Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Words from the Book of Peter

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
    and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him. 1 Peter 3: 8- 22

Monday, January 14, 2019

The Price of Our Peace

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all, like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6

The prophet Isaiah addressed the Jewish people around 700 B.C., during the time that they were in captivity in Babylonia. They were displaced and miserable. Isaiah was reminding them that they needed to turn away from their sinful ways and back to God, who had promised to send a messiah to save them. Isaiah seemed to know more about the future savior than anyone, and he accurately foretold the suffering that Jesus would endure in order to save God’s people.  But while the Jewish people had to wait hundreds of years for their messiah, and many did not recognize Him when he appeared, we have the advantage of knowing “the rest of the story,” as told in the New Testament. By sending His son to earth, God proved how much He loves even His sinful people, and we have only to believe His promise that our faith in Jesus Christ will lead us to “the peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Prayer:  Gracious and loving God, as we prepare to celebrate His birth, we thank You for the mercy You have shown Your sinful people by sending Jesus to live among us. We thank You for the peace that comes with our faith in the Trinity, and we pray that others will find such peace as well. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done. Amen.

Judith Keller (reprinted from 2016)

Friday, January 11, 2019

A New Commandment

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 3:34-35

January, a new year. In my research for today's devotion, I found the word "new" to be a very rich term with endless possibilities. A new car, new house, new clothes, new TV show, new cruise, new job, on and on. And, in my sunset years, it's nice to think back on the good "old" days, and I have fond memories of experiencing all the new things just mentioned. However, all of those items are just things, all temporary, easily lost, often easily forgotten. What is really new, positive, permanent, enduring? Read again John 13:34: a new commandment, love one another the constant theme. And, just as powerful, verse 35, the constant theme that love for one another makes all men know we are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Our Heavenly Father, as we continue on our Christian journey, may we always remember the new commandment, that we love one another as Jesus has loved us. Amen.

Ned Eastlack (reprinted from Daily Devotional Book, 2008)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Heaven and Animals

The wolf and the lamb will live together…the calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. Isaiah 11:6 NLT

Larry Libby’s children’s book says that heaven surely has little furry creatures since we love them so much on earth. And heaven is a place where we will be happy. Pets make children and adults happy.

I had a friend look shocked when she heard some of us talking about people having souls but animals do not. We said, God breathed life into Adam. She said, you mean I will never see my dog I loved so much in heaven? We couldn’t tell her she wouldn’t because of the verse above and a chapter in John Burke’s “Imagine Heaven” about near death experiences. He tells about a child, a ten year old, who “died” in a judo accident, but was revived. She clearly said she saw Skippy there who had died some years earlier.

John Burke, after his research, says Heaven will be a harmonious place where past relationships, all play, and even all work will thrive and fulfill God’s purpose, free from earth’s curse of decay and destruction.

Prayer: Oh, Lord, thank you for your glimpses of Heaven and all its possibilities. Help us to have faith and believe what you have promised us. Amen.

Sandra Hilsabeck