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Matthew 7:14, 24:42

Have you ever seen a Hidden Entrance sign?  My family and I saw one last week while traveling on a hilly narrow gravel road to my father-in-law’s final resting place.  The purpose of a Hidden Entrance sign is to alert the driver to watch for a hidden driveway that can’t be seen.

Likewise, while on the narrow righteous road, we Christians can’t see what’s ahead, but we should be watching for Jesus who will come someday.  He knows where the heavenly hidden entrance is.  “Narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.”

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James 1:2-8, Acts 16:22-34, 1 Thessalonians 5:18

During suppertime, my family and I listen to an audio book.  We just got through listening to The Long Winter.  The Ingalls family endured blizzard after blizzard.  After one of the blizzards, it had snowed so much, that when Laura looked out her upstairs bedroom window, snow had reached that level and she could see horses walking by on the new very snowy road.  During some blizzards, Pa would play his fiddle as the family sang.

In January of 2014, Cedar Rapids, Iowa was enduring winter.  One day that month, there was a big, chilly wind gust.  After that blast of frigid air, I heard a chickadee singing.

In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were beat up, put in prison and the stocks.  While in prison, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns at around midnight.  Their joy in the midst of trial must have pleased God, because he provided an earthquake that made “the prison doors…open, and everybody’s chains came loose.”

Are you going through a storm in your life?  If so, it’s time to start singing.

 

Acts 14:19-20, 28:3, 2 Corinthians 11:16-28

If you or someone you know is having a bad day, it’s time to think about Paul.  Focusing on Paul’s life gives new perspective on having a “bad” day.  Thinking about Paul and what he went through helps me and my family cope with life’s punches.

Paul suffered much.  He was hit with stones and thought to be dead.  He was wrongfully in prison, severely flogged, whipped, beaten, shipwrecked three times, bitten by a viper, etc.

If we think we’re having a bad day, we should imagine ourselves telling Paul about it, thinking about what he would say.  Then, it’s likely our “bad” day wouldn’t seem so bad after all.

Matthew 28:18-20

This morning, a guest pastor shared a statistic with our congregation.  He said that 22% of Iowans are in church each Sunday.  He shared that because he has a big heart for the lost.

Billy Graham had a big heart for the lost too.  On today’s Billy Graham devotional it says, “As practical Christianity has declined, rudeness and violence have increased…I have seen tough, rough, hardened men open their hearts by faith, receive Christ as Savior, and become gentle, patient, merciful gentlemen.”https://billygraham.org/devotion/an-angry-world/

My family and I saw an example of evidence of a hardened person today after church.  A car had bumper stickers that said, “Proud Atheist” and “Remember-Pillage First, THEN BURN.”  They had another angry bumper sticker that I choose not to publish.

Even though the owner of the car with angry bumper stickers appears to hate Jesus, Jesus died for that person’s sins too.  Although he or she doesn’t seem to be headed for Heaven at this point, there’s still a chance.

Jesus asked those that are His to “Go and make disciples”, to baptize them, and to teach them to be obedient to His commands.  Jesus didn’t say it would be easy.

Acts 5:12-42

Jesus faced opposition while on Earth, and after He ascended to Heaven, the apostles faced opposition as well.  Because of Jesus, they were able to perform miracles for the people to witness.  The Sadducees knew about this and were very jealous.  They decided to arrest the apostles.  Subsequently, the apostles were put in jail.  However, at nighttime, an angel opened the jail doors and told them to go and teach the people.

The next day, the officers had to tell the Sanhedrin that even though there were guards and a “securely locked” jail door, the apostles weren’t there.  That report confused the chief priests.

God sent the apostles an angel to get them out of jail.  I believe God sent me an angel on 5/21/09.  I was driving without my family on Bever Avenue, a busy street, when someone ran a stop sign and headed for the left front of the car.  I was forced to swerve immediately to the right onto a side street, and unfortunately, there was a little car that suddenly appeared at a stop sign there, right in my path.  I closed my eyes and braced for the impact as my tires screeched, but instead, the front of our car just seemed to float.  When I opened my eyes, I saw the little car I had tried to avoid still at the stop sign, with no damage.  I was pointed in the right direction.  Shaken, I drove very slowly and found a place to park.  I checked out the car.  There wasn’t any damage, and I wasn’t injured!

Believe what you like, but I believe God sent an angel to pick up our car.  Thanks be to God, my rescuer!

Luke 22:49-59, John 18:10-11, 25-27

In Luke and John, we read about a man named Malchus.  Who’s Malchus?  Well, before Jesus was arrested, Peter wielded his sword and chopped off Malchus’ ear.  Jesus then healed him.  Malchus was a servant of the high priest.  Later, one of Malchus’ relatives asked Peter if he was with Jesus in the garden.  And as you probably remember, others questioned Peter as well.

Regarding those who questioned Peter, Luke mentioned, “a servant girl,” a man, and “another.”  John gave the significant detail of Malchus’ relative to this account.

The Reformation Study Bible says about Malchus’ relative, “A question by this man endangered Peter more than the previous ones, since he might have wanted to avenge Malchus.”  And the NIV Study Bible says, “a relative.  Another piece of information we owe to John.  A relative would have a deeper interest in the swordsman than other people had.  But the light in the garden would have been dim, as in the courtyard (a charcoal fire glows, but does not have flames.)”

This chapter in Peter’s life included Malchus and a relative of his.  What feelings would Malchus have had?  Malchus probably screamed when his ear was cut off.  I don’t know if Malchus had time to be angry at Peter since Jesus healed him so fast.  If Malchus’ relative tried to rile Malchus later about Peter, Malchus might have instead secretly told him about the loving, healing touch of Jesus.  After all, Jesus has a way of stealing the show.

 

Genesis 1

When I read the first chapter of Genesis recently, I tried to visualize God creating, but my imagination was interrupted as I remembered that my NIV Bible is in English, and the language of the Old Testament was written in Biblical Hebrew.  And since I’m reading the Bible for the third time, I want my reading to be beefed up with details to deepen my relationship with God.  An online search lead me to biblehub.com where I found English to Biblical Hebrew translations.  I found that day=yom, night=layil (lah’-yil), sky=shamayim (shaw-mah’yim), earth/land=erets (eh’-rets), and sea=yam (yawm).  After I write in the Biblical Hebrew translations to my Bible and re-read Genesis 1:1-10, it’ll probably give me chills with the added effect.  Maybe I’ll even read it aloud to my family with ocean wave sounds in the background.  Yeah.

Revelation 21:4

Recently, a special uncle passed away.  As I read his obituary, I realized one word was used frequently, the word, “was.”  It’s such a small word, but with a big meaning.  It immediately communicates past tense.  His life on Earth is over.  Family, including myself, cried because of the loss.

Thankfully, my uncle was a Christian, so it’s not “game over.”  He is in Heaven now, a place with no more crying or death.  When my son, Ethan, heard the news of his Christian uncle dying, he was happy for him.  He said, “It’s like you fall asleep and wake up in an amazing dream that lasts forever.”

Luke 24:13-35

My family loves to go on walks.  So when I read this passage about two people taking a famous walk with Jesus on the Road to Emmaus, it grabbed my attention.  Can you imagine going on a walk and then Jesus joins you?  Wow!  A fascinating twist though, was that the people walking to Emmaus with Jesus didn’t realize it was Him until it was time to eat and He gave them bread.  Then, they were allowed to recognize Him.  Once they recognized Him, He disappeared.

One great thing about Heaven is that Jesus lives there.  And whenever Christians enter Heaven, they can enjoy Jesus eternally.

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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