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The Ten Commandments

Rembrandt ~ The Ten Commandments

Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Common

The word epic comes to mind when speaking of The Ten Commandments. Everything about them is epic.

  • They were given in an epic way.
  • The very words are epic in their simplicity, yet significance.
  • Their ability to convict us is epic.

The Ten Commandments can be divided into two parts.  The first four relate to the relationship between man and God, while the last six focus on our relationship to our fellowman.

The Ten Commandments were given at Mt. Sinai immediately after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. Moses was God’s chosen servant/leader to receive The Ten Commandments so Moses is aptly referred to as ‘the law giver’.

Exodus 20*  The Ten Commandments
The Holy Bible

1 And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You shall not murder.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

15 “You shall not steal.

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Questions

  1. What do The Ten Commandments teach us about our relationship with God?
  2. What idols do people worship today?  What idols are we tempted to worship in our societies?
  3. What do The Ten Commandments teach us about our relationship with others?
  4. How did Jesus answer when he was asked which commandment is the greatest of all?  What do you think this means?
    Matthew 22  36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  5. In Matthew 5:17-30, Jesus teaches the difference between the difference between the “spirit of the law” versus the “letter of the law”.  How would you describe the difference? Why is keeping the “spirit of the law” so important?

From our every day life and our personal experiences, we are well aware of our inability to keep the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.  We have all sinned and fall short of God’s standard.  Many times we compare ourselves to others and think that we are not nearly as evil or as mean or terrible as other people so therefore we build ourselves up as noble, upstanding citizens.  The truth is we are all quite guilty of sins against God and against our fellow man.  There is no one who is righteous.

The Holy Bible New Testament reading

Matthew 22:36-40  New International Version (NIV)

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 5:17-30 New International Version (NIV)

The Fulfillment of the Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Murder

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

 

Adultery

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Hebrews 4:15

Jesus lived a sinless life. He never sinned in word or deed, in thought or action.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

One way for us to comprehend a sinless life is to realize that temptation is different than sin. Temptation means that we are presented with a choice between right and wrong. Can you imagine always choosing to do the right thing? Can you imagine always being kind, always being honest, always being loving?  This is what it would be like to not sin.  Jesus never chose wrong. He always chose obedience.

For that reason, we have been given a great gift.

Romans 5:6-11   You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 8:1-4  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Prayer:

God, we thank you for showing us our great shortcomings. We confess our sins.  You have revealed to us our sin not only through the law, but also through our conscience so that we are without excuse. I understand that I have sinned not only against man, but against You. I understand my weakness. My guilt is real and I am powerless to help myself.  We are all accountable. Through the law we become conscious of sin. But it is by your gift that I am saved through faith, not by my works so that I cannot boast. You love me and gave yourself for me. This is a great mystery which is hard for me to comprehend.  But I know I am a sinner and apart from you, I can do nothing to save myself from my sin.  Thanks be to God for your great gift of Jesus to die for me so that my relationship is now not from obligation, but love and gratitude to you as my Creator, Savior and Lord.

Romans 3:19-20
Ephesians 2:8-9

*New International Version (translation from Hebrew)

 

The cross of Christ

The Cross of Christ is beautiful now because of these three words “He Is Risen” ~ dimitrisvetsikas1969 / Pixabay no attribution required

The Bible contains fewer than 800,000 words ~ all of them pointing to a life and a moment in time.  For Christians we have made that life and that moment in time personal. The life is Jesus and the moment in time is when he died on the cross for our sins.

Death by crucifixion was not unique. Others were sentenced to this type of painful death.  In fact on the day that Jesus was crucified, the Bible records that two others were crucified ~ one on his right and one on his left.  However, there were many differences in the crucifixion of Jesus. First, he was not a criminal. He was without sin. Second, Jesus gave his life. At any time, he could have ended the abuse, pain and suffering he was enduring.  But he did not end it which brings us to the reason why the crucifixion is personal.  Jesus was suffering, dying and shedding his blood for me.

