the Lord made to Paul.

“And He has said to me,

‘My grace is sufficient for you,

for power is perfected in weakness.’”

2 Corinthians 12:9a; NASB

Sam believed he had to make himself perfect, not believing the Lord would be the one to finish the work of salvation once it was received. The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians—

“For I am confident of this very thing,

that He who began a good work in you

will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

(1:6; NASB)

Some believe when we receive God’s gift of forgiveness, when we are first saved from sin’s penalty and power, never again do we have to ask for forgiveness of our daily cleansing—and we don’t for salvation—but we do to know the joy of sweet fellowship with the Lord.

The apostle John writes the Lord’s promise to us, the saved, saying—

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins,

He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and

to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin.

And if anyone sins,

we have an Advocate with the Father,

Jesus Christ the righteous;

and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins;

and not for ours only,

but also for those of the whole world.”

1 John 1:8-2:2; NASB

The Promises:

  1. God’s grace is enough to finish His work of perfection in us.
  2. If we are compelled by guilt to confess our sin to the Lord, He forgives us all—no matter who we are or what we have done.
  3. Not only does Jesus forgive, He washes us from all unrighteousness. He makes us right with the Father.
  4. We have an Advocate—One who stands before the Father for us—His own and for those yet to become His own.

These promises are for all who walk in the forgiveness of our Lord, those who can say along with the apostle John—

“what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also,

that you also may have fellowship with us;

and indeed our fellowship is with the Father,

and with His Son Jesus Christ.

And these things we write,

so that our joy may be made complete.”

1 John 1:3-4, NASB

There is another condition and promise to add to promise number two.

“For if you forgive men for their transgressions,

your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

But if you do not forgive men,

then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

Matthew 6:14,15, NASB

A Prayer for Us: Heavenly Father, you have made complete provision for our salvation from sin’s penalty and power through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Your grace will see us through to life eternal. You have given us your Holy Spirit to have power over the flesh and provided for our daily cleansing to keep your joy flowing through us. May we be as quick and faithful to forgive those who hurt us or others as you are to forgive and comfort us from our sin. Thank you, Jesus.


*Tom is my husband and Sam is not his friend’s real name. We don’t know the end of that story.

Have a blessed weekend and be careful to not let unforgiveness rob your joy of being with the Father.

Forgiveness Leads to Forgiving

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“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Matthew 6:12, KJV

*The night chilled Peter to the bone. The fire brought no relief as he held his hands near the flame. His shivering body emanated the cold, dark fear in his heart. How can this be happening?

He tucked his cloak over his head as he scrutinized the crowd around him and continued observing the mockery of a trial.

“Aren’t you one of his followers?” The young woman pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders.

“Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about woman,” answered Peter as he moved away from the fire further into the darkness. But darkness couldn’t hide him.

“You are one of his followers. I saw you with him,” another damsel accused.

Peter’s hood fell around his shoulders as he jerked to face her. “I am not,” he answered, along with a few other words the Bible doesn’t record. He stomped back toward the fire. I might as well stay warm.

For about an hour no one bothered Peter. All eyes and ears were directed toward Jesus’ trial—until a group of men circled around the warming fire.

“You,” cried one of the high priest’s servants as he pointed at Peter. “You are one of that man’s followers.”

Peter balled his fists and between gritted teeth declared, “No, I am not.”

The servant smiled. “But you are. You talk like a Galilean. You were with him when he was arrested.”

Peter got in the man’s face. “You don’t know what you’re talking about …”

In the distance a rooster crowed its wake-up call. Peter spun in the direction of the sound at the same time Jesus turned toward Peter. Their eyes met—and Peter remembered. The Bible says,

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

Luke 22: 62, KJV

Peter loved Jesus. Personally, I think he would have rather had his tongue ripped out than to do what he did. After being restored to a right relationship with the Lord following the resurrection, Peter spent his life feeding the Lord’s sheep. Did he walk perfectly before the Lord? No. There was a time Paul confronted Peter’s wrong attitude toward Gentile Christians. Here another lesson Jesus’ taught his disciples may have come into Peter’s mind.

When Jesus wanted to wash Peter’s feet—

“Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall you wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’

Simon Peter said to Him, ‘ Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’

Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and  you are clean …’” John 13:8-10a; NASB

We are forgiven unto salvation when we believe Jesus’ death on the cross paid our debt of sin in full. “For the wages of sin is death …”  but our death could not pay the debt. It could only fulfill the penalty. Our death could not make us righteous. Only Jesus could do that. When we are saved, we are baptized in Christ—made completely clean. We have been bathed in the righteousness of Christ. But we still walk in a world where our feet get dusted with its sin. We need a little cleansing to keep nothing between us and the joy of fellowship with the Lord.

