spiritualsnippets.com

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

Laying Aside Our Perspective

I Corinthians 13:12- “ 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.”28684556474_5ed7a6dcbb

Have you ever seen one of those magazine pictures that is a “partial” picture and you’re to try to imagine what the entire picture might be?

For instance, the picture might be that of the frightened face of a young boy. You might think that, if you could see the entire picture, he is afraid of a bear…or he is lost in a department store…or he is facing an angry parent’s discipline. Then, when you turn the page, you find out if you have guessed correctly as the entire picture is revealed.

Situations in our lives are a lot like that because the Bible tells us that we can only see “in part.”

That accident, illness, or disappointing friendship that causes us worry and sorrow in the present, may just be the catalyst for bringing someone to Christ or averting a loved one from physical harm.

Since we only see part of the scene, we learn to trust God—to exercise our faith in Him—remembering that He is in control of it all and is able to see the BIG PICTURE.

A long time ago, the life of a college friend was spared because she wasn’t able to make a plane connection—a plane that crashed shortly after take-off.

So often through the years, I have thought about that incident. It has served as a reminder to me that I need to exercise my faith in God during difficult times.

One day, I am sure that we, too, will be able to see the BIG PICTURE. And, when we do, we will no doubt be surprised to learn of the many times God has protected us and guided us, using the trials in this life to fulfill His ultimate purpose.

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Escape Rooms

 

30543604984_a2c9e7138dDaniel 6:19-23   “At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

 

 

Escape Rooms have become popular here in the southwest. In some areas, they are becoming a social phenomenon. I’ve heard some people have used them as the “new thing to do” for birthday parties!

These rooms are part of a physical adventure game in which the players are locked in a room (usually a prison cell, dungeon) and must use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a certain time limit.

Some people have had panic attacks in these situations, but for the most part they are viewed as exciting and fun, since participants realize they are a “set-up” and they are not in any real danger.

But, Daniel’s incarceration in the lions’ den was not a social game.

Because he continued to worship God, even though King Darius had commanded no one to do so, Daniel was thrown into the Den of Lions.

He didn’t have to solve a puzzle. He wasn’t part of a social experiment.

But, he did have faith. He believed God would protect him. He was an obedient follower of Christ who wasn’t going to stop worshipping God for any reason.

Thrown into the den of ferocious lions, he was freed the following morning by the king after witnessing the power of God to save his faithful servant by shutting the mouths of the hungry animals.

Daniel experienced God’s favor and protection. He honored God, knowing that he might very well lose his life.

As Christians, let’s exercise our faith by likewise standing up for what is good and right and honors God.

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He Touched Me!!

Matthew 9:21– She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

I’m not a football fan. However, when I was in junior high and high school, my friends and I “watched” the Arizona State Sun Devils play from our seats in the End Zone. We were affectionately called “THE KNOT HOLE GANG.”

Although I wasn’t crazy about the game, I sure did like the players.

Back in those days, fans were allowed to form a line on each side of the entrance where the players came onto the field. We were close enough that we could reach out and touch an arm or the sleeve of a uniform. We got goosebumps every time.

I also loved movies. On a trip to Hollywood as a young adult, I remember swooning when Clint Eastwood shook my hand.

A young man puts his arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders—a loving touch.

A mother hold’s her sobbing child—a caring touch.

A concert pianist poises his hands above the black and white keys. The audience waits for—the touch of the master.

Two young men shake hands after an argument—the touch of friendship.

As incredible as each of these is, I can’t help but ask myself, “What would it be like to be touched by Jesus?”

In the book of Matthew, a woman declared that she knew she’d be healed just by touching the hem Jesus’s garment!

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She wasn’t a groupie or a young child idolizing a sports star. This was a serious situation.

She needed healing.

She knew she needed Jesus.

What about you?

Will you open your heart to be touched by Jesus? Allow his healing touch to make you whole again?

But, you say, Jesus doesn’t always choose to heal…

True.

Physical healing may not be in His plan for your life…or your loved ones’ lives.

