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Luke 18:1-8

Since the holidays are upon us, by now you’ve probably seen at least one costumed Santa.  My family saw one on a chair receiving little kids for photo ops.  Except for a crying little boy that seemed to be scared of Santa, other kids probably told Santa what toys they wanted for Christmas.  I heard another Santa in a store ask a cashier what she wanted for Christmas.  She asked for a day off, something that the costumed Santa didn’t pretend to give.

How would you have answered that Santa?  Maybe you want a day off.  Well, because of Christmas, the Christian celebration of Jesus coming into the world as a baby, most Americans have Christmas off.  And if you’re a student, you might have quite a few days off.  Or maybe you desire healing, something you wouldn’t try to ask Santa for.

You can ask God for healing.  He is able to provide healing.  If you’ve been asking Him for healing, keep praying and asking Him like the persistent widow in Jesus’ parable.  She kept asking a judge for justice.  He eventually granted her justice.  If you keep asking God for healing, He can grant you the gift of healing.

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Ephesians 6:20, Philippians 1:13, Colossians 4:3, Philemon 1:13, 2 Timothy 1:16

Do you find it a chore to write a letter?  Paul wrote 13 letters and five of them were from prison.  He wrote even though he was in chains.  I think that the weight of the chains would have made writing difficult for Paul.

If you do a quick online search regarding letters Paul wrote from prison, you’ll soon see that only Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon are mentioned, not 2 Timothy.  But according to my NIV Bible under, “Title and Background,” when 2 Timothy was written, “…he was again imprisoned in Rome under Emperor Nero about 66-67.  He was languishing in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal.  Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end.”

Chances are you’re not in chains.  Is there some Christian good you can do by sending off some handwritten snail mail to someone soon?

 

Matthew 10:33

In the past two weeks, I saw three men wearing Christian clothes.  The first man shook hands with a cop at a community event while wearing a shirt that said, “Jesus Freak.”  The second man chatted with others at a festival while wearing a shirt with Reese’s colors and design that said “Jesus.”  The third man put groceries on a conveyor belt at a natural food store while wearing a shirt that said, “Messiah.”

Jesus said that if someone disowns Him, He will disown them before God.  The word “will” is a promise.  Jesus takes promises seriously.

The men that wore Christian clothes publicly showed their love for Jesus by acknowledging Him.  I don’t know about you, but shopping for Christian clothes is sounding pretty good to me right now.

John 8:12

I found out this past week that our nearby, elderly neighbor passed away.  She was an outgoing Christian and we’ll miss her.  Her address is no longer on our street.  Her house is dark inside.  But we take comfort in knowing that where she lives now, there is no darkness.  What’s her address?  She lives in Heaven in light with the light of this world, Jesus.

Acts 16:16-40, James 1:2-4 John 15:13

Last night, my family and I watched the 1987 movie classic, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  The character, Uncle Tom, displayed exemplary Christian behavior.  At one point, Tom was on a large steamboat and became quick friends with a young girl, Eva.  While talking, Eva sat on a ledge against a weak railing and tumbled down into the water.  Tom’s foot was chained to the boat, but, he managed to break free and dove into the water.  He was able to save her by risking his life.  Much later, Tom was sold to Simon Legree.  One day, Tom was walking with others that had been picking cotton.  He had picked the most.  Then, he noticed a woman wasn’t well.  She told him what would happen to her since she didn’t pick very much cotton.  He then stuffed a lot of his own cotton into her bag to help her.  Simon Legree was informed about what Tom had done.  Mr. Legree then asked Tom to whip the woman.  Tom said he couldn’t do a sin like that.  Mr. Legree took great offense and had Tom whipped.  Afterward, Tom was alone and singing about Jesus.  A fellow slave came to take care of his wounds.  She couldn’t believe he was singing about Jesus.  Tom smiled at her surprise, stopped to exclaim that of course he’d sing about Jesus, and then continued to sing.

