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Monday Morning Encouragement -- It is Finished


"All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."  Isaiah 53:6

I have heard it said that without a shepherd a flock of sheep will wander and go astray. Isaiah likens our spiritual wandering -- the desire to go our own way -- to straying sheep. And it is "all of us" who do this. Everyone of us. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). But just as a good shepherd will do whatever it takes to bring his sheep back home, Jesus did what was necessary to bring us back home to God and restore our relationship with Him. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Unfading Beauty


"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."
Proverbs 31:30

Having a bad hair day? Wish your nose was smaller or your chin wasn't so prominent? Do you avoid the bathroom scale, or cringe every time you find a new gray hair or wrinkle? 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Our Hope In Life and Death


"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1 Corinthians 15:20

The more I study the New Testament, the more I see how crucial it is to study the Old Testament. Everything written in the OT is a foreshadowing of things to come. Trying to take it all in is like trying to drink from a fire hose. 

This morning I'm specifically looking at 1 Corinthians 15:20 and pondering the word "firstfruits". Christ is the "firstfruits".  I've kind of taken that for granted in the past, however today I wanted to study that word. What is the context of that word?

I'm grateful to be able to go to online commentaries for an explanation, and so I went to one of my favorite pastors, David Gruzik of Enduring Word. Here's what he writes about this subject:

"Firstfruits is the ancient Greek word aparche. In the Septuagint, this word is used for the offering of firstfruits and in secular usage the word was used for an entrance fee.

i. Jesus was the firstfruits of our resurrection in both senses. In the Old Testament, the offering of firstfruits brought one sheaf of grain to represent and anticipate the rest of the harvest (Leviticus 23:9-14). The resurrection of Jesus represents our resurrection, because if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5). The resurrection of Jesus also anticipates our resurrection, because we will be raised with a body like His. “As in the firstfruits offered to God, the Jews were assured of God’s blessing on the whole harvest; so by the resurrection of Christ, our resurrection is insured.” (Trapp)

ii. The Feast of Firstfruits was observed on the day after the Sabbath following Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14). Significantly, Jesus rose from the dead on the exact day of the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after the Sabbath following the Passover.

iii. The offering at the Feast of Firstfruits was a bloodless grain offering (Leviticus 2). No atoning sacrifice was necessary, because the Passover lamb had just been sacrificed. This corresponds perfectly with the resurrection of Jesus, because His death ended the need for sacrifice, having provided a perfect and complete atonement.

iv. The resurrection of Jesus is also the firstfruits of our resurrection in the sense that He is our “entrance fee” to resurrection. Jesus paid our admission to the resurrection!

I don't know about you, but I never knew that "Jesus rose from the dead on the exact day of the Feast of Firstfruits, the day after the Sabbath following the Passover." This is so significant!

More and more I see that to understand our own Christian faith, we need to know more about the Jewish faith. Jesus came to fulfill all the requirements of the Law. He is the sacrificial lamb. He atoned once and for all for sin. So those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus for eternal salvation -- for the forgiveness of sins and a restored relationship with God -- are no longer under the law, but instead under His grace.

I'm overcome with amazement at what Jesus did for us on the cross. He is our hope in life and in death. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Jesus!

Today's music video Christ Our Hope In Life and Death from Keith and Kristyn Getty, and sung by Matt Papa is a modern version of an old hymn. I hope it will be a great comfort to you, as it is to me.

I love you, I'm thinking of you, and I'm praying for you.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Because of Unbelief


"And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief." (Mark 6:5-6)

I must confess that the first time I read today's scripture verse I felt confused. What does it mean that Jesus could do no mighty work there. . .? Was He somehow incapable of performing miracles?

Let's look at the backstory to get the full picture and the proper answer:

Monday Morning Encouragement -- A Steadfast Heart


"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, and make melody!" Psalm 57:7

There is boundless joy that comes from a heart that is steadfast, fully fixed on God. To have the calm assurance that He is trustworthy. That He is good. All the time. 

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Overcoming Fear


"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 

2Timothy 1:7

The Apostle Paul writes these words to young timid Timothy to encourage him. He wants Timothy to boldly share the gospel as he himself is doing. 

In the original Greek, 2 Timothy 1:7 literally means God has not given us a mental disposition of fear (as in faithless fear), but of miraculous power and affection and self-control.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Abundant Comfort


"For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:5

When I first became a Christian, I thought all my troubles would end. In truth, my greatest trials came after I gave my life to Christ. But through each sad event the Lord comforted me. The deeper my sorrow, the greater His solace. 

A. W. Tozer said, “Before God can use a person greatly, He must allow that person to be hurt deeply.” 

As much as we hate the process, the truth is we learn more about compassion and how to comfort others when we've been hurt ourselves and have experienced healing through Jesus. I do not believe for a moment that God takes pleasure in our pain, but He being omniscient can see the beauty and grace that will eventually come through our suffering, and can see us one day ministering to others with understanding and mercy. In that He takes great delight.

Today's music video The Purpose In The Pain written and performed by Matt Hybarger, worship leader at Christian Faith Fellowship in Ft. Worth, TX, speaks to the faithfulness of God to comfort us in our pain.

I love you, I'm thinking of you, and I'm praying for you.

Shabby Chic Heart Bowl Fillers - DIY No Sewing!


For me, nothing's better than a fast, easy and inexpensive craft project. These shabby chic heart bowl fillers check all the right boxes. All you need to make these is some leftover fabric or drop cloth, scissors, a glue gun and (if you like) stencils and transfers.

Check out my Youtube video to see more of these hearts up close and personal, and learn how you can make some for yourself.

Monday Morning Encouragement -- The Most Important Question In Life


Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples,

"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"

 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." And He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"

Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Matthew 16:13-15

Jesus didn't have to ask the disciples, "Who do the people say I am?"

He knew what the people thought. He asked the question as a set up for the second question, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter, on behalf of all the disciples, gives a politically incorrect answer (politically incorrect because this was during the Roman occupation and the Jewish people were looking for a Messiah that would deliver them from the Romans, not a Messiah that would save them from their sins).

Monday Morning Encouragement -- Near to the Brokenhearted


"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." 

Psalm 34:18

So many times in my life today's scripture reading has been a source of comfort. I have found that when my spirit is most crushed, it is then that I feel God has moved away from me. However, as  Psalm 34:18 tells us, that is just not the case. 

First Thrift Haul of 2023 and Winter Refresh

I guess January has been a busy month because I'm shocked to realize it's nearly over. 

I managed to squeeze in a thrift haul -- my first of 2023 -- and shared it in a video: