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April Devotional

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A Call Beckoning the Hundredth Sheep

April 2019 – a season to reckon with ’taxes…and evidences for the resurrection of Jesus and new life!

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Let’s not get too complicated here. Not everyone was exactly ‘all in’, at least not from the start. Consider -

Thomas…one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. [Jesus showed up at a closed door meeting of the disciples the evening of resurrection day, without opening the door by the way, so the apostles could see Him and His wounds…and to instruct them to FORGIVE!]. The other disciples therefore said to [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord.’

So he  [Thomas] said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’

[who could blame Thomas? He had presumably been born a twin. However no mention is ever made of his unknown sibling, so it is possible his twin had died. One who has lost a close family member, particularly a twin sibling, would not likely be quick to give in to speculation and giddiness]

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’            John 20:24-29

[years later, while on one of his numerous trips to India, establishing new groups of believers, Thomas is said to have been martyred for his faith…being continuously stabbed with spears! Not exactly the type of life and death we might expect from one wavering in his faith and love for Jesus!!]

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Anyone appreciate a little first hand, expert eye witness, written testimony?

[Note: the word ‘was’ would likely indicate that the crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth was indeed old history…DEAD!]

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Timeline for Crucifixion of Jesus Christ -

  • Tuesday evening – ‘the last super’ and betrayal by Judas’s kiss; the garden of Gethsemane and arrest
  • After a stunning ‘trial by mob’, Jesus was crucified, nailed to a rough timber cross Wednesday morning
  • His body was taken down and placed in a borrowed tomb before sundown Wednesday (Passover)
  • the tomb was secured by a heavy stone, and guarded by Roman soldiers
  • Jesus remained in the tomb all day Thursday (Passover High Sabbath), Friday and Saturday Sabbath…three full days and three full nights… (as prophesied)
  • Mary Magdalene et al furtively arrived at the tomb at dawn, Sunday, the first day of the week; the tomb was empty. She cast all caution aside and RAN back to tell the others still in fear hiding at their safe house!  Upon hearing the improbable news, Peter and John cast all caution aside and RAN to the tomb. Thomas SAW His hand!


Testimony of Miriam to the Legionnare who crucified Jesus in the Book, The Robe

The Robe is a 1950s vintage novel/movie  by Lloyd C. Douglas, an historical fiction account of the crucifixion. The main character of the story was a roman legionnaire named Marcellus, who had just been banished from Rome to Jerusalem for displeasing the emperor. Marcellus arrived the day of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Since Marcellus was the new man in town, his initiation was conducting the horrible public execution. 

Within hours after dutifully carrying out his orders to conduct the ghastly crucifixion, Marcellus received a reprieve from the emperor due to the influence of his powerful father. Immediately Marcellus headed back to Rome. However, despite his familiarity with death and blood and dying, he was beyond distraught…unstable …because, in looking into the eyes of Jesus, Marcellus KNEW He was innocent. Marcellus had in his possession the robe of Jesus, which he had won in a drunken roll of the dice. 

Back in Rome, his physicians told him he needed to go back to Jerusalem to find out what ‘curse’ it was that tormented him. So, Marcellus returned to the place of the ghastly crucifixion, but not as a fearful roman legionnaire. Rather, Marcellus travelled incognito…as a simple garment merchant, curious about folks who made garments such as the robe had had with him.

Marcellus came upon a young lady named Miriam, a wonderfully gifted singer…and paraplegic. She shared her complete devotion and love of Jesus with Marcellus. Marcellus listened, but scoffed at the talk of a resurrection; he, as a roman soldier, KNEW when a man was dead! He had left Jerusalem in the evening only a few hours after the crucifixion, and therefore had not seen what others had seen.  He mocked Miriam, asking her if Jesus was so powerful and could perform such wonderful miracles at will, why didn’t He heal HER? 

Miriam explained that Jesus DID heal her…and Marcellus countered ‘you cannot walk even a single step!’  Miriam agreed, but added how after her injury but prior to meeting her Lord, she had been deeply angry, bitter and depressed. In fact she wished to DIE. In her chance encounter with Jesus, He had somehow given her new joy…new peace…new hope!  As well as deeper compassion for the plight of others and a gift for singing!

How very blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the loving instructions of the loving heavenly Father, and in this counsel he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree growing by ceaseless streams of fresh water, and bears fruit in its season, whose leaf does not wither; in whatever he does he shall prosper. (The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away….)  Psalms 1:1-4

And Marcellus again pointed out that she still could not walk even a single step.

Miriam explained that Jesus could easily have healed her legs, and had He done that, of course she would be joyful… because of her good fortune!  But instead, He chose to not heal her legs, but restored joy to her heart……………………………EVEN

                                               IN    

                                                     HER    

                                                             PRESENT     

                                                                    CIRCUMSTANCES!!!

