Jesus, Salvation

Set Apart

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I spy with my little eye, one clematis flower. It’s small, but it stands out against the heart-shaped morning glory leaves. Underneath this vine, that has taken over the corner of our fence, is a clematis. Still growing, still blooming. It’s been dwarfed by morning glory vines. I love the contrast of pink petals among vibrant green leaves.

Sometimes I feel like this as a Christ Follower. The lone flower, trying to shine my little light, amid some pretty leaves. Maybe you feel this way too, as a Christian. We were never meant to be like the world. We are different, set apart.

The Greek word  aphorizō means set off by boundary, (figuratively) limit, exclude, appoint, etc.:–divide, separate, sever.¹

Aphorizo is used in 2 Corinthians 6:17.

“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:17, NASB 

Paul is quoting Isaiah 52:11. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Paul tells us not to be yoked with unbelievers. What does yoke mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, a yoke is a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together.
Unequally yoked oxen will have one weaker ox, and the other strong. Or one small ox, and the other one big. It’s ineffective. As Christians we are not to be yoked with non-believers. As in marriage, business partners, and close friendships. If we are yoked, we are working toward the same goal. If we have different convictions, then it won’t work effectively. There will be conflict. Same yoke, two different views.
This does not mean that Christians cannot be friends with non-Christians. True, close friendships will be with fellow believers. I have plenty of non-believing friends, whom I love dearly. Our friendship has limits because we don’t share the same faith, the same hope.

Christ Followers are set apart to be holy. We are to let the love of  Jesus shine through us.  We are vessels that now belong to God. We are not extra special. Jesus Christ is available to every single person who chooses Him.

And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:15, NASB 

I was dead in my sin before I knew Jesus Christ as my Savior.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2, NASB 

Now I belong to Jesus and I am alive with Him.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), Ephesians 2:4-5, NASB 

Being set apart as a Christian means we are different than the world and its ways.  When I say the world, I mean anyone or anything that is opposed to Jesus. It’s offensive to the world to profess Christianity. We will be hated. Jesus was hated too.

 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18-19, NASB 

Those of us who call ourselves Christians are to be holy, chosen by God to shine His marvelous light on those who don’t yet know Him. We are set apart for a purpose. God’s purpose.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9, NASB 

It is a blessing and an incredible privilege to be set apart by God. Christ followers get to be part of what He is doing. He wants to use us. Let’s shine our lights, or our pretty pink flowers among the vines. God will shine through us to reach a lost world.

Do you know Him? Jesus paid your sin debt in full. He’s just waiting for you to reach out to Him because He loves you so much.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

If you need prayer please leave your request on my contact page or in the comments.

 

1.https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G873/aphorizo.htm

Jesus, The Early Church

The Meaning of the Jesus Fish

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For as long as I can remember my mom had this wooden fish on the wall of our home. Since we were Christians, this seemed completely normal. I associated this carving with Jesus making us fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). In my mind, Jesus in the shape of a fish made sense. Jesus and fish go together.

We’ve all seen the fish symbol on countless cars. Anytime I see the little fish on a vehicle I know they are a Christian. It has become a universal symbol in modern American culture. The fish logo shows up on business advertising letting us know it’s a Christian owned company. Every color and version of a fish is used on bumper stickers, T-shirts, book marks, Bible covers, mugs, jewelry, and even tattoos.

The fish logo is easily identified with Christianity. But where did it come from? Why a fish?

First Century Christians were severely persecuted. Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire. Under Roman Emperor Nero, Christians were arrested, tortured, thrown to wild animals, and crucified. If you were a Christ Follower in the early days of the church, you were probably going to be killed. Many Christians went underground.

In order to reach out to to followers of Jesus Christ, a symbol was used. The fish symbol would be carved into doorways or on the road, to say that Christians were there. The fish was chosen because it could go unrecognized. Several pagan religions at the time used a fish symbol, so it wasn’t given a second look.

The Greek word for fish is ichthys or ichthus.

I – Iota or Iesous – Jesus

X – Chi or Christos – Christ

Θ – Theta or Theos – of God

Y – Upsilon or Yios – Son

Σ– Sigma or Soter – Savior 

The Greek letters form an acrostic which translates to Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior.

During those oppressive years in Ancient Rome, if there was a meeting between two Christians, one person would draw an arc in the dirt. If the other person was truly a Christian, they would draw another arc, completing the fish logo.

In Ancient Ephesus the early Christians used a pizza looking symbol to share the same message, Jesus Christ son of God, Savior. These circular symbols can be found in what remains of Ephesus today. The same pizza-like symbols are in a few spots near The Forum in Rome. The pizza shape hid the Greek letters for fish.

