Did you ever have a favorite kind of jelly bean? Have you ever heard of “Jelly Belly” brand name of jelly beans candies that come in a mixed package of many different flavors? I remember when they first came out and they were quickly understood as “THE jelly bean.” None was better! Each one is bursting forth with their own unique flavor, yet they are all one brand and are all known by the one name of being a Jelly Belly. My Father has placed it upon my heart this morning that we as His children are each like a Jelly Belly – all of us each gifted in our own individual ways to add a special flavor to this world that is unique and different from each other, yet we all are under one name – the name of Jesus. Even though we all burst forth to bless the world with our own uniqueness, as saints, we are all called to live a life of faith individually worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Paul spoke this message to the Philippian church. It is important as so many people of the world are watching as we are all scattered about the world and whether people see us or hear us using our individual spiritual gifts, living in accordance with faith based on the Truths of the Gospel clearly identifies us all as being of the One name of Jesus aka as Christians. Paul urges us to let there be no confusion in that. As individual Christians, let’s be united in showing and telling the world, our faith based on the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus as “THE God, The One!” With this thought in mind, I’m bursting forth in the flavor of me, but standing firm with you in “The faith” that “our God” be praised! All for One?
I’m teamed up with ya for Tuesday! Yesterday we talked about the Christmas morning type of excitement that we have as Dad’s kids as we watch for Jesus’ return to earth and speaking of holidays, today in Dad’s Word, we see the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are just two days away. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill Him. “But not during the Feast, they said or the people may riot.” This was so hypocritical in their thinking. The hearts of the chief priests and teachers of the law should have been focused on the gift of Jesus’ love, grace and provision for their life, but instead their eyes were focused on ways that were destructive to their relationships – with themselves, with God and with the people around them. Their hearts were far away from recognizing the true meaning behind the celebration. This reminds me of an event from a few years ago when someone decided they wanted a Christmas tree. (Christmas being a time of celebrating God with us; God being love.) The person decided to go to a neighbor’s yard and cut the top out of a beautiful pine tree that they had growing there. This was an act so hypocritical to the celebration of God’s love towards one’s neighbor! It was so not right! As we look at the celebration that was about to take place in Mark’s story, we see it was the time of Passover that was a celebration of when the Lord told the Israelites to take the blood of a spotless year-old lamb and paint the blood of it on the outside of their door posts so the Angel of the Lord would pass over the homes of the Hebrews rather than killing their firstborn sons as He did the Egyptians. The chief priests and the teachers of the law didn’t realize it, but Passover was a celebration that pointed to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb whose blood they were about to spill. This would move the Father as the Angel of the Lord to pass over the sins of all mankind instead of bringing the wages of sin upon them which was death. This special remembrance was to be followed by a feasting time of celebrating God’s provision. It included a focus on getting rid of all the yeast in their homes as yeast was symbolic of sin. Jesus was the destroyer or “getting rid” of sin from within the holy temples or homes (the flesh) of all mankind. To those who believe in Him, Jesus is a gift worth celebrating every day, not just during holidays. We need to not let the yeast (Satan’s ways) that begin very small, work their way through us and swell us up with sin. To live lives without the yeast of the enemy is to live lives sincerely based on God’s Truth. It is important to read and speak Truth to our hearts and sometimes just having a fellow sister or brother to talk about it with can make all the difference in how we view life – that it is truly worth celebrating. It can make a big difference in the health of our relationship with our self, God and those around us. As we go through life, may we keep our eyes fixed or focused on His love, grace and provision for us and truly celebrate that within our hearts, not just during holidays, but every day of life. Much love to you all!
Mk 14:1-2; 1 Co 5:6-8; Ex 12:1-30; He 3:13; Ro 6:23
It’s wonderful doing Wednesday with ya! As we walk through this day together, here are the thoughts on my heart as I reflect on Mark’s account of one of the life experiences of Jesus while He was at the temple in Jerusalem. Carrying off where we were yesterday in study, Jesus is being questioned by the Sadducees and today we see that one of the Jews present had observed the debate and saw that Jesus had given good answers. Therefore, he sought to ask Jesus the question heavy on his heart. Jesus rocked and He had what it took to make a difference in people’s lives because He abided with the Father. He had the right connection! May we do the same as it’s such a happy abode that not only blesses our Dad, but us and others as well. Our relationship with Dad and others is the most important thing in the world and this is what Jesus told the questioning Jew who was struggling in trying to follow all the religious Laws. There were 613 individual statutes in the Jewish Law that they were constantly trying to live up to and they were always questioning which of the Laws were the heaviest or most important and which ones were the least in importance. Yikes – it sounds awful! I can understand why it would’ve been heavy on this man’s heart. Hence, this was their question to Jesus: “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” Jesus replied that the most important was all about relationships – to love the One True God as the number one priority of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly to love one’s neighbor as oneself. The man’s response to Jesus’ answer must have been very refreshing to Jesus because the man actually agreed with Him. Whoohoo, Jesus must have thought! I imagine if Jesus wore socks with His sandals that they were probably blessed right off of Him with His excitement over this. Jesus probably said something to Dad like “Dad, did you hear that? He got it! I’m so happy for us, Dad!” Then all composed, to the man’s answer, Jesus replied “You have answered wisely. You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” (The Kingdom of God being the spiritual rule of God over those who relate to Him by faith.) Because Jesus answered the man so skillfully, nobody dared to debate Him with another question. So to all of this, I ask “Can you and I relate?” I ask you as I ask myself: “Does God rule in my life as number One?” “Has He completely won over my heart?” This is the most important thing to remember – the key to the good life: If we make God number One, seeking Him above all (making Him our abode) and we let Him love on us and pour into us, then He will enable us to love our neighbors (those around us). In so doing, we will have done it all. We will have got it! Oh, that just blesses the socks right off of our Dad which is a real good thing! So this is my prayer: “Daddy, my heart wants to love you with all I got so please help me to do so and to love others with your same love that you show to me.” Well, I gotta go for now, family, but I’m sending much love to you!