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Psalm 22   [written approximately 500 years prior to the ‘invention’ of crucifixion as an execution, and 1000 years before Jesus’s crucifixion!]

1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? 2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent.  3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. 4 Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. 5 They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed. 6 But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. 7 All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,   8 "He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!" 9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother's breasts. 10 I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother's womb You have been My God. 11 Be not far from Me, For trouble is near; For there is none to help. 14 I am poured out like water, And all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It has melted within Me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots. 19 But You, O LORD, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! 20 Deliver Me from the sword, My precious life from the power of the dog. 22 I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. 23 You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard. 26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied; Those who seek Him will praise the LORD. Let your heart live forever! 27 All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You. 28 For the kingdom is the LORD'S, And He rules over the nations.

[photo]

Note: Three occupied tombs;  ONE EMPTY Tomb!


The Twilight Zone, Part 1: Distressing gleanings from a current report published by Pew Research

§  An average of more than 100 churches are dying in the United States every single week.

§  The average amirikan spends 86 hours a month on a cell phone. [3 hours each day!]

§  Overdosing on drugs has now become the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for Americans from age 15 to age 24

§  Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than they are from a car accident. [in one major amerikan city, almost one out of every four babies is born as an opioid addict.]

§  The teen birth rate in amerika is higher “than in any other industrialized country in the world”.

§  McDonalds ‘feeds’ approximately 70 million people a day globally. Pornhub gets more than 78 million visits a day. (dem contender John Hickenlooper confirms watching porn with his mom!)

§  According to the Pentagon, 71 percent of our young adults are ineligible to serve in the U.S. military because they are either too dumb, too fat or have a criminal background.

§  Approximately one-fourth of the entire global prison population is in the United States.

§  The number of amerikans with “no religion” has increased by 266 percent over the last three decades.

§  Over half a million people are homeless in the United States right now, but more cities than ever are passing laws making it illegal to feed them.

 

The Twilight Zone, Part 2: Ominous, distressing headlines this week

§  The Tables Turn in Russian Collusion Hunt; President Trump is Vindicated; Another Conspiracy Theory Dead

§  Barr Confirms Spygate, Deep State; Previous Administration Beginning to Crumble

§  ASSANGE ARRESTED!!  Charged With Computer Hacking; Marks a Dark Day for Press Freedom

§  Time For FEDS To Charge Twitter, Facebook, Google And YouTube With Election Meddling And Racketeering 

§  Ukrainian To US Prosecutors: Why Don't You Want Our Evidence On Democrats?

§  Brink Of War: Pakistan On High Alert, Indian Military Ready To Strike Tripoli; Libya Under Attack NOW

§  Russia, Amerika, and Now China Deploy Troops to Venezuela

§  Ten Largest Corporations Have More Wealth Than Most Nations Combined

§  Duke University to Pay $112.5 Million for Faking Scientific Research Data

§  13 Plead Guilty In University Admissions Cheating Scandal – Bribing to Gain Admission to Top Schools

§  Canadian man fined $55,000 for ”®misgendering”Æ a ”®transgender”Æ- '

§  Canadian tribunal fines Bill Whatcott $55,000 for expressing Christian views on 'transgenderism' 

§  Putin Bans Fluoride In Russia

§  Michigan Government To Create “Thought Criminal” Database To Flag Those Contradict All Official Lies

§  Proposed law would provide free abortions to students in all California universities

§  Millions of Amerikans Have Anxiety and Depression!! Society is TOXIC!

§  Chinese Government Offers a $1,500 Bounty to Informants Who Identify Leaders of Christian House Churches 

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Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men!

(Martin Luther King, Jr.)

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Heartwarming and Scripture-affirming headlines

§  The eyes really ARE the window to the soul: A person's eyes can reveal a lot about them as a person, and scientists discovered they often have telltale signs indicating when a person is stressed; our pupils reveal stress levels in just 200 milliseconds

§  Stress…is a Killer  [be anxious for nothing!]

§  Sound Therapy…Heals   [make a JOYFUL noise unto the Lord!]

§  Mississippi Governor Signs Abortion Ban: I Want to Tell the Lord “I Fought for Innocent Babies” 

lifenews.com        

[photo -   Gov. Phil Bryant]

As Peter summarized –

I perceive that God shows no partiality.

But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

Acts 10:34, 35

Knowing the Bible is one thing; knowing the Author is another!


God’s Plan for Business and Blessing

Liberal…Conservative…Progressive?

Capitalism…Socialism…Totalitarianism…Corporatocracy?

Democracy…Republic…Monarchy…Communism…Dictatorship?

                                                                                                      Lions and tigers and bears....oh my!
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In these troublesome times, it is ‘human nature’ to seek the best way to conduct business. The best way to interact with others, particularly those who can seemingly offer us no benefit in return.  And many of us wishing for a blessing, hoping for a blessing, praying for a blessing, thinking we cannot survive another single day without a blessing? 

