Wind and Fire

Bible:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 ESV

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:15-17 ESV

Reflection:

Have you heard the fairy tale, “Beauty and the Beast?” A handsome prince was enchanted by an evil witch to become an ugly, frightening beast, and the enchantment would last until some young woman promised to marry him. Beauty came to stay at his castle after her father stole a rose from the Beast, and in time she came to love the kind person inside the horrible beast, and promised to marry him. When she did, the Beast became a handsome prince again. At the moment the enchantment was broken, there were amazing fireworks bursting in the air and lighting up the evening sky. The fireworks showed that something wonderful had happened, and the old things had become new and lovely again.

Jesus’ followers had been staying together in Jerusalem since Jesus’ ascension. Jesus had told them to stay there and to wait until he would send them the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the day the Jewish people were celebrating the Feast of Weeks for the early harvest, suddenly the God the Holy Spirit came. He came in a rush of mighty wind which filled the place everyone had gathered, and flames of fire came and rested on the head of each follower of Jesus. The wind and the fire were signs that something wonderful was happening. The Holy Spirit had come to begin new things and to give power to his people to spread the good news of Jesus.

Sometimes God comes with awesome signs like wind and fire and earthquakes and thunder. He showed signs like these when he came to Mt. Sinai to give the law to the people of Israel, and also at the end of Good Friday and on Easter morning. But most of the time, God comes in quiet, ordinary ways. He was born in Bethlehem as an ordinary baby, and he comes to us, not with wind and fire, but in his word and in the waters of Baptism. When we hear God’s word and are baptized, God the Holy Spirit comes to us also. Just as he helped Jesus’ first disciples, he gives us the ability to trust in Jesus and the power to share our faith with others.

Prayer:

Dear Holy Spirit, thank you for coming to us and making us God’s people. Please help us to be strong witnesses for Jesus, our Savior. Amen.

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The Great Commission

Bible:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 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:

There’s a story that, while Jesus lived on earth, he got a letter from the king of a city called Edessa. This king, named Abgarus, had heard about Jesus and that he could heal the sick, and the king believed that Jesus must be the Son of God. King Abgarus was sick, and he invited Jesus to come and visit him and heal him. The king said that he would welcome Jesus into his city. Jesus answered King Abgarus’ letter and said that he had to do what God had sent him to do and then return to heaven, so he couldn’t come to Edessa. However, he said that after that he would send one of his disciples to the king, who would cure him of his disease and give life to everyone in the city.

This story may not be true, but it tells something that is true. Jesus completely finished the work his Heavenly Father had given him to do. He died to pay for the sins of the whole world, and then rose again from the dead to defeat death and win eternal life for everyone who believes in him. But Jesus also left work for his people to do. When he met again with his disciples in Galilee, he told them that they should go to all the people from all over the world and make disciples for him. They should teach people everything that Jesus had taught them, and give them the gift of new life by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus gave a wonderful promise. He said that he would be with them until the world and time would come to an end.

Jesus continues his work today through his people. We are part of what he told his first disciples to do. We share the good news of his love and forgiveness with people we meet as we go through life, and we also send and support missionaries to take the Gospel to people from other parts of the world. Not only do we have the privilege of having Jesus work through us, but we also have the promise that he will be with us always, no matter what.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for sending us to share your good news with others, and for being with us and working through us. Amen.

Source:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/lbob/lbob09.htm

Washed Clean

Bible:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He  came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13:1-11 ESV

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 3:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever taken part in a Japanese tea ceremony? This ceremony is very formal, with many small rituals and complicated customs, but it is meant to help the guests to feel calm and quiet and to enjoy their time with their host while finding pleasure in some very simple things. One of the first things a guest does at a Japanese tea ceremony is to go to a stone basin, called a tsukubai, to prepare to enter the tea house. The stone basin is full of water, and the guests use the water to ritually wash their hands and rinse out their mouths. This is a way to get rid of the dust and the dirt of the outside world, so that people can enter the tea house feeling clean and ready to enjoy the ceremony.

In Jesus’ time and in the place where he lived, the roads were dusty, and people wore sandals. It was the custom for one of the servants to wash the guests’ feet before a meal. This washed off the dust of the road and helped the guests to relax and be ready to enjoy the dinner that was to come. When the disciples gathered with Jesus for the Passover, Jesus himself acted like a servant and came around and washed the disciples’ feet. Peter didn’t like this at all. He didn’t think Jesus should have to wash him. But Jesus explained that if he didn’t wash Peter, Peter wouldn’t have any part of Jesus. Peter really didn’t understand, although Jesus said he would understand later. But Peter then said that he wanted Jesus to give him a complete bath!

