Copies of the Heavenly Things

Bible:

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:23-28 ESV

These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Colossians 2:17 ESV

Reflection:

When people are learning to drive a car, one thing that they might do is use a simulator. A simulator is  something that has a driver’s seat, steering wheel, dashboard, mirrors, and everything a real car has. A person using a simulator sees a video of a car moving down a road, and practices driving by doing all the things that have to be done in a real car. People practicing in simulators turn the steering wheel, check the mirrors, use the turn signal, and press the gas pedal and the brake pedal. The simulator can help a new driver feel confident and know what to do in a real car when the time comes to drive one. But a simulator is only a model of a real car, and the person in the simulator doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s a preparation for driving, but it isn’t really driving.

The writer to the Hebrews talked a little like that about the sacrifices made by the priests in the tabernacle and the temple. They were only copies of the heavenly reality of Jesus. The high priests went into the Most Holy Place, but Jesus went into the presence of God. The high priests offered cows and lambs to atone for the sins of the people, but Jesus offered himself. The high priests had to offer the sacrifices in the Most Holy Place every year, but Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and only needed to offer himself once. Everything that was done by the priests in the temple pointed ahead to Jesus and the work he would do on the cross. They were copies of Jesus to help people to look ahead to the promised Savior, and not the real thing.

There are no sacrifices of animals that anyone could ever offer for the forgiveness of our sins. Sometimes we might think that doing good things will please God and earn his forgiveness, but that won’t win his favor either. The only thing that will bring our forgiveness is what Jesus has done for us on the cross. He died to pay the penalty for all our sins, and because of what he has done all our sins are washed away and we have peace with God. When we die, we will face God’s judgment, but we don’t have to worry about that, because Jesus took God’s judgment on himself. When Jesus returns to judge the whole world, we know that for us it will be the happy time that he takes us home to be with him forever, and we wait for that time eagerly.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being the perfect sacrifice that won our forgiveness once and for all. Amen.

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Dead in Trespasses and Sins

Bible:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:1-7 ESV

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story from India about a beautiful princess named Savitri, who married a handsome prince whose name was Satyavan. Satyavan was doomed to die in one year, and even though the princess knew that, she loved him and married him. On the day the prince was to die, he went into the forest to cut some wood, and his wife went along with him. Soon Satyavan started to have a terrible headache, and he also felt pain in his arms and legs. He came to Savitri and laid his head on her lap, and the princess saw a huge, ugly giant come for her husband. The giant said that he was Yama, the god of death, and that he had come to take Satyavan away. Savitri pleaded for her husband, but the god of death wouldn’t grant her request, although he said he would give her anything else she wanted. Then the princess tricked Yama. She asked that she could have many children with Satyavan, and Yama granted her request without thinking. Then the god of death had to give the prince his life back, because how could Satyavan be the father of many children if he were dead? In this way Savitri brought her husband back from death.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we were dead, and that God made us alive together with Jesus. We know that because of our sins we will die someday, but the truth is that as sinners we are already dead. We are dead because we have turned away from the Lord and have followed the devil, the prince of the power of the air. In following him and acting out the sin that is inside us we are disobedient to God and busy doing the things that bring death to us. Paul called sinful people who rebel against God “children of wrath.” This means that we were set to inherit the Lord’s anger and judgment, just as children inherit whatever money or property their parents leave them. But our Heavenly Father loves us very much and has had mercy on us. He sent us Jesus to die for us and rise again from the dead. We aren’t dead people anymore, but instead we are as alive as Jesus was when we walked out of the grave on Easter Sunday.

We don’t fully know the life that Jesus has won for us yet. Our new life is in the heavenly places with Jesus, but we still live on this earth and struggle with sin every day. In the world that will come, we will know the full extent of God’s grace and the life that he has given us through Jesus, our Savior.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your love and grace and the new life you have given us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Tales_from_the_Indian_Epics/Satyavan_and_Savitri

A Storm Hits!

Bible:

 But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. Acts 27:14-20 ESV

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word! Psalm 148:7-8 ESV

Reflection:

These days, tropical storms in the Mediterranean are called “medicanes,” which is short for Mediterranean hurricanes. They can produce deluges of rain and very strong winds whirling around a core, and sometimes the wind actually  comes close to the force of a hurricane. Medicanes are most likely to happen between September and January and can last up to five days. These storms are very destructive. A medicane in 1969 caused flooding in Algeria and Tunisia that killed 600 people and left 250,000 homeless. In 1995 a storm wind reached 135 kilometers per hour, which is about 84 miles per hour. In 1996 a medicane smashed into the island of Malta that had a peak wind speed of 154 kilometers (or about 96 miles) per hour.

Paul and his companions experienced a terrible storm while they were on board the ship. The captain and his sailors did everything they could to keep the ship afloat. They undergirded it to try to help it hold together, but then they needed to continue to ride out the storm rather than allow the ship to be smashed against the land. The fierce winds drove them along, and they ended up having to dump all their cargo overboard, and then the next day they threw overboard all the ship’s equipment. The gale kept blowing them over the waves, and they couldn’t see the sun or the stars for many days. Since it was the sun and the stars that ancient sailors used to figure out where they were on the sea, they were completely lost, and they lost hope that they would ever survive the storm.

Storms show the amazing power of God, but they also show that his creation is out of balance. God allows storms to happen, and they can be a warning to us of his coming judgment, but we can’t say that he is punishing people for some particular sin. When storms howl–whether they are real storms or just troubles that seem like storms–we can be sure that God sees us and is with us. We can call to him for help, and he will hear our prayers and calm our fears. Whatever happens to us, even if it seems terrible, we know that we are safe in his care forever, because Jesus came to our broken world and died for all our sins. We have God’s forgiveness because of Jesus, and his help and strength when the worst of storms threatens our lives.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please help us and strengthen us when the storms of life hit, and keep us safe with you until we reach our home in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.severe-weather.eu/theory/medicanes-mediterranean-tropical-like-cyclones-what-are-they/

Sailors, Take Warning!

Bible:

And when we had sailed across the open sea along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia. There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing for Italy and put us on board. We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea.

Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there, on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.

Now when the south wind blew gently, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore. Acts 27:5-13 ESV

[The Lord says:] I also will choose harsh treatment for them
and bring their fears upon them,
because when I called, no one answered,
when I spoke, they did not listen;
but they did what was evil in my eyes
and chose that in which I did not delight. Isaiah 66:4 ESV

Reflection:

In 1856 there was a man named George Goyder, and he was the surveyor-general of South Australia. He had the important job of setting a boundary in Australia between land that was good for farming and land that was too dry to farm. This was important because Australia had experienced a great drought from 1864 to 1865. If an area received 30 centimeters or more of rain a year, it was considered suitable for farming. Goyder researched the problem and drew his line on the map, called Goyder’s Line, and farmers were told only to buy land and plant crops south of this line. But in the 1870s there were a few unusually wet years, and some farmers ignored the warning of Goyder’s Line and bought land for farming north of the boundary. When the dryer weather came again in the 1880s, these farmers were ruined.

Something similar happened to Paul. He was transferred to another ship, and that ship continued its difficult journey against the wind. Soon the time came when ships would stop sailing on the Mediterranean Sea. During the winter months there were often storms, and it was dangerous to keep sailing during that time. But the ship had anchored in a place called Fair Havens, which didn’t have a good harbor for spending the winter. The captain and his sailors didn’t want to stay there, and they thought they might still safely reach a better harbor called Phoenix off the island of Crete. Paul warned them that it would be dangerous to keep on traveling, but they didn’t listen to him. The wind was blowing gently, so they ignored Paul’s warning and continued to sail.