For those who seek to approach life with more than merely ‘human nature’, to go about life GOD’s way, we need to find our instructions and answers and examples in God’s Word?

First, God’s Word teaches that there IS a better way…NOT the ‘show of power and control’ believed to be afforded in the lying, cheating, deceiving, stealing, denigrating, terrorizing and killing we see so commonly in so many places in these times. NOT the accrual of wealth and riches. The ways of ‘human nature’.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…  

Galatians 5:19-21

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25

…but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

Galatians 5:22

An excellent example of this ‘better way’ was told by Jesus in parable -

…A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’  

Luke 10:30-35

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need

but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 

1 John 3:17

There are six types of humans in the parable 1-the dying man; 2-the thieves; 3- the priest; 4-the Levite (a full time ‘church’ employee who at the time ministered to the priests and watched over the temples; descendants of Moses and Aaron); 5-the Samaritan man; 6-the innkeeper

Attacking another and leaving him for dead won’t get it! Nor will attacking and robbing another for one’s own greed. If, as a self-professed believer, one feels like minding his own business is God’s best plan, he might want to tighten up his faith a few notches, and reconsider his own relationship with his loving heavenly Father! One only willing to do exactly what his is paid to do, what is in his ‘job description’, a pure ‘capitalist’, it is likely he are missing out on a LOT in life, not to mention the favor (blessing) of your loving heavenly Father! However, if a bitter enemy of your nation or family is in need of a dose of human kindness, time, compassion…love, it is easy to imagine the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob smiling at you and your household!

Other examples from God’s Word?

Job, a very respected and wealthy ‘mayor’ figure in his region back in the day, with a gift of giving! Consider –

I delivered the poor who cried out, the fatherless and the one who had no helper. …and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy…; I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, and I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, and plucked the victim from his teeth.  …Men listened to me and waited, and kept silence for my counsel…      Job 29:12-13, 15-17, 21

 

The ‘virtuous wife’ of Proverbs 31–

Who can find a virtuous wife? [valuable, loyal, trustworthy, hardworking, enterprising, and no doubt a wonderful example to her household and beyond!] She extends her hand to the poor…the needy…

 Proverbs 31:10, 20

King Lemuel (by directive of his mother!) -

Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.                                                                Proverbs 31:8-9

The ‘poor widow’

Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites… So He …said to His disciples  ‘…this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given…for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had… Mark 12:41-44 [is how much you put in more significant, or how much you hold back??]

The ‘sinful woman’

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. …He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven…Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’  Luke 7:36-38, 48, 50

Then you have Matthew’s stunning admonishment -

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'” The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’                                                    Matthew 25:37-40

­Other applicable ‘one-liners’ from God’s Word

Jesus sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’         Mark 9:35

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.   Philippians 2:3-4

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to allGalatians 6:10

Owe no one anything except to love one another    Romans 13:8

He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.  Proverbs 22:9

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.      Joshua 24:15

…you must support the weak…It is more blessed to give than to receive.     Acts 20:35

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart…for God loves a cheerful giver.     II Corinthians 9:7

He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who shuts his eyes his eyes will have many curses.      Prov. 28:27

Command those who are rich in this present world…to put their hope in God, who richly provides… I Tim 6:17

You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest, as he has done for you…   Joshua 1:14-15

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

Finally, your own personal ‘compensation’ as a Kingdom worker -

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors… Matthew 11:12

A faithful man will abound with blessings…   Proverbs 28:20

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.  Proverbs 22:4

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Has Scriptures given us example s set by Jesus for us to emulate regarding conducting our business God’s way? Well, plenty of prayer and pondering Scriptures and ‘alone time’ are mentioned repeatedly. But there is no mention of even a single ‘busy’ day with one scheduled meeting after another necessitating a day-timer calendar, no rolex watches with countdown timers and programable alarms with musical chimes, no desperately flagging down a taxi or dashing through airports; seemingly never ‘busy’ with ‘life’. Jesus just went about doing things…letting His Heavenly Father ‘sweat’ the details!

Jesus…went about doing good…  Acts 10:38

… the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches….choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful. Mark 4:19

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen,

being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power

…so that they are without excuse.                  Romans 1:20

          

   

Photos courtesy of Sandra Larimore, and others

And one [angel] cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!"                                     Isaiah 6:3

Photo after 2018 Calif. Wildfire, courtesy of Tamara Truman Luevano

    [illustration]

 

 

The first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark [sneaking through the shadows of the locked down city]…then she ran [back to the safe house where the ‘men’ were still hiding] and said [to Peter and John] ‘we do not know where they took the body!’ [casting aside all fear and caution] Peter and John then both RAN to the [reportedly empty] tomb!                    John 20:1, 2, 4

 

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them –

"Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Mark 8:34

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…peace be with you!   

John 20:21









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