Today we call the day Jesus died on the cross Good Friday ~ all because of these three words most important words in the Bible, “He is risen.”

After Jesus died on the cross, his body was placed in an empty tomb.  On the third day, he appeared to his disciples and they heard the good news for the first time, “He is risen.”

As a Christian, I like many others have become convinced of my personal sin.  I have trusted that Jesus died on the cross for me and that he is alive. “He is risen!”

These truths make Good Friday good and Easter a joyful celebration!

Questions  

  1. What comes to your mind when you see a cross today?
  2. During the week before Jesus died, he told his disciples, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)
    Put yourself in the disciples’ place. How do you think they felt when they saw him arrested and put to death ~ especially death by crucifixion?
  3. How would the words “He is risen” change everything?
  4. What is the meaning of the word “gospel”?

John 3:16 is a very famous verse in the Bible. Many Christians memorize it and teach it to their children.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
that whoever believes in him
shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Bible reading

The Arrest of Jesus ~ John 18
The Crucifixion, Death & Burial of Jesus ~ John 19
The Resurrection of Jesus ~ John 20

Remember the Cross

 

In order for us to fully appreciate and comprehend Jesus dying on the cross, it is important to know the meaning of Passover. The purpose of Christ’s sacrifice is revealed by understanding a critical time in the life of the nation of Israel when they were slaves in Egypt.

How did the sons of Jacob go from being highly regarded in Egypt because of their brother Joseph to being slaves?  Remember that Jacob ~ whose name was changed by God to Israel ~ and his entire family had left Canaan and moved to Egypt.  This dramatic relocation was due to a widespread famine that is recorded in the life of Joseph through extraordinary circumstances.

While in Egypt for 400 years, the nation of Israel flourished and grew to more than 2 million people. The Bible records that the new rulers of Egypt made them their slaves. But what happened next?

Reading:  Exodus chapters 1, 11-14    skim read Exodus 2-10

Questions

  1. What does the word “exodus” mean?
  2. Each time Pharoah refused to let the people of Israel leave Egypt to return to Canaan, what happened?
  3. What was the final judgment that God brought upon Egypt for their refusal to let the people of Israel go?
  4. Why were the people of Israel instructed to kill a lamb and put the blood on the door posts of their house?
  5. How would you explain the meaning of the word “Passover”?

Focus

Exodus 12:7, 11-13   The first Passover lamb was slain and its blood was put on the sides and top of the door. God gave these instructions with a promise: “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

John 1:29    John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Further reading

I couldn’t agree more with these words written in 1855 by a great minister named Charles Spurgeon.  I encourage you to think more and more about the mission of Christ to be our Savior and Lord ~ he died and shed his blood for our sins that we might live an abundant life here and eternally with God.

“For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.”—1 Corinthians 5:7.

HE more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate upon it, the more you will be astonished with it. He who is but a casual reader of the Bible, does not know the height, the depth, the length and breadth of the mighty meanings contained in its pages. There are certain times when I discover a new vein of thought, and I put my hand to my head and say in astonishment, “Oh, it is wonderful I never saw this before in the Scriptures.” You will find the Scriptures enlarge as you enter them; the more you study them the less you will appear to know of them, for they widen out as we approach them.  One of the most interesting points of the Scriptures is their constant tendency to display Christ; and perhaps one of the most beautiful figures under which Jesus Christ is ever exhibited in sacred writ, is the Passover Paschal Lamb.

Israel was in Egypt, in extreme bondage; the severity of their slavery had continually increased till it was so oppressive that their incessant groans went up to heaven. God who avenges his own elect, though they cry day and night unto him, at last, determined that he would direct a fearful blow against Egypt’s king and Egypt’s nation, and deliver his own people. We can picture the anxieties and the anticipations of Israel, but we can scarcely sympathize with them, unless we as Christians have had the same deliverance from spiritual Egypt. Let us, brethren, go back to the day in our experience, when we abode in the land of Egypt, working in the brick-kilns of sin, toiling to make ourselves better, and finding it to be of no avail; let us recall that memorable night, the beginning of months, the commencement of a new life in our spirit, and the beginning of an altogether new era in our soul. The Word of God struck the blow at our sin; he gave us Jesus Christ our sacrifice; and in that night we went out of Egypt.

