spiritualsnippets.com

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

Nature Obeys His Voice

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Luke 8:25– “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

 

The gulf coast is bracing for yet another hurricane.

Disturbances such as tornadoes, tsunamis, and tropical depressions are in weather reports every day.

Heavy rainfall, hailstorms, blizzards—each are experienced somewhere in our world every hour.

Meteorologists track them.

Newscasters report them.

Citizens try to prepare for them.

But, none of us can change the weather.

That’s why the stories of Jesus calming the storms in the Bible are so miraculous. All of nature, including catastrophic occurrences, recognize and obey, His voice.

Just as the disciples cried out to Jesus for help when they were on tempest-driven waves, we can ask Him to calm the physical seas and/or the “storms” in our lives. 

The verse in Luke reminds us that if we have faith, we can take concerns of every kind to Him in prayer and trust Him to answer in accordance with His sovereign will.

 

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The Cross Was No Accident

Night view of Antigua, Guatemala from "Cerro de la Cruz"

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.”

 

The Cross.

For Christians, the symbol of hope.

The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation through the forgiveness of sins for all who believe.

The cross was no accident. 

His great love motivated the Creator to sacrifice His Son.

We have painted them, gold-plated them, encrusted them with jewels, decorated our walls with them, worn them around our necks…

What is it that draws our hearts to the cross?

The Bible says that we love Him because He first loved us.

I think we are drawn to the cross because it is there that He showed us the extent of His pure, unconditional, unending, indescribable love.

No, the cross of Christ wasn’t lovely. It was “rugged” as the old hymn describes it. Built with rough, splintered wood that was held together by crude nails.

Christ was nailed to it and died the death of a common criminal. How unbelievable He would do this for you and for me.

Yet, Jesus welcomed the cross. He had planned this moment from the beginning. It had all come down to this.

But the cross was no more the end for Jesus than it is for us. 

Coming to the cross with Thanksgiving for the love that put Him there, rejoicing at the open tomb announcing His resurrection, leaving our sin there and following Christ.

That’s just the beginning. 

Let’s celebrate it today. 

He is worthy of all praise. Crown Him with many crowns. Lord of Lords. King of Kings.

The precious  Lamb of God. 

 

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The Perfect Name

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A recent survey reveals that a high percentage of people regret what they named their child.

I can see why, can’t you?

Naming children after fruit, old movie titles, or using inventive spellings…

God’s son, Jesus, was given the name above all other names. A name at which one day every knee shall bow.

God won’t regret the name He chose because it is

The perfect name

For God’s perfect son.

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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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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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Rescued

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1 Corinthians 15:4- “(that) he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

 

This week, a man was rescued from an abandoned mine shaft in my home state of Arizona. He had been trapped there for three days.

No food. No water. Cold desert temperatures. Two broken legs.

Oh, I should mention that he fought off three rattlesnakes.

What joy he must have felt to hear human voices overhead and realize that he would soon be reunited with his family.

Jesus was in the grave three days. 

He didn’t need a rescue team because God the Father raised him from the dead. 

Jesus had been separated from Him for three days because of the sin he bore for us. I can only imagine his joy at being reunited with his Father.

Joy unspeakable awaits each Christian, as well. We will experience the joy of all joys when we are reunited with our Savior!

 

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The “Christian Game”

 

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John 14:6- “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

When I visit my parents at their assisted living apartment, they often suggest playing “the game.” (Actually, there are two games they like and we alternate playing them.) It’s a great ending to what sometimes is a stressful day filled with personal care, doctor visits, and organizational issues.

Playing games is fun. People connect, laugh, and relate to each other in an atmosphere that is usually non-threatening.

But, there is a game—a very serious one—that people sometimes play. It is very misleading to others, but can also be just as deceptive to the player, himself.

It’s the “Christian” game.

Let’s say a guy (we’ll call him Sam) accepts someone’s invitation to church. He’s comfortable there. He gets to know people. He joins in activities, sings the songs, listens to the sermons.

He looks—and acts—the part of a Christian.

He tells himself that he is a Christian because he does all these “Christian” things. And, others may see him as a Christian, too, not realizing that he has not yet made the most important decision of his life. 

