spiritualsnippets.com

Seeing life's events in the light of God's Word.

Giving Thanks for a Stroke

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Genesis 45:4-8a “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” 

 

We had just arrived at our New Year’s brunch destination when my sister called to inform us that our brother-in-law had a stroke and had been admitted to the hospital.

You may have received one of these drop-to-your-knees-and-pray phone calls at some point in your life, also. And, hopefully, it was followed a little later by another one saying that your loved one was doing fine—a full recovery expected.

However, in this case, after hearing that good news, further testing detected a serious heart problem.

We prayed, of course, about this new health-related difficulty, but we also had cause for praise and Thanksgiving for the stroke. Without it, the heart complication might not have been diagnosed—until it was too late.

So, the silver lining to the cloud is that now my brother-in-law can see a specialist and perhaps undergo life-saving surgery.

Genesis tells the story of Joseph’s brothers. They sold him into slavery, but he found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the end his father and brothers were allowed to settle in Goshen and avoid the devastating effects of a severe famine. The brothers had evil intentions that guided their actions, but God used their actions to put Joseph in a position to save many lives.

Be encouraged today. The situation you now find yourself in—the health scare, the misunderstanding among friends, the financial setback—may be a blessing in disguise.

Our Heavenly Father, our Healer, our friend knows our present and future needs and is able to supply them in accordance with His will.

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“I Can Read Him Like a Book”

25938206930_c02b565a292 Corinthians 3:2- “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.”

“Don’t let him fool you. I can read him like a book,” my husband said of our son when he was only ten years old. He was sure that he could tell what our son was thinking—what he was up to—by the look in his eyes and the evasive way he answered him. 

Wouldn’t it be a compliment to a Christian to be leading a life so “Christ-like” that others would immediately conclude that he/she was a believer? To be leading a life of truthfulness? Full of forgiveness? Wrapped in love for others? A life of service?

I’ve met Christians like that. In word and action, so open and gentle in their manner that there is no doubt as to the authenticity of their faith.

It is my hope, in 2019, that I would become more and more like Christ. That others would see Christ living in me.

That I might be an open book, easily “read” and recognized by everyone as a child of the Most High God.

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What Will the New Year Bring?

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Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Do you have plans for the New Year?

A much-anticipated trip? The realization of a long-term goal?

Perhaps you are building a new home or beginning to research your ancestry.

Whatever you might be looking forward to or working toward, the beginning of a new calendar year is just what some people need to give them the impetus to get started.

God has plans for us, too.

And, His plans are positive. He wants us to prosper. He wants us to look toward the future with hope.

The kind of hope we have in his son, Jesus—the hope of spending eternity in Heaven because of the forgiveness of sins made possible by his death on the cross.

You can start the New Year by accepting his gift of forgiveness and beginning to live a new life in Christ. And that new life will be the one God has planned for you.

A future full of hope. 

 

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Merry Christmas, Jesus!

Luke 2:12- “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

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More than 30 years ago, my teacher’s aide, Monica, painted a ceramic replica of the Vargas Kneeling Santa. We have enjoyed displaying it every Christmas since then, especially because it puts the celebration of Christ’s birth in proper perspective.

Recently, my neighbor, Karen, brought me information on just how this remarkable work of art came into existence:

Having pictured in his mind for many years the figure of Santa kneeling by the crib of the Christ Child, Ray Gauer was determined to find an artist who could create such a figurine. Through a series of incredible coincidences, he was led to the studio of Maestro Rudolph Vargas, a renowned wood carver in Los Angeles.

Maestro Vargas, whose religious figures are displayed in churches in many major cities of this country—and also in the Vatican—understood the significance of depicting the two symbols of Christmas in such a unique way. From his original sculpture, molds for casting others were made.

On November 7, 1986, Maestro Vargas died, leaving behind a tremendous volume of work, including paintings and drawings. He also carved furniture, pots and bowls. His life size carving of Christ on the Cross is displayed in the chapel at the Santa Teresita Hospital in Duarte, California.

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From the Manger to the Cross

Matthew 1:21- “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

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Have you ever wondered why newborn babies cry when they take their first breath? I think it is because they have just left the nice warm environment of their mother’s womb only to be hung upside down by the heels, face a blast of cold air, and confront the bright lights of the delivery room.

Jesus departed from Heaven where he had been surrounded by adoring angels, experienced love and fellowship with God the Father, and had everything he could ever want. He left a perfect environment, his position as part of the Holy Trinity, and the worship of all the Heavenly beings surrounding the throne.

I think, though he took on earthly form, he still had memory of being in Heaven with God and the Holy Spirit. He knew he was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, but he left that position behind to become one of us in order that he might one day become our Savior.

Now, I’m not a doctor, so there may be a physical reason as to why newborns cry at birth. I’m not a pastor, so theologically I may have taken some license with my description, above. But, I am a Christian. And, by faith this much I know: Jesus came to earth as a babe, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, rose on the third day, and ascended back into Heaven where he now makes intercession for each believer.

For Christians, this Christmas season isn’t just a celebration of the babe in the manger. We look, as he did, toward the cross—because it was there that he did the will of God the Father so we could experience a new birth in Christ. 

