Hymn of the Day: Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance!  We are given a promise of redemption and salvation!

Isaiah 43:16-21 says: I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a path right through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses, to lie beneath the waves, dead, their lives snuffed out like candlewicks.

But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I’m going to do! For I’m going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Don’t you see it? I will make a road through the wilderness of the world for my people to go home, and create rivers for them in the desert! The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and ostriches too, for giving them water in the wilderness, yes, springs in the desert, so that my people, my chosen ones, can be refreshed. I have made Israel for myself, and these my people will some day honor me before the world.” (TLB)

God will give us new life.  We are His new creation.

Hebrews 6:10-12 says: “For God is not unfair. How can he forget your hard work for him, or forget the way you used to show your love for him—and still do—by helping his children? And we are anxious that you keep right on loving others as long as life lasts, so that you will get your full reward.

Then, knowing what lies ahead for you, you won’t become bored with being a Christian nor become spiritually dull and indifferent, but you will be anxious to follow the example of those who receive all that God has promised them because of their strong faith and patience.” (TLB)

God will not forget all that we do in His name!  We are blessed with the assurance of His promises.

Hebrews 6:13-20 says: “For instance, there was God’s promise to Abraham: God took an oath in his own name, since there was no one greater to swear by, that he would bless Abraham again and again, and give him a son and make him the father of a great nation of people. Then Abraham waited patiently until finally God gave him a son, Isaac, just as he had promised.

When a man takes an oath, he is calling upon someone greater than himself to force him to do what he has promised or to punish him if he later refuses to do it; the oath ends all argument about it. God also bound himself with an oath, so that those he promised to help would be perfectly sure and never need to wonder whether he might change his plans.

He has given us both his promise and his oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. Now all those who flee to him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without doubt that he will give them the salvation he has promised them.

This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls, connecting us with God himself behind the sacred curtains of heaven, where Christ has gone ahead to plead for us from his position as our High Priest, with the honor and rank of Melchizedek.” (TLB)

Since God is the righteous judge, we can be assured that His promises will be kept. 

Mark 5:35-36 says: ”While he was still talking to her, messengers arrived from Jairus’s home with the news that it was too late—his daughter was dead and there was no point in Jesus’ coming now. But Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” (TLB)

 

2 Samuel 7:22  “How great you are, Lord God! We have never heard of any other God like you. And there is no other God.” (TLB)

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Multifaceted Mercy

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

The world is full of people who are self-driven: as long as they aren’t in pain or in some sort of discomfort, their lives are just fine.  Their own happiness, reputation, and enjoyment are what’s important. They would rather watch and laugh at other people’s misfortunes instead of lending a hand.

"The earth, O Lord, is full of Your mercy; teach me Your statutes." Psalm 119:64 (MEV)
"This is what the Lord Almighty says... show mercy and compassion to one another..." Zechariah 7:9 (NIV)

We are to show mercy… but what is mercy? It’s surely not something that comes naturally for us, because it’s a trait of God Almighty, but it’s a trait that all Christians must learn to imitate.  It’s part of God’s statutes.

"So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For he who has shown no mercy will have judgment without mercy, for mercy triumphs over judgment." James 2:12-13 (MEV)

Showing mercy is… being able to cry in another person’s skin; it’s feeling their pain, being concerned about their wellbeing, and having a strong desire to do something to help out.  We were put on this earth to show God’s mercy to the people around us.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Showing mercy is… realizing that we are no different than our neighbor, and reaching out to show kindness to them.  Before receiving God’s grace, we were the same as those who aren’t saved.  It’s only by God’s mercy (the same mercy that we are required to imitate) that we are set apart.

"...you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the age of this world and according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among them we all also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)," Ephesians 2:1-5 (MEV)
"At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:3-7 (NIV)
"If your brother sins against you, rebuke him. And if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turns to you, saying, "I repent," you must forgive him." Luke 17:3-4 (MEV)

It has been said that the difference between grace and mercy is that grace is giving us what we don’t deserve, while mercy is not giving us what we do deserve. That’s true, but only partially true.  Actually, the difference is that grace takes away our faults, while mercy takes away our pain.

