GUEST WRITER: PHOEBE CARTER
GUEST WRITER: PHOEBE CARTER
GUEST WRITER: JEANNE WEBSTER
©2010 Jeanne E. Webster
Order of the Pharisees
Rabbi (master of Israel)
This letter is sent to confirm our conversation last night regarding eternal life. You questioned my statement that a person cannot enter heaven without being born again. You wanted evidence that a person can be born again after he’s grown. As a Pharisee, a rabbi and teacher, you don’t comprehend this?
I explained to you that one must be born of the Spirit, not a rebirth from the womb. Being born of the flesh is a physical birth; being born of the Spirit is a spiritual birth. There is a touch from God framing the spiritual birth which is granted to anyone who believes in the Son of man. He descended from heaven and will return to heaven, evidence for the passage of regeneration for everyone who believes in Him.
You have heard me preach of earthly things yet you don’t believe them. How will you have faith in what I tell you of heavenly things? Moses lifted up the brass serpent that represented the sins of Israel; everyone who looked on it was healed. So will the Son of man be lifted up for everyone to see and believe in, and they shall have eternal life. God loved everyone so much that He put upon the Son of Man the sins of the world. He was lifted up on Calvary for all to see and believe. Those who have faith in Him will not perish but have everlasting life in heaven.
You see, Nicodemus, God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn everyone but to save them. They condemn themselves if they do not believe in the name of the only Son of God. In all reality, this is the truth: light has come into the world to save the souls of everyone. But people love the darkness, as it covers the evil deeds they don’t want discovered. Those that live good lives are drawn to the light because their deeds will be shown to be of God.
The wind blows where it wishes, Nicodemus. Even though you can’t tell where the sound comes from, listen to it, as it is from the Spirit. Believe in it and be born again, this time of the Spirit, and you will have eternal life.
(Paraphrased from John 3:1-21)
GUEST WRITER: VICTOR JASTI
As a Christian,
I understand that when God cleans my heart,
I get closer and closer to Him.
But when sins, selfish attitudes and worldly cares,
Keeps me from getting closer to the Lord,
I lay aside the World’s weight,
For when I lay them aside,
I experience the inspiring joy,
Of a Christian
Who is close to the Lord.
GUEST WRITER: EMILY SWANSON
GUEST WRITER: EMILY SWANSON
It was said of Abraham that he was a friend of God. What a marvelous statement about any person Think about what all friendship involves.
My best friend is my husband of 55 years. He knows more about me than any other living soul. Yet he still loves me, warts and all. He knows where I keep the coffee cups and the spoons. He knows where to put the dirty laundry. He knows that I snore. That is because we abide together. He knows my joys and my sorrows. He knows simple things; like I like to eat sandwiches of anything. These are probably things about me that others do not know…or care. We can spend hours together never uttering a word and then suddenly both say the same thing simultaneously.
There are other friends in my life who know secrets from my heart. We have laughed and cried together over events for many years. They, too, know my joys and sorrows. I may call on them at anytime for a cup of coffee, a visit, a prayer. We have even prayed over the telephone together as I cry and they pray. There are those who have given me little gifts (for no reason other than love) at no eventful time. They leave a small package on the seat of my car, or on my doorknob at home. What a friend!
Beloved, we all have such a friend. (Not one with skin on as the little boy is noted for saying). But we have a friend who loves to abide with us. What a privilege to abide with the Living God! He would like to walk with us in our garden as He did with Adam. He would love to call us friend as He did Abraham. Perhaps He would like to know us as a “child after His Own Heart” as He did King David. He already knows your our intimate secrets; but He would like to reveal some of His secrets to us.
Our Father wants to hear from us about the secret things of our hearts…our joys, our sorrows, our desires. He wants to know the simple things like our concerns over our children’s grades in schools, what can I do to stretch my time as a wife and mother or grandmother? He listens to our frustrations and our victories (say, Father, did You know my husband got a raise today; my child made an A in math. WOW) He can know these things from us because we choose to abide with Him. Abiding indicates quality time spent together.
He already leaves little gifts for us all over the place. What was that special hug from my child or that smile from my baby if it wasn’t a Gift from God? Who do we think arranges for those A’s in life and those raises that come unexpectedly? What was that beautiful day of sunshine shedding its light over the ountryside? What was that refreshing rain cooling off the parched land? What is that “Peace that passes all understanding” in a time of trial? Where’d that come from anyway?
We can spend much time together…never saying a word, just listening; and all of a sudden the Heavenly Father, the Creator of the Universe, speaks to my heart revealing His Heart and His plans for me. He reassures me of His love. He gives me glimpses of His secrets.
Dear Heart, Friends love to be together and to share. The mark of a true friend is their availability to us when we need, and their undying friendship regardless of our faults. We have such a Friend…and What a Friend He is. Enjoy Him
“Dearest Father, What a Friend we have in You all ‘because of what Christ has done in dying for our sins…making us friends of God’. (Psalm 5:11 Living Bible) Help us to take every advantage of that friendship by abiding in You and Your Word. ‘I come to the Garden alone; while the dew is still on the roses.’ Amen”
GUEST WRITER: VICTOR JASTI
Your Words have upheld…Job 4:4
Encouraging words spoken firmly,
Motivates, strengthens the stumbling,
For it is in you to say, express loudly,
Words which make the weak, strong.
