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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Not every word has a good connotation. We rarely think of death as a source of happiness. Perhaps when an enemy dies, ending the suffering they’re causing us, we may find relief. But anytime death refers to someone we care about, a loved one, it brings with it pain and sadness.

 

Unfortunately, we hear about tragedy and death so often in the news that it has become commonplace. For Adam and Eve, who had never experienced it before, it was tragically traumatic. Ellen White writes that, “As they witnessed in drooping flower and falling leaf the first signs of decay, Adam and his companion mourned more deeply than men now mourn over their dead.” (PP 62)

 

Death is sad, painful, and tragic, and it is even more so if it happens to someone we love deeply. The only light at the end of this sad, dark tunnel, is the hope that we will meet them again. Paul, speaking about the second coming of Jesus, writes, “Comfort one another with these words” 1 Thess.4:16-18 (NKJV).

 

Death is part of life, but is not the end, not for those who believe in Jesus.

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A Word for your Family – FREEDOM

Jesus said, I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin” John 8:34 (NLT2).

 

Whenever we allow our passions and desires to control our lives, we become slaves to them. That’s how habits are formed, when we repeatedly do something which ends up controlling us.

 

Think about smoking. When a person pulls out the box of cigarettes, lights one up, and smokes it to the end, it is one act. But when that action is repeated 10, 20, 30, or more times every day, it becomes a habit. The addiction to the chemicals, plus the habitual use of cigarettes, becomes so strong that they have a very difficult time breaking away from it.

 

The same thing happens to drugs, sex, or electronic media. The more time we are engaged in an activity, and the more times we repeat the same action, the more it holds us in its tight grip.

 

But Jesus promises to give us freedom from our sins and destructive habits: “Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” John 8:36 (NKJV).

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Today’s word is very special to us because we were blessed to have two daughters who are our pride and joy. They have brought us some of the best and happiest memories. With have traveled together, we rejoiced with them at their birth, their graduations, their weddings, and their accomplishments.

 

Daughters are mentioned in the bible many times. Hadassah, or Esther, was the niece, and step-daughter of Mordecai. Dinah was the only daughter of the thirteen children Jacob had. Jairus, a Jewish ruler, had a daughter he loved deeply. Luke writes about her, but also about a woman who had a hemorrhage that had lasted as long as Jairus’ daughter had been alive – twelve years.

 

When Jesus touched Jairus’ daughter, she came back to life. When this woman touched Jesus, she was healed, and when He spoke to the frightened woman, He said, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.” Luke 8:48 (NKJV) Jesus must have felt very strongly about daughters to use that term of endearment for this woman.

 

Love your daughters – they are loved by God.

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Most every family begins when a couples declares their lifetime commitment to each other and to God on their wedding day. They have no idea what their life together will be like, if they will have children or not, or how long life will last. But they can trust that “God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won’t stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns” (Phil. 1:6, CEV).

 

God was there at the beginning and will be there at the end.  Nothing catches Him by surprise, and He knows how to carry us safely to the successful end.

 

Every good thing, every relationship, and every family has a beginning. And every one of these has an end too. Much of what determines the end is what happens at the beginning. It sets the stage for the rest of the relationship.

 

Commit yourself and your relationship to God, follow Him as you begin your life together, and trust Him as He carries you safely from the beginning all the way to the end.

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Keep Your Eyes on the Goal

Scripture:  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. Hebrews 12:2 (MSG)

 

Observation:  Author. Gr. archēgos, “leader,” “originator,” “founder,” “pioneer” (RSV). Archēgos is rendered “Prince” in Acts 3:15; 5:31 and “captain” in Heb. 2:10, in each instance with reference to Christ, as here. Christ is the center of the plan of salvation and the source of every Christian grace. It is He who calls fallen men out of the dismal darkness of sin and into the glorious light of the gospel. It is He who cleanses them from their previous life of sin and qualifies them to become sons and daughters of God. It is He who justifies them by His grace, by virtue of His atonement on Calvary. It is He who plants their feet on the pathway to heaven.

Finisher. Gr. telēiotēs, “perfecter.” The work of justification is only the beginning of the Christian experience. We are not only to lay the “foundation of repentance from dead works” but are to “go on unto perfection” (see on ch. 6:1). We are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We are to gain victory after victory over our besetting sins (see on Heb. 12:1) and to “grow up into him [Christ] in all things” (Eph. 4:15). Our characters are to be “transformed” by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2). This is the work of the indwelling Christ (Gal. 2:20) as the “perfecter” of faith. This is the work of sanctification. See on Matt. 5:48. [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (481). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  One of those famous quotes from New York Yankees’ catcher Yogi Berra, or a Yogism, goes like this:  “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  It sounds kind of funny, kind of crazy, but it is actually very profound.  He illustrates the fact that if we don’t set goals for our life we will probably end up someplace, but not where we had hope to be.  I may wish I would have a doctoral degree, but if I don’t set in place that as a goal, and make plans accordingly, chances are I won’t get that doctoral degree.  Maybe I wish I owned a house, but if I don’t make that a goal, and work, save, and plan accordingly I may end up with nothing more than a wish.

