spiritualsnippets.com

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

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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Happily Ever After

 

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Romans 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

Although I always enjoy the process of beginning to write a new book, there is nothing more satisfying than the moment I type, “THE END.”

After months of writing, weeks of editing, cover selection, formatting—everything that is involved in producing a book—when it all finally comes together, it is a joy—and a relief!

Actually, we don’t type the words “THE END” anymore, but I remember the “olden” days when books and movies did bear those very words.

I also remember a variation in which the words “HAPPILY EVER AFTER” were just as prevalent—especially in children’s books.

I even recall Porky Pig stuttering at the end of his cartoons, “THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!”

But, in the real world, there is no “END.”

Many people think that death is the final goodbye. However, the Bible teaches that humans beings have eternal souls. It even says that it is totally up to each of us where we would like to spend eternity.

Putting our faith in Jesus Christ as our savior assures us that we can spend eternity in heaven, rather than hell. According to God’s Holy Word, those are our only two options.

If you have made the choice for Jesus, then I rejoice with you!

If not, I urge you to get a Bible and open to the book of John. Begin reading there. 

You will no doubt have questions, so please seek out a Christian friend or pastor. They will be able to lead you to faith in Christ. 

Recognizing that we are all sinners, each of us need to put our faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness. His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead gives us the assurance of an eternity in heaven with Him and other believers.

Your final breath here on earth—will be swallowed up in victory!

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No More Night

 

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Revelation 22:5– “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”

 

 

When I was a youngster, we often played outside with the other kids in our neighborhood. We’d stay out until it started getting dark and our parents would call us inside for supper.

Yes, when the light started to fade, we knew our play time was nearing an end.

The most enjoyable times in life go by much too quickly, don’t they?

But the Bible tells us that an eternal place is being prepared for each of his children who know him as Savior. In heaven we will have unimaginably wonderful experiences that will never end.

No pain or suffering. No boredom. No hunger. No pain.

We will have friendships and laughter.

We won’t need to go to church, because we will live constantly and consciously in God’s presence.

Luke 6:23 says we will “Rejoice…and leap for joy, because great (will be our) reward in heaven.”

And although many of us will know the happiness of having our parents there with us, they won’t be calling us in when it gets dark…

for Jesus, the Light of the World, will be there.

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No More Fear

 

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2 Corinthians 5:1-“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

 

3:00. Time to walk the dog.

We do fine on the first lap around the neighborhood. We meet and greet several others, then go on our way.

It’s not long until Baxter slows down.

When he falls behind, I give a tug on his leash.

The other neighborhood dogs run circles around us, walking proudly out in front of their owners. Baxter is quite a few steps behind me, now. I’m coaxing him along—leading him down the block.

Once home, he curls up on the sofa for his third nap of the day.

Yes, at seventeen, our faithful friend is feeling his age.

Every living thing ages, including pets and humans. We slow down. Sleep more. Eat and socialize less.

We tend to like staying home in familiar surroundings, often in our P.J.’s and slippers.

One day, realize we’re ready. Ready to go home.

We embrace the next phase: joining our Lord and our loved ones in heaven.

We claim the Biblical truth: to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We don’t fear death because we have the assurance of many scriptures, like the one above.

We claim victory over death because Jesus conquered its hold on us when he defeated Satan at the cross. Our acceptance of eternal life through Christ erases our fear of death and we rejoice as we arrive at our heavenly home.

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A Glimpse of Heaven

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1 Corinthians 2:9-  “…What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

 

 

Mom’s eyes were filled with tears when she recounted last’s night’s dream.

“I didn’t want to come back,” she sobbed.

“What do you mean? Come back from where?” I held her hand and brushed the soft gray hair away from her face.

“From Heaven. It was so beautiful. I just wanted to stay there forever.”

I slid my chair closer. “What was it like?”

“Oh. I-I-I don’t know how to explain it.” She paused, a faraway look in her eyes. “It was all laid out before me. It went on forever. And, all the colors. I’ve never seen colors like that before. The jewels—they sparkled like… Oh, it was so wonderful. I want to go back.”

I thanked God for the little glimpse of Heaven given to my dear mother who is now experiencing the last stages of Alzheimer’s—and for the reassurance given to me as she spoke those words just a few days ago.

Not that we necessarily want this life to end, but most Christians would say that they, too, look forward to Heaven.

Streets of gold, colors beyond description…

Although we may imagine what it will be like, our human brains cannot even conceive of its magnificence.

Jesus will be there and I cannot even begin to understand what it will be like to be in His presence, to sit at His table, and talk with Him face to face.

For now, though, I’ll just have to be content to dream along with Mom.

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A Place at the Table

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Revelation 19:7a- “Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”

 

Growing up, my Dad had a favorite chair in the living room. It was off limits, if he was home. It was his chair.

At the kitchen table, each of us had a designated chair. When Mom called us to dinner, we took our predetermined seats.

It probably works like this for most families—at least that’s what I’m told.

My sister is a terrific cook. When we eat at her house, we don’t care which chair we sit in. We’re happy just to be invited to dinner.

I look ahead to Heaven and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, as described in the book of Revelation. Imagine having dinner with our Lord and Savior!

