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/

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All Things Work Together for Good

Bible:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:26-30 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV

Reflection:

There’s an old Chinese story about a farmer whose horse ran away one day. All of his neighbors felt sorry for him, and came to show their sympathy for the bad thing that had happened. But the farmer said, “Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a bad thing. Who can say?” Then another day his horse came back and brought a beautiful wild horse back with him. All of the farmers neighbors came to congratulate him for this, but the farmer said, “Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a bad thing. Who can say?” The farmer gave the beautiful new horse to his son, who tried to train it, but the son ended up breaking his leg. All the neighbors came over to give their sympathy to the farmer for this, but he only said, “Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a bad thing. Who can say?” While the son was recovering from his broken leg, the emperor sent troops into the village to take all the able-bodied men off to fight in a war. The farmer’s son wasn’t taken because he had a broken leg. But of course the farmer still said, “Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s a bad thing. Who can say?”

As Christians we know that there are things that are truly good and right, and things that are wrong and evil. We don’t think in quite the same way as this farmer did. But we can also be calm when bad things happen, because God promises that he works in all things, whether they are good or bad, for the good of his people. We don’t always see or understand how God is at work, and we don’t always know what we should pray for. But Paul told the Romans something very wonderful. The Holy Spirit inside us always knows the right way to pray, and when we can’t find the words, he groans and sighs inside us and prays the prayers we need to pray. We may not understand how this works, but we can be sure that the Holy Spirit is in us and is always praying according to what God wants, and we can simply trust that these prayers will be heard and answered.

When we don’t know God’s will, and when sometimes our sinful selves fight against what God wants, we might start to wonder if we are truly God’s people. There’s wonderful comfort for us there, too. It’s not our own choice or good works that make us God’s people, but instead it’s what Jesus did for us on the cross. God planned long before the world began to save us through Jesus, and he knew us and loved us then. There are many things we don’t understand about this, either, but it’s a comfort to know that God’s love for us has no beginning or end, and that we can trust him to hold onto us and love us, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your wonderful love for us in Jesus, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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.

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.

Gamaliel’s Advice

Bible:

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. Acts 5:33-42 ESV

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
he will put to shame him who tramples on me. 
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness! Psalm 57:1-3 ESV

Reflection:

There’s a story that when Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus fled to Egypt, they came to a city with a temple full of idols. The family came to the guest house of the temple, and when the baby Jesus was carried in by Mary all the idols in the temple fell on their faces. Then there was the son of the high priest of the temple who was possessed with many demons, but he came in while Mary was giving the baby Jesus a bath. He touched one of the strips of cloth that Mary used to wrap Jesus, and as soon as he did that the demons rushed out of him. When the governor of the city heard about these things he gathered his army and brought it to the temple. The priests thought the army would try to kill the little family, but instead the governor said that he remembered the story of what had happened to the Egyptians when Pharaoh had refused to listen to Moses, and he didn’t want that to happen to his city. Then he and his soldiers paid homage to Jesus, because they realized that Jesus was more powerful than all their gods.

This is only a story, but a wise rabbi named Gamaliel had a similar idea when the religious leaders were discussing what to do about the apostles and their message. Gamaliel reminded them about two different men who had gathered a following in the past, but in each case when the leader died, the followers drifted away, and their movements died out. Gamaliel said that if the followers of Jesus were simply following a man, their movement would fail, but if they were following God, then no one would be able to stop them. If they continued to try to fight the apostles, they might find that they were actually fighting God. Gamaliel’s advice was good. He helped the religious leaders remember the lessons of history and to avoid making the mistake of doing something that opposed God’s purposes.

God’s purposes for his people are clear. He sent Jesus, our Savior, to die on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven and have life with God forever. God wants his good news to spread to people all over the world, and he will accomplish his purposes in his way and time. He calls us to be part of his plan, and promises that he will be with us and help us. We can leave things in his hands and know that his purposes will always stand.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your plan to save us in Jesus and to bring people from all around the world into your family. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

Gaer, Joseph The Lore of the New Testament Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1952, pp. 64-65.

Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Bible:

And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Mark 15:33-34 ESV

“Today also my complaint is bitter;
my hand is heavy on account of my groaning.
Oh, that I knew where I might find him,
that I might come even to his seat!

“Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,
and backward, but I do not perceive him;
on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him;
he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. Job 23:2-3, 8-9 ESV

Reflection:

Yash was a rich businessman who lived with his wife and his two sons in Delhi, India. His older son Rahul fell in love with a beautiful woman named Anjali and wanted to marry her, but his father Yash would not allow his son to do that. Yash had a different wife picked out for Rahul and expected his son to obey him and marry the woman he had chosen. He thought that Anjali wasn’t worthy of his son because her family was poor. When Rahul married Anjali in spite of his father’s wishes, Yash disowned his son. He said that Rahul was no longer his son, and that he wouldn’t have anything further to do with him. Rahul was cut off from his entire family, and he moved far away to London with his wife.