But, He does want to heal your brokenness. He wants to use the disappointments and tragedies of our earthly lives to bring us to a place of dependance on Him. He wants to carry us through the troubled times, supporting us  with His strength.

He wants us to grow in our faith in Him. The kind of faith that believes He knows what is best for us and we trust Him to see us through…and to work out the difficulties we face for “the good of those who love Him and are called according to His good purpose.”

I have faith in a chair to hold me.

I have faith in my car to start each morning.

I have faith in my phone to keep me in touch with my family and friends.

But, I exercise my faith when I sit in the chair, turn the key in the ignition, and dial the phone.

Come to Him…in faith…believing.

Release control to Him…and experience His promises at work in your life.

Touch the hem of His garment.

 

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Joy In Unrelenting Pain

 

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Job 6:10a- “Then I would still have this consolation— my joy in unrelenting pain—”

 

I recently heard a story about Austrian concert pianist, Paul Wittgenstein. In 1914, while serving in active duty in WWI, he was shot in the elbow and his right arm was amputated.

One would think this would be devastating, ending a brilliant career. But that was not the case.

During his recovery, he wrote to his teacher asking for a concerto for the left hand alone. Following the war’s end, he studied intensely and reclaimed his career. He gave hundreds of concerts throughout Europe, playing pieces arranged for the left hand alone.

I vowed that if times of self-pity should come, I would remember this brave man whose attitude made it possible for him to still experience joy in his life after such tragic circumstances.

The Bible tells the story of Job, whose wealth, children, and physical health were taken from him.

Not only did Job not curse God, but we learn that he was able to experience true joy in the midst of those trials.

This can be of great comfort to those who are experiencing physical illnesses, family problems, financial struggles.

But, how is it possible that during times of dire circumstances one could find joy?

Like Job, our faith sustains us. We look to God to be our strength. We lean on Him and the promises in His Word.

We look at these times, not as obstacles to our joy, but as times of refreshing.

We view them as vehicles to deepen our dependance on God and draw us in close relationship with him.

We do not allow our trials to defeat us, but instead look at them as opportunities to change us, inwardly, to refine our character, to transform our hearts— to fulfill His new purpose in us.

Can we experience the “joy that comes in the morning?”

Our Lord says we can. He will restore us anew, whether in this life or in the one to come.

The Bible says He is faithful and He will do it.

He gives us His Word.

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BELIEVE

Mark 11:23 For most certainly I tell you, whoever may tell this mountain,’Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and doesn’t doubt in his heart, but Believes that what he says is happening; he shall have whatever he says.

 

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Believe.

I see this word on bumper stickers, jewelry, greeting cards, wall decor, and T-shirts.

It seems society has embraced it.

But, what does it really mean?

Believe in who?

Believe in what?

Believe in oneself?

Believe in the power within?

Believe in God?

I have a picture hanging in my home office, with simply “Believe” written in script.

It tells me that I can do it…achieve it…

But, I realize it is not me alone that makes anything happen in my personal life or my career.

It is God who leads me.

It is God who empowers me.

It is God who gives me the skills necessary to achieve.

But, it means still more.

To me, it is a reminder that I believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that I have eternal life through Him.

John 20:31 but these are written, that you may Believe

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing

you may have life in his name.

It IS important to have confidence in oneself…if that confidence comes from God.

It IS important to have a “can do” attitude…if one realizes that their giftedness comes from our Creator.

It IS important to have faith…if it is in God.

We can have every confidence in Him.

For it  is in Him WHO IS TRUTH that we have the power to BELIEVE.

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Join The Army

Genesis 21:22– And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, “God is with you in all that you do.”

 

Bells ringing. Red kettles.

It’s that time of year, isn’t it?

Salvation Army volunteers—outside stores and malls. Rain or shine. Warm or cold.

Whether ignored or embraced, there they are. Faithful to their cause.

I knew little more than the fact that they are a Christian-based organization.

This year, I was determined to find out more.