Jesus was not only doing an act of love and service, but he was also giving his followers a picture of having their sins forgiven and washed away. Jesus was soon going to die on the cross to win God’s forgiveness for the sins of all people, and all those who believe in Jesus become clean. He gives us the gift of baptism, and when we are baptized everything that Jesus did for us on the cross becomes our own, and the water of baptism washes away our sins. But some people are like Peter was at first. They don’t want Jesus to wash them, but instead they would rather try to make themselves clean. The Lord says that if he doesn’t wash us, we can’t have any part in him. We are glad to receive God’s forgiveness and to be his people because of what Jesus has done for us.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross and washing away our sins. Amen.

Source:

https://theculturetrip.com/asia/japan/articles/what-to-do-in-a-japanese-tea-ceremony/

No Peace on Earth

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:49-53 ESV

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? James 4:5-6 ESV

Reflection:

Don Oka was one of seven brothers who was born into a Japanese family, but when World War II broke out, he was living in the United States. Don served in the U. S. military, and so did four of his brothers who also lived in the United States. But two of the brothers lived in Japan, and so they served in the Japanese army, which fought against the United States. Don Oka was with the United States military on an island in the Marianas on Christmas Eve of 1944 when a Japanese plane dive-bombed the island. Don ran for cover and survived this attack. The pilot of this plane was his own brother, Takeo Oka, and Takea was shot down and killed as he returned from this mission. Don found out later that his brother had died in the war, and it made him feel terribly sad.

Jesus said something that seems strange to us. He said that he didn’t come to bring peace on earth, but instead he came to bring division. Even in families, he said, there would be division between people who should love and be close to each other. The reason for that is because people in families would sometimes be on different sides–some of them for Jesus and some of them against him. Just like the Oka brothers who fought on different sides in a war, the members of a family who are on God’s side and those who are against him will be divided from each other. They may love each other very much, but they will not have the same purposes or priorities in life, and that will sometimes cause sadness and pain.

Jesus also said that he came to cast fire on earth, and that he was very anxious to go through the baptism that he had to go through. All of this happened when he died on the cross for us. His death is like a fire that burns away the sins of the world, and for him the cross was a baptism of painfully suffering and dying and then coming back to life again forever. Everyone who believes in Jesus dies to sin by letting him help us turn away from things that don’t please him, and that can be a painful process, but when we are baptized into Jesus we are given a brand new life in him, a life that will never end. When we have friends and family members who don’t share that life, it can be very sad, but the good news is that we can be sure that Jesus loves all the people we love. He wants them to be his people also, and he died for them too. We can go on sharing the love of Jesus with them and praying that they will come to know him and become part of God’s family forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for going through your painful suffering and death for us. Please help us to stay close to you, and to share your love with family and friends who don’t know you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.cnn.com/2011/11/08/us/veterans-in-focus-7-brothers-world-war-ii/index.html

The Pure in Heart

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 ESV

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory!  Psalm 24:3-10 ESV

Reflection:

At King Arthur’s round table there was a seat called the Siege Perilous, a place no knight could sit except the one it was meant for. Any knight who sat there and didn’t belong would be struck dead. Even the great Sir Lancelot didn’t dare sit there, because he knew he wasn’t pure enough. The knight who belonged in the Siege Perilous would be the knight who would have the privilege of seeing the holy grail. When a young knight named Sir Galahad came to King Arthur’s court, an old man led him to the Siege Perilous, and Galahad was able to sit there safely because he was the one who belonged there. He later became the only knight who was able to hold and drink from the holy grail. Sir Galahad was given these wonderful privileges because his heart was completely pure. Only two other knights were allowed to see the grail, and many more knights died in the quest without being allowed to see the vision.

This is only a story. Jesus talked about an even more wonderful privilege that would be given to people who are pure in heart. Jesus said that the pure in heart would see God.  This can be very discouraging and even scary to think about. Sin brings God’s judgment rather than his blessing. Anyone who looks for God without a pure heart will never see him, and it is deadly to come into God’s presence with sin. On our own, we would never have any hope of seeing God.

There is only one person who is able to be in the presence of God, and that is Jesus, the King of Glory. He came to us from heaven so that he could win the forgiveness of all our sins by dying on the cross for us. He purifies us in the waters of baptism, and his forgiveness and grace make us righteous and holy. After Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross and rose again from the dead, he ascended into heaven as the King of Glory, and the gates of heaven opened to him. Because Jesus has made us his own, the gates of heaven are also open to us, and one wonderful day we will be in the presence of God forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying for us to make us pure, and for opening the gates of heaven for us. Amen.

Women in God’s Plan

Bible:

Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. John 4:27-30 ESV

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 ESV

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. Galatians 3:27-28 ESV

Reflection:

When a bookseller came to Yentl’s community, he called to the people, “Sacred books for men! Storybooks for women!” He didn’t want to sell Yentl a sacred book, but she was a young woman who wanted to study and learn everything about the Jewish religion and their holy books. Her community thought that this wasn’t appropriate for women. Her father allowed her to read and study from the sacred books, and he helped her, but he always made sure they closed the shutters before they studied together. Her father didn’t want the neighbors to know what they were doing, because he knew  they would think it was strange and wrong for a woman to study like that.