Prayer

God, the first passover and many others that were observed by the Jews to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt. Then the final Passover Lamb is slain as you ordained it.  Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world ~ my sins.  Thank you, God, that if I had been the only sinner, Jesus would have died for me.

Remember the Cross


The first documented use of crucifixion was by the Persians in 400 BC. The Romans started using this method of execution around 100 BC. A Roman citizen could not be crucified except for treason. Psalm 22:1-18 was written by David about 1000 BC. It accurately describes the death of the Messiah by crucifixion several hundred years before crucifixion came into existence. Around 700 BC Isaiah 53:1-12 described the suffering Messiah.  

Today the cross is the universal symbol of Christianity.

The vertical bar reaches up to the height of God’s holiness. The horizontal beam reaches out like God’s love. Because of God’s holiness and justice payment for sin is required. But due to God’s love for us He provided the payment for our sins through the death of His Son.

God is just and judges the world with righteousness.
“The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.”  Psalm 9:7-9

Sin is serious. It is so serious that it requires justice.  In God’s justice, He requires a blood sacrifice to atone for sin. Sin brings death. but blood brings life.
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22

In God’s mercy, He provided the means for our sins to be forgiven because all of us have sinned and deserve to be punished by a just God.
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known…this righteous from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”  Romans 3:21-26

Jesus died for our sins because of God’s love.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him.”  Romans 5:6-9

Our salvation is a gift from God that we receive through our faith in His Son Jesus.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23

Remembering the cross means remembering the extreme sacrifice the Lord Jesus made for you. Remembering the cross means remembering Christ’s blood that was shed and his body that was broken for us.  Salvation is free to us, but it cost Christ dearly. Jesus will never forget the price He paid for our sins.  Let us never forget.

My Decision to Receive Christ As My Savior

Dear God, I know I have sinned and that there is nothing I can do to pay for my sins. I agree with you and confess that I am a sinner. I believe that by your grace and mercy, the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life for me and died on the cross for my sins. I believe that He was raised for my justification.  Lord Jesus, please forgive me. I do now receive and confess you as my personal Savior and Lord. From this time forward, as You give me strength, I will trust You and obey You in all areas of my life.  Thank you, Lord, for the abundant life you promise here and for the eternal life to come.

Consequences

dominoes falling photo

CONSEQUENCE: The result of an action Photo by mckinney75402

Diseases, addictions, natural disasters and global inequalities are a symptom of a much bigger problem.  It is a problem that was not created yesterday.  It has been a problem that has plagued all humanity.

Probably the best way to describe this ubiquitous problem is to think about parents and children. A parent gives the child life. A parent provides for the child’s needs.  A parent loves the child when the child has nothing truly to give back, except maybe an appreciation smile or an exuberant laugh to be in a world of discovery and learning. A parent wants their child to have good things, wonderful things.  They want their children to experience the joy of living a life free of pain or guilt; but that expectation is short-lived when a child begins to say “no”.  Any good parent knows that disobedience must carry consequences for a child to understand the seriousness of their actions.

Our disobedience to God carries heavy consequences.  He is our Creator.  He sustains our life.  The Bible clearly communicates that a nature to sin is so ingrained into us that we cannot change it; however, God in His divine power and infinite unconditional love knows that we don’t just need a second chance, because that too would prove inadequate.  God offers us a new life.

No matter what day of the year you are reading this, it can be an Easter Sunday when Jesus Christ becomes alive and real for you.  Good Friday is past.  Jesus died on the cross and paid the price for our sins and disobedience.  Now we know “He is not dead.  He is risen.”  Our joy is complete when we receive Christ as our personal Savior and Lord.

The Death of Jesus
Holy Bible: Luke 23:44-46
“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he said this, he breathed his last.

John 19:30   Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus is Alive
Luke 24:1-8
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them and said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen!”

