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The Daily

Pentecost Fulfilled

 – The Spirit’s Inscription on Believing Hearts

Our nation accommodates multiple interests. As a result, official calendars are crammed with holidays and observances. A few holidays merit a day off from work, while others are a nod to trends or silly notions (i.e. who celebrates popsicle flavors on separate days?).

Unlike almost any other holiday on public lists, Pentecost, aka Shavuot/Feast of Weeks has thousands of years of vibrant history in both Christianity and Judaism. According to Exodus 23:15, Exodus 34:22, Leviticus 23:15–22 and Deuteronomy 16:9, Pentecost is inextricably tied to 50 days after Passover and is always celebrated on a Sunday. According to Scripture, Jewish men were required to celebrate three holidays in the Jerusalem temple — Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Hence, Jews from all over the world (not just local farmers) were gathered there as events unfolded early in the day, (Acts 2:13-15). 

In addition to being the festival celebrating the second “first fruits” harvest while in the Promised Land, certain scholars** have linked Pentecost to the time God supernaturally gave the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai. Long after the Sinai event, when the people of Israel and Judah were forced to leave the Promised Land during their deportation to Babylon, the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 11:16-21 and Ezekiel 36:24-27) spoke pointedly about a New Covenant that would be written on the hearts of future Israelites after they returned to the Promised Land.

“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the LORD. “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the LORD. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 NET


As recorded in Acts 1, Jesus spoke this to his disciples just prior to Pentecost and before ascending to heaven.

While he was with them, he declared, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 NET

As the disciples obediently waited, the Father fulfilled the words of Jeremiah and Jesus with his fiery, supernatural power from heaven (resembling his activity on Sinai) as he baptized/permeated/filled the hearts and voices of those disciples with his Holy Spirit.

Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them. Acts 2:1-4 NET

Hebrews 8 repeats the prophecy of Jeremiah, establishing Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit as the promised fulfillment of the New Covenant and therefore, Pentecost.

Presently, when we observe Pentecost, we no longer bring grain offerings, newly harvested from an earthly Promised Land. Instead, we commemorate being his spiritual first fruits — those who have the heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit inscribed on our hearts. We are thus empowered to walk in the way of Jesus, celebrating his abundant spiritual harvest. 

**  Moshe Weinfield on Pentecost as a Festival of Giving the Law and the Book of Jubilees 

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Pentecost Fulfilled2024-05-15T21:47:47-06:00

What is the Gospel?

Each of us have shared a personal story in the last week of how the gospel has impacted us personally. We have also shared about circumstances in our lives when doubts about God’s goodness or His timing have impacted our own personal stories and spiritual lives and growth.

So, what is the gospel? Paul tells us, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me [Paul] also, as to one abnormally born.”   I Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV. Any presentation of the gospel to anyone must include these four elements: Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and the testimony from witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection that Paul shared succinctly with the Corinthian church. But there are other scriptures in the Bible that make these concepts clearer. 

Paul wrote the book of Romans as well, and it has many verses that articulate what the good news that Jesus brought means to us — Jesus’ death on the cross provided a way for us to come into a right relationship with God.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

 

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished; Romans 3:22-25 NIV

 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2 NIV

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:8-11 NIV 

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NIV

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 NIV.


Just as the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had a personal interaction with the risen Christ, each of us who are believers have as well. With each of our stories we have shared, it is this personal interaction with the risen Christ; our personal relationship is what makes all the difference in our lives and in the life of every believer in Jesus. 

 

by Grace Hunter

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What is the Gospel?2024-05-11T11:11:32-06:00

Learning to See Jesus 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. I Corinthians 13:12 


I’ve always sensed that Jesus was alive and that He was guiding me. At the same time,  life has been a process of learning more about who He really is. For me, this process reminds me of going to the optometrist. The doctor starts with my
previous correction and then refines it until I’m able to enjoy beauty, read, and function normally.  I’ll never experience 20/20 vision but I’m able to see so much better than I naturally could. Walking with Jesus over a lifetime has been like that for me.

Jesus Meets Me Where I am

My uncorrected vision is 20/800. I can see vaguely but can’t function. (Even the doctor tells me my eyesight “isn’t great.”) As bad as my natural eyesight is, the doctor is able to correct my vision to what it needs to be. In the same way, Jesus has met me where I have been and has led me to where I needed to be.

