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Isaiah 53:1-9 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

What was behind it all? Why did Jesus allow people to abuse him the way He did? I remember a time when a friend of mine suggested that Jesus had just given up on the world and let His enemies put an end to His life. According to my friend there was an article in Playboy magazine about it.

Read what God had to say about Him before Jesus ever came to earth. Here is Jesus’ destiny spelled out in words only those who choose to be ignorant can deny. Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself in Isaiah 53:1-9.

Jesus didn’t attract crowds because he was handsome or winsome in his manner. He attracted crowds by doing miracles of healing and feeding people.

The people loved him for the things he could do for them, not for his messages of faith. His true followers were few. He knew the people’s hearts and thoughts. He knew they would abandon him when there was conflict.

Jesus experienced the sorrow of this knowledge long before he experienced the sorrow in its highest hour: his crucifixion, separation from God Himself, and death. He experienced the torture of the Roman soldiers. First their ridicule, then the crown of thorns, then the beating with the whip containing fragments of bone to tear His flesh. Then he had to carry his own cross up the hill (until he stumbled and fell under its weight and a bystander was ordered to carry it the rest of the way). He was then nailed to the cross, the cross was lifted up and dropped into the post-hole that had been dug in the ground. There he was left to die a grueling death of suffocation that resulted from the way crucifixion was designed to torture its victims.

Why did Jesus do this? Why did he allow this to happen to Him without opening His mouth to defend Himself? Because He knew that He was the only person in all eternity who would be in a position to be the sacrifice to pay for our sins. The only sacrifices God would accept had to be perfect in every way. No other human would ever be able to come close to this, yet Jesus had fulfilled the requirement completely.

All of Jesus’ sufferings were endured for one reason alone: to show us his unconditional love and to pay the price God requires to cover our sins. Put your name in the scripture verse every place you see a pronoun such as “we” or “our” or “us.” It is that personal.

If you accept this wonderful news along with this most gracious gift, then you are accepted by God as His own. You will be welcomed into His Kingdom when this fleeting life is over. If you reject this news as foolishness, then you declare yourself to be a fool who says in his heart there is no God. (See Psalm 14:1) There is no hope for you outside of what you get in this life.

If you have accepted His gift of salvation, you will be blessed. Consider how you have thanked Him? Do you simply say “Thank you, sir” and then go your own way forgetting the price he paid for your sins? I can not imagine a more ungrateful heart.

A gift is free, true, it is getting something for nothing. But I can’t help but wonder if many think they have accepted this gift when in fact they only accepted a fake ticket, like the thousands who ate the bread on the hillside when Jesus fed the multitudes. They ate the physical bread but rejected the spiritual bread Jesus had to offer. They ate to fill their stomachs, not their hearts.

Consider fresh and new if you have indeed accepted God’s gift of salvation. Reread Isaiah 53:1-9. If you heart is not filled with the kind of gratitude that makes you want to serve Him, you may never have accepted his true gift of salvation in the first place. Don’t settle for temporary bread to fill your stomach, accept the true Bread of Life. Accept Jesus for who He is, not who you want to make Him out to be, and your heart will be filled with gratitude and joy.

Father God, you know my heart. Break it if you must, but don’t allow me to settle for temporary bread that makes me think everything is OK with You when there may be real problems I need to deal with. Open my eyes and my heart to the awesomeness of your sacrifice for me so that I can respond with nothing less than full gratitude and a life dedicated in service to you.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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John 5:39-40 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. Better yet, read it in more than one translation.

In this passage Jesus is talking to the Jews who were critical of Him and who would not believe his message. He was talking to people who knew the Scriptures, people who were diligent in studying them. Yet He was still critical of them because they would not accept His testimony about who He was, the Son of God.

This passage applies equally well to us today. There are those who diligently read their Bibles and there are those who never read them. It is easy for the “readers” to get puffed up in their minds thinking they are superior to the non-readers or the every-now-and-then-readers. I know that I have often caught myself feeling a bit smug when the pastor reads the scripture for his sermon and I discover that is was a passage I had at some point in time highlighted it in my Bible. I have been guilty of taking pride in how fast I can locate a particular scripture passage during a worship service. And then a sense of conviction comes over me and I feel about one inch high.

The test of salvation has nothing to do with how many Bible verses I have read or can locate at the drop of a hat or can quote from memory. And even though the study of scripture is good and necessary for a healthy relationship with Jesus, it isn’t the first thing. The first thing is to accept Jesus into your heart, and the second is to apply His truths to your life.

Have you welcomed Jesus into your heart? Have you allowed Him to sit in the driver’s seat of your life? If not, He is waiting for you to invite Him in. Don’t worry about using the right words, it is your heart He is interested in, not words. He will pick up where you leave off and show you the way.

Jesus we love you and want to know you better. Help us to love you more. Grow us up in our faith and enable us to seek you with our whole hearts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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The following blog inspired me to write this post: http://windowstomysoul.blogspot.com/2008/10/searching-for-deeper-life.html

James 5:13-18 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verses 13-18 are about praying in faith. Books have been written on this subject, so I acknowledge that I am only able to touch a highlight or two today.

James is reminding us to pray in every circumstance, not just when we feel desperate. We are called to offer prayers of rejoicing and praise as well as our petitions for help.

We are especially encouraged to pray for healing. James encourages the sick to call for the elders of the church to annoint them with oil and pray in faith for them. In Bible times, oil was used as a healing remedy for many ailments. I have seen Christians take that little piece of information and run with it saying this means to go to the doctor. Other Christians will rebuke them and say to put all your confidence in the oil and the prayer. I don’t intend to straddle the fence here, I intend to take both sides seriously and say that God intends for us to do what makes sense. Yes, do what you know to do for healing – if it is to take an asprin for a headache or if it is to go to the doctor for open heart surgery. We have no excuse to throw away hundreds of years of medical advancements and take the lazy way out by expecting God to just do it. But, we don’t need to put all our confidence in our doctors either. After all, it is God who gets the last word.