Showing mercy is… knowing when to rebuke a person who is wrong and when to allow the person to have the final word; it’s also knowing how stern or soft to make the rebuke, when you are called to give one.

"But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned." Titus 3:9-11 (NIV)
"Brothers, if a man is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, watching yourselves, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galations 6:1-2 (MEV)

Showing mercy does NOT… always follow the moral standards of the rest of the world. Worldly common sense would tell you to give a homeless man a 20 dollar bill to pay for his meal. But mercy would tell you not to buy him a meal. Rather, teach a man how to work and then he can feed himself.

"In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.'  

"We hear that some  among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat. And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.  

"Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer." 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 (NIV)

Sometimes showing mercy must take an extreme stance: it may require to dis-fellowship a brother or sister in Christ who does not try to follow God’s laws.

"Now if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, then take with you one or two others, that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile [or pagan] and a tax collector." Matthew 18:15-17 (MEV)
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father's wife.  And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.  So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

"Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch - as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 

"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case  you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 'Expel the wicked person from among you.' " 1 Corinthians 5:2-23 (NIV)

Most of all, showing mercy calls us to… pray for those who we see living in sin, because “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. So if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have whatever we asked of Him.” 1 John 5:13-15 (MEV)  

As long as we continue to pray for the people we know, God won’t give up trying to reach them to save and to grant them eternal life.

Today’s Hymn: Immortal, Invisible God

I was doing a Youtube search for the hymn “Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise” and my favorites I will share with you, but something about the lyrics struck a chord in my heart. The lyrics are old; the meaning is magnificent.

First, the lyrics:

Verse 1
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

Verse 2
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

Verse 3
To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small,
in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.

Verse 4
Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render, O help us to see
’tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee!

 

Next, how it touched me:

In worship, there was a reading of the lyrics before singing the hymn, so we could better understand the old song’s message. What I interpret from it is this:

  • Verse 1 tells of the unsearchable quality of God, how he is light and yet his light we are not aware, even as we praise him. “Too vague a God” skeptics say, and too big a concept for any of us to fathom, really, but Jesus Christ gives us reason to believe (recommended reading: “A Case for Christ”  by Lee Strobel)
  • Verse 2 expresses the simile “silent as light” which my brain wants to replace the word light with night, due to the popular song “Silent Night”. But then I actually think about it, and how much more silent can anything be, than light? God’s mighty presence is all around us, his handiwork in the sky and mountain peaks.  His plan is carefully brought about by his perfect love. Even in the hurricane, his love never ceases.
  • Verse 3 strengthens the point he is ruler, unchanged by fleeting lives and seasons. Even when the hurricane comes and goes, and the flowers bloom and the grass grows for months on end afterwards, once it is all over, God still remains.
  • Verse 4 finishes the point with the majestic request for God, the invisible, to not let our lack of sight be a hindrance in our faith. God and the angels are there, but our hearts pray, please don’t let our eyes hinder us from seeing the light and believing God is within it.

Last, the spotlight videos from international sources:
Sang by American music group Out of Eden (live performance), along with the song Meditate

Sang by African worship group Soul Winners Worship, an African worship group

Sang by American artist Fernando Ortego

Piano Solo by a member of Singapore church, Life Missions Church

 

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 3

COCOA: Detective Snowy, Detective Snowy, where are you?  (sniff, sniff) I smell trouble.  (sniff, sniff) Something is wrong.

(HAPPY and FABLE enter)

COCOA: Has anyone seen Detective Snowy? We need to make tracks and find the last clue. I can’t find my detective.

HAPPY: No, Cocoa. I haven’t seen her anywhere.  It’s not like Snowball to be late for VBS. Something must have happened.

FABLE: She was going to the mouse alley earlier this morning to visit her friends.  But she should be back by now.

COCOA: Detective Snowy is not here. I’ve sniffed everywhere. I’ve got to get busy and find her.

HAPPY: I’ll help you find Snowball. She might need some help.

