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

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!

Jesus, Salvation, Uncategorized

Torn

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“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:51, NIV)

The temple curtain, or veil, was torn from top to bottom at the moment Jesus gave up his spirit (Matthew 27:50). Why is this significant? Let’s go back to Exodus and the Tabernacle. This was a place God’s spirit could dwell, and the Israelites could worship God.

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25: 8-9, NIV)

God gave specific instructions to Moses for the Tabernacle and the Most Holy Place.

31 “Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. 34 Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. 35 Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lamp stand opposite it on the south side.”(Exodus 26: 31-35, NIV).

This curtain was beautiful but strong; Separating the people from God’s presence. Only the High Priest was allowed behind the curtain, and only once a year (Exodus 30:10). The priest had to wash himself, wear special garments, burn incense, and bring sacrificial blood to atone for sins (Exodus 28-30). Aaron, the first high priest and Moses’ brother, was told not to come to the Most Holy Place whenever he chooses or he would die (Leviticus 16:1-2). Going into the Holy of Holies was not to be taken lightly and very few even entered the sacred space. God was protecting the people.

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live” (Exodus 33:20, NIV).

The first temple was built by Solomon, and had forty-five foot high walls (1 Kings 6:20). Fast forward to Jesus’ time on earth. Herod refurbished the second temple making it taller. According to the historian Josephus, Herod’s temple veil was close to sixty feet high, and the temple curtain was at least an inch thick. Some claim the curtain was four inches thick.

At the moment Jesus took his last breath the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51). God tore the massive, thick temple curtain. Not man. The separation between us and God was destroyed because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross. Jesus is the great high priest.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIV).

We can come boldly to the throne of grace. No more curtain. We have the joy and privilege to approach God with confidence all because of precious Jesus. He empathizes with us since He lived for a while among us, yet He never sinned. He took on our sin and atoned for us. Jesus was the perfect, sacrificial lamb for the entire world.

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2, NIV).

Love! Love! Love! Jesus died for us because of His great love for us. The most beautiful love story in all human history. The curtain is never going back up. We do not have to atone for our sins. Jesus did that on the cross. Thank you Jesus!

Do you know Jesus? He already knows you. He loves you. He paid your sin debt in full.

We praise you Jesus! There is none like you.

 

Love you all,

Meghan

 

Bible, Faith, Jesus, Salvation, Uncategorized

Cookie Crumbs

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I love to bake. During Christmas I make Russian Tea Cakes, Almond Roca bars, raspberry shortbread bars, and a few others that change each year. My family loves sugar cookies so I make lots of those, and as you can see from the picture, my decorating is very homemade looking. Nothing fancy but oh so yummy! A good cookie can bring a smile to anyone’s face. And when its homemade there’s an extra sweetness. Sometimes the cookie is so good that I’ll even eat the crumbs. They are still delicious. I want to get every morsel of the goodness.

I have read the story of the Canaanite woman in the Bible many times over the years. I would always get stuck on the verse where she says, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table. (Matthew 15:27 NIV)” I knew it was about faith but didn’t know what I was supposed to get from it. I would read it a few times, shake my head, and move on still a bit confused as to what it really meant. The Lord brought me back to this passage the other day and finally I got revelation on the importance of this story. Thank you Jesus!

She was a Canaanite.

The entire story of The Faith of the Canaanite Woman is in Matthew 15:21-28. It’s also in Mark 7:24-30.  Matthew makes sure we know she is a Canaanite. This is important because ancient Canaanites were enemies of Israel who did many detestable things in the eyes of God. Sodom was a Canaanite city and we all know what happened there (Genesis 19). They also practiced child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21). There’s not enough time or space in one blog post for me to go into the details of the Canaanites. Historically, they were bad. So it’s a big deal that a Canaanite woman came to Jesus.

She knew who Jesus was.

“A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David,” (Matthew 15:22a). Let’s just stop right there for a moment. She is calling Jesus “Son of David”. She knows who He is. The rightful King (2 Samuel 7:12-16). The promised Messiah. Not many had acknowledged publicly who Jesus was at that point, not even His own disciples.

She was desperate for Jesus’ help.

“Have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession,” (Matthew 15:22b NIV). Any parent can relate to this feeling of helplessness when your child is suffering. She knows there is nowhere else to turn, and with every fiber of her being wants her daughter free. Jesus is the only one who could help her daughter.

She was persistent.

“Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said (Matthew 15:23-25 NIV). She doesn’t give up when initially Jesus won’t help. This was Him testing her faith, not rejecting her. So she persists and kneels before him. That takes courageous faith.

She knew what Jesus could do.

