The Whole Story – Day 9

Close to Easter I always make sure I read the four gospels. I remember the first time I did this. After reading these gospels, I sat back in my chair and relived those stories in my mind.

We all think how wonderful God was to give His only son to die for our sins so we can be saved. But have we really thought about what happened at the time before this.

Jesus was temped by Satan. He started preaching, baptizing and healing. People loved listening to him. He had thousands of followers. He chose twelve disciples. He did so much good.

Then I start thinking about his days before his death. Things completely changed. He was betrayed by his disciple Judas for 30 pieces of silver. He was arrested by the priests and teachers of the law. My thoughts change from happiness to sadness.

I placed my thoughts to what he went through for our sins to be forgiven and saved. So many times he was punched, hit, slapped, spit on, made fun of, stripped of his clothing and a crown of thorns shoved on his head. The he was whipped raw to most of his body.

Jesus then stands in front of the priests and people. Pilate asks who will be set free – Jesus, or Barabbas who was a murderer? The people chose Barabbas. Then they wanted Jesus to be crucified.

From all the beating he even had to carry his own cross and they whipped him as he carried it until he collapsed. Even after he was placed on the cross, they mocked him until his death.

I felt the pain of the whipping, the nails being hammered into his hands and feet. Then, as I thought about it, I wondered to myself, “Were any of my ancestors laughing or crying at Jesus those couple of days?” I will never know. I can’t even imagine how God was feeling while this was happening. I know that day that ten thousand angels cried. I’m sue they looked at God hoping He would stop this injustice. He could have stopped it and just wiped everyone out, but He didn’t.

But then I thought and I knew that what had happened, had to happen. God loves us so much that He let His only son go through a horrific death. A death that not one of us could have endure; not even half of his beating could we endure.

I am sorry for what he had to go through, and I know one of those lashes of the whip was for me. But because of all Jesus went through, we are forgiven of our sins, and are saved.

Knowing all this, God is number one in my life always. So as Jesus’s death approaches and we sing praises to him, let us also remember what he went through for us to sing those praises to him.

Prayer: Our dear gracious Father, sometimes we forget parts of the story. Please forgive us for what we forget. Help us to remember that bad things can be made good. Forgive us of our sins each day, for we are not perfect and need you in our lives. Stay always close to us and keep us on that right road to you. And thank you Father for Jesus. In your precious son’s name we pray. Amen.
 
– Connie Chronister

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Be Still And Know – Day 8

Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I have learned that at those still moments, God can truly speak to you.

Starting in the middle of December, I was called by my sister to meet the family at the hospital. Their son, Kenny, had cancer at the age of just one year old, and again at the age of 18 years old. Kenny was now 46 years old.

Kenny was diagnosed with the worst kind of cancer – pancreatic. Doctors gave him a month to live. Kenny did well over the holidays.

The first sign of God speaking to me was when I was asleep in my living room late one evening. I heard my sister say, “It is getting harder.” I awoke thinking my sister was there in the room. The next day, Kenny’s organs started to shut down. Four days later, while my daughter and I were with the family, Kenny went home to be with Jesus. While standing there in the room with their pastor, a Chaplin, and other family members, God gave me the lyrics “We are standing on holy ground, and I know that there are angels all around.” There was peace in the room.

The second sign was when one of my nephews, who lives on a farm, found out one of Kenny’s wishes was to ride on a big John Deere tractor. Jimmy took Kenny for a ride on a big tractor – how exciting that ride was. Then, one week to the day of his passing, while I was sitting in my sister’s kitchen waiting for the undertaker to arrive, we heard a loud noise outside. What do we see going past the house but a big John Deere tractor. What a God moment. I believe there are angels all around!

Kenny was a very loving young man. He always had a smile on his face and was ready for a big hug. He captured the hearts of the cancer doctors, pharmacy people at the Hanover Wal-Mart and of course his family members.

Through this all, I have learned to be still and wait on God. What does it mean to “be still and know” who God is? It is to quietly trust, to patiently wait, to actively know, to confidently act on the faith that He is the answer to every problem – even when the answer isn’t clear.
 
– Donna Sheridan

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The Power of Prayer – Day 7

Sometimes we pray for years and years and things just seem to get worse. We parents and grandparents long for our loved ones to love the Lord and to live for Him. Mistake after mistake leads to more sorrow. We become discouraged and feel like no longer praying for them, since things are only getting worse.
 
I read this short message recently in the Daily Bread which really encouraged me. Maybe you are in the same boat and this will help you too.
 
