Well Women

flower-for-whole-2WELL WOMEN”

I am having fun using a play on words with my title “Well Women.” Join me in looking at two women in scripture who are worthy of this title because they have experienced Wells of Wellness. One is about a woman who encounters Jesus at a well and the other is about a woman who is made well through her encounter with Jesus. I have not printed out the scriptures of these two accounts, so you may want to read them in your Bible to refresh your memory of the details.

definite-rose2-mfIn John 4:4-42, we find the story of “The Woman at the Well.” The story begins with Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. This conversation should not have been happening because according to custom, Jesus would not talk to this person because she is a woman and because she is a Samaritan. I think Jesus set her up for their conversation by asking her for a drink. He probably was thirsty but He really wanted to take her deeper than just receiving a cup of water. The woman could offer well water to Jesus while He could supply her with living water that would quench a deeper spiritual thirst. After Jesus tells the woman she should ask Him for a drink, she notes in verse 11 that He has nothing to use to draw the water from the well. The drink Jesus is offering is drawn upon by faith. The key verses of this story are verses 13-14, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” These verses create a transition to a deeper level of understanding. In verse 25, the woman refers to the Messiah who is to come and in verse 26, Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah. The outcome of their conversation becomes evident in verse 28 when the woman goes back to town without her water jar. Her jar may have been empty, but she was filled with living water! This woman now exemplified the promise that living water would flow from within her. Not only did she draw Living Water from the well of Christ, but she also became a well of Living Water to those at hone. Verse 39 says, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.” When Jesus was with this woman at the well, He knew her heart was empty. She was without love or self-worth. She needed more than just a drink of water to satisfy her thirst and emptiness. She needed a spiritual infilling. She became a “Well Woman” through her encounter with Jesus!

definite-rose2-mfNow let’s move on to the story of “A Woman Made Well” as told in Luke 8:43-48. This time the woman is looking to be made well physically. She has had physical problems for the last twelve years. Like the woman at the well, this woman also is concerned with her physical need and may not have even known she had a spiritual need to be filled. Faith for this woman is her source of being made well while for the other woman her faith was what she used to draw water from the water well. The woman made well received an infilling of Jesus’ spiritual power simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ robe. In verse 48, Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” In this case, “well” meant wholeness in body, soul and spirit – not just physical wellness. (For a detailed explanation of wholeness refer back to “Sozo – It’s Greek to Me” posted last week.) Like the Samaritan woman, she was also confused about all that Jesus offered her. Jesus wanted the “unwell woman” to know that He was the source of all that she needed in every aspect of her life. Jesus offered her a personal encounter that would go much deeper than simply physical wellness. He also extended to her restoration of her soul and new life to her spirit. She wanted to encounter Jesus to be made well while Jesus wanted to make her whole through their encounter. She, too, became a “Well Woman”!

In both situations, Jesus used a physical need to present an opportunity for the women to have a spiritual need fulfilled.

definite-rose2-mfNow it is time for us to get more personal. The Lord wants us to know that we are Well Women. (Men, you may also make your own application.) There is a wealth of water in God’s well allowing us to become Well Women!  How deep of a hole, or well, are you willing to dig within your heart to find the source of your well water for wholeness? I encourage you to dig out busyness, clutter, and distractions. Fill your well with the wealth of God’s Written Word. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water that lives within us and desires to flow out of us. Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.” Jesus offers “Wells of Wellness” but He also offers “Wells of Wholeness.” Do you want to be satisfied with just a drink of cold water or a physical healing? These are important, but Jesus offers so much more! His primary concern is the depth of our faith. For the woman at the well, faith was her source for drawing living water from the well. For the woman with the issue of blood, faith was her source of being made well. When we meet Jesus at the well with our faith, we become Women of Wholeness as well as Women of Wellness. However, we can go deeper and become Women of Holiness. In Ephesians 5:26 we are told that we can be made holy, we can be cleansed by the washing with the water through the word. The Lord desires to make us holy (sanctified and set apart) and wholly (completely) His. We, as “Well Women”, can become Women of Wellness – Women of Wholeness – Women of Holiness! Don’t settle for less than what Jesus offers to you!

definite-rose2-mfAs our time at the well comes to a conclusion, I would be honored to pray for you.

Do you identify with the woman at the well who had a thirst that needed to be quenched? Then I ask the Lord to fill your empty spiritual cup. May He quench your thirst for righteousness so you never thirst again.