FABLE: Yes. Let’s go to the mouse alley and find her.

(SNOWBALL enters “mewing”, without her spy glass and hat.)

COCOA: Detective Snowy. There you are! But, what happened to you? You look like you’ve been in a cat fight!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, don’t call me Detective Snowy. I’m just plain old Snowball.

COCOA: Snowball, what happened?

SNOWBALL: I went to the mouse alley this morning. I was with my friends Stuart and Fival, telling them about VBS, when the mean cats showed up.  The cats started chasing all the mice in the alley.

FABLE: It’s not nice to bother the little guys.

SNOWBALL: Those mean cats hurt Stuart and Fival. I got really mad. I tried to hold on to my temper like Jesus would, but I got so mad.  I started yelling at those other cats.  They had no reason to be mean to my friends. And I got madder because they wouldn’t stop it when I told them to. They started calling me names and THAT did it! I started throwing things around. I scared all the ugly old cats away, and I don’t think they’ll be coming back; but I broke my spyglass and lost my cap.

COCOA: Wow, you’ve had a rough time!

HAPPY: We should have been there to help you defend the mice.

FABLE: Are you okay, Snowball?

AllFour

SNOWBALL: I’m okay, Fable.  You all are such great friends.  You are loving and caring, and so faithful. You’ve got the characterprints of Jesus. I wish I had found the last characterprint before I got so angry. I don’t feel like I’m very much like Jesus. I didn’t find anybody who was brave and courageous.

COCOA: Snowball, Jesus did act like that in the temple. You missed our Bible story today. The Bible says that Jesus got angry with the ones who were being mean to others.  God doesn’t like it when someone hurts others. Jesus showed us how mad God gets.  He threw the table down and ran the mean people out of the temple.

HAPPY: That’s right. God gets very angry at evil.

SNOWBALL: Yeah. But I still didn’t find the last character print. I’m not good enough to be a detective.  I needed to find someone who is brave and courageous.

FABLE: Snowball, I think we know who is brave and courageous.

SNOWBALL: Really? Who? Please tell me. Who is it?

HAPPY: It’s you, Snowball. You defended those poor little mice from the mean old cats, even when they insulted you.

FABLE: Jesus did the same thing.

COCOA: You are very brave, Snowball. Just like Jesus.

SNOWBALL: You guys can’t be serious! I can’t believe this. I have a characterprint like Jesus? Are you guys playing a joke on me?

HAPPY: No, Snowball. We really mean it.

SNOWBALL: Wow! I never thought I’d find any characterprints in me. I was surprised to find Cocoa was humble and loving, but me!? This is more than I ever expected! Are you guys positive I’m like Jesus?

FABLE: Yes, Snowball. We’re positive.

COCOA: So, Snowball. How do you feel now that you’ve found all the characterprints of Jesus? Are you proud of yourself?

SNOWBALL: Well, yeah. But not as much as I thought I would be. You all get the credit, too. A little. I did do most of it myself.

COCOA: What!?

SNOWBALL: Let’s review the character prints we found. Cocoa, you were humble when you took a flea bath, and you were loving when you let me change your name. Okay, it was ridiculous to change our names.

FABLE: Happy was faithful. He didn’t stop liking you when  you changed your names. He didn’t make fun of you either.

HAPPY: Fable was forgiving. He forgave Cocoa for what Cocoa said to him.

COCOA: You don’t have to  bring that up, do you?

FABLE: Don’t worry, Cocoa. I forgive you.

SNOWBALL: And I was brave and courageous. I saved the poor lSnowball-ENDittle mice from the mean cats.

COCOA: Yeah! You’re not Detective Snowy – you’re Catgirl, champion of mice!

SNOWBALL: Catgirl?

COCOA: Yes, you can be a super hero….and….I’ll be your dog!

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa. Let’s just be friends.  Let’s help each other be like Jesus. He’s the real super hero. Jesus Christ is the champion of the whole world.

COCOA: That’s right! Jesus loves everyone!