James 1:2-4 says that we should be joyful when we’re up against trials because it needs to lead to perseverance in order to become complete.  In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were cruelly whipped, forced into prison, and their feet were put in stocks.  What happened next?  They sang hymns.  So, despite whatever may be going on in your life, sing to Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

I’ve been reading The Underground Railroad by Charles L. Blockson.  Some slaves endured long hours (6 a.m. – midnight), beatings, and being separated from families and sold.  In my opinion, the most amazing account is about a nameless, adventurous woman slave from Mississippi.  She prayed much about becoming free someday.  One night, when everyone was asleep, she gathered some food and took off for a swamp.  She walked in water so the bloodhounds couldn’t track her.  But one time, she heard those bloodhounds and she wasn’t near water.  She was a devout Christian and went to her knees praying to God about what to do.  After praying, she felt peaceful and stood up.  As the dogs approached her, she reached into her pocket and grabbed some crumbs.  She held out her hand.  Instead of showing aggression, as bloodhounds were trained to seize and mangle, the bloodhounds simply ate the crumbs and ran off in the woods.  The woman then traveled to Canada stopping at homes on the way for a little food.  She made rafts to get across waterways.  When she got into Canada, she fell to her knees and kissed the ground.  Then, in pure joy, she jumped up and down for 1/2 hour.

The woman from Mississippi was so very thankful for freedom.  Being thankful pleases God.  What can you thank God for?

Matthew 5:43-48

In a recent church service, a friendly deacon was letting everyone know about upcoming events.  At one point he said, “Bring your friends.  Bring your enemies.”  That sounds funny, but Jesus asks us to pray for and love whoever persecutes us.

Many are no doubt planning to celebrate the 4th of July with friends and/or family.  If we don’t invite any enemies to the festivities, we can at least love them with a Christian love and pray for them.

I’m hearing fireworks right now.  Happy 4th of July!

1 John 4:7-8, 1 John 4:11-12, John 3:16, John 13:34, Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 3:8, 1 Peter 1:22

My grandma Topping was a Christian and very loving.  My mom said that Grandma’s last words before she died were, “Love one another.”  To honor her, I have a Scripture card with 1 John 4:7 near my side of the bed.

“Love one another” was spoken by Jesus as a command to Christians.  Later, Paul used those three words along with saying that those that love others have, “fulfilled the law.”

Peter said, “…love one another deeply…” and then reiterated, “love one another” a couple of chapters later.  In addition, John said in 1 John 4:7, “…love one another…” and then repeated the words twice in 1 John 4:11-12.

As far as I can tell, the words, “love one another” were said once by Paul, twice by Peter and Jesus, and three times by John.  When my grandma spoke those wise words from the Bible, she was concurring with their massive significance.

God wants us to “love one another.”  He loves you.   God showed extreme love by giving Jesus, His only son, to die for our sins.  God was/is loving and He IS love.  Valentine’s Day is about showing love.  Happy Valentine’s Day, God!

Matthew 14:22-27

In Matthew, I recently read about Jesus finishing talking to a crowd, going to a mountain to pray, and coming on the water towards the boat the disciples were in.  In the above verses, I noticed that Jesus came at “the fourth watch.”  The Reformation Study Bible by R. C. Sproul said that “the fourth watch” would be between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.!  Also, I realized the word, “crowd” was used and had been used several times in previous chapters.  Curious, I did a search in biblegateway.com and found that “crowd” is in Matthew 41 times!

Jesus was often around crowds.  Today, Jesus is in Heaven after dying for mankind’s sin and rising from the dead.  According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations there were 2.2 billion Christians in 2012.  Join the Christian crowd.

 

Matthew 25:21

We never know what a day will bring.  Recently, my parents were simply walking in Davenport, Iowa, when a truck came out of nowhere and hit them.  The impact threw them about 20 feet onto the pavement.  Neither one of them could get up.  My mom was bleeding and unconscious.  My dad had severe pain.  They were transported by ambulance to a hospital.  My mom was admitted.

They are home now and on the road to recovery.  After such a scary accident, it’s a miracle they’re still with us.

My parents are both Christians that take serving God seriously.  God could have taken them home that day.  If He would have, I believe they each would have heard, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”  If you experienced a fatal accident tomorrow, would you hear, “Well done”?