People had these same attitudes in Jesus’ time. A religious teacher wouldn’t teach or talk to a woman, but Jesus was different. He sat down and taught and listened to the questions of the Samaritan woman. He showed how much God values women when he did this. When his disciples came back, they didn’t understand why he was talking to the Samaritan woman. They thought it was very strange, but they didn’t ask Jesus any questions. Meanwhile, the woman ran back to her community with the exciting news that a man she thought might be the Messiah had come to their town.

Women were made in the image of God in the beginning, just as men were. All of humanity fell into sin together, and Jesus died for all people so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be brought back to God. Everyone who is baptized into Jesus has become a part of his family, and it doesn’t matter if you are male or female, rich or poor, Jewish or Gentile, young or old. Men and women sometimes have different roles in the family and in the church, and that means we need each other’s help. But we are all one in Jesus, and he welcomes and values us all.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for welcoming all of us into your family. Help us to value each other and to serve each other. Amen.

Source:

Streisand, Barbra, dir. Yentl MGM Entertainment Company. 1983. Film.

Born Again

Bible:

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:1-8 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. I Peter 1:3-5 ESV

Reflection:

The Asmat people of New Guinea had an interesting custom. When two villages were at war with each other, and they wanted to make peace, they would have a big ceremony. Men from the two villages would lie down on their stomachs side by side in a long line, and women would stand by their husbands and spread their legs to make a long arch. Then children from both villages would crawl through the arch over the top of the men’s backs. When they came out of the arch on the other side, men and women from the two villages would pick up a child from the other village, and they would rock these children and give them baths and treat them like new little babies. For several days there would be a big celebration, and every night women would rock and sing lullabies to a child from the other village. The meaning of this custom is that these children had been born again into the kinship ties of the other village, and because these children were now considered part of the other village, there would be peace between the two groups of people.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus to learn more about his teaching, Jesus told him that anyone who wanted to see the kingdom of God would have to be born again. Nicodemus didn’t understand this. How could he, an old man, crawl back inside his mother and be born again? But Jesus said that the new birth he was talking about was a birth of water and of the Spirit. Jesus was talking about baptism and about the work of the Holy Spirit. We can’t see God the Holy Spirit, but it is his work to bring us to faith in Jesus, through Baptism and also through reading and hearing the Bible. We can’t see the wind, but we can see the work that it does, and when the Holy Spirit gives us faith we see his work, and it is like seeing the leaves of the trees move in the wind. This new birth makes peace between us and God, and gives us a brand new life in his kingdom.

Jesus came to teach people about his kingdom, and more importantly, to open his kingdom to all people by dying on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have peace with God. Because of Jesus’ work for us, we are born again into the kingdom of God, a kingdom that will last forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us a new birth into your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

Source:

Richardson, Don Eternity in their Hearts Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1981.

The Holy Spirit and Fire

Bible:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

“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 3:7-12 ESV

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:6-7 ESV

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. I Thessalonians 1:5-8 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a wolf who always wanted to eat some sheep from a flock, but the shepherd was very watchful and the wolf could never catch one. Then one day he found a sheepskin that had been left lying on the ground, and so he put that sheepskin on over his fur and was able to sneak into the flock that way. He caught and ate all the sheep he wanted until one day the shepherd decided to eat one of his sheep for dinner. He happened to take the wolf in sheep’s clothing, and ate him!

We often talk about a wolf in sheep’s clothing when we mean someone who is pretending to be something he or she is not. John the Baptist had some very stern words for the religious leaders of his time. They were coming out to hear him speak and be baptized, but John could tell they were only pretending to be sorry for their sins. He compared them to a bunch of snakes, and he also called them trees who never gave any fruit. This meant that their lives didn’t show any evidence that they had turned away from their sins. He said that they would be cut down with an ax and thrown into the fire, even though they were the descendants of Abraham. God wasn’t interested in who their father was, but instead if they lived in repentance and faith.