Early Christians risked everything to share The Good News of Jesus Christ. Many gave their lives so that message could go around the globe. I am a Christian because of Jesus. He came to seek and save the lost, which is all of us.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10, NIV 

The thought of those early Jesus Followers risking everything to live out their faith is inspiring. I wouldn’t know Jesus as my Savior without them. It started with Jesus and His completed work on the cross, and spread through the first disciples like Peter and Paul. Then it just kept going through poor people, rich people, enslaved people, and ordinary people. So many gave their lives to spread the message that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:16, NIV 

In America I am free to practice my religion. This is not the case around the world. Christian persecution is happening in many places like China, India, and Iran. Christians are still being killed for their faith today. If you live in a country where you are free to worship Jesus without fear of death, thank God! If you are living in a persecuted country, God bless and protect you!

The next time you see a little metal fish on the back of a vehicle say a prayer for the persecuted church around the globe. They are our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Father God,

Thank you for sending your son, Jesus, to save us. Thank you for the faithfulness of the early church. Please protect and bless our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. Use each of us to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Equip us Father, to do your will.

Amen

 

 

References

https://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/christians.html

Ichthus

http://www.eureka4you.com/fish/fishsymbol.htm

https://www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-fish-symbol.html

https://www.allaboutgod.com/jesus-fish.htm

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/the-christian-fish-symbol-origin-and-history-facts.html

 

Faith, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

Love God, Love Everybody

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It’s just so simple. Love God with all you’ve got, and love others like yourself. Well, that was easy. Please go back to your normal routine, and enjoy the picture of the Nevada desert. Hahaha! I wish just reading those words made loving God and loving others effortless.

What’s the greatest commandment according to Jesus?

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.’ Matthew 22:37-39, NIV

I think about these verses every day. For me, it all boils down to this. The greatest commandment is the umbrella under which all other commandments fall. Love God with all I’ve got and love my neighbors, which is my family and every person, the same way I love myself.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” does not mean to love myself first, before I can love others. It just means in the same way we care for ourselves and our burdens, we show that same level of care and concern for others. Our neighbor is everyone and anyone. Your family, friends, and actual neighbors are your “neighbors”. We don’t get to pick and choose who we love. Though we try, we are called to something different.

Luke 10:30-37 tells the story of the Good Samaritan. Read this story for yourself. It gives a great example of how to be a good neighbor, and to show real love.

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10-36-37, NIV 

We are to love all people. Every single person was made in the image of God.

So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27, NIV

We need to ask God to help us see people the way He does. If I look at people with my own judgements and opinions then I’m not going to love them very well. If I look at others according to God’s view and that He made them, I can see their hearts much easier.

Loving others is really hard. Loving difficult people is nearly impossible. We don’t have to be best friends with everyone, or hang out with everyone, but we are told to love. We cannot love based on our own feelings or perceptions. Our love for others is based on the love Jesus has placed in our hearts. I cannot properly show love without God. He is love.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  1 John 4:8, NIV

Jesus loved me first before I ever knew Him or loved Him.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19, NIV

Love is so much bigger than like. The love Jesus gives us is beyond anything we will experience from another person. Jesus gave His life for us because He loves us.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8, NIV

How do we love God with every part of us? It means we don’t hold anything back from God. Loving God is a natural response from a genuine relationship with Him. The more you know God, the more you will love Him. He gave us full access to Him because of Jesus.

To love God with all my heart, soul, and mind means I put Him first in my life. I give Him everything. I praise Him. Read His word. Pray. Ask Him to fill my mind with His thoughts. It is a daily choice to love God with every part of me. Though I will never love Him perfectly, I will make a choice to let my heart be loyal to Him first and foremost.

The Spurgeon Study Bible says:

“‘With all your heart’ means intensely. ‘With all your soul’ means sincerely, most lovingly. ‘And with all your strength’ means with all our energy, with every faculty, with every possibility of our nature.”

The greatest commandment to love God with every ounce of me and to love people is impossible. If I rely on myself to accomplish these acts, then it’s a failure every time. When I rely on Jesus, I can love the way He loves.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Jon 15:5, NIV 

Loving God and loving everybody is how we shine our lights in this dark world. We have the awesome responsibility to be Jesus’ hands and feet to every person we encounter. We were never meant to do it in our own ability. Otherwise we’d never need Jesus. We need Jesus every moment, of every hour, of every day.

Let’s love our awesome God with everything we’ve got. Let’s love His kids well.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Father God,

Thank you for your perfect love. Thank you for sending your son, Jesus to save us. Help us God, to love you and love others greatly. We cannot properly love people without You. Show us others, the way you see them. Let us see hearts and souls. Help us to see the hurting, lost, and broken. Use us, imperfect vessels, to love people. Thank you for the privilege we get to show Your love. We praise you!

Amen

 

Faith, God, Jesus, Uncategorized

Live for Today

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Today you have been given a gift. The gift of time. There are 1440 minutes in your gift. You and I get this precious gift of time, each and every day.

This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.        Psalm 118:24, ESV 

God made our days and He numbered them.

