Never be Ashamed

Bible:

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. II Timothy 1:8-12 ESV 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 ESV

Reflection:

Queenie’s dad was in prison, and she was terribly ashamed of that. The other kids made fun of her all the time, and while she pretended that she didn’t care, she was very hurt on the inside. On the outside, though, she was mean and defiant and always getting into trouble at school and in the community. Queenie wanted her dad to come home more than anything, because she thought that that would make everything better and put an end to the shame of having her father in prison.

The apostle Paul was in prison again, and this time things weren’t going to turn out so well for him. The emperor Nero was cruelly persecuting Christians, and Paul knew that this time he wouldn’t be set free. While he was in prison he wrote a second letter to Timothy, a pastor who had always been like a son to him, and gave him some last instructions. Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed of Jesus or of Paul. Many people might have thought that being in prison was a shameful thing, and they might have acted as if being a Christian was something to feel embarrassed about, especially when an important Christian leader like Paul was in prison. But Paul knew Jesus, and that it was worth everything to believe in Jesus. He wasn’t ashamed, and he didn’t want Timothy to be ashamed either, but instead to be willing to share in the sufferings of Jesus and his people.

The reason Paul wasn’t ashamed was because of the wonderful things God had done through Jesus. Jesus had died on the cross and had risen again from the dead, and by doing that he had brought the power of death to an end for everyone who believes in him. Jesus had brought life and immortality, which means never dying again, to light. All this was done by God’s grace. We didn’t deserve any of this by anything we had done, but God did this for us because he loves us so much. On the last day we will all completely know the wonderful gift of eternal life, a gift we are starting to enjoy right now, but a gift that we will celebrate fully in eternity.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving us the gift of eternal life through your grace. Help us never to be ashamed of you. Amen.

Source:

Burch, Robert Queenie Peavy New York: Viking Press, 1966.

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God’s Wonderful Gift

Bible:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23 ESV

Reflection:

Toula was a young Greek-American woman who fell in love with a man named Ian who didn’t have a Greek background. She knew that her family wouldn’t approve of her being with this man, so she kept it a secret as long as she could, but in time she knew that she wanted to marry Ian. Her father was extremely upset about this. He felt that she had betrayed him and everything that the family stood for, but the plans for the wedding went on anyway. In the end Toula married the man she loved, and her father gave her an amazing wedding present. He bought her a house to live in! Toula could hardly believe that her father had given her such an incredible, expensive gift, but he gave it to her because he loved her. Even though she had caused him pain, he wanted her to live close to him and to live as a part of the family.

A house is a very costly gift to give anyone, but the gift God has given us is even more costly and incredible. God has give us salvation completely by grace. That means we haven’t done anything to earn it, but instead it’s a free gift of God that we are his children and have eternal life with him. We don’t deserve this gift, because all we’ve ever done is rebel against God by going our own way. But God loves us and wants us to be his children. He has given us the faith to believe in what he’s done for us through Jesus, and he’s also given us work to do for him. We don’t do this work through any cleverness on our part, because God has already prepared the work for us to do and given us the strength and ability to do it. Everything we are and everything we have is a free gift from God.

God has shown us his grace through Jesus. Jesus came to live as one of us, and he died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins. Because of what Jesus has done, our Heavenly Father freely forgives all our sins every day and calls us his children. He sends us his Holy Spirit to give us the gift of faith and to keep us strong in our faith and in our service to him. What amazing gifts!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for everything you’ve given us through Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Zwick, Joel, dir. My Big Fat Greek Wedding Gold Circle Films, 2002. Film.

A False Accusation

Bible:

When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was stirred up, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and at once the gates were shut. And as they were seeking to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. He at once took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. And when they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains. He inquired who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd were shouting one thing, some another. And as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. And when he came to the steps, he was actually carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd, for the mob of the people followed, crying out, “Away with him!” Acts. 21:27-36 ESV

Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?

All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.

I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life. Psalm 56:1-6, 12-13 ESV

Reflection:

Some time ago a terrible thing happened in Pinetown, South Africa. A father and his friend had picked up the father’s 11-year-old son at school and were driving in a car when the boy said he was hungry. The father stopped and got out of the car to go and buy his son something to eat. A crowd of people saw this, and they somehow got the idea that the boy was being kidnapped by these two men. Some people in the crowd even heard a story that a little girl had been tied up and thrown into the trunk of the car, which wasn’t true at all. The crowd quickly became violent and turned over the car, and before everything was over the two men were killed.

