spiritualsnippets.com

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

A Benediction for You

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Numbers 6:24-26  “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His face upon you, and give you peace.”

 

The pastor in the church I attended as a child always ended the Sunday service by proclaiming a benediction.

It was my favorite part of the worship hour. I would close my eyes and let the scripture wash over my soul. I felt so close to God!

There are many benedictions in the Bible. I’ve included two, here, that are especially meaningful to me.

If you have had a hard week…if you are facing difficulties…if you need encouragement, meditate on these words and let the peace of God flood into every corner of your life, bringing you the full knowledge of His love and grace.

Ephesians 3:20,21– “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

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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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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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What’s Happening Backstage?

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Act 14:17- “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

 

Have you ever attended a live play or a musical and wondered, as I have, just how everything gets coordinated “back stage”?

I mean, costumes, make-up, hairstyles, props, background scenery, lighting, musical scores, and so much more.

How do they do it?

There are hundreds of people—paid and volunteers—that work weeks ahead of time on scenery, costumes, and schedules.

Things like scene and costume changes are gone over and over just as vigorously as the actors rehearse their lines.

Each performance has a scene and prop crew, light board operator, electric run crew, sound board operator, wardrobe crews, design assistant and stage manager (just to name a few).

All of these people must do their jobs, perfectly, so that performances go forward without a hitch.

Ever wonder who keeps our world going?

The Bible tells us God is capable of simultaneously listening to and answering prayer, controlling the seasons and the weather, dispensing things like discipline, grace, and mercy.

He controls gravity and the tides. He keeps our planet and our solar system in perfect balance. He creates new life.

Gives the term “backstage crew” new meaning, doesn’t it?

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Think About These Things

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Philippians 4:8- “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Counseling his son as what to do about a recent break-up with a girlfriend, a father tells his son to “just forget about her.”

A concerned mother’s answer to her daughter’s sad demeanor is to tell her to “just think happy thoughts.”

 

When things aren’t going as planned or when someone disappoints us, we can turn to God’s Word, go to our Heavenly Father in prayer and seek the counsel of Christian friends because harboring ill feelings, taking revenge, or wallowing in self-pity steals our joy.

Forgiving others, extending grace and mercy to those we feel have wronged us, will keep our thoughts from wandering back to the negative and dwelling on what happened, rather than looking forward and restoring our relationships.

We need to keep our hearts—and minds—on Christ Jesus and those things that are pleasing to Him.

When we do, our burdens are lifted and the future looks brighter—

A future filled with hope and restoration.

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Be That One out of Ten

 

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Luke 17:17- Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”

 

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus healed ten men who had leprosy. Only one of them came back and thanked Him.

We often forget to thank God, too, even though we have so much to praise Him for—the healing of a physical ailment, provision of a necessity, an unexpected blessing.

The Easter season is often one in which we overlook the purpose, and get caught up in the secular aspects of the day—coloring eggs, putting together the family dinner, buying a new dress…

Let’s not take for granted His Mercy and Grace, His forgiveness of sins and His gift of salvation.

Praise to our Most High God. The author and finisher of our faith.

Thank you, Jesus, for your work on the Cross.

Thank you for the Resurrection and the empty tomb.

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Paying It Forward

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2 Samuel 10:2- “David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.”

 

I placed my order and pulled forward to pay for my meal at the fast food drive thru. Imagine my surprise when the teenager at the window said, “No charge. The lady in the car in front of you paid your bill.”

I honked, waived, and told the kind stranger thank you as I stuck my head out of the car window. “Have a good day,” she said as she drove down the busy street and out of sight.

What a nice—and totally unexpected blessing. It made my day. There was still some goodness left in our world, after all.

The idea called, “pay it forward,” leaves it up to me to perform a nice gesture for someone else.

Repaying kindness with kindness.