Our Prayer for Daily Cleansing:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way …

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Thy compassion

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

And cleanse me thoroughly from my sin …

Also, keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

Then I shall be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

Psalm 139:23,24; 51:1,2;19:13; NASB

And help us to—be kind to one another, tender-hearted,

forgiving each other,

just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:32; NASB


*Adapted from the four gospel accounts of Peter’s denial

Our Daily Bread

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“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Matthew 6:11, KJV

“Momma, I’m hungry,” little Abigail pulled on her momma’s dusty tunic.

“Shush, little one. We are all hungry.”

“Back in Egypt we didn’t have to worry about food. The pots had meat enough for us all,” grumbled Abigail’s father.

The waves of discontent rumbled through the empty stomachs and out of the mouths of the Hebrew children. How quickly they had forgotten the faithfulness and power of the Lord God who had brought them out of Egypt. They had forgotten the triumph of the Red Sea where Moses and the voices of the children of Israel sang the Lord’s praises.

“Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,

I will sing to the LORD,

for He is highly exalted;

the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.

The LORD is my strength and song,

And He has become my salvation;

This is my God, and I will praise Him;

My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”

Exodus 15:1,2; NASB

Time and again the Lord God proved his faithfulness to his wayward children.

When they were hungry He gave them angel’s food—

“Yet He commanded the clouds above,

And opened the doors of heaven;

And He rained down manna upon them to eat,

And gave them food from heaven.

Man did eat the bread of angels;

He sent them food in abundance.”

Psalm 78:23-25;NASB

The children of Israel’s story did not end well for them. Their lust for the flesh could not be filled. They repeatedly forgot God’s wonderful works, His compassion, His mercy, and His power.

“And again and again they tempted God,

And pained the Holy One of Israel.

They did not remember His power,

The day when He redeemed them from the adversary.”

Psalm 78:42, NASB

God doesn’t change—faithful He was, faithful He is, and faithful He will always be to his holy name.

And to us, He has given a greater witness of his power than Moses—

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,

consider Jesus,

the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

He was faithful to Him, who appointed Him,

as Moses also was in all His house.

For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses,

by just so much as the builder of the house

has more honor than the house.”

Hebrews 3:1-3;

He has redeemed us from a greater adversary than Pharaoh—

“Since then the children share in flesh and blood,

He Himself likewise also partook of the same,

that through death

He might render powerless him who had the power of death,

that is the devil …

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable;

and this mortal will have put on immortality,

then will come about the saying that is written,

‘DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.

O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?

O DEATH WHERE IS YOUR STING?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;

but thanks be to God,

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

And He fed us the bread of eternal life—

“Jesus therefore said to them,

‘Truly, truly, I say to you,

it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven,

but it is My Father

who gives you the true bread out of heaven.

For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven,

and gives life to the world …

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;

if anyone eats of this bread,

he shall live forever;

and the bread also which I shall give

for the life of the world is My flesh.’”

John 6:32,33, 51.

If God was displeased with the children of Israel for their disbelief in Him, think how much greater His displeasure is when we refuse the witness of His Son. We have been given a day of salvation, a day of rejoicing.

“I shall give thanks to thee, for Thou hast answered me;

And Thou hast become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief corner stone.

This is the LORD’s doing;

It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day which the LORD has made;

Let us rejoice and be glad in it …

And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God

and the song of the Lamb, saying,

‘Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God,

the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways,

Thou King of the nations.

Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?

For Thou alone art holy;

For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, 

For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”

Psalm 118:21-24; Revelation 15:3-4

God has given us this day our daily bread.

For Reflection: It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the events of the world around us. It’s what we see and hear throughout our day. Praise and thanksgiving have to be intentional or be swallowed up in the grumblings and disbelief of the world. Let’s make an intentional choice to think on the wonderful works of our Lord, His abundant supply of our daily bread.

This Writer’s Heart: My Favorite Story

For the Writer’s Heart: My Favorite Story

A few of the gifts found in my favorite story as seen in 2 Corinthians 13:11(NASB)

Finally brethren, rejoice—For God has given us a new day.

be made complete— For God has given us a Savior.

be comforted—For God has given us rest.

be like-minded—For God has given us the mind of Christ.

live in peace—For God has given us the Prince of Peace.

and the God of love and peace shall be with you—God has given us the Holy Spirit.

I love this time of year because it boldly proclaims Jesus. Jesus is Christmas, but his story didn’t begin the day of his birth—that day told the story in words and pictures we could understand.

