spiritualsnippets.com

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

Finding Strength

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Proverbs 27:17- “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

 

The chef approached the buffet table with two knives in his hands. He smiled at those in line to get a slice of prime rib, then rubbed the knives back and forth against each other before he began to carve.

Because he had sharpened his knife ahead of time, each piece of meat he cut was perfect, just as he intended.

Sure, a blunt knife is still a knife, but not a very effective one. However, when two iron blades are rubbed together, the edges become sharper.

So it is with Christians.

In times of fellowship and prayer, we help each other to shine—to be more effective.

Like David and Jonathan, let’s do what God has called us to do. Let’s help each other find strength from God, remind each other of His goodness, and hold one another accountable. As a result, we will grow in our faith.

In Malachi 3:16, we read that when we fellowship together, the Lord bends an ear from heaven and is pleased. He’s listening to our conversations, watching our actions. 

Fellowship is more than just doing activities with other Christians. It’s encouraging each other in our Christian walk. When difficulties arise, we’ll be ready because we have been upholding each other along the way.

 

 

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Read the Prologue

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Romans 15:4– “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

 

If you are a lover of books and reading, then you know that reading the prologue is essential to the understanding of the overall story.

The prologue is a few pages at the front of the book (labeled as such) that tells what happened prior to the beginning of the book and sets up the rest of the story. 

It dawned on me that the OLD TESTAMENT is a prologue of sorts.

The books of the Old Testament follow the story of creation all the way up to the beginning of the New Testament which begins with the genealogy of Jesus. It’s the account of men such as Moses and Abraham. It recounts the struggles of the apostles and prophets. 

All of that background, including the giving of The Law and the sinful nature of man, are essential information to have in order to understand just what an amazing gift eternal life is—to help us picture what God actually did for us when He sent Jesus—and what it means when He offers His grace to us today.

While parts of the Old Testament may be more difficult to read and understand, don’t be tempted to skip this crucial step in understanding our Christian faith and realizing just how precious the Word of God—THE STORY—truly is!

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Now Is The Time for Praise

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2 Samuel 22:1-3 “David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” 

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

    my shield and the horn of my salvation.

He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—

    from violent people you save me.”

 

Did you ever wake up praising God?

Wow. What a feeling!!!

You’re on top of the world.

Maybe you’ve just received good news. Perhaps an answer to prayer. Or, you’ve been blessed in an unexplainable way and you look at a friend and say, “It has to be a God thing.”

I usually begin by shouting to the heavens, “Thank you, Lord.” This is followed by a more serious prayer and a chorus or two.

Praise isn’t just for today—or for us. A lot of people in the Bible had reason to give God a “shout-out,” too. 

Many Christians love to read the Psalms because of King David’s beautiful words. He sang 2 Samuel, as he did a great many of his Psalms. He also played stringed instruments. David knew how to express his love and gratitude.

Some of David’s psalms were written in the midst of battles—or as a result of deliverance from the hands of his enemies. He knew when—and how—to praise God. 

I recall, as a child, singing this chorus: “Do you know what time it is? Time to praise the Lord … anytime’s the right time to praise the Lord.”

Whether in the midst of disappointment or a spiritual battle, after you receive a blessing or an answer to a prayer, NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME TO PRAISE THE LORD.

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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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