Which is clearer, a or b ?

Jesus Shows Himself in Others

When I was a child, I saw Jesus as He related to me.  As I’ve grown, I’ve seen Jesus in relation to all believers. Seeing Jesus transforming other believers has been a very  precious gift.

Learning to See Takes Trial and Error

Learning to see Jesus more clearly hasn’t progressed in a perfectly straight line. When the doctor asks, “Is one or two better?”  I sometimes doubt that my answer is correct, and can get off track. Sometimes bumps in life have been really hard, and I’ve reverted to former ways of seeing — which reminds me of times I’ve lost my glasses and had to  make do with an older pair.  Like the doctor, Jesus is patient, allowing me to make choices.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but, as a result,  I’ve learned to see more clearly.

The Best is Yet to Come

Thanks to Jesus’s guidance and the gift of sight he’s given me, I can marvel at just how wonderful He is.  Scripture promises that we have much more to look forward to: 

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. We know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  I John 3:2 NIV


“Thank you, God, for sending Jesus, who gives us healing and hope in this world. Thank you that we can be confident that, one day, we will see you exactly as you are and that we will be like you.“   

by Sherry Sommer

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Learning to See Jesus 2024-05-11T10:54:13-06:00

The Goodest News!!

English teachers in our midst, please forgive my ungrammatical title. My prompt for today was to share my personal experience with the Gospel, or more precisely, the Good News. As I considered it, I felt the word Good in Good News fell immeasurably short of what the Good News, the Gospel, means to me. And the most superlative of superlative words falls short. So I’ll stick with Goodest!!

As a boy I attended a Lutheran church with my mom. It was cold. The services had two parts. We did responsive readings followed by a plethora of hymns. We sang every verse of every hymn. The more the merrier. Jesus may have been there, but I sure couldn’t see Him. 

In high school, I attended a Baptist church. It was a lot friendlier, but the truth is, I still didn’t find Jesus there. I thought He was on vacation. I seldom heard scripture from the pulpit. And then, in the Spring of my senior year, a Christian singing group from Illinois, (ironically) The Good News Circle, spent a week at my church, giving concerts and altar calls every night. Hundreds came forward. And I saw something brand new for me. The Good News Circle was on fire. I’m not sure they even realized their impact. But they weren’t alone. Jesus stood there on stage with them. I saw Him in each one of them. It reminds me of one of my favorite Bible stories: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:24-25

 

I went from “almost” Christian to Youth Pastor in a matter of months. I took 42 kids from our youth group to a Summer Evangelism Camp led by the Good News Circle. All 42 of our young people went forward, and as I drove the bus back from Wisconsin, our bus was filled with 42 budding Apostle Pauls and Paulines. What followed was 50 plus years with me and Jesus together. I was never alone. Every moment of every day.

So what happened? The answer can be summed up in some of my favorite passages.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

 

They took note that these men had been with Jesus!!  Wowsers!! I could definitely say that about the Good News Circle, and I pray that you might say that about me. Paul says it the goodest!!

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

 

I’d love to tell you that my life since then has been all milk and honey. Not exactly; I spent 21 beyond difficult years caring for my son with schizophrenia until he passed away swiftly and unexpectedly in 2012. Before I could even take a breath, I became my mother’s caregiver, only to see her pass away as swiftly two years later as unexpectedly as my son. Now I live with my daughter, who has a life-threatening version of Crohn’s Disease and mental health issues that are an outgrowth of the loss of her brother and grandmother. I have severe macular generation in one eye, poor hearing, only ten bad teeth, hips that make walking beyond painful, and skin that itches all day everyday. And guess what? None of that matters. Because the Good News of Jesus trumps everything. Jesus offered me this,

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

and it sustains me through everything

I call that the Goodest News!!

 

by Bruce Hanson

 

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The Goodest News!!2024-05-11T10:30:09-06:00

Carolyn’s Story and the Gospel

Recently I found a story I wrote as an assignment for a correspondence course in “Writing for Children and Teenagers” that I was taking in 1992.  This particular story was supposed to be a “fictionalized” version of a factual account from my own life.  The only thing I did was change the names of each person involved: Two aunts, my grandmother, my younger sister, my mother and me. The rest was what actually happened. The story took place in the spring of 1953 when I was taken from where I lived in New Mexico to live with my father’s sister and her husband in Denver.  It tells about the last night I saw my mother alive and was entitled, “Goodbye, Mama, Goodbye”. 