FABLE: And Jesus is forgiving.

HAPPY: Jesus is faithful.

SNOWBALL: Jesus is brave and courageous! He helps everyone who needs his help. He saves us all!

HAPPY: I hope everyone enjoyed VBS.

FABLE: I sure did.

SNOWBALL: So did I. I learned a lot and I hope I can come back next summer!

HAPPY: Well, bye everyone!

SNOWBALL: Yeah, bye everyone!

FABLE: I hope you continue to have the character prints of Jesus all your life.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, why aren’t you saying goodbye to everyone?

COCOA: I’m thinking about changing my name to Champion.

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, say good-bye to the audience.

COCOA: Good-bye to the audience. Oh! Bye everyone. I hope you will go into all the world and make tracks for Jesus!

SNOWBALL: Hey, Cocoa, Fable, Happy, let’s go eat! I’m starving!

COCOA: Yeah! Let’s make tracks to my house! I’ve got some mice in the freezer!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! Don’t make me mad!

COCOA: I’m just kidding, Snowball.

(All puppets leave stage.)

(Behind curtain) COCOA: Ow! I’m just kidding Snowball.

THE END

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 2

(SNOWBALL and COCOA enter)

SNOWBALL: I was thinking, Cocoa. Do you think I should change my name?

COCOA: Uh, I don’t know. Snowball sounds “cool” to me.

SNOWBALL: I think I need to change my name to Detective Snowy.  How does that sound?

COCOA: Snowball, I think your name is just fine like it is. Come on, make tracks! Let’s find some more characterprints!

SNOWBALL: WAIT a minute! I’m the detective! I decide what to do! And I say I’m going to change my name. I’m Detective Snowy. And I’ll change your name to….um….YES! Your name is Sir Chocolate.

CCocoaOCOA: Sir Chocolate?

SNOWBALL: Yes, Sir Chocolate. It’s so much more sophisticated and mature. After all, it’s European.

COCOA: You mean I’m foreign? Do I lose my character prints if I’m foreign?

SNOWBALL: No, Cocoa, uh, I mean, Sir Chocolate.  You’ll be the same no matter what name you have.  Jesus had a human name but he’s still our Lord and Savior.  And he loves the whole world, not only one nation.

COCOA: Well, uh, I don’t want to change my name.

SNOWBALL: Oh, come on. Just for the next two days.  Then you can change it back to Cocoa.

COCOA: Okay. You can call me Sir Chocolate.  But you’re the only one.

SNOWBALL: Okay! Thanks! You’re a good dog.

(HAPPY enters)

HAPPY: Hiya, Snowball. Hey, Cocoa.

SNOWBALL: Hi, Happy.

HAPPY: Fable told me you’re a detective now. Where’s your detective’s coat?  All detectives have cool trench coats.

SNOWBALL: I don’t need a trench coat. I have my own coat of fur, thank you very much.  A beautiful coat of fur if I might add. And my name is Detective Snowy, NOT Snowball.

HAPPY: Oh. Well, Detective Snowy, I still love you no matter what you change your name to. And Jesus loves you, no matter how much you change.

SNOWBALL: How come everyone is being so loving and faithful today?

HAPPY: Well, Snowball, I mean, Detective Snowy, those are two of the characterprints of Jesus.

SNOWBALL: Oh, YES! I forgot all about the clues! What are the next two clues, Sir Chocolate? Get busy and sniff out our next two clues!

COCOA: (sniff, sniff loudly) I smell……sniff, sniff…..um……I smell something.

SNOWBALL: What do you smell, Sir Chocolate?  Tell me.

COCOA: I smell you, Detective Snowy.  You smell sweet.Snowball

SNOWBALL: Oh, Sir Chocolate…..you’re…..you’re so European.

HAPPY: Hey, Snowy and Chocolate, why the new names? I thought you were finding characterprints for VBS?

SNOWBALL: We’re looking for someone who is loving and faithful.

COCOA: Hey, Detective Snowy! I think we’ve found someone. Happy! He is faithful; he’s our friend even when we change our names.