Here is just a fraction of what I discovered:

  • Founded by William Booth in 1852 in England.
  • Began as a ministry to win the lost multitudes to Christ.
  • Booth started by preaching in the streets of London to the poor, homeless, and hungry.
  • In 1865, he began tent meetings to preach the message of hope and salvation.
  • In 1879, Lt. Eliza Shirley held the first meeting of the Salvation Army in America.
  • Today, the Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world.
  • Most centers hold weekly worship services.
  • Areas of ministry include: prison ministries, adult rehab, veterans services, elderly, combatting human trafficking, and missing persons via international social service.

I had no idea they did all of this, as well as offering residential housing and work opportunities to various individuals and groups.

They are literally an army of individuals whose main goal is GIVING SPIRITUAL DIRECTION TOWARD A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AS PROVIDED BY JESUS CHRIST.

I remember, as a child, singing a song in Sunday School about being in the “Lord’s Army”. (I may never ride in the infantry, shoot in the cavalry, shoot the artillery,  but I’m in the Lord’s Army.) These words were followed with a salute.

It wasn’t until years later, when guys I knew were drafted into the U.S. Army, that the concept of God’s Army started coming into focus for me.

Now, more than ever, a vast army of God’s people needs to rise up in prayer and step out in faith. We need to join with other Christians around the world in serving those less fortunate and in proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel to a hurting world.

Fear and unrest dominate newscasts. Violence abounds.

Time is short.

We may not ring a bell.

We may not stand outside the mall beside a donation kettle.

But, we can pray, donate, serve, share the message of hope.

Because, when we do, like Abraham,

God will be with us.

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Giving Thanks for Future Blessings

Romans 8:28- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Occasionally, I find myself missing my days of teaching elementary school. This is especially true around Thanksgiving.

Each year, my little kindergarteners would choose to be Indians or Pilgrims, making Pilgrim hats or headbands with colorful feathers. They would use brown paper grocery bags to make Indian vests or black and white butcher paper for Pilgrim attire.

Mothers would come to school and help us prepare stew, cornbread, apple cider, and spice cake and/or cookies for our customary “feast.”

The faces of those little ones were so precious as each child stood and told the class what they were thankful for… their families…their homes.

I know several families who are currently suffering from health issues. I know one going through a divorce. I know one dealing with broken relationships with siblings; another saddened by the estrangement of adult children.

It’s easy to be thankful for blessings like wealth, wisdom, newborn babies, and good health. It’s quite another to be thankful for the trials in this life, isn’t it?

But, many of us know that it’s in the hard times that we learn to trust God…that our relationship with Him deepens as we depend on Him for the strength to get us through.

It’s possible, that years after a hurtful event, we are able to see the good result(s) God brings about because of our dire circumstances. In fact, there are times when we can look back on what we once viewed as tragedies and see that they were actually future blessings—in disguise.

Which brings me to this point: If we, as Christians, believe the truth of Romans 8:28, shouldn’t we be able to trust God now?

Even if we never see the future?

Even if He never answers our question, “Why?”

Because that is really what faith is, isn’t it?

According to Hebrews 11:1, “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

We may not be able to see what God is going to do with a tragic circumstance, now, but we can have faith that those “things not seen” will someday come to pass.

Thanking God for the blessings in our lives, today, and for those in the future,

Brenda

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Perfect Timing

Exodus 14:29-31 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Have you ever approached an intersection just as the yellow light turns red and thought “If I had arrived just a moment sooner, I would have made the light”?

Or, maybe you see a newspaper ad for an unbelievably good buy on something you have been wanting. The item is available “While Quantities Last.” So, you rush to the store only to see another customer purchase the last one!

Poor timing, I suppose.

In the book of Exodus, we read that Moses and the Children of Israel were being pursued by Pharoah’s army. They come upon the shoreline of the Red Sea with no way out—or so it seemed.

But, at just the right time,  the Lord told Moses to raise his staff. When he obeyed, a mighty wind caused the sea to part and the Israelites crossed to the opposite shore. The Egyptian army, chariots, and horsemen drowned when they attempted to follow them.

God’s timing was right.

God teaches us patience and dependence on Him as we wait for him to fulfill his promises to us, just as He did when He saved the Israelites. Remember, He sees the big picture.