My Mother died nine months after I was moved and I didn’t get to go to her memorial, although they sent me pictures of her in her casket. I was eleven years old.  

The following is not fiction, but is a brief account of my early years living in Denver. 

When I lived in New Mexico, with my mother’s side of the family, we always went to church, so I was “brought up” around the stories and songs of Jesus, who loved me. When I was moved to Denver, my aunt.who was my father’s sister, had a real dislike for church and my uncle was Jewish.  

Thanks to some neighbors, I was taken to South Presbyterian Church which was not far from our house.  I was allowed to go, but it was hard to come home to snide comments about the church and what I was like.  It got worse when I was thirteen and was allowed to go to a summer camp where I walked forward after an altar call and, as I have since described it, “Jesus welcomed this not-so-docile lamb into his fold”.

Something my aunt had shown me was a letter my mother had sent before I was taken away, asking my aunt and uncle to adopt me if they wanted to, and telling her that “I would work well for her if she went about it the right way”.

My aunt would use that letter to remind me that I was not worth being kept, (they didn’t adopt me), that I was a throw away and my only value was how well I worked around the house and yard.  What’s more, she told me that, because I was so horrible, it was my fault that my mother got sick and died. Anytime I didn’t live up to her definition of “Christian” behavior, she would say, “And you call yourself a “Christian!”.

My aunt had been raised in a Christian household, but because she didn’t have a good relationship with her father, she had rebelled against anything to do with church.  Because she wanted not to antagonize some of her Christian neighbors and a few friends, she continued to let me go to church if I wanted to. My “rebellion“ took the form of continuing to go regardless. I moved out on my own when I was 21.

Fast forward, to my current age of 81.  Over the years I slowly began to see God’s loving hand working through the events of my early years. He has worked through my husband, children, wise counselors, pastors and friends to bring healing to my memories and life. Most especially, God kept me in the church, which became my safe place where I could serve in various volunteer ways and be regularly exposed to good teaching. Through it, particularly as I had no family in the church during my childhood years, the people there became my family. The people at South Fellowship are my family still. 

Some of the scriptures that have encouraged me in the Lord are below.  I have emphasized some of the things that particularly touch my heart about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy spirit.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. Psalm 68:4-5. 

(I qualify as both.)

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:1-10

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19. 

(Treasuring and pondering the scriptures is very important to me.)

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be  brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17: 20-26

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 24-25

by Carolyn Schmitt


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Carolyn’s Story and the Gospel2024-05-11T10:11:46-06:00

The Gospel is More

In my Nebraska hometown farming community, couples often married young. When I was 15 my mother gave me a marriage hope chest just like this one,
even though I had no boyfriend.

  Our hope Chest

I started my college years anticipating the famed “MRS” degree. Although one man I dated during college appeared to be my future husband, a series of events derailed our relationship. The hope chest remained dormant in my childhood home as I moved to Washington, DC. There, at age 23, I started my professional life as well as responding positively to Jesus’ invitation to experience the Gospel — the good news of my reconciliation to him. My conversion was so dramatic that I anticipated a smooth path forward. 

In ensuing years, I interacted with many stimulating Christian individuals and groups. My calendar was full, my responsibilities heavy, and my spiritual flourishing noticeable. In hopes of marriage and children, I devoured a plethora of Christian books on the subjects — but God’s picture, so beautiful in Genesis 2, still didn’t materialize for me.

As I approached my 30th birthday, I asked God: where is my husband? I had resolved to serve Jesus with all my heart, but had made a secret (even to me) deadline of age 30 for him to deliver the goods. During the next 3 years I was angry with God for failing to meet that expectation. In desperation, I tried on a Cinderella slipper or two – no success.

At 33, I moved to Colorado to discover many my age already married. At age 38, my brother Joe and I joked about me finding the right man. I believed this man should be a serious Christian, and I tossed in a couple other reasonable attributes. After doing rough calculations, Joe and I concluded that only one man in the Denver area could be a fit. 