I hope to be surrounded by family and friends, but I don’t care how the table is decorated or what kind of food is served.

I will be grateful just to be there—to have a place at the table.

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Choose Your Own Ending

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John 3:16- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

When I taught my creative writing unit to my third graders, I sometimes used what we called “story starters.” These were usually a paragraph or two which “started” a story.

Although the initial paragraphs were typed onto the students’ papers, I usually read them aloud—very dramatically, if I do say so myself—following up with the directions for the students to finish the story, using their imaginations. Afterward, volunteers read their story endings in front of the class or posted them on a bulletin board.

Most students loved creating their own endings. Some were happy, some exciting, some sad. All of the many variations, which had each started from the same initial teacher-written paragraph(s), ended differently.

In real life, we have choices to make which affect the stories of our lives, don’t we?

And, then there’s the ultimate decision—whether or not to follow Christ.

No matter what our personal “story starter” was, we each have the power to choose our own ending.

In my latest book, The Choice, Will Hayes rejects Jesus and later experiences the reality of hell.

It didn’t have to be that way, of course. He could have chosen Christ. He could have chosen life.

I wrote the book as an urgent message to those who have, yet, to make the choice.

The Bible says that God doesn’t want any of us to perish. He gives us the freedom to accept or reject Him.

The ending of our story depends on the choice we make.

Yes, the beginning of our story has already been written, but, we can still experience forgiveness for the less-than-perfect choices that have shaped our lives from that point forward.

We can still be assured of eternal life in Heaven, by accepting Jesus as our Savior.

 

How will your story end?

The choice is yours.

 

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Anyone for Ice Cream?

I Corinthians 15:42- “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.”

Within four days the flowers my husband gave me for our anniversary had wilted.

The peaches from my neighbor’s tree rotted the day after they brought them over.

Bananas turn black.  Milk sours.  Lettuce wilts.

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Preservatives extend the freshness of some foods, but even canned goods have a shelf life.

Cheese and some beef are said to taste better when they are “aged,” but the sad fact is that most foods aren’t so appealing after the expiration date.

Crows feet at the outside corners of our eyes is one telltale sign that people are growing older.

Diminished capacity to see and hear.

Muscle strength weakens.

Hair turns gray, thins, recedes.

One day fades into another. Eventually walkers and wheelchairs become our friends.

Our human bodies, like fruits and vegetables, are perishable.

If only we could have our youthful bodies returned to us!

The verse from I Corinthians assures us that Christians will have perfectly youthful, resurrected bodies when we go to meet our Lord.

We will be beautiful….physically perfect. We will be strong and have endless vitality. There will be no limits to what our heavenly bodies will be able to do.

By the way, the ice cream won’t melt either.  (Oh, yes, there’s sure to be ice cream).

 

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The Cross of Christ

I Corinthians 1:18- “The message of the cross is the Power of God.”   6298781578_b3e7278622

I wear a cross necklace. I rarely take it off. It is a daily reminder to me that Jesus died for my sins.

It is not an amulet. It does not protect me against evil, danger, or disease. It is a symbol of God’s great love for me.

I see crosses on walls in churches and homes. I see them on car windows and tattooed on arms. I see them on rings, bracelets, earrings.

Some are made out of stained glass, some are cast in silver, some made out of barn wood, some even tooled onto leather headbands and wristbands.

I would like to think that the cross is more than a fashion icon, room decor, or body art.

I would like to.

I would also like to think that everyone knows the real meaning of Easter.

I would like to think that everyone has heard the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

I would like to.

But, just in case…

The story is a simple one, really.

A story about how God—because of His great love—left Heaven to be born of a virgin and live among men. How, according to His plan and purpose, He allowed men to take his life.

He became the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He gave himself—shed His perfect blood—to make it possible for us to live with Him in heaven for all eternity.

It had to be this way. Because there was no other way.

Because perfect love didn’t say, “I won’t.”

Because perfect love said, “I will.”

The cross?

Its message is the Power of God unto salvation for all who will believe.

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A Simple Act of Faith

Revelation 21:27 – Nothing impure will ever enter it (Heaven)… but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

I watch on television as a news report shows guests arriving at the entrance to a resort hotel for the wedding of two Hollywood celebrities. Each name is checked against an official guest list before they are admitted to the gala affair.

I guess wedding crashing is a common occurrence, as I see a beautifully-dressed couple denied entry. They are escorted off the property by two security guards . Their tears and protests get no sympathy. Their names are simply not on “the list.”

The Bible tells of the Book of Life which contains the names of all of us on earth that have put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. If our names are written there, we will gain entrance to Heaven; if not, we will be turned away.

It is a simple act of faith on our part. It was a huge act of love on His part.

Jesus is the only perfect substitute for payment of our sin. As God’s sacrificial Lamb, He shed His blood on the cross for each of us. The Bible says that if we believe in our hearts that Jesus died on the cross for us and confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, we will be saved.

Be sure that your name is in the Book of Life. If you are unsure, start reading in the book of John…and keep going. Ask God to give you understanding of His Word so that you, too, will someday be able to profess your faith in Christ.

It’s a simple act of faith.

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