Devotional

Unity, Please!

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.   Ephesians 4:1-3 (NASB20- emphasis mine)

Unity. I crave it.

The news reveals how divided people have become. I’m tired of the fighting between and within political parties; race issues; disrespect for police and other authority; and the Covid-19 pandemic with its isolation, closures, new disease variants, and people battling about mask use and vaccines.

It grieves me that many battles are causing division between followers of Jesus. Instead of being united in Jesus Christ, I’ve read and heard people question the salvation of others because they think differently on issues. It is one thing to become informed, another to bash or shun others who disagree.

Oxford Languages defines unity as “The state of being united or joined as a whole.”

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Followers of Christ Jesus are supposed to dwell together in unity. How can we build unity? Let’s look at the steps given in Ephesians 4:1-3

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to be unified with Christ and with each other. We are commanded to share to Gospel of Jesus with others, “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19. 20) In order to walk worthy of our calling, we need to be obedient to Jesus.

With all humility and gentleness…If we want unity, we can’t let our pride get in the way. We need to acknowledge when we are wrong and seek forgiveness. We need to be gentle with others, recognizing that like us, they are on the journey to know Jesus better. Even if we believe we are in the right, we must be humble in spirit and treat each other with respect.

With patience…It seems when we pray for patience that it is then that we have trying situations. But it is in the difficulty that we learn to be patient. When that person who drives us crazy comes up, may we pray and practice listening graciously.

Bearing with one another in love… The Living Bible states this as “making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”  If we focus on everything negative about our spouse or child, it makes it hard to love them. We choose to overlook some of these areas because we do love them. Likewise, let’s look at others through love like we want them to do with us.

Being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… Are we making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit? Is being like-minded as Christ more important than the style of worship, or the choices others make for their own medical care? May our love for each other and for God hold, or bind, us together.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please forgive me for focusing on differences instead of on what I have in common with other believers – You. Please forgive me for making my own viewpoint more important than the unity of the Spirit. Help me to be patient, humble, and gentle with others. Help me to make every effort to preserve unity, just as You and Jesus are One.

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Devotional

When Will We See Jesus?

When We Meet Jesus series – Part Three of Three

…as [the disciples] were looking on, [Jesus] was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11 RSV

When will we see Jesus?

I grew up hearing Jesus is coming back someday, I never expected His return may be in my lifetime. In my mind, my life is plotted out until old age and death claim me. Jesus will carry me home.

However, the past several years make me wonder if I may meet Him in the clouds! It seems like so many of the signs predicted to happen before He returns are occurring. Even Israel became a nation again in 1948. No other nation has re-established itself after being eliminated for hundreds of years. I think Jesus is coming back soon!

Jesus is coming with those who have died in Him. Those who have died in Christ will rise first, and then those who are still alive will join them in the air. (I Thessalonians 4) Imagine what that will be like! Flying through the sky with no wings or pixie dust required.  Picture what a crowd there will be as Jesus and His followers from all the years go through the clouds to heaven. 

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When will Jesus come?

No one knows. The disciples asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of your coming and the close of the age?” Jesus gave to them signs to look for (false Christs and false prophets, persecution of Christ’s followers, wars, famines, and earthquakes), and called them the beginning of birth-pangs. Jesus foretold His coming, including a trumpet call when He will gather His elect from one end of heaven to the other. We have signs, but not the time. (Matthew 24, Mark 13) Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Therefore you also must be ready: for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24: 42, 44 RSV

Some people believe that the Church will be taken away in the rapture before the seven-year Tribulation shown to the Apostle John in Revelation. Others think it will occur at Mid-Tribulation after the first three and a half years, while others say it will be after the Tribulation. I will not try to convince you of one over another.

Our salvation does not hinge on which viewpoint a person holds of the timing of Jesus’ return.

What is important is that we expect Jesus to come, and that we are ready for Him to do so. Time has passed and that means we are closer to Jesus’ return than before. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived into thinking Jesus is not coming, nor fall for the tricks of false prophets and people claiming to be Christ. Neither should we be so busy looking for His return that we fail to obey His commands.

As Jesus went up in the clouds He left final instructions: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses…” (Acts 1:8) Let’s pray for the Lord to open an opportunity to witness to someone this week. Perhaps someone jumps into your mind. We don’t share Jesus alone; the Holy Spirit will empower us and give us the words.