People often ignore even more serious warnings that put their lives in danger, and the most serious warning of all is the warning to turn away from sin and turn to God for forgiveness. God is ready to forgive everyone who turns to him, because he sent Jesus to pay for the sins of the whole world on the cross.But there are some people who just won’t listen to God, and sadly, they will have to face his judgment someday. Because of Jesus, we never have to worry about facing God’s judgment, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to make us able to repent and trust in Jesus. We listen to the warnings and the promises of God’s word and trust our lives to him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Please help us to always listen to your warnings and to your promises. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.samemory.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=247

Paul Appeals to Caesar

Bible:

Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea.

After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.” Acts 25:1, 6-12 ESV

You have seen, O Lord; be not silent!
O Lord, be not far from me!
Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not say in their hearts,
“Aha, our heart’s desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”

Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!

Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long. Psalm 35:22-28 ESV

Reflection:

In the United States, people who are looking for some kind of justice can appeal to a court if they can’t get justice in a lower court or another situation. One example of this happened in 1943, when Sylvia Mendez, a nine-year-old girl in California, wasn’t allowed to go to a public school that was for whites only. Sylvia was a Mexican American, and her parents weren’t allowed to register her and her brothers in the school because of the color of their skin. Her father went to the school superintendent and then the school district, but they wouldn’t change their minds. So the family brought the case to the U. S. Federal District Court in Los Angeles. In 1946 the judge in the court ruled in the family’s favor, and Sylvia and her brothers and were allowed to go to the public schools in their town. The school district appealed this decision, but the Mendez family won the appeal as well.

Festus, the new governor, was beginning his term, and he needed to learn about Paul’s case. He started by staying in Jerusalem for several days, and then he continued to Caesarea. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had talked to him about Paul, and they came with him to Caesarea to continue their accusations against him. Paul said that he was innocent, and that the Jewish religious leaders couldn’t prove any of the terrible things they were saying about him. Festus asked Paul if he’d like to go to Jerusalem and be tried in court there. But Paul knew that he would never get a fair trial in Jerusalem, and in fact, his life would be in danger if he went there. So he appealed to the highest court in the Roman empire. Paul appealed to Caesar, wanting to be tried before the emperor himself. He had the right to that appeal as a Roman citizen, and Festus agreed to let him go to Rome for his trial.

Whenever we might be tried in God’s court, we know we don’t have any hope that we can win our case based on anything we’ve done. We are all sinners who deserve God’s judgment instead of his mercy. But we can appeal to Jesus, who died on the cross for us to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus promises that we will get a favorable verdict from God because of what he has done for us. We can always appeal to God through Jesus for help when we are in trouble, and for the forgiveness of our sins, and know for sure that we will get mercy instead of judgment from God.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for winning God’s mercy and favor for us on the cross. Amen.

Source:

http://sylviamendezinthemendezvswestminster.com/aboutus.html

What’s in It for Me?

Bible:

But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.

After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison. Acts 24:22-27 ESV

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:3-8 ESV

Reflection:

Han Solo was hired to help Luke Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi, and in time he became involved in the rebellion against the empire with Luke and with Princess Leia. But Han Solo was only interested in what was in it for himself. Luke had to talk him into rescuing the princess by reminding Han Solo that she was rich, and that she could give him more wealth than he could imagine. Later he said to Princess Leia: “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.”

Felix was a lot like that. He wasn’t unkind to Paul, and he let his friends visit him and give him the things he needed. But he didn’t do anything to resolve Paul’s case, but just kept him in prison. Felix thought the Paul might give him some money to be let out of prison, and so he often had conversations with him. One time when Paul tried to talk to him about God’s judgment and living a righteous life, Felix got scared and sent Paul away. He had no interest in hearing about the things of God. He always thought about what might be in it for him, not about doing what was right or learning more about the Paul’s faith. This went on for two whole years, and then a new governor came to replace Felix, a man named Festus. But even then, Felix still was looking out for what would be best for himself, and left Paul in prison because he hoped it would give him favor with the powerful Jewish religious leaders.