I trudged along in my single life, resigned to loneliness. A hard tumor of doubt interfered with my spiritual health. Proverbs 13:12 rang true.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick….

This declaration of the Apostle Paul, a Christian committed to singleness, provoked me.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 CSB

Delayed, legitimate desires can develop such roadblocks to spiritual growth. Jesus’ followers trust him for the big stuff. When time passes without fulfillment, doubts about his concern and compassion arise. The stories of Naomi in Ruth 1:1-21 and of Samuel’s mother, Hannah, in I Samuel 1 portray the distraught emotional states of these two women. It helps to know their desires were ultimately satisfied by God’s overdue (?) provision.

For his own reasons, God waited to activate my hope chest until I was 42. The statistic my brother and I developed was accurate…there was just one man God had in mind to be my husband. For almost 35 years, God has continued to prove what an ideal fit Lloyd is for me. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing doubt that the Gospel of Jesus covers more than basic conversion, meditate on the below description of his wisdom, character, and timeliness. His Gospel of reconciliation, though complete in eternal terms, is not rushed in this life.

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 NASB

by Kathleen Petersen

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The Gospel is More2024-05-11T09:22:17-06:00

The Character of God, and The Cross

I’ve forgotten the actual date, but I think it was Good Friday,1993, when we had a pageant that included a crucifixion. Our worship area at that time was rather patched together and we did a lot of unusual, creative building when we wanted to do something extra special and dramatic. This production included three crosses and special slots built in a double stage into which the crosses could be dropped after they were lifted up.

The arms of the men who played Jesus and the two thieves were stretched along the cross pieces and tied firmly and their feet rested on little shelves and their legs were tied to the upright.  The choir was hollering “Crucify him, crucify him” as several soldiers lifted Jesus’ cross up and dropped it in the slot, then for each of the thieves, and dropped theirs in.  My most vivid memory was the heavy thud and the cry from the men as each of their crosses dropped in and stood upright on the stage.

When I read The Old Testament prophets, God is speaking through them warnings of coming trouble unless the leaders and people return to God and follow the Commandments given to Moses: first what God had done for Israel bringing them out of slavery; and how they were to relate to God and to each other as people; also, what was going to happen if the people didn’t turn back to the Lord. 

Ezekiel 33:11 tells me a lot about God’s heart’s desire for his people: 

“Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?’”

In the New Testament I see more about the heart and character of God in John 3:16, which is one of the first scriptures I memorized as a child.

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17 ESV [Emphasis added.]

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

From what I’ve read, the word translated,”wept” did not mean just a few tears, but meant gut wrenching grief, because the people, especially most of the leaders of the temple and synagogues refused to turn to Jesus.  

 

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44 ESV

I remember someone I knew many years ago “advertising” that he “had the mind of Christ,” but his consistent words and actions did not match what is described in Philippians 2:5-11.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:5-11 ESV [Emphasis added.]

As I read this, I have to ask myself some hard questions about my heart and mind and my willingness to be obedient to what God asks of me.  Philippians 2:1-5 are some of the questions to ask ourselves.

by Carolyn Schmitt

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The Character of God, and The Cross2024-05-04T11:32:30-06:00

God Is God and I Am Not

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
    “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
        and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. Romans 9:14-16 NIV



Have you ever had doubts about God’s goodness? Have you ever wondered why God allowed something to happen in your life or in the life of a loved one? When we have these kinds of questions or doubts, what do we do with them? Ignore them?

Let me give a little background. On June 13, 1998, our youngest son Joshua was born via an emergency C-section because his heart rate dropped, and he was in distress. His lack of oxygen during birth caused a severe brain injury called cerebral palsy. This was a defining moment in our marriage and family; nothing has ever been the same since. Both my husband and I had our faith in God shaken because of having an extremely needy special needs child, in addition to our
5-year-old and 3 ½ year old twins who were already a part of our family.