Let’s be ready for Jesus to return. Let’s help others be ready, too.

Jesus, I want my friends and family to know You. Help me to share You with them. Amen.  

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

Devotional

Here Comes the Groom!

When We Meet Jesus series – Part Two of Three

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:2, 3 NLT

My husband, Cliff, and I met and dated during our time attending Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, California.  After our graduations, I returned to Southern California, and Cliff took a job in Northern California. We spent 19 months in a long-distance relationship, rarely seeing each other. We maintained our relationship through letters and late night telephone calls, not yet having the internet or cell phones.

We were eager to get married and share our lives together in the same place. When it was finally the right time, I packed my belongings for my move, bought my white lace dress, and we planned the wedding. Cliff provided a place for us to live. He came, we wed, and he took me home with him.   

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In the Jewish culture of Jesus’ time, a bridegroom would prepare a home for his bride. When his father decided the home was finished, the groom went to his bride’s parents’ home and took her home with him. The bride had to be ready. Imagine her packing clothes and household items for her new home. Carefully woven blankets and hand-sewn pillows may be tucked into a box or basket. She didn’t know exactly when the groom would come for her, but she wisely planned so she would be prepared when he came.

Believers in Jesus are called The Church, and also The Bride of Christ. What a wonderful picture Jesus shared with His followers when He told them He was preparing a place for them and for those of us who follow Him now. We don’t know what those rooms or mansions look like, but knowing our Creator, they will be beautiful! He is preparing for His Bride! The book of Revelation describes heaven with gates of pearl and streets of gold.

Jesus will come for us at the right time and bring us home with Him. Our long-distance relationship will be over and we will always be with Him. We can be assured of that because Jesus told us so!  

Like the bride prepared for her groom, let’s be prepared for our being with Jesus. How can we do that?

  • Have a personal relationship with Jesus. Is He the Lord in my life? Is He your Lord?
  • Confess sin and ask for God’s forgiveness.
  • Communicate with Jesus through reading God’s love letters in His Word, and through prayer.
  • Live life in obedience to God.
  • Watch for Him! We don’t know the day or the hour Jesus is coming; Jesus said only His Father knew (Matthew 24:36, 25:13), but I believe we are in the end times and Jesus will return soon.

Our Groom is coming! Be ready!

Dear Jesus, Thank you for preparing a place for me with You in heaven. I marvel that You love me enough to want me with You forever, and that Your love included sacrificing Yourself to rescue me from sin. Such love is beyond my understanding. Thank you. I love You. Help me love You more every day. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

Devotional

Rejoicing in Time Together

When We Meet Jesus series – Part 1 of 3

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you with his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”   Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

My husband and I had the blessing of spending time with many groups of faraway family and friends this summer. Before the two trips, there was great anticipation. We could hardly wait to see our dear ones! It had been two years since seeing some relatives, and more than a decade for others.

First, we had to prepare. We packed, and then stuffed the last items into full suitcases. We put addresses and phone numbers into our cell phones so we could contact family and friends, and so we would have maps for the journey. The car had to be prepared too. New brakes and a radiator were installed. For the second trip we rented a car.

Our plans included a birthday party, a wedding, and meeting a new baby. We purchased gifts and the wrapping paper and ribbon to go with them. A few other gifts made it into our stuff as well, as tokens of our love.

After long days of driving, we arrived at our destinations. As we expected, we were greeted with love. As we were gathered into enthusiastic hugs, we knew we were welcome. Conversations revealed excitement in catching up with each other and sharing our lives. Fun times together included meals, visits to museums, music, and photos of past and new memories.

Too quickly the vacations ended and we parted ways again with hopes to see each other again soon.

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Image by Robert Fotograf from Pixabay 

I got thinking about how it will be when we see Jesus.

There’s great anticipation. Will we meet Him in the air when Jesus returns to earth, or see Him at heaven’s gate waiting for us? What will it be like to finally see Jesus face-to-face? It’s been a long wait.