HAPPY: That’s right. You can change your name all you want, and I still like you.  It’s not your name, or your parents, or your friends that makes me like you. It’s who you are. Sure, you have some flaws, but we all do. Jesus doesn’t just look at what you do wrong; he looks at what you do right. And there are lots of things you do right.

SNOWBALL: Absolutely! You’re right, Sir Chocolate. We have found a character print in Happy.  He is very faithful. But, what about loving?  Let’s keep looking….

(SNOWBALL wanders away, looking for clues)

HAPPY: Cocoa, why is she calling you Sir Chocolate?

COCOA: Oh, she wanted me to have a foreign name, but she’s just calling me Sir Chocolate for the next two days.  I finally agreed after I found out I wouldn’t lose my characterprints.

HAPPY: Detective Snowy, I think you need to look a little closer than that.  Cocoa is very loving, and his love for you allows him to be your dog, and lets you change his name.

COCOA: Do you mean I’m humble – and now – I’m also loving?  Bow WOW, I thought I was just being nice to my friend!

HAPPY: You were, Cocoa. That’s exactly right. When you’re nice to your friends, that shows that you have character prints like Jesus.  You’re loving and humble.

SNOWBALL: I thought you had to be nice to your enemies, and all that stuff, before you could be loving like Jesus.

HAPPY: Well, that’s true, too, Detective Snowy.  Jesus says to be nice to everyone. But if you think about it – Cocoa would be considered as the enemy to most cats! You’re very lucky to have him as your friend.

SNOWBALL: You’re right, Happy! Thanks for helping me see that. Who would have thought? Sir Chocolate is loving! Meow! I solved the next two clues. Happy is faithful, and Sir Chocolate is loving.

HAPPY: Come on, Detective Snowy.  You, too, Sir Chocolate. Let’s go get a banana split.  I’ll make the best one you’ve ever tasted!

COCOA: All right! Make tracks!  Find me some pineapple topping!

SNOWBALL: I get the strawberry topping!

HAPPY: And I like the chocolate! But most of all, I like my friends!

(HAPPY, SNOWBALL and COCOA exit)

 

Puppet Skit: “Finding the Characterprints of Jesus” Part 1

SNOWBALL: Hello, I’m detective Snowball, and I’m here to see if anyone in this room has characterprints like Jesus.

(COCOA enters)

COCOA: Hey Snowball. Whatcha doing?

SNOWBALL: Well, if you weren’t late, you would have heard me the first time.  I’m a detective, and I’m going to find out if anyone in this room has the characterprints like Jesus.

COCOA: Hah! Hah! That’s funny Snowball.  You can’t be a detective.

SNOWBALL: Why not?

COCOA: You can’t even sniff out your own litter box! You can’t find any clues.

SNOWBALL: I can too!

COCOA: Can not!

SNOWBALL: Can too!

COCOA: Can not!

SNOWBALL: Fine. If you really want to help, you can be my dog.

COCOA: All right!  I’ll sniff out any clues there are! I’ll be the best dog detective anyone’s ever seen!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa?

COCOA: Yes?

SNOWBALL: You are NOT a dog detective.  I’m the detective. You are just the detective’s dog. Okay?

COCOA: Oh, okay.  Sorry. What clues do we look for first?

SNOWBALL: First, we’re looking for the meek and humble characterprints.  Also, the forgiving and merciful prints.

COCOA: Oh, yeah!  That should be easy!  Wait! (sniff, sniff loudly) I think I smell something! It’s… it’s… (sniff more, then pause)… IT STINKS! Who’s wearing dirty socks? Yuck!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa?  I think you’re smelling yourself now.  Which reminds me. Before we get started, you need to take a flea bath and get a leash.  After all, I think ALL dogs need to be on leashes.

COCOA: WHAT!?  No way! I can’t do that! That goes against my dog instincts!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, even your instinct STINKS! If you don’t go get a flea bath right now, I’ll…..

(FABLE-enter-interrupts)

FABLE: Hi Snowball. Hey Cocoa. Um, Snowball, what are you doing?