“He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” (V. 26). The bread symbolizes the gospel of salvation. The children are the Jews. The dogs represent Gentiles. Jesus is testing her faith and telling her that He came for the Jews first. “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (V.27). She acknowledges the history of her people and the contempt of the Jews toward her people but that does not stop her. She knows that Jesus would still have plenty of power to help her daughter.

She had great faith.

”Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (V. 28). Jesus answers her plea for help because of her faith. Hallelujah!! I can only imagine the joy she felt when she found her daughter completely free from her suffering. Jesus gave her grace and mercy all because of her persistent faith and His amazing love.

Those little crumbs represent big things. Jesus came for all of us; Jews and Gentiles. “Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,” (Romans 3:29 NIV). Jesus died for the whole world’s sins (1 John 2:2). 

The Canaanite woman had great, bold faith. She came to Jesus in spite of her lineage, because she knew who He was. Lord. Son of David. The Messiah. She also knew even a few crumbs is all it would take to heal her daughter. Jesus has enough saving, holy power for all of us. Actually, He’s got more than enough. It’s just that initially, the Jews were waiting for their Messiah, but He came to save all of us.

I don’t believe we are to ask for crumbs. Let’s ask for the whole cookie. I want everything He has for me. Including the trials, and struggles. We too can boldly come to Jesus in our times of trouble and ask for His help. It does not matter what your past is. It does not matter what’s been spoken over you. It does not matter how overwhelming your circumstance is. Jesus came for you and for me!

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, today would be a great day to change that. “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Acts 2:21 NIV).

Merry Christmas!

Love you all,

Meghan

Faith, God, Jesus, Salvation, Uncategorized

Living Water

IMG_1119Multnomah Falls is one of my favorite places in Oregon. That picture was taken on a trip a few years ago. The source of the falls is underground springs from Larch Mountain. Those deep springs create this amazing waterfall. When I stand on Benson Bridge the powerful water tumbling down releases a refreshing  spray in the summer months. Looking over the edge the water appears to be infinite. All I can see is a constant flow of water.

Now that I live in a much warmer climate drinking lots of water daily is a necessity. Most of the year I make sure to have water in the car. If we are on a road trip anywhere in Texas there needs to be a cooler filled with water bottles. When I am thirsty I take a drink and my thirst is satisfied for a while. Eventually I will get thirsty again. So I repeat the same process and drink more water. This will continue for the rest of my life. Without water I will die within a few days.

Jesus tells us in the book of John that we can have living water. The kind that will permanently satisfy our thirst. He mentions this on two different occasions. In John 4 Jesus was tired from his journey and sits by Jacob’s well where a Samaritan woman comes to get water. He asks her for a drink which was crazy since she’s a woman, a Samaritan, and has a bad reputation. The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:9-10, NIV). Jesus is talking about the free gift of salvation. The Samaritan woman thinks Jesus means literal water and wants to know where to get this kind of amazing water.  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14, NIV). The spring of water is the Holy Spirit.

The second mention of living water is in John 7. It’s the Feast of Tabernacles and this is what happened. On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If a man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (John 7:37-38, NIV). The streams of living water Jesus is talking about is the Spirit (V.39). 

For those of us who call ourselves Christians this all sounds familiar. If you are not a Christ follower the thought of living water inside of you may sound strange. The use of the phrase ‘living water’ in that time and place referred to streams or rivers. Not pond water or any stagnate water. Life giving water. The water Jesus is talking about is the Holy Spirit living in you after accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. The Holy Spirit is God’s spirit. “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 2:24).  In the Greek spirit means breath, which shows life.

The Holy Spirit has many purposes. Here are just some:

Counselor (John 14:16, John 15:26)

Spirit of Truth (John 14:17)

Teacher of all things and reminds us of everything Jesus has said. (John 14:26)

Convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin. ( John 16:7)

God seals us with the Holy spirit when we become believers. (Ephesians 1:13-14) 

Spiritual fruit from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Intercedes in prayer for us. (Romans 8:26)

After you accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ the Holy spirit lives inside of you.  The Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). God puts His seal on us and no one can break the seal of God.

I am overwhelmed sometimes at the thought of holy God living inside of me. Jesus never says living water will flow inside of you when you get your act together, or you’re good enough, or perfect, or without sin. He’ll take care of the healing, fixing, and mending our broken hearts when we let Him in. He came to save us (John 3:16-17). Jesus came for sinners (Luke 5:32). We just need to admit we are sinners, ask for forgiveness, and ask Jesus to be our savior. That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved,” (Romans 10:9, NIV). Salvation is a FREE gift. It cannot be earned or bought. You will never be good enough on your own. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV).  

Living water that Jesus offers us satisfies our thirsty souls. The source of that living water is God. It runs deep and it never ends. If you drink of this water you will never be the same. Nothing else in this world will fulfill the way Jesus does.

Love you all,

Meghan