Jesus was also completely cut off from his Heavenly Father on the cross. They sky turned black, and it stayed dark for three hours, from noon to three in the afternoon. This darkness showed that God’s judgment was falling on his Son, and that God had turned his back on all the sins that Jesus had carried to the cross with him. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” As Jesus paid for our sins he knew the pain of abandonment by his Heavenly Father, and the bitterness of complete separation.

The thought of being abandoned by God and separated from him forever is really frightening. We know that everything good comes from God and that being without him is painful and horrible. But everyone who believes in Jesus never has to worry about that happening. Jesus paid for our sins and endured separation from his Heavenly Father so that we would never have to experience that. Sometimes God might seem far away and we might feel as if we can’t reach him. But even when we suffer terrible things or when our hearts trouble us because of the sins we’ve done, we can be sure that God will never leave us. He promises to always be with us and to help us, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us through Jesus and for promising never to leave us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

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

Telling a New Story

Bible:

And he began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard and let it out to tenants and went into another country for a long while. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, so that they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent another servant. But they also beat and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And he sent yet a third. This one also they wounded and cast out. Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours.’ And they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” When they heard this, they said, “Surely not!” But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone’?

Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” Luke 20:9-18 ESV

Let me sing for my beloved
my love song concerning his vineyard:
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
and he looked for it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem
and men of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard.
What more was there to do for my vineyard,
that I have not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?

And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and briers and thorns shall grow up;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;
for righteousness,
but behold, an outcry! Isaiah 5:1-7 ESV

Reflection:

A few hundred years ago William Shakespeare wrote a play called Romeo and Juliet, a story about a young man and woman who fell in love with each other even though their families were enemies who were feuding with each other. Many people have loved this story through the years, and in the 1950s this story was told in a very new way in a play by Arthur Laurents called West Side Story. Instead of the two lovers being from feuding families in Italy in the 1500s, in West Side Story the lovers were named Tony and Maria, and they were from two different gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, in New York City in the 1950s. The Jets were white, and the Sharks were Puerto Rican. In retelling the story, Mr. Laurents brought out some new characters and ideas, especially about racial tensions and gang violence in New York.

Jesus took an old story and told it in a new way, also. Do you remember when the prophet Isaiah talked about a vineyard that a man had planted? He did everything he could do for this vineyard, but it only grew wild, sour grapes. The prophet Isaiah said that this vineyard was a picture of God’s people, and that God himself was the man who had planted the vineyard. When Jesus told the story, he added some new characters. He talked about the people who rented the vineyard from the owner, and were supposed to give him some of the harvest to pay the rent. But when the man sent people to get his share from the tenants, they kept beating these messengers up and sending them away without paying anything. Finally the man sent his own son, but instead of respecting the son, the tenants decided to kill him so they could keep the vineyard for themselves. Jesus said that the owner of the vineyard would come to judge and punish the tenants of the vineyard.

The religious leaders understood what Jesus meant by this story. He was saying that they were the tenants who were supposed to take care of God’s people, and that they hadn’t done their job. When God had sent them prophets to warn them, they had treated these prophets very badly and hadn’t listened to them. Finally, God had sent Jesus, his Son, and they were planning to kill him. Jesus warned the religious leaders that God would punish them for this, but all they could say was, “Surely not!” Jesus told them that the stone that the builders had rejected had become the most precious stone in the whole building. Jesus is a stone of judgment for people who keep on turning away from God, just as a stone can crush someone or hurt people who fall on it. But for people who believe in Jesus, he is the beginning of a brand new building. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins of turning away from him, and everyone who believes in him becomes part of the new story of God’s love for all people.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and for sending Jesus, our Savior, and making us a part of your story. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sources:

Shakespeare, William Romeo and Juliet
Laurents, Arthur West Side Story: a musical New York: Random House, 1950.

Throwing a Mountain into the Sea

Bible:

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” Matthew 21:20-22 ESV

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a man who got hold of a magic monkey’s paw that would grant him three wishes. His wife told him that he should wish for enough money to pay off the mortgage on their house, and so he did. A few days later their only son was killed in an accident at work, and the company gave them some money–the exact amount they had wished for. They were terribly sad to lose their son, and then the wife got an idea. Couldn’t her husband wish their son to come back to life? The father didn’t want to do this, but the mother convinced him. He made the wish, and suddenly they heard a knock at the door. The wife went to answer the door, but the husband realized that something might be terribly wrong about having a son returned from the dead, so he made the third wish to take his second wish back. The knocking at the door stopped, and when they opened the door, there was no one there.

This spooky story is meant to teach the idea that we often don’t really know what we should wish for, and if our wishes all came true, it wouldn’t be good for us at all. Jesus’ disciples were amazed to see the fig tree wither when Jesus gave the word, but he told them that if they had faith, they could have anything they prayed for. They could even tell a mountain to throw itself into the sea, and it would do that! Often God doesn’t give us what we ask for, though. The problem is that our wishes are often selfish and wrong because our faith is weak and we don’t understand what God wants. If our wishes were in line with God’s will, we would know exactly what to ask for, and we’d know for sure that God would answer. But because we are sinners, we often pray for things that aren’t best.