COCOA: She’s Detective Snowball, and I’m her dog!  We’re trying to find someone with the characterprints of Jesus.  We don’t waste time sitting around writing silly fables!

SNOWBALL: Cocoa! You’re terrible.  Now I’m convinced you don’t have any characterprints.  That was a very rude thing to say to Fable! If you keep that up, I will have to disown you.  I do not want such a stinky animal for MY dog!

FABLE: That’s okay, Snowball. Don’t be mad at Cocoa.  I know he didn’t mean it.  Not everyone enjoys writing stories like I do. To Cocoa, writing fables might be wasting time, and I respect his opinion.  I don’t expect him to like everything I do. After all, none of us are ever exactly alike.  We can be totally different, yet we can still be very good friends.  We can still like each other.  Jesus wants us to be different, and he wants us to be very good friends to everyone.

SNOWBALL: Fable, that was such a forgiving thing to say. After all, Cocoa is only a DOG, and dogs don’t know anything when it comes to being polite.

FABLE: Well, Snowball, that wasn’t a very nice thing to say about Cocoa.  Do you realize that Cocoa is actually very humble by being your dog? He is trying to help you.

SNOWBALL: I guess you’re right, Fable.  Everything I said was true, but I guess I shouldn’t have said it.  Sorry Cocoa. I do thank you for your help.

COCOA: That’s okay! I forgive you, Snowball. Fable, could you do me a favor?

FABLE: What is it, Cocoa?

COCOA: Well, I sorta was just thinking….could you help me, um, take a flea bath?

FABLE: Oh, sure, Cocoa.  Come on. Let’s take a bubble bath!

(COCOA and FABLE leave)

SNOWBALL: Well, I guess I solved the first two clues.  Fable is forgiving. He could have gotten really mad at Cocoa, but he didn’t.  He didn’t yell; he didn’t throw things around, or anything.  Just like Jesus at the cross.  Jesus could have gotten really, really mad, and called the angels to help him get off the cross, but he didn’t.  He died because he loved his friends and his enemies.  And Cocoa, that silly dog, didn’t have to take a flea bath, but he did it for me, so I would be happy.  What a friend!  He’s a good dog.

(COCOA comes back)

COCOA: Okay, let’s make tracks!  I’m ready to find the next two clues! What do we look for next?SnowCocoa

SNOWBALL: Cocoa, we can’t look for any more character prints today.  VBS is over and the kids are going  home.  But we’ll look for more tomorrow.  Come on, let’s go eat lunch.  I’m starving.  Let’s go get some hot dogs!

COCOA: Um, Snowball? Can we eat pizza?  I don’t like to eat hot dogs.

SNOWBALL: Okay, Cocoa. Hey! You look great! You’re really a “hot” dog!  And humble too.

(COCOA and SNOWBALL exit)

 

Girls With Swords, Week 2

Imagine yourself with a sword newly polished, ready to be brandished in battle, zealous to fight against the demonic enemy.  Your blade fits your skill, compliments your strength and body structure, and is never too weak or causes you weariness. When the enemy sees you coming, he sinks back in dread, because with your quality as a warrior, you stand victor in every campaign. He doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s how you are, when you’ve got the Holy Spirit equipped.

Your warrior quality, your preparedness for battle, is explained more deeply through the Bible. In Matthew 3, we read about John the Baptist, a prophet who was also the cousin of Jesus Christ, put on earth to declare Christ’s entrance into the world; John speaks words of judgment to a group of alleged holy men, priests, saying,

“Even now the ax is on the root of the trees. Every tree that does not give good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. For sure, I baptize with water those who are sorry for their sins and turn from them. The One Who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is greater than I. I am not good enough to take off His shoes. He comes ready to clean the grain. He will gather the grain in and clean it all. The clean grain He will put into a building. He will burn that which is no good with a fire that cannot be put out.” —–Matthew 3:10-12 (NLV, boldness added)

These priests that came to be baptized by John the Baptist came because it was a phenomenal trend to witness and be part of the prophet’s iconic show, but their hearts were not ready for the Messiah’s coming. Some of these priests may have even aided in the murder of Jesus – I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. So John warned them judgment was coming. Blade would separate and fire would destroy.