Mk 12:28-34; Ro 13:8-10; 1 Jn 4:16-21; Lk 10:25-37; Jn 15:1-17
It’s Monday, but no ordinary Monday. Our Dad has exciting things in store for us all today! As I peek inside His Word today, it is kind of embarrassing for the Jews because as we will see, their hearts have been exposed with impure motives. Ouch!!! The story points out that their hearts were revealing their religion (what they believed). They put forth an outward show of niceties to please the people that they feared, but inside their hearts there was a mess, a falling short of righteousness as evidenced by their words to Jesus. If their hearts only matched their words, how precious it would have been to Jesus. It is admirable and Biblical to encourage others and to focus on good qualities. At first glance, it looks like that is the case towards Jesus as they called Jesus “teacher” implying that they saw Him as worth listening to and a man of integrity. They pointed out a good quality in Jesus in that they said He was not swayed by men and He paid no attention to who they were, but rather He taught the way of God in accordance with Truth. What a great way to be! This was a great compliment to Jesus and in that way of being, He sets a great example for all of us. Sadly though, the Jews kind words were spoken to cover over the true intent of their heart that was made obvious when they asked Jesus “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” Well, I never would have thought of Jesus as a tax expert, but why not? He knows all. But knowing all, Jesus saw through the hearts of the religious leaders who sent the Pharisees and the Herodians to Him and He saw the intent behind their question. They were trying to put Him in an awkward position in order to catch Him in His Words. They placed Him in the middle of religion and politics. Ya see, the Pharisees hated having to pay taxes to the Romans and the Herodians favored the payment of taxes to the Romans. So here was Jesus right in the middle. Yikes!!! Either side of the coin to which Jesus leaned, He could have ended up dead as a result of having the religious people angry because He thought they should pay taxes and having the Herodians angry at Him if He said the Jews shouldn’t have to pay taxes. He responded by calling their motive to their attention by saying “Why are you trying to trap me?” He told them to bring Him a denarius or the coin used for paying the taxes. When they presented it to Him, He asked them whose picture was on it and they said “Caesar” (the Roman head). He then said to them “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God, what is God’s.” This was Jesus’ way of saying our faith doesn’t teach disloyalty to government, but it also doesn’t give government divine deity that deprives God. There are both sides on our coin of Christian faith. At this, the religious leaders were amazed at Jesus. Here they had set out to stump Jesus and they ended up the stumped chumps once again. Sometimes we reap what we sow! If we sow to the flesh or wickedness, we will reap destruction or trouble and if we sow to righteousness, Dad says we will reap a sure reward. I can imagine the Jews thinking like “Drat, our plans have been foiled again!” Ya know, I don’t think a person can get up early enough in the morning to pull one over on the God of the Universe who is not mocked, but He is a long-suffering, loving God who desires that none perish. He gently corrects us and out of His great love, we are not consumed. His mercies are new every morning when we are honest with Him about our hearts. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I’m so glad my Daddy loves me and doesn’t give up on me even when I have a mixed up heart! The Jews knew what they were doing, but I don’t think we always know the errors of our heart and hence to pray “Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast (fixed or secure in faith) spirit within me” is a good prayer for us all as we seek to live out honest lives as His kids. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be found a chump to dear old Dad! I’m seeking to abide in Him with ya’s. ~ Sheila
Mk 12:13-17; Pr 11:18, 20:27, 21:2, 22:8; Lk 16:15; Ga 6:7-8; 2 Pe 3:9; La 3:22-23; He 12:1-13; Php 2:3-7, 4:8; Ro 13:1-7; Ex 20:3; 1 Th 2:3-5
Good mornin’, Sonshines! Today I’d like to share kind of a sad story with you about a man who was torn between the influence of women, public image and God. It is the story of King Herod who had heard about Jesus and all that He was doing and wasn’t sure what to think about Him. There were rumors going around that He was Elijah or that He was a prophet like the ones from long before, but Herod was concerned and fearful that He might be John the Baptist raised from the dead. He was concerned about this because Herod had a haunted conscience. It was a result of multiple undealt with sins. Continue reading →