Overcoming the World

Bible:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? I John 5:1-5 ESV

[Jesus said:] “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV

Reflection:

Long ago a 12-year-old boy named Alexander tamed a wild horse named Bucephalus, a huge stallion with a very fierce temper. Bucephalus became Alexander’s battle companion for most of the rest of his life. Alexander’s victories didn’t stop with overcoming a wild horse. When he grew up he went on to conquer most of the known world and to set up the largest empire history had seen up to that point. He was a brilliant and often cruel military leader who never lost a battle in his life. He conquered Egypt, Persia, and India, and today we know of him as Alexander the Great.

John talked about overcoming the world, but he meant a different kind of overcoming than the kind that comes by force and military victory. He talked about loving God and obeying his commandments and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. In these quiet and gentle ways, we overcome the world. It’s not our acts of love and obedience that actually overcome the world, though. It’s the fact that we are born of God and have faith in him that overcomes the world. Believing in Jesus is what turns everything in our hearts and lives around to a new purpose and overcomes the evil forces in this world that work against God.

Jesus truly overcame the world when he came to live among us. He went to the cross to overcome the forces of sin and death and evil, and by his death and resurrection he accomplished the victory. When we believe in Jesus and are born into his family by faith through our baptism, his victory over sin and death becomes our victory as well. That’s why we can say that our faith overcomes the world. Our victory isn’t in anything we can do for ourselves, but instead it completely depends on everything Jesus has done for us. He has made us his people, now and always, and nothing in this world can take us away from him.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for overcoming the world for us, and for giving us the faith to overcome through you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/alexander-the-great

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Washing and Renewal

Bible:

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7 ESV

Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. Acts 2:38b-39 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old story that when Jesus was a baby, a woman who had leprosy came to Mary and asked for help. She wanted to be healed from her leprosy, and Mary said that she could help her. After she had given the baby Jesus a bath and put him to bed, she gave the woman Jesus’ bathwater and told her to pour it over herself. The woman did as Mary told her, and she was cured of her leprosy! After a few days this woman found another woman, a princess, who also had leprosy. Her husband, a prince, had separated from her for this reason, and she was very sad. The first woman told the sad princess to go and see Mary and the baby Jesus and ask for some of the baby’s bathwater to wash herself with, and the princess did that. She also was cured of her leprosy, and her husband was so happy that he had a second wedding and began their marriage again.

These are only stories, but they give us a picture of something that is true. Paul wrote to a man named Titus that we are all washed in the waters of baptism, and are healed of something even worse than leprosy. We are healed of our sins and given a brand new life by the Holy Spirit. The waters of baptism aren’t magical waters, but we receive forgiveness and healing and eternal life because our baptism is connected with Jesus–not his baby bathwater, but his own baptism for us and his death on the cross and his resurrection.

We all once had turned away from our Heavenly Father in sin and rebellion and had fallen into hatefulness and death because of it. But God loves us had mercy on us and sent Jesus to save us. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and because of this we are forgiven every day. Our sins are washed away in baptism and through the power of the Holy Spirit we live a new life in God’s grace. We have been made God’s children, and we will inherit heaven someday, all because of God’s love for us in Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and for sending Jesus to save us. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

I Infancy 12

 

Brought Safely Through Water

Bible:

In the days of Noah, . . . the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. I Peter 2:20b-22 ESV

The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind.  Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days. Genesis 7:17-24 ESV

Reflection:

Recently in Florida as I write a woman was driving an SUV when it flipped into a flooded ravine. The bottom of the ravine was very muddy and sticky, and her car was stuck in the mud, and it kept sinking deeper. It had flipped over, and she needed to release her seat belt and turn herself because water was coming into the car. Before long the water was up to her neck, and she was afraid that she would drown. She was able to call for help with her cell phone, and soon the sheriff’s office sent many people to help. It was very foggy, and the rescuers had to search for her in the muddy ravine. They were able to get to her and pull her out of the water and mud and save her from drowning.

Noah and his family were also saved from drowning in the flood that God sent to destroy the world in judgment. They were brought safely through the water and able to begin again after the flood. Peter wrote that baptism is like this. Baptism saves us by washing away our sins and giving us new life with God. In a way, baptism also drowns us by putting to death our sinful selves. But we are brought safely through these waters of death and brought to life through Jesus’ own death and resurrection. We know that he has ascended into heaven and rules over everything at God’s right hand, and he has made us a part of himself.

Jesus came to live among us as a human person, and he died on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven. He didn’t stay dead, but he rose again and defeated death forever. When we believe in Jesus and are baptized we become a part of him and of what he has done for us. He lives in us and forgives our sins every day. We walk with him in the new live he has won for us, a life that will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying and rising again for us, and for making us a part of that through our baptism. Amen.

