Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Way, The Truth, and the Life (John 14:6)

My dog looks and acts a lot like a lamb. Did you know that sheep will follow only their shepherd? My dog, Maggie, follows only me. When my grandkids or other friends walk with us, sometimes they want to hold her leash. But guess who she follows? Yep, it's me. She's always looking to see where I am. Did you know that sheep have to be led to water or food, and they will only eat or drink from their shepherd? Maggie is like that too. She eats what John, my husband, and I give her but not what strangers give her. Did you know that sheep will obey only their master? Maggie's like that. She comes only when I call her. Sometimes she will give a paw shake to my grandkids, but she saves most of her obedience for me.

One of my favorite pictures is of Jesus holding a lamb. Lambs like to be held. So does Maggie. She wants to be in my lab or in my arms all the time. She thinks that's what I'm here for.

I compared Maggie's relationship to me with my relationship to Jesus. Because I read His word, I learn His ways more and more. That is huge in today's world, because many people and things compete for my allegiance. Since Christ is my shepherd, I cannot be deceived. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6). So I will follow only Him, feed only on His word, obey only His commands, and experience His glorious presence every day.

Think About It
How about you? Will you find the truth in what Jesus says? Will you follow Him all the days of your life? Will you obey His commands and enjoy His presence? If your answers to these questions are "yes," you have great hope for your future, for eternity. Praise God!

Pray About It
Thank you, Father God, that you sent Jesus to teach me how to live and to die for me because I could never be perfect. Thank you that my perfection and strength are in Christ alone. Amen.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Dog Got Skunked

My dog, Maggie, can hear things that I can't. Sometimes I think she is imagining things. Like the other night--she kept going outside barking and barking. I thought she was chasing cats. She hates cats! Well, then I heard her running and barking around the apple tree. Then I smelled that horrible scent of a skunk and I knew Maggie was in trouble.

Half asleep, I went to the family room where the doggie door is. Maggie ran in scared, really scared. I picked her up (big mistake). She had that smell on her and the smell got on me. In my slumber I dowsed her and myself with baby powder and went back to sleep. Frankly, the powder didn't work. It smelled good at first but when I woke up, I realized we both got skunked, and so did our bed.

Getting skunked made me think how sin works. When I know I've done something that doesn't please God, I am tempted to do some wonderful things (like using baby powder) so God won't think about my sin. It doesn't work that way. I found out that when I confess my sin, God is faithful to forgive me. Then I don't have to worry about balancing the scale of doing good for every time I sin. The most important thing is that I pray for God to help me live for Him.

If you or your pet get skunked, don't use baby powder. Here are some things you can do that will help:
  1. Don't pick up your pet without first wrapping it in a towel and don't let him/her touch anything in your house, especially your bed.
  2. Bathe your dog using some of these solutions: a peroxide/baking soda bath, orange bath, soda bath, fabric softener bath, or commercial skunk smell removers. Find prices and directions here:
Do you try to balance good deeds against wrong things you do? Remember this verse: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NIV).

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your faithfulness and always being here to get the stink of my sin off of me. I love you. Amen.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Sixth Commandment

Have you ever been angry with someone? Even Jesus was angry. His anger was a righteous anger, like the time the moneychangers and merchants setup shop at the temple. They thought they were offering a good service for travelers coming from far away to the annual Passover, by providing animals and doves for sacrifice. Yet, they made the temple into a den of thieves and Jesus' anger caused Him to straighten things out by turning over their tables and scattering the animals.

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment." Jesus' exact words from Matthew 5:21. Paul said in Ephesians 4:26, "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." Do you know why? If we hold on to our anger, it could grow into grudges, bitterness and malice. That means it could get so out of control that we could murder someone.

While Jesus was with His disciples the last time, He said, "Love others as I have loved you." Did you know that love is the answer to anger? By following Jesus' commands we will obey the sixth commandment, "Do not murder," Exodus 20:13.

Lord Jesus, help us in our anger to be more like You. Help us not to sin but to love as You do. Help us to straighten things out before the sun goes down. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Gifts of the Magi

January 6 is a Christian holiday known as Epiphany. Besides being the twelfth day of Christmas, we remember the visit of the Magi or the Wise Men with the Christ child. They brought gifts and they have significant meaning.

Gold is precious across all nations and cultures. It is fit for royalty and said to the Christ child, You will be a King.

Frankincense is a milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree and is known for its calming, restorative, and meditative properties. Ancient people burned Frankincense, believing it carried their prayers to Heaven. This gift illustrates Christ's role as Priest.

Myrrh is the resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree that grows in semi-desert regions along the Red Sea. It is known as a wound healer because of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Yet the most popular use is as an embalming ointment. After Jesus died on the cross, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea anointed Jesus' body with myrrh. This is the gift that signifies Jesus as our Savior.

Epiphany commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi. For more fascinating information regarding the gifts of the Magi, follow this link:

The gifts of the Magi inspired the annual tradition of Christmas gift giving. What gift did you give or receive this Christmas that has lasting value?

Thank you, Father God, for the greatest gift of all, the gift of love in Your Son and our Lord Jesus. Help us to love as you do so others may come to know your love too. Amen.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ten Said "No," Two Said "Go"

After wandering in the desert many years, Moses commanded representatives from every one of the twelve tribes of Israel to explore the land of Canaan (the Promised Land). "Go up through the Negev and into the hill country. See what the land is like. Are the people strong or weak? Are there lots of them or just a few? Are the cities fortified or unwalled? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there any trees? Do your best to bring back some fruit of the land," (Numbers 13: 17-20).

The results? Ten reported, "The land flows with milk and honey. Here is its fruit. But the cities are fortified and large. The people are giants and we are as grasshoppers to them. But Joshua and Caleb said, "The land we explored is good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into the land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Do not rebel against the Lord. Do not be afraid of the people. The Lord is with us," (Numbers 14:7-9).

Yet the people were afraid and wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb. They grumbled against Moses and Aaron, so none of them crossed over the Jordan into the promised land, but died in the desert. Joshua and Caleb led the next generation into the promised land and God fought their battles and overcame the nations so Israel could inhabit the land.

Do you remember any of the names of the ten who said "no"? I didn't think so. If you are curious, you can read them in the 13th chapter of Numbers. They died because of their unbelief. You know what unbelief causes? Grumbling. Unbelief focuses on circumstances. Faith focuses on God, what He has done and what He can do. Joshua and Caleb had faith. They trusted God to go before them and fight their enemies. Do you have enemies? Maybe they are bullies at school. Maybe they are desires to have things you can't have. Maybe they are feelings that you are better than other kids. Trust God to defeat your enemies, whatever and whoever they are, so He can make His home in your heart and life.

Thank you, Father God, for examples like Joshua and Caleb, who trusted you instead of being discouraged by their circumstances. Help us to trust you to overcome anything that gets in the way of our relationship with you. Amen.