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.   

* * *

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

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.

# # #

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.

* * *

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

* * *

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.

# # #

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 2 of 3

We Are No Longer Slaves to Sin

We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6 NLT)

In Part 1 of this Freedom series, we were challenged to claim our freedom in Christ Jesus. Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32 NIV) We need to listen to the truth rather than listen to the lies that try to convince us that we will always be slaves to sin.

How are we doing in listening to the truth? Are we obedient to Jesus, who is the truth?

Two weeks ago I claimed freedom regarding my complaining, yet I confess I complained during the past fourteen days. With long car trips during our recent vacation and temperatures at 111⁰ F and up, I got cranky more than once. There were many days when I was doing better than others, but I cringe as I remember my failures. It is so discouraging.

It seems the battle is never-ending, but we can’t give up when we fail to obey God. The apostle Paul also battled between sin and righteousness. He wanted to do right, but the mighty apostle sinned again! I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.  (Romans 7:22-25a NLT, emphasis mine.)

Paul didn’t use his sinful nature as an excuse to keep on sinning. We can’t either.

Jesus died so He could break the power of sin. We are crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. (Romans 6) Like Jesus, we can glorify God with our lives. Paul tells us that it is our choice.

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16 NLT)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. (Romans 7:4 NLT)

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Let’s take action. Let’s make the right choices that will bring us freedom through the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Then we can produce the good deeds for God and give Him glory. We will be free from shame and the shackles of sin. I’m choosing not to complain today. When an irritation comes up, I plan to stop and to thank God that He is with me and that He will help me to obey Him. What are you choosing?

Dear Lord, Thank you for liberating me from sin. Please forgive me for the wrong choices I make. Please help me to glorify you with my decisions and actions. Help me to choose Your will in my life and obedience to You. I pray this in Jesus’ precious and powerful name. Amen.

# # #

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!

The Truth Will Set You Free – Part 1 of 3

Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31, 32 NIV

Freedom.

It’s something that is longed for, fought for, and cherished. People should be free from imprisonment or slavery. Many wars have been fought to keep another government from taking over a nation or people, or to bring or keep freedom within one’s nation and allow for self-rule.  We desire to have the power to act, speak, and think as we want without hindrance.  

A few holidays during June and July celebrate freedom in North America.

  • Juneteenth is a celebration that started when the freed slaves of Galveston, Texas received the news that the civil war was over and they were free in 1865 on June 19th, a date that was melded into the word “Juneteenth.” Juneteenth became a U.S. federal holiday in 2021.
  • For Canadians, July 1, Canada Day, is a commemoration of a united Canada and independence. It is the anniversary of Canadian confederation which occurred on July 1, 1867, when the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada. It was formerly called Dominion Day.
  • The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, honors the founding of the United States of America. On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress announced the political separation of the thirteen North American colonies from Great Britain.

Thinking about these observations of freedom got me thinking about the even greater freedom we have in Jesus Christ. Jesus told His disciples that the truth would set them free. How were they, and we, to know the truth?

Jesus claimed to be the truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” John 14;6 NLT. Notice He said the way, the truth and the life, not a way, or a truth, nor one of many.  Now, if we believe Jesus to be the God the Son, and that He spoke truth, then it follows that His claim to be the truth and the only way to the Father are also true.

Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” How do we hold to His teaching? We must know what the Bible says and follow it. That comes through careful and regular study of Scripture and through obedience to what we read and learn from it. It always comes down to obedience to God and not just head knowledge about Him if we want our spirits to be free.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What are we being set free from?

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34 NIV) Have you ever felt that sin controlled you? I know some of my bad habits, or sins, seem impossible to break. I say I won’t complain, but then I do so again and again. I tell myself that I will spend time in prayer every day, but then I crawl into bed realizing that while I spent time watching television, I didn’t read my Bible or pray. I too often fail to make Jesus first in my life. The chain of sin binds me.

Jesus breaks the chains. It is in the Son that you and I have freedom. Jesus continued with, “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36 NIV) Jesus set us free on the cross by His death and resurrection. He gives us the power to live for Him because if we believe in Him the Holy Spirit lives within us. He makes us part of His family.

Let’s claim our freedom. Let’s listen to the truth and not the lies that try to convince us that we will always be shackled. Choose one area that you want to have Jesus free you from bondage, and memorize verses that address it. For me, it’s my complaining. I plan to look at verses that talk about being content and not complaining. I’ll ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen me and to help me be aware of what I say, and to practice thankfulness. What freedom will you seek?

Dear Lord, Thank you for the freedom that only You can give through Jesus Christ. Please lead me in Your truth and set me free. Amen.

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.