Freed from Sin

Bible:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4 ESV

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed John 8:31-36 ESV

Reflection:

Harriet Tubman was a slave in the United States who escaped and found freedom, and she became a leader in the underground railroad, helping other slaves escape. Even though it was very risky for her, she returned to the American South 19 times in ten years and helped over 300 slaves escape to freedom, one time to help her own parents escape, even though they were 70 years old at the time. Sometimes people who were escaping slavery would become afraid, or tired of the dangerous journey. They sometimes even wanted to go back, which would have been terrible for them and would have put other escaping slaves in serious danger. Harriet Tubman carried a gun, which she sometimes used to threaten people who were escaping to keep on with their journey. “You’ll be free or die!” she would say.

Paul didn’t try to threaten people with a gun not to turn back to a life of slavery to sin, but he did write to the Romans that it was foolish and wrong for people who had died to sin to want to go on living in sin. Some people thought that since Jesus had died to pay for all the sins of the world, and since God through his loving grace is always ready to forgive sin, then it really doesn’t matter how Christians live. They thought it was okay to keep on sinning just to let God do his work of forgiving! But Paul said that when we are baptized, we die with Jesus, and are buried with him, and are raised to a new life. This is very real, and it means that we die to the power of sin in our lives and live following God’s ways instead of our old ways of rebellion and wrong.

Dying to sin doesn’t mean that we never sin again, or never need God’s forgiveness. We need it every day, and God always gives us his grace because of what Jesus has done for us. But we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us turn away from sin, and this is another gift we need every day. It is foolish and wrong to turn away from this gift and continue to live a life of sin without wanting to change and follow Jesus. The Lord is always with us to help us and forgive us and give us the strength to follow him and live the new life he has given us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times we turn away from the new life you’ve given us in Jesus. Help us to follow and love you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p1535.html

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The Body of Christ

Bible:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” . . . If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. I Corinthians 12:12-21, 26 ESV

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. Psalm 133 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever gone to see an orchestra perform? There are many different instruments in an orchestra, and each one makes a different sound. Orchestra instruments can be put into four groups. There are the strings, such as the violin and the cello. These are usually played by drawing a bow across the strings. Then there are the woodwinds, such as the flute, the clarinet, and the oboe. Some are played by blowing across the mouthpiece, and some are played by blowing past one or two reeds. Another instrument group is the brass, such as the trumpet and the French horn. These instruments are long pipes that end in a bell shape, but the pipes are twisted and bent to make them easier to hold. They usually have valves to open and close different parts of the pipe. Finally there are the percussion instruments, such as the tympani, the gong, and the cymbals. These instruments are played by hitting them in some way. Every instrument in an orchestra is important, and they all work together to make beautiful music. If one kind of instrument were missing, there would be something lovely and important missing from the music.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the way they all fit together and each person was important, even though everyone was different and each person served a different function in the church. Paul didn’t use the picture of an orchestra, but instead he used the even more wonderful example of a body. All Christians are made part of one body, the body of Christ, through their baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each member of the body is different. Some people might be like hands, and some like feet, some like ears, and some like eyes. But no one needs to look at someone else and think, “I’m not as good or as important as that person.” And no one should look at someone else and think, “I’m better or more important than that person,” or even, “I don’t need this person.” We need all the parts of our own bodies to work together, and we need all the people in the church to work together and help each other and love each other.

We often don’t act like the body of Christ in the church, and this is because of selfishness and sin. But it’s not our love or our cleverness in working together that make us the body of Christ. Jesus has made us part of his body by dying on the cross for us and making us his own people. He loves and forgives us and helps us to work together. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and also the gift of each other. The Holy Spirit helps us to be what we already are, members of Jesus’ one body brought together by him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for making us part of your body. Help us to love each other and to work together for you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.arapahoe-phil.org/learn/resources-instruments-orchestra/

Wonderful Blessings Lost

Bible:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. I Corinthians 10:1-5 ESV

Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold,
and there was none among his tribes who stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they departed,
for dread of them had fallen upon it.

He spread a cloud for a covering,
and fire to give light by night.
They asked, and he brought quail,
and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.
He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
it flowed through the desert like a river.
For he remembered his holy promise,
and Abraham, his servant. Psalm 105:37-42 ESV

Source:

There was once a beautiful princess called Adelmina who had every wonderful gift she could want. When she was born, a fairy godmother gave her a beautiful pearl, and the promise that as long as she didn’t lose the pearl she would continue to grow more beautiful, wise, and rich every day, but if she ever would lose the pearl, she would not only lose her beauty, riches, and wisdom, but she would even forget who she was! The pearl was put into a crown that Ademina wore constantly, and as the princess grew, she indeed became more and more lovely, wise, and wealthy. Then one day her beautiful crown with the pearl fell into a spring when she bent over it to drink and to look at her reflection, and she immediately lost her fairy gifts and forgot who she was.