There is no beginning to the story of Christmas. For time cannot capture him. He has a back story that scriptures gives us glimpses of, leading us to the account of Jesus’ birth and beyond. The beyond of the Christmas story has been written in eternity, portions of what’s to come have been shown to us, and one day the story will be completed when time is swallowed in eternity.

All this is why the Christmas’ true story is my favorite story. And as with any story I read, when I get close to completing it, I desire to see its finish—and this story doesn’t end with “happily ever after,” it is “happily ever after.” I give it five stars and beyond.

For Thought: What is your favorite part of the Christmas story? Why?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your many gifts. May our lives proclaim, Glory to the Highest, for our Savior came to us, lived among us, died for our sins, and rose from the dead to give us the sure hope of life everlasting—for He will return for his people. May we begin praising your name now and forever.

Finally

2 Corinthians 13: Finally

This Week’s Scripture:

Finally brethren, rejoice,

be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11, NASB

Finally, we come to the end of our time in 2 Corinthians, and Paul comes to the end of his letter of instruction, exhortation, and edification. There is nothing more to be said.  I plan on dividing this week’s scripture passage into phrases telling the story that began before the foundation of the world and has no ending—for Christmas is Jesus—“who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8b

blogchristmas-1010749__340Finally, a time of waiting became a time of rejoicing—After at least 4000 years of the Lord God speaking instructions, exhortations, promises, and prophecies to a people he chose to represent him, God became silent for 400 years—waiting for the time when he would speak again through his living Word—a time when there would still be a few waiting to hear him and rejoice.

Finally brethren—

The living Word became flesh.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me,

be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory,

which Thou hast given Me;

for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world …

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God …

And the Word became flesh,

and dwelt among us—

Joseph and Mary headed to Bethlehem—

And it came about that while they were there,

the days were completed for her to give birth.

And she gave birth to her first-born son;

and she wrapped Him in cloths,

and laid Him in a manger,

because there was no room for them in the inn …

His name was then called Jesus …”*

Rejoice—

The glory of the Lord is revealed.

“… and we beheld His glory,

glory as of the only begotten from the Father,

full of grace and truth—

Back in Bethlehem shepherds shook with fear—

“And the angel said to them,

‘Do not be afraid;

for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy

which shall be for all the people …

Glory to God in the highest …

And He(Jesus) is the radiance of His(God’s) glory

and the exact representation of His nature,

and upholds all things by the word of His power …”*

For Thought: How do we keep the joy and rejoicing, born with Christ, when facing what seems insurmountable challenges? How can we be an avenue of helping others know this joy?

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you, for showing us your glory, giving us reason to rejoice in any season, for being our strength. As you have given us your greatest and best in Jesus Christ, may we be awed by the wonder of it all and be quick to share with others all you have shared with us as we wait for your next coming.


*(John 17:24; 1:1,14a; Luke 2:6,7, 21b; NASB);(John 1:14b;Luke 2:10,14; words in parenthesis added for clarification)

Grace and Soap

2 Corinthians 6: Soap and GraceIMG_3508[1]

This Week’s Scripture:

“And working together with Him,

we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—”

(6:1)NASB

“Here, Ruby wanted me to bring this to you.” I took the little brown box from my husband, opened it, and let the contents slide onto my hand. My quizzical smile was met with his shrug. We turned it this way and another way …

“Is it to hold our razors?” I tried to hanging a straight razor on it.

“I don’t think so,” commented Tom as the razor slid sideways.

After a few more failed guesses, we set it aside. The gift had been given and received but to what purpose? One gift we never want to receive in vain is God’s grace.

The apostle Paul wrote about all the good things we receive by grace through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ—new life, purpose, aim, work. You can check it out in 2 Corinthians 5 and in my blog, “A New Wardrobe”. Paul urges the Corinthians to use the gracious gifts of God for their intended purpose—that we might give—

“no cause for offense in anything,

so that the ministry will not be discredited,

but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God …”

(verses 3 & 4) NASB

In case you’re wondering, we asked Ruby about the gift’s purpose. “It’s a soap dish that sits on the wall or tub with the attached suction cup. See, ” she explained, “its design lets the water drain off the dish so the soap doesn’t get soft.” It works great and is being used for the purpose it was created.

For Thought: For what purpose has God’s gracious gift been given to you? How are you using it for the purpose it was given?

Our Prayer:  Heavenly Father, as we begin another day, may we remember the grace you have given us in the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. May we live it out as we give ourselves to working with Him in the ministry of the gospel. That we bear much fruit to your glory.