Something like that happened to Paul while he was in Jerusalem. In the temple, it was against the law for a Gentile to go past a certain point, and any Gentile who did that  would be put to death. Some of the Jewish people had seen Paul in town with a Gentile named Trophimus, and they got the idea that Paul had taken his friend into the temple where he didn’t belong. This wasn’t true, but everyone had heard of Paul and his work, and they were already angry with him because they believed he was turning people away from their religion. They dragged Paul out of the temple and shut the gates behind him and started beating him. The crowd was planning to kill him, but some Roman soldiers found out what was happening and stopped the crowd. The soldiers arrested Paul and put him in chains while they tried to figure out what the problem was. Everybody was shouting different things, and so the soldiers decided to take Paul to the barracks away from the crowd so they could question him. The people were so angry that the soldiers had to carry Paul away from them.

When Paul suffered beating and false accusations, he was suffering a little of what Jesus had suffered for him and for all of us. Jesus allowed himself to be accused of things that weren’t true, and beaten and whipped and put on a cross to die. He did all of this because he loves us so much and wanted to win the forgiveness of our sins by paying for them on the cross. Sometimes his people also suffer false accusations and hatred and beating and even death, but nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus. He is with us to help us and give us the strength we need if we are called to suffer for him. We know that he will never let us go, not now and not forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for suffering and dying for us. Please be with us and help us when we are called to suffer for your sake. Amen.

Source:

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2017-09-06-innocent-men-killed-by-mob-in-pinetown-abduction-hoax/

Spirit of Adoption

Bible:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17 ESV

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:9-13 ESV

Reflection:

Patricia’s mother was dead, and her father was an air force major who had been deployed overseas, so Patricia was being raised by her two aunts. She was happy with her life with her aunts, so when her father came home to take her with him to live on the air force base, she was really unhappy and didn’t want to go. She kept hoping that she would be allowed to return to her old life. But over time she got to know her father and to enjoy her new life and friends, and in time her heart changed. She started to love her father and to call him “Daddy,” and instead of wishing she could return to her aunts she wanted to stay with him. Her father knew her heart had changed when she started to call him “Daddy.”

Paul wrote to the Romans that God has adopted us as his children and given us a new life with him. He’s also given us the gift of his Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit in our hearts helps us to understand and know for sure that we are God’s children. The Holy Spirit in our hearts calls out to God, “Abba!” which is a word that’s kind of like “Daddy” or “Papa.” It means we know for sure that God is our Heavenly Father who loves us and takes care of us and hears our prayers. It means that we are not afraid of God or of the punishment our sins deserve, because we aren’t slaves to sin anymore. Instead, we are God’s children forever and will inherit eternal life with Jesus in heaven.

Sometimes we have to suffer with Jesus now, and those are the times we might wonder about God’s love and care for us, or even if he really is our Heavenly Father. That’s why the gift of the Holy Spirit is so wonderful, because he works in our hearts to help us keep on trusting in God’s love. We can see that love most clearly in Jesus and in what he did for us on the cross. Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven and to make us God’s children, and it is through Jesus that we can call God our Heavenly Father, our Abba, and be happy in our new life in him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making us your children through Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Leinhauser, Ruth Daggett Patricia’s Secret Philadelphia: Winston, 1956.

The Message of Reconciliation

Bible:

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. 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 5:16-21 ESV

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11 ESV

Reflection:

Yash was a rich man from India who had two sons, Rahul and Rohan. Rahul married a woman his father didn’t approve of, and Yash became very angry and disowned his son. Rahul and his wife moved to London. Ten years later, Rohan overheard a conversation that told him why his brother had left home. He decided that he wanted to see his father and his brother reconciled, and so he convinced his parents to let him go to London as a student. While he was in London Rohan made contact with his brother Rahul. At first Rahul didn’t recognize his brother, but eventually he realized who Rohan was, and Rohan pleaded with Rahul to come home. When Rahul refused, Rohan invited his parents to visit him in London, and they did. In the end Yash and his older son were reconciled.

Rohan acted as a reconciler between his father and his brother, and Paul said he was doing the work of a reconciler. God, our Heavenly Father, and all people had been separated because of sin, but God wanted to bring us back to himself. He sent Jesus to die for the sins of all people, and because Jesus did that, God is no longer angry over our sins. Paul said that God is reconciled to us, and pleads with us to be reconciled to God. Trusting in Jesus brings people back to their Heavenly Father, and Paul called his work of bringing this good news to people a ministry of reconciliation. It’s really God who is appealing to all people to come back to him, but he makes his appeal through everyone who tells others of the love of Jesus. He calls us all to be reconcilers for him.

We don’t see things the same way that people who don’t know God see things. Because we have been made the children of our Heavenly Father, we see things through his eyes. We don’t only see Jesus as a man who died a tragic death, but instead we see him as the way that God sent to bring us back to himself. We see other people as people that God loves and wants to bring into his family along with us. We are new creations in Jesus, and we have a new life through him, a life that will never come to an end.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us back to you. Please help us to share this good news with others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Johar, Karan, dir. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham. . . Yash Raj Films, 2001. Film.