This is only a story, of course, but it’s a little like what happened to many of the people of Israel. God had given them incredible blessings. He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and led them safely through the Red Sea. He led them  through the wilderness with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day. He fed them manna every morning, and gave them a Rock that provided them with water when they were thirsty. But even so, many of them forgot who they were. They grumbled and complained and wouldn’t trust God to bring them into the promised land. They disobeyed God and worshiped a golden calf, and when they did that it was as if they threw away every good thing the Lord had given them. Most of them died in the wilderness and never came to the good land God had promised to give them.

Paul reminded the Corinthians about all this, and it is a good reminder for us as well. Jesus came to earth for us to die on the cross to save us from sin and death and hell. He is with us every day to help us and to lead us and to guide us. When we are baptized, he makes us his own people and gives us every blessing he won for us on the cross. He gives his people wonderful food in Holy Communion–his own body with the bread and his own blood with the wine. But we can throw away everything he’s given us and forget who we are. The Holy Spirit helps us and gives us strength every day, keeping us close to Jesus and using the wonderful gifts he gives to keep our faith strong. We realize how weak we are, and how much we need help to stay close to our Savior until the end.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please keep us close to Jesus, our Savior, through the help of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Alberg, Albert Whisperings in the Wood: Finland idyls for children London: W. H. Allen and Co., 1881.

Fear Turns into Rejoicing

Bible:

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16:25-34 ESV

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. I John 4:16-19 ESV

Reflection:

When two armies are at war, or if there is some other kind of violent conflict, if one side waves a white flag, everyone understands that this means surrender. A white flag means that the side that is waving it gives up and will admit to being the loser, or at least wants to stop fighting long enough to talk things over. White flags have been used since at least early in the Roman empire, and they’ve also been used for centuries in China. In China white is the color of death, and so waving a white flag might have meant that the losing side was admitting that they were in danger of dying if they didn’t stop fighting. A white flag is waved in fear and weakness, with the hope of mercy and help from the other side.

When Paul and Silas were in prison, they used the opportunity to continue to spread the good news about Jesus. At midnight they were praying and singing hymns together while the other prisoners listened to them, and suddenly there was an earthquake. The doors of the prison flew open and the bonds that held the prisoners in place all fell off. When the jailer saw and heard all this, he was terribly afraid. He had all the strength of the prison to hold the prisoners in their place, but something much more powerful than that had suddenly set everyone free. Under Roman law, if even one prisoner escaped while he was on duty, he would be put to death. So he took a sword to kill himself, but Paul called out, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” The jailer knew that he was beat. He didn’t wave a white flag, but shaking with fear he came and threw himself on his knees before Paul and Silas, asking what he had to do to be saved. Paul told him the good news, to believe in Jesus Christ. The jailer felt so happy that he washed the sore, bloody backs of Paul and Silas and brought them to his home and served them a meal. Then he and his whole household were baptized that very night. His fear had turned into the joy of knowing the love of Jesus.

We also rejoice in the love of Jesus. We were prisoners to sin and death, and we were full of fear. But Jesus came to defeat sin and everything evil by dying on the cross and rising again from the dead for us. Jesus has set us free from everything that could hurt us, and from the power of death and the devil that brought us so much fear. Jesus is much stronger than sin and evil, and we can trust him to take care of us. Instead of fear, we have love, and that gives us great joy.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for rescuing us from sin and death to be your people forever. Amen.

Source:

https://www.historyinorbit.com/history-white-flag-fascinating/

One in Christ Jesus

Bible:

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:23-29 ESV

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations. Isaiah 61:10-11 ESV

Reflection:

Do you wear a uniform at your school? Many schools have uniforms for their students, and there are many good things about uniforms. When everyone dresses the same way, no one can tell whether a student is rich or poor, or what neighborhood they come from. Students don’t have to worry about trying to impress their friends with the latest stylish clothes. They also aren’t allowed to wear clothes that are inappropriate. Everyone is the same, and covered with the uniform of the school. All of the students can concentrate on learning and studying.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he talked about the law holding us captive until faith came. He was using the picture of children who are going to inherit a lot of money. They aren’t allowed to have that money until they reach a certain age, maybe 25, and until then they have to obey their guardians. The law was like our guardian, keeping us under its control until we came to faith in Jesus and were set free. When we were baptized into Christ, we put Jesus on the way students put on a school uniform. Everything that had made us different from each other was gone in God’s eyes. Whatever our roles in this world are–Jewish or Gentile, slave or free person, male or female–in the end won’t matter. What matters is that we have Jesus, and his righteousness covers our sin and makes us his. Belonging to Jesus makes us one with each other, not worried about what makes us different, but instead focusing on what we have together in Jesus.

Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to the law, and he died on the cross to pay for our sins. This is why he can give us his righteousness as a robe to cover our sin and guilt. When we are baptized, he gives us the gift of himself, and also the gift of other people who share in our new life. We are free from the demands of the law to live lives of love and service to God and to others.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us your righteousness and for making us one with each other in you. Amen.

Chosen for a Mission

Bible:

Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3 ESV

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV

Reflection:

On July 20, 1969, the first men landed and walked on the moon. There were three men on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, and two of them, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, were able to leave the rocket ship and walk on the moon while the third man, Michael Collins, was the command module pilot and stayed in orbit around the moon. How did these three men get selected for this mission? There were a number of other astronauts who could also have gone. The space missions were given on a rotation basis, and the three men who served as the backups for one flight became the lead crew of another mission three flights later. It was just the circumstances that chose these three men to be on the flight that landed on the moon.

It was a little different in the church in Antioch. There were five men who were leaders in the Antioch church, and they were worshiping the Lord and fasting together one day when God the Holy Spirit spoke to them. He said that he had chosen two of these men for a special mission. Saul and Barnabas were the two men that God had set apart. It was time for them to leave their church and go out to tell the good news in other places. So the church in Antioch did what the Lord had told them to do. They prayed and fasted some more, and laid their hands on Saul and Barnabas and prayed for them, then sent them off to do what God had called on them to do.

God has also set us apart for his work. He made us his own through Jesus, who died on the cross for us, and brought us into his family through baptism. Each of us has a mission from God. Some people might become leaders and do exciting things, but others might do quieter work for God. They might be like the three leaders who stayed behind at the Antioch church, or Michael Collins, who stayed in the ship while his crewmates walked on the moon. Every job is important. Our job is to share the good news of Jesus with others, and to love and serve others every day through whatever we do.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us your children and for giving us work to do for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-apollo-program

New Brothers and Sisters

Bible:

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. Acts 10:44-48 ESV

And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit. Joel 2:28-29 ESV

Reflection:

Catherine Bunin was adopted. She had brown skin, but her mother’s skin was white, and she had a younger sister who was also adopted. Her little sister had much darker skin than she did. When people saw the two girls together or with their mother, they would sometimes ask Catherine, “Is that your sister?” People were amazed to think that they were a family when they didn’t look alike. It wasn’t the kind of family they were used to seeing. But Catherine knew that they were truly a family who belonged together, because adoption and the love of her parents had made it that way.

The Jewish believers with Peter were amazed when Cornelius and his family and friends received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This group of Gentiles was speaking in languages they hadn’t learned and praising God just as the first believers had done at Pentecost, and there could be no doubt that God the Holy Spirit had made them his own through faith. Peter knew that they needed to be baptized, and that there couldn’t be any argument to stop them from doing that. So Cornelius and his family and friends became the first Gentile believers who hadn’t first converted to Judaism. Even though they weren’t the kind of family members that the early church expected, God’s love and grace had made them part of the family. Peter stayed with them for a number of days and taught them more about their life in Jesus.

People who believe in Jesus have an amazing family that includes members from all around the world. Our brothers and sisters in Christ come in many different colors and speak many different languages. When we meet someone very different from us who is also a Christian, we can gladly say, “This is my brother,” or, “This is my sister.” The love of Jesus given to us on the cross opened the way for all people to be God’s children, and the gift of the Holy Spirit brings people from many nations and groups of people into God’s family forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your amazing family that Jesus won on the cross and that the Holy Spirit brings to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Bunin, Catherine and Sherry Bunin Is That Your Sister?: a true story of adoption Wayne, Pennsylvania: Our Child Press, 1992.

A Changed Man

Bible:

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. Acts 9:19b-22 ESV

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. II Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV

Reflection:

Eliza Doolittle had been a dirty, ragged young woman who had sold flowers for a living. She didn’t know how to speak or act like a fine lady, but one day a professor named Henry Higgins found her and took her into his home. He taught her how to speak and to act like an educated, upper class woman, and she was given beautiful dresses to wear. Eliza changed very much from her days as a flower seller, and when she went back to visit her old neighborhood, the people there didn’t realize who she was. They treated her like the fine lady she had become.

Saul also went through a change that made people very confused. He didn’t look or talk any differently, but the things he said were completely the opposite of what he had been saying before. In the past Saul had been an enemy of Jesus and his church, but now he was saying that Jesus was the promised Savior and the Son of God. The people in the synagogues of Damascus didn’t know what to make of this. They asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who was causing all kinds of trouble and came here to arrest people who believe in Jesus?” But Saul kept on preaching in the synagogues what he had come to know was the truth.