So when we are sick, we are called on to use the healing expertise we have available to us, and we are to call upon God. I have often seen church elders (or deacons or other officials depending on the titles used by various denominations) anoint the sick with oil and pray for their healing. God is honored by this and desires to bless their efforts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Several years ago when I was struggling in a marriage that eventually failed, I was going through a time of depression and low morale. As I drove down the street that turned beside the Post Office in our town I was suddenly aware of two cardinals fluttering up and down immediately in front of me. One of the birds hit the hood of my car and dropped into the street.

I immediately parked my car and got out to lift the bird from the street and laid it on the grass. I was remembering a time when a bird flew into a window and only knocked itself out, later to recover and fly away. I hoped that the cardinal might revive in a similar way since I had been driving fairly slowly. But the bird showed no signs of life. The other bird watched from a near-by tree.

I circled the block several times in the next two or three hours but my cardinal did not revive. I was reminded of the scripture about how God notices when even a sparrow falls to the ground. Read Matthew 10:28-31.

If I cared enough to circle the block so many times for this little red cardinal that I night not have even noticed had it not flown into my car, how much more God cares about me and the things that were weighing me down. I returned home comforted by God’s love.

I’ve always loved the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Perhaps you will find comfort in it as well. This is a link to Sandi Patti singing it on UTube.

Father, Thank you for watching over me through your infinite love and compassion. Thank you for helping me through many troubles. Help me to remember the times you showed me your love when I become burdened with the cares of today. Help me keep my eye on you like you keep your eye on the sparrow and on me so I can be filled with your eternal joy.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Romans 1:17 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Where do you find your confidence? your security? your trust? your faith? Are these not one and the same? In this fast changing world we live in it is easy to become fretful when we find the cost of living rising so fast. We watch grocery and gasoline prices rise while our savings diminish and we feel a loss of security.

I am facing what I call a “premature retirement.” My position as librarian in a small school is coming to an end in December. My school has been consolidated with a larger school and we have a new building. I was offered another position at a small school an hour away from where I live, and at today’s escalating gas prices, I refused. But I was able to convince them they needed me through December to help consolidate the two libraries into one. I am now facing an early retirement with less than the number of years required for full retirement and with a sizeable deduction for the fact I’m not quite 65. I live in a very small town with a high unemployment rate. All this is to say I know what it is like to be anxious and nervous about tomorrow.

But all my anxious thoughts and worries are an affront to God who has promised never to leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) So I must come back to my first question and apply it to myself: Where do I find my confidence? my security? my trust? my faith? My heart tells me I should put my confidence, my security, my trust, my faith in God. In my heart I know this is true, but I need God’s help to take my eyes off my bank account and to keep them on Him. Like Peter who could walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, (Matthew 14:30) I must learn to keep my eyes on Jesus instead of dwelling on the things that worry me.

Our verse for today reminds us to look to the message of the Gospel to find our righteousness. This is where we are to put our faith. We can’t live by faith until we find it in Jesus and in his teachings.

It helps me to look at the ways God has intervened for me in the past. I can recall several critical times in my life when He pulled me out of a crisis at the last minute in a most unexpected way. If He did it then, He can do it again.

So here I am looking to Jesus to pull me out. Something is still amiss. Shouldn’t I be looking to Jesus for the sake of being close to Him? If I’m looking to Jesus only for a rescue of my finances, I’m not really looking to Jesus, I’m looking through Him at myself. It is time to lose myself in Him, time to spend quality time with Him, time to seek Him with all my heart for the pure joy of knowing Him better each day.

Heavenly Father, help me to truly focus my eyes on You and seek to do Your will in everything. Help me to look above the cares of this world to see Your hand at work in everything, and to rest in Your peace.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Hebrews 11:5-7 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Verse 6 tells us that we cannot please God without faith. We must believe that God exists. If this verse were a stand-alone verse many pseudo Christians could claim they have faith because they believe there is some kind of god out there who does good things for people. But this is not the measure of faith this verse is talking about. This verse is refering to the kind of faith that changes our lives. Let us consider the verses that come before and after this verse.

Verse 7 tells of Noah’s faith. Noah believed God when He told him He was going to flood the entire earth. It would be hard enough for us today to believe and trust God enough to start building an ark. But we must consider that the people in Noah’s day had never seen rain. Up to this time, God had used streams of water coming out of the earth to water the land. (Genesis 2:4-6) The first rain recorded in the Bible is the onset of the great flood, a rain that lasted 40 days. Noah’s ark-building project was no simple task either. It consumed his life for possibly 100 years while the corrupt people of his day taunted him.

Verse 5 refers to the faith of Enoch. This man is not as well known as Noah, but he was definitely well known to God. There are four verses that cover Enoch’s life in Genesis 5:21-24 that tell us he was the father of Methuselah, and that he walked with God for 300 years and then was no more. Hebrews 11:5 enlightens us on exactly what that meant – Enoch did not die, but went with God directly to heaven. I imagine it would be like going for a walk with God and deciding not to go home but to stay with him.

Returning to verse 6, I would like to revisit the last part of the verse. God desires to bless those who earnestly seek after him. How richly blessed was Enoch who walked with him until he was no more.

Read the entire chapter of Hebrews 11 to learn of more giants of faith from the Bible, and consider how you might allow God to stretch your own faith.

Father God, help us to grow daily in our faith. Give us courage to accept the situations when our faith will be tested and help us to grow through them. Help us to sincerely and earnestly seek after you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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