spiritualsnippets.com

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

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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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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Enjoy the Bounty

John 4:36- “Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”

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My sister and her husband plant a garden every spring. This requires a lot of work—especially in the hot Arizona sun. However, they reap the rewards of fresh vegetables for many weeks.

I have a friend whose parents are farmers. They have many acres devoted to corn. Even though family members have other jobs outside of farming, each one also helps with some aspect of the endeavor.

Each of them has distinctly different responsibilities. 

Some plant. Some harvest. All enjoy the bounty.

It is the same principle in God’s kingdom. The one who plants and the one who harvests are not necessarily the same person(s).

One sows the word in the heart of an unbeliever, another may nurture that person and lead him along, and someone totally different may be the one who leads him in the confession of faith, bringing him to salvation in Christ.

And all rejoice with gladness—along with heaven’s angels—when a new soul comes into the kingdom. 

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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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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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Are You Here, Again?

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Ephesians 1:13- “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

 

Think back to the moment in time when you accepted Jesus as your Savior.

I can still feel the exhilaration, the freedom, the joy.

It was an indescribable feeling. Nothing else has ever compared to it.

But, I kept going back.

That’s right. I needed the assurance that this was real—that God wasn’t going to change his mind…that I really was saved.

So, each week, when our pastor gave the invitation, I would walk to the front of the church and meet him at the altar. I saw the quizzical look on his face. He smiled with understanding.

Finally, he called me into his office for a conversation about salvation and explained why I could be assured of it…why I could be confident that I was, indeed, “really saved.”

Yes, salvation IS wonderful. It IS the best news ever. It IS amazing.

But, we don’t need to get saved, again, week after week. We don’t need to constantly pursue that initial feeling we had when the weight of sin was lifted from our shoulders.

We can rest in the assurance that faith in Christ brings.

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No Robots in Heaven

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I Peter 1:9- “…for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

For as long as I can remember, people have been fascinated by robots. And, every so many years, a new generation of robots is introduced, capable of so much more than their predecessors.

This week, on television, I was astounded to see a female robot with a modern haircut and wearing a stylish skirt and blouse.

The robot was so lifelike, it was incredible. It was one of the new line of “social robots” that are said to have personalities and emotions of their own. They show, and react to, facial expressions, engage in conversations, and even make eye contact. One such robot is actually “working” behind a Welcome Desk at a Singapore university!

While technology may produce lifelike robots that are difficult to tell from real persons, be assured that we will never see them in heaven.

Man may be capable of creating a lot of amazing things, but he cannot create a living soul.

Only God can do that.

And, only human beings with souls can experience what it’s like to have faith in God and receive the gift of salvation, the “end result of our faith.”

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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 Free Gift for You

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Luke 3:22- “… and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 

From her hospital bed, Lois opens a card with a familiar picture of a white dove on the front. The very sight of it warms her heart and reminds her of the peace of God.

Jenny pulls into the parking lot of a hospice thrift shop. She notices a familiar dove symbol on the sign as she enters the building.

Bill buys his wife a new Bible for her birthday. He has her name inscribed onto the leather cover, choosing the symbol of a dove to accent the beautiful printing.

What is it about the dove that makes it a popular symbol among Christians?

Two prominent stories in the Bible involve the dove. One is about the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descending upon him as a dove.

In Genesis 8, Noah released a dove after the flood. When the bird returned to him, it had an olive leaf in its mouth, letting Noah know there was dry land nearby. Many commentaries consider this as marking the end of God’s judgment and the beginning of a new covenant with man.

What is this “new covenant?” Jesus explained at his last Passover meal that his blood would be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28). By this, he was affirming that his death and resurrection was the means by which he would bring salvation to all who would believe.

No more would the offering of animal sacrifices be required to cover their sins, a ritual that required repetition on a daily basis. Instead, Jesus would shed his perfect blood once—for all.

A free gift for all who would believe in the Son of God for the forgiveness of sins.

Not because of righteous things that we might do, but because of His great mercy.

He loved us. He gave himself for us.

That we might have eternal life.

May the Holy Spirit descend on you, like a dove, declaring to you the good news of His salvation and the truth of the gospel…

For this reason, He endured the Cross.

 

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God Sent You a Valentine!

Romans 1:20- “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

In the very stars of heaven, God proclaims his great love for us.

God sent us a Valentine!!

His love knows no bounds. His message is written in His Word and in the heavenly bodies of the universe. That’s right!  They aren’t just beautiful creations of light hung there for our enjoyment. (Although that was certainly part of His intent).

They were, in fact, put there to tell God’s story of His love, and plan of redemption.

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Quite some time ago, my mother-in-law gave me the most fascinating book by the late James Kennedy called, The Real Meaning of the Zodiac. It contains his well-documented research, as well as that of eight other well-known Bible scholars. It is an astounding account of God’s love.

The book was printed as a special TBN Edition in 1989 and one of their most requested publications ever. In it, Dr. Kennedy unfolds the timeless story of God’s love—His Gospel in the stars.

The Bible tells us that He called all of the stars “the host of heaven,” that He numbered them, ordered them, and set them in the firmament to be signs. (Although their original meaning has been corrupted into something counterfeit by astrologers.)

His marvelous masterpiece, the art gallery of God, depicts the message of redemption revealing to man the account of the coming, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That’s right. The way of salvation is revealed beautifully for us in the heavens!

Dr. Kennedy begins the explanation of the true Zodiac with Virgo, or the Virgin and the birth of the incarnate Son of God. He continues the “great celestial preaching of the Gospel” with the other eleven signs, ending with Leo, The Lion, which depicts Christ’s victory over sin, the world, and Satan.

By citing specific scripture for each sign, Dr. Kennedy reminds us that God has done all of this so that we might know of God’s love…that we might know His son as our savior, and so that the glory of Jesus and his redemption might fill our hearts with wonder and praise.

He loves me. He loves you.

He has told us so in His Word, in the heavens, and by sending us the gift of salvation through his son, Jesus.

May you never look at the night sky in quite the same way again.

It is His Valentine to mankind.

 

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