When we come to know Jesus as our Savior and have our sins forgiven by him, we become new people. In our baptism we die to sin and are raised to a brand new life. We still struggle with sin every day and need Jesus’ forgiveness, but the sin that hurts us doesn’t define who we are anymore. We have a new identity as followers of Jesus, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us give up our old ways and to follow him in our new lives. Our struggling lives in this world will come to an end, but the life we have in Jesus will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us new life in you. Amen.

Source:

Cukor, George, dir. My Fair Lady Warner Brothers Pictures, Incorporated, 1964. Film.

Saul is Baptized

Bible:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened. Acts 9:10-19a ESV

O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back. Isaiah 38:16-17 ESV

Source:

There’s an old story about the day Jesus died on the cross. The centurion who was in charge of the crucifixion was named Longinus, according to the story, and he was the one who pierced Jesus’ side to see if he was dead. Blood and water flowed out of Jesus’ side, and the water flowed over Demas, the criminal on the cross who had asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Demas was baptized with the water from Jesus’ own side before he died, and then went to heaven. Longinus, in the meantime, had had bad eyes all of his life, but the blood of Jesus flowed over his eyes, and he was healed and able to see better than ever.

This is only a legend, but it says something that is true. The blood of Jesus brings healing, and baptism into Jesus’ death brings forgiveness and new life. This is what Saul experienced after three days of prayer. God spoke to a man named Ananias and told him to go and find Saul and pray for him so that he would be able to see again. Ananias was surprised, and said to the Lord that Saul had been doing some terrible things to the people of the church. But God said that he had chosen Saul to carry the good news to all people–kings and the people of Israel and especially to the Gentiles. God had been showing Saul how much he was going to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Ananias obeyed the Lord and went to pray for Saul. When he came to the place where Saul was staying, he called him Brother Saul to show that he trusted that God had turned his life around, and Ananias prayed for him. Saul was healed of his blindness and able to see again, and then he was baptized and became a new person in Jesus.

What Jesus did for Saul is what he does for each of us. We were all lost in sin and needing forgiveness and new life, and Jesus died to win life and forgiveness for us. When we are baptized into Jesus, everything he has done for us on the cross becomes ours. God is also able to heal our illnesses, and we can go to him in prayer and ask him for help any time. We might not know healing from all our sicknesses right away, but we have the promise of life after death and complete healing when God makes all things new.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the forgiveness and healing and life that you give us through Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

Source:

Gaer, Joseph The Lore of the New Testament Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1952, p. 218.

On His Way Rejoicing

Bible:

And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. Acts 8:34-40 ESV

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually! Psalm 105:1-4 ESV

Reflection:

There was once an isolated valley in Wyoming where some homesteaders were trying to make a living for themselves, but a wicked cattle baron wanted the land they had claimed. He was doing everything he could to harass them and drive them from their land. One day a man named Shane rode into the valley. He lived with and worked for one of the families who were living in the valley. In time Shane became involved in protecting the settlers from the terrible things the cattle baron and his henchmen were doing, and in the end he shot and killed the cattle baron in self-defense. Now the valley was safe for the homesteaders to live in peace, and Shane rode away. He had made a difference to the people, and it was time for him to move on. A little boy named Joey begged Shane to come back, but he kept on riding away. Shane knew that he had left a better life behind for Joey and his family and that his work was done.

This is only a story, but it’s a little bit like what happened to Philip. He spent some time talking to the Ethiopian official and explaining the good news of Jesus to him. The Ethiopian man believed what Philip taught him. As they rode along together in the chariot, the official knew that he wanted to become baptized and to become one of Jesus’ people forever, so he asked Philip if he would baptize him. He and Philip went down into the water together and the Ethiopian official was baptized. As soon as that happened, the Holy Spirit carried Philip away to another place. His work with the Ethiopian man was finished. The official didn’t see Philip again, but he didn’t beg him to come back. He had Jesus, and that was more than enough. He continued on his way, rejoicing in his new faith in Jesus.

Sometimes people we love need to leave us and to move on to other places, and when that happens we sometimes feel sad. But Jesus will never, ever leave us, and people who love Jesus know that we will all see each other again someday. When my family said goodbye to some dear friends for the last time, they called after us, “See you in heaven!” We have the joy of knowing that Jesus won a place for all of his people in heaven, and that there will come a time when we will see Jesus face to face, and all the people who love Jesus will be there with us. Because Jesus died for us and made us his own people, we will be with him and with each other forever, and there will never be any more goodbyes.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for making us your people through our baptism into your death, and thank you for the joy of knowing we will be with you and with all of your people forever. Amen.

Source:

Stevens, George, dir. Shane Paramount Pictures, 1953. Film.