spiritualsnippets.com

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

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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The Perfect Choice

 

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Matthew 1:20- “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

 

Jesus took on the form of a man and came to earth. 

There are many instances of him praying to his Heavenly Father in scripture. But what about Joseph and the role he played as the earthly father to Jesus?

God chose him because he exemplified all of the good qualities that the Bible tells us are important to Him—things like gentleness of spirit, encouraging, humble, of godly character, honesty, truthfulness, patience, compassionate, loving, just/fair, and wise. 

He was a hard-working carpenter. Even though he didn’t make a lot of money, he was a good provider for his family. He was a man of prayer.

God chose Mary as a mother for His only begotten son, Joseph as a husband for Mary and father for Jesus. Knowing the heart of every man, God chose the perfect one.

I believe he chooses the perfect earthly father for each of us because he knows the kind of man each of us will need to nurture us and help us grow.

You may not realize it, now. You may even think I’m crazy. “If you only knew my dad,” you shout. “He’s far from perfect.”

You are right. I don’t know your earthly father. But, I know our Heavenly Father. And, I also know that we sometimes do not see the truth of things until many years later. 

I heard a story about a guy who had a harsh father who emotionally and physically abused him as he grew up. Yet, the circumstances of his life after he left home were hard and the strong character he had developed as he struggled with his mother to make ends meet, gave him the exact skills he needed to keep him alive during the next twenty years. It was later, as a missionary, that his story  was instrumental in bringing countless souls to Christ.

Today, I’m thankful for Joseph. God’s man on earth, who—with God’s help—protected and guided Jesus to manhood. 

 

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Light in the Darkness

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2 Samuel 22:29– “You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”

 

A couple of weeks ago, 13-yr-old Jesse Hernandez fell into a drainage pipe in L.A.’s Griffith Park.

Eleven feet down, in a six thousand foot search area, Jesse was in total darkness.

He may have not been able to see, but Jesse knew what to do. He prayed.

“I was praying for God to help me and not to die,” he said. “It was all quiet. You could just hear the water running through and you couldn’t see anything.”

Jesse kept praying and twelve hours later, he was rescued. 

The Bible says that Jesus is light and that in him there is no darkness at all.

He lights our path. He guides our way. 

Jesse’s physical eyes may have seen darkness, but his spiritual eyes gave him the confidence that his Savior was with him.

And Jesse gave God the glory.

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It’s Not About the Bunny

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Isaiah 53: 3-6~ “He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet, it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And, we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But, he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”

 

I heard a story this week of a man who was recently exonerated of three murders after spending 27 years on death row.

On a talk show, he said there was nothing more horrible about the whole ordeal than hearing the word, “guilty” when he knew he hadn’t committed those crimes.

Jesus heard those words and He, too, was innocent. He was also called names, treated cruelly, and even put to death for the sins of mankind.

Following His resurrection, he was called pure and blameless by Almighty God; then exalted to sit at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

As a Christian society, we have set aside Easter as a time to remember what Jesus did for us.

Let’s not make today about “The Bunny” or the eggs…not about a fancy ham dinner or sack races in the park.

Just as at Christmas we celebrate His birth, today let’s celebrate His death and resurrection.

Once again, let’s remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

 

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DON’T BLINK!

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I Corinthians 15:51, 52- “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

We have been watching the Olympics. It is full of triumphs and heartaches.

Often times, the difference between winning a medal and losing it comes down to a hundredth of a second—less time than it takes to blink an eye!

The scripture in I Corinthians describes the Rapture of the Church.

Believers who have died before this event will be raised from their graves and will be forevermore with the Lord.

Their new bodies will be imperishable. They will never again know pain, sickness, or disease.

And it will all happen in the twinkling of an eye!

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The Unopened Gift

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If someone told you that they have a Christmas present that they refrain from opening, and that year after year it remains wrapped underneath their tree, you would probably stare at them in disbelief and ask

“Why?”

Good question.

But, wait, do you have a gift you haven’t opened?

I think you know the one I’m talking about.

God gave us a gift when he sent his son, Jesus, to earth. But, have you put off opening your gift? Unsure of what to do with Him…how your life might change if you accepted God’s gift?

What if I told you that there’s not a gift—at any price—that could ever compare to God’s gift?

After all, could there be any better gift than forgiveness of sins…eternal life… unconditional love of Almighty God?

Amazing, huh?

This is a gift so special that you won’t want to exchange it, get a refund, or leave it unopened.

God is reaching out to you with a precious gift.

All you have to do is accept it.

Don’t think you’re worthy?

You’re right.

Not one person that has ever accepted God’s gift has been worthy of it.

Not one person has been able to earn it, either…because it’s a gift.

Right now, I’m asking God to give you the strength to lay your fears aside and reach underneath the tree—that place where you’ve left God’s gift unopened—and give you the courage to accept Jesus, His son, and the salvation that He brings to each of us who BELIEVE.

 

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Jesus, the Rock of Our Salvation

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Matthew 16:13-18   

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it.”

 

In my last blog, I became a victim of what can happen when one takes a verse out of context.

Yes, I usually do use just one verse in each of my weekly Snippets. However, that is not always a good idea, especially if one does not carefully read the verses preceding the highlighted verse.

That is precisely what happened when I chose Matthew 16:18. I made a common mistake in thinking that the verse referred to Peter as the rock, when, in fact, it does not.

So, I want to attempt to correct my error by studying verses 13-18 in Matthew this week.

In verse 13, Jesus is asking his disciples if they really know who he is. Verses 14 and 15 record their replies. Then, in verse 16, we see that Peter understands that Jesus is the Son of God. And, in verse 17, Jesus says that God the Father had opened Peter’s eyes to who Jesus really was. (Jesus had never before explicitly taught the disciples the “fulness of his identity.”)

So, we see in verse 18, that Jesus is referring to himself–that he is the rock–the foundation of our faith—and not Peter.

I hope I have adequately explained these important verses. I stand corrected by God’s Word.

 

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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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The Healing

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Luke 4:5-7   “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

 

I read a horrific story about a young man who was desperate to save his dying child. He had spent all of his money, borrowed from his mortgage, and sold all of his belongings in order to pay for the boy’s medical treatments.

Now, at the end of his resources and without another hope, he had an idea. He would bargain with Satan. He would offer to give his own soul to the devil if only his son’s life would be spared.

One day, he told his plan to an older man in the hospital waiting room. That man was able to share the scripture from Luke with the distraught father. He told him that in Jesus there is life. That all things were given to Him by God. That all authority is His, to the glory of the Father.

He convinced the young man that although Satan often tempted people with money, position, or power, the very idea that Satan had any authority to give these things was all lies. The older man persuaded the young father to put the life of his boy in the hands of the great healer—the author of life.

Just as Jesus wasn’t fooled by Satan’s offer of power and authority as they stood atop a mountain in Jerusalem, neither was the young father in this story.

Sadly, the little boy in this story did die. However, the young father’s faith was not shaken because he understood that his child was now with Jesus and that he would see him again one day.

He realized that it was he, himself, that had experienced healing—the healing of his own soul.

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