The “One Who comes after me” is Jesus Christ, and Christ has vested us, Christians, with the sacred power of the Holy Spirit, to have, hold, brandish, clash, conquer, defend, rescue, and unite with, in truth.

The truth is given to us by many authors of the Bible. (We use the Bible as our authority because, even after academic study and countless critiques, it has proven to be without error. History backs it up, it backs itself up with eye-witnessing accounts, and no account contradicts the other one.) Jesus gave his disciples the understanding that when the Holy Spirit came, which happened on the Day of Pentecost written about in Acts 2,  the Spirit would teach them, tell them about Jesus, and give them a full understanding of the events that took place in their lives, both past, present, and future. Before the Holy Spirit came to them, they were all very confused and lacking in motivation, but after He came, their lives were transformed. In John 14:15-17, Jesus says,

“If you love me, obey my commands.  I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. That friend is the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept him. That’s because the world does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you, and he will be in you.” (NIRV)

When one of his apostles asked how he got to be so lucky, Jesus clarified that a person receives the Spirit by loving Jesus, obeying his teachings, and living for him. If he or she does that, the Spirit will come and dwell therein, giving that person wisdom and insight to help prepare for battle, which ultimately, is a battle leading us to eternal life.

Jesus left his followers with one mission, which we (21st century Christians) see from present day they prevailed in doing:

“Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —- Matthew 28:19 (NLV)

If we believe, are baptized, and follow Jesus Christ, we can experience the same Spirit of Truth the 1st century disciples had. Sure, we can’t tell others we were eyewitnesses of his life, wounds, death, and resurrection like the apostles did, but you can tell others how he changed your life.

And if you feel he has not changed your life, maybe you were baptized in the wrong name, like those innocent believers in Acts 19. There were a few disciples living in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) who heard John the Baptist’s teachings and got baptized because of him, and later Paul arrived and asked them if they had the Holy Spirit. Their response was like “Huh? What are you talking about?” and he inquired,

 “Then what beliefs did you acknowledge at your baptism?”

They answered,

“What John the Baptist taught.”

Oh! That answers the problem, Paul might’ve thought. He helped them realize John’s baptism was only temporary; it was meant to lead them to Jesus Christ, the one who had the ability to give us the Holy Spirit, the Life Sword. So they were baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus Christ, and received the gift of the Spirit.

My prayer for you is that you receive the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus Christ, being able to understand his plan for your life and why you were placed here at this time and place, to serve him in power and truth, delegated to fulfill your piece in salvation’s puzzle.

Since this is ultimately part of the Girls With Swords study, I have continued my video evaluation, and my video activity, which I will share with you here in case you are studying with me. I outline Lisa Bevere’s 3 points from Chapter 2, A Sword is Born.

“We buy our swords when we prepare for war, and that’s why Jesus got his disciples ready. Get the sword ready, ‘cuz we will literally face life and death. I disagree [with Ms. Bevere] that the sword of truth isn’t seen in a duel of death… for some it is [especially in the Middle East, North Korea, and Africa], and Jesus said lose your life and follow me. ‘Take up the cross’.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

“Not everyone can be privileged to stand out and do something big enough to make history; I don’t think we’re all called to do something great. Some of us are just meant to be stepping stones, paving the way to someone else’s greatness. But in God’s book, the first shall be last, and the Master washes the feet of his disciples, so it’s ok to just pave the way.” —quote from Kat’s Fencing Manual 

Chivalry, Vileness, and Death

An armored Knight galloped on a horse so fine,

A white horse: that milky, pale mare,

And the Knight, pure and refined,

He portrayed heroism, indeed.

~ ~

Dark eyes watched enemies at abroad horizons,

Surveyed lands: lush, green grasslands,

Emitting a bright sword, so pious,

Its appearance was crimson-free.

