Faith, Jesus

The Widow’s Offering

I had a moment the other day. A moment of feeling less than. I usually try to keep my eyes on God, and just focus on what is in front of me. In my weakness, I looked around and saw everything that I wasn’t. Lord, how am I going to do what you’ve called me to do? I don’t have some huge sphere of influence. I don’t have thousands or millions of followers. I will never be that. My gifts are small.

Immediately the Holy Spirit said, “The Widow’s Offering”. I knew exactly what that meant. Right away I pictured a woman with two coins in her hand giving her small offering. This is not a Bible story I have read recently. I’ve never even given it much thought until now.

The Widow’s Offering

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Mark 12:41-44, NIV

When Jesus was watching all the people leave their temple offerings, He knew each person’s heart. Jesus knew how much money each one gave and why. Jesus noticed what no one else did. While everyone was probably looking at the wealthy throw their money into the temple treasury, Jesus noticed the widow. 

The wealthy were impressive with their large amounts of money being deposited. It made a lot of noise as it went into the box, and made them look great. But Jesus paid close attention to the widow, not to the wealthy. That does not mean the wealthy do not matter. In that instance the widow stood out. Her offering was everything she had. When the widow dropped those two coins in, only Jesus noticed.

Why?

Because Jesus knew what she gave and He knew her heart. She was poor and a widow. That’s a double whammy in that world. Yet, with everything against her, the widow gave her two small coins. The widow had great faith, so much so that Jesus said, “she put more in the treasury than all the others.”

God always sees what we do not. The widow’s tiny offering was counted as more than all the others. She gave sacrificially, out of love. The wealthy were giving out of ease and obligation. It was no real sacrifice to throw in large amounts of money. 

The widow had big faith. She could have easily held on to her last two coins, but she didn’t. She gave her best. The widow gave it all to God. She trusted God to take her insignificant offering and do something great with it. 

I want the faith of the widow. So many times I take my two small coins, shine them up, and hand them to Jesus. He never turns them away. Then there are days and moments, like I had the other day, where I doubt myself. I doubt that God can use my tiny offerings of my writing, my prayers, my time. I drop my coins in thinking they are unnoticed. 

What I consider a meager gift is seen as a treasure in God’s eyes. He knows our motives. He knows our hearts. He also knows what abilities, and resources we’ve got. He gives to each of us differently. My best for God may look completely different than yours. 

The widow was a woman in need, yet she gave God everything. I want to give God my best. No matter how small that may look. No matter if all I’ve got to give Him is two small coins. I want to give God my best when it’s all I have left.  

God will take what looks like not enough and make something beautiful. 

Love you all,

Meghan 

 

Father God,

Thank you that you see things we cannot. Help us all to give you the best of our time, our money, our gifts and talents. May we glorify you in all that we do. Take our best, even if it’s two small coins and make it something great in your Kingdom.

Amen

 

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

forgiveness, Jesus

Clean as Pure Snow

When I was a young teenager I got the brilliant idea to bleach a pair of Levi’s. I filled the bottom of the bathtub with bleach and soaked my jeans. Everything was going great until I took the bleach soaked jeans out of the tub and carried them, dripping, down the hall, then all the way down the stairs to the laundry room. Our house had forest green carpet, so I left a path of bright white dots with each drip. I had no idea any of this transpired because I was focused on my project.

My mom noticed and she was not happy, at all. I was shocked and felt awful. I tried quickly wiping up the spots, but it was too late. The carpet was stained. We tried everything to get the spots back to their glorious 1980’s forest green, even a dark green marker. Nothing worked. The spots were less noticeable, but they remained until we sold the house, and the new owners replaced the carpet. 

Sin leaves a stain that cannot be removed with our own efforts. No matter how hard we try, our sin remains. Our good deeds will not take our sins away. We can’t clean them, but we sure try. Maybe if we are good, and do as many nice things as possible, then no one will notice our stains. There is no magic cleaner, or good deed to remove the stain of sin. There is only one way for sin to be removed. Only one can remove our sins. His name is Jesus.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18, NIV

The scarlet described in Isaiah is a bright red color. This vibrant red was created from the eggs of a small insect found on oak leaves in the Mediterranean. Fabric would be dipped in this red color twice to ensure it was set. No washing or cleaning could remove the scarlet that was deeply embedded in the cloth. Much like our sin, our human efforts cannot remove what’s been set in our heart. 

Only Jesus can make us clean as pure white snow. He can remove the stain of sin in our hearts. White represents purity and innocence. It’s clean, unblemished. Have you ever stood outside as fresh snow falls? It’s bright and untouched. The snow makes everything new again. As the snow comes down it covers the dirt and muck. All you see is glowing white. 

The crimson of our sin is not just covered, it’s removed. Once we have repented and believe in Jesus, we are like wool that has never been dyed. Our sins can seem like they are part of us forever. They don’t have to be. That bright scarlet is gone when Jesus makes us new like pure wool. The sin stain is permanently removed. 

There is not a single person on this planet, nor has there ever been, who has not sinned. Every one of us has sinned.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23, NIV 

There’s good news! Jesus already paid our sin debt in full. The stain is removed for those who are in Christ.

“but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7, NASB 

There is no sin too big that Jesus cannot remove. He can make you clean and new like pure snow. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Today would be a great day to change that. He is waiting for you with open arms.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,  Acts 3:19, NIV 

Love you all, 

Meghan 

 

Father God,

Thank you for Jesus, and the sacrifice He made on the cross for all of us. Thank you for the newness you give us when we belong to you. Thank you for taking away the stain of our sins and making us pure in your sight because of your son, Jesus. Thank you for your perfect love and freedom that you give. Draw people to Jesus today. May many come to know Him as their Savior. We thank you and praise you God.

Amen 

 

If you need prayer please go to my contact page. 

 

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Reference:

https://biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/isaiah/1.htm

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