Are you the woman at the feet of Jesus needing a touch in your physical body to be made well? Then I ask the Lord to reach out and touch your physical body to make it well. May He allow you to touch the hem of His garment and to feel His healing power flow through your body.

Are you a “Well Woman” desiring to become a Woman of Wellness – A Woman of Wholeness – A Woman of Holiness? Then I ask the Lord to fulfill your desire to be immersed in His Well of Living Water. May He allow you to spiritually drink freely from His well not only to be made well but to be made whole. May He impart to you a wholeness in body, soul and spirit. May you dig more deeply to truly know what it means to be holy and set apart for Jesus – having a thirst only for Jesus. May the Lord, make you a Woman of Wellness and Wholeness and Holiness.

Thank You, Jesus for hearing and answering our prayers!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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“SOZO” – It’s Greek to Me!

sozo” – Is this a word that describes the clown named Bozo?
sozo” – It sounds Greek to me!

Although I have to admit that when I hear the word “sozo” I first think of Bozo the clown, my second comment is more accurate. “Sozo” is a Greek word used in scripture that can be translated ‘being made well.” The meaning of the word relates to wholeness in body, soul and spirit. A complete package is offered.

dscn2314Genesis 1:26 begins with God saying “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” Notice that God uses the pronoun “us” when describing Himself. Our God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since He is three in one, it is not surprising that when mankind was created, he was given a body, soul and spirit. The manifestation of three is found in both cases. In the image above, we see three balls within a glass dish. The dish represents our complete makeup containing a red ball for our body, a blue ball for our soul, and a yellow ball for our spirit.

dscn2315When Adam and Eve sinned, our perfection was lost. In mankind’s fallen state, our spirit has died. We have lost our ability to commune with God one on One as originally designed by God. This is evident in Genesis 3:23 when God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. An empty spot is left within our original design of creation. Body and soul remain.

dscn2316Our soul – composed of our mind, will and emotions – tries to compensate for the now vacant place once occupied by our spirit nature. The image above shows what happens to the equality of space originally intended for body, soul and spirit. Without a spirit and with an enlarged soul, the body is also affected regarding how well it fulfills its function.

dscn2314In Revelation 21:5, God says, “I am making everything new!” “All things” includes mankind. Throughout scripture, God reveals how He offers newness of life to each part of our nature. First, our spirit must be born again. Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus about being born again. John 3:3-7 states, “Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’ Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Once our spirit is born again, our soul needs to be restored. David says in Psalm 23:3, “He restores my soul.” Restoration takes something back to its original state. (For example, antique furniture can be restored.) Relating restoration to our soul, the soul must return to its original size and function. When our spirit nature is born again, our soul is not happy about having to give up the extra space it gained regarding its influence upon how we live our lives. There is a constant battle going on between soul and spirit. Finally, we think about the condition of our physical body. Although the space of our body was not affected when our spirit died, we are most aware of the effects of this change upon our lives. Our body requires healing. I Peter 2:24 reveals to us how Jesus provides our healing, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” We see a mysterious and miraculous interplay of life as we look at how we have three interwoven parts affecting each other. I Thessalonians 5:23 supports this concept, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

My Reader, I pray this post gives you some insight regarding God’s plan for us at creation when He designed us in His image with body, soul and spirit. However, I have also written this post as background information for my topic next week of “Well Women.” Please check in again next Wednesday as we apply the meaning of “sozo” to two women in the Bible.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Valentine Prayer to Send

valentines-day-1My Reader, are you planning to send any valentines in the upcoming days? Although I do not like the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, I want to challenge you to think about extending appreciation and affection to those around you. Many people think more about receiving valentines than sending them, but unless these tokens of love are sent by someone how can they be received by anyone? In Acts 20:35, Paul reminds us of words spoken by Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

To whom would you like to send a valentine? Most first responses will be to name family members such as a spouse or children. My traditional valentine to my husband and children used to be large heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies that I baked. (The one for my husband was larger than those for our two kids!) I also taught our children the gift of giving by having them make and send valentines to their out-of-state grandparents. However, today I want to make a different suggestion to you. Would you be willing to send a Valentine Prayer to the Lord for someone with whom you struggle or for a person with whom you have a strained relationship or someone who has hurt you? You may not immediately like my suggestion but please hear what I am saying. It is not only what I am suggesting but it is what Jesus tells us to do. Matthew 5:43 -44 quotes Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We are not only to love others but we are to show our love to them. Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity for us to extend love to not only those whom we love, but also to those we do not love so much.