We are all like Felix, because we are all sinful, and that means we are always looking out for our own interests and what would be best for ourselves. Our sinful rebellion causes us to turn away from God and his ways and to go our own way. But the Lord didn’t leave us to ourselves. He came to us in Jesus, and Jesus put our interests ahead of his own. He suffered pain and abuse, and finally death on the cross for our sake. He wanted to bring us back to himself, and do what would be the best for us, so he emptied himself to help us. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us to learn to love God and to follow Jesus by putting the interests of others ahead of our own.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for putting our needs ahead of your own. Help us to follow you and live unselfishly for your sake. Amen.

Source:

Lucas, George, dir. Star Wars 20th Century Fox, 1977. Film.

Dead through Adam, Alive in Jesus

Bible:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:12, 15-17 ESV

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. I Corinthians 15:20-22 ESV

Reflection:

There is a rare blood disorder called hemophilia, and people who have hemophilia have blood that is unable to clot very well when they start to bleed. The reason for this is that the number of one of the proteins in the blood, which causes the blood to clot and stop bleeding, is much lower than it should be. A small cut usually isn’t a big issue, but a deep bleed inside the body can cause serious problems, even death. Hemophilia is an inherited disorder, which means it is passed on from the parent to the child, so people with hemophilia are born with it. The treatment for this disease is for the person to regularly receive the clotting factor that is missing into the bloodstream through a tube placed into the vein. Often this clotting factor comes from the blood of another person who is healthy and has donated blood to help others.

In Romans, Paul talked about a problem that we all have inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Paul said that sin came into the world through one man and spread to all people through him. Because everyone is born a sinner, everyone is also born under God’s judgment and condemnation, and everyone will die someday. But there is good news also. Just as a person with hemophilia receives  life and health through another person’s blood, so everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness and life through the blood he spilled on the cross for us.

We haven’t done anything to earn what Jesus has done for us, but instead it’s a free gift. Jesus gave his life for us because he loves us and wanted to free us from death and hell. We might feel as if the sin in our lives has caused so much sadness and guilt that we can never be free, but God’s grace in Jesus is much greater than our sins. Through his death and resurrection, death has been defeated by life, and we share in Jesus’ victory as he reigns forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life so that we could be forgiven and free of sin and death. Amen.

Source:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemophilia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373333

All are under Sin

Bible:

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:9-12, 19-20 ESV

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV

Reflection:

In many parts of the ancient world people worked on something called alchemy. Alchemy was the effort to take a metal such as lead or mercury and change it into gold. Sometimes people, such as in ancient China, believed that finding the right alchemy would allow people to live forever. In the Arab world people experimented with corrosive salt solutions to see if they would turn things such as sulfur and mercury into gold. In ancient Alexandria a man named Zosimos tried to find the magic elixir that would do the trick. His followers searched for the philosopher’s stone, a magic crystal that would give the world this elixir. In the middle ages some early scientists continued to experiment with alchemy. They made some useful discoveries in the field that would become chemistry, as well as some discoveries about medicine, but no one was ever able to find the right method to make gold out of another metal, or to allow people to live forever.

Paul wrote to the Romans about the human quest to become right with God and earn eternal life with him. The Gentiles had the wisdom and power of God in creation, and his holy law written on their hearts, but these things didn’t lead them to God. Instead, they turned and went their own way in rebellion against their Creator. The Jewish people had the law of God written on stones and taught to them, but they didn’t obey it. They also turned away from God in rebellion and disobedience. Everyone in the whole world is under sin and under God’s judgment, Paul wrote. No one is justified before God, but instead everyone is accountable to him for their sins and condemned by his law.