John the Baptist used a lot of other pictures in his words. He talked about a winnowing fork that separated grains of wheat from their husks. People who wouldn’t turn away from their sins would be like husks that were thrown into the fires of judgment forever. John said that he baptized people with water, but that someone was coming who would baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire. John was pointing ahead to Jesus, and the baptism Jesus gives us through his church gives us the forgiveness of sins, and it also gives us the Holy Spirit so we can have new life in him. Sometimes God allows us to go through tough times, and these times can seem like times of fire, but that fire is helping our faith to be stronger and more pure, the way fire purifies gold. Our faith is more precious to God than all the gold in the world, and the Holy Spirit gives us our faith and helps us stay strong till the end, when we will be like wheat that is taken safely into the barn.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help us to be sorry for our sins and to come to you every day for forgiveness. Please send your Holy Spirit to help us stay strong in our faith, no matter what. Amen.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

Bible:

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
 make his paths straight.’”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 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. Matthew 3:1-6 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:

In 2015, King Harald V of Norway came to visit Pacific Lutheran University in Washington State. The university had to do many things to prepare for their royal visitor, even months before he came. They inscribed some stones on campus to honor the king. They invited people to come and wave flags and perform Norwegian dances and greet the king when he arrived on campus. The university made sure they had a Norwegian flag to fly on the campus square and arranged to have it flying when the king appeared. They had to make sure they had an appropriate gift to give the king. They had to plan to let the media–TV and radio and newspapers and the internet–know about the visit, but they had to make sure that the announcement they made was okay with the king’s employees at the royal palace in Norway. Parking plans for the visit and seating arrangements for a special luncheon had to be arranged. In all, it was very stressful and challenging to prepare for a visit from the king!

When Jesus was about to begin his ministry, John the Baptist began his work of preparing the people to receive their king. But John didn’t arrange for flags and luncheons and dancers and royal heralds. Instead, he made his announcement out in the wilderness, and the people came out to hear him. John dressed in camel’s hair with a leather belt, and he ate wild honey and locusts–which taste a little bit like shrimp when they’re cooked. But as unusual as John’s location and clothing and diet were, his message was very simple. He called on people to repent, to turn away from their sins. And people who were sorry for their sins and wanted to be ready for the promised Savior were baptized in the Jordan River.

When an earthly king comes to visit, people work hard to make sure things go smoothly, and usually they don’t make any serious mistakes. But preparing for Jesus perfectly isn’t possible for anyone. We might try really hard not to sin anymore and to do better, but we always fall short. We need the forgiveness that only Jesus can give us, and that’s the reason he came. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and he washes us in the water of Holy Baptism. He sends us his Holy Spirit to give us hearts that want to turn away from sin and walk in God’s ways. Because of Jesus, we are forgiven every day, and he helps us to follow him and is with us every day with his love and blessings.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for doing everything we needed to make us ready for you. Please forgive our sins and help us to walk with you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.plu.edu/resolute/fall-2015/king-harald/

Keeping Pure

Bible:

Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the returned exiles were building a temple to the Lord, the God of Israel, they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers’ houses and said to them, “Let us build with you, for we worship your God as you do, and we have been sacrificing to him ever since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assyria who brought us here.” But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses in Israel said to them, “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we alone will build to the Lord, the God of Israel, as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.”

Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia. Ezra 4:1-5 ESV

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

Reflection:

When doctors and nurses and other medical workers are working with situations where an infection could be very dangerous, such as when they are doing surgery, they have to use something called sterile technique. Sometimes patients have to take care of themselves at home and also learn to use sterile technique. Sterile means that there are absolutely no germs of any kind on the equipment or bandages that are going to be used. There are all kinds of rules in sterile technique. You must never cough or sneeze over the supplies. You must wear a mask and sterile gloves. You must not touch anything that isn’t sterile with sterile gloves. If a person breaks one of the rules of sterile technique, the entire packet is considered to be contaminated, and the person has to start all over again with a new packet. Doctors and nurses simply can’t risk letting contaminated equipment or bandages give a dangerous infection to sick or weak people.

When the people of Judah started rebuilding their temple, the people who lived where the northern kingdom of Israel had been came and said they wanted to help. But the people of Judah said no, they would rebuild the temple themselves. This might seem unfriendly, but there was a good reason for their answer. The people who wanted to help were the descendants of people who had been settled in the land by the king of Assyria long ago. When the Assyrians had taken the northern kingdom away into captivity, they had settled other people in the land who worshiped false gods and goddesses. Because of this, God had sent lions among them, and they decided they needed to learn to worship the God of Israel. So they started to do that, but they also continued to worship idols at the same time. The people of Judah knew that it would be dangerous to cooperate with people who worshiped idols. They knew they or their children would be tempted to do the same thing, and so they decided to keep themselves pure and separate from the other people of the land. They didn’t want to let false gods contaminate them or their worship of the one true God.

We were all contaminated by our sin and rebellion against God, and there’s no way we could ever make or keep ourselves pure from sin. But God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, and his death makes us completely clean and pure. When we are baptized, what Jesus did for us becomes our own, and our sins are washed away with the waters of baptism. God sends us his Holy Spirit to keep us faithful and true to him and to help us to stay away from the evil and sin around and in us that would lead us away from the Lord. God will be with us to help us every day and always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us pure through Jesus. Please help us stay faithful to you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://patienteducation.osumc.edu/Documents/sterile.pdf