Several scriptures in the book of I John give us reasons to extend love to those who may not be so loving towards us. I John 4:19 says,We love because he first loved us.” God did not wait until we loved Him before He loved us. Love is described in I John 4:10, “And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We are all familiar with John 3:16 that says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” We were sinners – we hurt God – we disobeyed God, and yet He sent us the greatest Valentine possible in the form of His Son, Jesus, to die for us. If we send a prayer of love for an “unfriend,” we are only following the example of God. I John 4:20 states, If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

When questioned about what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37-40 saying, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Both commandments are based on love. First, we are to love God, and then we are to love others. “The others” are not just those who love us, but everyone. In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus showed us how to love. Now it is our turn to love according to His example. His love did not exclude anyone whom we might consider hard to love.

In John 21:16, Jesus questions Simon Peter about his love for both God and others, “Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’” My Reader, please read the first part of this verse and replace Simon’s name with your name. Hear Jesus asking you if you love Him. How will you respond? Will you tell Jesus that you love Him? If so, listen to hear if Jesus is telling you to feed His sheep by sending a Valentine Prayer for someone who is hard for you to love.

Meanwhile, be sure to receive God’s Valentine to you because I John 4:8 assures you that “God is love.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Scriptures by Candlelight

cb-1By flickering candlelight, I am flipping through my Bible this evening. The room is dark except for the candlelight but it provides enough light for me to read the appropriate passages. I am searching for verses about light. My Reader, will you join me as I let the flicker of the candle highlight a few specific scriptures?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”
; and there was light.
God saw that the light was good; and
God separated the light from the darkness.
God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was
evening and there was morning, one day.
Genesis 1:1-5

When God decided to create the earth, the first thing He did was create light. I wonder if there was a big, bright, blinding flash when light first appeared. If a person is in a dark room and suddenly another person turns on a light in that room, the first person can almost be blinded by the extreme contrast between the darkness and the light. Is this how light came into existence? If so, that light would be much brighter than the illumination of my room by the candle that is currently on my desk. The significance of these scripture verses for me is that light was the beginning of all that God created.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

As I look at my little candle ablaze representing Jesus as the light of the world, two different thoughts go through my mind. First, I am reminded of the first five verses of John 1 where Jesus is described as “the Word who was with God in the beginning.” This wording is similar to the scripture of Genesis 1. John 1:4-5 states, In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Not only was Jesus involved in creating light at the beginning of time, but He also came to be known as the Light of men who shines into the darkness of mankind. Next I remember that Jesus was talking to the Jewish people who would have understood the significance of light. In Exodus 13:21 scripture records, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.” While God’s chosen people were traveling in the wilderness to the Promised Land, God manifested His presence to them through the pillar of fire when they traveled at night in darkness. My candle may be a very diminutive pillar of fire, but it reminds me that Jesus is the Light of the world – and I want Him to be shining in my world.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
Psalm 27:1

The flame of my candle is becoming more personal to me as I read the beginning of the first verse of Psalm 27. Jesus is not only the One who created light in the beginning, nor is He simply the Light of the world, but He becomes my personal light when I accept Him as my Savior. When I became a believer, my nature changed. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” The reference to being a new creation, takes me back to Genesis 1:1 that told about God creating in the beginning. If God created light, then there must be a relationship between light and me. I want to think more about this.

You are the light of the world….
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14&16

As my personal relationship with Jesus deepens, He reveals to me how He sees me and He instructs me in the way He wants me to live my life. Since I am made in His image, I am now a light to the world and He wants me to be His light! What a privilege!

However, being His light comes with a cost. I discover this cost by looking closely at the burning candle beside me. When I first lit the candle, there was more wax than now. I think of the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” In order for there to be illumination from a candle, the wax must melt as the flame burns. I am also reminded of the words of the worship chorus Spirit of the Living God by C. Michael Hahn. “Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.” While watching my candle burn and singing this chorus, I find another appropriate scripture. Jesus tells me in Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” I must always remember that Jesus sees me as a light to the world but He is the Light of the World.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

The light of my candle is flicking and sputtering while the pages of my Bible are not fluttering from one scripture to another as quickly as a couple of hours ago. However, I cannot conclude my candlelight evening without reminding myself that the written words of scripture containing the spoken words of Jesus provide the brightest light of my life.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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The CONS of Romans 8

bible-studyCON” is a simple three letter prefix, When it is combined with various letters of the alphabet, it creates a variety of words found in Romans 8. Join me in a search and study of these words.

