Nothing will be Impossible

Bible:

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:34-38 ESV

For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:5-7 ESV

Reflection:

The Starship Enterprise was stuck in the orbit of a planet, and if they couldn’t get away from the planet quickly they would crash into it and die. Captain Kirk ordered his engineer, Scotty, to start the ship’s engines immediately, but Scotty insisted that the engines needed a half hour to warm up before he could do that. The captain knew they didn’t have that much time, so he ordered Scotty to start the engines right away. Scotty though it would be impossible. “I can’t change the law of physics! I’ve got to have 30 minutes!” he told Captain Kirk. But what Scotty thought would be impossible was actually possible, and they were able to get away from the planet before crashing.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like the way Mary reacted to the angel’s news that she would be the mother of the promised Savior. She didn’t know how that could be possible, because she wasn’t married yet. But the angel reminded her that nothing was impossible with God. Mary could have remembered the many miracles God had done for his people over the centuries, and how things that had seemed impossible were possible with the Lord. The Angel Gabriel also told Mary about another miracle that God was doing at that time. Her cousin Elizabeth, even though she was an old woman, was expecting a baby. The Lord can do anything he wants to do, and when the angel reminded Mary of this, she said that she would give herself to the Lord’s will.

The Lord is always able to do things that seem impossible, and the greatest thing he did was to conquer sin and death and all the forces of evil for us. When Jesus died on the cross, his followers didn’t think they would ever see him alive again. Dead people don’t walk out of their graves, and anyone would have said that such a thing was impossible. But Jesus is God, and God can do anything. He came out of the grave on the first Easter Sunday, and showed that he is stronger than death and the devil. We know that he will also bring us out of our graves someday and into his heavenly kingdom, where we will live with him forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for doing the impossible for us and for making us your people forever. Amen.

Source:

Black, John D. F. (Writer) & Daniels, Marc (Director). (1966). The Naked Time [Television series episode]. Gene Roddenberry (Producer), Star Trek. New York: National Broadcasting Company.

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The Favored One

Bible:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:26-33 ESV

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:6-7

Reflection:

Once there was an African king named Cophetua. He didn’t have a wife, but one day he looked out the window and saw a beggar woman named Penelophon. He fell in love with her and decided that she would become his wife and his queen, so he went out with some coins and gave them to all the beggars in the street. When Penelophon came up to him he took her by the hand and told her that he loved her and that he would marry her and make her the queen. So Penelophon went from being a beggar to being a queen, and she and the king lived happily together until they died.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like what happened to Mary. She was a humble young woman who lived in a little village called Nazareth, but one day the Angel Gabriel appeared to her with some amazing news. He told her that she was highly favored by the Lord. Mary was afraid and worried about what all of this meant, so the angel explained it to her. God had chosen Mary to be the mother of the Messiah. Her Son would be the one God’s people had been waiting for for centuries, the one from David’s line who would be the king forever. The Lord was giving Mary an amazing, incredible honor.

God has given us his favor, too, through Jesus the Son of Mary. We haven’t been chosen to be the mother of God’s Son, but we have been chosen to be God’s people. We were as weak and helpless as beggars, but God has taken us from the sin and death that had us in their power and brought us into his kingdom. Jesus came to defeat sin and death by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead, and because of Jesus, we have all of God’s love and favor, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for showing us your love and favor through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/boeb/boeb04.htm

Too Wonderful to Believe

Bible:

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.” Luke 1:18-25 ESV

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:14-17 ESV

Reflection:

Kris was a very nice old man who claimed to be Santa Claus. No one really believed him, but when he had to go to court and prove that he was who he said he was, a young lawyer named Fred defended him. Fred said he believed in Santa Claus and in everything he stood for, and he did such a good job of defending Kris that he won the case. However, Fred didn’t actually believe that Santa Claus could do anything for him. When Fred found a lovely home for sale that he could settle down in with his family, he suddenly saw a cane that belonged to Kris standing in a corner of the house, and he realized that Kris really was Santa Claus and had helped him find the house that was just right.

Zechariah was a little bit like Fred. He believed in God and that the Lord would keep his promises to send a Savior, and he also knew that God had often helped people who were very old to have a baby, including Abraham and Sarah long before. But when the Angel Gabriel told Zechariah that the time had come for the Lord to keep his promises, and that he and his wife Elizabeth were going to be the parents of the messenger God had promised, he didn’t believe it. God disciplined him for his doubt by making him unable to talk for awhile, but he also showed Zechariah great mercy by not taking away the wonderful promise of a son in his old age. Soon Elizabeth was expecting a baby, and she and her husband knew that God keeps his promises, no matter how impossible they seem.