Both my husband and I dealt with questions of: why did God allow this? Why doesn’t God heal him? Is God good? Because of our young family, and our son who had constant medical needs, we processed our grief over the birth of our son over the course of many years. We also met with some more mature Christians who helped us work through our questions and doubts. It took time, but eventually we came to a place where we could give our questions to God, leave them there, and trust in Him that He had a purpose for us, for our family, and for our son exactly as he was. Many of our questions won’t be answered on this side of heaven, just as Job’s questions were not answered. He said during his grief, But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? …”The fear of the Lord-that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.” Job 28:12, 28b.

Job talked to God; as did Jeremiah. He tells us, “Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.” Lamentations 2:19. Doubts, grief, questions are all a part of a Christian’s life. One of the messages I value in the book of Job and in Lamentations is that God welcomes our honesty. He wants us to come to Him with all of it. Job and Jeremiah both knew God — that God is God, and I am not. God is the source of wisdom, mercy, and love, even amid difficult and grieving circumstances. My husband and I came to the same conclusion. Take some time to read this story in John 9:1-41. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you as you read. Look for God’s compassion, notice the difficult circumstances and who recognizes God working. Thank God for His mercy and compassion.


by Grace Hunter

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God Is God and I Am Not2024-05-04T11:03:09-06:00

Getting from Point “a” to Point ”b”

My friend Martha and I have a lot in common — we’re both believers,  we both have an adventurous streak, and we share a truly terrible sense of direction.
We swap stories of amazing feats of getting lost, even when we have a map or phone with an interactive map at hand. 

Most people are better at getting from point “a” to point ”b” than either of us are. However, when it comes to walking the path of life with faith, all people
get confused and turned around along the way. It’s the human condition to misunderstand God’s character when we see injustice or experience harsh circumstances. We may think God is a punishing and cruel overlord or that He just doesn’t care.  It might seem that we’re in a battle of darkness and light and that the outcome is uncertain. 

Fortunately for us, God hasn’t just left us with a map; He sent us his son, Jesus, to help us find our way. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus doesn’t just have a family resemblance to God — He is exactly like his father.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:3

I’ve loved God all of my life, but this still comes as a wonderful revelation when I think of it:  God isn’t distant; He cares for us in exactly the same way and to the same degree that Jesus did. Although Jesus lived a fully human life and died a human death, yet he was with God at creation and lives eternally through the resurrection. In Hebrews 1: 10-12, in the NIV, He also says, 

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.

They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.

You will roll them up like a robe;
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.”  

 

That’s amazing!

 When we see or experience injustice and when life is difficult, we can get worn down and our faith and trust in God can waver. It can seem like God either doesn’t love us or that He’s not strong enough to protect us.  I love this passage from John 1 because it reminds me that God’s love, light, and goodness shown through Jesus, are  unimaginably great, and nothing can dim or extinguish them:

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4-5

by Sherry Sommer

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Getting from Point “a” to Point ”b”2024-05-04T12:07:57-06:00

Either … Or??   Nah!!

This week we are looking at the second half of Genesis 18, the story of Abraham, God, and Sodom and Gomorrah. The question I was given to explore has to do with God’s character. Do I want a God of mercy or a God that is just? And this was the sidebar that goes with that question. When we have been wounded,
we want the just God but if we have been the wound giver, we want the merciful God. Before responding, I want to share the first two places in scripture that God took me.

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew,
to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
1 Corinthians 9:19-21

Paul is describing his own persona, but if it is true for Paul, it is certainly true for his heavenly Father. Paul was whatever people needed him to be. It was about them. Not about him.

And the second scripture was this one.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

That is true for Jesus and it is also true for His Father. 

So let me go back to the question that was posed to me. I desperately need a God who is all those things. I need Him to be consistently just. Even if His justice might result in a black eye on my part. I need to know that I can always trust God’s justice. The same yesterday, today, and forever. It isn’t dependent on
my moods, my thoughts, or my actions. But before looking at mercy, let me add one more verse.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

When I am lonely, God understands. When I feel a failure, God will console me. When I stumble, God forgives me.

This is all pretty simple, but immeasurably wonderful!! I desperately need to know that I have a heavenly father who meets me exactly where I am and knows exactly what I need, even before I know. No matter what!

I love you Jesus for being all that I need!   All the time!


by Bruce Hanson

Note. To access scripture links that don’t appear in the email version, read the web version in your browser.

Either … Or??   Nah!!2024-05-04T10:56:28-06:00
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