Nothing without Love

Bible:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. I Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV

Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.
If a man offered for love
all the wealth of his house,
he would be utterly despised. Song of Solomon 8:7 ESV

Reflection:

Barbara Hutton was born to very rich parents, and she was extremely rich from the day she was born. She had a very unhappy life, though. Her mother killed herself when she was six, and her father never paid much attention to her. When she grew up, she married and divorced seven different men. At the end of her life she had an amazing collection of art and jewelry, including an emerald and diamond bracelet that had belonged to Catherine the Great. She gave money to anyone she thought might be her friend, but in the end, when she died, she didn’t have the one thing she had wanted all her life. Barbara Hutton never knew a love she could depend on, and because of that, nothing she had really gave her any happiness.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about how important love is. He said that nothing, even the heroic and wonderful things people might do, even for God, are worth anything at all without love. People might be able to speak all kinds of languages from all over the earth and heaven as well, and they might know and understand many difficult things and be able to explain them to others and have a strong faith that works miracles, and they might even give their bodies away to be burned, but none of this is any good at all without love.

Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of doing wonderful things for God, but we forget that the most important thing of all is to love him and love others. We start to focus on the great things we are doing, and it makes us proud. We forget how much we need the love of Jesus, who died on the cross for us and showed us the most perfect love of all. The love of Jesus forgives our sins, and makes us humble as we realize how much we need what he has to give us. Our own strength and power really can’t do anything lasting or worthwhile, but the love of Jesus  makes us able to truly serve and help others.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your love. Please help us to remember most of all to love you and others. Amen.

Source:

http://www.elenasdiary.com/en/saga-of-the-week/1010-barbara-hutton-h-istoria-toy-perifimou-ftoxoy-plousiokoritsou

The People God Chooses

Bible:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so  that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” I Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV

Reflection:

Have you ever noticed that in fairy tales, the youngest son, often the foolish one or the one that no one thinks is very important, is the one who wins out in the end? There’s a story about two sons, and the older one was very clever and smart, but the younger one was so stupid he could never learn how to do anything. He didn’t even understand fear, or why anyone should be afraid of anything. Finally he grew to be a man, and his father told him he needed to learn to support himself. The man told this foolish younger son that he didn’t want to see him again, because he was ashamed of him. The son decided he would learn how to shudder, because nothing frightened him, and he thought shuddering with fear was a skill he might learn. He went out into the world to do that, but nothing that would make other people afraid–not ghosts or fiery-eyed black cats or dead men’s bones–scared him at all. Yet in the end he married a princess and lived a rich life in a castle.

God’s way of looking at things is actually similar to a fairy tale’s way. The Lord doesn’t choose all the beautiful, rich, popular, powerful, smart people for his church. Paul told the Corinthians that they should take a look at themselves as a church. Not many of them were people that the world thought of as important. Paul said that God tends to choose foolish people to shame wise people, weak people to shame strong people, and people who seem to be nothing to shame people who think they are something. The reason he does this is because he doesn’t want people in the church boasting about how important they are. Instead, he wants people to boast about how good and wonderful the Lord is.

In God’s eyes, we are all foolish and weak and poor. We need the help that only he can give us. None of us could ever be rich enough or powerful enough or good enough to earn God’s forgiveness and love, but Jesus came and earned it for us by dying on the cross in our place. God’s love is for everyone–foolish or wise, strong or weak–but people who are used to thinking of themselves as important sometimes have a hard time trusting the Lord. They are used to trusting themselves and working things out for themselves. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us see how much we need him, and to learn to trust him, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for choosing us and loving us. Help us to always trust in you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm004.html

No Divisions

Bible:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I Corinthians 1:10-13 ESV

[Jesus prayed:] “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a man who had several sons, and they were always arguing and fighting with each other. The father tried to scold and reason with them, but nothing seemed to help. Finally he got a bundle of sticks. He called his sons together and asked each one to break the bundle, but none of them could. Then he untied the bundle and gave his sons the sticks one at a time, and this time they had no trouble breaking them. The father told his sons that they were like the sticks. If they fought and worked against each other, it would be easy for their enemies to defeat them. But if they stood together and were united, they would be too strong for other people to break.

Paul wrote a letter to one more young church that he had started, the Corinthians. The church in Corinth was having all kinds of problems. One of the problems was that they were divided and quarreling with each other. Paul had been the one who started the church, but Apollos had come to help him, and Peter had also spent some time with the Corinthian church. Even though these three men all had taught them the same things, and all wanted the same good things for the church, the people started to argue about which one was better. Some of them liked Apollos, who could preach very interesting and beautiful sermons. Some of them liked Peter, who was also called Cephas, who was powerful and fiery. Some of them liked Paul, who was like a father to them. The church was fighting and arguing about this silly thing! Paul scolded them and told them that the church was to be one, not divided. There is only one Jesus, and being one in Jesus was what mattered.