First, we have to prepare. No suitcases are required. We only need to receive the invitation to be with God forever by our adoption into His family. Having a personal relationship with Jesus makes us heirs with Christ! Scripture gives us the only map needed. Jesus said, “I am the way… no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Our gifts are the gifts of our lives and devotion to God. The best gift has already been given — from Jesus to us – when He died on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sin. Jesus’ sacrificial gift releases us from the power of sin over us and from the everlasting punishment sin earned. Jesus gives us eternal life with Him!

We will be greeted with love. Just imagine our Heavenly Father gathering us into His embrace! The Mighty One will be in our midst. He will quiet us with His love and exult over us with singing! Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He sacrificed His only Son for us. I picture Jesus Christ sitting and talking with us like He did with children and with His disciples on earth. Will I begin to understand how much He loves me when I see His scarred hands? Maybe the Holy Spirit will lovingly explain how He moved within us, catching us up on how God’s plan was worked out within us. There will even be a meal, the Marriage Feast of Christ with His bride, the Church. It looks like a big celebration is planned when we are in heaven with Jesus!

This trip will have no ending. There will be no parting of ways, for believers will be with Jesus forever. What rejoicing there will be when we are all together!  I hope the journey is soon!

Are you ready for the journey? Do you anticipate it with happiness? How do you picture Jesus greeting you?

Dear Lord, thank you for the invitation to live with you, and for making my eternal home with you possible. Please help me to live in anticipation each day until I see You face-to-face. Amen

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.

Devotional

FREEDOM! – Part 3 of 3

Freedom from Discouragement

The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. (Psalm 146:7b-9 RSV)

Sometimes when we are discouraged, it’s hard for us to see the Lord in the midst of the situation. Doesn’t He care? Is He who He claims to be? In those dark moments we may lose sight of what we already know and believe about God. Instead of living in the freedom the Lord has given us, we are imprisoned by fear or doubt. It may be for a short time, or for much longer, like it was for me after my mother’s death when I questioned God’s purpose, and depression was my chain.

John the Baptist got discouraged. He was in prison and would soon lose his life. (Matthew 11 and Luke 7)  The prophet questioned God, even though he had baptized Jesus and had heard God say “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  He sent two of his followers to Jesus. They said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you he who was to come, or shall we look for another?’”

In that hour Jesus had healed the blind, and cured many diseases and evil spirits. He answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.”(Luke 7:22, 23 RSV)

Jesus did not chastise John the Baptist. Jesus compassionately reassured John that He was indeed the one God’s Word foretold.  The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. (Psalm 146:7) John the Baptistknew he had been sent as a messenger before the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. I’m sure he remembered that the prophet Isaiah also foretold thatGod would come, bringing healing for the blind, the deaf, the lame, and the mute. (Isaiah 29:18-19; 35:4-6).

Image by John Hain from Pixabay 

When we are imprisoned by depression, despair, and doubt, it is the Lord who brings us freedom.  

When I was captive to depression after Mom’s death, it was the Lord who set me free. I was still attending church, but anger at God kept part of me from truly participating in worship. It was ‘more important’ to me that I get Mom’s house emptied and sold and her estate dealt with than it was to apply the Bible studies I participated in or to take care of my own health. I sang worship songs, but often the words did not penetrate my heart. Still, the Lord kept reaching for me. When I realized I couldn’t do everything on my own, He reassured me that He had been with me through the whole ordeal and would continue to be with me. He reminded me that Mom was no longer suffering and that she was in heaven with Him. While I could have told you those things all along, God’s truth took hold and released me. The truth went from my head to my heart. Jesus lifted me up. He gave me a new spiritual sight that looks with trust to Jesus.

Are you bowed down? Are you imprisoned in your soul, or even physically? Do you struggle with continuing on day after day? Maybe you are a widow or widower, or a single parent, trying to keep yourself and even a family afloat. Perhaps a loved one is out of control. Health issues may bind you or a family member.

Jesus knows all about it. He cares. He loves you.

There is no need to look for another; the Lord Jesus sets the prisoners free. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD upholds the widow and the fatherless.

Let’s seek Jesus. He frees us, encourages us, heals us, and loves us.

Dear Jesus, thank you for being the Lord, for being the one who came to set the captives free. Thank you for your encouragement and for your care for every detail in my life. Amen.

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Thank you for joining me and for reading my devotional blogs.  Blogs post every other Thursday. Past devotionals can be found in the Devotional archive.