The alchemists couldn’t find the way to make gold out of other metals or to learn how to live forever, and neither can we take our sinful selves and make them acceptable to God and live forever with him. But Jesus came to us to give us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. He obeyed God’s law perfectly in our place, and he died on the cross to pay for our sins. Jesus rose from the dead to defeat death and give us life with God forever. In Jesus, the world’s search for God and for eternal life can come to an end.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to bring us back to you and to give us eternal life. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.scienceclarified.com/A-Al/Alchemy.html

The Law Written on Our Hearts

Bible:

For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. Romans 2:12-16 ESV

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. I John 3:19-24 ESV

Reflection:

Geppetto, a woodcarver, once carved a beautiful puppet that he named Pinocchio, and he wished that this puppet would become a real boy. A blue fairy brought Pinocchio to life, and she gave a little cricket named Jiminy Cricket the job of being Pinocchio’s conscience. Jiminy was supposed to stay with Pinocchio and tell him what was right and what was wrong and keep him out of trouble. Unfortunately, Pinocchio never really listened to Jiminy Cricket. He went his own way and got into all kinds of trouble before he finally learned his lesson.

A conscience is a real thing, and it’s a little like a voice inside us whispering to us what is right and what is wrong. Paul wrote to the Romans that even people who have never heard of God’s law know the difference between right and wrong, because God has written his law on everyone’s heart. This is why it is possible for there to be very good people even if they don’t believe in Jesus or have the Bible, and why the laws of many countries and places are often good and right even if the people aren’t Christians. Paul says that God will use the law in our hearts to judge people for not following his law, and that no one will have the excuse that they didn’t have God’s law or know how he wanted people to live.

Because we are sinful people, our conscience doesn’t work perfectly. We can stop listening to it the way Pinocchio did, and sooner or later we might stop caring about doing right. We can start making excuses for not doing what we know God wants, and we can also start making excuses to do what we know is wrong, and this dulls our conscience. It is always better to trust the law that God has revealed to us in his word. But when we look at God’s law, we know that we deserve God’s judgment for not obeying it. Even our hearts condemn us sometimes, because we know that no matter how hard we try, in our hearts we don’t love and respect God the way we should. But God is greater than our hearts. He knows everything, and he knows that we can never earn his love by obeying him. He sent Jesus to die for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and he not only teaches us his law through his word, but also his love for us, the love that has made us his children forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and making us your children. Please teach us to obey you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Jackson, Wilfred, et al, dir. Pinocchio Disney Movies, 1940. Film.

Take Heed!

Bible:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Corinthians 10:6-13 ESV

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart,
and they have not known my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my wrath,
“They shall not enter my rest.” Psalm 95:7b-11 ESV

Reflection:

Smoking cigarettes is very bad for your health, and there are many commercials that try to encourage people not to start smoking, or to quit if they have started. A few years ago there were commercials of people who were smokers showing some of the problems smoking caused them. One of the commercials showed a man who had had throat cancer and now had to breath through a hole in his throat, called a stoma. He had to cover the stoma with his finger to speak, and he had a gravelly voice. He could only eat soft foods, and he had to be very careful to protect the stoma while in the shower or when he was outside. Another commercial showed a mother whose baby was born early and had to be in an incubator. She couldn’t hold her baby, but only talk to it through a hole in the incubator. This made her very sad, and she cried a little in the commercial.

Paul told the Corinthians to look at what had happened to the people of Israel in the past. He listed the ways they had sinned against God, such as by worshiping idols, grumbling, and testing the Lord, and the ways God’s judgment fell on them. Paul reminded them of the fiery serpents and the plague of death. These things were written down as an example for us, Paul said. We should take heed and not fall into sin the way the people of Israel did. We shouldn’t think that we are stronger or smarter or better than they were. It is so easy to fall into sin, and that’s why we need to keep watch over ourselves. But then Paul spoke some words of comfort. He said that God will never tempt us more than we can stand. He will help us and give us a way out, so that we never have to feel that we have no choice but to do something sinful and wrong.

We know how weak we are, and how we sin all the time, but we also know that we always have forgiveness from God because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. We can not only go to him for forgiveness, but also for help any time we are tempted. Jesus understands what we are going through, because he also was tempted when he was on earth. He overcame sin and the devil for us, and we know that they can never overpower us as long as we trust in Jesus. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us keep our faith strong, to trust in him for help and forgiveness, and to struggle with temptation.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to win our forgiveness and to overcome temptation for us. Help us to stay close to you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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