We also sometimes have a hard time believing that God can do wonderful things for us. We sometimes think we have to earn his love and forgiveness for ourselves instead of trusting in what Jesus did for us on the cross. And when people we love who believe in Jesus die, we might wonder if we’ll ever see them again, and we also feel afraid when we think about our own death. We know that God promises us forgiveness and life forever with him, but it all seems too wonderful to be true. But we can always count on God’s promises. Jesus didn’t stay dead when he gave his life for us, but he came out of the grave and lives forever. We can be sure that all of God’s promises will come true for us in Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all your wonderful promises to us. Please help us to trust you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Seaton, George, dir. Miracle on 34th Street 20th Century Fox, 1947. Film.

A Son is Promised

Bible:

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:5-17 ESV

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. Malachi 4:4-5 ESV

Reflection:

King Henry VIII of England had no son, and he wanted a son very badly to be the heir to his throne. He even divorced his wife so that he could marry another woman and have a son with her. But when his new wife had a child, it was a daughter instead of a son. Shakespeare tells about the birth of this little girl named Elizabeth:

“This royal infant–heaven still move about her!–
Though in her cradle, yet now promises
Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings”

Shakespeare knew that this little girl would grow up to be the great Queen Elizabeth I, and so he made up a prophecy about her greatness in one of his plays. In the play Henry is happy about the promise, although things weren’t quite as happy in real life.

An old priest named Zechariah and his wife wanted a son very badly, but they were very old and it had never happened. But one day when Zechariah was burning incense at the Lord’s altar an angel appeared to him and told him that he and his wife would have a son. This little boy wouldn’t be just any son, but instead he would become the messenger the prophet Malachi had promised. This boy, whose name would be John, would prepare the way for the Messiah. God’s time to send the promised Savior to his people had finally come, and Zechariah would be the father of the one who would prepare the way for the Savior.

God always keeps his promises to his people, and he always answers their prayers in the best way and at the right time. Whenever we wait for answers from the Lord, we can know that he sent Jesus, our Savior, when the right time came. Jesus died on the cross so that we could become God’s people forever, and in Jesus the Lord keeps all his promises to us. He sends us his Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to receive him and to keep us his people always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for keeping your promises to us, and especially for sending us the promised Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Shakespeare, William Henry VIII

The Word Became Flesh

Bible:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:1-5, 9-14, 16-18 ESV

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. I John 1:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

Hudson Taylor was a British missionary to China in the 1800s. At that time foreign people mostly stayed in the five treaty ports of China, and never went further into the country or met the many Chinese people who lived inland. Hudson Taylor started his work in the treaty port of Shanghai. He saw other missionaries spending most of their time with businessmen and diplomats from their own country and helping them with translation work, and he wanted to reach the Chinese people with the good news about Jesus. One thing Hudson Taylor did was to stop dressing like a foreigner, and instead to dress in Chinese clothes and wear his hair in a pigtail the way Chinese men did at that time. He learned the Chinese language and left Shanghai to move into the interior of China, away from the treaty ports and close to where the Chinese people lived. He lived as one of the Chinese people and shared the Gospel with them.

What Hudson Taylor did is a small picture of what Jesus did for us. About 400 years passed after Malachi spoke to God’s people, and the time for the promised Savior had finally come. The Gospel of John calls Jesus “the Word,” and says that he is with God, and that he is God. John says that the Word had been there at the creation of the universe, and that all of creation happened through him. This same Word, God the Son, came into the world that he had made, and he came as one of us. In Jesus, God became a human person for us. He came to his own people who had been waiting for him for so long, but most of them didn’t believe in him. He is like a light in the darkness, and no matter how deep the darkness is, it can’t put out the light of Jesus.

Hudson Taylor came to the people of China to share the good news with them, but Jesus came to the people of the world because he, himself, is the good news. He came to show us what God, our Heavenly Father, is like, and to bring us the forgiveness of sins that makes us the children of our Heavenly Father. Jesus has brought us out of the darkness of sin and death and into the light of his love.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for becoming one of us and for bringing us into your light. Amen.