Source:

https://weather.com/news/news/2019-01-02-drowning-florida-woman-dense-fog

The New and Living Way

Bible:

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:19-25 ESV

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7 ESV

Reflection:

Some years ago a flight from France landed at the Toronto Airport in the middle of a thunderstorm. After the plane landed it skidded on the runway and into a ravine. It started to catch on fire, and the people on the plane were in great danger. They weren’t able to exit the plane in the usual way, but instead they had to go through an emergency exit, and slide down the inflatable slide that took them to the ground. Within two minutes all of the 309 people on the plane were safely out, and no one died in the crash. The crew on the plane all worked to make sure the emergency exit stayed clear and that everyone got out of the plane in time.

The writer to the Hebrews wrote about a new and living way to enter the holy place of God’s presence. The old way, through the sacrifices of the priests in the temple, could never really bring people to God, but through Jesus God has provided us with a new and living way. Jesus is our way to our Heavenly Father. He is our great priest who gave himself as a perfect sacrifice, and through him our sins are forgiven and we can approach the holy places. Trying to come to God in any other way would be like trying to escape a burning airplane without using the emergency exit. There is only one way to God, and that is the way he has opened for us in Jesus.

The writer to the Hebrews wrote about being sprinkled and washed with pure water, and that points to our baptism. When we are baptized, everything Jesus did on the cross for us becomes our own, and we can approach our Heavenly Father with confidence. When we go to church and spend time with other Christians, it strengthens our faith and helps us to live lives of love as God’s people. Other Christians are like a flight crew showing us and reminding us of the way to the holy places. Our fellow Christians care about us and help us so that we don’t lose sight of Jesus, our new and living way to our Heavenly Father.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the way back to you through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4784353

Seek the Things That are Above

Bible:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

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.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:3-5 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story about the apostle Thomas and his mission work in India. He started his work as a carpenter for a king named Gundaphorus. The king asked Thomas to build him a magnificent palace, and he gave the apostle a lot of money to pay for the materials he would need to do the work. Over time King Gundaphorus kept sending him more money, and Thomas spent his time visiting the poor and needy and using all the money to help them. When the king came to visit and see how the building was going, people told him that Thomas wasn’t building anything, but instead was using all the king’s money to help the poor. Then the king called for Thomas and asked him, “Have you built me my palace?” Thomas said that he had, and the king wanted to see it. Thomas said, “You can’t see the palace now, but when you die, then you shall see it.” Thomas was trying to teach King Gundphorus that he shouldn’t worry about riches and power and honor on this earth, but instead look ahead to the world to come.

This is only a story, but it teaches something that is true. Paul wrote to the Colossians that they had died to their lives here on earth, and that their real life was hidden with Christ in God. Christians have died to sin and have new life forever with Jesus, but right now we don’t see that life. We will see it when Jesus comes again and brings in his new world. But in the meantime, we are to set our minds on the things that are above and not worry too much about the things of this earth. That means that whatever we do in this life, we see it from the point of view of God and his glory and his work to love and save us and all people.

We don’t have to earn the wonderful life that is coming. Our work to help others and tell them the good news about Jesus won’t earn us life in heaven. Jesus has already done that for us by dying on the cross so that all our sins could be forgiven. When we believe in Jesus and are baptized, we die with Jesus, and he gives us a brand new life in him. That life begins now, but we won’t know or understand it fully until he comes again. In the meantime, we live our lives on this earth looking ahead to the world to come and keeping our priorities set on the life we have that will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us a new life in you. Help us to keep focused on the life that will last forever. Amen.

Source:

The Acts of Thomas

One Body and One Spirit

Bible:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:3-5 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old story from China about four travelers who made a long journey together with their teacher. One was the Monkey King, who was very smart, but also very violent and hard to control. The second traveler was Pigsy, who was a good fighter but always hungry and looking for pretty girls and trying to get out of doing his duty to the group. The third traveler was Friar Sand, who was quiet and dependable and worked hard. The fourth traveler was Yulong, the son of the Dragon King, who didn’t have much to say. He mostly served as something that Tang Sanzang could ride. Tang Sanzang was the leader of the group, and the other four were his followers. In spite of all their differences and fighting, following their leader kept them together as a team in his purpose of bringing his teachings to a part of China that needed them.

This is only a story, but it is a picture of what Paul wrote to the Ephesians. He knew that sometimes God’s people sin against each other and hurt each other, because everyone is different and sometimes the sin we still carry coaxes us to act in unloving ways. Paul urged the Ephesians and us to be gentle and patient with each other, to love each other and to live as one. He reminded us that we are all one body and have one Holy Spirit. We all have the same hope of life forever with God. We all believe in the same Jesus as our Lord, and have the same faith in him. We all have received the same baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection, and we have the same Heavenly Father. For all these reasons, we want to live in love and patience with each other, no matter what our differences are, because we all have the same purpose to work for God’s kingdom.

Love and gentleness and forgiveness are something that comes from God. He showed us that love by coming to us in Jesus and dying on the cross for us so that all our sins could be forgiven. Because of Jesus, we are God’s children forever, and he has brought us into his family. That means that all of our fellow Christians are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes people in families hurt each other, but we are still the same family. God gives us his love and forgiveness to share with each other so that we can work together for him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of our family in Christ. Help us to love and help and forgive each other the way you love and help and forgive us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Wu Cheng’en Journey to the West

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

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:

Instruments of the 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/