For Further Thought

Romans 3:20
“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Romans 3:22-24
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:8
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”

Romans 8:1-4
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

Questions:

  1. How often do you think you can live your life in any way you would like without consequences?
  2. Are consequences always bad?  What is an example of “good consequences”?
  3. Do you think bad consequences are the problem or could they be a symptom of a problem?
  4. What was Jesus’ motivation for dying on the cross?
  5. Describe what you know about crucifixion.
  6. What other sacrifice did Jesus make besides dying physically?
  7. Without Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, what would the consequence for sin be?
  8. Read John 3:16 and exchange the words “the world” with your name.  John 3:16 For God so loved the world [___________] that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

traffic at night long exposure photo

How can you tell this picture was taken in England? Photo by We have moved! Please visit /highwaysengland

I’ve never driven a car in another country, but I gave this advice to my children when they were learning to drive and I think it applies everywhere.

I would like to recommend that you follow these suggestions for at least 30 days or 30 trips when you are driving your car.

  1. Buckle your seat belt and adjust all the mirrors BEFORE you start the car or BEFORE you start driving.  First things first.
  2. When you are a new driver, always know where you are going.  Don’t make your first driving excursion to a shopping mall that you don’t know how to get there. For several weeks or for an entire month, drive on roads to places that are very familiar to you so that you know what lane to be in to make certain turns. After you are more skilled with handling the car, you can drive in unfamiliar areas; but the first step in learning to drive is how to handle the car and be comfortable doing it. The second step will be learning how to navigate using GPS and finding unfamiliar places.
  3. Unless you have a driver’s permit and must have a licensed driver next to you, do not drive with any friends in your car for about 30 days.  Tell them that you are not allowed to drive friends around.  Friends in the car can be very distracting.  Then after you have friends in the car, limit it to one or two at a time.
  4. If you have an opportunity to learn to drive a standard transmission (or dual-clutch transmission), do it. It means you will have a broader ability to drive cars that may not have an automatic transmission.
  5. Drive during the day before learning to drive at night.
  6. Ignore road rage. If someone gets mad at you and honks at you, try to ignore them and go on. Some people are not considerate drivers so learn to be polite behind the wheel.
  7. Save high speed interstate highway driving until you are very comfortable driving in slower traffic.
  8. NO TEXTING.  Even at a stop sign or a stop light, do not be tempted to look at your phone. It leads to very bad habits.
  9. Never ever drink and drive.  Never.  Ever.  And never get into a car with someone who has been drinking.  Do not let them drive.
  10. Drive defensively. This means that you have to not only watch out for yourself, but also for another driver that may not be paying attention.  Make sure no one is pulling out when you have a green light and they have a red light.  It doesn’t matter if you are right and they run the red light or turn in front of you and hit you.  It’s better to watch out for them and avoid an accident altogether!

These may sound restrictive, but a car is like a 2-ton weapon. It can hurt people so it is very important to keep distractions to a minimum. Being a smart, skillful driver means paying attention to what you are doing ~ DRIVING!

Enjoy many happy times driving to many happy places.  BE SAFE!!!

Words to remember:  Psalm 25: 4-5
Show me the right path, O LORD ; point out the road for me to follow.   Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

If you could go back in time....

I want to go back….

In English, there is a saying that “hindsight is 20:20.” This means that it is always easier look back (hindsight) and see a situation clearly (20:20 is perfect eyesight).

Sometimes we get so frustrated or disillusioned or hurt or grief-stricken or angry that we think that God obviously didn’t know what He was doing when He allowed certain things to happen in our life.  Pretend that you could change your past.  Pretend you could do things differently, but the rules are that whatever you change means it changes everything.  If someone has hurt you so badly that you wish you had never met that person, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How would my life have been different?
  2. Where would I have lived?
  3. What would I have done?
  4. What in my life now would I not have if I had never met that person?

Bible Reading:  Genesis 37:1-36, 39:1 – 45:11

Click here to read a summary of the life of Joseph.

