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Don’t Look Back

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Genesis 19:26 on Behance

But Lot’s wife looked back longingly and was turned into a pillar of salt. 

Genesis 19:26

Lot’s wife lived with her family in the city of Sodom. The lifestyle of the Sodomites got so evil that God determined to utterly destroy Sodom and the nearby city, Gomorrah. God, however, listened to Lot’s plea for mercy and sent angels to evacuate him and his family before the destruction hit Sodom and Gomorrah.

Lot’s wife did not want to leave, and while she was eventually convinced to depart, she longingly looked back. Her glance back was not one of curiosity but of disobedient hesitation. She didn’t want to leave the evil she had known in Sodom. Consequently, she was consumed along with the wicked people of Sodom.

Often, God offers us the opportunity to escape evil and follow Him, but taking the escape route means leaving a familiar lifestyle. Regret, fear of moving on, and longing for the comfort we once loved, tempt us to look back longingly. However, when God calls, we must embrace Him, His ways, and the journey He calls us to. We will only be able to successfully do this if we value Him as our foremost treasure.

As Jesus told His followers, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). “The image which our Lord used was, as usual, one that went home to the personal experience of His hearers. They were of the peasant class, and they knew that the eye of the plowman, if he is to do his work well, must look straight before him at the line of the furrow which he is making. To look back, while working, is to mar the work entirely. The man who so looks is, therefore, ipso facto, disqualified for the work of God’s kingdom.” (Ellicott’s Commentary)

When we move forward with Jesus, we can be confident that we are following the One who knows the way to an abundant, satisfying life. Let’s not be double-minded like Lot’s wife and allow our heart to hesitate regarding the things of God. He loves you and me, and with the new birth He has given, we are equipped to love and value Him above all secondary created things.

In His Grace,

Amanda

Women of Faith Series

❀ Christward: A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (New book available at Amazon.)

Positive Impact

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VAYISHLACH – AND HE SENT | Wilderness Report

Deborah, the one who had nursed and raised Rebekah, died and was buried under the oak south of Bethel. So Jacob named it Oak of Weeping.

Genesis 35:8

Deborah had been Rebekah’s nurse since she was a child. When Rebekah was to mary Isaac (Genesis 24:59), the family sent Deborah with the new bride as she set out. Deborah continued to fulfill her nursing role by affectionately helping Rebekah raise her boys, Esau and Jacob.

After the boys were grown and settled, Deborah died, and the family she loved for so long, took care of her burial. They did more than simply place her body in the ground when you consider the name her burial place was given. Rebekah must have loved her nurse considerably and grieved her loss deeply. The two women had shared so many years and experiences.

To be important in our lives, people need not have impressive jobs or a lot of money. They need not be well known in our community. All they must do is have a positive impact on us. That can happen whether, like Deborah, they’ve been in our lives for years or we’ve known them only a few days – it doesn’t take long for a gentle hand or voice to win our hearts.

What strengthening can we provide to help win a heart today? We can be a joy and comfort to someone in this dry and weary land (Psalm 63:1) or an oasis of living water (John 7:38) for parched saints. The ministry of refreshment is so important that Jesus tells us there is a reward for those who strengthen others (Mark 9:41, see also Proverbs 11:25). Frequently, weary saints need the ministry of refreshment by way of encouragement. Let’s strengthen and refresh as we are able and have a positive impact on someone’s heart today.

In His grace,

Amanda

Christward, A Hopeful and Joyful Embrace of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (New Bible study available at Amazon)

❧ Women of Faith Series

A Bold Faith

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In the Old Testament of the Bible, Susanna was falsely accused of adultery, and whose accusers were eventually condemned. In the New Testament of the Bible, Susanna ministered to Jesus Christ. Scripture Study, Bible Art, Lds Art, Scripture Journal, Daily Scripture, Simon Dewey, Lucas 8, Image Jesus, Christian Art

Now the woman was Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. The woman kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly tormented by a demon.” Then Jesus replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.” And from that moment her daughter was cured. When she went back to her home, she found her child lying on the bed, and the demon was gone.

Matthew 15:22-23, Mark 15:22-28

The Syrophenician woman had a problem: her daughter was possessed by a demon, which tortured her without mercy. The mom did everything she knew to do, and still, her daughter suffered. She knew Jesus was near, so her quest for her daughter’s healing immediately took her to the feet of Jesus.

What boldness it took for her to approach Jesus the way she did. At first, Jesus did not answer the woman’s pleas for help. In the bitterness of her circumstances and the frustration of witnessing her daughter’s relentless suffering, would she now turn inward and bitterly confess Jesus was no different than anything else she tried? No. His silence did not deter her.

How do we come to God? Do we come with puffed-up hearts? Do we begin with a feeling that we’re entitled to something? Or perhaps we’re too timid to bring our request before God.

It’s here that we see another quality this woman had, humbleness, not bitterness. Peter tells us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). She kept asking until finally the disciples, tired of her begging, asked Jesus to send her away. Of course, Jesus did not send her away. He replied to her, “Woman, your faith is great. Let it be done for you as you want.”

We should never allow any circumstance to stop us from seeking God. We boldly come before the throne of grace so that we may obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). Let’s be like this courageous woman and not allow anything to detract us from clinging to our bold faith in Jesus.

In His grace,

Amanda

❧ Women of Faith Series

Palm Sunday to Resurrection

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Greetings fellow sojourners! As we approach Holy Week, let’s behold the days in the life of Jesus and the disciples by contemplating the significance of each day leading up to and including the Resurrection. Perhaps you would like to print each day of the week and post it in a visible place in your home as you consider the day’s events and their spiritual significance in your life. Let’s ask the Lord to tender our hearts to everything that transpired and let’s be eager to learn what He shows us. I encourage you to read the events for yourself as you will find more details that will bless you.

