Friday, September 30, 2011

Christianity 101

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39 (RSV)

College. Educational Psychology 214. I really wanted to find an answer to my quintessential question, “What happens in a person’s mind so that learning occurs?”

The text book was not clear; neither was the instructor. I attended every class and listened to the presenter—medium-height, around age 30, sandy-colored hair, glasses, a bony/angular kind of guy. With only two classes left, I asked a question to which he responded explosively. On the board, he drew a super-size “continuum” (the same one from the first class) which did not relate to anything. Disgusted, I gave up on him.

Unknown to me, department faculty had been standing behind one-way mirrors. So, on the next class day, a substitute told us our instructor had a brain tumor. I was shocked! Not at the problem, but at myself. Jesus was asking, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41).

Jesus keeps teaching: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under his wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37). Jesus knows the hearts of men and he knew how much I deserved an attitude check.

Ed Psych 214 turned out to be Back-to-the Basics, Christianity 101. I had to relearn “You shall love your neighbor as yourself." The Holy Spirit uses His own teaching/learning methods, brings Jesus’ words to our minds and teaches us right from wrong. The Lord never gives up on anyone–not you, not me.

Lord, thank you for teaching and forgiving us. Amen.

©) 2011 V. Colclasure

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jesus Prayed

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray for those who will believe in me through this message, that all of them may be one, Father. John 17:20,21a (NIV)

I’m not sure at what age I became a Christian. I was very young. The movie, King of Kings, came out when I was in elementary school. It impacted my life in a powerful, positive manner. It was the first time I saw the story of Jesus and His crucifixion. From then on, my heart belonged to Jesus.

When my older sister, Gene, was fifteen and I was thirteen, I awakened in the wee hours of the morning to her soft sobs. She was on her knees by her bedside, hands clasped in prayer. Tears streamed down her face as she prayed fervently to Jesus. My heart melted with love for her, hurting for her tears. In the moonlight she seemed to glow softly. Gene and I remain close as sisters and friends, not only of the flesh, but of the spirit.

At night I pray for my family, thanking God for the love we share. In the seventeenth chapter of John, Jesus prayed for His earthly family, His disciples. But, what awes me the most is to realize that He prayed for all of us today who believe because of the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus prayed before He died upon the cross, that those crucifying Him may be forgiven. At James 5:16, He left us instructions to pray for each other so that we may be healed. Jesus prayed for me and you. I am grateful.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for praying for me before I was, and for all those who will come after me. Amen.

© 2011 E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, September 16, 2011

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day . . . For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened . . . (2 Corinthians 4:16, 5:4a NIV)

I remember a line from a song, “life is hard, but God is good.” We all face physical, emotional or mental pain in life. Some suffer from depression, physical disabilities or anxiety. Our aging bodies betray us with the discovery of new aches and pains. Paul reminds us that our frail earthly bodies are wasting away and are temporary. When viewed from God’s eternal perspective, our life on this earth is rather short.

Although our bodies and minds are vulnerable to physical and mental problems, we are not to become discouraged. We have “this treasure in jars of clay”—the good news of salvation hidden inside the fragile human bodies of believers (2 Corinthians 4:7a). My aging body hurts from the ravages of arthritis, but the promise of eternal life with my Savior far outweighs this temporary pain. When I am short of money or feel lonely, I sometimes feel angry or sad. Jesus’ words in John encourage me to “take heart” because He has overcome the world.

In the last book of the Bible God gives His children a beautiful promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away . . . I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:4,5b).

Dear Father, Growing old and feeling sad are hard, but I look forward to spending eternity with You. Thank You for sending Jesus and for making everything new. Amen

© 2011 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, September 9, 2011

Love Hurts

“Save Yourself, and come down from the cross!” Mark 15:30 (NKJV)

I sat in church recently as the pastor delivered a message about the crucifixion. I am an “irony girl,” so the Pharisees’ taunting words to our Savior captured my imagination. Jesus could have done it.

He could have come down from the cross, dooming us to a Godless eternity. He could even have cursed us with His dying breath. Instead, the holy Lamb of God endured the pain, shame, and horror of becoming sin for us. His reply was unexpected.

“Father, forgive them.”

Those words alone should have pierced their hearts with conviction, but it didn’t. Jesus meant it, though. What better way could He have chosen to prove He was God’s Son? He is love, and love dictated His response.

The Pharisees missed the point. They told Jesus to save Himself, but Christ came to save them. He fulfilled God’s law and became the only one qualified to save men. Jesus took our sin upon His own body and accepted the wrath of His Father in our stead. God accepted that sacrifice, proved when He raised Christ from the dead. The walls that separated us from our Creator crumbled, giving us access to Him once again.

How ironic! “Save yourself?” “Come down from the cross?” Not a chance. In my mind, I imagine Jesus gritting bloody teeth to smile through the pain. Love hurts.

Thank You, Jesus, for the great love You have for us, and for the lengths You went in order to have fellowship with us once again. We desire to express the same unconditional, self-sacrificing love for one another.

© 2010 Katherine A. Fuller

Friday, September 2, 2011

Raindrops of Love

Be strong and of good courage . . . it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (RSV)

Raindrops always remind me of God’s love. When it rained on my wedding day bringing the song’s “Showers of Blessings,” I first associated rain with God’s love. I did the same on another gray, lonely day. Feeling depressed, I was in front of an open window. My husband and sons were attending a football game because one son was performing in the marching band. When it began to thunder and storm, I thought about the “mercy drops” and asked that they fall on me. I needed evidence of God’s love and presence.

Shortly, God answered. The wind blew more strongly, and raindrops came past a bush in front of the window, even flying through a screen, before hitting my face. Contrarily, I decided if I didn’t want to get wet, I’d better move. However, those few drops were nothing compared to my drenched husband and sons who came rushing home. The game was cancelled and band uniforms were ruined. Weeks later, people still talked about that downpour, but I never confessed.

I don’t wonder why God answered in such a remarkable way. He wants His followers to know He is faithful and loves them. He can be counted on to teach us that if He answers the little prayers, He is able also to answer all prayers – even those which seem impossible.

God is faithful, but sometimes we forget. The concrete evidence of answered prayer reminds us of His work and faithful presence in our lives. Raindrops help me remember.

Lord, thank You for never leaving nor forsaking us. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Amen.

© 2011 Virginia Colclasure