In order for Sam to become a Christian, he needs to recognize that Jesus died on the cross for his sins, repent and place his faith in Him. He must depend upon Jesus--not himself–for his salvation, realizing that He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

Sam now desires to worship God and serve others because he in relationship with his Heavenly Father. Sam feels different inside because he is different. He is a child of God and his actions are now a result of this new life in Christ.

“Behold, all things have become new.”

The Christian “Game” is a thing of the past.

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The Valley of Decision

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Joel 3:14,15– “Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. There the day of the Lord will arrive. The sun and moon will grow dark and the stars will no longer shine.”

 

As I read from the book of Joel this week, the words I bolded in verse 14 stood out to me. I immediately felt a burden for those who are at a place in their lives where they must decide whether or not to follow Jesus—those who stand at a crossroads and know that the decision they have put off for so long must finally be faced.

The decision about what to do with Jesus is the most important one in a person’s life.

Who to marry, what car to buy, what job to take, how to discipline children effectively, which health strategy to follow—all are important, to be sure. But once a person realizes their eternal destiny is at stake, all other decisions pale in comparison.

Remember the old adage: Ignorance is Bliss? I would rewrite it to say: Ignorance is False Bliss.

A large percentage of people worldwide live each day for themselves, ignoring the spiritual side of life. Without regard for the eternal, they cling to a false sense of well-being.

But, whether they choose to say to themselves, “There is no God,” or believe God exists, but is  distant and unconcerned with the everyday lives of human beings, or hold to any number of beliefs in-between, the truth according to scripture is that each of us need to make a choice. 

God made His choice when he sent Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins. He chose to give us His gift of eternal life.

Then, he put the ball in our court. We must either accept his gift by placing our future in the hands of Jesus, or reject it. 

For me, that was an easy choice because I knew I wasn’t capable of saving myself.

What about you? 

Are you in the valley of decision today?

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Who Will They Look Up To?

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Matthew 5:48– “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

 

Children want to be like their parents—or like big brother or big sister. Athletes look up to their heroes. Workers often look up to their bosses.

What about you? Do you live a life worth emulating? What special quality do you have that others admire?

There are several friends of mine at church who are humble, sweet of spirit, truthful, and have a quiet strength. They provide good examples for others.

They are worth emulating.

But, God tells us to emulate Him—not a preacher, a celebrity, a war hero, or a friend.

He is the standard. He wants us to be holy—for He is holy. He tells us that lives of service to others, selflessness, and humility are lives that will lead to the greatest joy. They are lives that will keep our relationship with Him the strongest.

Many are reluctant to share their faith openly, but over the years many people have shared with me that they came to Christ because they saw something in someone else and said, “That person has something and I must find out what it is. I want what they have.”

There is a simple, quiet testimony that is at work when Christians live their lives in the fullness that God offers us when we believe in Him. 

It is my prayer that others see Jesus in us—and He definitely is worth emulating!

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Snow and Wool

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Isaiah 1:18– “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

As a child, I was fascinated by the story of Pinocchio, a puppet whose nose grew longer and longer with each lie he told—an outward manifestation of his inward sin.

As I got older, a required reading in school was The Scarlet Letter, in which a young woman is forced to wear a large letter “A” on her chest, branding her as an adulteress. Her shame was displayed for all to see…her humiliation public.

Still later, as an adult, I saw a movie in which a Chinese man who had stolen from his employer had his smallest finger cut off, a common punishment in their culture for those convicted of theft.

Fortunately, most of us will never have to bear such outward signs representing our sins. If we did, how grotesque some of us would look!

Inside each one of us is a sinful heart. For some, the load of increasing guilt is often too much to bear. This is often the cause of rising numbers of suicides in many countries around the world.

So, how does one live with a load of sin? Is there a cleansing for the brokenhearted? Some kind of absolution?

Jesus says the heart can be made whole again. By confessing our sins to Him and repenting, we will be forgiven. It is by His perfect sacrifice on the cross that the penalty for our sins is paid.

God is our only true and righteous judge. He sees Jesus’s atoning blood, not our sin, when he looks at the hearts of those who have repented and received salvation through his son.

No, Christians will not be required to display their sins outwardly. No long noses for us.

Instead, we bear the radiance of the forgiven. Knowing that when God looks at our hearts, he sees Jesus, our Savior, who paid the price for our sins.

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