Lord, reveal to me the end of my life
and the number of my days.
Let me know how short-lived I am.
 You, indeed, have made my days short in length,
and my life span as nothing in Your sight.
Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor.Selah    Psalm 39:4-5, HCSB

How much time do we waste each day? I don’t believe the goal is to fill every single minute with non-stop activity. We’ve all got necassary day-to-day duties that are unavoidable. Sleep takes up a certain amount of our hours. Work. Other daily responsibilities like cooking, errands, caring for our families, and a long list of daily tasks fill our routines. And yes, there should be a little down time each day, to recharge your batteries.

    A person’s days are determined;
    you have decreed the number of his months
    and have set limits he cannot exceed.   Job 14:5, NIV

So, if God ordained our days, and He ordained our lives, then He knows we have normal routine stuff that needs to take place. He also has ordained big and small events in our lives every day; that give us opportunities to make a difference for His Kingdom.

This is not the Carpe Diem trendy thinking of our culture. Seize the day is associated with self. Go for it. Take everything you can from each day. This type of thinking says the day is yours. As Christians, each day is a gift from the Lord that He made, and it’s not all ours for the taking.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10, NIV

God has Kingdom work for us to accomplish. And we need Him to do what He’s called us to. Maybe you don’t know your specific calling yet. Start asking God what He has you here for. Each of us has a unique purpose. In the meantime, look for daily small moments to share the love of Jesus. Working hard to provide for your family matters. Cooking a meal for your family is loving. Going to the grocery store and getting food and other essentials is important. We’re human and we need food. Being kind to the checker at the store. Helping an elderly shopper with reaching an item. (Maybe after the covid19 6 feet away craziness is over.)

There are moments each day that we can make a difference. Praying for someone, sharing the Gospel, helping a neighbor. Giving a friend a ride. Listening to your children’s ideas and hopes. Encouraging your spouse. Forgiving that person you’ve been holding a grudge against. Love God. Love your family. Love strangers you cross paths with. Love your annoying neighbor.

These are not easy on our own. They are impossible in our own abilities. We need filled up before we can overflow with the love of Christ.

Yesterday is the past. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34, NIV

We are all very aware we’ve got enough to deal with today. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. We are supposed to live in today. We can still make plans, and pray about future events, and circumstances. But, we are to leave those at Jesus feet and get on with our day. I know, that’s super difficult. At least for me it is.

Give each day the care it deserves. It may not be flashy but it is a gift from the Lord. Every day is not some thrill ride. Many days can be mundane and quite ordinary, but God ordained them. Thank Him for each day.

Thank God on the good days.

Thank God on the awful days.

Thank God every single day. He made it just for you.

Is Jesus Christ your Savior? Today would be a great day to accept His free gift of salvation. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Go to my contact page and email me if you need prayer.

 

Faith, Jesus, Salvation, Uncategorized

The Aroma of Christ

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Lean into your screen. Now inhale. Can you smell it? I really wish you could right now. Imagine sitting on my patio together as the sweet aroma of jasmine gently drifts past us. This lovely plant is growing on the fence in my backyard and it’s in full bloom. I’ve been sitting outside in the mornings with my coffee, my bible, and the delightful scent of jasmine. What a great way to start the day.

Jasmine is one of my all time favorite flowers. Clusters of delicate white flowers releasing their pleasing scent. The smell is intoxicating. I am reminded of my childhood in California as the enchanting fragrance of jasmine is in the air. Scent is the strongest of our human senses.

Two people can smell the same thing with different results. To one it can be offensive, and to the other it’s the best thing they have ever smelled. I can’t imagine many being offended at the smell of jasmine, but I’m sure they exist.

The Bible tells us that as Christians we are the aroma of Christ. What does that mean?

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

(2 Corinthians 2: 14-16, NIV)

Paul used the analagy of a triumphal procession in a Roman military parade to compare Christians to non-Christians.

Back in the day, when a Roman general had a victory on the battelfield there was a great parade through the streets of Rome. They had a very specific route taken through the city, all to show off their triumph. Senators, and state officials led the way, followed by trumpeters, and carts loaded with the spoils of war. There were musicians, and exoctic animals from the defeated enemy. Bulls and oxen were brought along for sacrifice to their Roman gods. Infantry, and the general’s adult sons were also included. It was over the top.

Also in this great procession, were the captives of war. The enemy leaders were paraded through the streets in chains on their way to prison, and ultimately their execution. Garlands of flowers were carried and incense was burned by the Roman priests. The aroma was sweet for the victors, and meant death for the captives. Same smell, different meaning.

The message of Jesus Christ is a death sentence for those who reject it. That same message is life for those who recieve Christ as Savior. The same beautiful fragrance, yet death for one and triumph for the other.

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

(John 3:17-21, NIV)

Christ followers get the awesome privilege to spread the fragrance of life. This is not on our own ability. It is God at work in every Believer, sharing His sweet, glorious aroma. Even better than the scent of jasmine.

Jesus loves you and wants life for you. I pray you know Him as your Savior.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

(2 Peter 3:9, NIV)

Love you all,

Meghan

P.S. If you need prayer go to my contact page. God bless you!