Say an encouraging word to your pastor,
For his sermons and for the prayers,
For being in the church, a pillar of strength,
For conducting weddings and baptisms ceaselessly.
To the postman and the corner policeman,
All around you, for these are those who matter,
Who serve; look after you, your well being and security,
For you to be in comfort, without worry and distress.
Speak those words, comforting and encouraging,
Which motivates them to do their outmost,
You don’t lose, but they gain satisfaction,
That they are appreciated and well thought off.
GUEST AUTHOR: JEANNE WEBSTER
GUEST WRITER: VICTOR JASTI
And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His Heart. Genesis 6:6
Noah talked and walked with God,
Day in and day out, through out the year.
He and his family, the only ones around,
Amongst so many sinners and idolaters.
Moral depravity and growing sin,
Made man, the most despicable animal,
That God repented, about His creation,
Sadly deciding, to destroy mankind totally.
But Noah and his family, the only ones around,
Who found grace with God the Almighty,
Was saved from the inevitable judgment,
Along with the birds, animals, in two’s and seven’s.
Build an Ark, commanded God,
Of gopher wood, four decks high, rooms aplenty,
Noah started immediately and obediently,
Without a thought, of where to sail.
Up went the Ark, divine plan in action,
Inspired by God, strengthened by faith,
Prayer and song, drowning the wicked laughter,
Ridiculing Noah, his Ark, and his God.
Noah did not worry about how to go about,
From foundation to finish, God enlightened him,
The wood, the plan, measurement to the purpose,
God planed the little details for the great task ahead.
Animals and birds, God collected to the last,
Leaving nothing for Noah to get worried about.
Filling four decks high with forty five thousand animals,
A great and an impossible task, a lone man cannot do.
Often we do just the opposite of Noah,
Worry in details over things which we have no control,
Neglecting specific areas, like responsibilities and relationships,
That is under over control and loosing sight of the goal.
GUEST AUTHOR: EMILY SWANSON
Are you one of those “short people” who is always straining to see over the heads of the crowd? Or reaching up into a cupboard that is at least 8 inches above your reach? I am such a person and I can relate to the little fellow of scripture, Zaccheus, so very well.
As I think about the encounter Zaccheus had with Jesus, my mind goes back to the Jericho of long ago. I try to visualize the crowds that day as they waited along the road to see the itinerant preacher they have heard so much about. The chief tax-collector, the hated Zaccheus, was there and he was being squeezed out by the people. Somehow this little fellow had grown up in a “tall world”, the object of stares and much ridicule. Perhaps he grew up as the “kid who got pushed around”. We’ve all witnessed what happens to those the world labels as “runts”. Perhaps in growing up his childhood was trodden underfoot and the tender part of Zaccheus died. Maybe this made him compensate for that abuse by becoming a man of power that people had to “look up to” whether they liked it or not. True, Zaccheus gained stature in power and wealth…but no friendship…he was hated.
But Zaccheus heard stories about this Jesus who was coming to Jericho that day. He heard that Jesus was a friend…even to tax-collectors. Zaccheus longed for a look at this Jesus. His curiosity drove him to climb the sycamore tree and go out on a limb to see for himself.
All of Jericho was out on the dusty road. The business men, the housewives, the transients, teachers, bakers, holy men, were all elbow to elbow…except the chief tax-collector. (Let me put a parenthesis here. Zaccheus could have stayed home that day and avoided the crowd of people who hated him and whom he also hated.) But where did Jesus stop? He stopped right at the bottom of the sycamore tree! Whispers rippled over the crowd as people watched the Master in disbelief. Was Jesus actually asking to go home with this sinner? And He wasn’t asking for an audit or even and accounting. He was asking for the pleasure of Zaccheus’ company; the company of the chief tax-collector.
Can we even imagine the flood of repentance gushing from Zacchaus as he encounters Jesus Christ that day? Scripture bears out that he repented and turned his life over to Jesus immediately. His faith was followed by his immediate actions and life adjustments…WOW.
I think about coming-up short today in my life. Not short of stature, but spiritually short because of bad attitudes, broken relationships, broken commitments, or a critical spirit. I have to strain to see Jesus over this crowd of attitudes that crush me. But He is always there. He is ready to stop and call me to come down and meet Him, to commune with Him. What a joy.
I ask God to forgive me for trying to compensate for my “stunted spiritual” growth. Perhaps I have expected my works to increase my stature. Help me Lord, to see that I can increase only if I am willing to decrease. It is in losing my life that I find it. It is by dying that I live. It is in giving that I receive. If I am not willing to give up everything, I cannot be His disciple.
“Father, I confess to you that I am short in spiritual stature. To even see You I need something to stand on…just like Zaccheus. But I want to see Jesus; not just through the eyes of a pastor or a teacher or an evangelist. I want to hear Him; not just hear about Him on tapes and radio or TV. I don’t want a second-hand experience. I want to feel Him with my own Heart. I want to have faith that I can stand and “Look Full in His Wonderful Face”.
Lord, if I have to climb a tree to see you, I will gladly do so. Please come near Lord Jesus. I will be the one out on a limb, waiting. And as you come, overwhelm me with the awesome wonder that it is not I who seek you nearly as much as it is you who seeks me. Give me courage that I do not let anything crowd me out and lose the privilege of experiencing communion with Jesus. Amen”