His timing will always be perfect.

One day God will reveal the answers to the “whys” that plague so many of us. For now, our part is to exercise our faith and let God be God.

Trust that He knows best, that He will fulfill His promises, that we are in His very capable hands.

Brenda

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Will He Call Your Name?

Revelation 21:27- Nothing impure will ever enter it (heaven) , nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The National Football League held their yearly drafting of eligible football players last Thursday night. It is the NFL’s most common source of player recruitment. Each team is given a position in the drafting order and can use it to select a player, trade their position, or in several other options.

Currently consisting of seven rounds, the first player chosen is most likely given the highest paying contract, reflecting the fact that he is the most sought after player and deemed the one with the most potential.

Just imagine what it must have been like for these young men to learn that they were in the draft and for them to sit, waiting on Thursday night, to hear their names called—to be chosen for the coming season by a prestigious NFL team.

Some of you may be able to identify with their emotions because you, too, may have waited—or may be currently waiting—to hear if you have been selected as the chairperson of a committee, if your painting received the blue ribbon, if your book or song will get major recognition, if your recipe is voted as the most delicious, and so on.

I recall a song they used to sing quite often in church when I was a child. It was called “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder (I’ll Be There)” This, of course, refers to the fact that Jesus will open the Book of Life in heaven and present the names written there to God. As Christians, I’m sure that none of us can imagine a list we would rather be on!

So, how does one get their name written in this Book of Life? Pay a fee? Perform an unusual feat? Help society in some way? Follow on the coat tails of ancestors?

What if I told you there is NOTHING you can do? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Why?

Someone already did it for you. All you need to do is acknowledge the gift and follow the giver. It is so simple; yet, millions will miss it.

You see, prior to Jesus dying on the cross, God had a system of laws in place. Those who broke the law were to use a sacrificial system, requiring the blood of animals to “cover” each individual’s sin. The problem was, they had to keep sacrificing because—you guess it—they kept sinning. Thus began a vicious sin-sacrifice cycle.

When God gave his son, Jesus, as the only perfect sacrifice for man’s sins, He did away with the prior sacrificial system once and for all because sins were not just covered—they were forgiven.

Jesus was able to end the sin-sacrifice cycle because His blood—and only his blood—wasn’t tainted by sin. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23-25 “ “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith by all who believe.

So, that is our part in the story of forgiveness. We must confess our sins and receive our new life in Christ by putting our faith in Him. We read in 1John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

So you see, our sin is a barrier to the relationship God wants to have with us—so much so that He was willing to sacrifice his own Son for us. On the third day, God raised him up in victory over sin and death. Our part is to put our faith in Jesus. When we do, we will not only have our sins forgiven and lead a life on earth that is in relationship with our Heavenly Father, but we will be assured of eternal life in heaven, as well!

When the Book of Life is opened, will He call your name?

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Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Mark 16:15- He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Our dear Pastor Bob went to heaven Friday afternoon. This is a trip he was planning for quite some time. In fact, ever since he came to know Jesus as Savior and Lord, he had the assurance he would someday see Him face to face.

Pastor Bob took seriously the Great Commission. Everywhere he went—including the hospital where he had testing and Chemo—he never missed an opportunity to share the gospel with others. Pastor Bob was all about sharing the love of Christ with a hurting world. In everything he did, he pointed the way to Jesus.

He was all about relationships and building strong ties with everyone he could. He knew that if others could sense his real concern for them, they would listen to the message he shared with so many.

In a sermon a couple of weeks ago, Pastor Ben (another of our pastors at Grace Church in Mesa, Arizona) told us that only 5% of Arizonian’s attend church. That leaves 95% who potentially have never heard the gospel.That’s a staggering statistic!

Now just to be clear, I am not saying that going to church will assure a person of a home in heaven once they pass from this life into the next. In fact, the Bible declares that only those who put their faith in Jesus as Savior will enjoy eternal life with Him. That’s the message Jesus asks every believer to share. That’s the message that Pastor Bob passed along and that is the reason that he will hear these words when he stands before the heavenly throne, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

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