Source:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/missionaries/hudson-taylor.html

Getting Ready

Bible:

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:4-6 ESV

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5 ESV

Reflection:

Being a nurse is a challenging and rewarding job, and people who become nurses have to go to school first and learn how to do the work. At school they study books and learn the right way to do things and the reasons why things are done a certain way. After they have studied for awhile, the students practice doing the work. They might practice on dolls as big as people, and they might also practice on each other. When they practice, their teachers watch them and tell them what they are doing wrong and what they need to improve. All of this studying and practicing helps them get ready for the big day when they first start taking care of real people.

The prophet Malachi talked about the people getting ready for the promised Savior. First he talked about the law God had given them through Moses. This law showed them what God was like and how he wanted them to live. Then Malachi told them again about a messenger who would be like Elijah and would come and get people ready to meet the promised Savior. This messenger would call people away from their sins and bring families back together so that fathers could teach their children the ways of God. The Day of the Lord was coming, and if people weren’t ready to meet the promised Savior, they would instead earn God’s judgment.

John the Baptist was the promised messenger, and he called the people to turn away from their sins. They had not followed God’s law, and they deserved his judgment, but if they would repent, the promised Savior would forgive them and bring them back to their Heavenly Father. Jesus was the promised Savior, and this promise is also for us. We’ve sinned against God’s law, but Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. We can come to Jesus every day for forgiveness and help. He sends us his Holy Spirit and helps us to follow God’s ways. Instead of judgment, we have the Lord’s blessing, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to give us forgiveness and blessings from our Heavenly Father. Amen.

The Sun of Righteousness

Bible:

For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 4:1-3 ESV

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:35-36 ESV

Reflection:

Some people get very sad and depressed when fall and winter come, especially if they live far from the equator and the days get very short. There isn’t much sunshine, and the sun rises later and later and sets earlier and earlier. One thing that doctors do to help people with this problem is to give them some bright lights to sit by every day. This helps, but what can be even more helpful is for them to make sure they get as much sunshine as they can. Even if it is cold, people who get sad during the winter should sit outside, take a long walk every day, and eat lunch in a park if they can. They should open their blinds to let the sunshine into their home and trim back tree branches that block out the sun. The light of the sun brings healing to people who are sad and depressed.

The prophet Malachi spoke words from the Lord that used a lot of pictures. He talked about wicked people who would be burned like the stubble of plants, all the way down to the roots. Then he talked about the rising sun of righteousness with healing on its wings. This gives us the picture of the healing the light of the sun can bring to people who are sad and depressed. Then Malachi talks about God’s people being as happy and joyful as young calves, leaping out of their stalls to eat fresh grass in the spring. Finally, the prophet gives us the picture of the people of God stamping on wicked people. People who continue to rebel against the Lord and hurt his people will not have any power to cause them pain anymore.

The promised Savior came to bring these blessings to everyone who believes in him. Jesus brought healing with him, and he not only healed people who were sick, but he also brought the good news that God’s kingdom had come in him. Jesus brought us into his kingdom when he died on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven. We don’t have to be afraid of God’s judgment because Jesus has paid for our sins. We know that in God’s time we will know full healing from every sickness and sadness, and that a time will come when the evil in this world will no longer hurt us. Jesus defeated sin and all the forces of evil, and at the final judgment he will bring all death and sorrow to an end and let us share in his final victory forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love and forgiveness and healing. Amen.

Source:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20021047

Robbing God

Bible:

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:6-12 ESV

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. II Corinthians 8:1-5 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a man and his wife who didn’t like to share anything with anyone. They would invite a guest to their home for dinner, but they never wanted to give the guest any food. So when dinner was served, the man would ask his guest one question after another so that the guest wouldn’t be able to eat, and then his wife would take a turn asking questions. The poor guest would never get a bit of food, because the husband and wife would eat it all while they kept him talking, and then they would say, “Why didn’t you eat? Now, unfortunately, there is nothing left. You shouldn’t talk so much.”

Malachi spoke to God’s people for doing something similar. They didn’t want to give anything to God, and instead they wanted to keep all the blessings God gave them for themselves. Even though everything they had came from the Lord, and he had given them the law that they were to remember him by giving a tenth of their income as well as special gifts, they weren’t giving the Lord the gifts they should have. These gifts were meant to keep the worship in the temple going, and they were a reminder to the people that they and everything they had really belonged to the Lord, and that they should put God first in their lives. Because they weren’t doing that, God was withholding his blessing of rain and sending pests to destroy their crops, but he promised to pour down his blessings on them if they would return to him.