Jesus understood and obeyed his Heavenly Father’s will perfectly, and he was able to do many amazing miracles because of that. Jesus’ obedience covers our sin and disobedience, and his death on the cross paid for the forgiveness of all our sins. He gives us the gift of faith, which makes us God’s children forever. We can come to our Heavenly Father any time and tell him what is on our minds. We know he will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us. Because our faith and obedience aren’t perfect, we won’t always get what we ask for, but we can be happy to know that God is in charge, and he will answer our prayers in his own way. He gave us Jesus, and because of that, we know that he will always give us what is best.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing and answering all our prayers for Jesus’ sake. Please give us the faith to understand your will. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/j/jacobs/ww/monkey/

Lord of Compassion

Bible:

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. Luke 7:11-17 ESV

For the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:31-33 ESV

Reflection:

Many years ago an English woman named Amy Beechey had eight sons. These sons were young men when World War I broke out, and all eight of them went off to fight. As the war continued, five of these sons died, and one by one Mrs. Beechey, whose husband was already dead, received word that another son had died in the war. This mother’s grief was overwhelming as she lost one son after the other. One son, named Eric, came home safely in 1919, but then he came down with influenza and after that, pneumonia. He was very sick and almost died, but imagine the happiness of Mrs. Beechey when Eric didn’t die, but instead recovered. She must have felt as if at least one son had come back to her from death.

Jesus met a mother who had suffered terrible losses as well. She also was a widow, but she had only one son. In those days a son was very important to his mother, because he would take care of her after his father died and make sure she had everything she needed. When her son died, this mother had no one to be with her and take care of her. Jesus met the mother when her son’s dead body was being carried out of the town of Nain. He saw her crying, and he felt a deep compassion for her sorrow. He told her not to cry, and he touched the frame that was carrying her son’s body. The people carrying the body stopped, and Jesus told the young man to get up. He sat up and started talking, alive and well again! Jesus gave the son back to his mother to continue his important work of loving and caring for her. The people of the town praised God for the wonderful thing they had seen him do in Jesus.

The deep compassion Jesus felt for the widow of Nain is the same compassion he feels for us when we are hurting. He especially feels our sorrow when we lose someone we love to death. Jesus went through death himself, and when he did that he conquered death. He proved it by rising from the dead on the first Easter Sunday. Everyone who believes in Jesus will come to life again on the last day, and we will all live together with Jesus forever in his heavenly kingdom. Now we can come to Jesus with all our sorrows, and know that he will comfort and bless us. Jesus shows us the compassion of God, and through him we know we have a loving Heavenly Father who cares about us, forgives us, and loves us always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the love and care you show us in life and in death and forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2060179/Armistice-Day-2011-The-mother-lost-sons-WW1.html

Equal With God

Bible:

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:18-24 ESV

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. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 ESV

Reflection:

You’ve probably heard of Paul Revere, the famous American patriot who rode his horse into the night to warn people that British soldiers were coming, and to be ready for them. But before all that, Paul Revere was an artisan who worked with gold and silver and made beautiful things. He learned the trade from his father, who had come to America at the age of 13 and been apprenticed to a goldsmith. Paul Revere’s father was an excellent artisan, and he apprenticed his oldest son, Paul, to himself. Paul’s father taught him everything he knew, but when he died, Paul was only 19 years old. The son had learned the father’s craft so well that he was able to take over his father’s shop and support his family when that happened. Paul had learned to be as excellent an artisan as his father had been.

Jesus had told the Jewish leaders that when he had healed a man on the Sabbath, he was only doing what he had always seen his Heavenly Father doing. God always works to hold his creation together and to bring healing and new life to it, and Jesus did what his Father did. This made the religious leaders angry. When Jesus said that God was his Father, he was saying that he was the equal of God! They thought that this was a terrible thing to say, and against God’s law. But Jesus continued to say that he was the Son of God, and that his Father had shown him everything, and that he did the same work that his Father did. Jesus especially talked about the way he was going to bring new life to everyone, something even more wonderful than healing a sick man. He said anyone who wouldn’t honor him also didn’t honor God the Father, because the Father had turned the judgment of the world over to his Son.

We honor Jesus by believing that he is the Son of God and that he came to give us life. He set aside his glory and privilege as God and came to us as a human person. He went all the way to the cross to die for us, so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have new life in him. Someday he will return as our judge, but since we have his forgiveness, we don’t have to worry about his judgment. He’s taken all the judgment of God onto himself, and in him we have forgiveness and life, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Savior and our Lord. Please forgive our sins and keep us in the life we have with you. Amen.

Source:

https://www.biography.com/people/paul-revere-9456172