Questions:

  1. What did Joseph’s father ask him to do?  Genesis 37:14
  2. Because his older brothers were so jealous and hated him, what did they do to Joseph?  Genesis 37:28
  3. When Joseph was a slave in Egypt, what happened to him there?  Genesis 39:2-4
  4. Because of the lies of Potiphar’s wife against Joseph, what did Joseph’s master do?  Genesis 39:20
  5. When Joseph was a prisoner in Egypt, how did God bless him?  Genesis 39:21-23
  6. While in prison for two years, whom did Joseph meet?  Genesis 40:2-4
  7. When the cup bearer returned to serve Pharaoh, what did he remember about Joseph?  Genesis 41:12
  8. Because Joseph was able to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh regarding seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, what did Pharaoh do?  Genesis 41:40
  9. Who came to Egypt in search of grain for food during the famine?  Genesis 42:1-2
  10. Did the brothers recognize Joseph?  Genesis 42:8

Imagine the scene in Genesis 45.  The Bible says, “Joseph was no longer able to control himself in front of his servants, so he ordered them to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the palace.”  Joseph said to his brothers, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives.”  Eventually, all of Joseph’s family moved from Canaan to Egypt where they would have food and Joseph was reunited with his father Jacob.

Considering Joseph’s life, would you have stopped him from leaving his father’s tent that day ~ the day that his brother’s sold him into slavery to Egypt?

In the same way, if you could go back in time, would you change your life to take another path if it meant not having any of the blessings you now enjoy?

What are those blessings?  Name them.  And think about if you did not have them.

Take time to thank God for your circumstances and ask Him to give you strength and courage to allow Him to work in your life for the good of many people.   Your life story is not over yet!

Proverbs 16:9
The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Proverbs 19:21
Many plans are in a man’s heart, But the counsel of the LORD will stand.

 

Two word prayers

Two babies bwOur daughter had twins who were in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit called the NICU for four weeks. They were tiny – these two – a little boy 3 pounds 7 ounces and a baby girl 3 pounds.  We praise the doctors and nurses for their care and skill, but we praise God most of all for each and every answer to our prayers.

One day a very dear Chinese friend told me that her family was praying for the twins.  She said her little girl prayed only these words, “Two babies – one boy – one girl.”

This prayer is a valuable lesson that when you bring a very real need to the Lord and ask for His divine grace and mercy, words can be few.  In fact, God is not impressed with our many words. It is our heart and our need for Him that He sees.  While the twins were in the NICU, I also learned the valuable lesson that sometimes prayers can be too deep for words.  In fact, we know that when we do not know what to pray or how to pray, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Our daughter would see to the needs of the twins and watched them closely.  By God’s grace, with tender loving care, time and the prayers of many, the twins grew and grew.

Since the twins were in the NICU and after my friend shared the simple prayer of her little girl, I have thought about two word prayers and wrote down the ones that have come to my mind.  I share these with you ~ you may think of others that are meaningful to you.

Lord, please….

Help me.  Protect me.  Guide me.  Use me.   Bless me.   Change me.   Teach me.   Take me.   Fill me.   Comfort me.  Remember me.   Defend me.   Hear me.   Silence me.   Heal me.   Stop me.   Lead me.   Show me.   Equip me.  Rescue me.   Save me.   Send me.   Cover me.   Forgive me.   Cleanse me.   Shepherd me.   Inspire me.   Redeem me.  See me.   Restore me.

And perhaps, the most important prayer of all…

Lord, thank you.

Two babies

​Bible reading:

Matthew 6:6-7 | Romans 8:26 | Philippians 4:6-7   |  Matthew 7:11

Questions:

  1. What is prayer?
  2. How will praying bring you closer to God?
  3. When you pray, what is your attitude?
  4. Does praying mean God will always give me what I want?  How can bringing your requests to God be similar to a child bringing a request to their parents?