Sunday

Jesus began his trip to Jerusalem.  Nearing the village of Bethphage, he sent two of his disciples ahead, telling them to look for a donkey and bring it to him.  Then Jesus sat on the young donkey and slowly, humbly, made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The crowds welcomed him by waving palm branches in the air and shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”

On Palm Sunday, Jesus and his disciples spent the night in Bethany where Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha lived.  Perhaps they hosted him and his disciples.

Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, John 12:12-19

Monday

Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem.  Along the way, he cursed a fig tree because it had failed to bear fruit.  This symbolism extends to all believers, demonstrating that genuine faith is more than just outward religion but true living faith must bear spiritual fruit in a person’s life.

When Jesus arrived at the Temple he found the courts full of corrupt money changers.  He declared, “My Temple will be a house of prayer, but you have turned it into a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46) What is the condition of your “temple?”

That night he probably stayed in Bethany again.

Matthew 21:12-22, Mark 11:12-19, Luke 19:45-48, John 2:13-25

Tuesday

Jesus returned with his disciples to Jerusalem.  They passed the withered fig tree on their way, and Jesus spoke to his companions about the importance of faith.  

Back at the Temple, religious leaders were upset at Jesus for establishing himself as a spiritual authority.   They attempted to arrest him but Jesus evaded their traps.  He addressed the scribes and Pharisees seven times with, “Woe to you” before He identified each sin.  “Blind guides!…For you are like whitewashed tombs – beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.  Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness…Snakes!  Sons of vipers!  How will you escape the judgment of hell?”  Matthew 23:24-33

Later that afternoon, Jesus left the city and went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives.  He gave his Olivet Discourse, an elaborate prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age.  Jesus again uses symbolic examples regarding end time events, his Second Coming, and the final judgment.

This is the day Judas Iscariot negotiated with the Sanhedrin, the rabbinical court, to betray Jesus.  Matthew 26:14-16

Jesus and his disciples probably returned to Bethany to stay the night.

Matthew 21:23-26:5, Mark 11:20-13:37, Luke 20:1-21:36, John 12:20-43

Wednesday

Scholars speculate that Jesus spent this day resting in Bethany in anticipation of Passover.  A few nights earlier, Lazarus’ sister Mary had lovingly anointed the feet of Jesus with pure and expensive fragrant oil. By pouring the fragrant oil on His body, she prepared Him for burial, and Jesus said it was beautiful.

Matthew 26:6-16, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-7

Thursday

From Bethany, Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast.   Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.  For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”  Luke 22:15-16

As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death.   Jesus established the Lord’s Supper (Communion), instructing his followers to continually remember his sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread and wine.  Luke 22:19-20

That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover.  Jesus demonstrated by this humble act how believers should love one another.  

Later, Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed in agony to God.  Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and asked them to stay awake and pray so that they would not enter into temptation.  Are you ‘awake?’

Jesus was betrayed in the Garden with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin.  He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Him.  

In the early morning hours, as Jesus’ trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing Him three times before the rooster crowed.

Matthew 26:17-75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, John 13:1-38

Friday

Judas Iscariot was overcome with remorse and hanged himself Friday morning.  

Before 9 am, Jesus endured the shame of false accusations, condemnation, mockery, beatings, and abandonment.  After multiple unlawful trials, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion.  Before Christ was led away, soldiers spit on him, tormented and mocked him, and pierced him with a crown of thorns.  Jesus then carried his own cross to Calvary where he was mocked and insulted as Roman soldiers nailed him to the wooden cross.

Jesus spoke these statements while on the Cross:

~ Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.  Luke 23:34

~ He said to one of the criminals next to him, I assure you:  Today you will be with Me in paradise.  Luke 23:43

~ About 3 in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?”  Matthew 27:46

~ Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.  Luke 23:46

About 3 pm, Jesus breathed his last breath and died.

By 6 pm Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body down from the cross and lay it in a tomb.  

Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, John 18:28-19:37

Saturday

Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, where it was guarded by Roman soldiers throughout the day on Saturday, which was the Sabbath.  When Sabbath ended at 6pm, Christ’s body was ceremonially treated for burial with spices purchased by Nicodemus.  “He bought about seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes.  Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.”  John 19:39-40

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were members of the Sanhedrin, the court that had condemned Jesus Christ to death.  For a time, both men had lived as secret followers of Jesus, afraid to make a public profession of faith because of their prominent positions.  Because they were both deeply affected by Christ’s death, they boldly came out of hiding, willing to risk their reputations and lives because they knew he was Messiah.  Together they cared for Jesus’ body and prepared it for burial.  

Jesus Christ paid the penalty for sin by offering the perfect, spotless sacrifice.  He conquered death, both spiritually and physically, securing our eternal salvation.  “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors.  And the ransom he paid was not mere gold and silver.  He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”  1 Peter 1:18-19

Matthew 27:62-66, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56, John 19:40-42

Sunday

Early Sunday morning, several women (Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Salome, and Mary the mother of James) went to the tomb and discovered that the large stone covering the entrance had been rolled away.  An angel announced:  “Don’t be afraid!  I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He isn’t here!  He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”  Matthew 28:5-6

On the day of his resurrection, Jesus Christ made several appearances.  The first person to see him was Mary Magdalen.  Jesus also appeared to Peter, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later that day to all the disciples except Thomas, while they were gathered in a house for prayer.  

“Peace to you!”

Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, John 20:1-23

In His grace,

Amanda