The phrase “paying it forward” may have originated after a movie featured it some years ago, but the Bible records many instances of similar acts done in Biblical times—David paying respects to Hanun at the death of his father, King of the Ammonites; Rahab’s life being spared because she hid Israelite spies on her rooftop to protect them from attacking soldiers, and so on.

When someone repays kindness with kindness, we all remark about how nice it was…how thoughtful…even unusual in our world today. It is almost unheard of, however, for someone to repay with kindness those who hurt them.

Repaying unkindness with kindness?

Jesus was flogged, beaten, spit upon, denied, ridiculed. Yet, he repaid those unkindnesses by dying on the cross for the sins of those people, as well as our own.

Only unconditional love would do that.

Only by the grace of God.

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What Do You Think He Wrote?

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My husband and I recently went to a Christian movie. In it, a local church puts on a play. One of the Bible stories it portrays is the story of a woman who is brought to Jesus with the allegation that she has committed adultery.

Punishable by stoning, Jesus directs that anyone who was sinless should cast the first stone.

When the story started, however, we read that Jesus was writing with his finger on the ground (in dirt, or sand, I am not sure).

Since scripture doesn’t reveal just what it was that Jesus was writing, it has been the subject of many debates over the years.

In the movie, the character of Jesus writes the word “GRACE.”

In reality, he may have been writing something quite different. He might have been simply doodling. We just don’t know.

However, because in the verses that follow Jesus offers the woman forgiveness, the word “grace” aptly fits this situation.

It is the same unmerited favor…the same undeserved pardon he offers us.

Grace.

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Father, I’m Home!

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Luke 15: 22-24 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

 

A soldier returns from battle.

A college student comes home for Christmas vacation.

A woman meets her birth mother for the first time.

Two friends reconnect after many years apart.

An estranged couple remarries.

Each scenario is a reason for rejoicing, isn’t it?

 

We don’t know the heartbreaking stories that lie behind each one, but we do feel the happiness in the reunions, don’t we?

We celebrate with each of those brought back together.

Relationships are mended and new memories can be made…

Hearts are joyous once again.

Although the word prodigal refers to someone who has spent money or resources recklessly or wastefully, that is not my “takeaway” from this Bible story.

Let’s focus on the fact that people were brought back together AND that relationships were restored.

Sometimes this happens simply because people return home after a time away, as in the case of the student and friends, above.

Other times, reconnections involve the element of forgiveness.

The prodigal son had wasted away his inheritance. He needed his father’s forgiveness. He humbled himself, seeking the restoration of their relationship.

God included this story in the Bible, I am convinced, to remind us that He forgives us…restores our relationship with Him…and that He wants us to follow His example in our own lives.

Is there someone in need of your forgiveness?

Or, is it you that needs the forgiveness of another?

In order for that to happen, two things must take place:  ~a humble, contrite heart of the one seeking forgiveness.  ~a willingness of the other to extend forgiveness.

In your case, it may not be an earthly relationship that needs mending. It may be your relationship with God that is in need of restoration.

If so, run to your heavenly father.

Let Him place the ring on your finger…

the robe on your shoulders…

and rejoice that you have returned home.

Experience anew what it is like to be wrapped in God’s grace!

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There’s Got to be a Word…

I John 4:9- “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

 

When I was a young girl growing up, Saturday mornings at our house were designated for cleaning. My favorite chore was dusting. I was able to close my bedroom door and put my favorite 45’s on the record player while tidying up.

One of my favorite songs was “There’s Got To Be A Word” (that means more than “love”). This was a romantic tune that tugged at the heart of every teenage girl in the 60’s. But, as I reminisce of days gone by, I wonder if there might really be a word that does mean more than love, or deepens its meaning, shows love in action

Babe in a Manger  (oops, more than one)

Cross

Immanuel

Nails

Messiah

Resurrection

Savior

Forgiveness

Adoption as Sons (sometimes just one word won’t do)

Mercy

Grace

Jesus

 

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