The Hubble Telescope has given us far-reaching views of the universe, but the Hubble itself has its own remarkable story. When the first images from Hubble were received in 1990, NASA scientists realized there was a very small, but significant flaw in the mirror. NASA was able to correct this mistake so Hubble could send amazing images from space; but it was an extraordinary achievement that required astronauts installing five pair of corrective mirrors (Hubble’s corrective lenses) in a space walk in 1993.
Read more about Hubble’s mirror flaw

Important lesson learned: Check, double-check, triple-check.  It could save a tremendous amount of trouble!

hubble Pillars of Creation

Taken on April 1, 1995, “Pillars of Creation” was named one of the top ten photographs from Hubble by space.com.

Stunning images received from Hubble

Pillars of Creation” is a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula some 6,500-7,000 lights years from Earth.  NASA scientists named this nebula “Pillars of Creation”, because the gas and dust are in the process of forming new stars.

The phrase “pillars of creation” originated in a sermon given by an English Christian minister to describe the birth of Jesus Christ.  ​

And now wonder, ye angels, the Infinite has become an infant; he, upon whose shoulders the universe hang​s​…he who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation.”​
Charles Spurgeon​ (1834-1892)

​Bible reading:   Genesis 1​

Questions:

  1. Do you know the meaning of the word “Genesis”?
  2. What is your personal belief about how the universe began?  What other theories have you heard?
  3. If you were going to describe how the universe was created, what words would you use?
  4. What do you think the Bible is saying in Genesis 1?
  5. What phrases are repeated again and again in Genesis chapter 1?
  6. If you could ask God one question about the universe, what would it be?  ​

For further discussion:  How does Genesis 1 answer the five W’s about creation?

Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?

Read more about “in the beginning” in John chapter 1.

Creating a budget

coins-1015125_640This may seem like a boring topic; but trust me, when you start working and are receiving a paycheck, it is easy to lose track of how much money you are spending. On my first job I did not make very much money,  I had to learn the hard way that money always goes out faster than it comes in; but I learned “the value of a dollar”.  I hope our talk about a budget will help you so that soon and very soon when you are working and supporting yourself, you will feel very content and happy about your standard of living and how you are spending your money.  Learning to support yourself will be a source of great pride and accomplishment.

Think about these questions.  Fill-in-the-blanks with these words: prioritize, challenge, discretionary, credit, balance

What is this image saying to you?  How important is it to you to ____________ your budget?

1.  What does this saying mean?  Parents owe their children a good education, a good name and good-bye.

2.  What do you think will be your greatest _____________ to not over-spend?

3.  Do you think it’s a good idea to make purchases on credit?  Why or why not?

4.  How important is it for you to have the latest technology for a phone?

5.  Do you plan to use a debit card or a ___________card?  If so, how can you resist the temptation to overspend on your card?

TIPS FOR CREATING A BUDGET

For the first month, write down everything you spend your money on.

At the end of the month, did you spend more than your income?  If so, how much more?

_____________ your spending.  After paying for what is necessary (food and rent), how much money is left?  This might be called _______________ spending.

Have you ever heard of the envelope method of budgeting?  It is literally where you create envelopes that are marked for how much money you can spend on certain categories:

Rent, food, telephone fees, charity, insurance, transportation, clothing, personal items, hair, nails, entertainment, saving for a big purchase like a trip.  Write a word on an envelope, then put an amount money into that envelope that is maximum amount of money you can spend for that particular category.  You get the idea.  Even if you don’t actually put the CASH in the envelope, you can create a system so that you know what you are spending for each category and once you reach your limit (what is budgeted), you cannot spend anymore in that category.

Can you think of other methods that might work for you so that you are able to manage your money wisely?

Happiness is not buying another pair of shoes.  In this world, you will never make enough money to buy happiness.   Happiness is spending a dollar less than you make!  Happiness is being proud of what you have and not always wanting more.  Happiness is understanding that there is more to life than “things” and that the greatest things in life are free.

Bible truths

Contentment:  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Feast or famine: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him [Jesus Christ] who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 

Your value is not in money: Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

Don’t forget that these are free:  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  I Corinthians 13:13

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