Therefore, there is now no CONdemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:1

To be condemned means to be proven guilty. To separate the syllables of condemn and then combine the meanings of the two syllables produces the meaning to be “with damnation.” Condemnation pronounces a strong negative judgment upon a person that may involve punishment. This first verse of Romans 8 assures us that there is no condemnation if we have a personal relationship with Jesus. John 3:17-18 assures us, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” We do not need to worry about being good enough to please God. Since Christ died for us, He will not condemn us as long as we personally embrace John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As I continue reading in Romans, I find confirmation for the promise of no condemnation in Romans 8:34, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

So letting your sinful nature CONtrol your mind leads to death.
But letting the Spirit
CON
trol your mind leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6 NLT

In this verse, we discover that we have a choice of how our minds are controlled. Our sinful nature leads us down the path of destruction while yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit offers us life. Romans 8:9 gives the assurance, “You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.” Only when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit are we be able to please God.

I CONsider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:8

When I consider, or think about, suffering, I become uneasy. I do not like the thought of enduring pain of any sort. However, we are not exempt from uncomfortable circumstances even though we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When reading a few more verses we come to the assurance of the benefit of our suffering. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that everything that happens to us will be good, but it does mean that God is able to turn every situation around for His long term good . Another reassuring verse is II Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.” We will all encounter pain of some sort during our lives, so it is beneficial for us to consider how we will handle uncomfortable situations before we are confronted with it.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be
CONformed to the image of his Son,
that he might
be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Romans 8:29

To be conformed means to be made into a similar form or style. When I separate the syllables of the word, I create the definition “to be with formation.” To be conformed to the image of Christ is to be made into His likeness and character. A note in the Life Application Bible points out that as we become more like Christ, we discover our true selves – the person God created each of us to be. I John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

No, in all these things we are more than CONquerors
through him who loved us.
Romans 8:37

A conqueror is a person who overcomes such things as weakness or fear successfully. He or she is able to take control and cope with life’s challenges. To conquer often refers to overcoming by the use of military force. With this concept, I am reminded of Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” The writer of Romans tells us that as Christian soldiers, we are more than conquerors. Looking specifically at Romans 8:31, Paul says, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” This gives us confidence to think of ourselves as conquerors.

For I am CONvinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything
 else in all creation, will be able to separate us from
 the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

To be convinced means to firmly believe in the truth. It is very reassuring to know that when we have a personal relationship with Christ, He will never allow us to again be separated from Him. Going back to the first verse of this chapter, we were told that if we have asked Christ into our lives, we will not be condemned. However, to use another “con” word, Jesus will CONvict us but He will not CONdemn us. We need to be sensitive to conviction so we can repent of any sin and not live in fear of condemnation for the wrong we have done. Romans 2:4 states, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” We need to remember the truth of II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13

As we near the end of our study, I remind myself that the prefix CON means “with”. When I combine the promise of Philippians 4:13 with the definition of CON, I realize that with Christ I can do all things. I come to the CONclusion that I can be free of CONdemnation, I can allow my mind to CONtrolled by the Holy Spirit, I can CONsider the reality of suffering, I can be more than a CONqueror, and I can be CONfromed into the image of Christ. All of this is possible when I live my life with Christ! The prefix CON is small but powerful when CONnected with Christ!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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People or Puppets?

choiceMy Reader, do you realize that you just made a choice? Right now you are choosing to read my post rather than to not to be reading it. Multiple times a day we choose what we do or what we do not do. We choose what words we say and what words we do not say. We choose what thoughts we think and what thoughts we do not think. There is tremendous power in choice!

When I was a child, I liked to play with hand puppets. With one puppet, I pretended that it said what I wanted it to say by moving its mouth with my hand and disguising my voice to make it sound like the puppet was talking. Another puppet allowed me to move its hands by moving my fingers that were inside the fabric of the puppet’s hands. No puppet had a mind so it could not think any thoughts of its own but I could pretend that my puppet thought whatever I wanted it to think. Puppets and people are very different. God creates people while people make puppets. The reason God created mankind was because He wanted to have fellowship with us. However, He desires for us to choose this personal relationship with Him, so He has given us a free will. God created us out of love and He desires us to love Him, but He wants us to make the choice to love Him. God does not want us to love Him just because He said so.

Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (highlighted by author) This is a choice Moses presented to the Israelites in approximately 1407 BC and it is still a relevant choice for us today. We make daily choices and we also make choices that have consequences of greater impact. In Cast of Characters Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God, Max Lucado writes about how God gives us an eternal choice that has eternal consequences. He develops this concept through the scene of the three crosses at Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary. Lucado asks the question, “Could it be that the other two crosses symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts? The gift of choice.” One criminal chose to repent of his sins and asked Jesus for forgiveness while the other thief simply insulted Jesus. Their choices determined where each of them would spend eternity. Jesus gives us the same choice today. Have you exercised your freewill to choose Jesus as your personal savior? If you have not made this positive choice, you have already made a negative choice of not having a personal relationship with Him. The choice is yours: life or death – blessings or curses.

Now let’s apply this freedom of choice to our nation, the United States of America. On November 8, 2016, we as the people of this nation voted to choose Donald Trump as our next president. Choosing our country’s leaders is a unique privilege we as Americans have because of our democratic form of government. Now on January 20, 2017, we will observe the inauguration of our new president. During this historic event, we, as a nation and as individuals, have another choice. We can choose to support or not to support our president. Although some people may not be happy because the candidate of their choice did not win the election, I believe that now we as a nation need to choose to respect Trump as he serves in the office of President of the United States. We must not allow our personal self will to become selfish. We are to be a nation of unity.

I believe Jesus stressed the importance of unity when He in prayed in John 17:20-21, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even 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 sent Me.” (highlighted by author) Jesus felt the need to pray for unity, because He knew that unity would only happen if believers made that choice. As Christians, our initial choice is to accept Jesus as our personal savior and then we continue to make choices in agreement with the plans and purposes of God. Going back to the early 1400s BC, Joshua addresses the Israelites after they crossed over into the Promised Land. He concludes by presenting the people with a choice. Joshua 24:15 says, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (highlighted by author) Joshua not only gave the people a choice but he also stated his choice by saying that his household would serve the Lord. God trusts us to make decisions. He gives us the opportunity to choose because we are people, not puppets.

My Reader, what choices are before you today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Let Jesus Grow Up

nativity-silhouettecross-and-crownIt is the second week of January and my Christmas decorations are now packed away until next Christmas. While wrapping up the figures of our nativity set, I held the wooden Jesus figurine in my hands and felt the prompting in my heart that I must be diligent to not put Jesus away in my life. We have just celebrated the birth of Jesus, but I must carry Him in my heart and allow Him to grow throughout 2017. I want to grow in my faith, and in order to do that, I must keep Jesus at the center of all I think and do.

The world may tend to think of Jesus only on December 25 but that was not God’s plan when He sent His Son to earth as a baby. During this past Christmas season, our son-in-law, Jamey, commented that the world is not threatened by Jesus as a baby. They just do not allow Him grow up. A baby is innocent and represents the nature of mankind as God created it to be before the serpent and sin entered Adam and Eve. Jesus’ innocence is not threatening to the world when He is an infant. However, as Jesus matures into His ministry, He becomes a threat to those of the world because He continues to be holy and innocent and sinless in contrast to the fallen nature of mankind today. Those with a worldly view celebrate the birth of Jesus in their own way, but not from a spiritual perspective.

Notes in the Life Application Bible point out that “Every birth is a miracle and every child is a gift from God. But 20 centuries ago, there was the miracle of miracles. A baby was born, but he was the Son of God. With a divine Father and human mother, Jesus entered history.” This baby was God in the flesh. Jesus was born as an infant who could do nothing on his own. Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Jesus grew to become a man able to fulfill His mission on earth. He was fully human. Although He developed in all the ways like us, He remained fully God. He took no shortcuts and was not isolated from the pressures and temptations of life. There are no shortcuts for us either as we prepare for a life of service to God.

We must not be afraid to let Jesus grow up. Also, we are created to grow up with Him and in Him. God gives us the reason He sent His Son to earth as a baby in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus came to earth as a baby to grow up and die as a man to give us eternal life. When we ask the grown up Jesus to take away our sins, we are born again and we become new creations in Christ. Then we can mature from newborn babes in Christ to men and women of God. II Peter 3:18 tells us to, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever!” We can only grow in our faith in Christ as we allow Jesus to grow. The Christmas season is past but Jesus is present. Jesus assures us of this fact by saying in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My Reader, may 2017 be a year of spiritual growth for all of us!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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