~ ~

His cape draped over the back of his mare,

A strong shield: a firm, polished helmet,

Those were all attributes he handled with care.

He had a character that was careful and clean.

~ ~

His heart was saddened, though,

From an attempt, an awful, fatal attempt,

That a Princess had sworn by, she chose

To be bound by a deadly creed.

~ ~

Dragon was fierce; he cared for no one,

Angry feelings: angry, livid rage,

He had a personality feared by everyone.

This Princess was a prisoner of his greed.

~ ~

She had what he wanted: she had what he needed,

Her beautiful heart: a kind and gentle heart,

Yet timidity, her one weakness,

She was Dragon’s key.

~ ~

The door to life, everlasting riches,

Promised to those who contained kind hearts,

He planned on killing her, hence,

To obtain what he needed.

~ ~

Dragon had forced the Princess to surrender

Her life: Her precious and wholesome life.

So that he could be the one to live on forever.

He didn’t once take heed.

~ ~

The Knight on the horse, that milky, pale mare,

Was going to tell Dragon what he should hear.

So he galloped on his horse, that milky, pale mare,

Day by day, battling both cold and heat.

~ ~

He raced across plains, dashed through valleys,

The horse was always weary, but he was always brave,

Night after night for strength he prayed,

Dear Father, I don’t want to be too late.

~ ~

As the Knight arrived closer, every step at a time,

Dragon pined for that lovely immortality.

He laughed and mocked, but the Princess never whined;

She tried holding onto her faith.

~ ~

Dragon hated waiting, so he would linger no more!

Her heart he would take, that precious, pure heart,

From her, so he could live forevermore.

There would be no more wait.

~ ~

The Knight galloped on, so fast and never stalling,

When envisioning death, of his beautiful Princess,

How could he even think about stalling?

No, it couldn’t be too late!

~ ~

Dragon leered; he moved his claw across her skin.

The cackle was there, that crude, blunt cackling.

He began by pinning his claw to her chin,

And he knew then, that her skin soon wouldn’t be crimson-free.

~ ~

As he neared her chest with his sharp weapon,

A noise, an approaching, tedious noise,

Like the prancing of hooves, it startled Dragon,

And he turned to look and see.

~ ~

“Who is he?” Dragon sneered.

As he saw a bright and shining Knight.

He was mounted on horse, a milky, pale mare,

It was like this Knight was cloud sailing.

~ ~

“I am a knight,” he replied, “and this is my bride.”

“You think you can take her away?”

“Snatch her from my side?”

His hands were bruised, from much laboring.

~ ~

Even so, his bravery increased,

And he unsheathed a sword, so pious,

He dismounted his horse, and neared

The Dragon, who was glaring.

~ ~

“You can’t take what’s mine away,”

“You’re fate still remains the same, Dragon.”

“Even if you take my bride away,”

“You are still dying.”

~ ~

“Steal a heart, but you’ll remain in death,”

“Even if that heart’s full of kindness.”

“Change your own heart, and you’ll be free,”

“Life will be yours, and immortality.”

~ ~

Dragon refused to listen, and the Knight shook his head.

The Princess would be set free, but Dragon’s fate was death.

The Knight cast his sword forward, a tear slipping, and falling,

He was hoping Dragon would change his mind.

~ ~

But because of his stubbornness,

His foolish, stupid stubbornness,

Dragon would reap what he sowed.

His own vileness would heap and teem.

~ ~

It would become millions of times worse,

Than it was before: all the evil he had boasted,

Would bounce back, and be his curse,

Dragon would gnash his teeth.

~ ~

So it was done, the Knight pierced him:

Dragon cried in pain, a loud and mournful cry,

And he knew then, there would be no one to save him.

The knight blade was not crimson-free.

~ ~

The burning fire he had treated others to,

That seething, potent pain they felt,

Was now engulfing Dragon, who,

Had the choice to surrender and yield.

~ ~

The Knight bent down, and checked his bride,

To see if she was still humble.

He had saved her from death, and the Dragon’s pride,

Her heart, he had tried to steal.

~ ~