The Christian church today is still very much divided. Sometimes there are divisions about teaching and beliefs, and when that happens, Christians need to keep talking and trying to understand each other and see if they can better understand what is true. But sometimes the divisions are about silly things that don’t really matter. This kind of division really weakens and hurts the church. Jesus died so that all our sins could be forgiven, and he wants us all to be one. He sends his Holy Spirit to work in us and to make us one. He helps us forgive each other, listen to each other, and understand what is important and what things are just foolish reasons to argue and fight.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to love and forgive and listen and understand each other. Please send your Holy Spirit to make us one in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Like a Father

Bible:

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. I Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV

[Jesus said:] “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:25-33 ESV

Reflection:

Penny Baxter lived with his wife and his son Jody in the backwoods of Florida. The family was poor, but Penny worked very hard as a farmer and a hunter to try to give his wife and his son what they needed. He taught Jody to help with the work on their farm, but he also wanted Jody to have time to play and to not have to work so hard. What Jody wanted more than anything was a pet, and when his father had to shoot a doe, leaving the fawn an orphan, he allowed Jody to keep the fawn as his pet. Even when the fawn started causing problems for the family, Penny tried to work things out so that Jody could keep his pet. His heart was full of love for his son and he did everything he could to provide for him and to make him happy.

Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonians about some things that were troubling them, and in this letter he reminded them how much he loved them. Paul said that he had been like a father to them while he had been with them. He knew he had the right to ask them to give him money while he taught them about Jesus, but he didn’t use that right. Instead, Paul worked hard as a tent-maker so that he wouldn’t burden them with his needs. He said that he was like a father to them, providing for his children. He was also like a father in that he set a good example for them in the way he lived, and in that he taught them how to follow God’s ways and to walk in a way that was worthy of his kingdom.

Paul was a good father to the Thessalonians, but by loving and acting the way he did he was following the example of his Heavenly Father. God, our Father, loves us and gives us everything we need. He teaches us not to worry about things like food and clothing and homes, because he promises to always provide for his children. God also teaches us to follow him, and that life in his kingdom is the most important thing we can learn from him. Our Heavenly Father brought us into his kingdom by sending us Jesus, our Savior. Jesus provided the way back to God by winning our forgiveness on the cross. Because of Jesus, we can be sure that God will always be a loving Father to us, forgiving us and providing everything that we need.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and your care and for sending Jesus to die for us. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan The Yearling New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1938.

A Magician Becomes Blind

Bible:

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. Acts 13:4-12 ESV

Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told. Psalm 40:4-5 ESV

Reflection:

Barbara was an extremely beautiful young woman, and her father shut her up in a tower to protect her from men who wanted to marry her. While Barbara was in the tower, she became a Christian, and this made her father very angry. He even wanted to kill her, but Barbara escaped from the tower by a miracle and ran away to a mountaintop. Two shepherds witnessed this miracle, and one of them told her father where she had gone. In punishment, this shepherd was turned to stone and his flock of sheep was turned into locusts. When Barbara’s father caught her, he cut off her head with his sword, and as soon as he had done this he was struck dead by lightning.

This is only a legend. There are often people who try to hurt Christians, but God doesn’t usually punish them in the way it happened in Barbara’s story. But something a little like this happened when Saul (who starting using his Roman name Paul at this time) came with Barnabas to the island of Cyprus. They met a man named Elymas, who claimed to be a magician, and this man tried to stop the Roman official on the island from listening to Paul. The official, whose name was Sergius Paulus, was very intelligent and was interested in hearing what Paul and Barnabas had to say, so he called them to come and talk to him. Elymas kept arguing with everything Paul said, and finally Paul scolded him sternly and called him a son of the devil. He said that Elymas would be blind for awhile, and immediately the magician was struck blind, and needed to find people to help him find his way around. Sergius Paulus was so impressed by this and by the teaching about Jesus that he became a Christian.

People who reject Jesus will know God’s judgment in the end, but God is also very patient and wants people to turn away from their sins and to come to him for forgiveness. We can expect that there will be people who cause us trouble for Jesus’ sake, but we can also be sure that the Lord will be with us and will help us. We have good news to tell about the love Jesus showed us on the cross, and the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of people who hear the good news and brings them to faith in Jesus. We can leave things in God’s hands and let him take care of people who cause us trouble in his own way. We all deserve God’s judgment, but Jesus died for the sins of everyone, and we hope everyone will come to know God’s love.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and forgiveness. Please help us to share that love even when people cause us trouble. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://scalar.usc.edu/works/exhibiting-historical-art/saint-barbara-legend