God doesn’t really need our money or the other gifts we give, but he does want our hearts and our lives. When we give God ourselves, we make it priority to give money to support the things of God and to help others. The Apostle Paul talked about some Christians in Macedonia who were very poor, but they gave themselves to God, and when they had done that they were able to give very generously to help the poor, even though they didn’t have much for themselves. God came to us in Jesus and gave himself up for us on the cross. Jesus gave us his life so that we could be God’s people forever, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us give our hearts and our lives back to him, and to cheerfully give money to the things of God and to help other people.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving yourself for us. Help us to give you our hearts and our lives. Amen.

Source:

http://www.jewishpress.com/kidz/midrash-stories/the-stingy-host/2015/01/23/

The Refiner’s Fire

Bible:

Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. Malachi 3:1-4 ESV

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

[John said:] “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:1-2, 5-6, 11-12 ESV

Reflection:

In the ancient world, the way to refine gold or silver was to use fire. The ancients would use a blast furnace, built of clay or stone or rocks, and build a very hot fire in it. Besides a blast furnace, they needed a crucible, which was a container of clay or cast iron. The rocks that people wanted to refine were put into the crucible, and then heated in the blast furnace. The silver or gold would melt and then be separated from the impurities in the rocks, and in that way the precious metals would be made pure and ready to use for coins or jewelry or other purposes.

The prophet Malachi talked about a messenger who was coming to prepare the way for the Lord, and then soon after the messenger came, the Lord himself would come to his people. It was a day God’s people were looking forward to, but Malachi warned them that the coming of the Lord would be very difficult. The promised Savior would be like a refiner of silver or gold, and would purify his people of their sins. He would speak words of judgment to the people that would burn them like a fire.

The messenger God promised was John the Baptist, and Jesus is the promised Savior. Both of them spoke words of judgment to the people against their sins. We also are sinful people and deserving of the judgment they proclaimed. But Jesus took all the judgment of God on himself when he died on the cross for us. Because of what Jesus did, our sins are forgiven. Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to purify our lives, and he helps us to offer ourselves to God and to live lives that are pleasing to him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for taking on God’s judgment for our sakes. Please purify us from sin and help us give our lives to you. Amen.

Source:

http://www.coinandbullionpages.com/silver-gold-history/gold-refining-equipment-of-the-ancient-world.html

A Foolish Trade

Bible:

Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the Lord, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.

And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord‘s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:10-11, 13-16 ESV

And Pharisees came up to [Jesus] and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:3-6 ESV

Reflection:

Hans had worked hard for seven years, and now it was time for him to be paid and to go home. He had been a very good worker, and his master gave him a lump of gold as big as his head. It was heavy and hard to carry, and when Hans saw a man ride by on a horse, he asked if he could trade the gold for the horse. This was a very foolish trade, but Hans didn’t stop to think about how much his gold was worth or what he could do with the gold after he got home. All he could think about was how heavy it was getting, and how fast the horse would carry him. But the horse’s owner wasn’t so foolish, and he quickly made the trade.

God’s people were making the same kind of foolish trade. The men were divorcing the women they had married when they were young, and some of them were marrying foreign women who worshiped false gods and goddesses. They were giving up on the marriages that God wanted to bless. The Lord would have given these marriages his Holy Spirit so that they could worship and serve God together and have children they could raise to love the Lord, but instead the men were marrying women who would turn their hearts away from God and teach them to worship false gods. The prophet Malachi told them that it was as terrible as violence when they broke their promises to their first wives.

God hates the broken promises of divorce and the way children are hurt by it. He also wants his people to marry other Christians so that they can worship the Lord together and raise their children to know him. When divorce happens, it can feel like being hit hard in the stomach. People sometimes sin against God and let others down, but even if that happens, we can be sure that the Lord will never let us down. The Bible sometimes pictures Jesus as a loving husband who cares for his people the way a good husband loves his wife. Jesus came to give his life for his church, and his death on the cross gives us his forgiveness and love always. Jesus will never leave us or stop loving us, no matter what.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving us and dying for us so that we could be your people always. Amen.

Source:

http://germanstories.vcu.edu/grimm/hans_eng.html