The Power of Prayer
“One day, when I was deeply concerned about the welfare of one close to me, I found encouragement in part of the Old Testament story of Samuel, a wise leader of the Israelites. As I read how Samuel interceded for God’s people as they faced trouble, I strengthened my resolve to pray for the one I loved.
 
When we ache over challenges facing those we love, and fear the situation won’t change, we may be tempted to believe that the Lord will not act. But we should never underestimate the power of prayer, for our loving God hears our pleas. We don’t now how He will move in response to our petitions, but we know that as our Father He longs for us to embrace His love and to trust in His faithfulness. Do you have someone you can pray for today?
 
Father God, the way You hear and answer my prayers amazes me. Strengthen my faith, that I will always believe in Your goodness and love.”
 
From a mother and grandmother who loves Jesus, my children, and grandchildren.
 
-Delores Kessler

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We Need Jesus – Day 6

1 John 2:15 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but of the world.”
 
Eric and I work in a large manufacturing and distributing plant in York County. We have been co-workers for over two years, and on many days work side-by-side. Eric started working here as a temp while he was in a recovery house in the city. Eric had an addiction problem with alcohol and drugs. I believe he had even gotten into some big trouble with the law before, and he couldn’t get his license back for two years. But he worked really hard at any job assigned to him, so the company finally hired him permanently.
 
Eric would start to go down hill when new people showed up at the recovery house. He was admitted to rehab twice last year. Before he slipped back into his dark stages (you could even begin to see the change in him), he’d say things like, “I can drink just a couple drinks without wanting more.” What a lie the devil tell us in our heads!
 
Eric and I had spoken about the best recovery program there is (a.k.a. Jesus) and he said he believed. He really started to get himself together and was looking for a place to live outside the recovery house.
 
Unfortunately, his pride and his thinking that he could have just one more drink and handle it overtook him. My friend and co-worker Eric died on January 22, 2018. He will be missed.
 
We can’t do it by ourselves. We need our Lord and Savior to shine His light on the path ahead, and carry us through to a brighter day!
 
-Laurie Kuhn

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Holiness – Day 5

What does it mean to live a life of “Holiness”?
 
In 1 Peter 1:13-16, Peter writes to believers saying, “Therefore prepare your minds for action, keep sober in sprit, and fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be Holy, for I am Holy.’” Peter is quoting from Leviticus 11:44 and 19:2.
 
What does it mean that God is Holy?
 
Passages like 1 Samuel 2:2 and Isaiah 6:3 are just two of many examples of passages about God’s Holiness. Another way to say it is Absolute Perfection. God is unlike any other (Hosea 11:9) and His holiness is the essence of the “otherness”. He is high above any other, and no one can compare to Him (Psalm 40:5). His very being is complete, absent of even a trace of sin (James 1:13 and Hebrews 6:18).
His love is Holy love, His mercy is a Holy mercy, and even His anger and wrath are Holy anger and Holy wrath. These concepts are difficult for humans to grasp; just as God is difficult for us to understand in His entirety.
 
What does it mean for us to be Holy?
 
When God told Israel to be Holy in Leviticus chapters 11 and 19, He was instructing them to be distinct from the other nations and God has set them apart from other people. They are His special people, and they were given standards that God wanted to live by so the world would know they belong to Him.
 
When Peter repeats the Lord’s words in 1 Peter 1:16, he is talking specifically to believers to be “set apart”. As believers we need to be “set apart” from the world. We need to be living by God’s standards, not the worlds. God isn’t calling us to be perfect, but to be distant from the world.
 
Finally, how can we become Holy?
 
Holiness only results from a right relationship with God by believing in Jesus Christ as our Savior. If we have not placed our faith in God’s son alone to save us from our sins, then our pursuit of Holiness is in vain. So we must first make sure we are born again believers (John 3:5-7). If we truly are believers, then we recognize that our position in Christ automatically set us apart from the world (1 Peter 2:9).
 
After all, we have a relationship with THE living God! Then we must daily live a “set apart” life, not trying to blend in with the world, but instead living according to God’s Word.
 
Prayer: Preciously Heavenly Father, please help me every day to be “set apart” from the world and not to conform to tis way. Amen.
 
-Terry Hess

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Scripture Reading – Day 4

Matthew 3:1-17 (NIV)
 
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
 
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
 
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
 
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
 
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
 
The Baptism of Jesus
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John.But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
 
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
 
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

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