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Meeting Your Zacchaeus

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Luke 19: 1-4 “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him …”

 

Each time the lady in front of Billie leaned over to make a comment to her husband, Billie had to reposition herself so that she could see the speaker.

Dan was shorter than the other guys around him, so he wasn’t able to see all of the members in the band as they performed.

Billie and Dan had a similar experience to that of Zacchaeus. They couldn’t see who they wanted to see. 

In the Bible story, Zacchaeus and Jesus (whom he climbed a tree to see) end up spending time together. Zacchaeus repents of his sins and experiences forgiveness.

I don’t know what Zacchaeus expected to happen that day (scripture only says that he wanted to see who Jesus was), but our Lord knew he’d be up in that tree. He had a message for him and Zacchaeus responded.

Sometimes, the days just don’t unfold according to our plans. Sometimes God has something different in mind for us. Perhaps he wants us to listen to someone’s troubles, deliver a meal we hadn’t planned on making, give a blanket to a needy person. 

Whatever the case … whatever the circumstance … wherever He leads …

There just may be a Zacchaeus in our lives waiting for us to share the message of forgiveness and grace.

 

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Does Your Marriage Need a Renovation?

 

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Ephesians 5: 24-28; 33b “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies…and the wife must respect her husband.”

 

A morning newscast this week gave the results of a recent survey: “The key to a happy marriage is having two separate bathrooms.”

Mutual respect, honesty, and open lines of communication— things I would have thought would top the list—were not even mentioned.

What did God have to say on the subject? I turned to Ephesians. The words submit, love, and respect stood out.

When had those biblical virtues become obsolete and been replaced by things valued by “the world”?

As Christians we must not let love of worldly things keep our eyes off the things of God. We must hold fast to the truths written in the Bible. 

If we don’t, we may fall prey to falsely believing that things like a big bank account, expensive clothes, and fancy vacations are keys to not only personal satisfaction, but also happy marriages. 

And, like the survey, we might someday find ourselves in the midst of a bathroom renovation, when what we really need to do is to seek the answers in God’s Word.

 

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Are Your Feet Beautiful?

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Romans 10:15b- “As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

 

I am sure you have heard in the last few weeks about missionaries who have been captured and/or killed by the very people that they wanted to reach with the message of Jesus.

They didn’t stay in the comfort of their own homes. They didn’t enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their friends and loved ones.

They went to a myriad countries around the world to preach the gospel—the Good News—to those who haven’t heard.

They were selfless…obedient…servants of The Most High God.

Some were tortured. Many lost their lives.

The Holy Spirit led. They followed—without regard for their own safety or well-being.

Most of us cannot imagine giving up what they have for the cause of Christ.

Hands serving…feet going…

God calls all Christians to a life of service to others. 

I see it everywhere I look: on street corners and in front of stores, Salvation Army volunteers ring their bells; church members add their gifts to the benevolent fund at church; people donate meals; others mow lawns; still others make blankets for those who are ill or those in need of winter warmth.

We aren’t all called to serve in far off countries. We only need to look around us to find ways of serving in our own communities.

Whether you choose to work in a soup kitchen or a non-profit thrift store; whether you can devote an hour or an entire day; if you are serving others in Jesus’s name, you are acting as His hands and feet here on earth.

 

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Joy In The Midst of Anguish

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I Thessalonians 5:18- “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

 

Did you read this verse and think, “How can we give thanks in the midst of disasters and death?”

Doesn’t God see the devastation caused by floods, fires, and acts of violence in our country? 

Three things stand out to me:

1. God is asking us to be thankful, not necessarily for the circumstances, but in the midst of them to retain a thankful attitude for what we do have.

2. Giving thanks is not based on our present circumstances.

In giving thanks, we are not denying our current hurts. We are, however, showing our thankfulness for our position in Christ and the joy ahead of us because we have put our faith in Jesus. Faith that his death, burial, and resurrection saves us from our sins and assures our eternal life. 

We focus on the “joy that is set before us”…that deep inner joy that abides in spite of our disappointments and struggles. 

When we lead lives of gratitude and Thanksgiving every day, it will change our whole perspective on life. By focusing on our blessings and sharing what we have with others, we understand the true meaning of thankfulness.

3. And, finally, instead of asking, “Why me?”, we should ask “What for?”  Why does all of this happen? It is ultimately to display the reality of Jesus…to bring glory to God…to accomplish his ultimate will and purpose. 

This season, let’s give thanks in the midst of pain, anguish, and loss, looking ahead to the joy we have in Christ Jesus.

 

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No Requirements

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Romans 5:8- “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

Please join the choir. No talent required. 

I was excited to read these words in our church bulletin. Let’s just say that if they’d hold auditions based on talent, I wouldn’t have a chance. 

Oh, I do like to sing along with the car radio, and once in awhile in the shower. I do worship in song from my seat in church.

But, up front and center? Behind a microphone? Oh, no, that would never happen.

Most choirs, I was sure, would never “accept” me. But, the call for new members for the church choir said no one would be refused.

Maybe I would go to that first practice on Wednesday night…

Even though a lot of things in life must be earned, we don’t need to be talented, perfect, or beautiful to be accepted by God. We don’t have to do a certain number of good works or fulfill specific requirements.

Membership in God’s family is “come as you are.” Even though we are sinners, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 

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