It is the same way with marriage.  You may enter into marriage with dreams and romantic ideals, wearing rose-colored glasses, hoping things work out for you and your spouse.  Instead, you could set a number of goals and move together in the direction of reaching them.  Some of the goals you could set for your marriage should include such things as owning a house, retire from work at a certain age, the number of children you would like to have, saving money for the kids’ education, going on mission experiences together.

Of course, the most important goal is to remain married until death comes or Jesus returns.  With this goal in mind, you can recruit His help knowing Jesus will help you reach that goal successfully, and happily.  Our text today encourages us to keep our eyes on the goal, as Jesus did.  That’s how he was able to put up with the constant challenges He faced to the end.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank you for teaching us the importance of setting goals.  Help us to set life-long goals for our marriage and family, and help us to reach them successfully.

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He is so Close!

Scripture: So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’  Acts 17:27-28 (NKJV)

 

Observation: Not far. The whole clause is very emphatic, and literally reads: “And yet He is not far from each one of us.” There is no doubt expressed in Paul’s words; he is rather making a positive statement of fact. The Lord is near to men, even when they do not acknowledge Him. This makes it a comparatively simple matter for men to find God, for He is by their side, awaiting their awakening and aiding their efforts to discover Him. God can and does reveal Himself according to the measure of zeal and earnestness shown by those who seek Him. At this point the Stoics would see parallels between their own teaching and Paul’s thinking, but the Epicureans would be repelled, for the apostle’s words constituted an attack on the basic atheism of their system.

28. In him we live. The whole clause literally reads: “In [or “by”] Him we are living, and are being moved, and are existing.” The words of the apostle express the thought that not merely our initial dependence is on the Creator, but that all our activities—physical, mental, and spiritual—are derived from Him. In the teaching of Paul the personality of the omnipotent, omniscient God is not merged, as is the God of the pantheist, in the impersonal Soul of the world, but stands forth with awful distinctness in the character of Creator and Sustainer of all life. “Through the agencies of nature, God is working, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, to keep us alive, to build up and restore us … The power working through these agencies is the power of God” (MH 112, 113). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (353). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

 

Application:  Sometimes God feels so far away, it is as if He were nowhere near us, just when we need Him most.  If it’s any consolation, even Jesus felt that way once while hanging from the cross at Calvary.  With the weight of the sins of the world on His shoulders, it seemed to Jesus as if He had been abandoned by His own Father with Whom He had shared eternity.  And maybe that scene gives us an indication why we feel so far away from God; sin makes us feel far from Him who is so close to us!

That’s why these words from the Apostle Paul, declared to the Greek philosophers, are so encouraging.  He wasn’t reminding some Christians that God us near to us; He was telling those who didn’t even know or believe in God.  What that tells me is that God is near each of us even when we reject Him, deny Him, or even rebel against Him.  He reminds of His presence with words such as, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5), or “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mat. 28:20 ASV).

On those days when we feel alone, abandoned by God, remind yourself of these words and be encouraged by knowing that God is very close to you and your family, that He will never leave us, that He will be with us every step of the way until the end of this race.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank You for being with us, very near to us, even when we don’t feel close to You.  And thank You because You never abandon us in spite of ourselves.

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The Rest We Need

Scripture: Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)

 

Observation:  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest—Incomparable, ravishing sounds these—if ever such were heard in this weary, groaning world! What gentleness, what sweetness is there in the very style of the invitation—“Hither to Me”; and in the words, “All ye that toil and are burdened,” the universal wretchedness of man is depicted, on both its sides—the active and the passive forms of it. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Mt 11:28). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

 

Application:  Everyone, without exception, bear heavy burdens.  Sickness creeps into every home, uninvited and unwelcome.  Some don’t have a job, or they have jobs that pay little, or where the conditions are unhealthy, or supervisors that mistreat them.  Just about every one of us face burdens in our families with our children or our parents, with siblings, with our spouse, or with our extended families.

Today’s texts, some of the best known, best loved words of Jesus, remind us that no matter what our burdens may be, Jesus wants to lift them up off our shoulders and give us true rest.  Can He give us back our dead parent, the job lost, the foreclosed home?   Or is He offering to walk by our side to help us carry those burdens so we don’t have to do it alone and they don’t have to crush us?

In my practice as hospice chaplain and as grief and bereavement counselor I encouraged people who were grieving the illness or the loss of their loved one to talk, to tell me stories of their lives, to share their memories, good and bad.  As I have said repeatedly to them, “Pain shared is pain divided.”  When we share our pain it’s as if we’re dividing it in smaller, more bearable pieces.  But it also brings others into your life who will help you carry your pain so you don’t have to do it alone.

Who better to share your pain and your burdens than Jesus who is with us wherever we go?

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, thank You that Jesus, and You, help us carry our burdens so they don’ have to crush us.

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